Rick's Wine Journal 1st Half 2009
on Rick's McNees.org/winesite

 Wine - Notes and Comments - (See Key - See Rating Wines)
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    Groth Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Label July 30, 2009 - Groth 2005 Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon (RM 91) vs. Mt Veeder 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (RM89); Tasted at Strip Club Steakhouse in gaslight district San Diego w/ BC MDA team. Groth came out aggressive but settled down - still boasting pronounced dark, firm, forward fruit black berry, black cherry, spicy and oaky currant fruits. The Mt Veeder was overshadowed with its more singularly dimensional subtle but firm and full bodied mountain fruits - black berry accented by mocha.
    July 29, 2009 - Plumpjack Syrah 2007 - RM 89;  Elyse Petit Sirah 2006 - RM 88 - The Plumpjack was more forward and vibrant overshadowing the more subdued Elyse which was more subtle than the 04 tasted Sunday (see below). Tasted @ Spaghetini Restaurant in Seal Beach w/ BC MDA team.
    Craneford John Zulm Barossa Shiraz 2003 Label on McNees Winesite  
    July 28, 2009 - Craneford John Zulm Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 - RM 87 - Medium bodied, dark inky purple color - initial mineral gives way to black raspberry, currant and hints of blueberry fruits. - Tasted w/ L and Philippe at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving - http://cellartracker.com/w?308510.
    July 26, 2009 - Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford, Napa Valley 2004 - RM 91 - Dark inky purple color - thick rich full bodied - dense with huge 'legs' that stain the glass - flavorful black berry, black raspberry, hints of ripe plum with subtle oak and mocha on a full long finish. Tasted on the deck w/ L, Erin & Johnny, Eric, Cathy and Elise - closest I have to her 'namesake' wine.
    Ladera Two Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Napa Valley Premiere Lot 64 2002 July 24, 2009 - Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Two Mountains 2000 from 2003 Napa Premiere Lot 67 - RM 88 - Dark, medium bodied, black cherry, black berry, hint of currant, earth and tea on the finely integrated smooth tannin finish.
    Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 label July 23, 2009 - Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Affinity 1998 - #wine http://cellartracker.com/w?... RM 90 ; Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley 2004 - RM 89 - Tasted w/ L, Jan & Bill, Ryan & Michelle, Evelyn & Keith, and cousins, w/ French exchange visitors Phillip & Pierre at Erin & Johnny's.
    Cat Amongst the Pigeons Nine Lives Barossa Shiraz 2007 July 22, 2009 - Fess Parker Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County 2007 - RM 90 -  #wine http://cellartracker.com/w?... Spicy clove, hint of cinnamon, earthy black cherry, hint of white pepper on the finish.; Cat Amongst the Pigeons Shiraz Nine Lives 2007 - RM 90 RP91 - Dark, thick, full bodied, blueberry, black cherry, spicy vanilla, hint of earthy white pepper on the full firm finish. Tasted at Nage Bistro, Scott Circle, Washington DC.
    Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Label 2005 July 21, 2009 - Erath Pinot Noir 2007 - RM 88; Rodney Strong Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2005 - RM 90 WE 91, WS 90 ;Tasted at McCormick & Schmick in Crystal City.
    Ramey Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 label July 20, 2009 - Ramey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2005 - RM 88 - Tasted @ Herrington Inn Geneva.
    July 17, 2009 - Tasted mini vertical Nova Wines Marilyn Merlot 05, 06, 07 at bar-b-que - 06 was concensus favorite.. http://bit.ly/QOpIT
    Domaine la Roubine Vacqueyras 2006 label July 14, 2009 - Domaine la Roubine Vacqueyras 2006 - #wine http://cellartracker.com/w?... - Tasted w/ JK at Idylwood Grill in Falls Church ...
    July 11, 2009 - Lail J Daniel Cuvee Napa Valley 1999 - RM 91, WE 95, WS 93, RP 92 - Firm nicely integrated tannins throughout - dark garnet color, black berry, black raspberry form the core with hints of black currant, oak and anise on the finish. This is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot.  From the three acre Mole Hill Vineyard at 1600 feet on Howell Mtn with a western exposure. Tasted w/ L and Philippe at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving. - #wine http://cellartracker.com/w?... - .
    Spring Valley Vineyard Walla Walla Uriah Red Wine 2006 July 10, 2009 - Spring Valley Vineyard Washington State Walla Walla Uriah Red 2005 - WS 91 - RM 90 - Definitely needs some time - decant and let breathe. A bit harsh up front with cedar and tar overpowering black currant and black berry fruits - turns to vanilla with creme brulee burnt sugar on the long firm tannin filled finish. 59% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot.
    La Roubine Vacqueryas Rhone 2006 July 7, 2009 - La Roubine Vacqueyas Rhone 2006 - RM 90 - Dark, firm tannins throughout - black cherry, black berry, mineral and hint of creosote with firm tannin finish. Tasted w/ JK at Idylwild Grill in Falls Church.
    Hazyblur South Australia Baroota Shiraz 2002 label July 6, 2009 - Hazyblur South Australia Baroota Shiraz 2002 - RM 90 - Full bodied, super ripe plum, blackberry and currants with mocha, vanilla, caramel and hint of cedar and licorice on the full firm lingering finish.
    Robert Craig Affinity 2006 July 3, 2009 - Robert Craig Affinity Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000; RM 88 - Dark purple, black fruit and slight earthy tobacco on the nose, black cherry and blackberry fruit with tea and herbs on the moderate finish. Slightly tart. This wine is not quite as polished nor bearing as much fruit as near vintages. Tasted w/ L, Mark and Jane at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving.
    Caymus Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 label July 1, 2009 - Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2005; Caymus Napa Valley Estate cabernet sauvignon 2006 - RM 93; Rombauer Napa Merlot 2005 - Tasted at Azul Restaurant at JW Marriott at Ko Olina with goat cheese & roasted beet salad, foie gras starter and beef tenderloin dinner.
    Ken Brown Santa Barbara Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2006 label
    Orin Swift - "The Prisoner' 2007 label
    June 30, 2009 - Orin Swift 'The Prisoner' 2006- RM 90 WS 93 - The 2005 Prisoner was listed as #17 in the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2007 and awarded 93 points! This is a blend of 51% zinfandel, 23% cabernet sauvignon, 12% syrah, 6% charbono, 6% petite sirah, and 2% grenache. Considered perhaps the best Prisoner that winemaker David Phinney has produced to date. Fruit is sourced from top vineyard sites, including Tofanelli and Duarte Vineyards, the blend shows the best of all the varietals: the concentration of cab, the lush berry flavors of zin, the dark black fruit of syrah and the structure and intensity of petite sirah, combined in a wine that is decadent Mollydooker Violinist Verdelho 2007 label
    and complex.; Mollydooker Violinist Verdellho 2008; Ken Brown Santa Barbara Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2006 - RM 89; Tasted w/ DZ, MG, DC, RH, TS - BC MDA team at Roy's Hawaiian fusion cuisine restaurant on Waikiki, Honolulu. 
    Conn Creek Napa Valley Limited Release cabernet sauvignon 2005 label June 28, 2009 - Conn Creek Limited Release Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 87 - Slightly green, earthy black cherry, red currant, cedar, black tea, hint of vanilla on the finish. Tasted w/ Ken A and Rob H at Roy's Waikiki in Honolulu.
    Col Solare Columbia Valley Red Wine 2003 June 27, 2009 - Col Solare Red Mountain Columbia River Red Wine 2003
    June 25, 2009 - Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-pape 1997
    Fantesca Estate & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 bottle
    June 23, 2009 - Fantesca Spring Mountain Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 92 - Deep garnet colour. Smooth, polished currant and black cherry fruits accented by subtle mildly sweet spice, oak and hint of that Mayacamas Mountain terroir cedar. From Rick's cellar. Wow - now in oversize almost magnum heavy bottle! Comparison tasted against Fisher Coach Insignia Sonoma Valley red blend 2003 which is along the same mountain range albeit further north aand 'over the hill to the west facing Sonoma face. RM 90 - Dark purple colour - subdued dark fruits and slight dusty tones give way to a slight camphor note on the full firm finish. Tasted  w/ Mark G and Shannon R at Morton's Steak House in Naperville.  Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

