Rick's Wine Journal - Earlier Tastings
Memorable Tastings from Pre-Journal Days
I remember the wines and occasions but not necessarily the dates.

Date (*)

Wine - Notes and Comments - (See Key)
~ indicates date is imprecise.


July 17 1998 - These wines were served at a special dinner for the country managers at Platinum technology's global meeting. Pete F and I entertained the group and I hosted a special wine tasting featuring 16 different wines from their respective countries from my cellar. Here are some of the highlights of the tasting culminating with the 6 liter bottle the label of which we all signed. Great fun and n Ch�teau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac Bordeaux 1987 - WS 87 WS Review Feb 15, 1990 "One of the better '87s we've seen so far, with a sense of richness and depth. Offers pretty currant, spice and cherry flavors, framed by gentle oak, but the flavors taper off on the finish. For near-term drinking. Drink now." Tasted from a Magnum.
Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron Paulliac Bordeaux 1987 - WS 88 WS Review Oct 15, 1990, "Elegant and well balanced, with ripe currant, bell pepper, spice and vanilla notes. Complex and well proportioned, with a touch of tobacco, this has more flavor than most from this vintage. It needs time for tannins to mellow. Drink now to 1996." Tasted from a Magnum.
Chateau Gruaud Larose St Julien Bordeaux 1988 - WS 92 Review - "This tight and powerful red has lots of tannin and fruit concentration. Full-bodied, with lovely violet and berry aromas and flavors. Built for aging.--1988 Bordeaux horizontal. Best after 2002. (JS)"  Tasted from a Double Magnum. Guenoc Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon 1984 - RM 86 What do you expect from a 14 year old Lake County Cab? What a pleasant surprise to find this one full of berry, plum, cherry and an earthy mocha chocolate. This was tasted from a six liter bottle which no doubt held the fruit. I visited the winery in the early 90's seeking a bottle of 1984 from their library. They said they weren't for sale. When I told them I was holding this 6 liter bottle in my cellar and I wanted that vintage to 'test' they kindly obliged with a couple bottles. Large bottles are a key feature of my cellar.

Dec 31, 1992 ~ Tasting of two WS 96 rated Cellar Selections on New Years eve. - 
Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1982
WS 96 Cellar Selection $19RP/$40 paid in the early 80's -  WS Review from Feb 15, 1987. "Deep ruby colored, full-bodied and full of ripe, clean cassis and mint flavors, of great depth, elegance and finesse, this is one of the greatest Silver Oak wines we've ever tasted." WS/JL.
I obtained a half case of this wine and tasted it periodically during the 80's with underwhelming results. I also had a case of magnums and I opened this one NY's eve with AJ & Liat and Laura (a Silver Oak fan) & Mike Woll at Martparnasse in Naperville (now Raffi's). Wow - I recall it was a blockbuster surpassing expectations. Being #1 son Ryan's birthyear vintage, I have saved the rest of it and am holding it with much anticipation. Time to pop another one? I also obtained a mixed case of the Silver Oak 1989 Napa and Alexander and am still hold several of these as well. Stay tuned. Sell Label.
Chateau Palmer Margaux Bordeaux 1988 - WS 96 Cellar Selection - We also drank this Palmer which I vividly remember was perhaps the best tasting wine from my cellar at that time and it was overshadowed by the Silver Oak. Here is what WS in their Feb 28, 1991 review. "A definition of finesse. So opulent and seductive that the smoothness and delicacy of the texture come almost as a surprise. Explosive blackberry, currant, plum and vanilla aromas are only the beginning, and the subtle echoes of fruit and spice carry over on the featherlight finish. Tannins are beautifully integrated. Should keep improving past 2000."

~July, 1995 - Tasted w/ Eric and Kathy in Palm Desert on the 25th anniversary of our HS graduation. I brought these special bottles for our special celebration dinner. Calling ahead to make the arrangements, the restaurant insisted they would not accept BYOB. I brought them anyway and the manager once again exclaimed that they would not accept our bottles; as he was pulling them out of their enclosure to reveal the label, he said, "It will be our pleasure to serve these wines, sir".
Ch�teau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 1970 -
WS 96 WS review from May 15, 1993 "Deep garnet; fragrant tar and black truffle nose; extremely concentrated; big and mouth-filling, with very dense cassis flavor; enormous, generous fruit; a voluptuous claret".
Ch�teau L�oville Las Cases St. Julien Bordeaux 1970 WS 87/89 WS May 15, 1993 Review - "Deep garnet; concentrated cedar and tar nose, with hints of volatile acidity; very concentrated, with chewy cassis and cedar flavors; short of its peak; promising". This is one of the classiest and one of my favorites of the 'classic' wine Labels.

