Big Scorers -
Results from a "93+" tasting - Saturday, May 20, 2000, held at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty wines were poured for a tasting fee of $45. Now here was a tasting to warm your heart -- everything being poured had a rating of at least 93 points from either Parker or the Wine Spectator. Finally, here was a chance to 2nd guess the big guys. Or, in other words, "Oh yeah? Well, I'll be the judge of that!" (I've included the Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator scores that were cited in the handout, along with how my alpha rating might compare numerically.)
The wines, in the order tasted:
1997 Baumard Savennieres Trie Speciale - Loire Valley. $25.99.
Pale yellow color. Floral nose, that is crisp, appley, and grassy.
Sweet grassy mouthfeel, floral, toasty and grassy taste, big and chewy
consistency, full toasty finish. Excellent balance, with nearly perfect
acidity, fruit and texture. Chenin Blanc-based. This is a beautifully
made wine, and it's a bargain. You'll never want to look at a chardonnay
again. (a Wine Advocate 94 -- about 92 in my book.)
1997 Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Reserve - California. $31.99.
Medium-pale yellow color. Very toasty nose of grass, hay, clover, and
roasted grains. Full, buttery mouthfeel, very nice balance, good acids,
smooth, long and fruity finish. A Turley-influenced wine. Very seductive,
without being overblown. (a Wine Spectator 93 -- about 91 in my book.)
1997 Schoffit Riesling Rangen Clos St. Theobald #10 - Alsace.
$39.99. Light-medium yellow-butterscotch color. Fabulous spiced applesaucy
fruit in the nose, with hints of nuts, cheese, and grains. Slight residual
sugar quality to the fruit, with a tasty smooth mouthfeel, and integrated
flavors. Long, slightly sweet, beautifully balanced finish. Botrytis influenced
fruit, but fermented dry. (a Wine Advocate 95 -- about 93 in my book.)
1997 Vietti Barbera d'Alba Scarrone Vigna Vecchia - Piedmont.
$49.99. Dark ruby garnet color. Whoa! Nose of big buttery fruit, sweet
wood, smoke, shoe polish, cheese, meat and anise. Dry, off-sweet mouthfeel,
very integrated tannins and acids, Slightly butter and stemmy aftertaste
on very long finish. Now, this is Barbera! (a Wine Spectator 95
-- and I completely agree.)
1997 Castello dei Rampolla Vigna d'Alceo - Tuscany. $84.99.
Very dark ruby garnet color. Dense smoky nose of cheese and meats, black
cherry, and shoe polish. Huge mouthfeel, smoky and toasty cassis at front
and mid palate, soft fruity aftertaste, with a long and toasty finish.
100% Cab Sauv. Super-Tuscan, super-Tuscan priced, too. (a Wine Spectator
97 -- about 93 in my book.)
1997 Lamborghini Campoleone - Umbria. $n/a. Very, very
dark purple ruby color. Dense sweet nose of smoky anise, black cherry,
and assorted cheeses. Big and slightly chalky mouthfeel, smoky cherry
and black cherry fruit, and slightly grainy tannins. Amazingly long, slightly
chalky and softly tannic finish. What a mouth coater! 1/3 each Sangiovese,
Cab, and Merlot. Given the texture and consistency of this wine, it was
difficult to believe this wasn't predominately Cab. (a Wine Advocate 97
-- about 96-97 in my book.)
1995 Artadi Rioja Reserva Pagos Viejos - Spain. $44.99.
Very dark ruby purple color. Nose of cranberry, raspberry, blueberry,
shoe polish and a hint of stemminess. Slightly off-sweet fruit, excellent
balance of integrated acids and fruit. Long, toasty and tannic finish.
This wine was more about finesse and balance, rather than an assault on
the palate. (a Wine Advocate 96 -- about 92 in my book.)
1991 Muga Rioja Gran Reserva Prado Enea - Spain. $n/a.
Light-medium garnet ruby color. Initially sweaty quality (bottle stink)
blows off quickly to reveal a smoky and burnished fruit nose. Toasty fruit
in the mouthfeel, with a medium-long smooth, yet chalky tannic finish.
The lighter color is no doubt due to the 7 yrs in barrel required for
Gran Reserva designation. Everthing seemed to be there in this
wine, but the mouthfeel and aftertaste just seemed sort of ho-hum. (a
Wine Advocate 94 -- about 89-90 in my book, and I didn't deduct points
for the initial nose.)
1995 Ch. Calon Segur - St. Estephe. $69.99. Medium garnet ruby
color. Smoky cassis, with vanilla and butterscotch, and smoked Gouda nose.
Off-sweet, toasty cassis taste, with slightly charred/smoky mouthfeel
and finish. Could be more air time was necessary here, but the wine just
didn't seem to show any outstanding qualities. (a Wine Spectator 96 --
about 89-90 in my book.)
1997 Peter Michael Les Pavots - Knights Valley. $84.99. Very dark
purple ruby color. Dense and lush nose of cassis, toast, vanilla, blue
cheese and anise. Big and very toasty off-sweet mouthfeel, substantial
cassis fruit. Very long and very toasty finish, with a sweet toasty aftertaste.
Great nose, fabulous texture, finish and taste. (a Wine Advocate 94-96
-- about 95 in my book.)
