Rick's Wine Journal 2005 - Half 2


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

Dec 30, 2005 - Crocker & Starr Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2003 - RM 86 - Pear flavors predominate over the citrus backbone. Tasted at Shaw's Crab House in Chicago. 

Dec 29, 2005 - Marquis Phillips Barossa Valley Shiraz '9' 2001 - WS92 RM93 $39 - A bit less polished than the 2000, but that distinctive 'burnt sugar creme brulee' taste abounds. Full, forward rich and dense ripe fruit. HS of WS calls it 'exotic spice' taste, "very ripe and dense,  with rich blackberry jam flavors, which echo on the long silky smoky finish".
Dec 28, 2005 - Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick Red Wine Walla Walla 2002 - RM 91 - $42 - Named for the father of winemaker Shari Corkrum Derby, blend of cabernet 70%, merlot, 20%, cabernet franc 9% and petit verdot 1%; sweet dense currant, rich ripe plum and berry, sweet oak and vanilla with a essence of cedar and cognac on the full flavored and full bodied finish. Much like the Uriah below from the same producer. 

Dec 27, 2005 - Hewitson Mad Hatter McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - RM 91 - Dark inky purple colour. Deep rich ripe black berry, plum and black currant flavors with flinty mineral on the crisp finish.

Dec 25, 2005 - Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RP 92 RM 91 - Still a bit tightly wound, fragrances and flavors of floral and sweet oak, nuances of tea, vanilla and black cherry fruit on a firm tannin finish.

Dec 24, 2005 - Van Asperen Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 87 Dark berry fruit, cassis and tar remain in what was a tremendous value wine at the time. This is the last bottle from the cellar. 

Dec 23, 2005 - Connor Park Winery Bendigo, Australia The Honour Shiraz 2002 - RM 93 RP 95 - Dark, incredibly rich, dense, full to the point of being chewy, intense mouthful of flavors - currant, blackberry and cassis give way to flinty mineral and a hint of smoke. Robert Parker review - The Honour, a dense off-the-chart, potent Shiraz that spent 18 months in French oak. Readers looking for restrained Euro-styled wines should steer clear of this behemoth. It offers blackberry and cassis fruit intermixed with lead pencil shavings, smoke and high quality toasty oak. Full-bodied, massively rich, dense and well balanced for a wine of this weight and power. It should be at its finest in 2-3 years and last for 10-15.
Dec 22 - Guigal Cote du Rhone Chateau du Ampuis 1993 - RM 84 - Woody, leather, tar tend to overshadow the black berry and black cherry fruits.

Dec 18, 2005 - Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 1996 - RM 84 -  Light, earthy leather, cherry, tobacco and a hint of cedar. From double magnum. Chateau Potensac Bordeaux Medoc 1989 - RM 88 - Fragrant floral, earthy leather, dark berry and plum. From magnum. Estancia Pinnacle Monterey County Chardonnay 1997 - RM 89 - From double magnum. Served at our M.I.T. holiday dinner

Dec 14, 2005 - Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma County Rheinfarm Vineyard Mountain Cuv�e Meritage 2002 - RM 89 - Aromas and tastes of cherry, plum, hints of  vanilla, oak, and tobacco with a subtle mocha on the finish. Tasted at Weber Grill w/ Carolyn C., Marty L, Gary L, Michael R, Jean K of LTi and SZM in from SDO.

Dec 13, 2005 - Napa Cellars Napa Valley Zinfandel 2003 - RM 91 - $24 - Aromas and tastes of red raspberry, sweet currant and plum with a hint a white pepper on the smooth polished finish. Tasted and purchased at Wine Styles in Seven Bridges.

Dec 11, 2005 - Chateau Faugeres Bordeaux St Emilion 1998 - RM 87 RP 90 WS 91 - $28 - Aroma and taste of berry, cherry and mocha with a long smooth tannin finish.

Dec 10, 2005 - Baron Phillip Rothschild Chateau Clerc Milon Bordeaux Pauillac 1986 - RM 89 WS 90 RP 90 - Classic Bordeaux floral scents and tastes accented by earthy leathery currant, berry, plum, a hint of cassis and smoky anise and cherry on a long moderately tannin finish. Tasted with L and Marlene at Bistro Margot in Naperville for M's bday. Second wine of Mouton Rothschild.

Dec 9, 2005 - Spring Valley Vineyard Washington State Walla Walla Uriah Red 2003 - RM 91 - $42 - Smooth polished and nicely balanced, easy but elegant drinking wine - featuring aromas and tastes of raisiny currant, plum, a hint of red cherry and milky chocolate with a smooth silky firm tannin finish. Blend of  77% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Named for and pictured on the label, Uriah Corkrum, grandfather of producer Shari Corkrum Derby, who began farming the area in the 1880's and acquired the Spring Valley land in 1910.

Dec 8, 2005 - Dominus Napa Valley Red Wine vertical tasting with producer Edouard Mouiex - featuring Dominus from vintages 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. Tasting Notes and Commentary.


Dec 6, 2005 - Veramonte Primus Casablanca Valley Chile 2003 - RM84 - $8 - Aromas and intense taste of slightly metallic mineral and glycerin overpowers the plum and black fruits that give way to tobacco and leather on the firm tannin finish.

Nov 30, 2005 - Hahn Estates Central Coast Meritage 2004 - RM90 - $16 - I was so impressed with the 2003 vintage below I had to check to see if it was an anomaly or custom. Actually I tried to get a case of the 03 and they only had ten left and put in two 04's to fill out the case. While not as complex and polished as the 03, the 04 is darn good and another great value for the money. Deep purple color, intense aroma and mouthful of tasty of currant, caramel, black cherry, black raspberry, and a hint of plum and oak. Still delicious and tremendous value at $16. Grab the 03 while its still available... and pick up the 04 too!

