Continued 1999 Tasting Notes

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Umani Ronchi  Red, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 1997, $5  G

Restrained, with a touch of earth [5/1].

Mendoza Ridge  Merlot, Mendoza, Argentina, 1997, $4  G+

Ripe, non-varietal fruit balanced by earth [5/1].

Bodega Lurton  Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 1997, $4  G+

Rustic fruit and earth [5/1].

Bentivoglio  Red, Toscana, 1995,   G+

Typical inexpensive Italian wine [5/1].

Hunter Ashby  Merlot, California, 1996, $7  G+

Rustic, with varietal fruit [5/1]. A second tasting showed ripe fruit and some spice, perhaps better than currently rated [7/24].

Everett Ridge  Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 1997, $13  VG-

Spicey, jazzy, with nice fruit complemented by oak, but a bit astringent [5/1].

Rabbit Ridge  Allure, California, 1996, $6  Fair

Not a fun wine. Light fruit overpowered by tobacco flavors [5/1].

Rabbit Ridge  Zinfandel, California, 1997, $7  G+

Rated an 86 by the Wine Spectator, I found this wine to be a disappointment, not just a point behind the impressive Bogle Petite Sirah. Soft, restrained Zin fruit with a touch of tobacco [5/1]. After a few nights of rest (and maybe recovery of my tastebuds), I found this wine pleasing but very restrained. The tobacco was gone, supplanted by ripe if restrained Zin fruit [5/5].

Young's  Syrah, Shenandoah Valley CA, 1997, $14  VG+

Restrained, but quite sound. Nice structure, Zin-like fruit, and vanilla oak. Perhaps too much like a Zin and too oaky for a Syrah, but still a nice wine. Could well improve with time [5/2]. Already, only a couple of months later, the oak has integrated into the fruit flavors, providing much better balance. The fruit flavors are now more forward, still quite like a Zin in flavor and ripeness [7/10].

Heitz  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1994, $20  VG+

Tight now, its raspberry color and structure indicate a lot of promise. I'd try drinking it in 3-8 years, or open it in the morning, decant, and let it breath [5/8].

Raymond  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1996, $17  VG+

This is going to be typical of the '96 Cabs: forward fruit and relatively ready to drink. Fun [5/8].

Simi  Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1996, $18  VG-

A touch light and acidic, not living up to its ``95-100'' WS barrel rating from a year ago. Might be quite good with food, though [5/8].

Keenan  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Spring Mt. District, 1994, $18  VG+

Very similar to the Heitz in style, probably in part because it is the same vintage. Lots of promise for the future [5/8].

Cave de Tain L'Hermitage  Red Rhone, Saint Joseph, 1997, $13  VG

Nice fruit and substantial earth and tobacco flavors. Stylistically my favorite of the the Cave de Tain's, but lacking the richness of the Cornas and Hermitage [5/15].

Cave de Tain L'Hermitage  Red Rhone, Crozes Hermitage, 1997, $11  VG-

Restrained fruit, a touch of chocolate, with dominant earth and tobacco flavors [5/15].

Cave de Tain L'Hermitage  Red Rhone, Cornas, 1995, $19  VG-

Dominant, interesting pepper flavors with fruit in the background [5/15].

Cave de Tain L'Hermitage  Red Rhone, Hermitage, 1995, $27  VG-

Tight yet jammy fruit with pepper to match. Has lots of promise, but I wouldn't be drinking it now [5/15].

Alte d'Altesi  Red, Toscana, 1995, $24  VG-

This inexpensive ``Super Tuscan'' is restrained now, but nice fruit and earth [5/15].

La Gioia  Red, Riecine, Toscana, 1995, $30  VG+

Not yet ready, this Super Tuscan still possesses lots of fruit and earth [5/15].

Morro Bay  Chardonnay, California, 1997, $6  VG-

Lemon-tinged fruit, and smooth, rich texture, but restrained in flavor. Light on the oak [5/22].

Brucher  Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, Bien Nacido Vineyard, 1997, $13  G+

Light fruit and color, dominated by earth flavors. Better than most affordable Burgandy's, but not a winner either [5/22]. A touch of damp wood, too [6/12].

Santa Ema  Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile, Reserve, 1995, $7  VG-

A protoypical, rich Chilean Cab, with surprisingly harmonious fruit, earth and tannins for an affordable wine [5/22].

Ravenswood  Zinfandel, Napa, 1997, $10  VG

Harmonious, solid, grapey fruit with some tannins and minimal oak. Lighter than the Lodi, but a little more balanced. I think the Lodi has better long-term potential [5/22]. I was underwhelmed when we opened this the other night; I thought the wine was corked! After the remainder sat under gas for a few nights it really showed its stuff: ripe, jammy, syrah, even petite sirah fruit. Dy-no-mite, and promises to get better with time [6/24].

Guigal  Red Rhone, Cotes du Rhone, 1995, $8.50  G+

Earthy, light fruit [5/22].

Columbia Crest  Merlot-Cabernet, Columbia Valley, 1997, $5.50  G+

Atypical of recent Columbia Crest efforts, not being especially interesting. My guess is that they made the best of a mediocre vintage. The wine is sound, just not a lot of flavor, notably missing the chocolate notes typical in their Merlots and Cabs [5/22]. After a couple of nights under the gas, a real wine has begun to emerge, soft fruit, a touch of tannin, with a little earthy tar. Still quite light in flavor and low in acidity [5/24].

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