Rick's Wine Journal 2006 2nd Half


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

December 30, 2006 - Chateau Latour Grand Vin Pauillac Bordeaux 1981 Jeroboam - Grand Vin de Leoville du Marquis de Las Cases, St Julien Bordeaux 1981 Jeroboam - Jaeger Vineyards Inglewood Vineyard Sonoma County Merlot 1981 Imperial - Rutherford Hill Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1981 Imperial - Balverne Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 1981 Imperial - Domaine Chandon Brut Cuvee Sparkling Wine (Methode Traditionelle) 2000 Milennium Salmanazar (9L) 63% Sonoma County 37% Napa County. Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauterne, Bordeaux, 1981 and 1997;   Château Puy Servain, "Terrement", Haut Montravel, Dordogne, 2003.
Selection of large format bottles and dessert wines served at Erin & Johnny's gala wedding reception. These bottles were featured in my Wine Spectator Collector interview.
December 25, 2006 - Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 1981 - RM 88 WS 96 - The parade of 81's continues as we count down to the big day. This CDP was medium bodied and austere in colour with a slight rust on the edges revealing its age. Earthy leather overtook the black cherry and berry fruit. WS Oct 15, 1991 Review.  "A giant of a wine. Decant a few hours before serving if you want to drink it now. Deep in color, with super-ripe game, chocolate and tobacco aromas. Full-bodied, with a thick, massive fruit structure and tons of tannins. Has a gigantic finish." OliverHill Shiraz 2004 - RM 92 RP 93 - Deep dark purple - rich, thick chewy tannins and full bodied fruit of black berry loganberry and ripe plum. Medley of contrasting styles and tastes rounded out with the remaining Lucia Pinot Noir from yesterday - great selection for our gala festive holiday dinner with L, E&J, R&M, and Alec.
December 24, 2006 - Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 92 - Winemaker's notes: "The density of this wine is immediately evident on the nose. It is a spicy, fruit-driven Pinot Noir. Dark fruits including black cherry, blueberry combine with delicate tannins to create a very food-friendly Pinot Noir is a cuvee of various lots in the cellar. Generally a blend of equal parts from Garys’ Vineyard and Pisoni Vineyards."
Chappellet Napa Valley Chenin Blanc label on McNees Winesite December 21, 2006 - Chappellet Napa Valley Chenin Blanc 2003 - RM 89 - Light, bright easy drinking - zesty and spicy with flavors of tropical fruits and citrus, crisp acidity - rich but subtle flavors of orange, pineapple and a hint of anise and eucalyptus on the soft finish. Tasted w/ L at Parker Grill in Downers Grove.
December 17, 2006 - Chateau Leoville Las Cases St Julien Bordeaux 1981 - RM 88 - Floral bouquet, earthy leather, cigar box, dark berry, a hint of black cherry with a smooth long tannic finish. Erin's birth year wine to commemorate her Master's graduation today.
December 16, 2006 - Sineann Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir 2005 - RM 89 - Big full bodied firm dark and smoky with layers of black berry with a long full finish. Mollydooker "Two Left Feet" McLaren Vale Shiraz Blend 2005 - see review below. Tasted at home with L, Pat R. and friend Richard after Denver and the Mile High Orchestra concert at EFCN.
December 10, 2006 - Hess Collection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990; Kenwood, Jack London Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990; Silverado Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1990; Guigal Croze Hermitage 2003; Hahn
Central Coast Meritage 2003; Groom Barossa Shiraz 2002; Château Puy Servain "Terrement" Haut Montravel Dordogne 2003 - Wine flight of 1990 reds commemorating birth-year of ATM and friends for gala beef tenderloin holiday family dinner - with both sets of twins, CC, David R., Brian B., Brian L. and families.
Chateau Pichon Lalande 1981 label - Rick McNees Winesite photo December 9, 2006 - Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, Bordeaux 1981 -
RM 91 - Medium bodied, classic Bordeaux aroma and tastes of floral, earthy leather, cigar box, black cherry, black berry, anise, and silky smooth tannins. From the 1981 horizontal collection commemorating Erin's birth-year - broken out for the upcoming big event, and celebrating Marlene's birthday and 25 years of friendship, w. L at Phil Stefani's new Riva restaurant in Naperville.
December 8, 2006 - Château Puy Servain "Terrement" Haut Montravel Dordogne 2003 - RM 89 - Butter colored. Thick unctuous syrup - full bodied, full flavored smoky throughout from sweet pear to red delicious apple and brown sugar on the finish.
November 26, 2006 - Mollydooker "Two Left Feet" McLaren Vale Shiraz Blend 2005 - RM 93 - RP 94 - 65% Shiraz, 19% Merlot, and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon from McLaren Vale, Padthaway, and Langhorne Creek, created by Sarah Marquis. Remember Sarah's Blend from the old label? This is another incredible value in this new release from Sparky and Sara Marquis. Again, Parker says it best..."It boasts an inky/purple color, superb intensity, a big, sweet, full-bodied nose of creme de cassis, graphite, white chocolate, black olives, blackberry liqueur, and spice, and a spectacular, voluptuous, even unctuous texture. This is a big, powerful, classic southern Australian red made with no compromises."

