Boston Wine Expo 2000

Highlights
Vintage Voice's "Top 20" from the Expo's main floor

White/Red/Dessert and Fortified

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.

White

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.
A-

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.
A-

Red

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.
A-

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 '98.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

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 excellent '95.
A-

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 out.
A-

Domaine Moulin-Tacussel 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.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

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 vintage.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

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.

Dessert/Fortified

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 '94 Quarts de Chaume almost made this list, and is another excellent wine to look out for.
A

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.
A-

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 acidity.
A-

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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