Chateau Ste. Michelle , Columbia Valley Chard, 2001, $8 VG
Rich Chard fruit, toasty oak, and racey hints of apple and citrus that are reminiscent of a Viognier. Really outstanding [6/26].
Heitz Port, Napa, Grignolino, bottled April 2000, 1998, $16 Exc-
This is the best young port I've ever had, bursting with sweet blackberry fruit balanced by classic pepper and modest tannin, and darkness added by earth. The Portugese ports I've drank young were meant to be aged. This one has everything to like about it now [6/30].
Cline Zinfandel, California, 2001, $8 VG
New label, new flavor. Cline's bargain Zin has been blowing me away for years, and this one adds a new twist -- elegance. Still bursting with fruit, but now refined and balanced, rather than rustic and explosive [6/30].
Chateau Souverain Merlot, Alexander Valley, 2000, $14 VG
Very quiet, but delicious. Very well balanced with chocolate undertones [7/4].
Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 1986, VG+
This wine had been travelling all over the Northwest in search of us for several years, and it only caught up with us this week. We had the good fortune of being able to share it with Judy and Jim over a delicious New York cut steak. Mint and Eucalyptus flavors, with subtle oak and fruit made for an interesting experience [8/5].
Porto Roche Tawny Port, Oporto, Portugal, 150th Anniversary Edition, NV, Exc-
This special Tawny was a blend of Tawnys going back to the 1930's. Beautiful nutty flavors superbly balanced by sweetness [8/5].
Vida Organica Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina, 2002, $8 VG
Not as big as the Chateau St. Michelle, but its mineral flavors blended with ample fruit and oak make it special. Their Cab is great, too [8/16].
Delaforce Tawny Port, Portugal, 10 year, $17 VG-
This is a typical but enjoyable Tawny -- sweet flavors of cherries and wood, a little hot on the finish [8/17]. On trying a second bottle, I'm finding more of the caramel and nut flavors that I favor, and genuine complexity [11/2]. A third bottle is a little corked, I'm suspecting from production and not the bottle's cork [11/14].
Ravenswood Red, Sonoma, Icon, 2000, $18 VG+
This old fave seemed like a natural to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Right after opening, it was restrained and dusty -- very elegant and balanced. The next night, it showed beautiful berry fruits of Syrah and rich earth [8/23].
Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, Organic grapes, 2000, $10 VG-
Nothing special here beyond being organic, but delicious with grilled chicken. Light on the tannins and oak, it shows wise restraint in the winemaking for the vintage [8/31].
Barwang Tawny Port, Australia, 10 Year, $5 VG+
Astounding character for a wine this price. Australia once again proves its mettle in affordable dessert wines. I've paid $20 and gotten far less satisfaction. Wonderful wood and caramel flavors and nose, well balanced with only modest heat on the finish [8/23].
Bregonzo Amarone, Valpolicella, 1998, $10 G+
Immediately after corking, the tobacco flavors were overwhelming. With a week to settle down in the opened bottle, this finally turned into an interesting wine, with fruit, earth, tobacco, and eucalyptus flavors [9/16].
Valley of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1999, VG
Quite delicious and fun to drink [10/16].
Porto Morgado Vintage Port, Portugal, 1987, $15 VG+
As an inexpensive Trader Joe's selection, I wasn't expecting much, but I got a lot. This port was in its prime, full of deep berry flavors, great legs, soft structure, and not overblown with cherry flavors. This port is bottled by Forrester [10/28].
Chameleon Sangiovese, North Coast, 1998, $9 VG
A bit tight at the start, this wine opened up remarkably over the ensuing two nights. Typical open fruitiness, but lots of interesting stuff going on in the background, perhaps due to other grapes in the blend. A Whole Foods find [11/3].
De Loach Zinfandel, California, 2001, $6 G+
For the price, this is an outstanding Zinfandel. Simple, forward berry-like fruit without being cloying. It's very close to a VG-, but it's lack of depth and complexity holds it back [11/14].