November 24, 2006 - Mollydooker "The Boxer" McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 - RM 94 - RP 95 - Incredible value in this new release from Sparky and Sara Marquis. Deep purple - full rich plum, currant, and mocha. RP says it best in his review -  "The 2005 The Boxer Shiraz (primarily from McLaren Vale, followed by Langhorne Creek and Padthaway) exhibits a black/blue/purple color, an incredible density of fruit along with that tell-tale purity, blackberries, white flowers, melted chocolate, sweet licorice, and subtle wood. Full-bodied, beautifully textured and layered with an awesome finish, it should drink well for 4-6+ years. Two more expensive Mollydooker cuvees will be reviewed in my full Australian report in the October issue. Sarah and Sparky Marquis, who live by the motto, “We make wines that make people go wow - through attention to detail and commitment to excellence,” have hit pay dirt with these brilliantly packaged, screw cap-finished wines with labels that resemble Broadway vaudeville acts from the mid-thirties. Even more innovative, their back labels have a small postage stamp with all the relevant information so restaurant consumers can remember the wine by pulling off the stamp and taking it home. " Tasted w/ L. at Mark DeB's for post Thanksgiving luncheon.

November 23, 2006 - Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir 2003 - RM 91 WS 92 - Full bodied full flavored - dark berries, charcoal, turning to a spicy vanilla on a full finish. Great accompaniment to our Thanksgiving feast dinner. Tasted w/ L at home.

November 21, 2006 - Hanna Sonoma Valley Bismark Ranch Merlot 1999 - RM 88 - Smokey tar, licorice, black berry, earthy slightly tart cherry on the finish. 

November 20, 2006 - Parducci Pinot Noir 2005 - RM 86 - Smokey black cherry, cedar, earthy spice. Tasted at Chesapeake Seafood w/ L in Springfield.

November 19, 2006 - Davey Family Vineyard "The Gate" McClaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - RM 89 RP 90 WS 90 - Dark purple colour. Full bodied, firm, tight, mineral, dark berry, black cherry and a hint of plum on the long slightly metallic finish. d' Arenberg 'Dead Arm' McLaren Vale Shiraz 1999 - RM 87 RP 96 - Slightly earthy, tart cherry, hint of cedar and slight mineral with dark berry on the somewhat flabby finish. Not a fair review as this wine needed time to open and settle to reveal its true identity worthy of Parkers's 96 rating. John Duval 'Entity' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 - (See below). Tasted w/ Dr. Dan at his cellar.

November 17, 2006 - John Duval 'Entity' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 - RP 95 RM 93 WS 92 - $34 - Delicious. Medium bodied, easy drinking sweet creme brulee' with that burnt sugar and vanilla taste intermixed with plum, red raspberry laced with camphor on the long smooth finish. Tastes like the Marquis Phillips '9' that I touted so highly back in the 2001-2002 vintages.

November 16, 2006 - Colonial Estate 'l'Explorature' Barosa Valley Shiraz 2004 - ST 90 - RM 87$18 - Deep purple colour; cedar and mineral flavours overtake the black cherry, blackberry laced with a tobacco and tar undercurrent.  

