Rick's Wine Journal 2004 - Half 2


Wine - Notes and Comments - ( See Key- See Rating Wines)

Dec 31 - Marston (Family) Vineyard Napa Valley Petit Syrah 1984 (Bottle 790 of 812) - RM 90 - Today, 'Family' is part of the name and the winery provides cabernet fruit for Beringer Private Reserve. Not many 20 year olds down in the cellar (since the 84 Bordeaux's are long gone being a short lived vintage) but pulled this one out on the last day of 04... Surprising body, structure and backbone with inky purple colour. Intense currant, black cherry, cedar anise and plum with a firm tight long full finish. Amazing staying power and life left - thankfully I have at least one more ... 2014?
From the Marston (Family) Vineyard website - Over the last 25 years, the Marston Vineyard has produced numerous award winning wines. Andre Tchelistcheff helped craft small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel in the early 1980’s. Sean Thackery produced legindary Petite Sirahs from the Marston Vineyard in the early 1990’s winning Best Red Wine in the world. For the last decade Beringer has been responsible for the vineyard. Cabernet Sauvignon from Marston Vineyard is in the Beringer Private reserve Cabernet. Marston Vineyard designated Cabernet is also made by Beringer. 1998 marked the beginning of a new era for Marston Family Vineyard. The first Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was made by noted winemaker Philippe Melka. This wine each vintage will remain “forever limited” to 600 cases and is produced from selected blocks on the property.

d'Arenberg Dead Arm McLaren Vale Shiraz
Dec 29 - Merryvale Profile Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - WS 97 RM 94 Wine Spectator says it best in its Highly Recommended Review  - Massive, with wonderful richness, depth and concentration, this Cabernet blend has layers of complex currant, black cherry, plum, vanilla and blackberry and a long, detailed, firmly tannic finish. Best from 2002 through 2012. 5,200 cases made. (JL);  D'Arenberg The Dead Arm McLaren Vale Shiraz 1997 - RM 91 WS 91 WS Review - Firm in texture and generous with its bright berry, spice and slightly gamy flavors, nicely focused to display the fruit. Flavors persist impressively on the round finish. Best from 2001 through 2010. 600 cases imported. (HS) From the cellar of TRR. Tasted w/ TRR, BE and son Ryan. Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron Pauillac Bordeaux 1986 - RM 90 WS 97 -
Perhaps an unfair tasting following the two fruit forward monsters above as this was much lighter and more delicate - fronted by subtle floral perfume slight earthy cedar turning to elegant polished fruit. For perhaps a more fair tasting see the WS Review -  Amazingly elegant and complex featuring rich cedar, currant, black cherry and cassis notes, with grace, harmony and the kind of structure that should ensure it will age beautifully until the turn of the century. The aftertaste echoes cherry flavors. Tasted at Washington Street Grill in Hinsdale.
Dec 26 - Behrens & Hitchcock Napa Valley Staglin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 92 RM 93 $35 - Big fruity bouquet - Mouthful of full forward smooth, rich currant, black raspberry, pronounced cedar and a hint of earthy anise leading to a long lingering full supple finish. B&H originally produced these wines for their restaurant and then increased production to afford availability to the public. Only 100 cases were made of this wine in this inaugural vintage release.
Rosemount Estates Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1995 Dec 25 - Rosemount Syrah McLaren Vale Balmoral 1995 - WS 91 RM 87 $40 My lower rating may reflect the age of this wine approaching end of life or an 'off' bottle... Huge nose of berry but the fruit seems to have given way to an earthy leathery overtone and acidic tart finish. Typically this is a smooth polished chorus of berry, plum, anise and velvety spice. One of perennial favorites. 

Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 1997

Dec 24 - Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve Napa Valley 1995 - WS 91 Spectator Selection, RM 91 - Smooth polished  currant, blackberry, a hint of plum and sage with subtle tar notes and fine integrated tannins on the long full finish. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot.

