Continued 1998 Tasting Notes

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Columbia Crest  Semillon-Chardonnay, Columbia Va., 1997, $4.49  VG-

Extremely dry, lean, and restrained [12/13].

Paul Jaboulet Aine  Parallele 45, Rhone, 1996, $5/glass  G

Dry, earthy, with a touch of spice. Not the explosive wine of the year before, but a good food wine [12/15].

Konrad  Charbono, Mendocino, 1993, $10  VG

Another late-vintage winner from Whole Foods. The wine guy there tells me that Konrad has sold its property to Fife, and so these will be there last vintages. What a tragedy! These unfiltered wines show tremendous character, with complex, rich fruit and terroir. This Charbono was a bit ``turned'' on the first night, but a day in the bottle (vacuumed and gassed) was enough to balance it out and make for a superb, robust bottle of wine. The Charbono grape is Italian, and this wine also has small amounts of Barbera and Sangiovese; excellent balance. Rustic, spicy, dark, with finesse. The only thing holding this wine back is its proud restraint. Yum [12/16-17]!

Martinelli  Chardonnay, Russian River, 1996,   Exc-

Astonishingly rich, with buttered popcorn flavors, rich fruit, toast, and low acidity. An incredible sipping wine [12/20].

Behrens & Hitchcock  Syrah, Napa, 1996, $30  VG-

Astonishingly complex, it reminded me of the Martinelli Jackass Vineyard Zin for its dizzying array of quirky flavors, including orange spice and marzipan in a very long finish. Varietal flavors were a little hard to locate in there, and it lacked the forward fruit of many Western US Syrahs [12/20].

Porto Rocha  Tawny Port, Portugal, 1957,   VG+

Beautiful chocolatey color, smooth, with caramel cedar spice flavors, and endlessly lingering finish [12/20].

Alexander Valley  Syrah, Alexander Va., 1997, $27 (rest)  VG+

An outstanding example of California Syrah. Bright, forward, generous varietal fruit with a bit of spice and just a touch of roughness without food. Perfect with food. It's forwardness and softness reminded me of their Cab, which I like, too. Delightful with the Cantonese/Thai food we were eating [12/22].

Phelps  Eisrebe, Napa, 1995, $14 (375ml)  VG

Beautiful golden color, thick, with sweet orange flavors. Typical of these white dessert wines, it had a slightly turned flavor, keeping it from a top rating. This wine is made in the German Ice Wine style with the Scheurebe grape, a cross between sylvaner and reisling [12/25].

Kiona  Lemberger, Washington, NV, $8.80  G+

Very reminiscent of a French wine, with bright fruit and lots of earth, not particularly concentrated. Interesting and enjoyable, but not a style I cotton to. I chose this on a whim while visiting Bellingham Washington because I enjoyed Kiona's Merlot this year. This being an off-beat bargain wine, I couldn't have expected much more [12/27].

Chateau Souverain  Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 1995, $10  VG

Light, forward Zin fruit. The '96 is probably better, but perhaps due to storage conditions, as I picked up this ``older'' wine at a rural Idaho grocery [12/31].

Villa Mt. Eden  Zinfandel, California, 1995, $11  VG-

This wine had leaked a bit, suggesting poor storage conditions considering that it was bought at a rural Idaho grocery store and it is a '95. Still, this wine showed good fundamentals, with dark, restrained Zin fruit tending towards cherries [12/31].