Rick's Wine Journal 2008 1st Half

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

Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Howell Mountain Beatty Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 label July 19, 2008 - Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Howell Mountain Beatty Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 90 RP 94 WS 96 - Perhaps this wine was 'closed' at this time. I found it a bit uninspiring relative to or not up to the hype and hyperbole of the pundits ratings. Too early? Let's hope so as I have several more bottles so time will tell. (This seemed to be the case with some other recent tastings of 1997 Napa Cabs - 97 BV Tapestry below). It was good never-the-less -  balanced, medium bodied, black cherry, black berry, anise and leather with moderate firm tannin and a hint of oak. Tasted w/ L, Ryan & Michelle with beef tenderloin on the deck.
Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity 2003 Label July 18, 2008 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - RM 91 - A perennial favorite wines from a featured winemaker from our Napa Wine Experiences. Nice balance of fruit and pronounced oak - black cherry, black berry, subtle well integrated tannins. Tasted w/ ENA and Kathy - tasty complement to grilled steak at their place. 
Jip Jip Rock Limestone Coast Australian Cabernet Shiraz 2005 July 17, 2008 - Jip Jip Rocks Limestone Coast Australia Syrah - Cabernet 2005 - RM 89 - RP 91 - The Wine Advocate Dec 2006 Issue # 168 - Jip Jip Rocks� 2005 Shiraz Limestone Coast exhibits a deep ruby/purple color as well as attractive blueberry, black raspberry, and creosote characteristics, wonderful intensity, supple tannin, and a long finish.

July 11, 2008 - Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 91, WS 91, RP 92 - Robert Parker: "The 1991 boasts a dark ruby color, a rich, ostentatious, sweet vanillin, herb, and blackcurrant-scented nose, and gobs of rich, herb-tinged, juicy fruit, the opulent texture that Silver Oak routinely obtains. There is plenty of fat, glycerin, and alcohol in the long finish. Both wines are already delicious, and will age gracefully for 12-15 years." WS 91 - Wine Spectator  Review: "Lavishly oaked, with an herb and dill edge to the currant and berry fruit. It is a rich and harmonious style, with layers of flavor. Firmly tannic, it can stand cellaring into 1998 to 2000 and still be massive." 
Venge Napa Valley Scout's Honor Zinfandel Blend 2005 July 9, 2008 - Venge Scout's Honor Napa Valley Zinfandel Blend 2005 - RM 89 CG 91 - Fruit forward full bodied black fruit, spice, tar, anise and a touch of 'heat' that detracts slightly from this wine's approachability and enjoyment. eucalyptus. 68% Zinfandel; 17% Charbono; 15% Petite Sirah. Tasted w/ BJB at Tallulah's in Arlington.
Fantesca Estate & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 bottle July 5, 2008 - Fantesca Estate and Winery Napa Valley Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 92 $65 - First tasted at the winery from the barrel a few weeks before bottlling during our 2007 Napa Wine Experience. Smooth and polished with cherry, black fruit, hint of currant, dark chocolate, cassis and spice with a refined tannin finish. Tasted at home w/ L in a delightful evening on the deck with fine cheeses, chocolate and fruit. We first met the producer when he came to visit on his launch tour -  An Evening with Duane Hoff of Fantesca Estate Winery, That 2003 release is eclipsed by the elegant and more refined 2004.
Plumpjack Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon July 3, 2008 - Plumpjack Napa Valley Oakville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 90 WS 90 $45 Currant and berry with a hint dark of dark chocolate, cedar and tar on the smooth tannin finish. Tasted (BYOB) w/ L, Ryan & Michelle, Erin & Johnnie at the wonderfully unique North Pond Restaurant in Chicago.

Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 label

July 2, 2008 - Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Bosche Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 - RM 89. Tasted BYOB w/ John & Karen, just relocated  from PHX and sister visiting from Scotland at Angelis - served by Alec.  
Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 label July 1, 2008 - Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - RM 90; Dunham Vineyards Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 89 - Amazing similarity in these wines - full firm, black fruits, black cherry, cigar box, tea and moderate tannins. Tasted with Analysts team Ted H, Skip F, and Tim G BYOB at Angelis - served by Alec.
June 29, 2008  - Rosemount Estate Balmoral Mclaren Vale Syrah 1996 - RM 89, WS 92 - Forward, intense, almost overly ripe black fruit, anise, tar, spice, black raspberry. Tasted w/ L, BYOB at Angelis - served by Alec!

Ramey Napa Valley Claret 2004 Label

June 28, 2008 - Ramey Napa Valley Claret 2004 - RM 90 - RP89 - ST 88-91  Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar May/June 2006 Good full ruby. Blackberry, licorice and menthol on the nose. Sweet, dense and rich, with a silkier texture than the 2003 and strong chocolatey fruit. Finishes with plenty of tannins, but has the fruit to support them. 89  Robert M. Parker Jr.'s The Wine Advocate 12-22-06 The 2004 Claret shows soft, seductive notes of black fruits intermixed with bay leaf, white chocolate, and sweet, subtle wood. It is soft, round, generous, and best drunk over the next 5-8 years, although I suspect it will keep longer. 89  Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar May/June 07 Deep ruby. Suave redcurrant and cherry aromas are open-knit and ripe. Supple and sweet, with pliant tannins supporting ripe cherry and dark berry flavors. Not at all heavy, this shows good freshness on the finish. Tasted w/ L at Fiddlehead Cafe in Lincoln Square, Chicago.

June 26, 2008 - Benessere Napa Valley Sam's Cuvee Merlot 2002 - RM 88 - Forward black berry, plum, dark mocha, hint of eucalyptus and cedar on a big firm extended finish. Special blend for Sam's Wine Superstore in Chicago. 
Chateau Clos du Marquis St Julien label 1999 June 25, 2008 - Clos du Marquis St Julien Bordeaux 1999 - RM 88 - Medium bodied, dark berry, black fruits, tar, cigar box and a subtle cassis, earthy leather on the finish. Second wine of Chateau Leoville Las Cases.
McMannis Family Vineyard Merlot 2006 Label June 20-22, 2008 - McManis Family Vineyards River Junction Merlot 2006 - RM 87 - Great value wine at less than $10. From the junction of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers, just south of Lodi, California. Spicy oak flavors predominate with black cherry, black berry fruit, toasted oak and a subtle strawberry vanilla on the finish. A Rick's Pick Value Selection.
Chappellet Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Sam's Cuvee June 21, 2008 - Chappellet Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Sam's Cuvee 2005 - RM 89 - $35 - Dark medium full bodied berry, cherry, mocha, spicy, a hint of currant, vanilla and cigar box. Special blend for Sam's Wine Superstore in Chicago. Tasted at home w/ L on the deck with Sunday grilled steak dinner.

