Boston Wine Expo 2000
Bonny Doon Vin de Glaciere California
'98 -- A blend of Muscat Canelli,
Orange Muscat and Malvasia. The Muscat dominates the nose with aromas
of orange blossoms and oranges, though there is an unusual undertone
of rosemary. Light and sweet in the mouth, with peach, honey and
orange flavors. Enough acidity for near-term drinking, but I wouldn't
keep this wine for very long. Seems to be missing some of the
intensity of earlier vintages.
Burgess Merlot Napa Valley
'97 -- Muted nose of leather and plum,
carries over into a lush palate. Moderate tannins show up on the
Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Selection
Napa Valley '96 -- Closed nose, but
with air, some plum aromas appear, along with some ethyl acetate.
Good plum and currant flavor, but has a relatively short finish with
a lot of tannin for the simple fruit.
Burgess Zinfandel Napa Valley
'97 -- Expressive blackberry and
raspberry aromas, with lots of plum and brambly berry flavors. Soft
and round, with a cherry, berry and spice ending. Has enough tannin
to give a solid structure.
Cline Roussanne Los Carneros
'98 -- Piercing floral and peach aromas
raise my hopes, but the alcohol and oak dominate the struggling peach
flavors in my mouth.
Cline Zinfandel California
'98 -- Buttery toast, plum and
bramble-berry Zinfandel fruit shine through on the nose and in the
mouth. Finishes strong with black cherry, blackberries and vanilla.
Another in a recent series of solid, good-value wines, as long as you
don't mind some oak in your Zin.
Cline Syrah Los Carneros '97 -- Smells like a typical California Syrah, with
leather, bacon and plum aromas. Ample plum and leather show up in the
mouth, too, along with black cherries and vanilla. Plenty of tannin
and acidity to give the wine a decent framework. Good for near-term
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa
'97 -- A woody combination of toast,
vanilla and pencil shavings hit my nose, and the oak continued in my
mouth, along with some modest black cherry flavors. Smooth and lush,
but the oak overpowers the fruit.
Clos du Bois Marlstone Alexander Valley
'96 -- Oak, bell pepper and plum aromas
and flavors. Moderate intensity in the mouth and on the finish.
Clos du Val Chardonnay Carneros
'98 -- Buttery oak nose with some nice
pear fruit. Definite oaky vanilla palate, but there seems to be good
fruit underneath. Long finish with better acidic structure than
normal in California Chardonnay.
Clos du Val Pinot Noir Carneros
'97 -- Obviously California style, with
lots of oak, and a disturbing note of alcohol on the nose. In the
mouth, generous fruit flavors compliment the toasty oak. Quite tannic
for a Pinot Noir on the red cherry-vanilla finish.
Clos du Val Merlot Napa Valley
'97 -- Some plum fruit with a slight
alcoholic component in the nose. Seems closed down. Lush plummy fruit
in the mouth, though, with more tannin than I expected and
well-integrated oak flavors. Plums and cherries dominate a quite
tannic finish. Stands out from the sea of mediocre California Merlot,
and will probably be better with at least a little more age.
Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'96 -- Strong aromas of plum, currant
and chocolate lead to concentrated, well-balanced black cherry and
plum flavors. Some acidity is evident on the finish, with more fruit,
as well as an undertone of bell pepper. Not too tannic, and easy to
drink now, though it may still improve.
Clos Pegase Merlot Napa '97 -- Fairly simple plum nose, with a disturbing note of
alcohol. Round and supple in the mouth, with little tannin, and lots
of oak. Uncomplicated and a bit disappointing given the good track
record of this producer.
Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Estate Reserve Napa Valley '98 --
Really beautiful nose, with big currant, plum and spice aromas. A
little bell pepper peeks out in the mouth, but there is lots of great
black fruit flavor, with a touch of tobacco. Good strong finish, with
plenty of tannin.
DeLoach Zinfandel Estate Bottled Russian
River Valley '98 -- Contains 8% Petite
Sirah. Light blackberry and raspberry aromas, along with a little
acohol. Sweet initial impression, with more berry flavors. Seems to
be lacking in concentration, though the flavors are good. Good tannic
backbone, but I'd drink this one soon, before the fruit fades.
