Atlas Peak Sangiovese Atlas Peak
'96--Plum and cherry notes in the nose
seem to show promise for the wine, but the slightly bitter palate and
a slight cheesy hint distract from the otherwise pleasant flavors in
Atlas Peak Sangiovese Reserve Atlas Peak
'95--Plenty of oak in this one, and
nice black cherry aromas. Fills the mouth with lush cherries and
vanilla oak, and the wood dominates on the finish, though there is
also a fruity note.
Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak
'95--Cedar, black currant and a hint of
dill on the nose. Plum and currant flavors on the palate lead you to
a generous vanilla plum finish.
Bonny Doon Zinfandel "Cardinal Zin"
'97--Smells like bushels of
raspberries, with bright raspberry flavors. Seems a bit simple and
one-dimensional, but what a great dimension...
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant
'96--Restrained plum and oak flavors
and aromas. Fairly tannic, with a short finish. Seems tight and wound
Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glaciere
'97--This "freezer" wine has a lush
floral and orange typical muscat nose, with only a bit of honey to
hint at what comes next. Big honeyed orange and peach flavors, with a
long, smooth finish. Like many CA dessert wines, could use more
acidity, but it drinks very well right now. Another successful
vintage for this wine.
Caymus Conundrum '97--Spicy oak nose, without as much of the floral
components as in previous vintages of this wine. More Chardonnay-like
than previously, with pear and apple flavors, and a definite hit of
residual sugar at the end. Not as interesting as in previous
Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'95--OK, so this is expensive. But it's
also good. Deep nose of plum, earth and leather. Plenty of depth on
the palate, with good plum and currant flavors, along with a spicy
oak frame. A big wine with a big finish of oak and fruit. Is it worth
the money? That's between you and your wallet.
Domaine Chandon (CA) Brut NV--Toasty, yeasty aromas and rather simple apple flavors
on the palate. Not one of their best versions of this wine.
Domaine Chandon (CA) Blanc de Noirs
NV--Apple and cherry aromas dominate,
with some fruity apple flavors on the palate, and a slightly tart
sour-cherry and Granny Smith finish. Again, previous versions have
Domaine Chandon (CA) Cuvee
2000--Bready toasty aromas with an odd,
but not entirely unpleasant vegetable note. A bit tight in the mouth;
might improve with a few months in the bottle. A long, long apple and
toast finish. Would be marked higher without that hint of
Cline Cotes d'Oakley Vin Blanc
'97--The Viognier in this blend of
Rhone varieties is evident in the floral nose. Some peach flavors on
the palate, and seems a bit sweet on the finish (is there some
residual sugar here?). Good value for everyday drinking if you like
Cline Cotes d'Oakley Vin Gris
'97--Almost non-existent nose. A bit of
prickle in the mouth livens up the pretty strawberry flavors. I
wonder about a touch of residual sugar on the finish, but this
definitely ain't <shudder> White Zin.
Cline Cotes d'Oakley Vin Rouge
'97--Aromas of black cherries and earth
give way to modest cherry and plum flavors on the palate, finishing
with a small tannic bite. Seems a bit tight, and might be better in a
Cline Carignane Ancient Vines Contra Costa
County '97--Very shy nose, with alcohol
being the most prominent component. Cherries and even an odd hint of
strawberry come before the modest cherry/plum finish.
Cline Zinfandel California
'97--A bit shy in the nose, but plenty
of blackberry aromas come out when you coax them. Lots of oak
smoothly integrated with the plum and berry flavors. A fairly long
finish, with good tannins and black plums. After a few years of not
being particularly enamored of this wine, I was impressed by the
value offered by the '96 and continue to be impressed by this
release. Not a blockbuster, but a solid wine.
Cline Zinfandel Jacuzzi Vineyard
'96--Big raspberry nose. Plenty of
blackberry, raspberry and plum flavors above a firm but smooth tannic
structure. A long finish of fruit and tannin promises good things for
the future of this wine. Another favorite of the vintage, but too
pricey for me.
Clos du Val Zinfandel Napa Valley/El Dorado
'96--Black cherry and plum aromas with
a distinctly earthy edge. The fruit continues in the mouth, with
good, but not great intensity. Medium tannins fill out the
Clos du Val Merlot Napa Valley
'95--Cedar and plum aromas. Big plummy
fruit flavors with a slight edge of green beans. Fairly tannic with a
long fruit finish. Would be marked even higher without the green bean
Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'95--Cassis and cedar. Big cassis and
plum flavors at first, but turn ever-so-slightly hollow on the
midpalate. May be at an awkward stage. Nice, long focused finish.