June 20, 2008 - Domaine du Pesquier Gigondas 1999 - RM 89 WS 94 Spectator Selection $18
WS gave this a SS and a 94 so I'll defer to their review. "Rich and ripe, a lovely and seductive Rhône red. Packed with wild herb, plum and blackberry complexity, it caresses the palate with its rich fruit and silky tannins. Full-bodied, with mineral, slight smoke, leather and game character on the finish." RM Review - A bit awkward - bright berry, black cherry, subtle leather, pepper and herb. Tasted w/ L & Mark Db, BYOB at Angeli's neighborhood Italian Bistro.
Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 1997 June 17, 2008 - Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Tapestry Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 92 WS 94 - Full berry, dark cherry, slight earthy leather, licorice and eucalyptus on the moderate tannin finish. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's neighborhood Italian Bistro - Alec's first night serving!
Robert Craig Nap Valley Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Label
Kirkland Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 label
Larkmead Cellars Napa Valley Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2003 label
June 15, 2008 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (RM 94 WS 94) (WSCS) $59; A tribute to Robert Craig at its best. One of my favorite wines from one of my favorite producers. A great fruit bomb from a spectacular vintage. Rich purple colour. Huge full berry flavor, full rich balanced yet soft on the finish cherry, berry, and spicy chocolate. Previous tastings of this wine were at two spectacular restaurants - T Cooks,Scottsdale and Sullivan's in Naperville. Robert & Lynn Craig and Rudy Z, their associate winemaker were featured winemakers at our Napa Wine Experience 99 and Napa 98, Robert Craig website. Tasted at home w/ L, Alec, Erin & Johnnie for gala Father's Day surf & turf dinner.
June 11, 2008 - Kirkland Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 89 $25; Vineyard Block Estate Napa Valley Yountville Meritage 2005 - RM 87 $20; Larkmead Cellars Napa Valley Family Estate Cabernet (60%) Merlot (40%) 2003 - RM 88 $30- Tasted w/ L, Erin & Johnnie, and Ryan & Michelle at Florida condo. Vineyard Block Estates Block 629 Meritage 2005 label
NorthStar Stella Maris Columbia Valley 2004 label
June 9, 2008 - Beringer Napa Valley Bancroft Ranch Howell Mountain Private Reserve Merlot 2000 - RM 92 - Northstar Stella Maris Columbia Valley Red Wine 2004 - RM 89 - Tasted w/ family at Fishbones Restaurant in Orlando. Beringer Bancroft Ranch Howell Mountain Private Reserve Merlot 2000
Jacobs Creek Centenary Hill Barossa Shiraz 2003 Label June 2, 2008 - Jacobs Creek Centenary Hill Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 - RM 91 WS 93 WE 89 - $29 - Wine Spectator - Ripe and succulent, with a vanilla note weaving through the blackberry, currant and sweet spice flavors that mingle effortlessly on the seamless finish. Impressive for its balance and power-in-reserve. Drink now. Score: 93. —Harvey Steiman, Dec 31, 2007. Wine Enthusiast - Starts off rather spicy and peppery, fills the midpalate with modest blackberry fruit, then closes with a blast of vanilla-laden oak. This is a medium-bodied, savory offering that blends of a couple of old-vine parcels from Barossa's Tanunda subregion. Drink now-2012. Score: 89. —Joe Czerwinski, Nov 01, 2007.
Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Label May 30, 2008 - Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 93 WS 93 - The 99 may be the best ever Cab from our friends Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto - and winemaker Nils Venge. Its delicious! Intense dark cherry, currant and blackberry with a lingering finish - tight structured tannins and nice balance. DDO was featured in our Napa Wine Experience 2003. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite local neighborhood bistro.
Steve Hoff Rosscoe's Shiraz 2005 Label May 29, 2008 - Steve Hoff Winery Rossco's Shiraz 2004 - RM 91 RP 91 WS 94 - $45 - Intense forward black berry, plum, and a hint of smoke, tobacco, and spicy cedar on the finish. RP Review - "A brilliant cuvee, the 2004 Shiraz Rossco’s Vineyard sees 20% new and 80% used American oak. A flamboyant perfume of blackberries, espresso roast, white chocolate, plums, and licorice precedes a full-bodied, chewy, intense wine with supple tannin as well as loads of glycerin, extract, and richness. It possesses 15% alcohol. Drink it over the next 7-10 years." - WS- HS Review - A big wine, but with a graceful style. Shows plenty of muscle, with ripe plum and blackberry fruit shaded by hints of tobacco, cedar and oaky spice. Wears it all well and is beautifully balanced through the long, expressive finish. Best from 2008 through 2016. 500 cases made. –HS 94 Points.
Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Charles Cimicky Barossa Valley Shiraz Reserve 2004
May 25, 2008 - Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 88 - Past its prime or a slightly tainted bottle perhaps;  this bottle lacked the definition and depth of fruit flavors from earlier tastings. Earlier review - RM 93-94 WS 94 Cellar Selection - Forward mouthful of delicious currant, blackberry and plum flavors with a smooth polished finish. Blend: Bordeaux Style - Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc, Merlot from Cameron Vineyard on Silverado Trail; Cabernet Sauvignon from Stagecoach Vineyards above Oakville, and Merlot from Feingold Vineyard in Sonoma. WS says its Fishers finest - awarded it a Cellar Selection. Mollydooker Maitre' D Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.- $20 - RM 89 WS 89 - WS Review - Ripe and velvety. A supple mouthful of blackberry and currant flavors, hinting at dark chocolate as the finish lingers. The tannins have some grip, and there's a bit of heat at the very end. Drink now through 2014. WS 89, Wine Spectator, Sept. 30, 2007. Tasted w/ L, Marlene, Erin & Johnny, Ryan & Michelle and Lauren H at birthday dinner BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro. Mollydooker The Maitre D Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Label
May 24, 2008 - Pride Napa Valley Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1995; Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005; Chiarelllo Family Vineyard Roux Petit Syrah 2003; Hahn Central Coast Meritage 2003; Charles Cimicky Barossa Reserve Shiraz 2004; Raymond Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Reserve; Selection of tasty and easy drinking wines served at Alec's graduation open house. 

Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

May 23, 2008 - Pride Napa Valley Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - RM 90 - WS 91 - Highly Recommended designation from the Wine Spectator: "Dark, ripe and high in extract, this wine is overflowing with young currant, anise, plum and spicy Cabernet flavors from the first sip to the last. Turns complex on the finish, where it picks up a dusty, cedary, chocolaty accent. Best from 1999 through 2004." (11/97)
Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite
May 21-22, 2008 - Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 93; RP 95; WS 91; IWC 92 - RM - Dark inky colour. Medium to full bodied, elegant rich symphony of flavors of sweet currant, pepper, vanilla, spice, red raspberry, blueberry and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the soft finish. Tasted at home w/ L.

