Hanna Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 1996, $15 VG
Not especially distinctive, but definitely solid. But then again, it ain't cheap, not even at San Diego Wine Company [8/22]! A notch above the other VG wines [10/25].
Markham Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1995, $17 VG+
Well, this is what I'm looking for in a Cab, but maybe for less money. Intense varietal fruit [8/22].
Buena Vista Sauvignon Blanc, California, 1997, $5 G+
Light and friendly on the first night, a day of rest brought out much more interesting citrus and herb flavors [9/1,2].
Clos du Bois Chardonnay, Sonoma, 1997, $13/half (rest) VG
As with many Chard's a little sharp on its own, it showed excellent balance, butteriness, and fruit with our Thai curry dish [9/4].
David Bruce Zinfandel, San Luis Obispo & El Dorado, 1994, $10 VG+
Yeah! I'm a David Bruce fan, so when I saw this at Whole Foods, I couldn't resist. Good call. Delicious forward berry fruit basking in chocolate flavors. Interestingly, this reminds me as much of their '94 Cab as a Zin. Also, it is notable that this vintage is two years older than most Zins out there. All things being equal this should mean a higher quality Zin with more balance and developed flavors. Seems that way to me, although its still pretty youthful [9/5].
Columbia Crest Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, 1997, $4.50 VG
An incredible wine for the price. Refreshing acidity balanced by fruit and modest oak. Not a big wine, but its leanness actually reflects refinement, consisting of lemon-citrus fruit and mineral notes. It was stupendous with Caesar salad [9/7].
The Africa Collection Chardonnay, Western Cape, S. Africa, 1997, $5 G+
Similar to the Columbia Crest in weight and quality, but a more austere, minerally style. A little tar in the finish, but not unpleasant [9/9].
Chateau de Rayne Vigneau White, Sauternes, 1st Grand Cru, 1976, $12.99 (1979) VG
Larry bought this dessert wine back in the 70's and carted it around for nearly 20 years, storing it in ``normal'' room conditions. Perhaps surprisingly, then, this classic wine was a pleasure to drink. It possessed beautiful orange-gold color, a fruity nose, and sweet citrus flavors that persisted into a long finish. 1976 was rated a good to very good year--not classic--so we may have seen nearly the best of this delicious wine. Note the remarkably low price. I don't know what this wine is now selling for in old or new releases, but it's not at prices like these, even adjusted for inflation [9/12]!
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Sonoma, Monte Rosso, 1996, $19 VG
Complex, with peppery notes and a long finish. I was expecting something a little more concentrated (it is 15% alcohol, however) and fruity. No doubt it needs more time in the bottle. It may also have suffered from coming after the Landmark Chard, which is very rich and has high acidity [9/25].
Niebaum Coppola Cabernet Franc, Napa, 1996, $22 VG
Very different than the previous release that we tried, this wine had substantial structure and tight fruit. Not super now, but I think this wine could be wonderful in 5 years [9/26].
Gittori Red, Chianti Classico, 1995, $10 G+
Light fruit balanced by burnt-oak flavors. Definitely better than most Chianti's I've had [9/29]. After a couple of nights in the bottle, layers of earth and tobacco developed. Very intersting, especially in contrast to the Canoe Ridge Merlot we drank earlier [10/2].
Saintsbury Chardonnay, Carneros, 1997, $15 VG+
Buttery oak and soft fruit. A match for the Beringer, approaching the Landmark, perhaps [10/3].
Georges Duboeuf Red, Morgan, 1997, $7.50 G+
Complex blend of ripe cherries, earth, and tobacco [10/3].
Napa Ridge Pinot Noir, North Coast, 1996, $7 G+
Bright, sound fruit [10/3].
Babcock Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 1997, $16 VG
Rich, concentrated cherries, although it had a slightly ``turned'' flavor. I'm guessing that this negative is an artifact of drinking this without food, a problem I've commonly had in judging Pinot's [10/3]. Pleasant earth balance was apparent in a second tasting, with the funkiness in the fruit persisting [11/21].
Jean Marc Brochard Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume, 1996, $19 VG
Refined and lean, showing citrus and mineral flavors [10/3].
St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1996, $9 VG
This is my kind of Cab! Forward berry fruit with citrus and pepper notes. Not refined, not concentrated, but flavorful and friendly [10/3].
Domaine d'Aury Lou Garrigue, Fenoulledes, 1997, $6.50 G+
Lots of earth, with light fruit and tobacco [10/3].
Vigil Vigilante Red, No Appellation, Numero Tres, $7 VG-
This reminds me a lot of Marietta's Old Vine Red, and well it should, containing lots of Rhone varietals and Zinfandel. But the primary grape is said to be Blue Portugese, and this wine was purple in color! Along with all the fruit, there was some earth hidden underneath [10/3].
Teldeschi Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 1994, $13 G+
Disappointing, coming across as acidic and light without much varietal character [10/3].
Teldeschi Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley, 1995, $14 VG
Dusty dry and concentrated in the classic Petite Sirah style, with some earth in the nose. Could be fabulous [10/3].
Balbi Chardonnay/Semillon, Argentina, 1997, $5/glass G-
Bitter and rough on the palate [10/3].
Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, Napa, 1996, $6/glass VG
Something of a Mondavi classic, this clean, lean wine really showed its stuff with the fusion-influenced seared Ahi at Lime Leaf Grill, developing an array of delightful oak and fruit flavors. Definitely a food wine [10/3]!
Topolos Zinfandel, Sonoma, Piner Heights, 1994, $13? VG+
Pleasant structure, forward berry fruit, and a touch of spice made for a great experience at Lorna's. This wine, which I bought at Whole Foods, stood up to marinara sauce and was an excellent complement to a brandy cream sauce. Like the David Bruce Zin, this appears to be a wine that Whole Foods picked up long after release. It's a bargain because 94 was a better year than 96, but prices have been steadily climbing anyway [10/9].
Martinelli Gewurztraminer, Russian River, 1997, VG+
Absolutely outstanding, with vibrant citrus-orange flavors and pleasant sweetness. Excellent as a dessert wine, but we actually had it with appetizers and Caesar salad. The wine balanced the cheese nicely and cut right through the acid and salty flavors in the salad. Jim, who with Judy gave us the wine, likes to use the word ``ostentatious'', and it is right to use here, because the flavor is backed up with rich color and 15% alcohol [10/18].