Elan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

Dec 21 - Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 90 Dark colour - full nicely balanced currant and blackberry fruit give way to a smoky cassis and a slight hint of cherry initially that later reveals a subtle soft mocha with a pleasant moderate tannin finish. 95% cab 5% cab franc. Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Chardonnay 2002 - RM 88. Tasted w/ iTRACS Westchester team at Holiday dinner at D's Little Italy, Westchester, IL.
Dec 20 - Peter Lehman Clancy's Barossa 1998
- RM 88 WS 92 - Tight and a bit hard - the fruit is a bit closed - subtle blueberry, blackberry and a hint of currant and mineral with a long full finish.
1995 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Rhinefarm Vineyard
Dec 19 - Vine Cliff Oakville Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 90 RM 91 Well balanced and polished currant cherry and berry with a nice lingering tannin finish. My best of selection from another holiday horizontal tasting of 94 Napa Cabs+. If I recall correctly, this was made by Steve McDevitt, winemaker for Darioush. (See 2003 Napa Wine Experience.) Elan Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 88 RM 89 - We enjoyed Elan as participants of our 98 Napa Wine Experience - Smooth, polished supple plum, berry and chewy smoky, toasty oak on a moderate tannin finish. Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 91 Spectator Selection RM 88 - Firm, tannic, fruit of plum, black cherry, spicy currant with a moderate tannin finish. Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 92 Spectator Selection - RM 88 - Slightly earthy, forward ripe currant, black cherry and berry on a smooth lingering finish.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 90 RM 87 - Earthy, leathery turning to currant and black cherry on a long lingering tannic finish.  Chateau du Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 1993 - WS 86 RM 87 Tasted from magnum. Visited this Chateau during our Rhone Wine Experience. Softer and lighter than most CDP's reflecting a more austere vintage, earthy black cherry and anise are predominant with only a hint of the typical spicy pepper.  Yalumba Victoria Museum Release Muscat NV - WS 94 RM 89 Thick unctuous Aussie 'sticky'; rich and spicy nut and smoky sweet tar 'cognac' taste with a long full finish.  Beringer Late Harvest Special Select Johannisburg Riesling 1993 - WS 94 RM 94 - Essence of apricot with a touch of almond, thick unctuous sweet syrup of smokey apricot flavors. This from an earlier review - as this wine ages, the apricot is giving way to a more ripe fig taste.
Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Franc
Dec 17 - La Sirena Napa Valley Juliana Vineyard Sangiovese 1997 - WS 81 RM 86 $40 From Heidi Peterson Barret. Light, somewhat shallow with earthy leathery oak, herbal and a hint of berry and cherry. Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1997 - RM 89 WS 91 - $45 - Complex, full forward white pepper, spice, cedar, black cherry, blackberry give way to easy balanced tar finish. Perfect complement to b-b-q ribs. Tasted w/ L and Dennis & Susan H. Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille 1996 WS 86 RM 88 $110 Attractive Brunello, but slightly too much new barrel use for my palate. Blackberries, fresh mushrooms and wood. Medium- to full-bodied, with a solid core of silky tannins and a slightly austere finish. Freemark Abbey Sycamore Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - WS 88 RM 88 $55 Chewy earthy currant and plum with a smoky oak finish. Tasted w/ TRR, DRH & Susan,  and Doug J at Binny's Orland. 

Dec 14 - Castello di Verrazzano Toscana Sassello 1997 - WS 92 RM 89 - $50 A bit funky on the opening with a earthy 'barnyard' scent that eventually gave way to a intense berry with an under currant of smoky tar with black cherry on a long tannic finish. Raphael North Fork of Long Island Merlot 2000 - WS 87 RM 88 $45 Dark red cherry with a subtle mocha under currant overshadowed by earthy mineral and smoky oak. From the cellar of Brian E. Tasted w/ Brian & Joel D at Stephanie's Restaurant in Caldwell, NJ.

Elan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1995
Dec 5 - A Holiday Horizontal tasting of 1994 Napa Cabernets - Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County Cinq Cépages 1994- WS 91 Spectator Selection RM 90 - Earthy full polished blend of plum, currant, cherry, and berry with a smooth oaky finish. Blend of 76% Cab, 14% Cab Franc, 5% Merlot, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Elan Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 88 RM 89 - We enjoyed Elan as participants of our 98 Napa Wine Experience - Smooth, polished supple plum, berry and chewy smoky, toasty oak on a moderate tannin finish. Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 92 Spectator Selection - RM 88 - Slightly earthy, forward ripe currant, black cherry and berry on a smooth lingering finish. Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 90 RM 87 - Earthy, leathery turning to currant and black cherry on a long lingering tannic finish. Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 91 Spectator Selection RM 88 - Firm, tannic, fruit of plum, black cherry, spicy currant with a moderate tannin finish.

