Continued 1999 Tasting Notes

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Blackstone  Merlot, California, 1997, $9  VG-

Dark, restrained, with varietal fruit that has a slightly chemical flavor [1/1]. Opened up quite a bit the second night, giving it a fighting chance [1/2].

Borges  Vintage Port, Oporto, Portugal, 1982, $11  VG

Bright clear red in color, with nice cherry flavors, a bit of spice and almond, and reasonable legs. Not a blockbuster, but not the disappointment I expected from such an affordable, older Port [2/7].

Swanson  Merlot, Napa, 1996, $18  VG+

Rich and deep with marvelous varietal character. One of the best Merlot's I've ever had. A revelation with skirt steak at Montana's [2/12].

Villa Mt. Eden  Chardonnay, California, 1996, $7  VG

Remarkably rich fruit and buttery oak for an inexpensive wine. A touch of spicy, citrus on the attack, and pretty citrus in the nose. Pure joy, low acidity, not much complexity [2/13].

Edna Valley  Chardonnay, San Luis Obispo, Edna Valley, 1997, $10  VG+

Buttery oak and spicy fruit. Yum [2/15]. Excellent balance of minerally acidity and buttery oak. A great food wine [2/16].

Bonterra  Chardonnay, Mendocino, 1997, $8.50  VG-

Not as fat as the Villa Mt. Eden or as complex as the Edna Valley, this is still a fine wine. A bit of citrusy toast in the nose, smooth oak and citrus on the palate. This wine is made with organically grown grapes [2/17].

Clos du Bois  Chardonnay, Sonoma, 1997, $9  VG

Zippy fruit over oak [2/20].

Chateau Puech Haut  Rose Languedoc, Saint Drezery, 1997, $6.50  G+

Not a commercially styled wine. Viscous texture and sweetness contrasted against spicy earth [2/20].

Rodney Strong  Merlot, Sonoma, 1996, $11  VG

Rich varietal fruit with spicy oak [2/20].

Fattoria Paradiso  Sangiovese, Romagna, Riserva superiore vigna delle lepri, 1995, $16  G+

Orange in color, oaky and lacking in fruit [2/20].

Arzuaga  , Duero, Spain, 1994, $16  VG

Rich, ripe fruit complemented by earth [2/20].

Rosemount  GSM, McLaren Vale, Australia, 1996, $15  VG+

A combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Purple-black in color, rich, ripe, and grapey, with some oak and earth underneath. I give the edge to the Pirramimma [2/20].

Bogle  Petite Sirah, California, 1997, $7  VG

Packed with jammy berry fruit. Great with food or on its own. A super bargain [2/20]. A second bottle confirmed my previous impressions, ripe and dark fruit [3/1].

Canet Valette  Red Saint Chinian, Saint Chinian, 1996, $9  VG

Lots of potential, with focused fruit and layers of peppery earth. Ultimately, the earth won out and it wasn't as enjoyable as hoped. Unusually high alcohol level, at 14.5% [2/21]. A few months later, I enjoyed the power and focus of the peppery earth, and the super-ripe fruit impressed. Basically a bargain Chateauneufdupape [5/22].

Santa Cristina  Sangiovese, Toscana, 1997, $7  G+

This Antinori creation is an excellent creation for the price. I've paid $12 for Chianti's this good. Unfortunately, that's just not good enough, with light, dry fruit, with substantial earth and oak tones [2/24].

Cypress  Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, 1996, $6  G+

Way over-oaked relative to the fruit concentration, just like their Chard. Although it imparts nice vanilla flavors, it's just overbearing. No finesse, just fruit and vanilla [2/25].

Borges  Vintage Port, Oporto, Portugal, 1980, $11  VG-

Bright clear orange-red in color, with cherry flavors and a bit of spice. A little disappointing against the 1982 that that we so enjoyed [2/25].

Shale Ridge  Chardonnay, Monterey, 1997, $6  VG-

Restrained, a little bitter on the finish, touches of oak and orange citrus [2/27].

Rutz  Chardonnay, Monterey, 1997, $10  VG

Very low acidity, high glycerin, restrained fruit with buttery oak [2/27].

Alderbrook  Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley, 1997, $9  VG-

Very ripe, with late harvest tones. Nice acidity, light citrus fruit [2/27]. With some extra time in the bottle, this wine has balanced out into a more typical Chard. When cooler, was light and crisp, turned oakier as it warmed up [6/19].

Alderbrook  Pinot Noir, Russian River, 1996, $10  G+

Nice fruit, but dominated by stale tobacco [2/27].

Cristom  Pinot Noir, Willamette, Mt. Jefferrson Cuvee, 1996, $18  G

Light orangish in color, dry, restrained fruit, earth and tobacco [2/27].

Nominee  Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, 1996, $6  G+

Intriguing ``Italian'' fruit, firm acidity and tannins [2/27].

Randall Harris  Merlot-Cabernet, Washington, 1997, $7  VG-

Spicy nose, nice chocolately Merlot varietal fruit. Chewy texture. I give this the edge over the Bogle [2/27]. With dinner, it proved to be a rugged, dark, restrained wine. Not as much ``fun'' as the Bogle, but definitely an interesting quaff. Not as Merlot-like as I found in the first tasting [3/9].

Alderbrook  Zinfandel, Sonoma, OVOC, 1997, $10  VG

Vanilla nose and nicely oaked fruit. In the Seghisio and Vigil style [2/27]. Not as impressive at home, with the fruit not holding up [2/29]. Another tasting at SDWC put me on the fence again, impressed with the fruit, but still feeling it's a little over-oaked [5/22]. Well, like many of these oaked Zin's, it seems to be coming together with a little time, so I'm upgrading it a little [6/30].

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