Rick's Wine Journal Archive 2002


Wine - Notes and Comments - ( See Key- See Rating Wines)

Dec 25

Del Dotto Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 RM 93 WS 93 This may be the best ever Cab from our friends Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto - and winemaker Nils Venge. Its delicious! Intense dark cherry, currant and blackberry with a lingering finish - tight structured tannins and nice balance. This was the perfect complement to our holiday beef tenderloin dinner. I first tasted this in the barrel in the DDO caves and then at this summer's Barrels and Beef Extravaganza at Del Dotto. Pick this up if you can. Web Label Disclaimer - I do their website!

Dec 24

Chateau Fine Roches Chateauneuf du Pape 1999 RM 86 $18 I stayed in this marvelous castle converted to a small hotel during my visit to CDP (Rhone Wine Experience) so I had to pick up a bottle of this when I saw this in the store this week. Its still a mediocre wine but a wonderful memory never-the-less. Stay there if you get to the southern Rhone. The left turret of the castle was my bathroom! Its adjacent to the magnificent Chateau La Nerthe so its not a totally lost wine experience. A good 'pizza' wine perhaps. Earth, leather, and a bit astringent before yielding to some fruit and a lingering finish. Medium body and bouquet.

Dec 23

Terre Rouge Amador County Syrah 2000 RM 88 $18 Dark intense full forward flavors of smoke, woody cedar and leather opening to anise and cassis - mellowing on the long finish in this Rhone style wine.. Web Label

Dec 22

Chateau St Georges Trilogie St Emilion 1997 RM87  A hint of the classic bordeaux nose with leather, cedar and earthy flavors yielding to a cherry fruit. Good low cost casual drinking wine.

Dec 20

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 RM83 Clearing out the cellar to make room for recent purchases and need to clear out the 90 and 91 Napa's.  It must be a mistake that this wine is currently marked $125 at Binny's. This wine lacks body, structure, the fruit waining signifying end of life to this austere wine.

Dec 17

Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 RM RC 94 WS 94. $79 See previous Review  Awesome powerful forward blackberry fruit packed dynamo with currant opening and softening to a smooth hazelnut, vanilla and cotton candy finish.  Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1988 RM 89 RC 92 $50 Purchased this vintage from Schneiders in WDC.  Tasted w/ RC and BV at Capital Grill in Tysons Corner. Plum, currant, firm but polished tannins - long slightly astringent finish with end taste of (believe it or not) Earl Gray tea. Label

Dec 16

Nicolis Amarone della Valpolicella D.O.C. Classico Ambrosan Veneto 1998 RM 94 RC 91 $90 (winelist price) Tasted at i Ricci in WDC. Big powerful forward fruit in this well polished and nicely balanced. Black cherry, plum and currant with a hint of leather and vanilla. Fabulous complement to the Tuscan Italian cuisine! Corvina 70%, Rondinella 20%, Croatina 10% - Label Castello Romitoro Brunello di Montalcino 1997 RM 91 This is probably under-rated following the Amarone - this took an hour to open and reveal blackberry, coffee, cassis and cherry.

Dec 15

VENGE Napa Valley Sangiovese 1999 $30 See Review Cottonwood Canyon Merlot 1995 RM 88 $32 (on sale for $20 at Schneiders WDC) Aromas of raspberry and blackberry fruit, this wine features soft yet complex tannins.

Dec 7

Domaine du Pesquier Gigondas 1999 RM 88 $29 Intense chewy peppery blackberry.  

Dec 5

Lewis Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 RM 94 $79 Awesume. Dark, rich, ripe, mouthful of currant, plum, blackberry, black cherry, anise, and leather with a firm finish of soft tannins. One of my favorites of this vintage. Tasted again w/ RC at Capital Grill in WDC. Label, Review, Web.

Dec 3

Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepage 1997 RM 91 WS 96 $79 This wine continues to be overpriced and over-rated. Its great but not that great. It was a fabulous $25 wine until it rated #1 on the WS list in 96. And then St Jean with-held it from the market, hiked up the price and ruined a great franchise. It was a shame seeing people come in to Binny's in Glen Ellyn for a two bottle limit at $49 eager for a bargain because they couldn't afford to buy what used to be a favorite wine. This needs time. Its forward fruit, smokey leather with balancedand polished tannins .