Nov 26, 2005 - Chateau Beychevelle St Julien Bordeaux 1988 - RM 89 WS 90 RP 84 - Classic Bordeaux earthy leather and floral bouquet and tastes with black raspberry fruit, a hint of cedar, eucalyptus and tar on a firm silky tannin finish. Tasted w/ L and Pat at Bistro Margot in Naperville. Tapestry McLaren Vale Shiraz 2000 - RM 90 - Great value at $18. Tasted from magnum - Oaky plum, hints of currant, red raspberry and a finish of soft mocha.

Nov 25, 2005 - Vinum Stellenbosch, South Africa Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 -  RP 87 RM 86 $15 - Dark, medium bodied, forward cherry, black fruit, spice and tobacco. Cigar box, blueberry, cherry and mocha mingle seamlessly, bridging the lapse between sips.

Nov 24, 2005 - Haywood Estate Los Chamizal Vineyard Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 1994 - RM 85 $45 - Earthy leather predominate perhaps revealing the age of this ten+ year old over the black berry and black cherry fruits. From magnum for Thanksgiving turkey dinner with Stan & Angie and family. Chateau St Michelle Columbia Valley Reserve Chardonnay 1997. The remainder of the Hahn (below) was the highlight of the tasting and perfect compliment to the turkey and accompaniments.

Nov 23, 2005 - Hahn Estates Central Coast Meritage 2003 - RM91 WS 90 - $18 - Deep purple color. Intense aroma and mouthful of tasty of currant, caramel, red raspberry, plum and a hint of oak and vanilla. Delicious. Tremendous value at $18.

Nov 22, 2005 - Archery Summit Oregon Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir 2001 - RM 87 - $33 - Slightly brownish grey tinge in the colour. Smoky leather and cedar overtake the cassis and black raspberry that prevails on the long firm tannin finish. 

Nov 20, 2005 - Les Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape 1996 - RM 84 - Rusty brownish in colour with a slight cloudy murkiness coupled with the slightly astringent acidity leaves one to wonder if this bottled weren't a bit corked. Earthy and leathery black cherry fruit but not as dark, full bodied and forward as the 1995. From the legendary producer Andre Brunel.

Nov 18, 2005 - Three Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 - RM 89 RP 91 - $22 - Dark inky color - intense aromas and flavor of mineral, earthy leather, dark berry, cassis, smoke, and a slight hint of green grass that also is apparent on the nose that detracts from the fruit which fights for presence on the finish. From winemaker Chris Ringland, grower Dan Higginbottom and importer Dan Phillips who brought us Marquis Phillips with its equally whimsical 'Roogle'.

Nov 16, 2005 - John Duvall Plexus Barossa Valley GSM 2003 - RP 94 WS 91 RM 91 $32 -  John Duval, former chief winemaker at Penfolds releases the first product from his own winery. Firm ripe forward fruit, raisin, fig, blackberry, mineral, ripe plum and a slight hint of oaky vanilla with a firm long finish.

Nov 15, 2005 - Hanna Sonoma Valley Bismark Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 88 - $49-25 - Dark, firm, earthy black cherry with a hint of mocha, intense, firm smoky tannins abound from start through the finish.

Nov 11, 2005 - Tir Na N'Og ( Land of the Youth ) McLaren Vale Grenache Old Vines 2003 - RM 92 RP 94 - $25 - Full bodied forward aromas, essence of alcohol, tastes of mineral and spicy black pepper and black berry fruit with a hint of kirsch liqueur with a long complex finish. Softer and more approachable day two.

Nov 9, 2005 - Two Hands Angels Share McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - RM 91 - RP 95 - $26 - Deep dark inky purple colour. Intense powerful forward full bodied aromas and tastes of chewy super ripe blackberry fruit, and tones of  raisiny black cherry, mineral, tobacco and pepper with a long firm tannin finish.

Nov 8, 2005 - Sanford Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley, Barrell Select Pinot Noir 1993 - RM 87 WS 88 - $30 Medium bodied. Full forward aromas and tastes of ripe earthy raspberry, strawberries, slightly tart cherry, spice,  and hints of cedar and vanilla.

Nov 6, 2005 - Shafer Reserve Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 - RM 92 $49 - Final vintage before this wine was re-labeled the legendary Shafer Hillside Select - Full forward fruit of black cherry, plum, leather and cedar thru to the end. Amazing fruit and life in this 23 year old Napa from a modest vintage - birth-year of Ryan - tasted on his family birthday dinner.

Nov 5, 2005 - Chateau Haut Bailly Pessac Leognan Bordeaux 1986 - RM 90 WS 91 - Classic Bordeaux essence of earthy cassis and dark berry fruit with a firm tannin structure that hangs on for a long finish.

Nov 3, 2005 - Viader Estate Red 2000, Viader Estate Red 2002, Viader Dare Cabernet Franc 2003, Viader Dare Tempranillo 2003, Viader Syrah 2003 - An evening tasting the wines of Delia Viader with the owner and producer at Binny's Lakeview.

Nov 1, 2005 - Domaine Barmes Buecher Vieille Vignes Alsace Pinot Noir 2001 - RM 87 - $39 Dark colour, medium to light bodied but firm tannins abound with the slightly tart and spicy, earthy black cherry and anise accented by tones of mineral.

Oct 29, 2005 - Venge Family Reserve Penny Lane Vineyard Oakville Sangiovese 2000 - RM 88 - $40 - Medium bodied blackberry, charcoal and smoky cherry with a long firm tannin finish.
Oct 28, 2005 - Fidelitas Optu Columbia Valley Red Wine 2002 - RM 92 - $36 - Wow! Dark inky colour. Full bodied, big rich forward fruit of blackberries, a hint of currant, sweet smooth oak and that classic Red Mountain terrior taste that I refer to as a soft cognac like aftertaste. Thanks Chris F for obtaining and sharing a case of this rare allocated wine directly from the producer.
Domaine Raspail Ay Gigondas 1996 - RM 88 Medium bodied dark berry and slight mineral with spicy black pepper finish. Tasted w/ L & E at Dr. Pat and Rodger H's..