Clos Pegase Merlot Napa Valley
'96--Sweet blackberry nose with a touch
of alcohol. Smooth lush blackberry and plum flavors in the mouth. The
long, luxurious finish is framed by gripping tannins.
Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'96--Very lush currant and dark berry
nose. Plenty of berries, plums and currants in the mouth. Long finish
with dark fruit and decent tannins.
DeLoach Gewurztraminer Early Harvest Russian
River Valley '97--Rose and lychee
typical Gewurz nose. A bit sweet, with peach and lychee flavors but
also good acid lemon flavors to balance.
DeLoach Chardonnay Russian River Valley
'97--Very shy nose, with sweet oak,
pear and citrus flavors, and a Granny Smith apple finish.
DeLoach Pinot Noir Estate Russian River
Valley '97--Oak and very modest cherry
aromas and flavors. Seems dilute.
DeLoach Zinfandel Estate Bottled Russian
River Valley '97--Dark red, with earth
and dark cherry aromas. Raspberries, blackberries and oak come out in
the mouth. A medium-long fruit-dominated finish, with medium tannins
Easton Zinfandel Shenandoah
'96--Good plum and berry flavors. Feels
lush, round and maybe a bit soft in the mouth, but there is a nice
tannic kick at the end.
Edmunds St. John Viognier
'97--Great aromatics of fresh flowers
and peaches. Soft, juicy peach flavors carry you to the long
Edmunds St. John Zinfandel Amador
'94--Plums and berries hit your nose
first, and then you notice a slight touch of mint. Feels great in the
mouth with lush plum and dark berry flavors, and then the structure
asserts itself with a bite at the end.
Edmunds St. John Syrah California
'95--Plenty of plums and fresh meat in
the nose, along with an earthy, spicy note, which for a moment
smelled like cumin (though Steve Edmunds disagreed with me...). Plums
and spice flavors fill the mouth. Moderate tannins, but easy to drink
with all this fruit and flavor.
Edmunds St. John Syrah Durell Vineyard
Sonoma Valley '95--Lovely aromas of
plums and other dark fruits; complex and full. Lush dark fruit
flavors along with leather, and a balanced, elegant finish with
plenty of blackberry flavors and soft, round tannins. Seems slightly
more closed than when I tried it last year. Needs time.
Estancia Pinnacles Pinot Noir
'97--Full, lush cherry flavors and
aromas. A bit simple, but a good, easy-drinking wine.
Estancia Cabernet California
'96--Currant and dark berry flavors and
aromas. Very ripe, and lush in the mouth, with some well integrated
oak. Not complex, but a nice quaffer.
Estancia Pinnacles Fume Blanc Monterey
'97--Round and full, with supple
grapefruit and apple flavors in the mouth. Not overly oaky as some CA
examples. Not particularly distinctive or complex, but a lush, easy
Grgich Hills Fume Blanc Dry
'96--Drinks nicely, with good
grapefruit and other citrus flavors and aromas. A bit of oak, but not
as much as many wines labeled "Fume Blanc". Very nice clean
Grgich Hills Chardonnay Napa Valley
'96--Pear and citrus aromas, with a bit
of vanilla. Well-integrated oak and fruit flavors on the palate
reveal themselves in a medley of pear, spice apple vanilla and
citrus. Good length on the finish.
Grgich Hills Zinfandel Sonoma County
'96--Modest nose. Modest plummy fruit.
Modest, short finish. The only thing that isn't modest are the
tannins, which are quite high for a Zin.
Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
'95--Starts out very nicely, with
promising currant and spicy oak aromas and flavors. Unfortunately,
turns quite tart on a sour cherry finish.
Jade Mountain La Provincale
'96--Blend of 70% Mourvedre/20%
Syrah/10% Grenache. Slightly simple, but good, with lush plum and
dark fruit flavors. There is a bit of earthiness, and a decent
Jade Mountain Mourvedre '95--From 105 year-old-vines. Stinky nose, but in a good
way. Earthy notes, along with a whiff of barnyard (not uncommon in
young wines from old-vine Mourvedre). Big plum flavors complement the
earthy notes in the mouth, and a finish with good length.