November 14, 2006 - Mount Veeder Meritage Napa Valley  Red Wine 1989 - RM 87 WS 88 - Amazing life left in this 17 year old from the cellar. Earthy tart black cherry, a hint of anise and firm tannins on a long flavorful finish.
November 12, 2006 - Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou St. Julien Bordeaux 1981 - RM89 - Classic left bank Bordeaux bouquet of floral and perfume with that elegant and well integrated classic earthy leather that gives way to berry, black cherry, a hint of anise and a lengthy finish. Breaking out the 1981 Bordeaux's as we count down Erin's birth-year wines to her and Johnnie's gala event. Tasted with them and L with gala Sunday roast dinner.  Other reviews - RP 88/100 (Ed 1998) "One of the Medoc's more successful wines, the 1981 has reached full maturity. It exhibits a dark ruby/purple color, and a moderately attractive nose of minerals and jammy cranberry fruit intermixed with black currants. In the mouth, this wine has lost its baby fat, revealing medium body, and an elegant, measured personality. Pure, with well-integrated tannin, this is a stylish, graceful Ducru-Beaucaillou. Wine Spectator: 89/100 (10-1994) A wonderful balance of rich fruit and silky tannins, with plum, vanilla and light tar character. Full-bodied and tannic yet so well integrated; excellent harmony. Drinkable now but better after 1998. - Frank Dubourdieu : 90/100 (Ed 09-2000).
November 11, 2006 - Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2005 - RM 87 - Sweet full bodied sparkler has essence of thick pear.

November 9, 2006 - Soper Legacy Sonoma County Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 89 - Intense dark firm with tightly wound flavors of dark berry, a hint of tobacco and sage with firm tannins on the long finish. Tasted at Idylwood Grill in Falls Church w/ JK and L McV.


November 6, 2006 - Cloud View Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Red Wine 2002 - RM 93 - $55 -  Full bodied, firm, nose and  mouth-full of white pepper, licorice, dark chocolate, sweet red currant, and black raspberry with firm long tannins on the finish. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot. Tasted at home w/ L & Ryan for his tenderloin birthday dinner.
November 5, 2006 - Guigal Crozes Hermitage Côtes-du-Rhône Red 2003 - RM 86 - RP 88-90 - This has too much mineral, and a bit tart cherry, and medium bodied. Not to my taste so I'll defer to RP's rating. "The 2003 (primarily Roussanne and Viognier) possesses good body as well as abundant fruit, texture, and fat. The 2003 Cotes du Rhone red may be the finest example of this cuvee yet produced. Tasting the deep ruby/purple-colored 2003 from several huge tanks revealed it is loaded with fruit and body. This supple, exotic effort should be a knock-out when released early next year." - (88-90) - The Wine Advocate by Robert M. Parker Jr - 12/04.  Gazette.net review - E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2003 ($10) From the well-known producer, this has wonderful red fruit aromas and flavors with moderate tannins, tobacco and vanilla notes and a good smooth finish. www.gazette.net Blend of 55% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and others.

November 3, 2005 - Bonny Doon NV Muscat Vin de Glaciere - RM 88 - Bright, clean full flavored essence of pear, a hint of apple, tangerine and citrus. Still seeking the right complement of aperitif and dessert wine selections for Erin and Johnnie's banquet. This is a contender as Erin and I had this on one of our memorable 'dates' at the Pump Room on Nov 20-21, 2003.

November 3, 2005 - Loring Wine Company Santa Rita Hills Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 89 $45 - Nice depth and balance but too much tart cherry on the opening. Needs time to soften. After a while it reveal smoky plum and cherry with a hint of spice. Tasted w/ Bill at Binny's Glen Ellen.

Robert Craig Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Label

October 28, 2006 -  Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 -
RM 91, WE91,
Vinfolio 94, W&S 90 - $50 - Full, flavorful, black berry, black currant, and licorice on a long smooth lasting finish. See other reviews on Robert Craig profile page.

Oct 20, 2006 - Château Doisy-Védrines Sauterne Barsac Bordeaux 2003 - RM 88 RP 90 Barrel sample according to Clyde Beffa, K&L's (SFO) Bordeaux Buyer: "Coconut and honey aromas. Has some lemony undertones on the palate. Very rich and concentrated. WS 89: "Wow. This shows super intense aromas of dried pineapple, apple tart and pecan pie with honey. Full-bodied and medium-sweet, with lovely honey character and a medium finish.

Oct 16, 2006 - Hazy Blur Baroota Australian Shiraz 2003 - RM 92, RP 91, ST 88 - Deep dark purple, full bodied, thick, rich, black raspberry, blackberry, plum, smoke, spice, and a hint of clove and anise.  Fantesca Estate Winery Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 94 W&S 94, WS 91, WA 90 - Wonderful full aromas of fruit, floral, vanilla, and a hint of smoke and eucalyptus. Burst of flavor of black currant, ripe black raspberry, plum, spice, a hint of caramel, vanilla, smoke - all accented by silky, velvety full and firm yet very approachable tannins that are seamlessly integrated and long on the finish.  Tasted at Del Frisco's Steakhouse in NYC w/ Eric W, Kirk D and NY friends.