Nov 30

Hartford Zinfandel Russian River Valley 2000 RM 91 WS 91 $29 Full rich and intense boysenberry and red raspberry with a spicy finish. Label. Web

Nov 26

Clos Sainte Anne Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux 1995 RM 87 $24 Even lesser growth Bordeaux from this vintage are good and reveal that classic Bordeaux perfume and fruit. Blackberry and plum give way to black cherry.

Nov 23

Rosemount Estates 1998 and 1999 McLaren Vale Balmoral Syrah 1998 WE 90 RM 90 1999 WS 93 RM 91 $45 Binny's has these on sale for $27. One of my favorites - deep purple red colour - concentrated blackberry and plum, clove and spices. The 98 is more closed and dry. Not as forward fruit as the last couple years but very good none-the-less. Web. Label.

Nov 13

Chateau Reynella McClaren Vale Basket Pressed Shiraz 1994 $25 RM 87 Intense black cherry, raisin and fig taste.

Nov 9

Chateau Pichon Baron Paulliac 1994, Chateau Leoville Las Cases St Julien 1994, Chateau Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, Pine Ridge 1999 Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - A horizontal selection of 1994's vs a just released Napa CS. Time to drink these off vintage bordeaux's - they still hold that classic bouquet.

Oct 25

Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 RM 94 WS 94. $62 Rel-Price WS review sums this up well... Wonderfully rich, intense and concentrated Cabernet, with layers of tightly focused currant, black cherry, anise, sage and cedary oak. Given all its flavor and richness, there's a sense of elegance and finesse. Well-integrated tannins provide an excellent balance to the rich flavors. I would add a wonderful layer of chocolate is predominant. This wine is as forward and any I can remember. Even after this wine softened after an hour, it still begs for a strong complement - big cheese, beef au pouvoir, or rich chocolate perhaps. Delicious. Distinctive awesome oversized heavy bottle. (label) (www) Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Symmetry 1997 RM 91 $65 Rel-Pr Soft delicate black cherry and black raspberry fruit. (label) www. Tasted with Bill & Beth C at CC CC.

Oct 24

Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Signature 1999 RP 88 RM 89 WS 91 $42 Ripe sharp blackberry, black cherry and currant, toasty oak and medium tannins. (lbl)(www) Tasted with iT SKO group at Tomaso's in Chandler, AZ.

Oct 19

Chateau Leoville Las Cases St Julien 1993 (RM86) ($33 futures release price) An off-vintage in Bordeaux renders this wine 'affordable' considering the $85 release price for the recent vintage. Look for some bordeaux 'bargains' right though now due to the recent plentiful harvests and ample supply. Even in an 'off' year that noteable bordeaux bouquet and perfume flavor experience come through the dark berry, smoky leather threads. A ten year old, this wine needs to breath and open up before it is approachable. One of my favorite labels - classic, aristocratic, formal.

Oct 15

Peter Lehman Barossa Shiraz 1999 (RM87 WS 88) $18 Toasty, smokey berry and black cherry. Structured, tannic with sharp finish. (Web).

Oct 10

Kaesler Barossa Valley Old Vines Shiraz 1996 (RM 88 WS 88) $30 Cherry, toasty earthy berry and cedar. Starting to reach end of life but a tasting adventure. Web See review of their flagship "Old Bastard" which is currently available at Cabernet and Company here in Naperville for $106. Tasted at Old Zagreb in Bloomington, IN.