~June 1993 - Tasted at Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham, Berkshire, England. Working for a UK company I traveled there regularly, over 100 times; this trip I was accompanied by the family. Chateau Latour Pauillac Bordeaux 1975 - WS 93 WS Aug 31, 2000 Review. "Fascinating aromas of plums, minerals and mint, with a hint of peat. Medium- to full-bodied, with firm tannins and a long finish. Plenty of life left in it. This was rather controversial at the NY tasting, but I loved it.--Latour vertical. Drink now through 2015." See label from that bottle.
Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1991

May 1993 - Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 94 WS 91 Cellar Selection $39 Dec 15, 1995 review said, "Dark, dense, tannic and earthy, but it works its way into a rich and concentrated core of currant, mineral, cedar and anise flavors. An outstanding California Cabernet that finishes with thick, dry tannins, so it's best to age this into 2001." This was a memorable bottle of wine that I can still taste! It had the richest most intense currant flavor I had ever experienced. AJ and I were in PHL for our international user conference and due to the archaic liquor laws in PA drive across the river to Cherry Hill to pick up this bottle for our room service steak dinner. It was worth it! This bottle has that classic hand-dipped wax seal. See Label.

May 1993 - Tasted in Raleigh, NC during another sw co. acquisition, folks scoffed when I admonished the wine steward for trying to pass a 1987 for a 1989, saying I was full of it and couldn't tell the difference. I won a friendly wager and got the wine comp'ed when I successfully identified three wines from a random blind tasting.
Chateau Gruaud Larose St Julien Bordeaux 1988 & 1989 -
'89 WS 93 Review - "Exceedingly well-made and classy, with very focused blackberry and cedar flavors and a compact fruit and tannin structure. Best after 1997. (JS)"
Chateau Gruaud Larose St Julien Bordeaux 1988 - WS 92 Review - "This tight and powerful red has lots of tannin and fruit concentration. Full-bodied, with lovely violet and berry aromas and flavors. Built for aging.--1988 Bordeaux horizontal. Best after 2002. (JS)"

~ 1993 - Ch�teau du Domaine de L'�glise Pomerol Bordeaux 1989 - WS93 RM92 $33 WS Mar 15, 1992 Review said, "Beautifully perfumed, with blueberry and spice aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, with a balance of full, silky tannins. Shows great harmony."  Tasted in Magnum. Label.
~ 1993 - Ch�teau Cos Labory St. Est�phe Bordeaux 1990 - WS 94 $25 Mar 31, 1993 review said, "A textbook wine for the appellation, with spicy, meaty characteristics, full tannins and a long, juicy finish. Don't touch this for a decade. Drink after 2000." WS Aug 31, 2000 Rating 91, review said, "Slightly overdone but seriously good. Dark ruby color. Impressive aromas of dark chocolate, currants and mint. Full-bodied, with big yet polished tannins and a long, mouth puckering finish. Very young indeed.--1990 Bordeaux retrospective. Best after 2002." I agree with the later review - I drank this in the early 90's upon release and it was hard and tight and needed much more time. I chose not to buy more. Probably passed up a good investment given enough time to mellow and soften. I paid $19. Label.

Dec 1992 - Opus One Napa Valley 1988 - WS 92 Oct 31, 1991 WS Review said, "Not a long-term wine, but should be wonderful over the next few years. Ripe, rich and focused, with a solid core of vanilla- and spice-tinged currant, plum and blackberry flavors that reverberate on the long finish."
Good friend Dennis H had a case of this and generously shared a bottle more than once at our annual Christmas feast and wine tasting, at least three times that I can remember. We compared this wine to my 1988 Chateau Palmer mentioned herein as well as others. Opus is a magnificent property in Napa Valley and is a must visit for a serious wine aficionado. We visited there during our 98 Napa Wine Experience

Oct 15, 1992 - Heitz Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Bella Oaks 1981 - From the cellar and taken to Montparnasse restaurant in Naperville with L and AJ and Liat. We know the bottle and date because we signed the label


Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1989 - RP 93 WS 95 RM 89 - Full bodied, intense blackberry, spicy earthy pepper. I have more than a case of this wine and tasted it several times in the early '90's to find it consistently closed and 'flat', presumably needing time to settle and open up. Ch�teau Lynch Bages Pauillac Bordeaux 1989 - WS 98 $48 From the WS Mar 15, 1992 review, "A wine with great mass; this is a complete fruit bomb, showing blueberry, cassis and mint flavors and tons of silky tannins. Truly amazing; better than the superb '85. Best after 1998. 35,000 cases made. (JS)."