Dec 4 - Tatiarra Heathcote Shiraz Pressings 2003 - $69 RP 94-96 RM 94 - Very much in the same style and flavors as the Elderton Command below but softer and more round and therefore more approachable. Delicious. Full forward currant blackberry plum and a hint of burnt sugar cognac on the long balanced sweet French oak finish. Haan Shiraz Prestige Barossa 2002 - $59 - RP 95 RM 94 - Continuing down the same spectrum - same rich currant backberry and plum taste - less rich, full or forward as the Elderton and Tatiarra but delicious none-the-less. La Spinetta Barolo
“Le Campe” 2000
- 98 WS $125; Robert Mondavi Cabernet Reserve 2001 - RP 95 $90 -

 Tasted w/ AJ & Liat at clubby comfortable Vintage Wine Merchants in Santana Row in San Jose.

Dec 3 - Elderton Command Shiraz Barossa 2000 - WS 97 $66 - I am fighting the flu so I defer to WS reviews for on these wines.  WS Review - Big and powerful, brimming with tarry, spicy black cherry, dark plum, blackberry and chocolate flavors. Rich and gooey like a warm flourless chocolate cake, yet it finds a plush balance that keeps it from veering off into heaviness. This has grace, harmony and refinement, without losing an ounce of power. Drink now through 2025. RM 92 - UNCLE. I actually found this too much forward-in-your-face fruit - bam - powerful. Wow. Intense currant, blackberry, plum with a full richness almost tasting of cognac (!) giving way to a smoky tar lingering finish. I wonder what this will be like in 15-20 years!  I hope to find out. Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 WS 92 - $37 Ripe and generous, with heady ripe plum and spice flavors, but nicely refined to keep them from overdoing it, picking up a hint of raspberry and a floral note as the flavors linger beautifully. Drink now through 2010. 600 cases imported. (HS) Les Forts de Latour Pauillac Bordeaux 2000 - WS 93 $75 - WS Review - Super enticing aromas of crushed raspberries, Indian spices and hints of vanilla. Full-bodied, with a refined and tight tannin structure and a long, refreshing finish. A beauty. Second wine of Latour. Best Les Forts in years. Best after 2009. 11,665 cases made. (JS) Tasted with AJ, Liat, and Phil M at Scotts Valley Hilton. 
Nov 29 - Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2003 - RM 88 Buttery and oaky - floral, pear and fig with a hint of citrus. Tasted w/ L at Parkers Ocean Grill in Downers Grove.

Robert Craig Napa Valley Chardonnay 1997 label

Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 label
Lewis Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Nov 28 - Torbreck Barossa Valley Woodcutters Shiraz 2003  - RM 86 - $18 - Rich intense mineral and tannin give way to a deep ripe berry, tobacco and cedar with a long dry mineral tannic finish.
Nov 27 - Kaesler Avignon Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 - RM 87 $23 - Mineral overpowers the ripe berry masking other fruit and the moderate tannin finish. A blend of Grenache (53%), Shiraz (39%) and Mouvedre (8%). Note the producer's notes accentuate the mineral and tannins and are silent on the mention of any fruit... - "Palate: Rich front palate with excellent texture. Mid palate gives way to a savoury tannin structure. The length is accentuated with mineral like acid."
Nov 25 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay 1997 - WS 93 $25 - WS Review - Smooth and creamy, with a pretty toasty oak and vanilla-scented edge. The rich core of pear, fig, apple and melon is bright, rich and concentrated, turning enormously complex. Drink now through 2002. 215 cases made. (JL)
Tower Barossa Valley Shiraz 2000 - RM 91 - $40 - Dark, firm full bodied, rich currant, black cherry, plum and cedar with a balanced fine tannin finish. Tasted at Dr. Dan's enroute to Dr. Pat's.
EOS Pears of Dew Paso Robles Late Harvest Moscato 1999 -
RM 88 - $12 -Rich unctuous raisin, smoky pear and caramel.
Nov 23 - Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Sycamore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 -
WS 88 RM 87 $24 - WS Review says it well - Dark, firm and structured, with more richness, depth and flavor than the Bosché Vineyard. Shows off mature spice, currant, cedar and cherry flavors that are long and complex. Impressive.--1989 California Cabernet retrospective. Drink now. 3,050 cases made. (JL)
Nov 19 - Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 93 WS 91 $ 80 - Mouth-full of tasty currant, black cherry, and plum with a long smooth and polished cedar and oak finish. Tasted with Bernard DeG and Joel DeN at Solera Restaurant & Wine Bar in Denver.