May 18, 2008 - Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2003 - RM 92 - Black cherry, berry, hint of oak, leathery, tea and smooth polished tannins on the finish. Wine Enthusiast sums it up well. "Smooth polished black berry, hint of plum, oak"Smooth and complex with 78% Cab Sauvignon contributing the firm tannic backbone that gives this such excellent structure. The other four Bordeaux varieties are here as well. The flavors are so interesting: black cherries blackberry jam plum sauce coffee root beer and new oak. There's an acidic vibrancy as well. Just beautiful California claret." 94 Points Wine Enthusiast - Tasted at home - perfect accompaniment to teriyaki steak grill at home w/ L.
May 17, 2008 - Mollydooker 'Blue Eye Boy' Shiraz 2005 - RM 91 - Two very similar style wines, similar tastes the Blue Eyed Boy possessed slightly more of that alcohol mineral that detracts from the fruit.
Mitolo G.A.M. Shiraz 2005 -
RM 92 - Full bodied, rich thick chewy black raspberry, and plum accented by anise, oak and mineral and graphite which detract from the fruit.
RP 95: "Fashioned from a McLaren Vale vineyard, the 2005 Shiraz G.A.M. (named after the Mitolo children (Gemma, Alexander, & Marco) is a deep ruby/purple-hued effort displaying beautiful blackberry, white pepper, licorice, and toasty oak notes. Rich, full-bodied, and intense, with blueberry and blackberry flavors, sweet tannin, and excellent purity, it is a tour de force in winemaking. Enjoy it over the next decade." (10/06) Tasted w/ L, Kevin & Barb at 'Distinctive Cork' in Naperville.
Mollydooker Blue Eye'd Boy Shiraz 2006

Mollydooker Blue Eye'd Boy Shiraz 2006
Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-pape 1995 Magnum Label May 12, 2008 - Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-pape 1995 Magnum - RM 93, RP 93, WS 92  - Intense forward blackberry, spice, a hint of anise, tea and firm fine polished tannins on the long finish. Tasted w/ LC & KY of TS w/ BJB, DM, DW, and CB at product review - teaming dinner  - BYOB at Riva Naperville. RP Review - Parker:93 - '...A medium to full-bodied wine, with a boatload of tannin, considerable grip and structure, and a weighty feel in the mouth, this appears to be a classic vin de garde made in the style of the 1978 Beaucastel...'  Wine Spectator:92    '...shows the backward intensity of youth, with a dark color and initially reductive aromas. But be patient--behind the firm tannins there's a core of ripe, rich plum, with notes of game, herb and mineral that promise complexity with age.'
Piedra Hill Vineyard Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 May 10, 2008 - Piedra Vineyards Napa Valley Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 92, $39 - Medium bodied, aroma and flavors of intense blackberry, cedar and spicy oak, hints of sweet currant, loganberry, with a firm polished tannin finish.
Venge Family Reserve Cabernet 1998 May 4, 2008 - Venge Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 1998 - RM 90, RP 90 - Bright red berry, cherry, a hint of anise on a long polished firm tannin finish. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro. RP Review - "The outstanding 1998 Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (285 cases) is more accessible and up-front than this cuvee tends to be in Napa's greatest vintages. There is an overlay of vanilla and heavy, spicy oak in this restrained, feminine effort. Venge's hallmark gorgeously sweet cassis fruit, is more accessible, without the volume and power of top years. Anticipated maturity: now-2015." Robert Parker's Wine Advocate #142 (Robert Parker, 08/01/2002) Rating: 90 Drink from: 2002 to 2015; Marquis Phillips S2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 91
May 3, 2008 - Albert Morot, Beaune Bressandes, Burgundy, Beaune 1st Cru Controlee 1992 - RM 84 - Earthy, leathery black cherry with a slight off hint of aged wet grass.
Strathewen Hills Patterson Lakes Port Phillip 2005 Label May 1, 2008 - Strathewen Hills Patterson Lakes Port Phillip Shiraz 2005 - RM 90 - $45.
April 30, 2008 - Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - RM 87 - Starting to show its age, bright berry and black cherry fruit give way to slight earthy leather on the finish. Tasted w/ L and Alec BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
April 24, 2008 - Albert Morot, Beaune Bressandes, Burgundy, Beaune 1st Cru Controlee 1992 - RM 84 - Earthy, leathery black cherry with a slight off hint of aged wet grass. Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 93; RP 95; WS 91; IWC 92 - RM - Dark inky colour. Medium to full bodied, elegant rich symphony of flavors of sweet currant, pepper, vanilla, spice, red raspberry, blueberry and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the soft finish. Tasted at home w/ L and Mark & Shirley. Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite
Kalleske Barossa Valley Greenock Shiraz 2004 Label
April 22, 2008 - Kalleske Barossa Valley Greenock Shiraz 2004
Kaesler Barossa Valley Old Vines Shiraz 2003 Label
April 20, 2008 - Kaesler Barossa Valley Old Vines Shiraz 2004 - RM 90 - RP 93-95 RP Review - "The 2004 Old Vine Shiraz (from a vineyard planted in 1961) was aged in 100% French oak. Its opaque purple color is followed by earth, graphite, and melted road tar characteristics as well as a long, full-throttle palate that has more layers, finesse, and concentration than The Bogan." - Issue #161, October 2005
Branson Coach House Greenock Block Shiraz 2004 label April 18, 2008 - Branson Coach House Barossa Greenock Block Syrah 2004 - RP 90 - RM 91 - Dark, full bodied, rich, chewy, full flavors of black fruits, a hint of raspberry and blueberry, graphite & mineral. Tasted w/ ENA in Greenfield.
Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite April 14, 2008 - Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2005 - RM 89 - WS 93  Intense black berry, hints of more subtle blueberry and ripe plum, pepper, spice and flinty graphite on the moderate finish. Wine Spectator Review - Rating 93 - "Smooth and round, impressive for its seamless balance offering cherry and grilled pepper flavors against refined tannins. The open texture reveals sweet spices and mocha flavors as the finish lingers. Has complexity, depth and excellent detail. Best from 2008 through 2015."
Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite
April 13, 2008 - Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 93; RP 95; WS 91; IWC 92 - RM - Dark inky colour. Medium to full bodied, elegant rich symphony of flavors of sweet currant, pepper, vanilla, spice, red raspberry, blueberry and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the soft finish.  RP review - "...aged for 18 months in French and American oak hogsheads with 50% new staves. Purple/black in color, the wine exhibits a big, brooding bouquet of pain grille, pepper, Asian spices, blueberry, blackberry, and licorice. This leads to a full bodied (15.2% alcohol), super rich plush wine with layers of spicy black fruit flavors, excellent balance, and a long pure finish. For a wine this size, it is remarkably light on its feet. Give it 2-3 years to more fully evolve and drink through 2020. This is quite a debut for Flinders Run." 
WS - "Dense and peppery. A lively mouthful of dark-hued fruit and spice, lingering on the clear, focused, juicy finish. Fine tannins frame this nicely. Best from 2009 through 2015. 2,000 cases made." (WS)
International Wine Cellar - "($32) Glass-staining ruby. Explosively perfumed nose offers a surreal array of dark fruits, oak spices, flowers and minerals. Fat but focused, with intense, spicy blackberry, cassis and floral pastille flavors. Gentle tannins add structure but can't contain the wine's expansive, sweet personality. Gains strength on the long, sappy finish. This has enormous immediate appeal." (IWC)
Winery Notes
Attractive deep purple, red with rich complexities of spicy berry fruits with subtle vannillan oak. A full flavored wine with berry and licorice characters to the fore, soft tannins giving it a nice lingering taste. A robust wine for hearty food. – Mike Farmillo – Leading Winemaker Boars Rock. Exhibiting rich ripe berry fruit characters, the colour of black cherries completed by toasty American and French Oak flavours achieved from lengthy barrel maturation. The palate is rich, round with spicy flavours and balanced tannins.
  April 10, 2008 - Stelzner "Claret", Napa Valley, Cabernet-Merlot 2005 -  RM 87 - Medium-bodied with layers of blackberry, black cherry, a hint of pepper and integrated oak. Chalone Pinot Noir 2005 - RM 86 - Tasted at Biaggi's Restaurant in Champaign.
Gabilan Cellars Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 Label April 8, 2008 - Gabilan Estate Chalone Appellation Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 - RM 88 - Medium bodied with moderate cherry, strawberry and loganberry fruits with a hint of mocha.
Hazy Blur Adelaide Plaines Shiraz 2004 Label
April 4, 2005 - Hazy Blur Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2004 - RM 89; Linden Virginia Claret 2004 - RM 88 - What an interesting contrast in styles! The Hazy Blur is fruit filled and forward but actually gives way to a bolder, brighter Linden. Both wines boast a full flavored loganberry, cherry, graphite mineral core. The Hazy Blur trends to a more subtle, fuller, richer raspberry.  Linden's burst of flavors is a mouth-full of forward fruits of loganberry, cherry, spice, graphite and mineral. The Bordeaux blend is there but the boldness overtakes the polish and finesse and it is void of the earthiness and leather found in a old world claret. Cabernet Sauvignon 48%, Petit Verdot 35%, Merlot 13%, Cabernet Franc 4%. Tasted at Marco Island House with L., Jean & Erica B. The ladies preferred the Linden. Linden Virginia Claret 2004 on McNees.org/winesite
April 2, 2008 - Markham Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2001 - See earlier reviews. Marquis Phillips S2 Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 90 - Medium bodied, berry fruit with a pronounced spice box hinting of cinnamon and a hint of mocha on the moderate silky tannin finish. Consistent with earlier reviews - RM 91 WS 90 RP 02 - Used to be $29 but newer releases are now selling for up to $45. - I defer to the producer's description which I find very apt except for the 'peppers'  and slightly simpler complexity - "Characters of berry fruits, black & white pepper, cedar and cigar box, with a layer of dark chocolate adding to the complexity. As this wine ages the fresh raspberry characters will mature into darker boysenberry and blackberry characters with layers of brandy laced chocolate fondue flavours." Ercavio La Mancha Tinto Roble Tempranillo 2004 - RM 87 RP 90 - Wine Advocate review - "Purple colored with fragrant spice box, tobacco, blueberry and blackberry aromas, this full bodied effort has firm structure, gobs of ripe fruit, and a 40 second finish."  Tasted w/ Bak and Gib Fam's at Gib's Marco Island House w/ festive delicious grilled rib eye steak dinner watching the sunset over the bay. Ercavio La Mancha Tinto Roble 2004 Label
Chiarello Family Vineyards
April 1, 2008 - Chiarello Family Vineyard Roux Petit Syrah 2003 - RM 88 - Ercavio La Mancha Tinta Roble 2005 - RM 87 - RP 90 Rudd Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - RM 89 - Tasted w/ Bak Fam at Marco Island house gala fresh seafood grill dinner. The Rudd was a great compliment to the halibut, swordfish and mahi while the Chiarello served the ahi and king salmon. Rudd Sauvignon Blanc 2005 label
 