Chateau Margaux Bordeaux 1988 - WS 97 WS Mar 31, 1991 Review said, "Elegant, complex, seductive and beautifully balanced, with gorgeous plum, raspberry, currant and cedar aromas that hint at all sorts of exotic spices and chocolate on the exceedingly long, smoky finish. A classic, smoothly integrated wine that has the balance to develop well past 2000." This wine sells for several hundred dollars today. I remember paying $48 for this upon release - unbelievable value in retrospect. Another one I wish I'd bought much more of and held on to - I drank this one too early as well. Label.

~1992 - Dominus Estate Napa Valley 1988 - WS87 $45, Dec 15, 1992 WS review, " Earthy, gamy aromas and flavors dominate this medium-weight, silky-textured wine that hints at leather and tobacco on the finish. Has character, but needs time for the currant flavor to emerge. Drink from 1996." Dominus Estate Napa Valley 1986 - WS88 $44, Dec 15, 1996 WS review, "Starts out earthy and leathery, in a rugged style, but works its way into more complex mineral, currant and cedar flavors and finishes with a cedary, earthy note and a good dose of currant flavor. Ready now.--1986 California Cabernet horizontal. (JL)"  These are bordeaux style wines from Christian Moueix of Chateau Petrus fame that need to be treated like a bordeaux in terms of aging rather than the Napa style wines that provide instant or earlier gratification. I tasted this wine from my case several times over the years waiting for it to open and be approachable. It was finally ready in 2002 at our Chicago Napa Wine Night - 02.

May 1992 - One of my more memorable wine experiences was actually a surprise. We had just hosted our software company's user conference for 1200 people for a week. We planned a get-away weekend with several friends down in Carmel Valley (it was also my deca-birthday). For a gala dinner at Anton & Michel, our dear friend and wine partner AJ secretly brought in several wines from his cellar without telling anyone. We all ordered seafood spoiling AJ's surprise of a feast of Bordeaux. He told the waiter to bring out the wine selection and tell us they had been returned by another patron and they were offering them to us to get rid of them. We all immediately changed our orders to wine friendly food as AJ revealed the truth. We enjoyed a fabulous memorable dinner that several of our friends in attendance either can't remember or would like to forget (the after effects). Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1984, Chateau d'Issan, 1984, Chateau Batailley 1986, Chateau Lynch Bages 1985, Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1984, Haut Bailly 1984, were just a few that I remember.


Chateau Palmer Margaux Bordeaux 1987 - WS 84 $35 WS May 15, 1990 Review said, "Shows an intensity of currant and red cherry aromas and flavors, with firm texture and decent length, but not quite the complexity or richness found in better vintages. Smells great and tastes fine at first, but slips a bit on the finish."


Ch�teau Montrose St. Est�phe Bordeaux 1986 - WS96 Spectator Selection RM 88 $36 May 15, 1989 WS Review said, "Concentrated and distinctive, with deep cassis, chocolate and berry aromas and flavors and a lasting finish. All that taste is molded around a gentle core of soft but ample tannins. Almost drinkable now". I bought a case of this highly rated wine and tried several bottles over several years finding it tight and closed each time. Apparently, I didn't wait long enough for this wine to finally reveal its possibilities. 


Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1978 - WS 91 ('85) 88 ('97) RP 93 RM 89 Floral  aromas, medium bodied tasting of  currant and spicy cedar.