Oct 15, 2006 - Domaine Serene Evenstad Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir 2003 - RM 92 - Dark, scents of anise, full flavor of black fruit, anise, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla on the smooth finish. Tasted at Birch Bar in the Westin Boston Convention Center.  
Oct 8, 2006 - Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - RM 87 - Dark, earthy berry with a long full finish of earthy smoky cassis and firm tannins.  

Oct 1, 2006 - Cline Cellars Contra Costa County Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2005 - RM 88 - Winemaker notes - "Shows wonderful dusty raspberry, blackberry, white pepper and spice, with coffee and chocolate characters. Aging in new and used wood has lent this wine a subtle vanilla quality that nicely complements the explosive fruit notes. Enjoy now or cellar for 5 to 7 years. Rick notes - Great value wine that is easy drinking, deep purple colour, mouthful of smoky raspberry and plum fruit, and spice. Tasted at Mamo's gala Chip engagement party.

Sept 22, 2006 - Ch. Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington 2002 - RM 89, WS 90 - Powerful and concentrated with intense flavors of black cherry, ripe plum, coffee and toast, accented by the distinctive Columbia Valley terrior cognac taste. Wine Spectator rating 90 points: "Supple, refined and detailed, a gem that shows a slightly different hue with each turn of the light, offering black cherry, currant, white pepper and sage character as the flavors persist on the long finish. Drink now through 2012."(HS)  - Tasted w/ L, Erin & Johnnie at 2001 Blue at the Oak Brook Renaissance Hotel.

Long Meadow Vineyards & Cellars Pirouette Red Wine 2003

Sept 20, 2006 - Fantesca Estate Winery Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 94 W&S 94, WS 91, WA 90 - Wow! Fabulous first release from this new label and producers - Duane and Susan Hoff and their Spring Mountain property Fantesca Estate Winery. Wonderful full aromas of fruit, floral, vanilla, and a hint of smoke and eucalyptus. Burst of flavor of black currant, ripe black raspberry, plum, spice, a hint of caramel, vanilla, smoke - all accented by silky, velvety full and firm yet very approachable tannins that are seamlessly integrated and long on the finish. Aged in Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
moderate toast 70-80 new French Oak. Delicious wine. Tasted with producer Duane Hoff on his inaugural launch release marketing tour stop in Chicago. Only 800 cases produced. Their winemakers are Kirk and Nils Venge whom we visited during our Napa trips. Get it while you can at www.fantesca.com
Also tasted: Heitz Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 89. Not a fair fight up against the bigger, fuller, richer, firmer Fantesca. By itself this would be a nicely balanced easy drinking flavorful multi-layered Cab. These wines were tasted at the ClubHouse Restaurant in Oak Brook. Back at home we compared the Fantesca to Pirouette Walla Walla, Columbia Valley Red Wine 2003 - RM 92 - A joint venture of "Napa Valley Wine Savant" Phillip Melka, August Huneas of Quintessa, and Allen Shoup of Washington State. Interesting blend of small lot vineyard fruit of cabernet 56%, merlot 22%, cab franc 9%, petit verdot 3%, and syrah10%. Slightly earthy, dark fruits, full bodied, firm, essence of black raspberry, black currant, licorice, a hint of pepper and subtle mocha on the finish.
Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 label Aug 27, 2006 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Blend 2002 - RM 92 - Full forward fruit of blackberry, hints of tar, raspberry, currant, cedar and a whisper of mocha and licorice with a long big finish accented by firm tannins. A perennial favorite, this remains a good value Napa cabernet as Robert has continues to hold price at a reasonable level while maintaining consistent top quality. Great complement to L's fabulous beef tenderloin dinner. Even better accompaniment to the double chocolate cake dessert! This wine should soften a bit and be more approachable with a little age.

Novy Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah 2003

Aug 26, 2006 - Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle 'La Cuvee' Brut; Buller Victoria Premium Fine Tokay - Cellar selections opened to celebrate the engagement of Erin & Johnnie, with L, Ryan & Michele, and Barb.
Novy Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah 2003 - RM 88 - Big rich forward ripe raisiny blackberry and strong accent of mineral that almost overwhelmes the fruit.