Cloudline Oregon Columbia Valley Pinot Noir 2006 label March 30, 2008 - Cloudline Oregon Columbia Valley Pinot Noir 2006 - RM 86 - Light medium bodied - cherry,  loganberry and graphite, smoke and a hint of earthy cedar on the finish. Tasted w/ L at Scholar's Inn in Bloomington, IN while attending Alec's IU Kelly B-School Direct Admit Orientation weekend.,
Arrowood Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 label March 29, 2008 - Arrowood Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 89 - RP 90 RP Review: "A brilliant effort, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma (5,000 cases produced) is a sleeper of the vintage. A deep ruby/purple color is followed by loads of black currant fruit intermixed with hints of smoke, earth, dried herbs, and licorice. It possesses full body, wonderful ripeness and purity, a layered mouthfeel, and a velvety texture. Moreover, it is fairly priced." (02/05).
Kracher BerrenAusliese Cuvee 2006 - RM 89 - Light butter colour. Delicate scent and flavors of pear with hint of honey and citrus. Tasted a/ L, Johnny & Erin at Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.
Branson Coach House Greenock Block Shiraz 2004 label March 29, 2008 - Branson Coach House Barossa Greenock Block Syrah 2004 - RP 90 - RM 91 - Dark, full bodied, full flavors of black fruits, a hint of raspberry and blueberry, graphite & mineral. Tasted w/ Bill and the Binny's team at Glen Ellyn.
March 25-26, 2008 - Markham Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2001 - RM 91 - $24 - Dark purple - huge fragrance and mouthful of forward fruit currant, black raspberry, an undercurrent of cedar and black pepper with a long smooth subtle mocha finish. It opens and reveals more fruit and firmer tannins the second evening. I love this stuff and bought a bunch of it as you see if you scan through this journal.
Les Houilleres Chassagne Montrachet 2003 label on McNees.org/winesite March 23, 2008 - Les Houilleres Chassagne Montrachet 2003 - RM 89
Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1998 label on McNees.org/winesite March 21, 2008 - Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1998 - RM 89 - $48 This is DDO's flagship blend of Cabernet (83%) and Sangiovese (17%). The 1998 growing year reduced the crop by 30% from previous years giving the Cabernet a heartier body and longer aging ability than previous years. Revealing the Sangiovese's fruity nose with a strong intense floral flavor - add the Cab and you have a a big full bodied chunky fruity wine with dark cherry, berry, red licorice, slight leathery moderate tannins. Twelve hundred cases were produced. Tasted at home with Ryan - great compliment to delicious beef tenderloin grill.

March 20, 2008 - Sociando Mallet, Haut-Médoc Bordeaux 1986 - RM 91 WS 90 - Big full bouquet - dark garnet colour - full fruit forward flavors of berry, cherry, raspberry and a hint of plum accented by leather, and a slight earthiness, with soft, finely integrated firm tannins. Tasted from Magnum. Lots of life left in this 22 year old. From the cellar - BYOB at Riva Restaurant in the Calamos Building on Rt 59 in Naperville - tasted with KD, SE, PC and US Ambassador Stephan M. 