Nov 17 - Green Point Victoria Shiraz 2002 - WS 93 $17 - WS Review  - "Bright, juicy and lively with blackberry, huckleberry, white pepper and a refined floral character that melds beautifully through the finish, and the tremendous aftertaste just doesn't quit. A stylish Shiraz that should keep giving for years. Best from 2006 through 2015". RM 87 - Too much mineral and leather that overpower the fruit for my preference.
Nov 14 - Snowden Lost Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 90 WS87 $30 Lots of forward fruit - berry cherry and currant with a long mild tannic spicy finish. Second label from Snowden aimed at value and 'instant gratification' (early drinking).
Nov 12, 2004 - "Napa Valley Comes to Chicago" - A Tasting of Great Wines hosted by Exclusive Resorts featuring Mark Pope, Napa's Bounty Hunter at Club 410 in Chicago featuring selection of premier Napa wines - Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace, Gravelly Meadow and Volcanic Hill 2002; Rudd Estate Oakville 2001; Viader 2002; Snowden 2001; Lancaster Napa Cabernet 2001; Cardinale Napa/Sonoma 2001; Ramey Napa Claret 2001; Ramey Hudson Valley Chardonnay; Palmaz Napa Valley Estate 2001; Thirteen Napa Valley 2002; Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Mareuil-Sur-Ay NV; Mission Hill Riesling Icewine Okanagan Valley 2002.
Nov 10, 2004 - Bodegas de Murcia Dominio de la Peseta Crianza - Alicante Valencia, Spain 2001 - RM 88 RP 88 - Tremendous value at $13 -  Intense full forward black berry, what Robt Parker calls "scorched earth and coffee" giving way to intense black pepper with a long lingering pronounced fruit of vanilla and plum or blueberry on the long oaky and tannic finish. 40% Monastrell, 40% Tempranillo, 20% Syrah
Nov 7, 2004 - Chateau de Pez St. Estephe Bordeaux 2000 - WS 89 RM 91 - $33 - Initially closed and tight - an hour of breathing reveals intense plum fruits with hints of berry and currant and licorice on the long tannic finish.

Nov 1, 2004 - Calera Mount Harlan Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir 1992 WS RM 86 -$40 Pinot Noir flavors and aromas of earthy leather, cherry and mushroom. Prager Riesling Smaragd Trocken Wachau Weissenkirchen Steinriegl Niederösterreich Austria 2000 - WS 88 RM 88 - $45 - Crisp medium-bodied white exuding pear and a hint of peach and spice flavors.
Oct 30, 2004 - Marquis Phillips Proprietary Red Sarah's Blend 2003 SE Australia - RM 87 WA 91 $16 - Super ripe raisin tasting fruit with nuances of smoky blackberry and plum.
Oct 28 - Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 91 WS 92 Spectator Selection - Rich ripe currant, black cherry and hint of cedar with long tight but polished finish. Much more tasty fruit and more approachable than bottle lat opened last summer.
Oct 27 - Beaulieu Vineyards Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 90 Spectator Selection RM 86 $15 (1995) Smoke aromas and tastes of smoky earthy currant, berry and plum with a long aftertaste and finish of earthy berry. Probably past its prime but still tasty.

Oct 25 - Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red 1999 - RM 912 - $35 - Not as approachable or full and polished as the 2000 tasted recently (see Sept 11) but still dark colour, aromas and flavours of earthy tobacco, currant, berry, plum and some of that distinctive Washington State Columbia Valley 'cognac' taste. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot. Delicious.

Oct 23 - Matanzas Creek Sonoma Valley Chardonnay  2001 - RM 89 WS 89 - Pleasant easy drinking with "a core of spicy pear, hazelnut, clove and citrus. Firm acidity gives it nice structure, too, finishing long and clean" as stated by WS. Tasted at Scoma's in San Francisco - perfect compliment to fabulous Sand Dabs.

Oct 20 - Château Les Ormes de Pez St Estephe Bordeaux 1982 - RM 88 WS 87 (1989) 84 (1992 & 98) - That classic Bordeaux earthy floral scent and taste with mineral and mushroom accenting black berry and slightly tart cherry turning to mineral with a hint of anise on the long floral finish. Tasted at the infamous Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, from their magnificent wine cellar of over 500,000 bottles.

