Ravenswood Zinfandel, Lodi, 1997, $11 VG
Restrained, tight, dark, grapey fruit. Perhaps a little unformed now, it has tons of potential in the coming months [2/27]. With dinner, it showed its true form: forward, bright, jazzy, cherry fruit; a real treat [3/21]. A month later, the wine showed full ripeness with Syrah-like fruit, deep, but not jazzy. Given Ravenswood's history with Syrah and the Lodi appellation, I'm guessing there's Syrah in here, which is OK by me [4/15].
Rabbit Ridge Montepiano, California, 1995, $7 VG-
Restrained, balanced fruit. Nice acidity [2/27].
Alderbrook Gewurztraminer, Russian River, 1998, $9 VG-
Rich, pretty orange, spice in the nose, a bit of bitterness in the finish, perhaps because it was served a little warm [2/27].
Ravenswood Icon, Sonoma, 1996, $34 (rest) VG
Although sold as a blend, this year's is 92% Syrah and 8% Grenache, and it shows, with nice Syrah varietal character but balanced as well. I'd say this is a bit lighter than the spectacular '95, but still very enjoyable [2/27].
Cambria Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Katherine's Vineyard, 1996?, $6.75 (glass) VG+
Searing acidity, filled out by buttery citrus fruit. I'd put this one down to let it soften [3/5].
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Mendocino, Lalanne, 1996, $15 VG+
An outstanding Zinfandel, with classic Zin fruit and spice in the nose, incredible smoothness on the palate, and a lovely finish. It's easy to forget that this has 15.5% alcohol content [3/5].
Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1995, $15 VG+
Super-ripe, jammy, modestly concentrated. A super-pleasure [3/6].
Tyrrell's Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, Long Flat, 1998, $5 VG
Simply remarkable for the price. Rich gold in color and equally rich on the palate, with backbone to hold it up. The combination of buttery oak and bracing acidity was a treat, equally enjoyable to the Cambria, but less complex. Definitely beats the previous low-price winner, the 1997 Columbia Crest Chard [3/8,3/10].
Zilliken Riesling, Ruwer-Mosel-Saar, 1992, VG-
Not powerful, but nice fruit flavors with some sweetness and fresh acidity. A good match with Chinese food. I picked this up in Germany last year [3/12].
Kenwood Vintage Red Wine, California, 1997, $5 G+
A light, but flavorful, simple wine. A Zin/Rhone blend [2/13,5/1]. Given a few nights to rest after opening (under gas), this was actually a pretty fun wine. Could be a winner in a year [5/8].
Batasiolo Barbaresco, Barbaresco, 1997, $22 VG-
Light in color, typical light fruit overpowered by earth and oak [2/13].
Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Va., 1996, $12 VG
Rich varietal fruit, with lots of vanilla and chocolate flavors providing liveliness and complexity [3/13]. Tight now, it's got a great foundation for aging, with firm tannins and rich, dusty fruit [4/4].
Z Zinfandel, Amador, Massoni Ranch, 1996, $16? VG
A pretty typical light '96 Zin, probably good with food but not a winner on its own [3/13].
Le Fonti Chianti, Chianti Classico, 1997, $15 VG
When I tasted this at SDWC, I was blown away by the rich fruit and earth flavors. Later with dinner, I found it to be more typical, with predominant oak and earth. My suspicion is that it was slightly corked, but it could be bottle variation or the fact that the wine at the store had been open for several hours. This rating reflects my experience at home [3/13].
Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexandar Valley, 1995, $22 (rest) VG
This is my idea of a great cab. Tight varietal fruit complemented by vanilla oak [3/16].
Hutcheson Vintage Port, Oporto, 1995, $15 VG
Darned good for a minor house: rich, spicy varietal fruit, pleasantly sweet [3/21]. Another bottle, still a winner. Fun now, could be divine later [5/8].
Beaulieu Zinfandel, Napa, Signet, 1997, $23 Exc-
One of the most harmonious Zin's I've ever had, with plenty of richness [3/22]. Finally in release, this wine's promise is fully realized. Perfect balance, jammy berry, and a touch of sweetness made for an incredible experience [7/25].
Karly Zinfandel, Pokerville, 1997, $10? G+
A far cry from the '96, but with tons of (unusual) flavors. Some will love it, others hate it [3/22].
Karly Zinfandel, Amador, Ten Point Vineyard [3/22], 1997, $22 VG+
Karly Zinfandel, Amador, Sadie Upton [3/22], 1997, $16 VG+
Murphy-Goode Zinfandel, Sonoma, 1997 (barrel sample), VG-
Unlike the light-colored but intensely fruity '96, this is dark in color but with a lot of green flavors. It will be interesting to see what this is like in release [3/22].
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Sonoma, Monte Rosso, 1997 (barrel sample), $24 VG+
A bit closed as yet, but intense. Should be great [3/22].
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Dry Creek, Teldeschi Vineyard, 1997 (barrel sample), $24 VG+
Truly remarkable complexity and richness, it could beat the Monte Rosso [3/22].
Renwood Zinfandel, Amador, Old Vine, 1996, $15 VG
Rich fruit tarnished by tar flavors [3/22]. At home, I found this to be an intense, flavorful, well balanced wine. Spicy, with only (interesting) hints of tar. I'm upgrading my rating [3/31].
Renwood Zinfandel, Amador, Grandmere, 1996, $25 VG+
Outstanding, rich and harmonious [3/22].