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by Tom Hill

A 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.

The Barney Box - December 23, 2007


So....over this Christmas week (12/23/07-12/27/07), we tasted from TheBarneyBox :

  1. Kistler Calif Chard DurellVnyd"SandHill" SonomaVlly (TW; #10398) 1990: Med.gold color; beautiful complex toasty/butterscotchy/pencilly slight melony/Chard bit dusty/minerally lovely nose; tart/lean lemony toasty/butterscotchy slight melony/Chard some dried out/bitter flavor; med.long pencilly/toasty tart/lean/lemony somewhat dried-out/bitter finish; a lovely/complex classic old Chard nose but doesn't quite deliver on the palate. Disappointing.
  2. BabcockVnyds JohannisbergRiesling EstateGrown/SantaYnezVlly (TA:1.00, pH: 2.95;
    11.5%; RS: 2.5%) 1987
    : Deep gold color; classic valve oil/gout de petrol/kerosene old Riesling complex nose; very tart/screechy/piney lean no petrol flavor; med.short screechy/piney slight minerally finish; lovely old Riesling nose but hurts on the palate.
  3. Babcock GWT DryBarrelFrmtd EG/SYV (13.0%) 1988: Dark gold slightly browning color; rather nutty/oxidized/tired no fruit nose; tart/bitter oxidized/nutty flavor;short oxidized/nutty finish; pretty much DOA and no redeeming qualities.
  4. Babcock SantaBarbaraCnty Riesling (10.5%) 1990: Med.dark gold color w/ slight broiwning; very attractive piney/valve oil/gout de petrol some complex/old Riesling nose; tart off-dry rather piney/minerally slight gout de petrol/valve oil flavor; med.long piney/minerally slight gout de petrol/old Riesling finish; attractive/gentle old Riesling saved by the RS.
  5. Babcock SantaBarbaraCnty GWT (12.5%) 1990: Ullaged 4" below the cork; med.gold slight browning color; some spicy/nutmeg slight piney some complex/interesting nose; rather nutty/oxidized dried-out/tired little GWT flavor; med. oxidized/nutty dried-out/tired/bitter finish; pleasant oldGWT nose but pretty shot on the palate.
  6. RosenblumCllrs LoneOakVnyd/RRV WhiteRiesling (10.5%; RS: 3%;NobleRot) 1989: Dark gold color w/some browning; lovely peachy/botrytis/apricotty some old German/Spatlese slight piney fairly perfumed/aromatic slight cedary complex nose; slightly sweet somewhat piney very slight peachy/botrytis very tart some dried out/oxidized flavor; med. very tart/acid bit dried out/oxidized/nutty off-dry somewhat piney slight botrytis finish; lovely complex oldGerman/ Spatlese nose but doesn't deliver the pleasure on the palate; much less then the bottle I opened a week before.
  7. Dr.Fischer OckfenerBockstein Riesling Spatlese (7.5%; QmP;A.P.Nr. 3 542 013-1-89; EA) 1988: Dark gold/browning color; rather oxidized/old/tired/ Riesling slight peachy/botrytis bit complex nose; very tart/acid/screechy rather dried out/tired/nutty/oxidized slight gout de petrol old Riesling flavor; short very screechy/acid rather nutty/oxidized/tired slight gout de petrol/complex finish; bit too far gone for much pleasure; not much old Riesling character and too oxidized.
  8. DomaineWeinbach GWT CuveeTheo AC: Vin d'Alsace (MeBalP; 12.5%) 1989:Med.gold color; light lychee/hair oil quite fragrant/spicy some pineapply/valve oil quite complex/lovely nose; soft/lush some bitter very light spicy/nutmeg some complex gentle flavor; med.long gentle light spicy/nutmeg slight lychee/GWT finish; a very attractive nose but doesn't deliver much on the palate; sorta sinking into the sunset w/o a whimper. Bit disappointing for a Weinbach.
  9. Carlisle RRV Zin (15.7%; VinesPlntd: 1934; + Carignane; 165 cs) 2003:Dark color; very spicy/peppery/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin light pencilly/toasty/oak intense classic RRV Zin beautiful nose; tart slightly alcoholic very intense blackberry/boysenberry/spicy/Zin classic peppery/RRV Zin light toasty/oak flavor; very long/lingering slightly tannic intense/spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin
    peppery/RRV Zin finish; still loads of peppery/RRV Zin fruit and some tannins to carry it for a few more yrs; reminds me a bit of JoeSwan's Zins back in the '70's (by crackey). Easily the best wine of TheBarneyBox.