Viader Napa Valley Wine

March 19, 2008 - Viader Napa Valley Syrah 2002 - RM 90 - Complex full flavored wine with spice, hints of cinnamon, mocha and eucalyptus lingering and overtaking and hence detracting from the black berry and currant flavors. Tasted at home with L.
Rudd Sauvignon Blanc 2005 label March 18, 2008 - Rudd Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - RM 89
March 16, 2008 - Domaine de la Gardine Chateauneuf du Pape 1998 - RM 89 RP 90, WS 94 - $49 - Medium bodied, black cherry, black berry, leather, hint of earthiness and subtle cassis on the finish. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
Chiarello Family Vineyards March 14-15 - Chiarelllo Family Vineyard Roux Petit Syrah 2003 - RM 88
March 11, 2008 - 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.
Label Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1998 March 9, 2008 - Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1998 - RM 90 - Medium bodied, slightly earthy and leathery, spicy black cherry, a hint of pepper and cassis with firm lingering tannins on the long finish. Tasted w/ L BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
Fife Vineyards Napa Cabernet 1993 March 7-8, 2008 - Fife Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 - RM 87 - Medium bodied, the black cherry is overshadowed by a slightly earthy leathery essence that falls off short on the leathery finish.
March 2, 2008 - Chateau Lucie St Emilion Bordeaux Grand Cru 1995 -  RM88 - Dark black fruits, charcoal, smoke and slight earthiness on the moderate tannin short finish. Plucked from the cellar in rememberence of the birthday of beloved late Grandma, mother, mom-in-law, Lucy L.
Diggers Bluff Watchdog Shiraz cab 2001 label on McNees.org/winesite
Hahn central coast meritage 2006 label
March 1, 2008 - Diggers Bluff Watchdog Barossa Valley Cabernet Shiraz 2001 - RM 89 - Just released as the producer aged this six years in the bottle. Medium bodied black cherry and ripe black berry fruits, well rounded moderate tannins and a hint of oak Compliments of Bill C. - Branson Coach House Greenock Single Vineyard Greenock Block Shiraz 2002 - RM 90 WS 92; WS HS Review, "Firm in texture, an immensely refined style that weaves some earthy, gamy notes through the dark, ripe berry and spice flavors, finishing long and beautifully focused. Needs time to settle into itself and shed some tannin, and then, wow. Best after 2006. HS" - Reignac Bordeaux Superiere 2005 - RM 88; Hahn Central Coast Meritage 2006 - RM 89; Apex Cellars Yakima Valley Late Harvest Semillon 2006 - Amazing vivid essence of pear sensation. Served at home with beef tenderloin dinner with Bob & Gloria, Jason, Mark & Christin, Bill & Beth. Chateau Reignac 2006 label
Resplandy Muscat St Jean de Minervois nv
February 28, 2008 - Resplandy Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois NV - RM 88 - Smokey apricot with hints of honey, pear and citrus. Apex Cellars Yakima Valley Late Harvest Semillon 2006
February 27-28, 2008 - Markham Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2000 - RM 87 - The first evening upon opening this was a  disappointment compared to the 2001 vintage which has so much fruit, complexity and balance which I love and bought a bunch of which you'll see as I drink it regularly. This is a bit hard with charcoal leather overtaking the black fruit and the moderate to firm tannin finish. The second evening it was much softer, more approachable as the edge had come off to reveal more of the currant, plum, berry fruit. RM 89.
Lupine Hill Napa Valley Cabernet 2004
Conn Creek Napa Valley 2004 label
February 26, 2008 - Conn Creek Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 87 - Uninspiring medium bodied moderate berry fruit that never quite breaks out to reveal itself. Perhaps overpowered by the forward overpowering Frazier Winery Lupine label offering.  Lupine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 88 - An edge in this wine detracts from the fruit as cedar and the herbs predominate but its big and has a nice tannin finish. This is a designated label from Frazier Winery.  Winemaker notes - "Aging in a combination of French and American oak barrels, has mellowed the 2004 Lupine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon to become a very approachable and lively wine. It is ruby red in color and exhibits the aromas for fresh cherries and cranberries. The flavors of strawberries, raspberries, with herbs and surrounded by toasty oak. It is the perfect pairing wine for cheeses, grilled meats, and chocolate desserts." Tasted w/ SB by the glass at Peter Flemmings in McLean.
Chateau St Michelle Ethos 1994 label on McNees.org/winesite February 24, 2008 - Chateau St Michelle 'Ethos' Reserve Columbia Valley Red Wine 1994 - RM 89 - Dark black cherry, black berry fruits, leather, anise, spice, charcoal and a essence of cedar lingering on the firm long tannin finish.This is the pinnacle flagship wine of this respected producer. This vintage - 64% cabernet sauvignon, 28% merlot, 5% malbec and 3% cabernet franc.

Peter Michel Cuvee Indigene Chardonnay 2004 label on McNees.org/winesite
February 23, 2008 - Marquis Phillips '9' Shiraz 2001 - RM 88 WS92 RM92 - Super ripe and rich Amarone-like raisin scents and spice flavors overpower the forward berry, ripe plum fruit and creme brulee burnt sugar - much more so than earlier tastings. Not nearly as polished as other vintages. Tasted w/ L, Erin & Johnny at home. Conn Valley Vineyards Reserve Cabernet 2005 label on McNees.org/winesite
Peter Michael Cuvee Indigene Chardonnay 2004 - RM 91 - Crisp, clean, refreshing, melon, pear, a hint of citrus and creme brulee.  Tasted compliments of Mr. F w/ the wine crew at Binny's Glen Ellyn.
Conn Valley Vineyards Reserve Cabernet 2005 - RM 92 RP 94 - Left bank bordeaux style - earthy, leathery - black fruits, currant, a hint of floral.
Lyeth Sonoma Meritage label on McNees.org/winesite February 21, 2008 - Lyeth Napa Valley Meritage 2004 - RM 87 - Slightly tart tangy black cherry, leather, a hint of cedar, spice and smoke with moderate soft long tannins. Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Merlot 2004 - RM 88 - Black cherry, a hint of berry, plum, and spice with a moderate smooth tannin finish. Tasted at Indigo Restaurant in Springfield.
Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2003 label on McNees.org/winesite February 20, 2008 - Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2003 - RM 89 RP 90 Points - Robert Parker (Wine Advocate) Review - "The 2003 Merlot was performing beautifully out of bottle. An elegant blend of 85% Merlot and nearly equal portions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, it possesses a refined deep ruby/purple color along with scents of berry fruit, sweet cherries, and hints of smoke and mocha. Drink this lovely Merlot over the next 6-7 years."
Pine Ridge Napa Valley Chenin Blanc - Viogier label