Oct 27, 2005 - Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 - RM 93 WE 94 $39  Dark inky, almost looks like coffee color, when you open it you can smell it from across the room! Huge forward fruit of sweet plum, black cherry and a touch of blackberry with dark chocolate/cedar and smoky cassis/currant. Its so big you taste it minutes later. More approachable and not as overly ripe as the Noon below. This wine is delicious now and will most likely lose its slight edge and be even better over time.
Oct 21, 2005 - Noon Winery Langhorne Creek Reserve Shiraz 2003 - RM 91 - $50 - Dark inky purple colour - huge full bodied chewy wine from cult winemaker Drew Noon - ultra ripe dark berry and black cherry, leather, and a smoky raisin fig. Parker has rated this wine 96 and 99 over the past five vintages driving the after-market price upwards of $100 and more. The 2003 while probably not as smooth and polished is also almost overly ripe fruit that is almost too much to handle. Not for the feint of heart! L likes this style!

Oct 18, 2005 - Raymond Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1998  RM 88 $23 - Deep purple-colored, full bodied, concentrated black cherry, ripe plum, a hint of currant and chocolate with a firm tannin finish. A slight bit astringent but flavorful; a good value at this price of $23 in 2000 based on release price of $30.

Oct 17, 2005 - Distant Bay Monterey County Central Coast Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 87 - Slightly tart cherry, spicy cedar, essence of tea and a hint of mocha with firm tight tannin finish. Tasted at One North (Wacker Drive) in Chicago.

Oct 16, 2005 - Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou St Julien Bordeaux 2001 - RM 89 $59 - Much lighter than what I expected but firm structure, earthy leathery blackberry and spicy cassis on a long tannin finish. Chateau Clos du Marquis St Julien Bordeaux 2000. - RM 88 RP 88-90 - $59 - Also much lighter than what I expected, the second wine of Leoville-Las-Cases has earthy black cherry, currant, mineral  and spicy vanilla on a moderately tannin finish. A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Del Dotto Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - RM 92 $62 -  Perfume of sweet oak & plum - flavor packed currant, black berry, cherry and a sweet oak smooth vanilla finish with soft tannins. Tasted w/ Ryan and Michelle at Dr. Dan's pad.
Oct 15, 2005 - Hanna Sonoma Bismarck Ranch Merlot 1999
- RM 88 - $50 - Huge forward fruit of berry, currant, smoky tar and full firm tannins.
Oct 14, 2005 - La Jota Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1999 - RM 88 - Earthy cedar and vanilla overpower the berries and plum with a hint of mint on the full lengthy finish.
Oct 12, 2005 - Showket Napa Valley Sangiovese 1997 - RM 90 WS 89 ST 90- $35 - Wow, lot's of life left in this robust flavorful '97. Medium bodied firm fruit of black cherry, black berry accentuated with tones of plum and black currant with subtle hints of cedar tar and slight smoke and chocolate on the finish. This was the inaugural release from this producer - Heidi Peterson-Barrett is the winemaker.

Oct 8, 2005 - Bernardus Santa Barbara County Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2003 - RM90  Smooth and elegant, black cherry, plum and a hint of vanilla and oak. Tasted w/ L. at The Greenhouse in the Ritz Carlton, Chicago.

Oct 8, 2005 - Raymond Usseglio, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2000: RM 89 RP 90 Daniel Rogov 90 - Medium to full bodied, with a deep purple color and abundant, firm and tight but approachable tannins;  with layers of black berry, black cherries, and herbaceousness that linger on a long long full finish that  yields to generous hints of pepper and nut.

Oct 6, 2005 - Chateau Du Tertre Margaux Bordeaux 1996 - RM 87 RP89-90 WS 81 - $30 - Classic Bordeaux essence of floral and perfume with earthy berry, cassis and leather. 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Franc.
Oct 5, 2005 - Fidelitas Optu Columbia Valley Red Wine 2002 - RM 92 - $36 - Wow! Dark inky colour. Full bodied, big powerfully rich forward fruit of blackberries, a hint of currant, sweet smooth oak and that classic Red Mountain terrior taste that I refer to as a soft cognac like aftertaste.
Meritage bordeaux style blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 9% Malbec from several vineyards - Champoux Vineyards (25%), ConnerLee Vineyards 32%, Red Mountain Vineyards 10%, Snipes Canyon Vineyard 21% and Milbrandt - Katherine Leone Vineyard 12%. Tasted compliments of Chris F. with the crew at Binny's Naperville.

Oct 4, 2005 - Venge Family Reserve Oakville Napa Valley Merlot 1998 - RM 89 - Full bodied fruit filled with slightly tart black cherry, cassis and a hint of tar with a full tannin filled long finish. Tasted with Nils Venge, winemaker for Del Dotto and several top producers during our 2002 Napa Wine Experience. Great complement to momma's meatloaf!

Sept 30, 2005 - Chehalem 3 Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 87 RP 88 - $25 - Medium bodied - mineral and spicy cedar overpower the blackberry and black cherry fruit with a fizzy finish. 
Sept 27, 2005 - Havens Bourriquot Napa Valley Red Wine 2000 - RM 91 - $33 -Dark inky colour - full bodied and flavored; sweet currant and ripe plum, a hint of cedar and eucalyptus. Tasty, interesting blend of 67% cab franc and 33% merlot; the wine is named after "a strong willed horse who works in the field or someone of the same stubborn persistence". 
Sept 24, 2005 - Gary Farrell Sonoma County Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 86- $35 - Aromas and taste of mineral and tinny peppery cedar overcome the dark berry and subtle plum fruit that redeems itself with a full tasteful fruit and oak finish.
Sept 23, 2005 - Cambria, "Julia�s Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 89 -  Delicate, soft cherry flavors, prominent, oak, hint of cocoa with integrated tannins. Tasted at Redstone Grill in Oak Brook, IL.
Sept 22, 2005 - Kaesler Coonawara Stonehorse Shiraz 2003 - RM 86 - $28 - The hot dry summer ripened the fruit to a point almost of excess with intense raisiny dark berry, black currant and plum with a pronounced acidic mineral. 