~June 1988 - Tasted at Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham, Berkshire, England, with Bruce Z celebrating the $16mm acquisition of his software company. This may be one of the best wines, I've ever had.
Ch�teau L�oville Las Cases St. Julien Bordeaux 1982 - WS95 RP100 WS Review from Nov 30, 1998, "A racy, classy, silky wine. Inky-ruby color. Black cherry, mineral and wet earth aromas. Medium-bodied, with very silky tannins and a long, superfine finish. Has always been excellent.--1982 Bordeaux horizontal. Best after 2000". (JS)  This is one of the classiest and one of my favorites of the 'classic' wine Labels.


Tasted at Hawkridge House, Hermitage, England, the Berkshire country estate of BR, our Chairman and Founder. As a regular and frequent guest, and the most serious wine aficionado in the group, I was the designated wine steward of Brian's substantial wine cellar. The house-man, Mr. P  would hand me the large iron cellar key when there was to be a dinner. The cellar was at the bottom of a wide stone winding staircase, behind iron gates.  I avoided the vast selection of top vintage first growth Bordeaux, and focused on the 'lesser' properties and vintages that were ready to drink. What fun.
Ch�teau Latour Pauillac Bordeaux 1981- WS 89 WS Reviews - "Elegant and refined for Latour with cassis, tar, mint and tobacco character. It has a medium body and a fine silky finish. Drink now.--The Bordeaux 50. (JS)" From WS Dec 15, 1997, "Firm and harmonious, this is a sleek package of firm tannins, black cherry, cedar and mint flavors and a polished but not showy character. Drink now through 2005.--Latour vertical. (TM)"
Chateau Palmer Margaux Bordeaux 1983 - WS 90 Cellar Selection WS Review - "An outstanding Palmer, firm and solid, with great dark color and fresh plum aromas and flavors with a hint of new wood. Drinkable now, but better after 1996.--The Bordeaux 50. (JS)"

~ 1988

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 1984 - WS 92 RP 85 RM 87 $40 for a Mouton Rothschild? Yes, if its an off vintage like the '84. Picked this up at Sam's in the late '80's. Parker said this would be one of the longest lasting of the vintage, full bodied and concentrated, rich in extract. Perhaps we should have waited.

~ various

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 1981 - WS 91 ('94) RP 84 RM 87 - WS 1994 Review - "Wonderfully rich and still holding back. Beautiful plum, toasted oak, berry and tobacco character. Firm with a full body". RP says, "good but uninspiring, preferable to the 78, 79,and 76; resembles the 71, dark ruby color, good firm tannins, bouquet of leather and blackcurrants, lean stern toughness with astringent finish." Being Erin's birthyear, I had to put aside some '81 Mouton which I have tried on several occasions. I find it isn't as bad or as good as the other reviews.. Lacking depth and complexity of a Mouton, it has nice aroma and subtle berry and earthy fruit. Holding about half of the case - we'll see how it stands the test of time.


Ch�teau La Mission Haut Brion Graves Bordeaux 1983 - WS 93 RP 89 $83 WS Oct 15, 1994 review said, "Concentrated and polished, this wine shows a deep color and intense aromas and flavors of cherry, mint, plum and lead pencil. Full-bodied and reserved with excellent tannins. Better after 1998".  Robert Parker said, "Dark colored spicy, with predominate scents of vanilla and minerals, this medium bodied wine has evolved quickly. It is a very good, potentially excellent La Mission. Anticipated maturity: 1993-2007."    I drank all of mine in the mid-80's and not only didn't fully appreciate this wine, but probably didn't give it enough time to fully develop. I also recall buying this wine in Brooklyn for a fraction of its value along with the La Conseillante below. Label.


Chateau Canon St Emilion Bordeaux 1983 - RM 91 WS 88 I remember this wine being aromatic, smooth and polished with pleasant earthy berry and currant and classic Bordeaux perfume. WS says; "Muscular for the normally elegant Canon. It shows very ripe, raisiny, coffee
aromas and flavors. Full-bodied and rather hard; perhaps better after 1997.-The Bordeaux 50."


Ch�teau La Conseillante Pomerol Bordeaux 1983 - WS 84 RP 88 $40 Nov 15, 1986 WS Review said, "Aromas of eucalyptus, mint and leather. The complex cherry, earth and plum flavors are supported by a full-bodied, fairly tannic structure that turns dry on the finish. Drink now through 1998".  Robert Parker said, "Excellent ripeness and big creamy velvety concentrated flavors nicely complemented by a toasty oakiness. There is moderate tannin present, but the overall impression created by this wine is one of voluptuousness and decadently ripe fruit. The big smoky raspberry  nose is a knockout. Anticipated maturity Now - 2000."  Just like the La Mission HB above, I didn't fully appreciate this wine when I had it and probably drank it too soon. I remember taking these two wines to a group tasting in town where all the other wines were much less expensive and I intimidated and somewhat alienated myself from much of the group. I didn't have the wine maturity I do today to calibrate the wines or my palate. Practice, practice, practice! Label.


