Weinert Meritage, Mendoza, Argentina, 1985, VG
This comparatively ancient wine is 60% Cab, 30% Malbec, and 10% Merlot. Still possessing a deep color with only slight orange appearing in the miniscus. The dominant flavor was bleu cheese, not especially different from some other older Cabs I've had. Flavors of mint and eucalyptus also emerged from time to time, and there was definitely Cab fruit hiding behind the bleu. This is a gift from Uncle Ronnie, drank with Mike and Marie. We were worried about the condition of the wine because the cork showed staining all the way out to the top. Indeed, I wonder if the bleu cheese flavors were partially due to leakage [4/17].
Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 1993, $12 VG
Truly a great bargain Cab. Depth and concentration with scintillating mint flavors and vibrant tannins. The other bottle can definitely wait a while; this is still a young wine [4/17].
Bichot White, d'Or, Chablis, 1996, VG
A delicious, crisp white wine with pleasantly sweet melon flavors. Produced by the negociant Bichot [4/21].
Chateau Hanteillan Red Bordeaux, Haut-Medoc, 1995, VG
This could be the best Bordeaux I've ever had, although that's not saying much. It's surprising that this happened Kyoto, Japan, except that it was a $60 catered dinner [4/21].
Chateau Beaumont Red Bordeaux, Haut-Medoc, 1995, VG
Well, here is another Haut-Medoc served in Kyoto. I think I'm seeing the pattern now [4/22].
Kiona Merlot, Columbia Valley, 1995, $15 VG+
Soft, balanced fruit and concentration. The chocolate flavors are long gone, but there was plenty left to enjoy [5/1].
Newlan Pinot Noir, Central Coast, 1995, $9 VG-
A light Pinot with classic varietal flavors. A tough wine to judge without real food to go with it [5/9].
McDowell Syrah, Mendocino, 1996, $6 VG
Surprisingly rich, forward fruit flavors at this price. A layer of pepper underneath the fruit, and structure under that make this an interesting wine [5/9]. A couple of nights in the bottle with gas on it darkened the flavors a little, always a plus for me [5/11]. A third tasting reveals sufficient power and depth to stand up to moderately spicy mexican food. Wow [6/11]!
Marques de Riscal Red, Rioja, Riserva, 1994, $8 VG
Powerful, structured fruit balanced by ample earth [5/9]. Not a match for the more refined, complete, and full-bodied Pradorey, but it possesses a sassiness of its own that warrants attention. Appealing flavors of smoke and tobacco [7/15].
Pradorey Red, Ribera del Duero, 1996, $7 VG
Very forward, but not bright, fruit, balanced by earth tones. The fruit is a little flabby. Hard to tell what time will do [5/9]. In a second tasting the flavors were much more restrained, and I was flabbergasted by the complete integration of fruit and earth flavors, with hints of chocolate and cherry. The only problem was that its flavors completely disappeared when matched with food possessing any spice, even a little pepper [7/12].
Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1995, $19 VG-
Not especially impressive, perhaps because it lacked the intensity of the previous two wines [5/9].
Ravenswood Merlot, Sonoma?, 1995?, $7/glass VG-
A fine glass of wine, but rather one dimensional. Nice body and varietal character, but showing a little heat [5/14].
Silvan Ridge Pinot Gris, Oregon, 1995, $18 VG+
Despite its crisp and refreshing attack, it also possessed chewy richness, depth, and intensity. The long, complex finish showed interesting spice and earth. It doesn't get much better than this when it comes to white wine [5/16].
Byron Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 1996, $10? VG
Typical lightness in color, but full-bodied in flavor, with robust Pinot fruit and a spicy underbelly. Enjoyable and interesting [5/16].
Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1994, $6/glass G+
Dry and a tad woody at times, also sometimes revealing chemical flavors [5/16].
Albola Pinot Grigio, Acquiela del Fruila, 1996, VG-
Refreshing acidity complemented by a hint of earth and butteriness [5/23].
Laboure Roi Red Burgandy, Vosne-Romanee, 1995, $20 G+
Disappointing for a wine of this price. Thin, dry, and earthy, only occasionally exhibiting the fruit flavors that make a worthy Pinot. Tom said this matched many Burgandies at twice the price. Maybe, but it's still not a great wine [5/23].
Villa Mt. Eden Zinfandel, Sonoma, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Grand Reserve, 1995, $16 VG+
This is a very fine bottle of wine. Deep, rich varietal flavors balanced by chocolate undertones. Nice, long, lingering finish. The alcohol content tops out at an astonishing 15.6%, but not the least bit hot on the finish (I did chill it slightly to play it safe). Oddly, there were crystals on the cork when I pulled it, presumably tartaric acid. Was the wine given some extra treatment that raised the tartaric acid, or is the alcohol level contributing to crystallization? Similar to the Ravenswood Lodi in character, just more so. The Lodi may be a better value, given its dirt cheap price, but the Monte Rosso gets the edge in overall quality [5/24].
Villa Mt. Eden Syrah, California, Grand Reserve, 1995, $14 VG+
Another winner from this winery. Lush fruit flavors, with a strong undercurrent of peppery spice and darkness, even hints of earth and tobacco. Very powerful and intriguing. Not a wine for the timid, this wine smacks you right in the face; great for grilled meats or more spicey dishes. Probably has aging potential, although my experience tells me that during some period the peppery flavors will dominate, making this a tough wine to time in terms of aging [5/25].
Vega Sindoa Tempranillo-Merlot, Novarra, Spain, 1997, $5 G+
A very nice nose of fruit, but a little thin on the palate [5/30].
Elsa Malbec, San Rafael, Argentina, 1996, $6 VG-
Not a blockbuster, but interesting. Malbec is typically used in Bordeaux blends to contribute to a balanced wine, but is rarely the dominant grape. Dark, spicey flavors that distintegrate into bleu cheese if not drunk with food (not unlike the previous Argentinian blend from a couple of months back heavy in Malbec). A great combination with a slightly spicey food like sausage, showing delightful smoothness and a tantalizing dryness. Produced by Valentin Bianchi [5/30]. After sitting under gas for a day, a different wine emerged, with a chewy mouthfeel, and French-like earth tones, the dark, full fruit fairly dominated. Interesting change, but not an improvement for my tastes [5/31].
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, California, Incredible Red, Bin 105, NV, $9 VG
Nice cinnamon-like spices in classic Zin varietal fruit base. At only a dollar less than the Ravenswood Lodi, not really competitive--except that the Lodi is gone----but also an alcoholic blockbuster [5/30]. A wonderful complement to a lunchtime meal, light but not shy, with bright Zin fruit [11/27].
Santa Cantabria Cosecha Crianza, Rioja, 1995, $9 VG-
Pleasant fruit with earth, but not competitive with the Californians at nine bucks. Almost identical notes for the '94 in January [5/30].
Leaping Lizard Merlot, Napa, 1996, $9 VG-
Delightful, classic chocolatey fruit flavors and in the nose with a little spice to give it some dimension. Quite a surprise for an under-ten Merlot [5/30]. A month and a half later with a meal, it didn't quite dazzle as it did in the tasting room, perhaps because of its lightness and the intervening time, which likely took off some of the chocolate flavors. Still quite a solid showing [7/14].
Dark Star Merlot, Paso Robles, 1996, $14 VG-
Sadly, much more typical of Merlots than the Leaping Lizard, above. Overall a sound wine, but kind of acidic and not so friendly [5/30]. In spite of my hesitations, I bought this wine on SDWC's recommendation, and found the wine quite similar, although it did open a little after a while. Light in color and flavor [7/24].