Sept 21, 2005 - Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 89 WS 92 Spectator Selection - Rich ripe black cherry and berry, cedar and earthy leather on a firm long tight but polished finish.

Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

Sept 19, 2005 - Darioush Napa Valley Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 91 - Full nose and flavors of slightly tart black cherry, blackberry, turning to a subtle vanilla, oak and sweet currant flavor with a hint of smoke on the smooth, full long finish. Tasted at Vito's Chop House in Orlando w/ CC and Randal M.

Sept 16, 2005 - Chateau Siran Margaux Bordeaux 1999 - RM 86 - Tight and closed fruit - dark blackberry fruit with a bit of hard earthy leather and mineral.  
Sept 15, 2005 - Pagodes des Cos St Estephe Bordeaux 2002 - RM 84 - Wine Advocate 89 pts - Second wine of the venerable Chateau Cos d' Estournel sourced from younger vines. This wine was like the one above, hard, tight and closed, dark blackberry fruit with a bit of hard earthy leather and tar.

Sept 14, 2005 - Gaja Ca' Marcanda Promise 2002 - RM 88 - A new estate of the famed Gaja family, planted in cab, merlot, and shiraz in Bolgheri. Medium bodied and firm - the dark berry and black cherry fruit is accented tones of vanilla and oak. 
Sept 13, 2005 - D'Arenberg Stump Jump McLaren Vale 2002 - RM 85 - A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre - Full flavoured forward very ripe mulberry and blackberry fruit that give way to a tinny mineral flavor that is unfortunately a bit overpowering. This wine and the three above are featured and were tasted at the wine bar at the fabulous China World Hotel in Beijing.

Sept 10, 2005 - Northstar Yakima Valley Merlot 1995 - RM 91 - Huge nose and full forward flavors of berry, black cherry and plum with a subtle smoky smooth but firm and full tannic finish. One point less than earlier review due to hardening of the fruit taste giving way to non-fruit flavors on the finish. First tasted and purchased at the magnificent Chateau St. Michelle in Woodinville, WA.  77% Merlot 23% Cab. ($47) Crafted by winemakers Gordy Hill & Jed Steele with fruit from Wahluke Slope, Yakima basin and Columbia Valley.
d'Arenberg Custodian Grenache 1996
- RM 91 - Incredible memorable essence of rich sweet blueberries that predominate with a slight edge of mineral on the flavorful finish. I don't know where this blueberry came from - I remember first tasting this wine in the courtyard of Tra Vigne in St Helena, Napa. Last time I had it the mineral was at the forefront. The only time I remember such predominant blueberry was my first experience with The
Dead Arm from the same producer - the '94 vintage, tasted w/ AJ at the SFO Marriott. I still have several more bottles of this '96 and can't wait to see if the rest are as good as this one!  Tasted at gala extended family dinner w/ L, Ryan & Michelle & Erin & Johnnie - great complements to Ryan's stuffed pork chops and the fabulous chocolate and strawberry fondue desert! The Northstar was very good until I opened the Custodian which blew it away vastly exceeding my expectations based no earlier tastings!!
Sept 9, 2005 - Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity 1996 - WS 92 RM 92 $40 Cellar Selection - Consistent notes and rating from earlier review (s). Beautiful deep purple color, delicious smooth polished taste of sweet currant, strawberry pear and sweet apple berry with a nice balance. Perfect complement to beef tenderloin dinner. A Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Robert Craig has been a featured winemaker twice at our Napa Wine Experience.
Sept 6, 2005 - St Hallett Barossa Faith Shiraz, 2001 - RM 88 - Great value wine - rich dark berry fruit with subtle mocha and smoky tar on the firm finish. Tasted w/ ML and GL at the Clubhouse in Oak Brook.

Sept 4, 2005 - Miner Family Vineyards 'Oracle' Napa Valley Red Wine 2001 - RM 90 - Rich fruit on initial opening gives way to non-fruit flavors over a couple hours lowering rating by a point. $47 Connoisseurs Guide 93 pts - Ripe currant, black fruits, raspberry, a touch of earthy cedar, mocha and tobacco on a subtle tar finish. Bordeaux varietals of 33% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Sept 3, 2005 - Groth Napa Valley Chardonnay 1997

Sept 1, 2005 - Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 2000 - RM 92 - This wine is a great value at Binny's price of $27. Aromatic, flavorful - black raspberry, black cherry, cassis, tar and cedar that turns to an aftertaste of currant and a hint of plum.

Aug 30, 2005 - Breton Lorinon Crianza Tinto Reserva Rioja 1999 - RM 84 - $11 - Great value at near $10. Earthy slightly off aroma and flavor gives way to black raspberry, mint, cedar and earthy black fruit on the firm finish. Interesting blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano and 5% Garnacha.

Aug 28, 2005 - Sea Smoke Santa Rita Hills Southing Vineyard Pinot Noir 2003 - WS 89-91 - RM 91- $49 - Intense aromas and flavors of currant, plum, ripe red raspberry, tar and burnt sugar with a full long sweet oak finish. The wine made famous in the movie Sideways is named for the coastal fog that creeps in overnight from the ocean. 