Aug 25, 2006 - Sea Smoke Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills, Southing Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 93 - Winemakers tasting notes - Dark garnet in color, the 2004 Southing is elegantly styled. Aromas of wild blueberries and black cherries mingle with violets and subtle dustiness. This wine has ample body and firm, ripe tannins that integrate well with its cool climate acidity. Review by RoundersRob sums it up well - "Transparent burgandy-red color that barely stains the cork. Cherries and other dark berries mixed with a little bit of spice on the nose with some dark fruits and maybe a little plum on the palate. The taste is quite complex, with a lot of comingling flavors. A full bodied pinot noir with a very long and smooth finish." Tasted w/ L at Branmor's in Bolingbrook.

Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Label

Aug 22, 2006 - Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2002 - RM 90 - Smooth and sophisticated berry, raspberry, plum, currant, mocha, and vanilla. Canoe Ridge Columbia Valley Merlot 2002 - RM 90 - Forward blackberry, black cherry, a hint of earthy tar and that distinctive Columbia Valley terrior taste of essence of cognac. Orin Swift "The Prisoner" Napa Valley Red Wine Blend 2004 - RM 91 - A wild blend of 53% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Charbono and 7% Petite Sirah, the Prisoner is loaded with dark black fruits, spice and hints of sweet oak. Park Taylor Elouise Christman Woodbridge Petit Syrah Eldorado Tempranillo Blend 2002 - RM 91 - You saw it here first - a discovery by AJ, this is the inaugural vintage release by this emerging producer. Brought by AJ from his cellar, a rare bottle of this as yet unreleased wine bottled from the only available barrel. Upon release there will be only 25 cases available. Dark, forward fruit of blackberry, black cherry, smoky tar and anise on the finish. Tasted w. AJ, Carla M., Jeff M., John G., Mark R., Chris at Palace Arms Restaurant in Brown Palace Hotel in Denver - teaming dinner at Intel-link conference.   Orin Swift The Prisoner Label by REMc

Aug 19, 2006 - Hahn Estates Central Coast Meritage 2003 - RM90 WS 90 - $18 - Deep purple color. Intense aroma and mouthful of tasty of currant, caramel, red raspberry, plum and a hint of oak and vanilla. Tasted at Bob & Gloria's annual 'Fiesta'.

Elan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1995

Aug 17, 2006 - Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot 2001 - RM 91 - Smooth  flavorful anise, mocha, tar, berry and oak with a long silky finely integrated tannin finish. Joseph Perrier Brut Cuvee Royal Champagne NV. RM 88 - 35% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier from 23 crus. Tasted at the Garden Restaurant at the Art Institute of Chicago featuring live Yves Francois Jazz w/ L, George and Kay M., celebrating our 32nd anniversary and Kay's birthday. Pics.
Aug 16, 2006 - Elan Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 89 - $36 From the Atlas Peak viticulture district up in the south east corner above Napa Valley. From Richard and Linda Elliott-Smith - participants in our 1998 Napa Wine Experience. Supple, with a range of peppery, earthy, mineral and tar flavors leading to a core of ripe plum, black cherry and herb. Pol Roger NV Reserve Champagne - Visited last week during our Champagne Wine Experience.
Tasted w/ L., Ryan & Michelle, Erin & Johnnie, & A on the deck.

Steele Vineyards Stymie Syrah 2001 label by REMc

Aug 14, 2006 - Steele Stymie Lake County Founder's Reserve Syrah 2001 - RM 92 - $34 - Rich, full flavored forward fruit, smoky currant, mocha, red raspberry and plum. Very flavorful and pleasant on the mid-palate. Tasted w/ Brian B. at Idylwood Cafe and Wine Bar in Falls Church. 

Aug 11, 2006 - Selection of Italian whites at Vini da Sabatini in Frankfurt w/ L. and Fahid, Alec and Lauren. 
Aug 9, 2006 - Selection of German white wines at Zum Güldenen Schaf in Altstadt in Heidelberg.
Aug 5, 2006 - Domaine de Karliac Bordeaux 2005 - RM 87 - Les Garriguieres Cotes du Provence 2005 - RM 87 - Tasted w/ L and Alec at Chez Clement on Rue de Marbeuf in Elysees 8ème in Paris.  

Aug 4, 2006 - Crochet Cellier de la Thibaude Sancerre 2005 - RM 87 - Misserey Bourgogne Haut Cotes de Nuits 2003 - RM 87 - Tasted w/ L and Alec at Chez Francis at Place de Alma in Paris.    

