Boston Wine Expo 2000
With more good wines tasted than ever before, the competition for this year's highlights list was fierce, with many excellent wines being cut just because there wasn't any room. While these wines were my favorites, the full report contains lots of worthy contenders that you really should check out.
Isabel Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
'99 -- Not one of the agressivly grassy
Sauvignon Blancs, this wine shows pear, grapefruit and lemon aromas.
However, a little asparagus shows up underneath the pear and citrus
flavors, just to let you know that this really is Sauvignon Blanc.
Slightly spritzy mouthfeel, and a long lemon and grapefruit finish.
Good concentration and nicely balanced.
Selbach-Oster Riesling Spätlese
Zeltinger Sonnenuhr '98 -- Impressively
intense aromas of focused apple, mineral, citrus and cola. No letdown
on the palate, either, with nice apple, peach and cola flavors, and a
long apple, citrus and mineral finish. Complex and interesting, with
layers of flavor.
Antinori Tenute Marchese Antinori Chianti
Classico Riserva '95 -- You can't help
but like this wine, with it's expressive violet and plum aromas, and
smooth, lush flavors of cherries, plum, leather and earth. Plenty of
backbone suggests that this wine will keep for a few years, but it's
hard to resist now.
Babich Winemaker's Reserve Syrah Gimblett
Road Hawkes Bay '98 -- Heady aromas of
plums and a touch of spicy oak. Lots of plummy fruit in the mouth and
moderate tannins. A very good, lush finish with plum and a hint of
leather. May be a bit simple, but when the fruit is this good, who
cares? This is a good example of the surprisingly (to me at least)
high quality New Zealand reds made in the atypically hot vintage of
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.
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.
Chateau Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape
'98 -- Earth, leather, black cherry and
violets make for an enticing aromas. And this wine delivers on the
palate, with large-scale plum, black cherry and earth flavors. Quite
tannic, so I think this will be better with a few years of age.
E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et
Blonde '96 -- Huge, but tightly wound,
nose of fresh meat, leather and plums, with a hint of violets. The
aromas are echoed with plenty of force in the mouth, and there are
ample tannins to give a solid structure for aging. On a par with the
Masi Amarone Classico '95 -- Smells almost like Port, with licorice, prune, and
raisin notes. Nice plum, black cherry and anise flavors, with good
acidity on the finish to keep the wine tasting fresh. Worth seeking
Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 --
Leather and prune aromas entice you, and the big flavors of plums,
leather and game don't disappoint. Smooth at first, but shows a
strong tannic grip on the vanilla and black cherry finish.
Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 407 South
Australia '96 -- Intense aromas of
tobacco and plum set the stage for the big plum, cherry and leather
flavors. Round and harmonious, with a good tannic structure keeping
everything in place.
Domaine Pontifical Châteauneuf-du-Pape
'98 -- Sweet prune, plum, black cherry
and spice aromas. Good, concentrated fruit flavors, with more plum
and cherry, along with a hint of blackberry and anise. Firm tannins
on the mouthfilling finish.
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.
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
Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Mon Aieul
'98 -- Made from old vines, this wine
shows plenty of dusty fruit character , with plum, cherries and earth
aromas. Smooth black fruit flavors, with a little spiciness and
dustiness, firm tannins, and a long-lasting plum-dominated
aftertaste. More concentrated than the regular
bottling. Note: the regular
'98 bottling nearly made this list, and
is well worth seeking out.
Veramonte Primus Alto de Casablanca
'97 -- Made from 95% Carmenère,
a grape which was once widely grown in Bordeaux, but has largely
disappeared from that region. It has been planted fairly widely in
Chile, where it was often mistaken for (and is still sometimes sold
as) Merlot. A big, complex nose, with plum and green chile pepper
aromas, along with vanilla and spice. Lush plum, black cherry
flavors, with a good framework of spicy oak and tannin. A very
interesting and enjoyable wine.
Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape
'98 -- Dark, inky purple color. Seems
backward, with reticent aromas of plum, fresh meat, and violets. Lots
of plum and cherry fruit is hiding in this wine, with a good dose of
spicy oak. A big wine, with firm tannins on the lingering finish.
If it had been poured on the main floor, the La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva '90 from the Tempranillo Seminar would also have made this list.
Domaine des Baumard Cuvée le Paon
Coteaux du Layon '89 -- The label
doesn't mention "Paon" at all; you just have to notice the picture of
a peacock ("paon" in French). Expressive nose of ripe peaches and
minerals, with complex flavors of sweet peaches, apricots and stones.
A long finish with lots of apricot flavor and plenty of acidity to
keep this sweet wine from being cloying. Many people tend to forget
that lots of excellent wine was made in the Loire before the hype
over recent vintages started with the1995's, which just leaves more
for the rest of us. Note: the
Quarts de Chaume almost made this list,
and is another excellent wine to look out for.
Heyl zu Herrnsheim Niersteiner Pettental
Riesling Auslese '96 -- Every year it
happens. I find a wine from a producer I've never tried, or an area I
wouldn't expect, that really opens my eyes. This wine fits all the
critera, as I hadn't tried any of this producers wines before, and
I'm not really a Rheinhessen fan. However, just one whiff of the
enticing floral, cola and peach nose, and I was hooked. Sweet peach
and tropical fruit flavors mix with cola and mineral notes, and kept
me coming back for more. A very nice wine, with just acidity to
balance out the sweetness.
Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt Riesling Auslese
Josephshofer '97 (Gold Cap) -- Not as sweet
as I had expected, but very nicely balanced, with apple and peach
aromas, and a clean, clear, sharp palate of peach, apricot, golden
delicious apples, and wet stones. Long finish, with plenty of
If you'd like to read about more great fortified wines -- both dry and sweet -- be sure to check out the Lustau Seminar tasting notes!
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Copyright 2000 Marcel Lachenmann. All rights reserved.