Hahn central coast meritage 2006 label
February 18, 2008 - Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc - Viognier 2007 - RM 87 - $14. Pine Ridge is the originator of this unique blend. Winemakers notes - "Floral and sweet on the nose, the 2007 Chenin Blanc-Viognier exhibits fragrant aromas of pear, lychee and melon, with a delicate touch of grapefruit, lime and mixed citrus. Sweet, bright flavors of lively citrus and pear are offered up along with a supple texture. The slightly off-dry finish is clean and crisp, marked with notes of red grapefruit....... A natural choice for cheese pairings as well, perhaps matching best with the naturally high acidity in fresh goat cheeses." The Chenin Blanc grapes are from the river delta region near Clarksburg, CA. The Viongier is from near Lodi, CA. 
February 17, 2008 - Hahn Central Coast Meritage 2005 - RM 89 - Hahn does it again and scores a big winner with this tasty, nicely balanced sophisticated blend full of berry, currant, plum, and a hint of smoke and cedar on the finish. A Rick's Pick great value wine at $14-16  .
February 13, 2008 - Fantesca Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005 - RM 90; Simi Sonoma Valley Chardonnay 2005 - Tasted at Larry & Kelly C's in McLean with JK & Monica K. Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay 2005
February 10, 2008 - DEL DOTTO Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 (RM89) $40 Del Dotto's first release of a 100% Sangiovese, grown on the mountains of Calistoga in Napa Valley. Super fruity nose with a smoky slightly earthy floral flavor - chunky fruity wine. This wine has developed more depth and breath with age. A favorite of Nils Venge, DDO winemaker.  Only a few hundred cases were produced of these early releases. Tasted w/ L, Tony and Dick BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Shiraz 2005 label on McNees.org/winesite February 9, 2008 - Kilikanoon Killerman's Run South Australia Shiraz 2005 - RM 87 WS 87 RP 92 - Black fruits and charcoal prevail with an edge of graphite and mineral on the finish. The Wine Advocate - "The 2005 Shiraz Killerman’s Run, which had just been bottled, is unbelievably good. It possesses a deep ruby/purple color, terrific blackberry and cassis fruit, hints of charcoal, licorice, and earth, and an opulent, voluptuous personality. Enjoy this super-sexy Shiraz over the next 3-4 years. Score: 92. — Robert Parker, October 2006."  Wine Spectator - "Soft and ripe, with pretty blackberry and peppery cream flavors. Drink now through 2010". Score: 87. —Harvey Steiman, August 31, 2007. Tasted w/ L, Ryan & Michelle, Erin & Johnny, Kevin & Barb, Evelyn & Keith at E&J's dinner party for L's b-day.

February 8, 2008 - Melka CJ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 - RM 90 - Black raspberry and currant fruits over shadowed by cedar, eucalyptus and smoke, giving way to a hint of mocha and licorice on a smoky tannin finish.

February 6, 2007 - Castello Banfi Montalcino Brunello Montalcino 1987 - RM 79 - Either too old or an off bottle or combination of both - Medium to light bodied, turning a slight brownish on the edges - aroma of wet grass - the fruit has turned to taste like fortified wine - essence of cognac, smoke with off tarnish damp earth on the finish. Tasted in 375 split.
February 3, 2008 - Markham Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2001 - RM 91 - $24 - Dark purple - huge fragrance and mouthful of forward fruit currant, black raspberry, an undercurrent of cedar and black pepper with a long smooth subtle mocha finish.

February 1, 2008 - Kathryn Hall Napa Valley Sacrashe Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - RM 89 - Big long lingering bouquet and flavors of floral and eucalyptus give way to earthy leather with subtle black cherry on a long firm tannin finish.
January 27, 2008 - Mollydooker Two Left Feet Shiraz 2006 - RM 90 - $20 - Winemaker notes - This wine has superb intensity with aromas reminiscent of butterscotch, plum, white chocolate, cherries and raspberry fruit. Its spicy, big, unctuous texture and incredible density of fruit gives you a wonderfully rounded mouth-feel and a silky smooth finish. "Smooth, vibrant and distinctive for its tarry blackberry and charred meat flavors, riding high on a sleek frame. Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon." -Rated 90, Wine Spectator
"The 2006 Shiraz (68%) – Merlot (17%) – Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) “Two Left Feet” is a glass-coating opaque purple color. The brooding nose reveals plummy dark fruits, blueberry, licorice, and a hint of chocolate. On the palate it is thick, layered, and voluptuous. The structure is well-concealed and the wine is seamless and very long. It will reward a few years of cellaring but delaying gratification will be difficult. It is a great value. Mollydooker (the Australian equivalent of “Southpaw”– both Sparky and Sarah Marquis are left-handed) is the label of the renowned winemaking team of Sparky and Sarah Marquis. - Rated 93, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
January 26, 2008 - Markham Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2001 - RM 91 - $24 - Dark purple - huge fragrance and mouthful of forward fruit currant, black raspberry, an undercurrent of cedar and black pepper with a long smooth subtle mocha finish.
Chateau Domaine de Chevalier 2003 label on McNees.org/winesite  January 25, 2008 - Domaine de Chevailier Pessac-Leognan 2003 - RM 88 - $35 - Super ripe black berry, black cherry, almost fig raisin tastes prevail with a moderate tannin finish. Opened earlier in the week, then pumped and put in the cooler, it was much more approachable and softer after being open for five days. Needs time to open.
Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon label 2006 on McNees.org/winesite January 23, 2008 - Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 88 - Medium body. Modest nose. Flavors of black berry and black cherry, a slight hint of vanilla. Tasted w/ Wendy M., Michael W., and BJB at J Gould's in Champaign.
Chateau Larcis DuCasse St Emilion label on McNees.org/winesite  January 21, 2008 - Grand Crus de Bordeaux 2005 Vintage Tasting United States Tour
From Pessac Leognan - Domaine Chevalier Grand Cru Classe, Chateau Haut Bailly, La Louviere, Chateau Pape Clement, From St Emilion - Chateau Angelus, Chateau Beu-Sejour Becot, Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Canon, Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere, Chateau Dassault, Chateau Figeac, Chateau Grand Mayne, Chateau La Couspaude, Chateau La Gaffeliere, Chateau Larcis DuCasse, Chateau Larmande, Chateau Pavie-Macquin;
From Pomerol - Chateau La Conseillante; From Moulis-en-Medoc - Chateau Chasse-Spleen; From Listrac-Medoc - Chateau Clarke; From Haut Medoc - Chateau Cantemerle, Chateau La Lagune; From Margaux -Brane-Cantenac, Cantenac-Brown, Chateau d'Angludet, Chateau Giscours, Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Rauzan-Segla; From St Julien - Chateau Beychevelle, Chateau Branaire-Ducru, Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Chateau LaGrange, Chateau Langoa Barton, Chateau Leoville Barton, Chateau Leoville Poyferre', Chateau Talbot; From Pauillac - Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse, Chateau Haut Bages Liberal, Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron, Chateau Pontet-Canet, Chateau Cos Laboury, Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Chateau Phelan-Segur; and from Sauternes - Chateau Climens, Chateau De Fargues, Chateau De Rayne Vigneau, Chateau Guiraud, Chateau La Tour Blanche, Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Chateau Sigalas-Rabaud.
Chateau La Couspaude St Emilion label on McNees.org/winesite 
 