Aug 27, 2005 - Kangarilla  Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 86 RP 91 WS 90 - $16 A bit tart for my tastes - dark purple color - Big forward and firm - blackberry, cherry, cassis, mint and toasty oak. Zimmerman-Graeff Piesporter Michelsberg Spatliese 1975 - RM 85 - Wow, who would expect this modest priced 30 year old Riesling to have any life left? Finally tried this from the corners of the cellar, not expecting anything. Full aromas of honey, burnt sugar and tobacco - color of tea, and tastes of earthy honey, fig, tobacco and burnt sugar remain - this is testimony to the longevity of these Mosel Ruer Saar wines. Tasted along with Glen Eldon (below) with L, E&J, R&M, Bob & Gloria, and Pat R, with Mark & Jane - end of summer b-b-q.

Aug 26 and 27, 2005 - Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shiraz Barossa 2002 - RM 92 RP 91-94, Great value if you can find it at $24-35 - Deep purple - rich full currant, plum, raspberry, creme de cassis and tar on the full flavored firm finish.

Aug 23, 2005 - Elderton Estate Barossa CSM 2000 - RM 89 - Winemakers notes - Colour: Deep crimson with a black heart. Nose: Ripe blackberry with lifted violet and a hint of vanillin oak. Palate: Immense, yet elegant, complex, rich and flavourful with tiers of chocolate, wild berries and plums. Finishes with supple tannins and pretty oak shadings. CSM stands for 60% Cabernet / 30% Shiraz / 10% Merlot.
Aug 21, 2005 - Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 91 WS 92 - Dark earthy leathery black cherry and currant are overtaken by that classic pronounced full sweet oak that lingers on and on through a long soft tannin finish. Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 - RM 86 - Earthy leathery and muted blackberry that is way too subdued with a short tight cedar and ash finish.

Aug 20, 2005 - Grgich Hills Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - RM 86 WS 87 $45-75 - Dark berry fruit flavor, earthy tart cherry, cedar and herb on the firm tight tannin finish. 

Aug 17. 2005 - Paradigm Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 91 WS 92 - Dark inky color. Full forward fruit flavors of currant, ripe plum, black cherry, cedar and a hint of anise and milk chocolate on a full firm finish. Miner Napa Valley Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2001 - RM 90 -WS 90 Wine Spectator, July 2004 - "This is a complex, elegant wine with buttery pear, fig, apricot and melon flavors that are focused and persistent."- J.L. 90 Points, Wine & Spirits Magazine, April 2004- "All about richness, this emphasizes the broad toasty flavors of wood, from coffee to caramel, while the dry grapefruit aspects add an edge. Enjoy this now for its round, supple texture, or cellar to let the complexity evolve."  The chard was a highlight to our lobster surf & turf anniversary dinner w/ L, Erin & Johnnie, and Ryan.
Aug 15, 2005 - Lindeman's Pyrus Coonawara Blend 1994 - RM 87 - Big mouth-full of forward tart cherry giving way to earthy mineral and tar with a short but tight finish of firm tannin and cedar. Complex blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, and 10% each merlot, cabernet franc and malbec.

Aug 13, 2005 - Kate's Vineyard, Napa Valley Sedna Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 88 - $26 -
Blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah - layers of black fruit flavors, with a hint of cedar, elegant fine grained tannins and a long finish. Only 250 cases were produced. Tasted at Jason L's grad party.
Aug 11, 2005 - Miura Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 88 - Much lighter and less fruit than the Carneros Hudson Vineyard below. Another value selections due to August wine closeout at x y z restaurant in San Francisco, tasted w/ Al B.
Aug 10, 2005 - Rosenblum "Lyons Vineyard" Napa Valley Old Vines Zinfandel 2002 - RM 88 - Dark inky black wine - full bodied - ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit with a full firm finish. Miura Carneros Hudson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 90 - Polished forward fruit of black cherry and berry turning to a polished and balanced earthy plum. - Grande Maison Monbazillac Cuvee de Chateau 1998 - RM 88 - Great value selections due to August wine closeout at x y z restaurant in San Francisco. Tasted w/ James & Brenda W., Matt L., Richard J. at UX Wrld. 

Aug 9, 2005 - Karl Lawrence Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 92 $75 - Dark, full bodied, fruit-filled dark cherry, currant, berry and plum giving way to a mocha and smoke on the long refined tannin finish. Reminds me of a Lewis Reserve Napa cab. Tasted at First Crush Wine Bar & Restaurant in San Francisco near Union Square.
Aug 8, 2005 - Matthew Cellars Yakima Valley Red Wine 2000 - RM 90 WS 91 - Full bodied Bordeaux style - forward fruit of red cherry, hint of currant and spice come together in a nicely balanced and polished firm red with a lengthy finish. Tasted at fabulous Aureole Restaurant at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Great value find on their spectacular winelist. 
Aug 7, 2005 - La Brisa Peay Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2003 - RM 87 [$45] Essence of cola berry and dark berry fruits predominate over black cherry. The producer says, "Sound acidity keeps the black tea, spice, dark raspberry and cola flavors vibrant on your pallet and carry well into the long lingering finish. The tannins are firm but ripe but should melt away with food and round out even more with some time in bottle. 210 cases produced"