Aug 1, 2006 - Steele Stymie Lake County Founder's Reserve Merlot 2002 - RM 92 - $30 - Rich, full flavored forward fruit, red raspberry, plum, currant and a hint of leather and mocha. Very flavorful and pleasant on the mid-palate. Tasted w/ Jim K at Idylwood Cafe and Wine Bar in Falls Church

July 27, 2006 - Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 84 - Earthiness taking over the fading fruit, which hangs on at the end with slightly tart black cherry, hints of anise, and plum, and a lingering cedar and black raspberry on the full finish that then falls off abruptly.

July 22, 2006 - Swanson Alexis Napa Valley Estate Red Wine 1995 - RM 88, WS 92 - $40 - Big firm structure with moderate tannins - smoke, blackberry and black cherry offset by tar, bark and gamey notes. Interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot from Schmidt Ranch vineyards, located along Oakville’s Mayacamas foothills on the west side of the valley. This is the second release of this wine named for Alexis Swanson, one of three daughters of owners Clarke and Elizabeth. Alexis works for the winery in public relations.

July 20, 2006 - Pellegrini Cloverdale Ranch Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - RM 86 - $21 - Slightly tart black cherry, red pepper, hints of cassis, tar, cedar and spice.  Tasted at home w/ Erin and Johnnie.

July 19, 2006 - Gallo of Sonoma Alexander Valley Barrelli Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 89 - $26 - Big fruit forward medium bodied red cherry, black raspberry, currant, and spice on the finish. Tasted w/ BJB and MW at Michael's in Key West. 
July 18, 2006 - Guenoc Langtry Meritage 2002 - RM 90 - $40 - Big powerful full bodied, fruit forward, mouthful of ripe red currant and black cherry, a touch of cedar on the finish. Bordeaux style blend of 70% Lake County, 30% Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasted w/ BJB and MW at Cafe Marquesa in Key West. 

July 17, 2006 - Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2002 - RM 90 - $40 - Rich, full bodied and complex, ripe currant, black berry, plum, and that classic distinctive terrior cognac giving way to a hint of mocha and cassis with huge but finely integrated silky tannins on the  finish. Blend of 76% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Petit Verdot. Tasted w/ BJB and MW at Mangia Mangia in Key West. 

July 15, 2006 - Four Graces Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 89 - $23 - Full forward mouth feel of ripe red berry and black cherry flavors, a hint of spice and touch of mineral, bright fruit and finely integrated tannins on a long finish. - Wine Spectator says: "Lithe and distinctive for its raspberry and white pepper notes around a nice core of cherry and sweet spice flavors. Drink now through 2010." (05/06) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Dark red. Forest floor scents, wild strawberry, and hints of game and toasty oak on the nose. Spicy and firm in the mouth, with dark berry flavors and more suggestions of game and earthy wild mushrooms. This has good acidity and finishes with a firm, tannic bite." (May/Jun 05) 

July 11, 2006 - Paloma Spring Mountain Napa Valley Merlot 2003 - RM 95 WS 90 - $75 - Reduxx of the WS Wine of the Year for 2003 - the 2001 vintage of two years ago. Impressive, smooth polished, complex harmonious symphony of finely integrated aromas and flavors - huge currant, red raspberry, milk chocolate, a hint of ripe plum, sweet oak and a bit of vanilla on the long smooth polished finish. Spring Valley Vineyard Washington State Walla Walla Uriah Red 2003 - RM 91 - $42 - Smooth polished and nicely balanced, easy but elegant drinking wine - featuring aromas and tastes of black cheery, ripe currant, sweet plum, a hint of red cherry and milky chocolate with a smooth silky firm tannin finish. Blend of  77% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Fabulous, fascinating comparative tasting of two similar wines. The Uriah is a mini version that stands up well to the Paloma. The Paloma is more complex, sophisticated, and long lived than the Uriah which is more overt, forward, and a bigger punch of fruit flavor that falls off at the end relative to he longer lived and more polished and easier drinking Paloma. Tasted w/ Rick C. at Ruth's Chris in Fairfax, VA. A great pair that match up against, compare and complement each other well.

July 9, 2006 - Sterling Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard Merlot 1999 - RM 87 - Release price of $50. Complex floral aromas and flavors of leather, earthy black cherry, berry, cedar and a finish of subtle spicy cinnamon and tannins. Mix of 79% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot. Perfect complement to grilled flank steak, chocolate dessert, and gouda cheese finale. Tasted w/ L., Erin & Johnnie on the hot tepid deck offset by wonderful summer breezes.