Sept 28

A horizontal tasting of some 98 (era) Cal Cabs. Everyone has panned the 98 vintage and producers keep saying "but we pulled one out". There's a slight harsh edge to each of these 98's that seems to reflect many from the vintage, rarely reflected in the price. Arns 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley WS 87 RM 88 $RP60 $MP74  Concentrated, black currant, blackberry, herbs, and chocolate with a tannin laced finish. Arrowood 1998 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon RM 87 $37. Cherry, berry and anise with an edge of  smoke. Disappointing when compared to the 1991 tasted last weekend (see below). Judd's Hill 1998 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon RM 87 $36 Berry, cherry, earthy mineral edge. Tasted along these are okay till compared against the fruit and polish of the Pine Ridge 1999 Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. WS SS 90 RM 91 $34 Smooth well balanced and flavorful currant, black cherry and plum with a nice long, complex, finish. (Web) Veraison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon RM 89 $39 The Krupp Family have been selling grapes to a dozen household name producers for years from their large tract of land back in Soda Canyon on the eastern slope of Napa. This is the second vintage of their own label increasing production to 1200 cases from last years ('99) 300 cases. Watch for them to emerge as a premium producer in the next few years. Their available in stylishly packaged six-packs. Medium bodied, balanced berry fruit with a subtle finish. You saw it here first.

Sept 27

Chateau La Nerthe 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape RM 87 WS 85 $39 Medium body berry, smoke and touch of spice - lacking the depth and intensity expected in this wine. The spectacular La Nerthe was a Chateau visited during my Rhone Provence Wine Experience a couple years ago. Feature.

Sept 21

Chicago Napa Wine Night - 02 - A horizontal tasting of 1987 (era) Napa Cabernets and accompanyments from our cellar! Diamond Creek 1987 Red Rock Terrace Napa Cabernet Sauvignon RM 89 WS 89 ($98 in 93) Diamond Creek 1987 Gravelly Meadow Napa Cabernet Sauvignon RM 89 WS 89 ($98 in 93) Dunn Vineyards 1987 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon RM 91 WS 93 ($75 in 93) Dominus Estate 1986 RM 91 WS 88 RMP 93 ($70 in '88) Four blockbusters that delivered! The Dunn opened with a punch of earthy mineral currant cherry with tightly wound tannins. Consensus favorite. The fruit unfolded even more thruout the night ending with the biggest finish. Red Rock Terrace was the next consensus favorite  with full body, rigid backbone, mineral, herb, cherry and hint of licorice.  Gravelly Meadow was slightly more subtle with a touch more fruit. These two traded places thru-out the night. Dominus took three hours to open but when it did, it exploded with floral fruit. Beringer Late Harvest Riesling 1993 WS94 RM94 One of my absolute favorites - I'm savoring the final few bottles of the multiple cases I bought of this upon release. This is incredibly sweet at 48 brix - rich syrupy apricot with a touch of honey, floral and pear. Mumm Cuvee Napa DVX 1990 - WS91 SS RM 92 Smooth, balanced delicate pear, citrus and apple notes with creamy finish. There's a story behind this bottle! Thanks Eric! And Cathy. And Dan and... oops. What a great time with dear friends converging on Chicago for this tasting experience.. lunch selections below, and dinner above! Thanks for making it a great success - AJ & Liat enroute back from Cote d'Azur, Phil, Bill and Beth, and Michael and Gigi enroute To Provence. Wish we could go. Can't wait to do it again! Great idea hiring a limo and driver! Label - Diamond Creek - Dunn
Sept 21 Clark Claudon Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 RM 92 WA92+ WE92 $60 Polished concentrated with layers of berries, cherry, smoke, cassis and chocolate.  (Label - Web) Arrowood 1991 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon RM 91 WS 89 ($25 in '92) Well balanced, polished, smooth with firm structure and supple tannins. Surprising backbone with lots of life - cherry, currant and ripe plum accents. Only one left! Groth 1991 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon RM 85 WS 90 ($18 in 92) Nearing end of life this wine has lost its fruit and has lost its luster.  


Guicciardini Strozzi Sodole 1997 RM 90 WS 90 $70 - Smooth medium bodied,  ripe plum and cedar spice with soft tannins and a long berry and cherry aftertaste. Made from Sangiovese. Tasted at La Famiglia in PHL. Service was a 10+ and they had the most extensive Italian winelist I have ever seen. It was five inches thick. While dining a yuppish patron - obviously a regular entered with a bevy of gorgeous birds and directed the matre'd to bring him 'The Bible' referring to it! Had to be there but almost worth the ticket .