    Viader "V" Napa Valley Red Table Wine 2004 Label
    June 22, 2009 - Viader 'V' Napa Valley red blend 2002 - RM 91 - Dark, firm black fruits, fine soft tannins. Blend of Petit Verdot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 91 - Earthy blackberry and black cherry accentuated by sweet spicy oak. Tasted at home w/ L, Mark G and Shannon with beef tenderloin, roasted red potatoes, asparagus and beefsteak tomatoes. Kracher Nouvelle Vague Chardonnay Trocken Bereen Auslese (TBA) #9 1998 - RM 92. Essence of apricot nectar served with fruit and cheese plate for desert. Kracher Nouvelle Vague Trockenberenauslese 1998 label
    Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite
    June 21, 2009 - Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 94 - Dark inky colour. Full bodied, elegant rich thick chewy symphony of flavors of sweet currant, ripe plum, red raspberry, blueberry, a hint of pepper, vanilla, and spice, and a lingering essence of creme brulee' burnt sugar and cedar on the soft finish. One of our favorite wines - tasted from our cellars, w/ L and Tim & Marcia at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving. Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese 2006

    Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese 2006 - RM 90 - Thick and sweet enough to serve as an apres dessert wine.

    Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Label June 20, 2009 - Del Dotto Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 92 points: Currant and berry fruit flavors give way to integrated oak and hint of cedar. Moderately firm but refined tannins. More structure and more flavorful than the 1998 which we've been drinking. The 98 was drinking better earlier and the 97 is now coming of age. Even more fruit than last tasting. Tasted from our cellars, w/ L and Erin at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving.
    Chateau Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux Terrasses 2006 

    June 17, 2009 -  Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux Southern Rhone Terrasses 2006 - RM 88 - Ripe black fruit black raspberry, plum, with a hint of earthiness. Soft, medium-full body, and a long finish. Great value easy drinking every day wine. Tasted w/  Don Z and Ryan Z with dinner at Mark G's in Aurora - Semper Fi! 

     
    Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2005 label June 16, 2009 - Rodney Strong Sonoma County Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2005 - Tasted at Ted's Montana Grill in Aurora w/ Don Z.
    King Estate Pinot Grigio 2007 label June 14, 2009 - Groom Sauvignon Blanc 2007; RM 88 - Essence of mango fruit and hint of crispy citrus.  Chateau St Michelle Merlot 2006; King Estate Pinot Gris 2007 - RM 88  Essence of peach with hint of pear and almond. Tasted w/ L at Mercury Grill in Dallas - great accompaniments to tuna tartar, pate and flowerless chocolate cake & fruit plate. Enjoying UA flight delay at DFW.
    Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Cuvee 2007 label June 13, 2009 -  Willakenzie Estate, Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir 2007; Tasted w/ L at Lazare in West Village, Uptown, Dallas.
    Gundlach Bundschu Rheinfarm Vineyard Mountain Cuvee label June 12, 2009 - Gundlach Bundschu Rheinfarm Vineyard Sonoma Merlot 2006 - RM 90 - Complex earthy black cherry, blackberry with hint of camphor, turning to black tea, blackberry, tobacco and mocha on the finish. Tasted at Cru Wine Bar in Plano, Legacy Center w/ L.
    Marquis Philips 9 McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006 label June 11, 2009 - Marquis Philips 9 Mclaren Vale Shiraz 2006 - RM 89 - WA 92-95 - Dark ink color. Full bodied, rich, thick - ultra-ripe raisiny black fruits predominate accented by pain grille (dark toast) smoky mocha, with hints of burnt sugar, mocha and vanilla on the finish. Linda (and Wine Advocate) loves this style - its a bit much for me. Tasted from our cellars, w/ L, at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving.
    June 10, 2009 - Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Merlot 1995 - RM 90 - Surprisingly lots of life in this 14 year old! Mouthful of bright leathery spicy black fruits, cedar and hints of eucalyptus and moderate tannic creosote on the long full lingering spice filled finish.
    Chateau La Louviere Pessac Leognan Graves 1994 Label June 06, 2009 - Chateau La Louviere Grand Vin Pessac Leognan Graves Bordeaux 1994 - RM 88 - Modest nose. Dark, medium bodied, firm blackberry, black currant fruits, earthy leather and a hint of cedar and smoke. More pronounced fruit than recent tasting . Tasted from 375 ml. Tasted w/ Alec & Megan at Angelis - L in Indy.
    Ritchie Creek Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 label June 5, 2009 - Ritchie Creek Napa Valley Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 88 - Medium bodied - leathery black cherry, black berry, hint of cedar, eucalyptus, spice and tobacco on the modest tannin finish. Tasted w/ L and Mark D at Angeli's Restaurant with Alec serving.

    Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve Label 1997 on McNees Winesite

    June 1, 2009 - Del Dotto Napa Valley Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1999 - RM 88 - Medium bodied, blackberry, black cherry fruit, leathery cedar and black tea on the moderate tannin finish. Blend of sangiovese, cabernet, merlot and petit verdot. Drank from magnum from the cellar - at Morton's Naperville with RG and AC-C and BC team.  ; Goldeneye Pinot Noir 2005.
     

    Kalleske Greenock Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005 label

       
    April 9, 2009 - Melka 'CJ' Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 90 - Much more fruit revealed than earlier tastings when younger. Black raspberry and currant fruits highlighted by mocha with hints of earthy cedar, eucalyptus and licorice on a smoky tannin finish. Gaja Ca' Marcanda Promis Toscana IGT 2002 - RM 90 - $39  Much more fruit and more approachable than earlier tasting. Medium bodied, juicy black cherry, blackberry, red raspberry, with hints of pepper, oak and vanilla. Interesting blend of Merlot 55% Syrah 35% and Sangiovese 10%. Kalleske Greenock Vineyard South Australia Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005 - RM 91, WA 92-94 - Intense, full bodied, inky colour, thick chewy tongue-coating black Gaja Ca'Marcanda Promis 2002
    cherry, plum, creme de cassis and a hint of black pepper. Tasted w/ L, Mark & Shirley at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood trattoria.
    Snoqualmie Wahluke Slope Syrah 2006

    April 7, 2009 - Snoqualmie Wineyards Wahluke Slope Columbia Valley Syrah 2006 - RM 88 - Rich black fruit aromas of blackberry and blueberry with an undertone of spicy mocha, herb and smoke tones with a luscious soft tannin finish. Great value wine at under $14. Try it. 

    York Creek Vineyards MXB Red Wine 2004 label April 5, 2009 - York Creek Vineyards "MXB" Napa Valley Spring Mountain District Red Wine 2004 - RM 88 - Dark, full bodied fruit forward, ripe black fruits, moderately firm tannins, spicy oak and a hint of subtle smoky cedar.  MXB stands for "Mixed Blacks," a common term to describe the field blends that were once common in the area. MXB blends Zinfandel, Carignane, Barbera and Petite Sirah. Tasted from half-bottle. Not nearly as good as the Meritage from this producer tasted on February 22 but tasty none-the-less. Not a wine for the faint of heart, but for fans of juicy, rich, concentrated wines. Tasted w/ L at Malibu Grill in Bloomington visiting Alec on his special day.
    April 1, 2009 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 91 - Rich medium full bodied. Fruit filled with black currant, black berry, raspberry, cassis, hint of black pepper and smoke with silky tannins on the finish. (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc). This wine shows remarkable fruit and staying power. Robert Craig was a featured producer at our Napa Wine Experience 1998, 1999, and our Napa Howell Mountain Wine Experience 2008.
    Chateau La Louviere Pessac Leognan Graves 1994 Label March 28, 2009 - Chateau La Louviere Grand Vin Pessac Leognan Graves Bordeaux 1994 - RM 87 - Modest nose. Dark, medium bodied, firm black fruits starting to give way to creosote, earthy leather and a hint of cedar and smoke. Tasted from 375 ml.

    Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 label

    March 23, 2009 - Elan Vineyards Napa Valley Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 -  RM 90 WS 92 ($35 (in 98))  - Floral bouquet, dark, medium-full bodied. firm leathery, black berry, black cherry, a hint of cedar and anise with a moderate tannin finish. Slightly more fruit and less earthy leather than recent bottles. Tasted at home w/ L, Ryan & Michelle.
    Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 label March 22, 2009 - Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 - RM 90 - Medium bodied, flavorful black cherry, black berry, and currant fruits, with notes of cedar and floral. Getting down to the end of a case and this one definitely more vibrant than earlier tastings. Earlier leather and earthiness gave way to the lively floral and cedar - perhaps age served it well?:
    Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 - RM 91 - Dark inky purple color - medium bodied - aroma and tastes of black raspberry, plum and sweet blackberry fruits predominate. Tasted w/ L and Bob & Gloria at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood trattoria. Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 label
    March 20, 2009 - Markham Napa Valley Petite Syrah 2001 - RM 89 - $24 - Dark purple, fragrance and mouthful of forward fruit black raspberry, blackberry, with undercurrent of anise, and subtle cedar and black pepper with a long smooth subtle mocha finish. Tasted home w/ Mark Deb with pizza watching NCAA upsets destroy my bracket.
    Neiman Napa Valley Red Wine 2001 label March 19, 2009 - Neiman Cellars Red Wine Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley 2001 - RM 93 - Perfect complement to beef tenderloin filet. Delicious, soft, polished and elegant blend. Dark, finely integrated tannins, full flavors of spicy blackberry and subtle red raspberry. Small production (148 cases produced) wine from Drew Neiman, assist to John Kongsgaard.
    Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite March 18, 2009 - Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 93; RP 95; WS 91; IWC 92 - $36 - Dark inky colour. Full bodied, elegant rich symphony of flavors of sweet currant, pepper, vanilla, spice, red raspberry, blueberry and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the luscious full soft finish. Tasted w/ L and TRR as we did a cellar update.
    Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 label March 17, 2009 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Blend 2002 - RM 91 - Consistent with earlier journal notes - full forward fruit of spicy blackberry, tar, black raspberry, hints of currant, cedar and a whisper of mocha and licorice with a long big finish accented by firm tannins. A perennial favorite, this remains a good value Napa cabernet as Robert continues to hold price at a reasonable level while maintaining consistent top quality. Robet was a featured producer of our Napa Wine Experiences 1998, 1999 and most recently at our Napa Howell Mountain Wine Experience 2008.

    Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

    March 16, 2009 - Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 88 - Light medium bodied - subtle currant and berry honed by a hint of milk chocolate and caramel with a soft short finish. Honig  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - RM 87 - Firm, forward black fruits, anise, a bit of firm creosote on a firm tannin finish.; Amici Cellars 'Olema'  Napa Valley California Cabernet 2005 - RM 89 - Mouth full of spicy red berry fruit, dried cherries, a hint of currant and mocha.  Tasted as Flight #9 - Napa Cabs at Cru - A Wine Bar in Dallas.  My ranks were inverse to the prices! What goes here?
    Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 label
    Peter Lehman Clancy's Barossa Red Wine Blend 1998 label
    March 14, 2009 - Served up several shiraz's, cabs and some other selections for a St Pat's dinner party. Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 87 - Based upon the recent experience below, I should have opened this hours or even a day before hand. Never-the-less it was less complex and polished than the 95. We finished it and didn't allow for a second later taste. Forward black cherry and cedar predominated with a slightly funky earthy taste.  Mollydooker Goosebumps Sparkling Shiraz 2006 - RM 86 - Somewhat funky effort that is an over-ripe raisiny McNees St Patrick's Day dinner wine filght selection
    blackberry with a hint of tar with a sense of foaminess to it that might be considered sparkling. It was interesting, but not a good shiraz and not a good sparkler. Everyone thought it was interesting, no one felt strongly about it good or bad. Peter Lehman Clancy's Barossa Blend 1998 - RM 88 - Full forward over-ripe raisiny blackberry and black cherry. Liparita Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 87 Liparita Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 label
    - Slightly off black cherry, black berry fruits offset by a subtle leather essence. Willow Vineyards Greenock Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 - RM 89 - Subtle black berry, black raspberry, with a hint of mineral and graphite. Freemark Abbey Edelwein Johannisberg Riesling Late Harvest Gold 1999 - RM 91 - Tea colored, thick, full bodied honey citrus flavors with a slight smokey finish. Hope Estate Verdelho Estate Grown Hunter Valley 2006 - RM 88; Tasted at home with selection of cheeses, beef tenderloin and crab-leg dinner, chocolate brownie cake desert and accompaniments. Linda and I hosted Erin & Johnnie, Barb & Kevin, Ryan & Ginger, Mark Deb dropping in w/ Alec & Megan and various friends.
    Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 label March 12, 2009 - Elan Vineyards Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, California, Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - RM 91 - Full bodied, firm but well integrated tannins, big full aromas and huge mouth-full of flavors of cedar and oak that lingers long on the full finish of sweet oak, black fruits, black cherry, anise and leather. Tasted and picked up this wine from the producer Richard & Linda Elliott-Smith during our 1998 Napa Wine Experience.

    Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 label
    March 7, 2009 - Von Strasser Napa Valley Diamond Mountain 1990 & 1999; The 1999 exhibited black cherry and black berry fruits with an undercurrent of earth, spice and cedar. The black cherry fruit of the 1990 had given way to an earthy leather scented spice and cedar. Groom Shiraz 2003 - RM 91 Dark inky purple color - medium bodied - aroma and tastes of black raspberry, plum and sweet blackberry fruits predominate. ; Domaine Chandon NV Sparkling Wine.  Tasted at Ryan & Michelle's for Michelle's birthday dinner celebration w/ the Diamond Family, Linda, Erin & Johnnie, and Alec & Megan. First gala gathering at R & M's since the wedding. 
    Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 1997 March 6, 2009 - Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Tapestry Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 90 WS 94 - Subtle berry, dark cherry, slight earthy leather, licorice on the moderate tannin finish. Tasted at home w/ L - perfect complement to beef tenderloin dinner. Retried two days later ... revealed much more fruit aroma and flavor, the floral had re-awoken ... was closed initially... Lesson learned for others and for next time! Add at least one more point to review rating!
    Kracher Chardonnay TBA No. 9 1998 and Beringer Special Select Late Harvest Rieslikng 1993 March 5, 2009 - Alois Kracher Chardonnay TBA (Trockenberren Auslese) Neusiedlersee Nouvelle Vague No.9 1998 - RM 91 - Beringer Special Select Late Harvest Riesling 1993 - RM 92. Reduxx of two sweets from pre-Christmas dinner. Only wines of this unctuous body and structure can be stored in the fridge for a month or so and brought back for a comparison tasting. Its hard to believe the maple syrup coloured Beringer and honey coloured Kracher both started out margarine coloured. After 10 and 15 years they are both still full of flavor body, structure and life. Both were still delicious with the Beringer holding up better with smoky ripe apricot and hint of anise on the finish. Down to the final bottle of the case lot purchased back upon release. I am still looking for a suitable replacement of equivalent value! The Kracher held more fruit but was falling off ever so slightly. Both great complements to cheese, cracker and fruit selection. Amazingly, both were rated mid-90's by the pundits, the Beringer cost lesss than $10 (half bottle) back in early 90's, while the Kracher cost almost $70 for a half.
    Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 label
    March 4, 2009 - Cakebread Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005-  RM 90 - Dark medium bodied, full forward flavor of black cherry, black raspberry, currant and spicy toasty oak that falls off at the end. ; Opus One 2004 - RM 89 WS 90  - Subdued, polished, complex, soft, medium body, semi-firm but approachable, subtle cedar, dusty berry, hint of pepper, mineral and sage. ; Tasted w/ L, Dennis & Susan at Riva Restaurant in Naperville. We hve enjoyed hosting several elegant wine dinners there the last few years. Unfortunately, the City of Naperville has instilled and is now Opus One 2004
    enforcing arcane controls banning BYOB to restaurants. This will only serve to drive diner's to the multitude of neighboring communities' fine dining restaurants. What are they thinking? Naperville restaurants and diners need to rise up in protest.
    March 3, 2009 - David Arthur Napa Valley Meritaggio 2006 - RM 93 - Wow, this is good! Dark, medium bodied but full flavored - blast of currant, red raspberry and black berry turning to chocolate mocha and subtle tones of anise on the soft finish. Interesting blend of cabernet sauvignon 77%, sangiovese 21% and petit verdot 2% from Pritchard Hill high above eastern Napa Valley. Tasted at home w/ L.
    d'Arenberg Dead Arm 2002 Label on McNees.org/winesite
    February 26, 2009 - d'Arenberg 'Dead Arm' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - RM 92 - Refined polished, full flavored, full bodied (although nowhere near the Mr Riggs!) garnet purple, black raspberry and blueberry fruits with a subtle floral tone on a smooth finish. ; Mr Riggs McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - RM 91 - Ink color, immense, intense full bodied fruit forward - almost over Mr. Riggs McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002
    ripe rich thick extracted fruit, almost Amarone like. Black berry, raisiny black cherry, graphite, black licorice. Interesting comparison of two contrasting styles from the same appellation and vintage. The Mr Riggs overpowered and came across almost unrestrained next to the more refined and polished Dead Arm. Both are tasty quality wines. The Mr Riggs needs a big accompaniment to offset its ripe full forward fruit - perhaps dark chocolate or an English stilton!  Tasted w/ L, Gayle and Mark B at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood trattoria.
    Chateau LaGrange St Julien Bordeaux  February 25, 2009 - Château Lagrange, 3ème Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France 2002 - RM 85 - Slightly off tinge of rust colour - moderate firm tannins prevail with earthy, slightly funky 'grassy' tone detracting from the dark cherry, black berry cedar and leather. Tasted w/ Bob McP at La Bergerie in Alexandria.
    Caymus Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 label February 24, 2009 - Caymus Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - RM 93, WS 92 - Full flavored polished and sophisticated currant, black berry, sweet oak with a finely integrated tannin structure. WS Review - "Full-blown, ripe and rich, with intense and sharply focused dried currant, wild berry and blackberry fruit that's still fairly tannic at this stage. Ends with a long, persistent finish. Best from 2010 through 2015." (10/29/08). Stags Leap Napa Valley Petit Syrah 2006.  Tasted w/ TS RTN team at Evo Bistro & Wine Bar in McLean.
    Eredi Lodali Treiso Barbaresco Rocche dei 7 Fratellli 2003 Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco, Italy -
    RM 88 - Classsis Langhe Barbaresco - earthy, smoky creosote tone permeates the black fruits.
    ; Eredi Lodali Treiso Barolo Piedmont, Langhe, Italy Barolo 2002 - RM 87 - Lighter medium bodied, subdued black cherry and berry fruits with a earthy leather soft short finish.; Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicell Veneto, Valpolicella, Italy 2005 - RM 89 - Bold, dark, forward ripe black berry, black cherry, raisin fruit on a medium plane and modest finish.; Tasted w/ TS RTN team at Capri Restaurant in McLean.

