self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico
and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National
Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale
code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates
locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area,
and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals,
such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and
ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport
fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing,
backpacking, mountain climbing.
Bruce Cass Dinner - April 24, 2000
Cass (North America editor for the Oxford Encyclopedia of
Wine w/ Jancis Robinson) was here to look at NewMexico wines
so had him for dinner (as a guest... not the main course;
he's still alive & well!!) a few weekends ago. Brief
notes on the wines:
Bellinis w/ Zardetto Prosecco Brut: Too weird for words.
The Rhubarb puree did not mix well to make the Bellini and
the rhubarb taste in a wine was rather strange. Will not
revisit this concoction.
Trarbacher Taubenhaus Riesling Auslese '92: Med.light
gold color; beautiful Mosel/petrol/valve oil fragrant Riesling
complex nose; bright lovely Mosel/valve oil/petrol slatey
floral/Riesling flavor; very long petrol/Mosel valve oil
finish; a beautiful classic Mosel Auslese.
HoffmanVineyards San Luis Obispo Edna Valley Vineyards Late
Harvest Johannisberg Riesling '79: Deep gold color;
beautiful/complex buttery/earthy/pineapply/pencilly botrytis/peachy
old Rheingau-like nose; sweet/rich/lush buttery/complex/old
Rheingau/pencilly fat flavor; very long/lingering old Rheingau/complex/earthy/pineapply/peachy
finish that goes on and on; very much like a 20 yr old Rheingau.
Vineyards Estate Roussanne '97: Light yellow/gold color;
rather tight/earthy light Fr.oaked floral/honeysuckle/spicy
nose; tart/tight/lean rich honeusuckle/ almondy complex
flavor; med.long tart honeysuckle/floral finish; a bit tight
& hard but wonderful aromatics.
Doon Le Sophiste (81.25% Roussanne, 18.75% Marsanne) '90:
Med.gold color; attractive perfumed talc/spicy some pencilly/oak
low fruit/floral nose; soft/ diffuse spicy/floral some pencilly/oaked
flavor; med.short floral/pencilly finish; rather low-key/diffuse
pleasant aged white; hanging on but not going anywhere.
Vineyards Orange County Virginia Syrah '98: Dark color;
beautiful smokey/pungent/ roasted some blackberry/Syrah
nose; big/rich hard lovely roasted/smokey/toasty/ pungent
light blackberry/licorice/Syrah flavor; med.long pungent/smokey/toasty/
roasted some blackberry/tarry/licorice finish w/ some tannins;
needs several yrs.
Napa Valley Charbono '82: Very dark color w/ little
browning; strong earthy/ dusty/licorice/plummy/smokey rather
strong oaked fairly complex nose; soft rather tannic/hard
plummy/licorice/earthy/dusty some pencilly/cedary/oaked
flavor; med.long bit hard/tannic plummy/licorice/earthy/mushroomy
finish; still in great shape; much like an older PetiteSirah.
Dry Creek Valley Barbera '85: Med.dark color; rather
stronf spicy/Barbera/ pungent some pencilly/oaked bit cherry/fruit
nose; tart very spicy/Barbera/earthy complex black cherry/cherry
dusty some pencilly/oaked flavor; med.long tart bit hard/tannic
very spicy/Barbera rather pencilly/oaked finish; drying
out a bit & somewhat tannic, but holding up well.
Pepi Colline di Sassi Napa Valley Sangiovese Grosso '89:
Med.dark some browning color; very strong pencilly/toasty/oaked
light cherry/Sangiovese nose; tart/thin/lean strong pencilly/toasty/oaked
low cherry/fruit flavor; med.long rather hard/tannic very
toasty/pencilly/oaked finish; too much oak & little
fruit left; dried out & dying.