Oct 18 - Fritz Winery Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel 2001 - WS 87 RM 86 - $24/12 - Firm forward mouthful of ripe cherry raspberry and charcoal accented by anise and a hint of vanilla on a long full finish.
Oct 15 - Château La Louvière Pessac-Léognan Bordeaux 2000 - WS 91 RM 90 $48 - Bright, medium bodied accented by a floral nose and flavor with undercurrents of earthy red cherry and berry turning to mineral predominating on a long finish.
Oct 14 - Kenwood Merlot Sonoma County 2001 - WS 84 RM 85 $17 Hard tight smoky berry, green olive herb and cedar.  Gundlach Bundschu Rheinfarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley Merlot 2001 - RM 84 - This was not the same wine as the 97 vintage we tasted Sept 25! This was hard with rough edges with smoky currant overtaken by cedar notes.  Iron Horse Pinot Noir Sonoma County  2001 - RM 81 WS 80 - Awkward berry taste that competes with a slightly funky edge of musty cedar. Tasted w/ EMT and global team at Riazzi's in Tempe. It doesn't help that they store and serve their wines too warm - at room temperature or worse.
Oct 11 - Kracher Chardonnay Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese Neusiedlersee Nouvelle Vague No. 7 1998 - RP 94 WS 92 RM 92 Honey colored. Crisp, unctuous apricot with caramel and a hint of citrus on the long finish.

Oct 7 – Lewis Cellars Ethan’s Napa Valley Syrah 2000 – RM 88 $57 – Dark medium bodied, Ripe forward fruit filled mouthful of currant, plum and a hint of smoky cedar accentuated by a lasting mid-palate mild mocha through the finish. Tasted at Legal Seafood in Boca Raton who have upgraded and extended their winelist significantly in recent years to WS Award of Excellence prominence. They offer a selection of half bottles that include high end offerings such as Quintessa ($55) and Opus and a selection of wine flights. Wine prices are reasonable. 
Oct 5 - Worthy Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Sophia's Cuvee 2001 - WS 93 RM 92 $26 Ripe, full bodied currant, blackberry, plum fruit, sweet floral and cedar.

Alta Mura Napa Valley Sangiovese

Opus One
Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Sept 29 - Fisher Coach Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 87 - WS 92-93 barrel tasting and 87 bottle tasting. Dark, medium bodied sharp currant and plum fruit with smoky, earthy leathery tannin finish. Tasted at Golden Sheaf Restaurant in Harrisburg Hilton while at IIM Council meeting. Tremendous value on winelist at less than retail price. Release price $75 - Winelist price - $45! See Dinesite. Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Sept 28 - St Clement Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - $27 - WS 91 RM 86 - Here is what WS said about this wine... "A well-oaked style with lots of cherry, currant, berry and spice flavors, it turns supple and elegant on the finish where the anise and berry flavors re-emerge. Drinks well now but can age into 2000 with ease." I remember tasting this wine upon release with consistent memory and notes - Smoky charcoal and tight sharp currant overtakes the cherry with a hint of berry and spice which gives way to anise on the long tannin finish.
Sept 25 - DG WineShop California Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting - Wines
Opus One
2000 $165 - RM 89 WS 93 - Very Bordeaux like with earthy floral perfume aromas and tastes accented by currant, blackberry and cherry - smooth, balanced and polished - 84% cab 6% merlot 5% cab franc 3% malbec 2% petit verdot; LaSirena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 89, WS 93 RP 90 - Light, soft, balanced and polished currant, berry, plum fruits - $138 (Heidi Barrett-Winemaker); Richard Partridge Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 87 - Earthy, grassy, dill tastes overtake the berry fruit - $100; Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - $104 - RM91, WS 91 - Very pronounced scent and tastes of eucalyptus and floral turning to currant, blackberry and plum with a long firm oaky finish - 83% cab 8% merlot 6% cab franc 2% petit verdot; Mayacamas Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - $85 - RM 90, WS 88 - Firm tight tannic concentrated powerful dark cherry, smoky anise, and anise and dark mocha on the finish; Anderson Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - $60 - RM 92, WS 88 - Soft rounded and smooth currant, plum and berry with a hint of mocha on the finish - Consensus favorite of the group; Altamura Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - $75 - RM 91 WS 91 WE 92 - Smooth, light, polished with a plum, red berry and sweet currant with a soft mocha finish - consensus second favorite of the group; Jordan Sonoma Valley Cabernet 1999 - $60 - RM 88 WS 88 - Hard firm tannic oak and cedar overpowers the currant and blackberry before a long tannic oaky finish - 76% cab/24% merlot; Gundlach Bundschu Rheinfarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - $35 - RM 90 - Currant and dark cherry with soft lingering tannins on a smooth rounded finish. 