Ch�teau Talbot St. Julien Bordeaux 1986 - WS 91 RP96 $32 May 31, 1989 WS Review said, "Big, rich, muscular style with St. Julien grace; a spicy, oaky and red currant wine with concentrated, powerful flavors flanked by firm tannins that will benefit from cellaring." Label.


Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 1989 - WS 97 Cellar Selection $47 WS Oct 15, 1991 Review -  "Perhaps the greatest Beaucastel ever produced. Has the class and structure of a great vintage of Mouton-Rothschild. Deep, inky in color, with intense herb, plum, game and spice aromas, this full-bodied wine has an explosion of fruit and an iron backbone. Try the beginning of next century." Feature. Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 1978


Ch�teau La Lagune Haut M�doc Bordeaux 1981 - WS 91 RM 87 $25WS Oct 15, 1994 said, "Superfine, with tobacco, chocolate, vanilla and fruit aromas and flavors. Full-bodied yet reserved, followed by a long silky finish."  Ch�teau La Lagune Haut M�doc Bordeaux 1982 - WS 94 RM 89 $51 WS Aug 31, 1992 said, "Tasting this is like waltzing with a sumo wrestler. Big and tannic, with super concentration of fruit. Would be better with more age; try from 1996 to '98." Label.

Ch�teau Lagrange St. Julien Bordeaux 1989 - WS95 RM92 WS Mar 31, 1993 review said, "A youthful and tannic St. Julien. Medium-dark ruby color. Fresh berry and cherry aromas, very perfumed. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and a medium berry, chocolate and roasted coffee aftertaste. Needs more time to develop."  Label. Ch�teau Lagrange St. Julien Bordeaux 1981 - WS 85 RM 85 WS Oct 15, 1994 Said, "From the old days at this estate. Still, a pretty, old-fashioned Bordeaux with medium body, firm texture and fruity, chestnut character." This wine has the old style label.

Chateau Haut Brion Graves Bordeaux 1970- WS 94 WS review from Nov 15, 1991, "A superb, classy wine, with a rich balance of enticing fruit flavors and complex aromas. Medium red-ruby color, with rich tobacco, cedar and truffle aromas; full-bodied, with full tannins and a silky flavorful mouthfeel. Drink in 1994 to '98.--Haut-Brion vertical. (JS)"  Tasted with AJ in Dallas at the home of my original wine mentor Sonny M. at his magnificent home with his equally magnificent cellar of first growth Bordeaux from all the top vintages, and more. I remember having this shortly after our tasting of some other 1970 Bordeaux and finding it moreso at the end of its life than some of the others (see above). 
Chateau Figeac St. Emilion 1982 - This is on of the signature wines of my vertical commemorating #1 son Ryan's birthyear - I tasted them occasionally during the 80's and early 90's but tucked the rest away. See my interview in the WS Feature. WS said, "A blockbuster of a wine. Has lovely, ripe raspberry and black olive aromas, full body and tons of tannins, but an abundance of fleshy ripe fruit flavor balances it out. Drink in 1993 to '95.--Figeac vertical. (JS) Rating 93".

I bought several of these at the TCWC holiday auction one year for more than I intended when I zealously left my paddle up too long. I still have a case awaiting a special family event to celebrate. Ryan graduates this year from University.. drink up!

Ch�teau L�oville Las Cases St. Julien Bordeaux 1964 - WS 88 Feb 15, 1992 WS Review said, " Soft and supple, not as generous as one might expect from a highly regarded vintage for Las Cases, but showing nice cigar-box, cedar and truffle overtones to the modest currant and berry flavors.--L�oville Las Cases vertical. Drink now. (HS)"  This was one of the first serious bottles of wine I ever had that enlightened or awakened me to something extraordinary, more than just grapejuice! Drank this with Sonny M. my earliest 'wine mentor'. This is one of the classiest and one of my favorites of the 'classic' wine Labels.
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