Dry Creek Valley Muscat Brulee '87: Dark gold/bronze
color; beautiful/complex caramel/brulee/coconutty fragrant/Muscatty
nose; very sweet toasty/coconutey/ caramel/brulee some Muscatty/floral/butterscotchy
flavor; very long lush/sweet coconutty/caramel/brulee some
Muscatty/hair oil finish; a wonderful complex dessert wine
that should go on and on. Some like Rhone Vin de Paille
or old Georgian (Russia) Muscats.
Doon Vin de Glaciere Gewurztraminer '87: Dark gold color;
rather grapey/floral/ some GWT/hair oil bit simple nose;
very sweet soft/flat very intense grapey some GWT/floral
flavor; very long soft/flat very intense grapey finish;
lots of very intense grapey simple character & little
de Cristo New Mexico Ponderosa Vineyard Villard Blanc (18%)
Ratafia '83: Dark gold color; strong alcoholic smokey/French
cognac/Scotch-like some grapey complex nose; off-dry strong
smokey/Cognac/alcoholic/toasty/pungent grapey/complex flavor;
fairly long grapey strong pungent/smokey/charred/Cognac
bit hot/alcoholic complex finish; very interesting apertif
Shendoah Vineyards Calif Old Cream Muscat NV: Dark gold
color; very strong toasted coconut/oaked intense floral/Muscat/brulee/caramel
slight oxidized nose; sweet strong toasted coconut/oaked/smokey
intense Muscatty/caramel/brulee rather complex flavor; very
long toasted coconut/oaked/pungent/brulee/complex finish
w/ slight oxidation. Terrific dessert wine for its genre.
ye-olde bloody pulpit:
The HMR Riesling was very much a surprise to both Bruce
& I. It had developed into a dead-ringer for a 20 yr
old German/Rheingau Auslese; a wonderful/complex old Riesling.
Calif should be making lots more of these wines.
BonnyDoon LeSophiste: This wine is, from most recent information,
mostly Viognier and not Roussanne. It was like most of the
older Viogniers I've had; interesting old white wine but
not a lot of complexity has developed.
This is the second time I've had the Horton '98. Probably
the most Cote-Rotie like Syrah I've yet had from the USofA.
The Inglenook Charbono was another big surprise. Still going
strong and not going to die very soon. Bruce was really
impressed w/ it; I merely thought it rather interesting/good/old
red wine. Bit too clunky & clumsy for me.
The Preston Barbera was another surprise. This was made
back when Preston was making some very good wine. Calif
Barbera seems to age very very well and this one was no
exception. Too bad the recent Preston wines are up to this
The ratafia was made by Richard Jones in Sapello,NM; a semi-amateur
winemaker that used to write with his (then) wife Shirley
Jones the Southwest Food & Wine Review. Ratafia is made
like Angelica or Quady's Elysium and Essencia; take fresh
grape juice and hit w/ alcohol to the 18%-21% level so it
doesn't ferment. Richard het this Villard juice w/ some
decent French Cognac before aging it. Shirley was here for
this dinner so thought it was a good time to try the thing.
I was expecting really bad things from this stuff. I found
it very interesting and pretty good apertif wine, not really
a dessert wine. Calif Angelica is reknowned for being able
to age 100+ yrs. I see no reason that this one wouldn't
do as well... just that I might not have been around to
Lee Sobon has quite an interest in dessert wines. This wine
was made from very old Muscat vines on the Eschen and (I
recall) the Deaver Vineyard. Aged in small old oak barrels
for a fair number of yrs. This would have been from grapes
in the late '70's and early '80's and released in the late
'80's. A beautiful example of old Calif Sherry.
I first met Bruce Cass back around '75 when he was holding
a case of Ridge Zins for me at his home. We both. of course,
look exactly like we did back then. I then ran into him
again about 2 yrs ago at Hospices du Rhone but we didn't
have much chance to visit then. It was great to get together
over (adequate) food and good wines to share thoughts and
reminiscences and recall long-ago friends & wine personna.
THAT'S what wine is all about, not about getting the latest
Colgin or Screagle. End of sermon.
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