Sept 6

Justin 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles RM 90 $20 Best Justin I've ever had. Better than the highly rated 97 Isoscles. Earthy rich dark black raspberry, black currant and hint of smoke. Better day 2! Great buy - enjoy now or try it after 2-3 years! A delightful yet serious bottle of wine.  Label. Web.

Sept 4

Hedges Cellars Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 RM 87 WA 92 ADB 92 $20 Classic Red Mountain terroir taste/nose of what I would call almost a cognac taste although not as predominant as usual or many others from this region. Blackberry, cassis and a coffee taste. I scored lower due an early initial slight tart edge. Label. Web.

Aug 27

Harlan Maiden 1998, DEL DOTTO David 1999,  DEL DOTTO Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Venge Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - Tasted with Dave & Yolanda Del Dotto at Bouchon dinner.

Aug 26

VENGE Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 RM 95 RMP 96 $75 Exceptional full bodied intense concentrated  blackberry, smoky oak, cassis, with layers of fruit. Label. Web. More to follow on fabulous Del Dotto selections.

Aug 25

Cult cabernet flight -  Harlan 1998, Abreu 1997 and 1997 Shafer Hillside Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon RP 99- Who says you can't get Dom Perignon by the glass? Only in Napa Valley could you get a flight of cult cabernets! Check out this selection of three impossible to find wines.  Each is an incredible tasting experience and a benchmark standard against which to compare others. Each is perfectly balanced, silky smooth, finely polished and harmonious despite enormous complexity with layers upon layers of fruit, spice, and oak. Each is a symphony of currant, anise, plum, cherry and  super ripe berries with an unending finish. Each is a 96+ rating. They're impossible to compare and pick one over the others... they're similar in style and taste, yet distinctive - the Shafer was more forward and only slightly tannic while the Abreu was softest and most reserved. The Harlan was the standard bearer in the middle. I give them all a 96-98. You can experience this at the Cantina at Tra Vigne worth the trip just for this wine tasting experience. Don't spoil it with food - we did a selection of cheeses and salad.  Labels -  Abreu - Harlan - Shafer
Aug 24 Watch for special section on the Del Dotto Vineyards Beasts and Barrels Extravaganza. Del Dotto David 1999,  Del Dotto Cabernet Sauvignon Connoisseurs Series Colbert Cooperage,  Mousanay Cooperage, Del Dotto Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Del Dotto Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Franc

Aug 24

VENGE Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 RM 95 $95 Big full bodied intense flavorful blackberry, oaky cassis and dark cherry.  VENGE Napa Valley Sangiovese RM 91 $30 Delicious fruit flavorful spicy dark cherry, berry and plum. Tasted with the producer Nils Venge at my favorite Tra Vigne in St Helena Napa Valley (see Napa Wine Experience 02. Label. Web.

Aug 23

Dalle Valle 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon WS 90-94 RM 94 RP 96 Rich smooth, polished, raisin, currant, plum and cherry. Tasted w/ AJ at Cafe Bouchonne in Yountville, Napa Valley. Label.

Aug 21

Cakebread Cellars 1998 Napa Valley Rubaiyat RM 89 A blend of pinot noir and a bit of Syrah for structure and backbone.  Flavorful black cherry and raspberry with a soft mocha finish. Tasted with Pat M in South PHL at a quaint neighborhood Italian bistro. Thanks Pat!

Aug 18

Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 1998; RM 91 $36 WS 91 RM 92 One of my perennial favorites. Flavorful, full bodied, fruity, polished - black cherry, currant, soft tannins, a hint of cassis and chocolate. Web. Label

Aug 15

Clos de L'Oratoire des Papes 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape WS 93 RM 90

Aug 11

Montirius Gigondas 1999 Cotes du Rhone WS 93 RM 90 $26

Aug 5

Artesa 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley WS 85 RM 88 $33-15 Cherry & cassis give way to smoke and cedar. At half price (Binny's Naperville) this is a bargain. A flavorful easy drinking everyday wine. Pick some up. Web. Label.