    York Creek Spring Mountain Napa Valley Meritage 2001 label

    February 22, 2009 - York Creek Vineyards Meritage Napa Valley Spring Mountain District 2001 - RM 92 - Dark, full bodied, full flavored currant, red raspberry, and black cherry with a long soft polished tannin finish. From the cellar, tasted at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood trattoria.

    Kalleske Barossa Valley Greenock Shiraz 2004 Label
    February 21, 2009 - Kalleske Barossa Valley Greenock Shiraz 2004 - RM 91 - Dark, big full bodied fruit forward black berry, ripe black raspberry and plum, mineral and glycerin on a smoky charcoal finish.
    Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 label February 20, 2009 - Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 - RM 89 - Flavorful black cherry, black berry and currant fruits.
    Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz 2004 February 19, 2009 - Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz 2004 - RM 94, RP 97, WS 92 - Dark inky purple, intense, rich, thick, full bodied, forward fruit of blueberry, ripe plum and blackberry, violet floral, and a hint of anise on the finish.
    Fantesca Estate & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 bottle
    Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz 2004
    February 15, 2009 - Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz 2004 - RM 94, RP 97, WS 92 - Dark inky purple, intense, rich, thick, full bodied, forward fruit of blueberry, ripe plum and blackberry, violet floral, and a hint of anise on the finish. Parker review - 'The dense purple-colored 2004 Shiraz Oracle ratchets up the fruit and glycerin levels, yet remains pure, elegant, and well-balanced. Full-bodied, powerful, cleanly textured, long, and heady..' Int'l Wine Cellar:93 - 'Explosive, wild aromas of blackberry liqueur, cassis, licorice root and espresso. Boasts impressive weight and power on the palate, the dark berry flavors wonderfully sweet but also focused and firmed by solid tannins. Spectator:92 - 'A vivid mouthful of violet-scented blueberry, blackberry and plum...'; Del Dotto Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 label 
    Fantesca Winery and Estate Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 92 Refined polished, complex blackberry, black cherry, spice, subtle hints of finely integrated mocha, cassis and vanilla currant with fine tannins. ; Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley Sangiovese 1998 - RM 89 - Flavorful black cherry, black berry and currant fruits.; Tasted from the cellar at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood trattoria - gala (surprise) birthday dinner for L with Alec, Marlene, Erin & Johnny, Ryan & Michelle, and Kevin & Barb.
    Les Houilleres Chassagne Montrachet 2003 label on McNees.org/winesite
    Calon Segur St Estephe 1995 label
    Arrowood Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 label
    Two Hands Lily's Garden McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 label
    February 14, 2009 - Les Caves de la Colombe Chassagne-Montrachet Les Houillièr Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy, France, 2003; Chateau Calon-Ségur St Estephe Bordeaux 1995 - RM 90; WS 96; RP 92 - Classic Bordeaux with earthy, leathery black fruit accented by a full floral finish - exhibited a bit more fruit and floral the next day at the expense of the firm full tannin structure. Wine Spectator review: "Greatest Calon-Ségur ever made. An absolutely amazing red, this third-growth Bordeaux is remarkable for its layers of berry, violets and perfume. It's full-bodied and very velvety on the palate, with masses of character and an ultra-long finish. Best after 2004." 92+ Robert Parker: "The 1995 may be the most impressive Calon-Ségur since 1988. The deep, healthy dark ruby/purple color is followed by a nose without any of the kinky, earthy, musty barrel smells that often afflict Calon-Ségur. Although backward, the wine reveals terrific purity, full body, low acidity, layers of concentrated fruit, and a fleshy, pure style. This big-boned, impressively-endowed wine will need 5-7 years of cellaring, after which it will keep for 20+ years. This estate has a tendency to produce wines that tighten up and go into a shell, but I am looking forward to re-tasting this top-notch effort in 6-8 months."; Arrowood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 88 WS 89 ($25 in '92) Only one more left from case - has fallen off some from earlier state- balanced, polished, smooth but firm structure and supple tannins. The backbone is still firm but nearing end of life - a shadow of earlier fruit flavors - cherry, currant and ripe plum accents.; Two Hands Lily's Garden McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 - RM 92, WS 94; From Bill C's cellar - Dark purple, rich, full firm shiraz - deep flavorful ripe plum, black raspberry, blackberry, hints of spice turning to a minerality that detracts from the fruit. WS Review - "Ripe and generous, with a remarkably open texture for a wine so rich in flavor. The beautifully delineated blackberry, black cherry and anise flavors sail on through the long, long finish. HS". Tasted at home with L, Bill and Beth C for surf and turf, lobster, tenderloin St Valentine's dinner. The shiraz matched perfectly the blue cheese and chocolate cake course.
    Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Marqaux 2004 label
    Darioush Napa Valley Merlot 2005 label
    February 12, 2009 - Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux Marqaux Bordeaux 2004 - RM 92, RP 89 -  Robert Parker review: "Margaux’s second wine, the 2004 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux, may turn out to be outstanding. Its deep ruby/purple hue is accompanied by fleshy notes of black currants, cherries, smoke, earth, and spring flowers. Lovely, ripe, and opulent, it is best consumed during its first 10-15 years of life." (06/07) 87-90 points Stephen Tanzer: "Good ruby-red. Sexy aromas of currant, black cherry, licorice, flowers, toffee, menthol and chocolatey oak. Juicy, pure and fairly tightly wound, with lovely acidity giving a briskness to the flavors. Finishes with good definition and grip, and a slight dry edge." According to the Wine Spectator: "Pretty blackberry and cherry aromas follow through to a medium body, with fine tannins and a fruity, clean finish. The second wine of Margaux. Best after 2010." (03/07) - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, with 5% Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Silky blackberry fruit on the nose that follows to the palate. Well-balanced and on elegant side.; Darioush Signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 91 - Dark, firm, full bodied - blackberry black cherry, plum, cassis and spicy nutmeg and cinnamon. Tasted w/ KD, SK, & GA at Zealous Restaurant, Chicago.
    O'Brien Estate Napa Valley Merlot 2006 Label February 10, 2009 - O'Brien Estate Winery Napa Valley Merlot 2005 - RM 90; Marquis Phillips '9' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006 - RM 94 RP 95; Tasted at L & K's in McLean.
    Branson Coach House Greenock Block Shiraz 2004 label
    February 6, 2009 - Moet Chandon Dom Perignon Champagne 1999; Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 90 - Dark ink garnet color - classic spicy oak accents on black raspberry, black berry with subtle hints of cola, mocha and anise, nicely balanced silky tannins on the full finish. Branson Coach House Barossa Valley Greenock Single Vineyard Greenock Block Estate Shiraz 2004 - RP 90 - RM 91 - Dark purple - full bodied, rich thick plum, black raspberry, hint of blueberry, spice and graphite on a full finish. Tasted w/ L and Jacquie P. hosted for dinner at John and Kathy McM's. Moet Chandon Dom Perignon 1999
    Silver Oak Alexander Valley 2004 label
    Calera Mills Pinot Noir 2005 Label February 6, 2009 - Calera Mt Harlan Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 90 RP 93 - Medium bodied, deep ruby/purple color black raspberry, black cherry, floral, and spice. Tasted from 375, w/ L at Herrington Inn in Geneva.
    Barossa Old Vine Company Shiraz 2003 Label on McNees WineSite on McNees.org
    February 5, 2009 - Barossa Old Vines Company Shiraz 2003 - RM 94 RP 93 - Ripe blueberry, black raspberry, currant, cedar and  spicy oak. RP review -"A limited cuvee produced from 109, 127, and 152 year old vineyards, this 2003 shiraz was aged 24 months in a combination of new French and American wood as well as a smaller amount of older oak.  Huge, ripe, and surprisingly subtle and polished, this dense purple-hued wine offers layers of blackberry and currant fruit intermingled with spicy new oak, licorice, cedar, and loamy soil characteristics.  Full bodied and voluptuous, but not over the top, this beauty should drink well for 10-15 years."  Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, Issue 161, Oct 31, 2005.
    From the cellar, tasted w/ L, at
    Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Cheval Brun St Emilion Grand Cru 2005 label February 4, 2009 - Château Cheval Brun, Libournais, St. Émilion, Bordeaux, Grand Cru 2005 - RM 89 - Dark, firm silky tannins with medium body, accented by smoke, mocha, a hint of anise, leather and black fruits. 80% merlot, 10% cab franc and 10 % cab sauvignon. Tasted from 1/2 bottle at spectacular La Bergerie in Old Town Alexandria, VA. (review coming).
    Pinot Noir Burgundy Wine Flight 01/31/2009 January 31, 2009 - Calera Mt Harlan Selleck Vineyard Pinot Noir 1993;  Calera Mt Harlan Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir 1994;  Domaine Serene Willamette Valley Evensted Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001;  James B. Sanders Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy 1996; Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru, Clos de la Maréchale, Côte de Nuits,  Nuits St. Georges, Burgundy 1er Cru 2004; Gala Pinot Noir - Burgundy tenderloin dinner tasting w/ L, Bill & Beth, joined later by Drew & friend. Delightful and interesting exposition in the contrast of old and new world styles with Calera splitting the difference. The dark garnet colored Domaine Serene Evensted (RM92) exhibited the most fruit - nicely balanced black cherry, cherry, rose petals, hints of
    spice and sweet oak - complex, smooth and polished. Next, the light, slightly rust colored Jensen (RM88) - slightly tart cherry turning to black berry fruits but simpler and more narrow. Selleck (RM90) with the same light, slight rust color was more polished with a complex symphony of black cherry, berry, black pepper, spice, hints of coffee, mocha, subtle leather - an interesting balance between old and new. The contrast of the old world style was apparent in the Sanders Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin (RM 87) - firm, dark, the black fruit was more subdued, muted by earthy leather. Likewise the youth and and harder firmness of the dark Mugnier Nuits St. Georges (RM 87) masked the black fruits further still in subtle charcoal and leather. By the time Drew arrived, 2 1/2 hours after opening, the Calera's had shut down and closed any hint of fruit nose. The lighter Calera's were over-powered by the blue cheese starter, neutralized by fruit, while the Burgundies stood up well with the chocolate turtle cheesecake desert.