Sept 18 - Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Rutherford 1994 - WS 92 Spectator Selection - RM 88 - One from my cellar collection of 1994 Napa cab's. Hopefully I haven't kept them too long. This one is still full of currant, dark berry and plum fruit albeit giving way to a predominant smoky cassis flavor.

David Arthur Meritaggio
Sept 15 - Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2001 - RM 92 RP 93- $70 RP Review- Fairly deep color. There’s a lot of oak in the nose but plenty of ripe fruit to balance; a big, expressive bouquet that says Pinot Noir. Clean and well-made on entry, displaying plenty of extract, new oak, depth, and complexity.
It’s a big Pinot yet balanced and harmonious, almost elegant, a real accomplishment for a wine of this size. The finish is particularly long. First rate.; Andrew Will Columbia Valley Sorrella 2001 - RM 92 WS 92 $55 Full, firm, polished and well balanced with complex flavors of supple currant, plum and berry. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.; Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2001 - RM 88 WS 87 $39 Dark, full forward ripe black cherry and smoky plum; David Arthur Meritaggio 2000 - RM 90. Medium bodied, soft, full fruit of currant, plum, berry and a mocha taste on the finish. Tasted w/ TRR, TS, Rob G and Frank V at Rosewood in Rosemont.
Sept 12 - Henry's Drive Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon - RM 89 - Rich ripe forward fruit - dark cherry and currant flavor in a medium body with a spicy caramel and peppery sage finish.
Sept 11 - Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red 2000 - RM 93 - $45 - Dark colour, aromas and flavours of sweet currant, berry, plum and some of that distinctive Washington State Columbia Valley 'cognac' taste. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot. Delicious.
Tasted w/ L. at
Meritage Cafe and Wine Bar in Chicago.
Sept 9 - Mr. Riggs Adelaide Shiraz Viognier 2003 - RM 87 Aromas and tastes of dark berry fruit and blueberry is overtaken by intense spicy red pepper and a touch of mineral. 95% Shiraz from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek - 5% Viognier.
Sept 6 - Two Hands Angel's Share McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 - RM 88 - $24 - Dark, aroma's of mineral and a hint of sweet currant fruit permeate throughout flavors of ripe blackblerry and a hint of plum and pepper on the moderate finish.  Two Hands McLaren Vale Shiraz
Sept 4 - Carmenet Sonoma Valley Moon Mountain Estate Vineyard Meritage Reserve 1995 - RM 90 WS 90 - $40 - Dark forward blackberry evolves to long pronounced mineral then currant then plum on the long chewy tannin finish. Cabernet Sauvignon 79%, Cabernet Franc 19% Petit Verdot 2%. 
Aug 29 - Little Stone Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot 2001 - RM 86-  Ripe berry and red cherry with a hint of sage that gives way to anise on the big finish. Chateau Guibot Puisseguin-St.-Emilion La Fourvieille Bordeaux 2000 - RM 85 Dry, tannic, earthy with subtle dark berry fruit. Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot Margaret River 2002 - RM 84 Rich over-ripe berry result in raisiny fig taste with smoky slightly grassy finish. Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 85 Ripe cherry with herbal mint and pepper.
Note - This is the Cabernet Merlot Flight at Webster's Wine Bar that is more a complement to a wine oriented menu than inspiration or discovery; kudo's none-the-less for the choice. See DineSite Review.
Aug 28 - Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 89 - Tasted and purchased at the winery in Napa. See Napa Wine Experience 2003. Mouthfull of aromatic blackberry that quickly gives way to a touch of cedar and mineral with a big balanced and polished mild tannin finish.