Aug 3

St Francis Old Vines Sonoma Zinfandel 1999 - See earlier review. I thought this was familiar. Tasted same wine at same restaurant last month. Also tried Rancho Zabacco Old Vines Zinfandel - RM 87 No match for the St Francis.  Still looking for something redeeming about Raffi's restaurant except the fabulous atmosphere in its extraordinary setting. A huge disappointment from what used to be our favorite Montparnasse. Food is unimaginative and uninspiring, service mediocre and the deserts are misguided. Help, please. See Forum to comment.

1 Aug

1998 Les Feifs de Lagrange St Julien Bordeaux RM 87 Berry and tannins with a slightly austere finish. Second label of the renouned Chateau Lagrange.

July 29

1999 Clos du Marquis St Julien Bordeaux RM WS 89 $20-23 Berry and cedar with herbal finish. Medium bodied with soft tannins. Second label of perennial favorite Leoville Las Cases. Bordeaux are plentiful now and prices have retreated such they're approaching reasonable due to bountiful crops in 99, 2000 and now 2001.

26 July

BV Georges de Latour Cabernet Private Reserve 1998 - WS 90-04 WA 88 RM 90 $ 40  Mineral, pepper with anise overpowers the scents of black-cherry. Polished and bold but a bit grassy. Deep discounts due to the off vintage make this an 'affordable' wine (relative to normal $80+) and decent price point. Web.

14 July

Chateau Ste. Michelle 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley WS RM 90 $15 Full well balanced easy drinking wine that is flavorful with plum chocolate, and currant with a pepper finish. Great bargain and easy to obtain with over 100k cases produced. Pick up a case for quality easy drinking. Web Label.

12 July

Raymond Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 1998  RM 88 $20 - Deep purple-colored, full bodied, concentrated black cherry, currant, a hint of chocolate. A slight bit astringent but flavorful; a great value at this price. Web. Label.

6 July

St Francis 1999 Old Vines Sonoma Zinfandel RM 90 $24 Raspberry, cherry, eucalyptus and pepper. Nice balanced, complex with a long finish. Web Label: Chateau La Nerthe 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape RM 88 $35 Medium body, anise, peppery spice opens to blackberry with a smokey earthy mineral finish. This wine was tasted at the magnificant Chateau during our 99 Rhone Wine Experience.  Web  Label Tasted at Raffi's on 5th, formerly Montparnasse in Naperville w/ L & Bill & Beth C..

1 July

Chateau Souverain 1999 Alexander Valley Merlot WS SS 92 RM 91 $20 - This is a great value and is a must buy as it is a tasty quality wine that will age well, is reasonably priced, and with 27k cases produced should be readily available. Nicely balanced and structured, medium body, blackberry and plum with chocolate and vanilla tones. Tasteful easy drinking with a hint of sophistication. Web. Label.
22 June Freemark Abbey 1998 Chardonnay Napa Valley Carpy Ranch WS RM 88 $24 Predominant apple with tones of  pear,  vanilla, a hint of citrus and spice. Smooth-textured and complex on the finish. Web. Label.

19 June

Caymus 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley WS 91 RM 91 $70 Dark purple, polished, well balanced, layers of blackberry, cedar, mocha, and herb. Tasted w/ TR, CC, PP, AP, and JR at Butler GC.
16 June Ch�teau Lynch-Bages 1999 Bordeaux Pauillac RMP 90 RM 90 (90-93 barrel tasting) WS 87 $38-42 A Dad's Day treat. Dense dark purple, intense blackberry, cassis, tobacco with a a hint of dark cherry and plum. 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 15% Merlot: Lacking a bit of backbone and depth but an enjoyable wine that should age well, and a good value given Bordeaux's exorbitant prices of recent. (Label).
9 June Louis Bernard 2000 C�tes du Rh�ne-Villages WS 91 SS RM 86 $11 Light and fairly simple - not my preference given my penchant for larger fuller richer wines. Lacking body and substance. Might be popular for many but not my style.