Aug 6, 2005 - Grand Vin de Chateau Latour Pauillac Bordeaux 1981 - WS 90 RM 89 RP 88 - Smooth polished earthy floral berry fruit with a delicate balanced full finish of sweet oak and cassis. Cos d' Estournel St. Estephe Bordeaux 1981 - Magnum - RM 87 - Earthy leathery dark cherry and hard firm blackberry with a firm tar tannic berry finish. My concerns about these two cellar selections being end of life or worse were put to rest - lot's of life left in the remaining 81's, especially the large format bottles. Lewis Cellars Alec's Blend 2001 - RM 92 - Full firm rich berry, currant, raspberry and sweet milk chocolate on a long smooth fruit-filled finish. Classic stark contrast between old world and new world .Ferreira Vintage Port 1980 RM 87 - Fitting finish to classic French meal.styles. Gala family dinner w/ L, Evelyn & Keith, Erin & Johnnie, Ryan & Michelle, and Alec - celebrating anniversaries R&L (31), E&K (25), graduations (R&M), Erin's semester & return to TR, & ATM achievement (s) (A's & other). Great fellowship together, at Cafe Bernard in Lincoln Park.
Aug 4, 2005 - Hartford Family Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2003 - RM 88 RP 93 - $28 - Firm forward, hard, black raspberry, mineral throughout, a touch of black pepper, and a dry tobacco on the long lasting mineral finish. I found this too hard, too much mineral almost metallic for my preference. Parker thought differently - "...is a great effort for the price. Made from various vineyards, all averaging 80 years of age, it exhibits a sexy, up-front, respberry, blackbery, and spice box-scented perfume, huge body, a peppery component, and a large, seductive, luscious finish with no hard edges." - Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, February 2005
Aug 3, 2005 - JC Cellars California Cuvee Syrah 2003 - RM 91 - $24 - Dark inky colour, flavors of currant, black cherry, plum, white pepper and a hint milk chocolate and creme caramel on the firm full flavored finish. Tastes like a Barossa Valley Shiraz... from Alameda? Where do they get this stuff? Try it - awesome!

July 31, 2005 - Henry's Drive Padthaway Reserve Shiraz 2002 - RP 97 RM 94 $55-95 - Wow. Reminiscent of my reviews of Marquis Phillips '9', but on steroids. No wonder since Sparky Marquis is also the winemaker of this monstrous wine as well. Dark, full, thick extracted fruit - huge mouth-full of currant and blackberry gives way to caramel and creme brulee burnt sugar with a smoky sweet oak and vanilla finish. See what Robert Parker says about this bomb. - "The 2002 Shiraz Reserve tastes like a dry vintage port. It may be too much for those with a European palate (but then, I�m a Francophile with a European-styled palate and I loved it). It is flamboyant, extraordinarily rich, full-bodied, and intense, with gobs of blackberry and currant fruit backed up by extravagant levels of glycerin. The oak is largely concealed by the magnificent wealth of fruit. This is classic Australian Shiraz at its finest and is not duplicated anywhere else in the world, so enjoy it for what it is. It should drink well for a decade. 97 points, The Wine Advocate. I bought this wine out of state upon release before it was rated. Nice surprise when I went to pick it up eighteen months later after the RP rating and the price had nearly doubled. Beringer Gewurztraminer 2003 - RM 87 $8 - Full bodied citrus, honey, and a hint of nut and peach.
July 28, 2005 - Chateau Reynella McClaren Vale Basket Pressed Shiraz 1994 - RM 87 WS 90 $25 Intense dried raisin taste (too much), black cherry and fig taste - firm and tight.
July 27, 2005 - Sanford Pinot Noir, Barrel Select, Santa Ynez Valley 1993 - RM 88 - ($30) Light ruby color doesn't prepare one for the deeply extracted raspberry fruit flavor, which also exhibits vanilla, cedar, mild herbaceousness and warm earthiness. Layers of flavors suggest a grand cru Burgundy with its complexity and appealing nose - raspberry-like fruit accompanied by black pepper and smoky bacon rind. One of Sanford's best Barrel Select Pinots, as superb as the legendary 1989 Barrel Select Pinot Noir. Excerpts from Steve Pitcher review contributor on Sallys-place.com/ .
July 25, 2005 - Markham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 - RM 91 WS 92 Spectator Selection - Rich ripe black cherry and berry, cedar and earthy leather on a firm long tight but polished finish.
July 23, 2005 - Miner Family Vineyards Simpson Vineyard Viognier 2004 - RM 88 - Tangy, crisp, medium bodied, winemaker cites honeysuckle and peach - I tasted more firm smoky and oaky citrus tangerine and mineral flavors. Tasted at Park Cafe in the magnificent Millennium Park in Chicago.
Cabernet Sauvignon
July 22, 2005 - St. Clement Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 89 WS 89-91 $22-35; Dark, firm, ripe well balanced and complex - black cherry, plum, cedar, anise and tobacco, with long, spicy, earthy tannic finish.
July 21, 2005 - Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County  Pinot Noir 2003 - RM 92 - $36-$54 - Named for Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, co-founder with husband Charlie Wagner of Caymus Vineyards and mother of winemaker Chuck Wagner. Starting with this 2003 vintage, viticulture and winemaking duties were taken over by Chuck's son, Joseph. Deep garnet color. Full aromas and tastes of ripe currant and plums, sweet red raspberry and hints of sweet caramel and smoke, finishing with refined tannins and very long, fruit-filled finish, laced with full notes of sweet French oak. Tasted w/ L at Vincent Restaurant in Minneapolis.

Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Meritage 1997 -- Rated 94
July 20, 2005 - Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - RM 90 WS 91 - Light and crisp with a nice mouth full of lemon, citrus and pear with a soft smoky balanced fruit filled finish. David Arthur Meritaggio Oakville 1997RM 94 Interesting blend of 44% cab, 24% cab franc, 16% merlot, and 8% Sangiovese and 8% Petit Verdot. Wow, this wine has come around to be elegant, polished, smooth and delicious. Full forward sweet currant, pear, plum and red berry with subtle smoke and silky smooth tannins on a full long finish. Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 1997 - RM 92 WS 94 - Initially a bit awkward and rough on the edge softens and mellows to reveal a sweet currant and smoky dark berry fruit with a nice long moderate tannin finish. Ferrari Carano Late harvest Riesling Reserve 1997. RM 92 - Delicious sweet unctuous - full firm forward sweet apricot, citrus, pear-and berry taste   Tasted at Mary L's with Tim and Gary G. Perfect compliment to grilled steak dinner. Thanks M. Wonderful evening!
July 18, 2005 - Snowden Lost Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 90 - Firm tight subtle smoky earthy leather blends well with dark berry fruit and very subtle mocha on the full fragrant finish. Bordeaux style blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot tastes true to form like a lower left bank Bordeaux! Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - RM 89 WS 89 - Medium bodied and a bit awkward forward dark berry fruit gives way to a mouthfull of smoky black raspberry and black cherry fruits with a long long fragrant flavorful finish.  Tasted w/ Dennis and Susanne H. at their home as part of a fabulous steak and shrimp dinner with all the accompaniments and trimmings. Thanks! 