  10. Ridge Calif Zin Alegria LatePicked (12% PS, 11% Alicante; 15.7%; 35 brls; SaH: 27.2%; RS: 0.16%) 1995: Dark color w/ slight browning; bit alcoholic/hot slight raspberry/Zin/ripe bit cedary/old Zin slightly tired some complex nose; soft bit alcoholic/hot bit tired/dried out very light raspberry/ripe flavor; med. somewhat alcoholic/hot cedary/pencilly/old Zin dusty/old vines bit tired/dried out finish; some interesting things therein but a bit on the tired side.
  11. JaconaVllyVnyds NewMexico PinotNoir (13.3%) 2004: Med.color; some PN/violets/floral some toasty/charred/Fr.oak bit earthy/hybridy/plastic nose; tart bit lean/hard very light/floral/violets/PN rather earthy/hybridy flavor; med.short bit tannic/hard/lean light floral/violets/PN rather toasty/ charred/oak finish; not developing very well, definitely PinotNoir but rather on the earthy/hybridy side.
  12. DavidBruce Estate PinotNoir SantaCruzMtn (13.0%) 1989: Med.light slightly browning color; very attractive/fragrant/complex quite cedary/pencilly old PN/old Burg some earthy/dusty nose; slight herbal/dusty/earthy very cedary/pencilly/ toasty fragrant/old Burg slightly dried-out flavor; long quite cedary/pencilly/oaky perfumed/old Burg bit dried out/tannic finish; good example of old DavidBruce PN and rather Burgundian in character; probably on its last legs but still a pleasure to drink.
  13. AlbanVnyds EdnaVlly Grenache AlbanEstate (15.3%) 2002: Very dark color; slightly reduced/sewer gas nose that clears to rather toasty/charred/Fr.oak/ pungent rather boysenberry/blackberry bit minerally nose that developes lovely strawberry/alpine strawberry/Grenache aromatics with air over time; tart bright blackberry/strawberry/Grenache pretty toasty/charred/oak/smokey/pungent bit minerally some hard/tannic flavor; very long boysenberry/blackberry some bright/strawberry/Grenache rather toasty/charred/oak fairly tannic finish; starting to show more Grenache/strawberry aromatics but still a young wine.
  14. EdmundsStJohn DurellVnyd/Sonoma Carneros Syrah (14.4%) 1997: Dark color w/ little browning;beautiful very spicy smokey/pungent/roasted/toasty rather Rhonish/peppery/licorice dusty/spicy slight herbal complex/Rhonish nose; tart bit lean/hard lovely roasted/Rhonish/ peppery/pungent licorice/blackberry/ Syrah quite spicy/complex flavor; very long/lingering Rhonish/pungent/peppery/ espresso/beef jerky some blackberry/Syrah/licorice/spicy bit tannic/dried out quite complex finish; a lovely complex EdStJ Syrah that's ready & rarin' to go.
  15. Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage LaGuiraude (12.5%) 1998: Very dark color; beautiful Rhonish/roasted/espresso/pungent charred/toasty complex very aromatic nose;rather tart/acidic beautiful classic roasted/Rhone/espresso/beef jerky/cracked pepper pungent classic NorthernRhone flavor; long bit tannic/hard classic Rhone/roasted/espresso slight dusty/earthy finish; lovely classic/
    NorthernRhone character but not much fruit left; probably will go another 5-8 yrs.
  16. JorgeOrdonez&Co Victoria Dd'O: Malaga Moscatel VinoNaturalmenteDulce (13%) 2005: Med.gold color; very fragrant/floral/muscatty/perfumed intense fruit/grapey nose;soft/rich quite sweet very floral/muscatty/clean grapey/lush flavor; very long floral/muscatty perfumed/aromatic very sweet bright/zippy finish; very attractive/fragrant dessert wine much like a very young Moscatel de Setubal.
  17. Ramsay NapaVlly Port (17%) 1991: Med.dark slight browning color;somewhat raw/alcoholic very grapey/licorice some old Port/complex nose; fairly sweet rather grapey/chocolaty/licorice somewhat alcoholic/hot bit tannic flavor; med.long hot/alcoholic/fumey some grapey/chocolaty finish w/ some tannins; bit hot/alcoholic and not developing much; not going gently into the night like an old Port should do; maybe better down the road but a gamble.
  18. ChateauSuduiraut AC: Sauternes (MeBaC; 14%) 1983: Dark gold color w/slight browning; some nutty/oxidized/aged Sauternes rather tired slight botrytis/peachy nose;tart/bitter rather oxidized/nutty slight peachy/botrytis/old Sauternes flavor; med.long oxidized/nutty tired/bitter some complex/old Sauternes finish; a disaster w/ the dessert; not much sweetness remaining; far/far better as an Old Sauternes three days later at home.