Chateau Domaine de Chevalier 2003 label on McNees.org/winesite January 20, 2008 - Domaine de Chevailier Pessac-Leognan 2003 - RM 87 - $35 - Super ripe black berry, black cherry, almost fig raisin tastes prevail with a moderate tannin finish.  
Chateau Mouton Rothschild label - 1981- Rick McNee winesite photo
January 19, 2008 - Duo of classic Bordeaux birth year wines to celebrate Erin's birthday in a gala family dinner celebration.
Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 1981 - RM 89 - Classic Bordeaux floral bouquet - complex earthy, leather, violets, black cherry and black berry are well integrated with fine soft tannins on the long finish.
Chateau Cos d'Estournel St Estephe Bordeaux 1981 -
RM 88 - From magnum. Firm forward black berry and black cherry fruit predominate with earthy leather on the moderate finish.  
Gessinger Zeltinger Sohnenuhr Vineyard Spatlese Mosel-Ruhr-Saar 2005 - RM88 - Thick, sweet medium bodied. Tasted BYOB (Bordeaux) at Japonais restaurant in Chicago w/ L, Erin & Johnny, Ryan & Michelle, Alec & Kristin, and Lauren. More pics and review coming.
Chateau Cos d'Estournel St Estephe 1981 magnum label on McNees.org/winesite
Bonaccorsi Pinot Noir2005
Olson Ogden Unti Syrah 2004
January 17, 2008  - Wine flight of “West Coast Reds” tasted at Vino Volo at IAD
Bonaccorsi Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2005 - $61 –
RM 88 Light-medium bodied – Vino volo describes this as black raspberry and sassafrass. Opening cola taste turns to dark raspberry and a loganberry (is that the sassafrass) on the finish.
Olson Ogden Dry Creek Valley Unti Vineyard Syrah 2005 RM 89 WS93 - $41–
Fragrance and complex tastes of black berry, a hint of smoke, spicy sweet black currant, then leather on a moderate firm acid/tannin finish. 98% syrah 2& grenache
Fidelitas Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 -
$36 – RM 90 Dark garnet color, medium-full bodied, opens with plum, then black cherry and vanilla, turning to tea and tobacco on the finish. Not as full and rich as their syrah but the sweet berry fruit could almost pass as its little brother as opposed to a cab.
A juxtaposition of two styles – a cab posing as a syrah and a syrah posing as a cab!
Sterling Napa Cabernet label January 16, 2008 - Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 87 - Dark berry, black cherry, smoke and cedar. A bit unrefined with a slightly hard edge. Tasted w/ Howard G in Fairfax.
Groth Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 label January 15, 2008 - Groth Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 93 - Wow, this is good! Full forward fruit filled, lush, delicious now. Loads of ripe berry, plum, raspberry and currant flavors. Get some and you will be rewarded now and wish later you had bought more! Tasted w/ JK and LC at Delmonico's in Tysons Corner. $45.

Cabernet Sauvignon 87%, Merlot 13% - Oakville AVA.

Sea Smoke TEN Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2005 label
Chateau Pontet Canet 2000 label on McNees.org/winesite
January 12, 2008 - Varied selection of diverse wines to accompany a festive dinner. 
Fantesca Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005 - RM 90
Sea Smoke 'TEN' Central Coast Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2005 -
RM 92 - Winemaker notes - The 2005 Sea Smoke Ten Pinot Noir shows deep extraction and intensity of flavor, maintains good balance across the palate, and culminates in a firm, but velvety finish. Aromas of dark plum, black cherry, currants, as well as cedar and a hint of earthiness are characteristic of this wine. Ten Clones, from which the wine takes its name.
Darioush Napa Valley Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 91 -
Dark, complex with full forward black berry, black cherry and currant fruit, well balanced and polished with nicely integrated tannin finish.
Chateau Pontet Canet Pauillac Bordeaux 2000 - RM 92 - Elegant floral, earthy leather, cassis, smoky black berry - long firm silky smooth tannins.
Kracher
Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese Neusiedlersee Zwischen den Seen No. 6 1998 - RM 92
RP 92 - RP Review - "Reveals loads of sweet white and yellow fruits. It is crammed with overripe fruit flavors, as well as the distinctive effects of spicy botrytis. This superbly focused wine has bountiful levels of acidity to cope with its lush, opulently thick character. Drink this refined, liquid botrytis, over the next 20+ years."  (92 points, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #149).
Tasted w/ L, Linda A. and Dr Dan at his place w/ fabulous beef tenderloin & stuffed pork chops. 

Kracher Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese Neusiedlersee Zwischen den Seen No. 6 1998
   
  January 11, 2008 - Provenance Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 89; Tasted w/ Dr Dan at United Center Locker Room Dining Room.
Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2003 label on McNees.org/winesite January 10, 2008 - Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2003
Volker Eisele Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 label
Calera Ryan Vineyard Mount Harlan Pinot Noir 2004 label
January 7, 2008 - Mini tasting of three diverse wines - Calera Ryan Vineyard Mt Harlan Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 87 - $39 - Light medium bodied, earthy, smoky, black berry with a leathery, slightly grassy, bark finish. Volker Eisele Napa Valley Family Estate Chiles Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - RM 89, $39, Medium full bodied, dark, complex sweet currant on the opening, dark chocolate mocha, a hint of black olive, tobacco and slight cedar on the moderately tannin finish. Hazy Blur Adelaine Plains South Australia Shiraz 2004 - RM 91 - $29, Dark, full bodied, sweet currant and essence of coconut and berry with a full long flavorful moderate tannin finish. Tasted in Falls Church Fairview Park.
 
Chateau Reignac 2006 label January 5, 2008 - Chateau de Reignac 2002 - RM 88 RP 88.

Gallo Sonoma Frei Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
December 31, 2007 - Rosemount Estates Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1997; La Sirena Napa Valley Juliana Vineyard Sangiovese 1997; Gallo of Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, Frei Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1995; Hazy Blur South Australia Baroota Syrah 2004; Reignac Bordeaux Superiere 2005;   Rosemount Estates Balmoral Syrah 1997 Chateau Reignac 2006 label
Flight of eclectic and diverse reds in weight order covering the spectrum from medium to firm and full bodied to complement festive holiday rib dinner and selection of cheeses. Tasted w/ L and Bill & Beth C at home. Bill, L and I first tasted this same Hazy Blur May 18, 2006 at Emeril's at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Rosemount Estates Balmoral Syrah 1997

December 30, 2007 - Rosemount Estates Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1997 - RM 92 - The '97 distinguishes itself and is one of my favorites from my vertical of this selection and it doesnt disappoint on its tenth anniversary. Deep lead pencil purple/red colour, and an intense aroma of perfume and fruit - deeply concentrated plum and blackberry fruit with a touch of vanilla and sweet cherry - initially tightly wound then opens to be smooth, with a long fruit-filled finish. Tinge of tight tannins and acid that opens into velvet finish shows long life ahead. Tasted w/ L, BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
Chateau Pichon Lalande 1981 label - Rick McNees Winesite photo December 29, 2007 - Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac, Bordeaux 1981 -  RM 92 - Incredible fruit left in this 26 year old Bordeaux - medium bodied, classic Bordeaux aroma and well balanced and finely integrated 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 on  Erin and Johnny's first anniversary. Chateau Peyrequay Graves Bordeaux 2005 - RM 88. Tasted with L and Bob & Gloria at Bistro Monet in Glen Ellyn. The Pichon was incredible perfect complement to the foie gras and filet of beef with madeira risotto, it was even better than last year. 
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 label December 28, 2007 - Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2005 - RM 87 - $22 - Deep purple colour, medium bodied, intense smokey raisin, dark berry, spice, leather, tobacco and pepper. 
 