July 6, 2006 - Provenance Napa Valley Carneros Merlot 2002 - RM 88 - Ruby red color. Plum,  blackberry, currant, a hint of cedar and subtle but lingering mocha on a long polished mild tannin finish. L and I discovered this wine visiting the winery during our 2003 Napa Wine Experience. Groth Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - RM 89 - Soft and smooth pear, a hint of ripe apple and touch of mango and peach. Both tasted with SE, BJB, and Eric W. at Michael's Restaurant in Key West.

July 5, 2006 - Stonestreet Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 89 - Dark berry, cassis with hints of spice and mocha and a hint of tar on the moderate finish. Tasted w/ SE, BJB, and Eric W. at Gus' Grille Restaurant at the Marriott in Key Largo.

July 3-4, 2006 - Quilceda Creek Red Table Wine 2000 - RM 88 ST 88 - $30 - Dark ruby colour. Aromatic, flabours or black raspberry, black cherry, graphite, cedar and smoky, spicy oak. Finishes with firm-edged tannins and good length. 90% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cab franc, 3% merlot - 22 months in French oak - barrels declassified from their flagship first label - this is their second label. Raymond Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 88 WS 90 SS - $26 - Dark, firm, blackberry, black raspberry, hints of bark, and finishing with a a subtle mocha and anise. A bit subdued. Tasted w/ L, Erin & Johnnie, Ryan, & Bob L. - wonderful holiday grilled steak dinner.

July 1, 2006 - Domaine Serene Evenstad Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 - RM 92 - Full flavors of ripe plum, strawberry, blueberry, a hint of vanilla and spice with a long lingering soft finish.

June 30, 2006 - Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 - RM 89 RP 89 - Black cherry, hint of spice, slightly earthy cedar and a long long finish of licorice and full oak with smooth tannins.

June 28, 2006 - Yangarra McLaren Vale GSM Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre 2003 - RM 89 WS 90 WE 92 - $20 - Black cherry and blackberry, tar, a hint of cedar and mineral with layers of tannins on a pronounced lingering finish. Yangarra, recognized as International Winery of the Year in 2005 by Wine & Spirits Magazine is a member of the Kendall Jackson Vintners Group.

June 24-25, 2006 - Henry's Drive Australia Padthaway Shiraz 2003 - RM 92 WA 94 - Dark inky colour. Huge aroma and taste of jammy blackberry, essence of creme brulee, licorice and sweet toasty oakwith a hint of pepper. RP says - "The 2003 Shiraz is a full-bodied, opulently-styled red that smells of creme de cassis and blackberry liqueur intermixed with smoky meats, espresso
roast, jammy black fruits, licorice, earth, and toasty new oak. It should evolve nicely for a decade or more." 94 points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate #161 (OCT 2005) - This was my choice but L preferred the bigger fuller ripeness of the Mr. Riggs. Tasted w/ Mark D. with fabulous flank steak and beets on Sat and again on Sun. Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D'Asti 2005 - RM 90 - $9 /375ml. Delightful easy drinking essence of sparkling pear. Perfect as an aperitif, to cleanse the pallet between courses, or after dinner on a sunny afternoon on the deck!  Tasted w L, and Erin & Johnnie after fabulous rib b-b-que dinner. 
June 23, 2006 - Mr. Riggs 'The Gaffer' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 - RM 89 - $20- Named in honor of Ben Rigg's great great great grandfather John 'The Gaffer' Riggs who settled their vineyards 150 years ago. Dark black crimson colour. Classic McLaren Vale ripe fruit nose and flavors of ripe blackberry, plum and vanilla followed by licorice and spice. Fine grained tannins, nice balance, long aftertaste of licorice and black pepper.

June 21, 2006 - Château Paloumey Haut Medoc Bordeaux 1996 - RM 87 - $29 - Earthy leathery black cherry and berry fruit with a mild tannin finish.

June 18, 2006 - Goosecross Cellars Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 90 - $62 - Forward cherry flavors, anise, sweet oak, eucalyptus and a hint of chocolate taper off to intense, even, tannin. The long lingering dry finish is accented with oak and dark ripe Bing cherry flavors and a hint of nutmeg. The depth, complexity and polish of this are offset by a Goosecross Cellars Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
bit of astringency rendering a lower rating. Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay 2004 - RM 90 Rich smooth, full bodied, roasted almonds, hint of citrus and peach fruit accented by toasty oak. From ENA's cellar who picked it up at the winery. Great complements to flank steak and Mahi Mahi Father's Day dinner.