    And from TheBarneyBox, but tried upon return to LosAlamos (sorry, Barney..we wern't drinking fast enough...shoulda started when the kids got up):

    1. BottFreres AC: Alsace GWT ReservePersonnelle (12.8%) 1989: Med.dark gold color; beautiful/intense very spicy/oldGWT/nutmeg/cinammon complex oldGWT nose;soft/lush totally dry slightly bitter very lush/very spicy/GWT/nutmeg elegant/complex flavor; very long/lingering lush/smooth slightly bitter quite spicy/oldGWT/nutmeg finish; lost all of that cheap hair oil/lychee character and about as lovely example of old GWT as I've had;this is how they used to make GWT afore the Z-H phenomonen ruined Alsace GWT.
    2. Weinlaubenhof Kracher TBA (12.0%) NV: Med.gold color; strong/intense botrytis/peachy/apricotty lush fruit bit simple nose; very sweet tart/zippy/vibrant very strong botrytis/peachy/apricotty flavor; long very sweet/lush/ripe very apricotty/peachy/botrytis finish; loads of botrytis w/good acid and balance but a bit on the simple side. Pricey at $23.00/187 ml, screwcapped but a
    very cute btl.
    Things in TheBarneyBox that didn't get opened:
    ~ Penfolds EdenVlly Reserve Riesling (12.5%) 1999
    ~ BrunoVerdi Sangue di Giuda Paradiso DOC: OltrepoPavese (7%) 2005
    ~ Deinhard WehlenerSonnenuhr Riesling BA (EA; Hauth-Kerpen Erben; 9%;
    A.P.Nr. 2 576 466 006 77) 1976
    ~ Santino AmadorCnty Zin White LateHrvst (8.4%; SaH: 42.0 Brix, TA: 1.6,pH: 2.8;RS: 26.3%) 1988
    ~ Santino SonomaCnty Riesling DryBerrySelectHrvst (9.5%;TotallyBotrytisAffected;
    SaH: 45.0 Brix; TA: 1.10, pH: 3.2; RS: 22.1%) 1986
    ~ Ridge Calif Zin LateHrvst LyttonSpringsEstateVnyd/DryCreekVlly/SonomaCnty (16.0%;13 brls; SaH: 36.0%; RS: 8.0%) 1992
    ~ The FirestoneVnyd JohannisbergRiesling SantaYnezVlly TheAmbassador'sVnyd
    SelectedHrvst (SaH: 44 Brix; RS: 23.5%; 9.0%) 1981

And the usual babblings from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Susan & I were invited by a friend of hers to join them at a family get-together over Christmas at Breckenridge. It was a great (but cold) escape, with kids galore and the pandemonium that goes along with that. One of the big highlights of the trip was getting to have some kid-time, something I get entirely too little of. The kids & I had great fun playing KerPlunk, GuessWho, and discussing the impact of the Higgs boson on the decline of Western Civilization. One of the family, Barney Malin, I had known to have an interest in wine. I had seen his name here & there on wine boards but had not put two & two together that they were one in the same. Turns out Barney had followed me from the very start. So I thought it might be neat to put together a selection of wines from my archives that might interest
him....TheBarneyBox. It turned out to be a very fun project and, as I rummaged through my collection, kept stumbling across things I'd liked to try with Barney. Finally had to call a halt when I reached 28 btls.