8 June

Purchased - watch for upcoming tasting notes - 1999 Chateau Lynch Bages Paulliac Bordeaux, 1999 Chateau St. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. 1998 Freemark Abbey Carpy Ranch Chardonnay.
5 June Groth 1998 Merlot Napa Valley WS 86 RM86  $40 A touch earthy, minty, chalky, raisin, cedar, herb, olive, flavors, light on the finish. WS says "Needs food to soften the weediness." Tasted w/ RC @ Sam & Harry's.
4 June Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou St Julian Bordeaux 1996, Chappellet Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999.
22 May Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 1997 (WS96, RM93 $120) Ranked No. 5 in the WS 2001 Top 10, blend of  83%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 %, Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. What do I open on a OTBN special occasion? Dark purple, smooth, polished, rich, complex, with a nice flavorful balance of curant, blackberry, plum, mineral, spice, chocolate and cedar. Not as big or full or long on the finished as I expected.

15 May

Chateau St. Michelle 1999 Columbia Valley Merlot; RM 89 $16; Label; Web; Review of Winery Visit. Excellent value in an every day wine price that is elegant and complex for a sophisticated wine experience. Amazingly what I characterize as that distinct appellation taste of Columbia Valley wines is predominant in this wine - a cedar red plum, loganberry and red currant. Slight tannins hold together a berry flavor finish. Extraordinary quality considering the huge production of this wine is a testament to a great season, vintage, harvest, and careful winemaking.  This will be easy to find and is priced right. This is 84% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc.

11 May

1997 Goosecross Cellars Syrah WS RM 91; $28; Fruity dark rich plum, currant, raspberry, blueberry, vanilla and berry. I havent seen this wine in Chicago but I've picked up bottles around the country. This is currently on the shelf at AJ's in Scottsdale. Pick it up if you can find it! Label;   Web.

8 May

1991 Ornellaia Tenuta dell Bolgheri WS 86 RM 86 $44 Smokey black cherry leather and tannic plum - a bit light reflecting a wine entering its last chapter. 2000 Mastrobernardino Greco di Tufo RM 87 Full bodied medium white - much like the ever popular Teruzzi & Puthod Terre di Tufo; Citrus, pineapple, berry, dry and crisp. Tasted at Il Fornaio, NY, NY, Las Vegas.

7 May

1998 Robert Sinsky RSV Carneros Pinot Noir RM 87 $25 Surprisingly spicy,  cherry, currant, smoke and leather, with a light body, ; 1998 St Francis Merlot Reserve; RM 90, $38 Dry, tannic blackberry, cherry spicy sage and currant and chocolate flavor.; Domaine des Espiers Gigondas 1999,  RM 88 $25; Spicy, peppery, raspberry, currant, and blueberry. Eclectic selection from the funky Foundation Room atop Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas; hosting our friends from SBC.

6 May

 1998 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - WS 91 RM 92 $70 Label, Review; Another fabulous wine and dine experience at Aureole, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Andrew Bradbury's world class virtual wine-list on a wireless tablet PC at your table can be previewed on the web at www.ewinetower.com. I asked about the Lewis which wasn't on the list and he produced it anyway. He then complemented it with the  1999 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon, WS 88 RM 88 featured in Bon Appetit, March '02; The only thing more fun than exploring the list and tower/cellar is finding another Bradbury discovery from a new producer and source. The Balbo is available from Vineconnections.com. We finished again with the remarkable Olivares Dulce Monastrell Cosecha 1998 (RM 91) Review, available from rarewineco.com.
23 April 1997 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon WS 88 RM89 $60 Initial burst of fruit aromas. Rich ripe berry, oak, currant and a hint of sage and coffee flavors. Slightly tannic - lighter than expected. Tasted at Dux Peabody in Orlando with CA Team - AJ, DRH, Rick C., Brad R. Label
17 April 1994 Raymond Burr Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon  - RM 88 $25-35 Here's an 'older' middle aged wine that is still available from the producer - check out their website. Their release price is less than AJ's in Tempe. Interesting flavorful full bodied wine that fronts chocolate and vanilla with a finish of anise and plum. Remember Raymond Burr? TV actor Ironsides and Perry Mason! First time I've encountered his wines. Worth trying! His later releases received more notoriety. I'm anxious to check them out.  

