Glen Fiona Syrah, Columbia Valley, Bacchus Vineyard, 1997, $23 Exc-
Although slow to come around, this was a giant. Packed with fruit and earth in lovely balance. A lovely Syrah. With a year of age under its belt, it wasn't the super-giant it was a year earlier, which made it more drinkable with a meal. I was glad to find that it hadn't become unbalanced in the interim. I don't think it was drunk too early, though [4/22].
Haut Bernasse White Dessert Wine, Monbazillac, 1994, $15 VG
A very respectable sister of the Sauterne. Light, but not thin; orange-laced fruit but not cloying. Not ``turned'' like many, but still possessing ineffable qualities that suggest Botrytis [4/22].
Apex Gewurztraminer, Colubmia Valley, 1998, Exc-
Extraordinary. Beautiful gold color. Rich fruit with a touch of orange and nuts. Lovely texture. A perfect appetizer or appertif wine [4/28].
Ojai Syrah, California, 1997, $16 VG
Very restrained, only opening up after nearly an hour to show classic berry fruit in front of still-restrained earth [4/28].
Preston Barbera, Dry Creek Valley, 1997, $34 (rest) VG+
Bright, rustic, forward fruit with plenty of acidity to stand up to a creamy pasta dish with tomatoes. A real winner [4/29].
St. Francis Zinfandel, Sonoma, Old Vines, 1997, $19 VG+
Vibrant, lively fruit, flavorful but not super-concentrated [4/30].
Ravenswood Merlot, Sonoma, Donnell, 1997, $22 VG+
Complex, a little mysterious, dark. Quite different than the straight Sonoma, which is more overt [4/30].
Gallo of Sonoma Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 1997, $9 VG-
Tannic on first drinking, but the next night it was fruity and delicious, albeit straightforward [5/3].
Beaulieu Zinfandel, Napa, 1997, $9 VG
Dark, complex fruit flavors, well balanced. More mysterious than effusive [5/14].
Chateau Potelle Zinfandel, Amador, 1997, $10 VG-
Nice fruit, but rather tannic and a bit harsh. Calmed down the second night [5/18].
Venezia Chardonnay, Napa, 1997, $9 VG-
Toasty with high acidity, but not enough fruit to balance [5/21].
Mount Palomar Chardonnay, Temecula, 1997, $9 VG
Similar to the Venezia, but with richer fruit and a bit less harsh [5/22].
Venezia Sangiovese, Alexander Valley, Nuovo Mondo, 1997, $9 VG-
A fine production. Bright, forward Sangiovese fruit with some weight and nice balance, perhaps due to the addition of 15% Syrah. A true bargain. I saw this going for $21 at a grocery store. This bottle came from Trader Joe's [5/23]. Later bottles weren't as impressive, but still quite nice [6/3]. A little dry, earthy, and bitter; lacking fruit [9/21].
D-Cubed Zinfandel, Napa, 1998, $38 (rest.) Exc-
We were blown away by the intensity and purity of the forward fruit. This reminded me of Rosenblum Zins in style--very jazzy and playful, rather than elegant [5/26].
Altesino Alte d'Altesi, Tuscany, 1990, VG
This is one of the best super Tuscan's from a super year. Unfortunately, this wine was over the hill, probably because of the warm storage conditions at our home. It was flat, lacking fruit, and a bit tarry, albeit interesting [7/2].
Meridian Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, 1998, $10 VG
Crisp, nice fruit, not especially oaky [7/8].
Yalumba Museum Muscat, Australia, NV, $?? (375ml) Exc-
Yalumba's premium dessert releases seem to be uniformly astonishing. Rich flavor, polish, complexity [7/8].
Ravenswood Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, 1997, $15 VG
A very nice production, but didn't blow me away. For that price (probably list) I expect more richness and character [7/9].
Villa Mt. Eden Chardonnay, Monterey, 1998, $8 G+
Nice, but quite different and not as pleasant as their California Chard. A little leaner and less oak [7/15].
Beringer Alluvium, Knights Valley, 1994, $18 Exc-
Really extraordinary. Tom at SDWC had complained on its release that it was ungenerous, but time had clearly worked some magic. Gorgeous dark fruit, soft from age, with lots of mystery yet still friendly [7/28].
David Bruce Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mtns, 1994, $15 VG+
I was worried that this would be over the hill, but it was actually in very good shape, just a little farther along than the Beringer. Cabs rule when it comes to aging [7/14].
Guenoc Petit Verdot, Napa, 1993, $14 VG
This grape is added to Bordeaux's for color, and that's apparent here. Gorgeous color and rather lean in flavor, especially after a couple of years of aging [7/22].
Guenoc Chardonnay, California, 1998, $8 G+
Nice, but there's just not enough fruit, oak, or acidity to make it go [7/29].
Banrock Station Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Ausraila, 1999, G+
Not especially fruity or rich; a little flat [8/5].
Marietta Old Vine Red, California, Twenty Two, $7.50 VG+
Unga bunga! Except for pleasant softness and fine balance, this drank like a new release. Bright berry fruit [8/11].