Each night a different couple did the dinner. Barney's quite a BarBQue guy and his slow-smoked pulled pork was terrific. Susan's braised short-ribs were good/hearty fare that really hit the spot. My corney polenta torta coulda been used to pave the driveway. The plain ole vanilla ice cream, garnished w/ candied Buddha's Hand peel was very good, but I failed in the dessert wine accompaniment, the Suduiraut being a bit too gone. But a fun time was had by all.....I think.
2. Babcock: When BrianBabcock started making wines, probably his most burning passion was to make great Alsatian-style wines, Riesling & GWT, in Calif. And I thought he was pretty successful at it. This was, of course, afore the Z-H winemaking style (huge fruit, residual sugar, high alcohol) became dominant and destroyed the traditional Alsatian wine market. Alas, Brian's passion soon foundered on the shoals of commercial reality, the wines didn't sell very well, and the brutality of the marketplace beat any such ideas from his head. I had tried several of Brian's Rieslings and GWTs at 10 yrs of age and was pretty impressed on how they'd evolved, finding a lot of Alsatian character in them. So when I stumbled across this set, I was pretty excited to see how they were doing at near 20 yrs of age. Alas, they were all four pretty shakey. The noses were rather interesting, but they were a bit too oxidized on the palate and didn't deliver the pleasure I had hoped for. So sad.
3. Old Whites: Sometimes old white wines can be quite a revelation. Most of these we tried were a bit on the disappointing side. Intellectual experiences rather than sensual pleasures. The noses were often very good/complex and pretty much what I expected, but they just sorta tiptoed across the palate or were actively unattractive on the palate. A couple of them were actually much better when I got them home, after they'd frozen solid out on the deck at Breckenridge.

Some of these were actively bitter on the palate and I shoulda realized that they really should have been served at room temperature and they'd taste much better. The Suduiraut was very unattractive w/ the dessert, but when I got it home and had it at room temperature, it tasted mighty fine and was exactly what you'd want in an old Sauternes...not a dessert wine but a very good apertif wine.
4. EdStJohn Durell: Barney had heard a lot about Steve & his wines, but had never had a chance to try them. My intention was to remedy that oversight. I thought this Syrah was just about perfect for a mature EdStJ Syrah and a great example of where Steve's wines can go. I think this was the last Durell Steve made.
5. Malaga: This was a cooperative effort between importer JorgeOrdanez and AloisKracher. Not sure what expertise Kracher can offer up on making Malaga, other then give the wine a certain cachet. Of the Malagas I've had before, they've probably been dominated by PX, rather than Moscatel; a bit more towards the CreamSherry part of the spectrum. Although a bit on the pricey side at $45/hlf, I really liked this wine and thought it quite light on its feet.
6. On the drive from SantaFe up to Breckenridge, I sighted, off in the distance, as we passed thru the tiny town of Antonito, CO, a rather strange looking steepled church. On the drive back Friday, under spectacular bright-blue skies as we get in the high desert, we stopped in Antonito for a closer look. One of the most bizarre structures you'll ever want to see. Standing about 60' high is this "church" constructed of stonework, flattened beer cans, car mufflers, pure titanium sheets, and hubcaps. Definitely worth the stop if you're in Antonito. Take a look see at:
And whilst you're in the neighborhood, don't forget the aligator farm (raised in the hot springs there to take care of the fish parts left over from the tilapia farm that's part of the operation) and the UFO Visitor'sCentre. Weird America at its best....and I know weird!!


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