1995 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve - Napa
Valley. $59.99. Dark purple ruby color. Slightly sharp nose of cassis,
black cherry, toast and shoe polish. Sweet cassis fruit, moderate smooth
tannins, toasty long finish, with a bit of cranberry showing up in the
aftertaste. It could be because it followed the Peter Michael, or it could
be because this icon isn't up to it's old standards. Whichever the case,
this was not one of the better Beringer PRs I've had. (a Wine Advocate
94 -- about 91 in my book.)
1998 Warrenmang Estate Shiraz - Victoria. $54.99. Black purple
ruby color. Very dense nose of black cherry, anise, floral notes, shoe
polish, and ink. Slightly sweet black cherry/raspberry fruit, vanilla,
and a trace of mint. Very long toasty finish. What a bottle of wine! Incredible
stuff. (a Wine Advocate 94+ -- about 96 in my book.)
1998 Branson Shiraz Coach House - Barossa Valley. $49.99.
Very black purple color -- looks like a black hole. Dense, very ripe and
sweet nose of fruit and toast. Huge concentrated mouthfeel of semi-sweet
fruit, and toast. Probably extraction champ of the year -- you're gonna
need a spoon for this one. (a Wine Advocate 97 -- about 93 in my book.)
1997 Veritas Shiraz - Hanisch Vineyard, Barossa Valley.
$49.99. Black purple garnet color. Very, very ripe nose of sweet toasty
fruit and anise. Fruit-filled mouthfeel, sweet and toasty, with a long
smooth finish. Had nicer fruit than the Branson, but had a more Port-like
nose. (a Wine Advocate 97 -- about 93 in my book.)
1997 Greenock Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Barossa Valley. $49.99.
Dark garnet ruby color. Nose of smoky cassis, black cherry, anise, toast,
with traces of vanilla and mint. Slightly sweet-sour nearly overwhelming
black cherry fruit, big full mouthfeel, with a very long tasty and toasty
finish. How'd they get all that fruit into this bottle? What a beaut!
(a Wine Advocate 98 -- about 95-96 in my book.)
1997 Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg Premiere Trie - Loire
Valley. $47.99. Pale medium yellow color. Sweet pear/apple fruit
and vanilla. Lots of pear fruit with hints of vanilla and nuts. Impeccable
balance, and very long fruit-filled finish. Fabulous. I'm sorry, why was
it that I don't drink more white wine? Very, very nice. (a Wine Advocate
95 -- about 93 in my book.)
1997 Wegler Riesling Auslese Wehlener Sonnenuhr - Mosel. $35.99.
Very pale yellow color. Nice floral, fruity late-harvest nose. Smooth,
smooth, smooth on the palate, with a slight caramelized quality to the
apple/pear-like fruit. Long finish. (a Wine Spectator 96 -- about 94 in
NV Hardy's Tawny Port Whiskers Blake - Australia. $9.99.
Light butterscotch color. nose of butterscotch, and toast, with just a
hint of rum. Toasty butterscotch mouthfeel, with a smooth and candied
finish. (a Wine Spectator 94 -- about 91 in my book.)
NV Chambers Special Muscat - Rutherglen, Australia. $38.99.
(375ml). Medium dark butterscotch color. Nose of slightly Porty butterscotch,
with walnut and toast aromas. Smooth and complex mouthfeel, with flavors
of butterscotch, toast, and walnuts. Long, smooth tasty finish. (a Wine
Advocate 96 -- about 95 in my book.)
1997 Niepoort Port - Portugal. $n/a.. Very dark ruby color.
Lots of black cherry and toast in the nose. Thick mouthfeel of toasty
black cherry fruit, with soft, yet slightly chalky tannins, and a long
smooth finish. (a Wine Spectator 98 -- about 91 in my book.)
Overall impressions: if someone had told me that I'd have a couple of whites rated higher than some major league reds, or that I'd have a few Italians ranked quite high in the pack, I'd have called them crazy! Well, as it turns out, they'd have been right. Go figure!
To start with, the Lamborghini was indeed something to behold. IMO, a perfect nose, and nearly perfect taste/mouthfeel. The word is that this wine saw distribution of about 10 cases for the Western US, at maybe $85/bottle. If you find it -- don't ask any questions, just buy it! My next favorite The Warrenmang was killer! Even given the current crop of fabulous Aussie Shirazes, this one is stunning! And, hot on its heels, is a "don't miss" Aussie Cab -- the Greenock Creek. In two words -- hubba, hubba!
Continuing with winners, and with a few surprises, the Vietti Barbera was fabulous, and the Huet Vouvray was incredible. I've tried more than a few humble Barberas and Vouvrays, but these were stunning. Rounding out my top favorites were the Peter Michael (no surprise), the Branson Shiraz (excellent), and two incredible dessert wines -- the Wegler Auslese (wow), and the Chambers Muscat (soooo smooth).
Among the disappointments was the Calon Segur. I'm afraid it was
just way overmatched in this flight, as, unfortunately, Bordeaux often
is. It seems to end up being an apples-and-oranges comparison, and this
time the Calon suffered big time. Plus, I think somebody way overrated
this wine in the first place, or we had an "off" bottle. I felt the Muga
got outclassed as well, being more aged and sparse in fruit, compared
to the rest of the flight.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
1997 Lamborghini Campoleone - Umbria. $n/a.
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