June 11, 2006 - Kate's Vineyard Sedna Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 88 $27 - Blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah - layers of black fruit flavors, a hint of smoky cedar, earthy leather, and elegant fine grained tannins and a long finish. Only 250 cases were produced. Tasted at Bob & Gloria's steak dinner.

June 10, 2006 - Robert Mondavi Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 and 1993. 1992 - WS 91 RM 88; 1993 - RP 93 RM 90 - A study in contrasts in this mini-vertical tasting. The '93 opened with brilliant forward fruit of black cherry and blackberry framed by subtle cassis and earthy leather with a modest tannin finish. The '92 was dense, firm earthy, leather, and a hint of cedar overarching its black cherry and berry fruit and chewy tannins. Over the course of the evening they each took on the characteristics of the other as the bright fruit of the 93 became more subdued and the 92 revealed a complex, dense and chewy fruit. Rosemount GSM (Grenache Syrah Mouvedre) McLaren Vale 1997 - RM 87 - Not quite as bright and full flavored as the 02 below but similar profile of blackberry, mineral, spice and a touch of plum on the finish. The 97 is more modest in fruit but also in the metallic minerality which tended to detract from the 02. Norman Paso Robles Late Harvest Zinfandel 1997 - RM 88 - Great accompaniement to the chocolate browny sweet. Not as sweet as the 36 brix and 16% alcohol would tempt but tasty black cherry and cherry fruit none-the-less. One must remember this is not a fortified port - the richness and density are but the product of late harvest fruit. Tasted w/ L and Bill and Beth C at their home - perfect complements to a wonderful beef tenderloin dinner and tasty 5 year old aged sharp cheddar! 

June 9, 2006 - Rosemount GSM (Grenache Syrah Mouvedre) McLaren Vale 2002 - RM 87 - Huge bouquet. Flavors of intense blackberry, mineral, spice and a touch of blueberry on the finish. This wine is a decent value at $15. Its a great value at $10 where it is currently available at Trader Joe's.

June 6, 2006 - Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 92 WS 92 $45 - Dark inky color. Full forward fruit flavors of black currant and raspberry, ripe plum, black cherry, cedar and a hint of anise and milk chocolate on a full firm finish. Picked up this wine at the winery during our Napa Valley Experience 1999. Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997 - RP 90 RM 89 - $45 - Review from the Wine Doctor - A moderately deep, glossy red with a pink-tinged rim. A lovely nose, with dark roasted fruits, fine dark chocolate and a touch of earthy farmyard. Big, full-bodied and powerful palate, still dominated by ripe but unintegrated, mouth-puckering tannins. There's a good amount of dry fruit, typical Amarone texture and appropriate acidity. I retasted after 24 hours, and the tannins were much less prominent, giving the wine a chance to show its surfeit of sweet blackberry and plum fruit, and its rich texture. Quite backward, and clearly in need of another five years in the cellar. Tasted at home w/ AJ, Dave McD, and L following the NetM RG Workshop.  

June 5, 2006 - Rosemount Estates McLaren Vale Balmoral Shiraz 1995 - RM 90 WS 90 - $39 - Dark full flavor, berry, blueberry, plum fruit, with spice and anise. Showing age on opening but opened and softened with a long full magnificent finish.; Raimondi Villa Monteleone Campo San Paolo Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 1997 -  RM 91 $59 Big nose and flavor of rich super ripe raisiny currant and mineral with a long full finish that is full of mineral with hints of eucalyptus. Marquis Phillips '9' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2001 - 92 $39 - A bit less polished than the 2000, but that distinctive 'burnt sugar creme brulee' taste abounds. Full, forward rich and dense ripe fruit. HS of WS calls it 'exotic spice' taste, "very ripe and dense,  with rich blackberry jam flavors, which echo on the long silky smoky finish".; Tasted w/ AJ, Dave McD, Scott E, L, Erin & Johnnie at home for NetM RG Wrkshop dinner w/ L's fabulous tenderloin, lobster medallions, and gala bakery selection.

June 2, 2006 - Shingleback McLaren Vale Davey Family Vineyard Shiraz 2003 - RM 89 RP 90 WE 89 - Dark inky colour - ripe black raspberry, plum, and a hint of oak and mineral.
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