    January 29, 2008 - Barton Vale Smith's Folly Barossa Valley Shiraz 2001 - RP 95 RM 92 - $80 - Dark garnet color. Black berry, black cherry, currant, mocha and coffee flavors but smooth silky refined tannins on the finish.  Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    De Lisio Krystina McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 label January 25, 2009 De Lisio McLaren Vale Krystina Shiraz 2005 - RM 87 -$48 - Dark forward over ripe raisin berry with tones of tinny mineral on the finish. Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Fantesca Estate & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 bottle January 23, 2009 - Fantesca Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 91 - $49-65- Smooth, elegant, polished, sophisticated cab - spicy currant, black cherry, berry and a hint of mocha and anise on the fine tannin finish.
    Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 label 
    January 23, 2009 - Chateau Talbot St. Julien Bordeaux 1999 - RM 91 - Medium bodied, garnet color with rust edge, complex currant, spice, loganberry, black cherry give way to leathery oak finish. Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - RM 91 - Dark purple color, sweet spicy oak predominates over the black cherry, currant and berry fruit.  Sommelier Series flight tasted at Vino Volo PHL.    
    Fransiscan Oakville Cabernet January 22, 2009 - Franciscan Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 87 - Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - RM 88 - Tasted w/ TS hosts JK, LC and KY, and BJB at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner.
    Hob Nob Languedoc Chardonnay January 21, 2009 - Hob Nob Languedoc Chardonnay 2006 - RM 84 - Full bodied, surprisingly complex, green apple, pear and vanilla on the finish.  Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - RM 87 - Crisp tangy citrus, pear and hint of peach on the finish. Tasted by the glass at Luna Del Sea Steak & Seafood Bistro in Baltimore.
    Hazy Blur Adelaide Plains Shiraz 2001 January 20, 2009 - HazyBlur South Australia Adelaide Plains Shiraz 2001 - RM 92 - Deep dark purple color - needed an hour to shed a earthy damp leather sense, then gave way to full forward fruit - smooth elegant currant, plum, strawberry, cherry and that classic subtle creme' brulee burnt sugar with a long soft vanilla nut finish.

