2002 Tasting Notes

Roederer  L'Ermitage Champagne, Anderson Valley, 1992,   VG+

At nearly 10 years of age, I was sure this was over the hill, but found this sparkler at its peak. Packed with flavors of apple, pear, and nuts. Dry, but sweet on the palate. I've rarely effused over a Champagne, but this one caught my fancy. Maybe it was the complementary cheese fondue that did the trick [1/1].

Milz-Laurentiushof  Riesling, Spatlese, Mosel - Saar - Ruwer, Piesporter Hofberger, 1998,   VG

Silky texture, slightly sweet with hints of orange. Every sip a free trip back to Germany [1/3].

David Bruce  La Rusticana d'Orsa, Santa Cruz Mtns, 1996,   VG+

This is a Cab blend actually made by neighbors of David Bruce from a small vineyard. First tasted in October 1999, this wine matured very nicely, demonstrating complexity and considerable evolution over the evening. When first opened, forward chocolate cab flavors with a dusty texture. Later a sweeter fruit replaced the dust, with some tarry earth on the finish. Possessing little tannin in 1999, they were virtually absent today [1/5].

Taylor Fladgate  Tawny Port, Portugal, 10 year,   VG+

On first opening back in December, this tawny showed pretty cherry fruit and enough wood and spice to balance the sweetness. Four weeks later, it has matured a bit open to the air, taking on nuttier flavors, improving its balance and depth [1/7].

Cline  Zinfandel, California, 1999, $7  VG

Rustic, explosive, young Zinfandel fruit makes for a compelling quaff. But this is no bright, fruity wine; it possesses a dark, surprisingly dense fruit, albeit with a touch of green. As good as it is alone, it is even better with food. Maybe the best wine bargain I've ever experienced. Does vary quite a bit from bottle to bottle, although leaving open to the air usually evens things out. [1/8].

Gallo of Sonoma  Zinfandel, Sonoma, Frei Ranch, 1997, $13  VG

A mature Zin, with lots of flavor and modest complexity. Its age and ripeness combined to make an exotic experience [2/8].

Lindemans  Botrytis Semillion, Australia, 1999, $12/375ml  VG

Sweet and modestly complex, with hints of orange [2/8].

Lustau  Sherry, Jerez, East India Solera, NV, $14  VG

Dark and cedery, like an ancient tawny. Very mysterious and exotic [2/4].

Ravenswood  Zinfandel, Mendocino, 1999, $12  VG

Beautiful berry fruit, modestly concentrated and well balanced [2/10].

Beaulieu  Zinfandel, Napa, 1999, $10  VG

Nice balance of Napa earth and Zin fruit, with some tannins to add some structure and spice [2/12].

Noval  Tawny Port, Porto, 10 year, $22  VG

Not my favorite style -- more cherries than wood -- but ultimately sound with some nice nutty flavors [2/18].

Domaines de Virginie  Carignan, Vin de Pays de L'Herault, 1997, $6  G+

Very sound, soft and earthy. Definitely a quality bargain [2/19].

Vigna di Capraia  Brunello, Montalcino, 1993,   VG-

Light and fruity with minimal tannins. A delicious food wine [3/1].

Ravenswood  Zinfandel, Napa, 1999, $32 (rest.)  VG

Ripe, forward berry fruit with enough darkness in the flavor to be taken seriously [3/1].

Ravenswood  Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 1999, $16  VG

Yummy all around. Rich Cab fruit, youthful but not tannic, pleasant oak providing a little chocolate. Not rich or concentrated, but balanced and possessing finesse [3/3].

Liberty School  Late Harvest Merlot, Paso Robles, Dulce, 1996, $10  VG

I wasn't sure what to expect, but this was very nice. Silky and sweet, with lovely Merlot flavors [3/9].

Yalumba  Viognier, South Australia, Oxford Landing, Limited Release, 2001, $10  VG

A richly styled Viognier with muted floral notes. Another Yalumba success [3/16].

Gundlach Bundschu  Merlot, Sonoma, Rhinefarm Vineyard, 1999,   Exc-

The best Merlot I've had in a long time (I have memories of a superb Mondavi Merlot in Toronto last May), and certainly the most unique and complex. Concentrated, soft, genuinely dusty Merlot fruit. Restrained, but it won't stay that way forever. The potential of Merlot realized [3/16].

Columbia Crest  Merlot, Columbia Va, 1998, $8  VG-

Although excessively restrained and almost flat the first couple of nights, this finally opened up and offered some generous fruit. Give it some time [3/26].

Conte di Bregonzo  Amarone, Valpolicella, Classico, 1997, $10  VG

Amarone is an ancient wine style made by the unusual method of letting the grapes dry on racks before committing them to winemaking. The result in this case is rich, ripe brooding fruit with ample complexity added by earth and who knows what. I'll be buying more of this stuff.

St. Supery  Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, 2000,   VG

Nice body and acidity; no fading flower [4/20].

Ravenswood  Meritage, Sonoma, Rancho Salina Vineyards, 1997, $28  VG+

Deep, lovely, moody fruit with touches of earth, tar, and dust [4/20].

Chambers  Tokay, Rutherglen, Australia, NV, $12/375ml  VG+

Exploding with complex flavors of orange, cedar, and tar. Very sweet and lots of glycerin legs. A real mouthful [4/20].

Monsanto  ``Negro'', Tuscany, 1999,   VG+

This Cabernet-based super-Tuscan was super delicious, rich in fruit and earth. A bargain even at restaurant prices [5/17].

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