Ojai Chardonnay, Arroyo Grande Valley, Talley Vineyard, 1997, $18 VG+
Exceptional richness and fine acidity with ample oak [7/10].
La Crau de ma Mere Red, Chateauneufdupape, 1996, $19 VG+
Remarkably approach for such a young wine from this region, with classic earth, pepper, and berry flavors [7/10].
Beaulieu Beauzeaux, California, Signet, 1997, $18 VG
Overripe, slightly turned fruit partially balance by vanilla and chocolate oak flavors [7/10].
Bettinelli Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1996, $14 VG
Somewhat restrained, lots of structure with chocolate and herbal notes. Could be a late bloomer [7/10].
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Sonoma, Monte Rosso, 1997, $22 VG+
Restrained, but ripe and very concentrated, almost black in color. Has lots of potential with time [7/10].
David Bruce Pinot Noir, Sonoma, 1995, $13 VG
Now softened into a more classic, elegant Pinot, it was a delight with bread and olive oil. Served later with grilled chicken, it turned earthy. Looking back at my '98 notes, I see we had exactly the same experience a year ago. I guess I still need to learn that I shouldn't serve older wines with grilled food. This wine definitely has some life left in it, but probably won't be improving much [7/17].
Chateau Ste Michelle Merlot, Columbia Valley, 1996, $13 VG
Well balanced, but quite restrained. Opened up over a couple of hours, with varietal nose and flavors, with that typical soft fruit that make Merlot so enjoyable. Could be exceptional in a couple of years, having the structure to hold up for a while [7/18].
Chateau Megyer Aszu, Tokaji, 5 Puttonyos, 1988, $20 Exc-
An outstanding white dessert wine, with classic botrytis-style flavors. Rich orange flavors with lots of stuff going on underneath [7/21].
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Sonoma, Old Hill Vnyd Special Edition, 1986, $25 (auction) Exc-
One of a kind. Remarkable ripeness and richness in such an old Zin, with complex flavors of all kinds and a powerful nose. Blueberry, earth, shoelaces, and varietal Zin fruit. Defies description, but not enjoyment [7/21].
Estancia Meritage, Alexandar Valley, 1995, $17 VG+
OK, it's not the '94 or '96, but boy this is a nice bottle of wine, with lovely varietal flavors and balance. Holding up just fine, even in my hot house. This is a Bordeaux-style blend [7/23].
Husch Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, 1997?, $8 VG-
Rich orange flavors with a bit of a bite, perhaps due to being a little too warm [7/24].
Domaine d'Aury Vin de Pays Coteaux des Fenouilledes , Red Roussillon, 1997, $6.50 G+
Classic French styling, with lots of pepper and earth [7/24].
Domaine Deshenrys Red, Languedoc, 1996, $8 VG-
Ripe fruit underneath pepper and earth. Quite harmonious [7/24].
Rosemount Shiraz-Cabernet, Australia, 1998, $6 VG-
Bright, grapey fruit with complementary pepper underneath [7/24].
Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 1993, $14 VG-
Something of a disappointment from Ridge. Lacking richness of fruit and balance [8/13].
Landmark Chardonnay, California, Overlook, 1997, $16 VG
Put together well, but light on the fruit relative to the rich glycerin texture. Not a match for lasat year's Overlook [8/15].
Pulcino Vino Nobile, Montepulciano, riserva, 1990, $24 VG+
Ultra-ripe cherries and dark earth with a hint of pepper [8/25].
Pulcino Rosso, Montepulciano, 1998, $9 VG
Grapey, forward, friendly [8/25].
Pulcino Bianco Vergine Valdichiana, Montepulciano, 1998, $8 G+
Dry, clean, bracing acidity, light on the fruit [8/25].
Ercolai Vino Nobile, Montepulciano, riserva, 1995, $15 VG-
Fruity, light, a little unbalanced [8/25].
Avignonesi Vino Nobile, Montepulciano, 1996, $16 VG
Tannic, sound, dusty, restrained fruit. May need time [8/25].
Lombardo Rosso, Montepulciano, 1998, $6 G
Light and tasteless [8/25].
Tenuta Trerosa Vino Nobile, Montepulciano, 1996, $12 G+
Tenuta Trerosa Vino Nobile, Montepulciano, ``simposio'', 1996, VG+
Dark, rich, complex flavors [8/25].
Fanetti Principesco, ??, 1990, VG
Ripe, dry cherries; soft [8/25].