Aug 27 - Domaine les Goubert Cuvée Florence Gigondas 1998 - WS 91 RM 89 - Dark colour, medium bodied - full fruit of blackberry then lingering cassis with modest clean tannins. Tasted with Brian E at Bistro Banlieue. See DineSite.
Aug 24 - Carmen Maipo Valley Chile Grand Vidure-Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1996 - WS 85 RM 83 - $15 Dark colour, predominant aroma and taste of mineral, and wet grass and pepper overpower the dark berry fruit with a long finish. Grand Vidure is indigenous Chilean grape aka Carmenère.
Aug 22 - Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 82 Musty earthy dill and mushroom aromas and tones overshadow underlying black cherry, mocha and predominant cedar. 
Duckhorn Howell Mountain 1990
Aug 21 - Chateau Gruaud Larose St. Julien Bordeaux 1989 - RM 89 $69/29 Jammy black fruits, earthy, cedary aromas that just blow up in the glass and give you a taste of what Bordeaux is all about, a mouthful a black fruit with a real sweet midpalate. Well balanced and richly textured with a long finish. I've tried this wine several times during the 90's and this is the first time the fruit has emerged and it has started to open. Duckhorn Howell Mountain 1990 - WS 86 RM 88 - $25 - Surprising life left in this 14 year old as it opened over the evening to reveal blackberry fruit, leathery cedar and earthy currant. Here's what WS said in '93 - "Tight and firm, a young and intense wine with spicy, cedary currant and berry flavors that are focused in a narrow band. Finishes with intensity and fine tannins and an earthy tobacco edge. Drink now." Blend of 57% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Cabernet Franc. Kracher Scheurebe Trockenbeeren Auslese Number 3 - RM 93 Sweet thick unctuous apricot and pear give way to smoky citrus on the long finish.
Aug 17 - Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 1974 - WS 89 RM 90 - Thirty year old wine for celebrating 30th anniversary. WS says - "Dense, tannic and muscular, with spicy, leathery accents on the firm plum flavors. Complex and interesting, with mature cola aromas." Rick's Journal Review - Classic Bordeaux perfume aromas that carry through to rich mouthful of fruit - tart cherry and plum with leather, spice and anise on the long aromatic lingering fruity finish. This wine vastly exceeded my expectations with its full forward and long lingering fruit. Tasted at Catch 35 in Naperville - BYOB. See DineSite Review.
Aug 14 - Marquis Phillips Shiraz '9' 2003 - RM 93 $39 - Not as delectable as recent vintages but very good none-the-less. The full fruit of recent years now shares tones of white pepper. Full forward scents and tastes of pepper and anise give way to smooth sweet super-ripe currant and plum with a big finish of essence of that distinctive burnt sugar and creme brulee on the finish, as with recent vintages, with lingering anise and pepper tones. McLaren Vale 60% Padthaway 40%.

Aug 12 - Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe 2002 - RM 87 $19/$47. Medium bodied cherry and blackberry that turns to tobaccco and that distinctive Langhe terroir tar taste on the finish. A poor man's Barbaresco. E. Guigal Croze-Hermitage Rhone 2000 - RM 86 WS 85 - $15/$47. Dark tight firm blackberry plum mineral spice and a hint of anise and slight pepper on the finish. Tasted at Pesce's Mediterranean Bistro in Harrisburg with TRR, PP, Alan C., Charlie F. and Dennis T.
Aug 8 - Marquis Phillips Southeast Australia Shiraz 2003 - RM 87 $15 - In a blind tasting this would pass as a southern Rhone - Aromas and taste of firm forward rich ripe black raspberry gives way to intense pepper and anise finish. Good value - this year with more intense pepper dueling with the fruit.  
Aug 7 - d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2002 - Not yet rated. RM 93 $59 - This might've warranted a higher rating were it not for the slight mineral or almost metallic like taste that creeps in occasionally. I say occasionally because this wine is like a heavyweight price fight dueling between blueberry, white pepper, and this mineral taste being predominant over the course of an evening. In any event its a big fruit bomb that aims to please. While not yet rated, RP describes the Dead Arm this way... "The nose shows intense and complex cedary, fig, blackberry and blueberry like smells occasionally pepper/spice smells too. Vanilla mocha oak smells and attacking blackberry, cassis characters are also evident on the palate. Full, intense sweet, cedary middle palate flavours have a distinctly silky, svelte texture deceptively disguises the rich powerful cassis and toffee-mocha flavours. The accent is on powerful full-bodied berry fruit flavour, with a little sweet English toffee- like oak evident on the juicy, rolling finish.
TREVOR JONES SIZE 2 GRENACHE MERLOT CAB FRANC 2002 Aug 2 - Trevor Jones Shiraz Barossa Dry Grown 1996 - RM 87 - $39 - Medium bodied herbal mint overshadows the earthy ripe berry and cherry fruit but gives way to a rich anise finish. One of the more distinctive and fun labels in existence. 
July 31 - Maxwell's Ellen Street Shiraz 2001 - RM 89 RP 93 $25 - Full forward dense and rich super ripe raisin blackberry and cherry give way to cassis and a hint of black pepper in this good value Shiraz. Almost bordering on an Amarone richness.
July 25 - Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - WS 92 Spectator Selection - RM 85 Earthy, smoky black raspberry and black cherry with a tight tannic finish. Digging out the 10 yr olds from the cellar. See Feature.