DeLoach Cabernet Sauvignon Los Amigos Ranch
Russian River Valley '97 -- Plums and
chocolate in the nose, with round black cherry flavors and medium
DeLoach Cabernet Sauvignon OFS Russian River
Valley '96 -- Smells like
chocolate-covered plums. Round and supple in the mouth, with intense
plum, blueberry and chocolate flavors and an appropriately tannic
structure. Fairly concentrated and lush.
Edmunds St. John Viognier California
'98 -- Quite floral nose, with hints of
spice, but oak dominates the palate with vanilla and spice flavors.
Seems slightly lacking in acidity.
Edmunds St. John Syrah Fenaughty Vineyard El
Dorado '97 -- Made high in the
foothills, from a vineyard with granite soil. Intense plum and
leather aromas, and flavors of red plum and slightly tart red cherry.
A long sour-cherry finish. I think this wine will go well with food
and drink well fairly young.
Edmunds St. John Syrah Durell Vineyard
Sonoma County '97 -- Unusually floral
nose for a Syrah, with violet and plum scents. Unfortunately, this
wine is very lean and tart in the mouth, with red cherry flavors and
an odd metallic note leading to a short, tart finish. This is one of
my least favorite Durell Syrahs. They are usually very impressive
wines (for tasting notes of 10 vintages of Durell Syrah, see my
report from 1998). Steve Edmunds mentioned that this is the
first Durell Syrah that doesn't have any of the original vines,
coming entirely from new blocks of the vineyard; hopefully, as the
vines mature, the wine will return to its earlier heights.
Edmunds St. John Parmalee Hill Vineyard
Sonoma Valley '97 -- From a vineyard
situated on a steep slope directly above the original Durell Vineyard
vines, this wine has a huge nose of meat, leather and violets. And on
this wine, the palate doesn't disappoint, with generous plum and
leather flavors, and a buttery note, even though the wine sees no new
oak. The tannins assert themselves on the finish, which has plenty of
lush fruit flavor as well. This wine is great to drink now with a
hearty meal, but it will likely be better in several years.
Fife Zinfandel Mendocino '97 -- Blackberries and buttery oak are the dominant
aromas. A slightly prickly mouthfeel, with blackberries, raspberries
and a little oak flavor. Very nice fruit; seems more concentrated
than many Zins from the vintage.
Fife L'Attitude California
'96 -- A Southern Rhône style
blend. Smells like leather with a little plum and some butter. Good
plum and spice flavors.
Fife Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'97 -- Smells like a Cabernet, with
green pepper and plum notes. More plum and bell pepper on the palate,
along with some leather. Tight and fairly tannic.
Fife Max Cuvee California
'97 -- Fife's Northern Rhône
style blend. Dark purple color, with plum, berry and violet aromas
and flavors. Smooth at first, but at the end the abundant tannins
assert themselves. Will be better with some bottle age.
Jade Mountain Viognier Napa Valley
'97 -- Honeysuckle and spice aromas.
The initial impression in the mouth is one of sweet oak and peaches,
with some floral notes and pencil shavings coming later. Seems
slightly fat, but has a nice, lush, spicy finish. Drink very
Jade Mountain Mourvedre California
'97 -- Meat, leather and barnyard
aromas add complexity to the cherry fruit. Velvety mouthfeel, with
good plum, cherry and meat flavors. Lush and enjoyable.
Jade Mountain La Provinçale
California '97 -- Smells like buttery
oak. Tastes like buttery oak. Finishes like buttery oak.
Jade Mountain Syrah Hudson Vineyard Napa
Valley '97 -- Pencilly oak aromas
integrate well with the leather, meat and plum notes. Big plum and
earthy flavors, with a good tannic backbone.
Jade Mountain Merlot Caldwell Vineyard Napa
Valley '97 -- Leather, cherry and
tobacco aromas, with big, round plum and leather flavors. Not much in
the way of backbone, but a pleasant enough drink.
Joseph Phelps Chardonnay Los Carneros
'98 -- Intense aromas of pear and apple
fruit. Lush and round in the mouth, with pear, pineapple and citrus
flavors, leading to a smooth smoaky, toasty and fruit-filled
Joseph Phelps Viognier Napa Valley
'98 -- Moderately intense honeysuckle
and peach aromas, with a complex mixture of honey, smoke, menthol,
grapefruit and peach flavors and a short finish. The palate, though
complex, doesn't seem particularly concentrated.
Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'97 -- A big nose of plum, black cherry
and blackberry, with more of the same fruit showing up in the mouth,
alongside a healthy dose of vanilla and spice. Firm tannins give
backbone to the black cherry and toasty oak finish.
Joseph Phelps Le Mistral (Red) California
'97 -- A Rhône-style blend of
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Alicante and Carignane.
Leather and plum aromas, with black cherry, leather and earth
flavors. A modest cherry finish marks this as a nice, easy-drinking
wine for early consumption.
Preston Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley
'98 -- Partially barrel fermented, with
some Semillon. Candied pear and apple aromas and flavors, with a
wallop of oak. Like many other California Sauvignon Blancs, it
doesn't seem to have much Sauvignon Blanc character.
Preston Marsanne Dry Creek Valley
'98 -- Peach, honey and mineral aromas
make up a very enjoyable nose. Unfortunately, the palate doesn't
quite deliver, with oak and peach flavors, and a surprisingly lean
lemon and apple finish. Still, a very nice wine.
Preston Syrah Unfined/Unfiltered Dry Creek
Valley '98 -- Big, expressive nose of
leather and meat, along with some barnyardy aromas. Round and lush in
the mouth with plum, leather and buttery oak. Medium tannins come out
on the black cherry finish.
Preston Zinfandel Old Vines/Old Clones Dry
Creek Valley '97 -- Nose of raspberries
and earth, with a slight note of dill. Generous raspberry and plum
flavors, with medium tannins. Slightly short finish, but overall, a
balanced, pleasant wine. Not for lovers of huge monster Zins,
Quady Electra Orange Muscat California
'98 -- Bright honeysuckle and orange
blossom nose. Medium-sweet and slightly spritzy, with floral and
peach flavors. Good, but somewhat lacking in acidity, so I'd drink
this soon, before the great floral aromas fade.
Qupé Marsanne Ibarra-Young Vineyard
Santa Barbara County '98 -- Made from
78% Marsanne and 22% Roussanne, this wine has aromas of honeyed
beeswax and plastic. Pinapple and oak dominate the flavors, with a
nice pineapple and peach finish.
Qupé Syrah Central Coast
'98 -- Cherries leap out of the glass,
but there is plenty of cherry flavor left in the wine to flesh out
the leather and earthy notes. Milky oak finish, with little tannin.
Very enjoyable to drink now, but I wouldn't hold this wine too
Qupé Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside
Estate Santa Barbara '97 -- Leather,
plum and meat aromas, with some vanilla and a small hint of ethyl
acetate. The oak really dominates the palate right now, with spice
and vanilla flavors, but there seems to be a lot more plum and cherry
flavor hiding underneath. Long plummy, spicy finish with firm but
round tannins. This wine will be better in a few years.
Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma County
'97 -- Big raspberry nose leads to
plenty more raspberries in the mouth, along with spice and smoke
flavors. Full of flavor, and a great deal for the price.
Ravenswood Merlot Sonoma County
'97 -- Shy nose, with some plum notes.
Also has some alcohol aromas. Simple plum and oak flavors.
Ravenswood Merlot Donnell Vineyard Sonoma
Valley '97 -- On a much bigger scale
than the regular bottling, this wine shows plum, leather, blueberry
and blackberry aromas. It doesn't let up on the palate, either, with
mouthfilling flavors of plum and black cherry. There is some oak
here, but it's well integrated. Not a "wimpy" Merlot at all.
Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County
'97 -- Contains 14% Merlot and 7%
Cabernet Franc. Currants plum and spice on the nose. Good flavors of
plums, with a little green bell pepper and a strong tannic grip.
Renwood Barbera Linnsteadt Vineyard Amador
County '96 -- Big cherry nose and
flavors, leading to a short oak-dominated finish. A one-dimensional
Renwood Viognier Amador County
'97 -- Very nice honeysuckle and
honeyed peach aromas. Obvious oak flavors along with more flowery and
peachy notes. Flamboyant, but very good if you like the style.
Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel Amador County
'97 -- Muted nose at first, but opens
with some good berry aromas, as well as an undertone of alcohol I
find in many Amador Zins. Big berry and oak flavors with a
surprisingly quenching cherry finish.
Renwood Zinfadel Grandpere Vineyard Amador
County '96 -- Big berry and tobacco
flavors, with a touch of eucalyptus. Lots of oak, plum and berry
flavors, and quite tannic on the cherry and plum finish.
St. Francis Chardonnay Sonoma County
'98 -- Peaches and vanilla waft up out
of the glass, and the wine delivers peach, pear and buttery oak
flavors to your tongue. Not bad, but not much different than many
other California Chardonnays.
St. Francis Zinfandel Old Vines Sonoma
County '97 -- Bright raspberry aromas,
along with a whiff of alcohol. Fairly intense flavors of plum,
brambly berries and spicy oak lead to a finish dominated by plums,
along with some toast and medium tannins.
St. Francis Merlot Sonoma County
'97 -- Shy nose, with a little bit of
plum. Full and round in the mouth, with generous plum flavors and a
touch of herbs. Good structure for a California Merlot, but seems a
little simple, if still a pleasant drink.
Santino Fume Blanc Shenandoah Valley
'97 -- Surprisingly aggressive herbal
and vegetal character for a California Sauvignon Blanc. Asparagus and
grass jump out of the glass. Seems very sweet in the mouth, with
tropical fruit, herb and oak flavors dominating. An unfortunate note
of alcohol mars the finish.
Santino Satyricon Shenandoah Valley
'96 -- A blend of Grenache, Mourvedre
and Syrah. Initial not-quite-pleasant aromas of rubber give way to
more typical Rhône aromas of meat and leather. Lean and mean,
with oak and tart cherry flavors leading to a short, acidic
Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch Napa
Carneros '98 -- Big sweet nose, with
prominent vanilla and butter aromas, but also plenty of pear and
tropical fruit. The good fruit continues in the mouth, along with a
big dose of vanilla and butterscotch oak. Not for oak-phobes, but if
you like the big, California oaky style, this is a good one.
Shafer Merlot Napa Valley
'97 -- Very closed down, with some
aromas of plum and alcohol. Much better flavors of plum and black
cherry, with a medium-intensity finish. A good dose of tannin for a
California Merlot. I would hold this for a few months to see if the
nose comes around.
Shafer Firebreak Napa Valley
'97 -- Though it's a blend of 85%
Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is definitely more
Californian than Tuscan. A very shy, closed nose, with a little
cherry and plum. Relatively light-bodied, with intense plum and
cherry flavors on the mid-palate and finish. Also shows a few hints
of earth and leather.
Steele Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard
Santa Barbara County '98 -- Peach, pear
and oak aromas and flavors. Nice enough, though it could use more
Steele Syrah Clear Lake Vineyard Lake County
'92 -- Buttery oak nose, with plum and
more buttery oak in the mouth. I think there was some good fruit in
there, but the oak kept it submerged.
Terre Rouge Enigma Sierra Foothills
'98 -- An interesting blend of
Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne, with an oddly vegetal inital note
in the nose. However, it dissipates with air, and peach fruit takes
over. Mouthfilling peach and pear flavors are framed by buttery oak.
An elegant finish with better acidity than I would have expected.
Terre Rouge Viognier Shenandoah
'98 -- Nice Viognier floral aromas,
along with spice, peach and mineral notes. Definite buttery oak
doesn't seem out of place with the peaches and minerals in the mouth,
and the long finish has plenty of thirst-quenching acidity.
Terre Rouge Mourvedre Amador County
'97 -- Good nose, with leather, plums
and earth. Very smooth in the mouth with plenty of plum and leather
flavors, but some fairly rough tannins come out in force at the end,
on the cherry-dominated finish. Not nearly as harshly tannic as the
Terre Rouge reds I tasted last year, and much more pleasant to
Terre Rouge Syrah Sentinel Oak Vineyard
Shenandoah '97 -- Big nose of leather,
plum and spices. The wine is quite smooth, with sweet plummy fruit
and leather flavors. Full and round, with moderate tannins and a long
finish. This is the best wine I've tasted from this producer and is
one of the best California Syrahs I've tried from the '97
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Copyright 2000 Marcel Lachenmann. All rights reserved.