Boston Wine Expo '99
California Wines

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A

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 the mouth.
B-

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.
B+

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.
B+

 

B

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...
B+

Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant '96--Restrained plum and oak flavors and aromas. Fairly tannic, with a short finish. Seems tight and wound up.
B

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.
A-

 

C

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 vintages.
B

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.
A-

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.
B

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 been better.
B

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 vegetables.
B+

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 this style.
B

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.
B

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 few months.
B+

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.
B

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.
B+

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.
A-

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 picture.
B

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 note.
B+

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.
B+

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.
A-

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.
A-

 

D

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.
B

DeLoach Chardonnay Russian River Valley '97--Very shy nose, with sweet oak, pear and citrus flavors, and a Granny Smith apple finish.
B

DeLoach Pinot Noir Estate Russian River Valley '97--Oak and very modest cherry aromas and flavors. Seems dilute.
B-

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 hiding underneath.
B+

 

E

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.
B+

Edmunds St. John Viognier '97--Great aromatics of fresh flowers and peaches. Soft, juicy peach flavors carry you to the long finish.
B+

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.
B+

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.
B+

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.
A

Estancia Pinnacles Pinot Noir '97--Full, lush cherry flavors and aromas. A bit simple, but a good, easy-drinking wine.
B

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.
B

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 quaff.
B

 

G

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 finish.
B+

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.
B+

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.
B-

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.
B

 

J

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 structure.
B+

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.
B+

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 wine.
B+

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.
B-

 

K

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 good way.
B-

 

L

Landmark Chardonnay Overlook '97--Well-integrated oak and fruit aromas and flavors. Spices and pears fill the mouth.
B+

Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Reserve '96--Oaky, full-bodied Chardonnay. Mellow pear and vanilla flavors. Might use a bit more acidity, but still quite nice.
B+

 

M

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.
C-

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.
B

Montevina Zinfandel Amador '96--A plummy zin, with good mouthfeel, and gripping tannins at the end. Not bad.
B

Montevina Terre d'Oro Barbera '95--Oak and cherry flavors and aromas turn hard and a bit tart on a red cherry finish.
B

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.
B+

 

P

Joseph Phelps Eisrebe '96 (?)--Concentrated apricot and honey nose and flavors. Very sweet, but finishes clean. An excellent CA dessert wine.
A-

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.
B

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.
B (provisional)

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.
B+

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.
B

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.
B+

Preston Barbera Dry Creek Valley '96--Cherry nose with hints of mint. Lush cherry flavors with soft tannins and fairly high acidity. A very nice wine.
B+

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 this flavor.
B+

 

R

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.
B+

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.
B

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.
A-

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.
B+

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.
B+

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.
B+

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.
B

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.
B+

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.
A-

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.
A-

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.
A-

Renwood Zinfandel Fiddletown Eschen Vineyard '95--Seemed closed down with almost no nose, modest plum flavors, and quite tannic for the amount of fruit.
B

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.
A-

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.
B+

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.
B+

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.
A-

 

S

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.
B

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?).
B

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.
A-

Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley '95--OK, but just OK. Some plum and currant flavors, along with toasty oak and medium tannins.
B

 

T

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.
B+

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.
B


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