July 24 - Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 86 WS 90 Spectator Selection - $15 release price - Earthy aroma gives way to a black berry, black cherry, plum with smoky cedar and anise on a tight firm tannic finish.
July 22 - Mount Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - WS RM 88 $40 - Medium bodied - full aroma of plum and mocha with essence of blackberry, mocha, black cherry, and anise flavor on the finish with firm well defined chewy tannins. Tasted at CK Restaurant in Marriott Hotel in Houston Bush Airport.
July 17 - Steltzner Napa Valley Claret - RM 87 - $38 on winelist at Little Zagreb in Bloomington, IN. Great complement to our fabulous steaks. Medium bodied, blackberry turning to mid-palate plum and a hint of light mocha and subtle anise on the finish. 
July 16 - Hess Collection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990 - WS 90 Cellar Selection RM 84 $18 - Showing its age by the slight tinge of rust and separation on the rim and by the wet earthy mushroom aroma and taste that is overtaking the dark berry, plum, anise, smoke and red cherry flavors.
July 13 - Clarendon Hills Clarendon Liandra Vineyard Syrah 2001 - WS 93 RM 93 $47/$98 - Wow. Full bodied, forward fruit - intense Burgundian aroma, flavorful rich core of black cherry, plum with a finish of mineral and red cherry.  Chewy fine tannins that are round and full and nicely integrated. Much more approachable than the huge tight Piggot Range tasted last fall and at half the price, this wine is a reasonable value that is the affordable Clarendon Hill Syrah if you can find it. Tasted at River Cafe in Brooklyn with Brian E. Perfect match of Liandra and crispy duck in cherry sauce. See DineSite Review.

July 11, 2004 - Rosemount Estate Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 2000 - WS 93 RM 93 $53/$29 Delicious easy drinking wine that is a great bargain at this sale price. Dark, inky, big nose, full bodied forward frontal palate of pepper giving way to fruit of dark blackcurrant, cherry, cedar, smoke and huge long smooth lingering plum finish revealing layers of smooth tight tannins. Feature. Like a broken record - these two wines will keep coming around and round... two great values at these prices.. enjoy them while they last! July 10, 2004 - Ravenswood Southeast Australia Shiraz 2002 - RM 87 - Full forward rich fruit of ripe berry and peppery cherry with a cedar finish. First tasted Mar 8 at distributor release tour where this was a standout from this California house known for its single vineyard Zinfandels. Its now available and a terrific value at $12 for everyday drinking. Consistent notes with June 1 tasting. Tasted w/ sis Dr. Pat visiting for the weekend.
July 8 - Arrowwood Sonoma County Merlot 1999 - WS 88 RM 88 $42 Slightly astringent on the frontal palate gives way to somewhat tight and closed plum, cherry and berry with a pronounced lingering taste of mocha and oak. Full bodied and concentrated, with a long, complex aftertaste. Tasted at Big City Cafe in Boca Raton Town Centre with Bernard D. Michael M and Andrew P.

July 6 - Columbia Yakima Valley Red Willow Vineyard Syrah 1988 - WS90 RM 89 $25 - Initial slight astringency gives way to a nice concentrated, elegant full fruit of vanilla, plum and blackberry with firm balanced and smooth tannins with a spice finish.
July 3 - Hess Collection Chardonnay Napa Valley 1994 - WS 87 RM 87 - Rich ripe pear, apple and spice flavors. From the cellar - tasted at Price's commemorating Ryan's shipping off to Okinawa w/ the Marines.

July 2 - Benziger Sonoma County Fumé Blanc 2000 - WS 87 RM 87 $13 A rich, oaky style, with plenty of honey, spicy cream, peach and apricot flavors nicely balanced with bright, underlying acidity. Great value for everyday summer drinking. Tasted at DG Wineshop summer Friday Night tastings. Ravenswood Southeast Australia Shiraz 2002 - RM 87 Full forward rich fruit of ripe berry and peppery cherry with a cedar finish. First tasted Mar 8 at distributor release tour where this was a standout from this California house known for its single vineyard Zinfandels. Its now available and a terrific value at $12 for everyday drinking. Consistent notes with June 1 tasting.  
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