    January 18, 2009 - Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2003 - $49-63 - RM 92 WE 94 - Cinq Cepages = 'five flavors', a meritage blend - Sophisticated, complex, elegant, black cherry, berry, hint of oak, leathery, tea and smooth polished firm tannins on the finish.  WE Review - "A classic Cinq Cépages, the 2003 vintage offers the signature chocolate-covered cherry and boysenberry aromas that have come to define this flagship Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. Lush, elegant and gracefully balanced, the wine delivers sweet plum and dark berry flavors and an exotic floral note that wraps around big, juicy tannins. This highly concentrated wine has beautiful oak integration and a lushness throughout that leads to a lingering finish." Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    J Vidal Fleury Cotes du Rhone 2006 label  January 17, 2009 - J Vidal Fleury Cote du Rhone 2006 - RM 88 - Fruity easy drinking wine - cherry, raspberry and a moderate tannin leathery finish. Erath Pinot Noir 2005 - RM 86; Tasted w/ Dr Dan, Hill, Alec & Megan at Grazie! in Bloomington.
    Freestone Winery Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2005 label January 16, 2009 - Freestone Pinot Noir Sonoma County Sonoma Coast 2005 - RM 90 points: Smooth and silky texture, fruit filled black cherry, red raspberry highlighted by spice and cinnamon on a subtle dusty white pepper finish. From Joseph Phelps. Tasted at Dr Dan's after Hawks game before Acacia BOD.
    Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Gary's Vineyard Syrah 2005 label
    January 15, 2009 - Marco Di Guilio Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Mark K Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - RM 92 My first ever MDG wine. Picked a bunch up at auction. Here goes... Sweet black cherry, floral, anise, subtle black licorice accented by spice and a hint of eucalyptus on a smooth silky long, tannin laced  finish.  Lucia Vineyards, Santa Lucia Highlands, Gary's Vineyard, Syrah 2005 - RM 88; Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 - RM 90; Erin wines for her birthday celebration dinner at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro. With Johnny, Ryan & Michelle, Barb & Kevin, L, and Marlene. Marco Di Guilio Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Mark K Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 label
    Ben Glaetzer Barossa Valley Godolphin Shiraz 2005
    January 14, 2009 - Keenan Napa Valley Spring Mountain Mailbox Vineyard Merlot Reserve 2005 - RM 91 - From magnum. Glaetzer Barossa Valley Godolphin Shiraz 2005  - RM 92 - Big fruit forward full flavored - black raspberry, black cherry, with subtle ripe plum, cedar and smoke on a full finish.; Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux 1er Cru Classe Sauterne 1998 - RM 89; Tasted BYOB at Herrington Inn - special hosted private dinner for R-TS team JK, LC, Sue K, Cary A, Kate Y, w/ KD, B JB, & ND. Chateau Guiraud Sauterne 1998 labelKeenan Winery Napa Valley Spring Mountain Mailbox Merlot Reserve 2005 Magnum label
    Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite January 13, 2009 - Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 93; RP 95; WS 91; IWC 92 - $36 - Dark inky colour. Full bodied, elegant rich symphony of flavors of sweet currant, pepper, vanilla, spice, red raspberry, blueberry and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the luscious full soft finish. Chateau de la Gardine Chateauneuf du Pape 1998 - RM 88 Consistent notes w/ earlier tastings. RM 88, RP 90, WS 94 - $49 - A subtle earthiness detracts from the blackberry and black cherry fruit, accented by a subtle leather and cassis. Masi Costasera Amarone Classico 2005 - RM 85 - Tasted at ZaZa's in St Charles with KD and TS JK, R-TS SK and GA.
    Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry 2005 label January 10, 2009 - Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 2005 - RM 91 - Medium full-body, moderate  structure, cherry-plum accented by vanilla, sweet oak and spice with a hint of herb and mineral. Kilikanoon Clare Valley Oracle Shiraz 2005 - RM 92, RP92 - Deep purple color, fruit forward chewy extracted blueberry, and blackberry, long full well balanced finish.  -
    Tasted at John & Kathy McM's 'drop-in' - J 'virtual' dialed in from the Orient.
    Calera Mills Pinot Noir 2005 Label January 7, 2009 - Calera Mt Harlan Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 - RM 90 RP 93 - Medium bodied, deep ruby/purple color black raspberry, black cherry, floral, and spice. Tasted from 375, w/ Jennifer P at Herrington Inn in Geneva, complimentary site visit lunch.
    January 6, 2009 - Snowden Lost Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 90 - Firm, structured, black raspberry, black cherry and currant on a balanced, finely integrated tannin finish. More fruit and lacking leather and earth of previous tastings. Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Plumpjack Founders Reserve Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 January 4, 2008 - Plumpjack Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 90 WS90 - Dark berry, currant, black licorice, leather, hints of tar and cedar with a firm tannin finish. 
    Penfold's Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2005 label January 3, 2008 - Penfolds 'Thomas Hyland' South Australia Shiraz 2005 - RM 88 - Tasted w/ Ryan, Johnny and Alec at Greek Islands, Greektown, Chicago.
    January 1, 2009 - Chateau Haut Bailly Pessac-Leognan Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux 1986 - RM 87 - Moderate light body, bright perfume, red raspberry and hint of black cherry fruit, slight earthy leather. Tasted from 375 ml.
    Flight of '8 left bank Bordeaux