Jade Mountain Syrah '95--Fruit and leather notes reach the nose at first, and
there is plenty of fruit to balance the oak in the mouth. The finish
seems a bit ungenerous and short, but this is still a very good
Jade Mountain Merlot '95--If you like green pepper in your Merlot, you'll like
this a lot better than I did, because that's the overpowering flavor
and aroma. Some dark plummy fruit, but not enough to balance out the
vegetal aspects of the wine.
Kempton Clark Zinfandel Lopez Ranch
Cucamonga '97--Possibly the first Zin
I've tried from this AVA. Slightly sweet raspberry aromas with an
unusual peach nuance. Raspberry flavors are marred by an odd vegetal
component. Moderate tannins, with a sour cherry finish, fading to a
final echo of that peach note. Unusual for a Zin, and not always in a
Landmark Chardonnay Overlook
'97--Well-integrated oak and fruit
aromas and flavors. Spices and pears fill the mouth.
Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Reserve
'96--Oaky, full-bodied Chardonnay.
Mellow pear and vanilla flavors. Might use a bit more acidity, but
still quite nice.
Montevina Brioso Zinfandel
'97--Made from 50% carbonic maceration,
50% traditionally vinified grapes. Very light red, with modest
spritzy bing cherry flavors, and an exceedingly short finish. Why
would anyone do this to poor, innocent Zinfandel grapes? "Red" wine
for those who can't get enough White Zin.
Montevina Barbera Amador '95--Earth and plum come through on the nose, with good
cherry and plum flavors, and a lasting cherry and leather finish.
Pretty good, if not profound.
Montevina Zinfandel Amador
'96--A plummy zin, with good mouthfeel,
and gripping tannins at the end. Not bad.
Montevina Terre d'Oro Barbera
'95--Oak and cherry flavors and aromas
turn hard and a bit tart on a red cherry finish.
Montevina Terre d'Oro Zinfandel
'95--Interesting plum, tobacco,
cigar-box and spice nose. Plum flavors dominate in the mouth, and
there is some tannic structure here. A bit tart on the cherry finish,
but still quite good.
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe '96
(?)--Concentrated apricot and honey
nose and flavors. Very sweet, but finishes clean. An excellent CA
RH Phillips Syrah EXP '96--A surprisingly good value in CA Syrah. No, this isn't
Hermitage, but it is a lush wine with good black cherry and vanilla
flavors. Turns a bit tart on the finish, but overall, a pretty tasty
wine, particularly for the money.
RH Phillips Toasted Head (Cabernet
Sauvignon/Syrah) '97 (Barrel Sample)--Slightly spritzy with lots of oak on the nose (at
first, it seemed like a sample of the barrel instead of the wine from
the barrel). The oak continued on the palate, along with plum
flavors. Finished quite tannic with tart cherry flavors.
Preston Viognier Dry Creek Valley
'97--Floral, spice and peach aromas
lead the way for a mouthful of peach flavor, and a long clear finish.
Good value in CA Viognier.
Preston Faux '96--Great nose of cherries and tar, but a bit lean on the
palate, with much less generous cherry flavors, along with earth. A
little bite on the finish, but still soft and easy drinking. A
decent, inexpensive Cal-Rhone blend.
Preston Zinfandel Old Vines Old Clones
Unfiltered Dry Creek Valley '96--Very
nice raspberry/blackberry nose, which is unusual in the mostly plummy
'96 Zins. The palate shows big raspberry and toasty oak. There is
some tannin on the medium finish, but it should probably be drunk
fairly young. A really good effort for the vintage.
Preston Barbera Dry Creek Valley
'96--Cherry nose with hints of mint.
Lush cherry flavors with soft tannins and fairly high acidity. A very
Preston Syrah Estate Vineyard Select Dry
Creek Valley '96--Very earthy aromas
dominate the nose, with leather saddle, and soil. Plum flavors reveal
themselves on the palate, along with more flavors from the earthy end
of the spectrum. And there is some structure lurking underneath all
Ravenswood Chardonnay Sangiacamo
'97--Nose of oak and toast, with good
peach and pear flavors in the mouth and a clean finish, showing more
acidity than many CA Chards.
Ravenswood Zinfandel Sonoma
'96--A plummy zin, in a fairly light
style for this producer. Moderate tannins and an oaky finish. Decent,
but not an eye-opener.
Ravenswood Zinfandel Monte Rosso
'96--Rich blackberry nose, with some
alcohol apparent. Lots of blackberries along with plum flavors and
obvious oak in the mouth. Fairly tannic, for a zin, on the long
berry-laced finish. One of the better zins of the vintage, IMHO.
Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma
'96--Blackberries, currants and oak
seem to define this wine--at least at first. Plenty of structure, but
turns a bit lean on the tannic, cherry/plum finish.
Renwood Viognier Amador '96--Typical Viognier floral nose. Peach and honeysuckle on
the palate with a sturdy oak frame. Seemed a little hollow on the
midpalate, but otherwise quite good.
Renwood Barbera Amador Linsteadt Vineyard
'95--Aromas of leather and plum lead to
a mouthful of black cherries and plums. Finishes a bit short, with
quite a bit of acid and moderate tannins.
Renwood Syrah Amador '95--A whiff of barnyard is followed by alcoholic plum
aromas, and modest plum flavors. Seemed a bit tannic for the fruit.
Not my favorite CA Syrah.
Renwood Zinfandel Old Vines
'96--Lush blackberry and plum nose.
Plum flavors dominate with a hint of berry, and then spicy oak takes
over. A moderately tannic finish with spicy plum flavors.
Renwood Zinfandel Grandmere Vineyard
'95--Big blackberry and raspberry nose.
Very smoothly integrated blackberry, boysenberry and plum flavors on
the palate, finishing quite long with blackberry, black cherry and an
oak note. More refined than Renwood Zins used to be, and my favorite
Zin of the tasting.
Renwood Zinfandel Grandpere Vineyard
'96--Shy nose with plum and even a
floral/violet note which seemed to appear with aeration. Smooth,
abundant plum flavors which last for some time. Smooth tannins and a
healthy dose of oak round out the picture. Not my favorite style of
Zin, but a good effort.
Renwood Zinfandel Jack Rabbit Flat
'95--A big Zin, with a fairly alcoholic
nose. Sweet black cherry and plum flavors abound, with the only real
disappointment being a somewhat short finish.
Renwood Zinfandel Fiddletown Eschen Vineyard
'95--Seemed closed down with almost no
nose, modest plum flavors, and quite tannic for the amount of
Renwood Zinfandel Amador Ice
'96--OK, this Zin dessert wine isn't
for everyone, and it isn't what one normally thinks of as Zin.
However, it has generous honeyed peach and plum aromas, and plenty of
honey and peach flavors in the mouth. A long peachy finish with
bitter almond overtones. Some might find this wine a bit cloying, but
for me, it was just on the right side of the line. Still, I'd drink
it soon, as it might not have the structure to age.
Rosenblum Zinfandel Contra Costa Carla's
Vineyard '97--Unusual violet floral
notes in the nose along with earthy aromas. Plenty of raspberries and
vanilla oak in the mouth, and a decent finish with soft tannins.
Rosenblum Zinfandel Contra Costa Continente
Vineyard '97--Alcoholic nose, with
brambleberries. More berries and spicy oak in the mouth, but turns a
bit lean on a sour-cherry finish.
Rosenblum Zinfandel Paso Robles Richard
Sauret Vineyard '97--Leather and earth
show first on the nose, but a little swirling reveals cherries and
berries, seemed a bit closed at first. Black raspberries and
blackberries are framed by vanilla oak. Very lush mouthfeel, and not
too tannic. A nice effort.
Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch
'97--Oak. Oak and pear aromas. Oak and
spice flavors. Oak and toast finish. Would be better if there were
more concentrated fruit to support the oak. Disappointed me after
several years of enjoying this wine.
Shafer Merlot '96--Dark red with a round, plummy typical CA Merlot nose.
Generous big plum flavors marred by a touch of bitterness. Long black
cherry and plum finish, followed by a strange hint of cheese. A big
wine which would get better marks except for the slight off-flavors
(maybe a bad bottle?).
Shafer Firebreak '96--Plum and violet aromas, black cherry and plum flavors,
with a medium-length finish of black cherries, and a bit of cleansing
acidity. Moderate tannins give just enough structure.
Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
'95--OK, but just OK. Some plum and
currant flavors, along with toasty oak and medium tannins.
Terre Rouge Noire Grande Annee
'94--Good plum and dark fruit flavors
and aromas. Turns a bit lean at the end. Perhaps not "Grande", but
not bad at all.
Terre Rouge Syrah Sentinel Oak Vineyard
Pyramid Block '96--Nice elegant cherry
and plum aromas and flavors. VERY tannic at the end; my mouth felt
like someone had used coarse sandpaper on it. Tannin-lovers will like
this better than I did, but I think there is too much for the fruit.
Otherwise a very good wine.
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Copyright 1999 Marcel Lachenmann. All rights reserved.