Continued 1998 Tasting Notes

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Domaine Clavel  Les Garrigues, Languedoc, Terrior de la Mejanelle, 1995, $8  VG

Earth, fruit, and more earth. A mouth-filling wine, no wimp, no lack of character or substance, and very, very French [10/20].

Witch Creek  Muscat Canelli, California, Muscat Love, NV/96?, $10?  Fair+

We bought this wine a couple of years ago at Witch Creek's tasting room in Julian. I wasn't expecting much, and we didn't get much. The traditional sweet orange flavors were there, but there was a medicine-like flavor that was somewhat unpleasant. The bottle's cork showed staining almost to the top and some unusual smells itself, so it is possible this bottle was corked. It had been stored in the fridge to protect it from warmer weather; it's possible the cork was dried out from this, but I'm doubtful since the bottle was stored on its side [10/23].

Callaway  Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 1996, $8?  G

Light, with a hint of citrusy acidity. Fine with food, not so nice on its own [10/24].

Francis Coppola  Bianco, California, 1997, $8  G+

It was hard for me to gauge this wine, with an intriguing mixture of sweetness, acidity, and a touch of bitterness. Might be better chilled colder than I had it [10/25].

Fetzer  Merlot, California, Eagle Peak, 1996, $7  G+

Fruity, but light and bitter on the finish [10/25].

Bogle  Merlot, California, 1997, $7  VG-

Smooth, dark, ripe cherry flavors [10/25]. A really fun wine, with a slightly sweet finish [11/10]. A bit green and spicey in the nose [12/12].

Estancia  Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 1996, $9  VG

Nice chocolatey fruit. I think the St. Francis just edges it out [10/25].

Marietta  Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1995, $15  VG+

Ripe, jammy, concentrated, yet open: a super-pleasure [10/25].

Qupe  Syrah, Central Coast, 1997, $12,$7/375ml  VG+

A lovely Syrah, bursting with spicey fruit, with complex earth underneath and some ``green'' flavors in the spice. The finish turns sweet, leaving a divine aftertaste [10/31]. Its complexity and spice make it an exceptional match with flavorful food, coming across a bit unfocused on its own [11/6].

Cypress  Chardonnay, California, 1997, $6  VG-

Buttery with a flowery nose [11/1]. Coming after the Columbia Crest Semillon-Chard, the oak is overpowering, providing distinct flavors of vanilla and oak [12/13].

Pine Ridge  Chardonnay, Carneros, 1997, $16  VG+

Buttery, with mineral accents and racey acidity [11/1].

Chamine  Vinho Tinto, Alentejo, Portugal, 1997, $7  VG-

Ripe fruit complemented by earth [11/1].

Laurel Glen  Reds, California, 1996, $6  G+

Rhony; earth and ripe fruit [11/1].

Chateau de Segries  Red, Rhone, 1996, $7  G+

Classic Rhone pepper, earth, and fruit, but a little too dry and peppery for me. Would be great with highly seasoned meats [11/1].

Hahn  Merlot, Santa Lucia Highlands, 1996, $9  VG-

Classic Merlot soft fruit flavors [11/1].

Cypress  Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, 1996, $6  VG

Nicely balanced cherry and chocolate flavors. Not bad on its own [11/1].

Shenandoah  Cabernet Sauvignon, Amador, 1996, $7.50  VG

Not for standalone drinking like the Cypress, but more of a wine [11/1].

Four Vines  Zinfandel, Paso Robles, 1996, $10  VG-

Came across as kind of light in the tasting, but boasting 14.5% alcohol. Might be a different beast with food [11/1].

Ravenswood  Merlot, Sonoma, 1995, $30 (rest.)  VG

Pleasant fruit, balance, and body. One of the best Merlot's I've had this year [11/2].

Silverado  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1995, $36 (rest.)  VG

Dense, restrained, and tannic, this Cab needs some time to mature [11/4].

Alexander Valley  Merlot, Alexander, 1996, $30  VG

Pleasant forward fruit offset by spicy flavor. Not bad alone, but really nice with food [11/5].

R. H. Phillips  Chardonnay, Dunnigan Hills (Northern CA), Barrel Cuvee, 1997,   VG-

A fairly sound wine with emphasis on buttery oak [11/8].

Buttonwood  Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez, 1997, $5.50/375ml  VG

Racy acidity, crisp fruit, and modest buttery oak made for a great complement to Caesar salad [11/8].

Konrad  Zinfandel, Mendocino, 1992, $10  VG+

I picked up this older, well-priced Zin from Whole Foods, which has surprised me with its older, offbeat wine bargains. This is another great success. The Konrad is an unfiltered organic Zin. There was some crud in the bottle and tannin crystalization on the cork. I decanted it and let it sit for an hour or two. My taste during decanting had lots of pucker, but two hours later it was a powerful but relaxed Zin, still showing youthful fruit and superb balance. A real winner [10/8].

Fleur du Cap  Noble Late Harvest, South Africa, Coastal Region, 1995, $8/375ml  VG-

A lovely orange-gold color, this wine had substantive orangey fruit, but to me it tasted a little ``turned'', taking some of the joy out of it [10/8].

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