Continued 1998 Tasting Notes

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Rosenblum  Zinfandel, California, Vintner's Cuvee XVI, 1996, $7  G+

Nice Zin fruit, a little on the sweet side. A little rough and hollow [8/1].


Estancia  Chardonnay, Monterey, Pinnacles, 1995, $7  VG

Yum! This was left over from last year's Summer buying, and we just pulled it from the fridge on a whim. Despite a year's cold storage, the wine had wonderful body, acidity, and fruit. Pleasant citrus tones with a full flavor approaching butteriness. Despite the warnings of my wine sellar, I'm not going to be worrying about storing wines in the fridge, at least whites [8/5-6].


Columbia Crest  Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, 1995, $8  VG-

Not a perfect wine, but astounding for a Cab at this price. Nice fruit, acidity, and tannins, with enough chocolate to keep me happy [8/7].


Saint Marc  Cabernet Sauvignon, Somontano, Argentina(?), Vinas de Vero, 1990, $15 (rest)  VG-

This Cab was exceptionally soft and low in acidity, exhibiting a kind of emptiness. However, it did develop some character over the meal, with mint and licorice in particular coming to the surface [8/8].


Lockwood  Chardonnay, Monterey, 1996, $10  G

Kind of disappointing after the hoopla from SDWC, this wine was, well, bitter. It had plenty of flavor of all kinds, but I couldn't really get past the bitterness. Perhaps I got a bad bottle; it was rated 85 in the Wine Spectator, but the review wasn't negative [8/9].


Estancia  Chardonnay, Monterey, Pinnacles, 1996, $7  VG-

Not as rich as the '95, but still a wonderful bargain, with a pleasant sharp acidity and adequate fruit. Nicely balanced. Rated 88 in the Wine Spectator [8/9]. Drinking this next to Martinelli's blockbuster Sauvignon Blanc with Jambalaya was even more impressive. Its full-bodied oak flavors burst through [8/22].


Turley  Zinfandel, Contra Costa, Duarte Vineyard, 1996, $22  VG

Our first Turley! Right out of the bottle, the best we could say was ``inocuous''. However, given a couple of hours in the air, it became the red-blooded Zin that we had hoped for. Wine Spectator gave this one an 85, which suggests to me that they didn't give it the time it needed to open up. Turleys are rather light in color for Zins, which is surprising given the intensity of flavor and a 15.4 percent alcohol level. Don't be fooled! I'd seen the same thing in the Young's Zinfandel, but thought it anomalous [8/15].


Martinelli  Zinfandel, Russian River, Jackass Vineyard, 1996, $30?  VG

Except for the alcohol level, this wine is the Hegelian antithesis of the Turley Duarte. Deep purple-red, concentrated, and bursting with all sorts of bizarre, un-Zin flavors. Peculiar fruit, menthol, iodine, earth, and citrus come to mind. Quite dry on the finish. Fascinating to drink, and much better with food than on its own. Still, I valued it as much for its uniqueness as its positive qualities. Like the Turley Duarte, it took a while to come around. I'd love to see what this wine is like in 5 to 10 years. It could be really remarkable [8/15]!


Martinelli  Pinot Noir Rose, American, 1997,   VG-

This Rose is made from the leftovers of Martinelli's Pinot production in California and Oregon. Crisp and light, with a little effervescence [8/16].


Landmark  Chardonnay, Sonoma, Overlook, 1996, $16  Exc-

Creamy, full, and very smooth, with perfectly integrated fruit and refreshing crispness on the finish. If I were a white-wine drinker, I might be giving this an Excellent-. OK, I'm giving it an Excellent-. Wine Spectator loved it too, giving it a 92 [8/16].


Chasse Cellars  Chardonnay, California, 1995, $6  G+

At nearly half the price of the Lockwood, I found this to be a real bargain. Not bursting with flavor, but reasonably well put together. A little rough and unfocused at first, it came together and rounded out when drank with baked salmon and caesar salad. What else! Still, for a buck more I'd take the Estancia [8/17].


Echelon  Chardonnay, Central Coast, 1997, $9  VG

Between the Estancia Pinnacles and the Landmark in style, with nice citrus flavors and acidity, butteriness, and a little sweetness on the palate. What a great year for Chardonnay [8/18,30].


Martinelli  Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River, 1997, $10  VG+

Rich, intense, and alcoholic, this is like no other SB that I've had before. The fruit and fullness (probably due to oaking) are reminiscent of a Chard. One awesome bottle of wine [8/22]. Very harmonious and an excellent complement to strong cheeses and grilled salmon. I savored every sip [9/6].


Hart  Grenache Rose, Cucamonga Valley, 1997, $6.50  G

Too sweet and grapey for my tastes. Slightly effervescent [8/22].


Hawk Crest  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa?, 1995, $6.50  G+

This wine, Stag Leap's second label, is very good for the price. Nice fruit [8/22].

La Caumette d'Oc Merlot 1994 $5? G+

Surprisingly good the first, with a fine balance of varietal fruit and minerals. After sitting a couple of days in a vacuumed, gassed bottle, less pleasant tobacco flavors emerged [8/24,28].


Chanson  White Burgandy, Bourgogne Aligote, 1995, $8  VG-

Light and empty at the start, this wine was a good complement to baked salmon, developing more substantial citrus and mineral flavors throughout the meal. Definitely not an oakey California wine [8/22].


Chateau Souverain  Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexandar Valley, 1995, $5.75/gl  VG

This is my idea of the perfect cab. Tight, varietal fruit complemented by chocolate, mint, and eucalyptus flavors. Good aging potential [8/23].


Joseph Drouhin  White Burgandy, Rully, 1996, $14  VG-

Light and crisp with mineral in the backbone. Very dry, bordering on bitter without food [8/30].


Beringer  Chardonnay, Napa, 1996, $10  VG+

Remarkable body and fruit, with oak and butter in evidence. Could be a match for the Landmark. I think I'd have to taste them side by side [8/30]. With a meal it was an absolute delight, nicely balancing the acid and butter flavors. However, it did take a full hour to reach its apparent potential [9/3].


Bodega Lurton  Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 1996, $4  G+

Dark cherry fruit complemented by ample earth [8/22].


Chateau St. Germain  Red, Languedoc, 1996, $8  VG

Packed with fruit, earth, and tannins. Dry [8/22].


Chateau de la Negly  Red, Languedoc, 1997, $8  VG-

Darker, more oxidized, dryer, and softer than the St. Germain. But not as good [8/22].


Chateau Greysac  Red, Medoc, 1995, $11  VG

Dry, fruity, and earthy. Nicely balanced, typical of an inexpensive Bordeaux [8/22].


Carmenet  Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, Dynamite, 1996, $11  VG

Explosive fruit in the nose, simpler and softer on the palate [8/22]. A couple of months later, I can sense there is something more there, but it feels closed yet [10/25].


Niebaum Coppola  Claret, North Coast, 1996, $12  VG-

A little disappointing, I have to wonder how well Cabs drink on the tasting bar, as compared with a steak dinner [8/22].


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