July 16, 2005 - Corison Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - RM 88 - Aroma and tastes of black cherry, raspberry and sweet currant give way to a earthy mocha and leather on a mild tannin finish. Corison sits on Hwy 29 just south of St Helena and adjacent to the Del Dotto cottage vineyard. 
July 15, 2005 - Ken Wright Cellars Columbia Valley Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay 2002 -  RM 88 $21 - Clear and crisp Smoky oak, acid, and tangy citrus with a lingering tangerine and almond nut finish. Ken Wright of Pinot Noir fame produces a smart chardonnay here. This property is shared with Domaine Serene below.
July 14, 2005 - Oregon Eola Hills "LaCreole" Pinot Noir Reserve 2001 - WS 88 RM 88 $20- Dark purple color with flavors of berry fruits, black cherry and a hint of a white chocolate mocha on the moderate spicy oak finish. This is a blend of Madrona, Columbia Country & Winderemere Vineyards.
July 13, 2005 - Raymond Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1998 - First tasted this wine at the winery on Zinfandel Lane in St Helena almost adjacent to the Del Dotto Estate at the corner on Rt 29. The fruit of this bottle from the cellar has given way to a smoky tar and leather that competes with the blackberry and slightly astringent cherry fruit with a full earthy berry fruit finish.
July 10, 2005 - Domaine Serene Willamette Valley Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2002 - RM 93 WS 92 $48-$58 - Deep purple colour - fragrance and taste of full rich sweet currant fruit, raspberry, strawberry, caramel, cola and sweet oak and spice with a long finely integrated balanced tannic finish. Delicious. Tasted w/ L at Smith & Wollensky on the patio along the Chicago River - perfect setting for a sunny summer afternoon in the city. 
July 9, 2005 - Chateau Grand Puy LaCoste Pauillac Bordeaux 1982 - RM 89 RP 95 - $100-150 - Full bodied, dark garnet color, that classic Pauillac pencil lead nose - good balance and well refined earthy subtle black berry, smoky black cherry fruit evolves with cassis and a hint of mocha on the long full soft well integrated tannin finish. Another '82 from the cellar tasted w/ L, Ryan and Michelle commemorating their college graduations - perfect accompaniment to the classic French cuisine at Kiki's Bistro in Chicago. Gould Campbell Vintage Port 1985 - RM 91. 

July 8, 2005 - Swanson Alexis Napa Valley Estate Red Wine 1996 - $40-$55: RM 92 - A nice surprise from the cellar. Departing from the Bordeaux-blend model, this wine is a blend of 55 percent syrah, 33 percent cabernet sauvignon and 12 percent cabernet franc. A complex wine with aromas and tastes of black cherry, strawberry, blueberry, black raspberry, and vanilla and a hint of cassis. Smooth and supple in the mouth with moderate tannins. Thoroughly different and absolutely delicious; in a class by itself.
July 7, 2005 - Chateau Grand Vin de Leoville du Marquis de Las Cases - St Julien, Bordeaux - 1993 - RM 90 RP 90 WS 82 - $65-125 - From a fabled property adjacent to First Growth Pauillac, Gran Vin Latour, one of my favorite wines, and wine labels; this is delicious even in off-vintages such as this 1993, which is much better than it was in the mid-nineties, evidence of the age-ability of this wine. Dark inky red in color. That classic sumptuous nose of earthy floral fruit. The taste is more astringent than typical with hard tannins but that classic St Julien ripe fruit and earthy licorice and floral still predominates with a long full intense finish. Even when its way off such as this 93, one can see why this 'super' second growth is a classic and a perennial favorite. If you can't afford or don't want to spend the tariff of a top vintage, buy one that's affordable - you'll still be rewarded by a shadow of this magnificent classic benchmark Bordeaux.
July 4, 2005 - Domaine Santa Duc Prestige des Hautes Garrigues Gigondas 1998 - RM 90 WS 94 $40 - Intense ripe berry and spicy pepper, earthy tar, anise, chocolate and firm tannins. J. Lohr Cypress Central Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 84 $12 - Earthy black berry, slight edge of mineral and sage. Great compliments to holiday b-b-que rib dinner.

1995 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Rhinefarm Vineyard
July 2, 2005 - Montes 1995 Curico Valley (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon - RM 85 WS 82 - Good value at $12. Inky dark garnet color. Deep cherry-berry fruit with shadow of bacon, mineral and mint. Full yet austere, black fruit flavors showing some acidicy and noticeable tannins.
June 29, 2005 - Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma County Meritage 2001 - RM 90 - Dark color - full forward berry fruit with a hint of mocha and sage on a moderate tannin finish.
Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1998 - RM 88 This 98 Napa cab is starting to show some age...appearing to have lost some of its fruit and losing luster from its previous RM 93 rating ... The berry is still intense but now turned a slight bit austere cherry seeming super ripe with licorice and a hint of tar on the moderate tannin finish. 
Beringer Johannisburg Riesling Late Harvest 1993 -
RM 89 Another selection from the cellar from many years - Previously this wine possessed e
ssence of apricot with a touch of almond, thick unctuous sweet syrup of smoky apricot flavors. This from an earlier review - as this wine ages, the apricot is giving way to a ripe smoky fig taste. The color has evolved from butter to dark maple syrup or tea color. Tasted w/ Gary LaG and Michael R from LTi.