10 April

1994 St Francis Sonoma Valley Merlot - WS 86 RM 91 $20 Sorry if I tempt you with these 'aged' wines from my cellar that are unobtainable but I cant resist. Learn from this experience. Another example of a moderate price quality wine improving with age. This wine has developed and improved each year and suddenly has burst with flavor and achieved a roundness and polish from its earlier adolescent edge. This is what collecting is all about! This was delicious - blackberry, plum, anise, sage, with a nice finish. I wish I still had a case left!
6 April 1986 Freemark Abbey Bosche' Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - RM 88 $115 Label. Initially closed, tight, earthy, eventually yielding dark berry and anise finish. Needs time to unwind. From the cellar of Bill & Beth C.

6 April

1998 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - WS 91 RM 92 $70 Label; Dark, rich, ripe, mouthful of currant, plum, blackberry, black cherry, anise, with a firm finish of soft tannins - perfect compliment to our fabulous dinner. 1997 Jarvis Lake William Cabernet Sauvignon RM 90 $68 - Smooth, polished, berry with cassis and vanilla - this is a bordeaux style wine with a unique blend of 46% Merlot, 32% Cab, 20% Cab Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot It was overshadowed by the richer, bigger, fuller Lewis Reserve.  Tasted at Cab's in Glen Ellyn, with Bill and Beth C. Wonderful evening - undoubtedly the best meal ever there. They've expanded and improved their already impressive and creative wine list. Fabulous selection at very reasonable prices.
3 April 1998 Lewis Merlot - WS 88 RM 90 $45 Label - Ripe, currant, plum and berry fruit, touch of cedar & soft tannic oak finish. 1999 Duckhorn Merlot, WS 88 RM 89 $44 Label- Forward, tight, ripe dark berry and cherry fruit. 1999 Neyers Merlot WS 90 RM 88 $36. Forward tight black cherry, plum, vanilla and cedar. Merlot match-up at clubby RL's (Ralph Lauren) in Chicago - with TR, Steve E, KC, and OEM friends. Interestingly, my, our consensus ranking was opposite the WS ratings.

2 April

1992 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, Bordeaux Label - WS 84 RM 88 $20 (back then)  So its an off year resulting in poor ratings and low prices. Buy some, put it away for ten years and POW - what a delight! Big punch of raspberry and plum with a big long finish. Slight leathery apple tartness but all in all a very pleasant and fun wine - perfect for tonight's spaghetti dinner with spicy sauce. This one exceeded my expectations and was more than a 'pizza' wine. Once again I'm rewarded for my shrewd buying and cellaring patience. I wish I had much more! I hope if you find it you enjoy it nearly as much. Regretably you'll no doubt pay much more. Enjoy.
Mar 29 1997 Montelena Estate Saint Vincent Napa Valley RM 88 WS 84 $25 Perhaps it was the food combo but my rating is more generous than WS JL's. Light and short, lacking structure but nice bouquet and fruit flavor of cherry and a hint of blueberry and plum. Tasted at Bistro Banlieue in Lombard - great meal and service, welcome ambiance - WS Award of Excellence wine list - interesting, respectable wine selection of Napa (David Arthur, Dalle Valle, Lewis, Paradigm, Freemark Abbey) Rhones, CDP and some Bordeaux, and Nouveaux French Cuisine - how have we missed it for 12 years?
Mar 26 Vieux Mas Des Papes 1997 Chateauneuf du Pape WS 91 RM 90 $30 Dark colour, peppery spice opens to blackberry & plum with a smokey earthy finish. This wine was tasted at the Chai at Vieux Telegraph, visited during our 99 Rhone Wine Experience features some grapes from Gigondas to accent the CDP.
Mar 23 Freemark Abbey 1998 Napa Valley Merlot RM 84 - Light, lacking body or structure and a bit 'hot' or fizzed. Borderline - subjected to poor handling perhaps? Tasted at Little Zagreb Steakhouse in Bloomington, IN. 
Mar 18 Neyers Napa Merlot 1995 WS 86 RM 87 $18 Flavorful cherry and plum with an apple taste!