December 27, 2007 - Brancott Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - RM 88 - $10 - Great value in this light crisp fruit filled easy drinking wine - full flavorful apricot and gooseberry predominate.


Snowden Sauvignon Blanc 2006 label
December 25, 2007 - Snowden Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - RM 88; Snowden Vineyards Lost Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - RM 88; Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 90 RP 91 - After an hour and a half, started to open up and reveal fruits and true character. Dark purple colour, scents and flavor of earthy, leather, casis, black cherry, licorice, black currant on a long tannin finish. RP review - "The opaque purple-colored 1997 Affinity (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon) possesses exceptional finesse and elegance in addition to authoritative flavors. Highly-extracted, medium to full-bodied, with layers of concentration, it offers notes of lead pencil, well-integrated, subtle, smoky oak, black currants, 
plums, licorice, and flowers. 91 Points.". (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc), Great complement to Christmas surf and turf lobster and tenderloin beef dinner, w. L, Ryan, Erin & Johnny, Evelyn & Keith, & ATM.
Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz December 22, 2007 - Possum Vineyards Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 - RM 90; Hahn Vineyards Central Valley Meritage 2006- RM 90.
Mollydooker Scooter Merlot 2006 Label December 21, 2007 - Mollydooker 'Scooter' Merlot 2006 - RM 89 - $19 - Very interesting and unique taste that the winemaker aptly describes as that of 'toffee and oak'. Winemaker's notes - Named after Sparky's scooter racing years, this Merlot has a fragrant, lifted nose of roses, sweet plum and cherries. It has a delicious texture with hints of toffee and oak, lovely savory fruit cake flavors, and a smooth and elegant finish. -Sarah & Sparky Marquis
Gallo Family Laguna Vineyard Chardonnay 2004 label December 20, 2007 - Gallo Family Vineyards Laguna Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2006 - RM 87 RP 90 - $19 - This wine has a bit of an 'edge' that detracted from its fruit and left it less approachable. Robert Parker notes - The 2004 Chardonnay Laguna is the 100% new French oak cuvee that plays the counterpart to the Two Rock. This wine shows orange marmalade, smoked nuts, and honeysuckle in a big, full-throttle, rich, ripe, classic California style.--Robert Parker  

Seavey Vineyards Caravina Napa Cab 2004 label
Raymond Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 label 
December 16, 2007 - Selection of recent release reds for gala Christmas family dinner party with ATM's friends' parents. Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Raymond Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Tapestry Reserve 2004; Hahn Central Coast Meritage Red Wine 2006 & 2003; and a couple of library releases: Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996; Dominus Estate Napa Valley Red Wine 1986; Great wine selection to complement the beef tenderloin and Hahn central coast meritage 2006 label
ham dinner and selection of cheeses. See recent reviews below. The surprise of the evening was the Hahn Meritage which for the second time, rates a Rick's Pick as a tremendous value with its symphonic balance of well crafted berry fruit flavors result in a sophisticated style yet easy drinking wine. The Dominus now 20 years old continues to reveal its character through floral bouquet and flavors of violet and rose petals reminding me again that I drank most of this case way too young - year after year waiting for it to open and reveal itself.
December 15, 2007 - Seavey Vineyards Caravina Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 91 - $45 - Dark purple, medium bodied, full flavor of currant, cherry, black berry, a hint of red raspberry, mocha and cedar on the medium finish. Bordeaux style - 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc.    
December 14, 2007 - Raymond Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 88 - $24 - Winemaker notes - Aromas of cassis, cherry, earth, lilacs and cedar followed by ripe blueberry and blackberry flavors with black pepper and vanilla. A complex, full-bodied wine highlighted by lush fruit and a long, smooth finish. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 label December 13, 2007 - Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 91 W&S 90 RP88 - $24 - Huge bouquet and flavors of spicy currant, smoky black raspberry, ripe plum, violets, cinnamon and a hint of eucalyptus on the long full flavored finish. Great value in this affordable collectable that is also good for every day drinking.   

Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 label

December 9, 2007 - Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 91 WS 92($35 (in 98))  - Floral bouquet, dark, medium-full bodied. firm leathery, black berry, black cherry, a hint of cedar and anise with a long tannin finish. From the Atlas Peak viticulture district  up in the south east corner above Napa Valley. From Patrick and Linda Elliott-Smith - participants in our 1998 Napa Wine Experience. Elan was also one of the "The Undiscovered Dozen" featured in Wine Spectator along with our friends at Del Dotto, Robert Craig, Snowden, and Clark~Claudon. Tasted BYOB at Angeli's Restaurant.w L and Marlene celebrating her birthday.
Chateau Clerc Milon 2003 label December 8, 2007 - Mouton Rothschild Clerc Milon 2003 - RM 88 - Floral bouquet, dark, full firm leathery, black berry, earthy bark, a hint of cedar and anise with a long tannin finish. Tasted at Bob & Gloria's holiday party.
Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 2004 label December 8, 2007 - Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Tapestry Reserve 2004  - RM 90 - $40 - Winemaker notes - Weaves five classic varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbecinto) into an elegant, beautifully balanced wine. The deep, expressive aromas and flavors are filled with black cherry, briary blackberry, cassis, dark cocoa and cedar character. Richly textured flavors with warm vanilla nuances. For even more complexity,  a tapestry of different oak barrels were used; over half were French, with the balance being  American, Hungarian and Russian.
Quady Essencia Orange Muscat 2005 
December 5, 2007 - Estancia Keyes Canyon Ranch Paso Robles Zinfandel 2005 - RM 89 - Medium bodied, easy drinking, aromas and flavors of ripe berry, black cherry, hints of mocha and spice. Great value wine at under $14.Quady Essencia Orange Muscat California Dessert Wine 2005 - RM 90 - Full bodied, thick, unctuous, full flavors of apricot, a hint of orange, honey, and smoke on a sweet syrupy finish.: Tasted w/ PC and Brett S at Clyde's in Georgetown.  Estancia Paso Robles Keyes Ranch Zinfandel
Boarding Pass South Australia Shiraz 2005 Label
December 2, 2007 - Grateful Palate Airwines 'Boarding Pass' South Australia Shiraz 2005 - RP 92 - RM 89 - Medium bodied, dark purple, flavorful dark berry, mineral and graphite taste. Winemaker notes - " Lively, dense, ruby red. Intensely perfumed fruit characters; brambly with ripe black cherry. Slight hints of cinnamon spiciness & light mocha. Juicy, fleshy palate finishes with a fruited tannin warmth." Boarding Pass South Australia Shiraz 2005 rear label
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