Mixed Bag o' Wines
Tasting of various wines - June12, 1999. Results from a tasting at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. With no particular theme, other than California, twenty-one wines were poured for a tasting fee of $20.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'97 Claiborne & Churchill Gewurtztraminer, Cuvee Fredericka
- Central Coast. $12.99. Lightly floral and spicy scents. Spicy dry
mouthfeel, somewhat hot back palate, and tangy finish.
'98 Terre Rouge Enigma - Sierra Foothills. $13.99. Meat,
vinyl, and flowers in the nose. Sweet chewy mouthfeel, with a dry smooth
but quick and pungent finish. 56% Marsanne, 26% Viognier, 18% Roussane.
'98 Ojai Viognier - Stolpman Vnyd, CA. $18.99. Nose of clover,
spice and citrus. Citrusy and clean mouthfeel, slightly crisp, but also
richly smooth. Light and sweet on the palate, without all that oily viscosity
often found in some of today's renderings. Bit of a sour quality noted
'96 Cardinale Royale - Alexander (58%) & Napa (35%) Valleys,
Lake County (7%). $9.99. Oaky, meaty and grassy nose. Very bland and
oaky flavors. So, where's the fruit? Interesting story here: apparently
this was to be the Kendall Jackson's "White Cardinale." Introduced at
the winery and was priced accordingly ($30 ), most of the patrons seemed
to like it - but not at $30. So, KJ basically bulked the whole thing out
to Wine Exchange. I can say this for it: it's white, and it's wet.
'97 Random Ridge Chardonnay, Cloudbreak - Carneros. $12.99.
Whew! Hot on the heels of a wine that was nearly devoid of flavor, comes
a wine that would be better off without any flavor of its own. Nose of
BO, with sweaty and fecal notes rounding out the stinky aromas. Sour fruit,
with a sweaty fecal quality to the taste as well. This wine will undoubtedly
hold its own with other wines that smell like "cat pee." A second bottle
was opened just to see if this was a fluke. Nope, the whole lot seems
to have gone south. I mean, no one could have intentionally made
'97 Gainey Chardonnay, Limited Selection - Santa Barbara County.
$21.99. Dry grassy nose. Slightly buttery and citrusy mouthfeel, but
also a bit thin and watery. A touch sour through medium finish. Kind of
'97 Mi Sueno Chardonnay - Carneros. $29.99. Overly sweet, minty,
and pasty (as in glue) smelling. Slightly sweet mouthfeel, and nice fruit.
flavors of grass, oak, and spearmint. Real pricey.
'98 Ojai Vin Gris - California. $10.99. Fruity and slightly tangy
nose. Lightly fruity mouthfeel, toasty, smooth and tasty finish, if a
bit of a lightwight.
'96 L'Escrime Sangiovese - Napa Valley. $14.99. Major fruit in
the nose of dried cherries, cinnamon, and sweet smoke. Sweet mouthfeel,
and a bit dry and oaky through mid and latter palate.
'97 Dalla Valle Sangiovese, Pietre Rosse - Napa Valley, $24.99.
Complex nose of anise, smoke, and burnished cherry aromas. Dry and oaky
black cherry fruit, with a nice spicy taste. a bit hot at long finish.
'97 Rundquist Barbera - Nostro Vino Vnyd, Amador County. $17.99.
Very burnished and ripe nose of cherry, chocolate, anise, leaf and smoke.
Big, rich and beefy, this wine has a lightly coarse mouthfeel with mouthclinging
flavors and tannins. Tastes nearly late harvest or porty in style, and
the 15.2% alcohol confirms it.
'97 Brophy Clark Pinot Noir - Santa Maria Valley. $17.99. Very
fragrant nose of ripe strawberries, cinnamon and cola. Full mouthfeel,
fleshy fruit. Very nice effort.
'97 Ojai Pinot Noir - Bien Nacido Vnyd, Santa Barbara County. $23.99.
Nose of black cherry, cinnamon and cola. Tasty and fleshy mouthfeel.
'97 Fife Carignane, Redhead - Redwood Valley, Mendocino County.
$14.99. Deep boysenberry and shoe polishy nose. Heavy mouthfeel of
blackberry and anise. Dry and slightly hot right now, this should smooth
out in a few years.
'97 St. Francis Zinfandel, Old Vines - Sonoma County. $16.99.
Beautiful nose of smoky BBQ and red/black fruits. Rich and smoky mouthfeel,
with a real nice chew to it. Bit of heat noted on its long finish. 16.1%
'96 Joel Gott Zinfandel - Dillon Ranch, Amador County. $16.99.
Concentrated nose of ripe fruit, smoke and anise. Light-medium body although
deep extraction. A bit thin at finish. I can see the ad campaign now:
"Got Zinfandel?" 14.5% alcohol.
'97 Rutherford Grove Petite Sirah - Spring Creek Vnyd, Napa Valley.
$17.99. Heavy black cherry and blackberry nose. Backward , and though
it posseses obvious fruit, it seems a bit narrow and possibly thin.
'97 Savannah Merlot - Napa Valley. $18.99. Big black cherry nose.
Stemmy and fleshy mouthfeel, obvious oak and tannins, with a slight metallic
taste at finish. Apparently, this is the first and the last of this label/name,
due to something of a copyright infringement problem.
'97 Del Dotto Cabernet Franc - Napa Valley. $35.99. Ripe nose
of floral, cassis and anise - make that plenty of anise! Fleshy mouthfeel,
chewy, but fruit quite shy at the moment.
'96 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $39.99. Fabulous
nose of cassis, vanilla, anise. Fleshy mouthfeel, smooth tannins and soft
'96 Judd's Hill Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $32.99. Somewhat
herbal and leafy nose. Leafy taste, with a tannic and oaky bite and some
sourness showing up at finish. All the right stuff is there, so i suspect
this will show better with some bottle age.
Overall impressions: with such a mixed bag of wines, it's a little
tough to to make many varietal comparisons. However, there were a few
opportunities, since many of the wines were paired-up, so to speak. There
weren't a lot of surprises here, other than I liked the Brophy Clark
Pinot better than the always dependable Ojai Bien Nacido effort
for this vintage. The St. Francis Old Vine Zin was also very nice.
I expected the Del Dotto Cab Franc to knock my socks off, but it
seemed a little atypical of the varietal and was largely a restrained
effort. The KJ Cardinale Royale was long on nose, but very short
on flavor. And the Random Ridge Chard...well, this was just faulty
wine. According to WineEx, this tasted a lot better when they sampled
it. I should hope so.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'96 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $39.99.
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