Foley Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Hills Vineyard 1997, Santa Maria Valley
The Foley Pinot Noir 1997 is a winner from accomplished wine maker Allen Phillips, formerly of Byington Winery in Santa Cruz. This is not your fathers Pinot Noir, it is made in a very forward and modern style. For a Pinot Noir it is very dark in color with a powerful nose of primarily eucalyptus, coconut, raspberries, cedar and oak. On the palate this wine shows huge extraction levels of vibrant cherries, raspberry menthol and plums. The flavors hold strong and develop with a firm oak finish. Two weeks to Thanksgiving and I have already found my Pinot Noir. Now I can sleep at night. Enjoy. $26. -CG
Eberle Syrah Stienbeck Vineyard, Paso Robles, California, 1997
Obvious mint and dill in the nose combined with alcohol and wild berry, orange peel and slightly stemmy. On the palate, mouth coating Raspberry and Blueberry, chocolate, clove and cool mint notes finish with soft tannin and a slight heat from alcohol (14.5%). A full Boar (excuse the pun) version of this classic Rhone. 87/100. $18. -CG
Lincourt Syrah, Santa Barbara County, 1997
Almost opaque and very extracted in color. In the nose I get mint, rosemary, black licorice, black berry and tar. What I like most about this wine is the initial hit of sexy round, fat richness of black fruit with an equally enticing dose of new oak. This lovely wine ends with a bit of an edge of acidity that balanced nicely with the strong backbone of oak and fruit. Very powerful at $17.
J. Lohr Paso Robles Syrah, 1997
Dark violet in color. Rich nose of sweet black fruit, cherries petrol and violets. Mouth coating, cool Syrah fruit with wild berry, currant, mint and a touch of extra alcohol. Relatively long finish and very enjoyable. A great deal at $11 – CG
Domenico Clerico Barolo ‘Pajana’ 1990
As Marshall stated in his notes, this is made from a portion of the Ginestra cru, aged in 100% new oak (thankfully) for 18 months. Very dark brown color. Obvious cola nut nose, with citrus zest and violets, also. Sweet candied fruit on the palate, with oak influence. Lots of tannin toward the back. Very nice now, should continue to hold. VERY GOOD PLUS. MM. 10/99. This wine rocked like Pink Floyd, been around a while and still giving pleasure.
Baltieri Valpolicella Superiore “Monte Paridiso” 94
Valpolicella 94? $30?……You gotta be #%$&*#% kidding me? My thoughts exactly, but then I tried it. It’s wonderful. I found out this guy is the fruit source for the famed Dal Forno Romano. This Valpolicella was intense and very ripe. Dark in color. Aromas of cinnamon and spice with raisin and plum fruit scents. A mouthful of plum, green olive and finishes with tannin and good acidity. This wine came as a shock and I did not expect to be impressed by it. Good luck finding it, I’m not sure of its distribution in the US. $30.
Medium dark ruby, edging to brown. Citrus and cedar on the nose. Quite tannic, without enough fruit behind it to stand up to the astringency. Medium length, perhaps the bottle in particular was an off example?? GOOD PLUS. MM. 10/99. This wine rocked like Back Street Boys, can’t figure out for the life of me what so many people go gaga over it for.
