Thomas de Clairvillet Viognier, Portes Mediterranee, 2003, VG-
For the price (it was cheap), a delicious wine, with lean minerally fruit. I wanted more, and was disappointed that I couldn't find any more.
Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, 2001, $7 VG
Rich, ripe fruit, amply oaked. Not unique, but a real pleaser.
Bonterra Chardonnay, Mendocino, 2002, $8 G+
Not bad, especially for using organic grapes, but falls short of the cheaper Chateau St. Michelle.
Dry Sack Sherry, Spain, Williams Humbert Solera Especial Oloroso, 15 year, Exc-
Drier than some Oloroso's, with extraordinary complexity and depth of flavor, with earth, wood, and prunes.
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, Paso Robles, Incredible Red, 2002, $9 VG-
Kudos for consistency. Year after year, they produce a wine of similar quality and character. Might have the edge over the 2001.
Porto Morgado Vintage Port, Portugal, 1987, VG+
Boy, give one of these unknowns a 14 years to come together, and its a real pleasure. Dark ripe fruit, tannins, and elegant sweetness with lots of other stuff going on. I don't recall the price, but I know I got my money's worth!
Sandeman Sherry, Spain, Royal Ambrosante Old Solera Pedro Ximenez, 20 year, $18/500ml Exc
Just fabulous. I was sad when this one was gone.
Sandeman Sherry, Spain, Royal Corregidor Rich Old Oloroso, 20 year, $18/500ml VG+
Much drier than the Ambrosante.
Charles Shaw Shiraz, California, 2002, $2 G+
Not as good as the award-winning 2001. Lacking in fruit and weedy.
Botromagno Primitivo, Puglia, Apulian Zinfandel, 1999, $10 Fair-
Bone dry, light, earthy, fruitless.
Crow Canyon Syrah, California, 2001, $6 Fair
Green, weedy, somewhat turned.
Trader Joe's Cabernet Franc, Sonoma, 2001, $5 VG
A real pleasure all around. Strong in varietal characteristics, and ample in fruit and structure. Dusty, mysterious fruit. Really. For this price and quality, I have to check to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. That means I'm buying more [7/??]. :) Nope, I wasn't! I'm upgrading to a Very Good [8/31].
Picchetti Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 1998, $12 VG
Nearly black in color, and still a tad tight, a complete wine. Lots of mouthfeel, fruit, and earth. Rustic [8/21].
Ravenswood Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, 2002, $8 VG-
Tight and tannic at first, this wine showed some balance and pretty fruit after being vacuum-corked over night [8/22].
Opolo Zinfandel, Paso Robles, Summit Creek, 2002, $14 VG+
A bit light in color, this wine showed elegant intensity and jammy, pure, forward fruit. At 16.3% alcohol, the wine is a monster [8/25].
Penfolds Tawny Port, South Australia, Club Reserve, NV, $7 VG
The Australian's once again show their mettle in dessert wines. This inexpensive Tawny is a real pleaser. Excellent balance between fruit and woody flavors, yielding caramel. No bitterness like the Benjamin [8/25].
Vida Organica Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina, 2002, $8 VG-
Tight and restrained at first, a night vacuum corked let it open up, exhibiting a nice balance between fruit and earth, both elegant and rustic, chewy but soft mouthfeel, and good intensity [8/26].
Deinhard Beeen Auslese, Rheinhessen, 2000, $10/375ml VG
This sweet white dessert wine has pretty orange and overripe fruit flavors balanced by a touch of earthy tar. Lovely gold color [8/28].
Rabbit Ridge Zinfandel, California, 2001, $6 G+
A little green, but got better over time.
Armstrong Chardonnay, Sonoma, 2002, VG
A pleasant surprise for a very affordable Chard. Unique in being both racey and a touch sweet, crisp but forward flowerfy fruit. Not buttery or oakey, not cookie cutter [10/15].
Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes, Sauternes, 1st Cru, 1997, VG+
Not bad for a pick at the Heathrow Duty Free. Delicious orange sauterne flavors with a touch of tar that developed nuance as time went on [10/15].
Ravenswood Zinfandel, Sonoma, Old Vine, 2001, $10 VG-
Nice, but didn't send me to rapture. A tad light and one dimensional. A nice sipping wine, but took a while to balance out [11/13].
Goats do Roam Red, South Africa, In Villages, 2002, $10 VG+
Astounding. Silty, earth-laden fruit explodes from the bottle and lays on the palate for a long finish. Very rich and complex, without the burdens of excessive structure and a need for indefinite aging. What a pleasure [11/13].
Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay, Sonoma, 2002, $$? VG
A lot of body and fruit, with toasty oak. Fairly typical of California Chards [12/4].
Calistoga Cellars Zinfandel, Napa, 2002, $14 VG+
Ample, focussed, sweet, berry fruit. A true pleasure, and a bargain at that [12/30].