June 26, 2005 - Marquis Phillips S2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - RM 91 WS 90 $25 - I defer to the producers description which I find very apt except for the 'peppers' - "Characters of berry fruits, black & white pepper, cedar and cigar box, with a layer of dark chocolate adding to the complexity. As this wine ages the fresh raspberry characters will mature into darker boysenberry and blackberry characters with layers of brandy laced chocolate fondue flavours." Venge Family Reserve Napa Valley Merlot 1998 - RM 89 $39 - Dark, inky color. Big, full body - full forward fruit of slightly tart cherry on the front palate gives way to full currant and wild berry flavors with a full lingering oaky finish. Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 1998 and 1995 - RM 89 WS 87 and RM 87 - $35 ea. Hazelnut, pear, a hint of caramel and citrus. The 1994 vintage of this wine was WS Wine of the year with a 95 rating. I have a mini vertical of this wine and these vintages are aging to the point they need to be consumed. Even here, the 98 has more fruit and balance and stability than the 95. The few remaining 94 bottles need to be consumed. Some special wines for a mini family reunion with J&B and girls back from CA with mom and Keith, and our crew - beef tenderloin and scallops.  Great day despite the HOT sun.
June 25, 2005 - Ch�teau Calon-S�gur St-Est�phe, 3�me Cru Class� Bordeaux 1997 - RM 89 RP 82 WS 83 - $45 I found this wine much better than the commercial ratings. Dark purple, moderate tannins, medium body and classic full forward Bordeaux floral bouquet with black currant, berry, and moderate spice. Chateau Meyney St Estephe Bordeaux 1988 - RM 88 RP 88 From Magnum - earthy berry, black cherry, smoke and anise on a firm tannin finish. Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1980 - RM 85 - Initially closed and funky - after 75 minutes this 25 year old started to awake and the berry and black cherry fruit emerged accented by earthy cassis and sage. Tasted these wines at gala banquet in honor of Evelyn and Keith's 25th and Evelyn's 80th with twenty-nine family members in attendance at the White Rose Inn. Hence the Bordeaux wine for lovers Calon with its heart label (right) and the 1980 vintage bottle.
June 19, 2005 - Clark-Claudon Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - RM 93 RP 92 - $100-125 I defer to the master Robert Parker who describes this monumental effort better than I can. "Neither up-front nor accessible, readers will need a degree of patience, although it would not be infanticide to drink it now. A serious, concentrated, opaque purple-colored effort, it boasts a moderately intense nose of pure cassis, gravel, vanillin, and blackberries. Full-bodied and impressively built, this deep, powerful, concentrated Cabernet begs for cellaring. It is the second impressive effort from this newcomer to the high end Cabernet Sauvignon sweepstakes. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2020. Bravo!" My patience is being rewarded! Earlier attempts at this wine were closed and tight. This one is beginning to open up and shine - this bodes well for some great tastings ahead! This was from Tom & Laurie Clark, guest producers at our 98 Napa Wine Experience
June 18, 2005 - Chateau La Nerthe, Chateauneuf du Pape 1996 - RM 87 $45 - Earthy, pepper and  spice predominate over the blackberry and mineral. This wine was first tasted at the chateau during my Rhone Wine Experience.
Peter Lehman Barossa Shiraz 1997
- RM 88 $18 - This was my first discovery of this wine and it remains one of his more memorable. Deep rich, dark, chewy ripe, almost raisiny black berry and black cherry  fruit almost stain the glass in this big full bodied wine. Both of these were perfect compliments to our bar-b-que rib dinner with Dr Pat, Martha, Nick S., L, Erin & Johnnie.
June 17, 2005 - Chateau Mazeris Canon Fronsac Bordeaux 1990 - RM 84 $15 in 92 - Huge forward earthy cassis, ash and tar overpowers the dark cherry fruit. Past its prime? Cleaning out the cellar - Alec's birth-year wine celebrating some big achievements this week. Also pulled out an old over-the-hill Chateau Mouton Cadet 1978 from an earlier time when my wine cellar and palate were obviously substantially less discriminating. Not worth mentioning.
June 15, 2005 - Woop Woop Australian Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - RM 86 WE 87  - Dark full bodied and full nose of mineral - mouthfull of mineral overpowers the berry fruit on the palate through the long long full finish. Great value at $12
June 11, 2005 - Etude Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - WE 95 RM 93 $69-49 - Delicious mouthfull of currant and black cherry with tones of sweet creme brulee and cotton candy and a pleasant balanced finish. Bill at Binny's GE was right to recommend this as one of his favorites. Yah boy! Only a slight bit of roughness on the finish detracts from an otherwise superb effort which will likely soften and settle with some age.

June 10, 2005 - Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 - RM90, WS91, #64 Wine Spectator Top 100 2003 -  "Tasty fruit filled blackberry, chocolate, mineral and a long medium-bodied tannin finish. Good value at $18.
June 9, 2005 - Querceto Chianti Classico 2002 - RM 86 - Lighter, less fruitfilled, polished and balanced than the Reserva listed above but similar taste profile of blackberry and smoky mineral..
June 8, 2005 - Chateau Leoville Barton St Julien Bordeaux 1991 - RM 86 $20 upon release in 1993 - Reasonable life left in this vintage destined to be relatively short-lived - limited light body - not much nose, minimal essence of blackberry and earthy smoky blackcherry with a short finish.
June 5, 2005 - Clos du Marquis St Julien Bordeaux 1986, 1988 -  RM 86 and 87. Second wine of Leoville Las Cases. Celebrating cousin Wesley's graduation with birth year wine. The 86 was firm tight and still a bit closed - blackberry fruit subdued and overshadowed by tar and bark turning to cassis anise on the finish. The 88 was more open and fruit filled with earthy black cherry and berry with underlying tone of mushrooms.  
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