    December 31, 2008 - Chateau Giscours Margaux 1998; Chateau Beyechevelle St Julien 1988; Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac 1998; Chateau Montrose St Estephe 1998; Festive flight of left bank Bordeaux - perfectly paired to courses of cheese selection, bacon infused chowder, cheese fondue, lamb chops, tenderloin, chocolate fondue and creme brulee. Served by New Year's eve hosts Bill and Beth C. My BYOB St Julien fit perfectly in Bill's left bank flight selections. Holiday celebration kicked off Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut label
    and concluded with Tattinger and Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV Champagne. Tasting notes coming.
    Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Label December 30, 2008 - Del Dotto Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 92 - More structure and more flavorful than the 1998 which we've been drinking. The 98 was drinking better earlier and the 97 is now coming of age. Moderately firm refined tannins. Currant and berry fruit flavors give way to integrated oak and hint of smoke. Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Oakville Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 label December 28, 2008 - Oakville Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 87 - Medium bodied, black cherry, a slight earthy funk setting in revealing age.
    Earthquake Zinfandel label December 27, 2008 - Earthquake Zinfandel 2006 - RM 88 RP 89  - Dark, medium bodied, black cherry, raspberry fruits. Easy drinking zin for the holidays. Marquis Phillips Sarah's Blend 2006 - RM 87; Tasted at Bob & Gloria's holiday dinner party.  Marquis Phillips Sarah's Blend 2006 label
    Chateau Lascombes Grand Cru Classe Marqaux 2004 label December 26, 2008 - Chateau Lascombes Grand Cru Classe Margaux 2004 - RP 93 ST 91 RM 92 - Intense dark full bodied and full flavored - dense black fruit, game, expresso coffee, hint of smoke and floral on the firm tannin finish. Tasted BYOB w/ L and Jacquie P at Retro Bistro in Des Plaines. 
    Merryvale Profile 1998 label December 25, 2008 - Domaine Chandon NV Blanc de Blanc. RM 89; Merryvale Profile Napa Valley Red Wine (Meritage) 1998 - RM 89 - Showing a little age, needed a couple hours to open - floral and earthy leather bouquet - flavors of black cherry, black fruit, subtle cedar, bright floral violets on the moderate tannin finish. Robert Craig Napa Valley Chardonnay 1996 - RM88: Served w/family at festive Christmas surf & turf dinner - steak, lobster  & crablegs. Robert Craig Napa Valley Chardonnay 1996 label
    December 24, 2008 - Razor's Edge Barossa Shiraz 2006 - RM 86;
    Landmark Cellars Outlook Chardonnay 2001 -
    RM 87 - Served in Munster for Holiday dinner with kids, Gr Evelyn and Keith.
    Hazy Blur Adelaide Plaines Shiraz 2004 Label December 23, 2008 - Hazy Blur South Australia Adelaide Plains Shiraz 2004 - RM 89 - Fruit filled and forward - full flavored loganberry, cherry, graphite mineral core, then a subtle, full, rich raspberry. Tasted w/ L at home after she battled a winter storm for 7 hours returning from Indy.
    Holiday dinner wine flight. December 20, 2008 - Lanson NV Brut Rose Reserve Champagne - Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - Venge Family Reserve Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - Matthews Cellars Yakima Valley Meritage Red Wine 1998 - Alois Kracher Chardonnay TBA (Trockenberren Auslese) Neusiedlersee Nouvelle Vague No.9 1998 - Beringer Special Select Late Harvest Riesling 1993 - Cavalchina Passito Veneto IGT 2004 - Mt Pleasant Missouri Augusta Vintage Port 1988; Tasted at festive  Holiday dinner desert wine flight
     holiday dinner party w/ L hosting Bill and Beth, John and Kathy McM, and Pete and Patty T.
    Ridge Howell Mountain Zinfandel 1990 label December 18, 2008 - Ridge Howell Mountain Zinfandel 1990 - RM 88 - Tasted w/ L and Alec on his return from IU at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Tawse Winery Vintners Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006 label
    Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Close 2006 Label
    December 15, 2008 - Tawse Winery Vinters Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006 - RM 87 - Dark, medium bodied, slightly earthy black fruit, smoke. Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2006 - RM 88 - Light bodied, floral aroma, soft subtle spice, leather, muted red and dark fruit. Delicate but nicely integrated and refined. Tasted from the magnificent cellar at elegant Langdon Hall & Country House w/ John S and BJB.
    Thorne-Clark Terra Barossa Shiraz 2006 December 12, 2008 - Thorn Clark Terra Barossa Shiraz 2006 - RM88 - $12 - Firm spicy blackberry with a hint of graphite on the finish. RP 90 - RP Review - "The best of the reds is the value priced 2006 Shiraz “Terra Barossa”. Opaque purple, it has an enticing spicy perfume of blueberry and blackberry that jump from the glass. Plush and ripe, it tastes like Shiraz selling for three times the price. It has outstanding depth and length and, best of all, it can be enjoyed now."~(WA). Tasted w/ L at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2003 label December 10, 2008 - Paloma Spring Mountain Napa Valley Merlot 2003 - RM 95 WS 90 - $75 - Reduxx of the WS Wine of the Year for 2003 - the 2001 vintage. Impressive, smooth polished, complex harmonious symphony of finely integrated aromas and flavors - huge currant, red raspberry, milk chocolate, a hint of ripe plum, sweet oak and a bit of burnt sugar caramel on the long smooth polished finish. Tasted w/ L, and Marlene U on her Birthday dinner at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro.
    Niebaum Coppola Cask Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 label  December 7, 2008 - Rubicon Estate / Niebaum-Coppola 'Cask' Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - RM 88 - In 1998 Niebaum-Coppola’s flagship red, Rubicon, was declassified and put into the 1998 Cask Cabernet. Medium bodied, inky dark color, black currents, pencil lead, hints of mint, bittersweet chocolate, dark Bing Cherries, and cedar, sophisticated, balanced with dusty tannins and a supple finish.
    Valentin Bianchi Malbec San Rafael Famiglia 2004

    December 4, 2008 - ValentÍn Bianchi Malbec San Rafael Famiglia 2004  - RM 88 - WS Review - WS 88 points, $18 - "Fleshy, fruit-driven version, with creamy layers of blackberry, fig and plum. Plenty of toast and cocoa here too, lending a slightly firm feel to the finish, but still lots of fruit." Tasted at Mikes American Grill In Springfield, VA w/ KG.

    December 3, 2008 - Livingston Napa Valley Moffett Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - RM 88 - Dark, medium bodied, earthy, floral bouquet, violets and lavender mix with black cherry and blackberry flavors on a moderate finish. Flinders Run, Southern Flinders Ranges, Baroota, Australia, Shiraz 2005 - RM 93; RP 95; WS 91; IWC 92 - $36 - Dark inky colour. Full bodied, elegant rich symphony of flavors of sweet currant, pepper, vanilla, spice, red raspberry, blueberry and a lingering essence of creme brulee' and cedar on the soft finish. Tasted w/ L, Mark and Gail at Angeli's Restaurant, our favorite neighborhood bistro. Flinders Run Shiraz 2005 Label on Rick's WineSite
    December 2, 2008 - Chateau La Louviere Grand Vin Pessac Leognan Bordeaux 1990 - RM 87 - Firm black fruits, creosote, earthy leather and a hint of smoke. Tasted at home w/ L.
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