Carpineto Farnito Cabernet Sauvignon, Tuscany 1996
The flagship wine from this premier Tuscan estate. The follow-up to a “famed” 95′ release. Intense black/garnet color, great extraction. A full house on the nose with plum, green pepper, cassis, menthol, rosemary and French oak. Note: A shock to the system after a day of Sangiovese. On the palate a full mouth of smooth oak, ripe black fruit, anise, plum, finishing on the back of the tongue with cocoa and chocolate. A bit more acid than the American versions, but should go lay down for several years. I tasted this wine over a 8 hour period. Much preferred it after several hours. 86/100.. Opici Imports. $35. -CG
Illuminati Riparosso, Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo, 1998
Very dark in color, blackish-purple. The nose was grapey and young, but it showed some complex jammy, berry and sage notes. In the mouth it is full of bing cherries and bitter chocolate and most notably this wine has substantial weight for the money. It finishes with a good amount of tannin and acid, giving this everyday quaffer the body of a much more expensive wine. A huge bargain at $9 – CG
Umani Ronchi Cumaro 1995, La Marche, Italy
Deep in color. Enticing and complex aromas of tar, black currant and plums with a touch of dill and menthol rounding out the scents with new oak. In the mouth it is smooth and sexy, with plenty of oak and ripe cherry, balanced with a cool minty note. This finish is nicely balanced with fine new oak, powdery tannin and vanilla bean. Drinks great now but If you can hold it wait till 2002 and on. Enjoy. $28. -CG
Chateau Haut-Brion 1989
This is a 100 point wine? (not!) Bright, medium dark ruby-garnet color. Intriguing nose. Roasted notes, and slightly hot
smelling, with raw potato and tobacco. A touch of mint on the attack. Lots of tannin and minerals on the palate without a huge concentration of fruit to back it up. Very nice length, and certainly not showy. VERY GOOD. MM. 10/99. It rocked like Talking Heads, out there and fun but wouldn’t buy it.
Chateau Lynch-Bages 1989
Darker, and much more saturated than the Haut-Brion 1989. Muted aromatically, with a neat whiff of roasted turkey? and graphite pencil. Much more forward fruit, and significantly better than recent bottles tasted. Seductive palate with more of the graphite intertwining with the dark cassis and berry fruits. Super length. EXCELLENT MINUS. MM. 10/99. It rocked (or rather, jazzed) like Ernestine Anderson.
1989 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage “La Chapelle”
Peppery nose with some papery aromas (definitely not corked). Great color, deep black/red. Five spice comes out on the nose with airing. Sweet attack, pure Syrah character. Focused mineral flavors, with a toasty filling. Deep on the back, but
overall, still tight. Great potential, but not showing its best yet at age 10. VERY GOOD. MM. 10/99 It rocked liked Fat Boy Slim, I really liked parts of it, but the whole package wasn’t quite there.
1995 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage “La Chapelle”
Dark black/red color. Wildly exotic nose, almost smelling like Grenache, but showing huge amounts of white pepper. Bacon fat emerged with airing. Absolutely huge palate, with high levels of acid and great extraction of dark, almost stewed fruits. Very spicy, with a very long, sweet finish. VERY GOOD PLUS MM.10/99. If ever there was a wine that rocked like The Flaming Lips, this would have to be it.
Domaine du Grand Prieur Cotes du Rhone, 1998
Located within the Vacqueyras region of the Rhone Valley comes this well rounded and strait forward red. Medium-dark coloring with a slight grapey nose mixed with licorice, orange peel and cherry notes. I would like to try this wine in a year after it has had some time to relax, but currently it show lovely wild berry, anise and bitter chocolate. Good length and very enjoyable at $9 – CG
Tatachilla Winery Merlot, Australia, 1997
From what I read, this fruit comes from the area between Mclaren Vale and Adelade Hills. Fully extracted in color. Cool nose of sassafras tea (root-beer like), cola and menthol battling it out with a basket of blackberries. In the mouth, a nice balance of sweet berry and chocolate, slight tannin are no match for the amounts of fruit and full oak flavors. A winner. If I find one fault it’s the price, $30, Where do the think they are from the U.S.? 88/100 -CG
Tatachilla Grenache/Shriaz, Australia, 1998
Oh yea!, Full raspberry, peach, menthol and cherry extract in the nose. Sweet fruit, bitter chocolate on the palate. Obvious and fun. If I did a BEST VALUE category this would be a contender. $12. 85/100
KWV Pinotage 1998, South Africa
Dark in color with a complex nose of wet leather, roasted meat, red currant and tar with a hint of sulfur. Soft and full in the mouth with expansive fruit and a finish of plums and clove. Pretty good at $12. – CG