Villa Mt. Eden Syrah, CA Coastal, 1998, $12 VG-
Spicy, fruity [3/5].
Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet Franc, CA Coastal, 1996, $12 VG-
Rustic, balanced, with hints of chocolate [3/5].
Villa Mt. Eden Zinfandel, California, 1996, $12 G+
Nice fruit, but simple [3/5].
Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 1996, $12 G-
Damp, corky [3/5].
Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Grand Reserve, 1997, $22 VG+
Dark, mysterious. Probably needs time to reach its full potential [3/5].
Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1986, VG-
Although a little over the hill, it had fascinating barnyard and floral qualities. Loss of balance to the acidic side [3/5].
Ravenswood Merlot, Sonoma, Estate, 1997, $24? VG+
Tight. An ager [3/5].
Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1997, $17 VG
A touch green; I give the edge to the Napa Cab [3/5].
Harveys Oloroso Sherry, Jerez, Spain, Rare, Columbus 500th Anniversary, 1992 (bottled), $12 Exc-
They were practicaly giving this stuff away at Trader Joe's, much to my delight. I'd heard that many Sherrys are like Tawny Ports, and indeed this one is, but with a wonderful twist. This one is dark brown in color, infused with rich caramel flavors, cedar, cinnamon, nuts, and sweetness (17.5% alc.). What a way to end an evening. This Sherry is claimed to be blended from a variety of years dating back to the early 1800's, probably with a pipette. But the result is nothing short of astounding. I will weap when the last drop is gone [3/7].
Cantina di Montalcino Red, Chianti, 1997, $21 (rest.) G+
Not at all bad for a Chianti [3/11].
Bogle Zinfandel, California, Old Vine Cuvee, 1998, $9 G-
Vaguely turned fruit with some pepper, finishing with a damp mushroomy flavor [3/15].
Ravenswood Merlot, Sonoma, 1997, $16 VG+
Astoundingly delicious, especially with food. Not especially concentrated, but just bursting with lovely berry fruit [3/18].
Gallo of Sonoma Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 1998, $8 VG
A lot of wine for the price. Crisp acidity, adequate fruit, and toasty oak to balance it out. Even some pleasant complexity that I can't put to words [3/21].
Kenwood Zinfandel, Sonoma, 1997, $9 VG
Focused fruit in a nice tannic structure, oak in the background. The real deal. One of the best bargain Zin's of the year [3/26].
Barefoot Zinfandel, California, NV, $4 G+
Flabby, weak fruit, a little green and turned [3/27]. After having a few nights to sit after opening (vacuum corked), though, it balanced out and ripened considerably [3/30].
Domaine Clavel La Copa Santa, Languedoc, 1995, $14 VG
After letting this wine sit for a couple of more years (at less than ideal temperatures), this wine is finally ready drink. It was rich and ripe, with considerable tarry earth to provide that French balance. Undoubtedly would have been better if stored under better considtions [3/29].
Pine Ridge Merlot, Napa, Crimson Creek, 1997, $18 (375ml, rest.) VG
Focused fresh berry fruit, tannins, chocolate and vanilla oak. Very nice indeed. It wasn't a perfect match with my mezzaluna in cream sauce, but it still quite enjoyable [3/31].
Sandeman Tawny Port, Portugal, 20 year, $10 (glass, rest.) VG-
A bit thin and hot, but still pleasant [3/31].
Estancia Chardonnay, Monterey, Pinnacles, 1998, $8 VG
This bargain Chard does not drink like a bargain. Rich, racy, elegant fruit and toasty oak. I rate it a notch above the 97 Villa Mt. Eden bargain Chard [4/1].
Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet Franc, California, 1996, $12 VG-
This started good and got better throughout the evening. Nothing extraordinary here, just soft, dark, mysterious fruit that was great with food and drank well alone [4/7].
Villa Mt. Eden Syrah, California, 1997, $12 VG-
Simple but delicious, with forward berry-like Syrah fruit [4/15].
Beaulieu Viognier, Napa, Signet, 1997, $15? VG
Exotic, with hints of nuts and savory herbs, and may a bit of cinnamon. I think this wine could have use a bit more acidity or richness; as it was it was a bit watery [4/21].
Torii Mor Pinot Noir, Oregon, 1998, VG-
Typical of Oregon Pinot's in its restraint and earthiness. This isn't my favorite style of Pinot, but it is with some. Being a '98, it might gain some elegance and balance with age [4/21].
Da Vinci Riesling, Sierra Foothills, Late Harvest, 1987, $6 (375ml) VG+
I never should have let this age any further outside my refridgerator. Still packed with audacious, viscous, orange-laced fruit, but also possessing that car-tire flavor as well. I like it, most don't [4/21]. Nearly a month later the same bottle, left in the fridge and vacuum corked, was pretty amazing, as the tar flavors were mostly gone, leaving a complex, lovely wine. Live and learn [5/17].
La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Howell Mountain, 1992, $16 VG+
Packed with fruit and tannins despite five years in a hot closet. The fruit was soft, but still possessed lovely berry qualities. The tannins were a bit forward, no doubt a result of the heat taking down the fruit before the tannins. This wine could have been extraordinary if treated properly and we waited a few more years. In contrast, the '92 Stonestreet was at its most drinkable stage and the tannins had receded; I'm guessing it was a less tannic and dense wine in the first place, so the heat had not unbalanced it [4/22]. A second bottle was a quite a bit different. Less tannins, letting the fruit come through, but kind of a musty flavor that might have been corkiness [9/22].