Rosenblum Zinfandel, California, Vintners Cuvee XXII, NV, $8 VG
Not brash like the Cline, but elegant with a touch of sweetness and berry fruit. Delicious [5/22]. A second experience in October is even more wonderful, with more opulence [10/28].
Tulocay Zinfandel, Amador, 1998, $17 VG+
A superb production. Rich, fruity, and concentrated Zin fruit with exotic touches of earth. Looks like Amador County avoided the plights of the 1998 harvest [5/26].
Venezia Sangiovese, Sonoma, 1999, $9 VG-
Nothing super special, but it's solid production [6/1].
Niebaum-Coppola Merlot, California, Blue Label, 1998, $20/half (rest.) VG-
Better than I had right to expect. Nice fruit, well oaked [6/19].
Kenwood Zinfandel, California, 1998, $5/glass G+
A slightly funky earthy edge, but decent fruit [6/20].
Porto Kopke Tawny Port, Portugal, 10 year, $13/half VG
A delicious young tawny, less elegant than the Otima [6/21].
Covey Run Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, Reserve, 1997, $14 VG
Hints of exotic fruit made this an interesting quaff [6/22].
Chateau St. Michele Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, 1999, $16 VG
An international-style Chard with plenty of oak [6/23].
Sonoma Creek Chardonnay, California, 1999, $8 G+
A light, simple Chard, nice oak and light on the acidity [6/27].
Falkner Viognier, South Coast, 2000, $10 VG-
Very unusual, but delicious. Possessing a slightly pink hue, the wine exhibited sweet peach fruit flavors with an extremely floral nose. Excellent with salad [6/30].
Maison Nicolas Sauternes, Sauternes, Reserve, 1999, VG-
This bargain wine was quite pleasant, with hints of sweet orange covered by tar [7/1].
Ferrari-Carrano Siena, Sonoma, 1998, $40 (rest.) VG
Elegant and a great food match. The juicy flavors of Sangiovese nicely balanced by the darker Cab flavors [8/1].
Gabbiano Red, Chianti Classico, Riserva, 1997, VG
Not revelatory, but about the best I've seen in Chianti. Ripe, dark, rustic, and full bodied, without excessive oak [8/4].
Benjamin Tawny Port, Australia, NV, $6 VG
An astounding value in dessert wines. Rich and sweet, with typical nut and caramel flavors [8/17].
Columbia Crest Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, WA, 1999, $5.50 VG
Very pretty and surprisingly rich, possessing high acidity and intriguing tropical flavors, both fruit and herbal [8/24].
Columbia Crest Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, WA, Grand Estates, 1999, $8.00 VG+
Richer than the regular CC Chard, and more drinkable on its own, but not as delicate, either [8/25].
Ravenswood Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Sonoma, 1999, $17 Exc-
This is a special wine. Rich, sweet, with orange and botrytis flavors in abundance. Lots of finesse. Very satisfying [8/25].
Cline Syrah, Los Carneros, 1999, $10 VG
Like the other Clines I've had this year, a great value. Compared to their budget production, this had richer fruit combined with earthy flavors, making it a complete experience. Yum [9/22].
Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45, Rhone, 1999, $8 VG-
A classic French Rhone, with plenty of earth and enough fruit to make this enjoyable with food [9/15].
Bedford Thompson Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, 1999, $13 VG+
Buttery fruit and toasted oak combined to make a formidable wine with exotic hard cheeses and smoked salmon [10/5].
Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Va., 1997, $13 VG+
Already softened by age, this wine showed significant complexity, with hints of berry fruit, mint, earth, and chocolate. Really outstanding. We served this at our wedding's rehearsal dinner back in 1999, so this was a sentimental bottle [10/6].
Delas Freres Red, Cotes du Rhone, Saint-Esprit, 1999, $8 VG-
Very earthy and spicy, but after a lot of time ripened and opened up to be a very pleasant wine. A good food match. Might be one to put down for a while [10/10].
Ravenswood Cabernet Franc, Sonoma, 1999, $12 VG
A bit of sleeper right now, with moody, dark tones. Might open up and become less monolithic with time [10/12].
Russian River Zinfandel, California, Eco-Zin, 1997, $8 G+
Light, dry, and a tad spicy, this wine needed more time to come to its full potential [10/15].
Foris Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley, OR, 1999, $13 VG
Light, but with beautiful balance in acidity and glycerin, giving the wine wonderful mouthfeel. Superb with food [11/22].