Mar 11

Kaesler Old Bastard Barossa 1998 Shiraz -( RM95 RMP95) $98 Wow! Immense fruit and flavor, jammy, chewy, huge mouthful! Loaded with blackberry, plum, raspberry, chocolate currant finish.. delicious. (Web, Label) Tasted compliments Andrew Bradbury Wine Director at fabulous Aureola at Mandalay Bay, LV. Check out their incredible on-line winelist and their infamous winetower at http://www.ewinetower.com . Pick this up if you can! Also tried another Bradbury discovery - Olivares Dulce Monastrell Cosecha 1998 (RM 91) Tastes like a rich port but its not a fortified wine! Great value in this chewy and delicious after dinner taster! Wonderful dinner and tasting as always, Thank you Andrew!!! Last - an ultimate ringer that only Andrew could find.. an exclusive unique varietal only offered by one producer in the world. Don't take any bets from him on this one! Nas-cetta (thats the name of the varietal!) from Elvio Cogno 2000, Langhe, Italy. (RM 87) Interesting eclectic white - tastes a bit like a dry light vernaccia perhaps... light, crisp, touch of mint, a bit earthy. Its worth the trip to see the tower and experience the winelist! The food was fabulous too! Check it out!

Mar 10

1998 Paraduxx Napa - (RM 92) Duckhorn Vineyards, known for merlot produces this delicious Howell Mt. Merlot based meritage, accented with Zinfandel - Big fruit - oak, blackberry, raspberry and black cherry with a hint of licorice!  - try it for a fun paradox experience of merlot/zin! And of course check out the 'pair-o-dux' on every years label! Tasted at Andres, Monte Carlo, LV. Check out their winelist and selection of big bottles.
Mar 6 Chateau St Michelle Reserve Chardonnay 2000 RM 88 $18 Great value in a easy drinking Chardonnay. Pleasant citrus, pear, apple with a nice finish.

Mar 1

Saddleback Cellars Old Vines Zinfandel Napa Valley 1997 (RM92) ($30) Huge hit of fruit - red raspberry, plum, currant and blackberry with an earthy chocolate finish. This is a signature wine of Nils Venge - wine maker for Del Dotto and others as well as his own label Venge - its a real treat.

Feb 27

1991 Cos d' Estournel, St. Estephe Bordeaux  ($20 upon release in 1994)(RM 88 WS 88) Decent wine - a highlight from an otherwise off-vintage in Bordeaux. Classic Bordeaux nose, light and slightly lean but up-front fruit of sweet cherry ripe blackberry and current. No staying power and austere such that it won't last much longer but a worthy investment indeed as its a nice bargain considering Bordeaux prices and drinkable now.  

Feb 24

1994 Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - WS 95 RM 91 $24. One of the top ten wines of the vintage - WS Top Ten - tough to find at the time - I squirreled away a case & resisted tapping it till now! I opened this for OTBN (Open That Bottle Night - WSJ Gaither Feb 1, 2002).

Feb 17

1999 Fife Whaler Vineyard Zinfandel, Mendocino County; 1999 Chateau St Michelle Cold Canyon Chardonnay

Jan 23

1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve; RM 91 $36 One of my perennial favorites - not as big as last couple years but worth picking up for near and intermediate term. 1998 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay, RM 90 $25 Not as polished as blockbusters of recent years but  a great chard none-the-less. 1999 Chateau St Michelle Reserve Chardonnay - RM 88 $15 Great Value - easy drinking white - sophistication belies the price!;

Jan 19 2002

1984 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Paulliac Bordeaux; 1986 Chateau Grand Vin Latour, Paulliac Bordeaux; W/ Rick and Wendy C from Atlanta
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