Wine From the Cellar

The following are reviews of wines from my cellar or another cellar with similar impeccable storage conditions (55°F). In some cases, only a score and description are provided.

2004 Kistler Pinot Noir, cuvee Catherine, Occidental Station Vineyard, 91 pts: Red fruit flavors and aromas dominate. Strongly structural, but too astringent and lacking concentration, this wine needs 2 or 3 more years for the tannins to soften. If the fruit holds up, it will improve. Tasted 7/9/11.

2006 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 95+ pts: One is greeted with an opaque, purple, red color and enticing Cab nose leading to a rich mouth-feel with layered flavors and a long, complex finish. Delicious and easy drinking now, this wine should gain complexity with age and last 15 or more years. Tasted 6/19/11.

1996 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 94 pts: Deep red color with potential complexity that has yet to develop. Its holding back and needs another 5 years to reach its potential. Decanted 30 minutes before tasting. 8/6/10.

2000 Kistler Pinot Noir, Kistler Vineyard, Cuvee Catherine, Sonoma Valley, 92 pts: Deep red color with no signs of browning; mature pinot noir with excellent fruit concentration and medium long finish. This wine was stored at 55°F since it was purchased from the winery and that’s why this 10 year old pinot is still alive and kicking. That said, this wine has reached its peak and should be consumed within the next one or two years. Tasted 7/30/10.

2001 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon, Eisele Vineyard, Napa Valley, 97pts: Smooth, rich, layered flavors, no signs of age, concentrated fruit, long finish, mellow, blackberries. Years to go. Try again in 5 years. Outstanding example from the outstanding 2001 vintage. Decanted approximately 30 minutes before tasting. Tasted 6/4/10.

1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 99 pts: Liquid red velvet! Gorgeous red color with light earthy Bordeaux nose. Mouth-coating richness with subtle complexity. Smooth, smooth, smooth from the beginning through the finish. Very soft sumptuous tannins. This wine is still a baby at 13 years and will need at least 10 years to reach its maximum potential. That said, it’s delicious now! Tasted 6/19/09.

1995 Chateau Bachelet, Charmes Chambertin, Grand Cru Red Burgundy, 94 pts: Enticing deep red color with no signs of browning; big, complex earthy, barnyard nose; moderately concentrated red berry fruit in the mouth; long, delicious finish. This beautiful 14 year old Burgundy is at its peak and should be consumed soon. Tasted 5/30/09.

1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia, Napa Valley, 98 pts: This super delicious wine exhibits a dense, opaque dark red color that lures one into the glass. It possesses great concentration of flavors that are multi-layered, and a long, lingering, delectable finish. The wine is extraordinarily smooth and easy to drink, yet has a very strong backbone of soft tannins making it a long-term ager. This 12 year old beauty shows no signs of age, and, although very drinkable now, it should easily last for 10-20 more years with proper storage. The Insignia further confirms the quality of the outstanding 1997 California red vintage, which along with 1991 and 1994, is the best of the decade. Tasted 1/31/09.

1997 Rochioli Pinot Noir, West Block, 98 pts: Deep, dark red with no signs of age, rich, multi-layered flavors, complex through the long finish. This 11 year old Pinot is amazing and still going strong. Why wait? It won’t get any better than it is now, and 11 years is pushing it for Pinot Noir. Tasted 1/19/09.

1990 Chateau Montrose, 98 pts: Gorgeous red color with no signs of age, needs many more years to reach its peak, wait at least until 2014 before trying again. A big, robust wine, the outstanding potential is evident in every sip. Decant several hours before serving. Tasted 1/19/09.

1988 Chateau D’Yquem, 97 pts: Apricots, apricots, apricots with beautiful balance, multi-layered complexity and a long finish. Tasted 1/19/09.

1991 Ridge Monte Bello, 99 pts: Stinky nose initially that blew away; 18 years old and at its peak. Drink now! Beautiful red color with slight signs of age (tired red). Smooth, layered complexity. 1991 was a great year for California Cab and this is one of the best from that vintage. Ready to drink. It won’t get better. Tasted 1/19/09.

1990 Chateau Margaux, 99 pts: Very youthful with a deep red color. Smooth, elegant, multi-layer flavors. Beautiful juice with years with 20+ years to go. Layered, complex finish. Opened and changed with time in the glass over the course of two hours. Suggest opening and decanting 5 hours before consumption.Wonderful. Tasted 9/6/08.

1990 Leroy, Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru Red Burgundy, 100 pts: A stunning wine from a stunning vintage, this 18 year old Burgundy shows no signs of age and appears to be immortal! The nose has an enticing complex mustiness, and the deep red color seduces you to take the first sip. It is quite youthful and very rich for a Burgundy, exhibiting multi-layers of red fruit and complexity in the mouth and in the finish. In a blind tasting, this wine could be labeled a Cabernet. When the wine was removed from the cellar it oozed red from the capsule as the wine expanded from the change in temperature. This is a testament to the high fill characteristic of Leroy wines! The wine was decanted about 2 hours before consumption. It has been stored at 55F since purchase. How long will this beauty last? Five, ten, twenty more years? Unbelievable! Tasted 9/6/08. See my tasting notes below from 2000.

1990 Chateau La Consteillante, Pomerol, 95 pts: Dark red with no signs of browning. Very smooth with a fluid, long finish. Easy to drink with great concentration of fruit. Should last 5+ years with proper cellaring, but drink now. Tasted 9/6/08.

1995 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris, Clos Jebsal, SGN, Alsace, 94 pts: Carmel color and sweet, sweet, sweet! The high acid balances the intense sweetness. Delicious apricot and other enticing fruit flavors. An awesome alternative to Sauternes. Tasted 9/6/08.

1997 Kistler, Hirsch Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 97 pts: Wow! This 10 year old Pinot shows hardly any signs of age exhibiting a very red color, and beautiful red berry fruit and layers of flavor in the mouth. The finish is long and complex. It’s drinking so beautifully now, there’s no reason to save it. Tasted 5/27/07.

2004 Kistler Cuvee Catherine, Occidental Station, Pinot Noir, 95 pts: This quite youthful Pinot shows exquisite concentration of red berry fruit in the mouth and a delicious, long multi-layered finish. It needs three more years of bottle age to develop the complexity it is capable of achieving. Nice juice. Tasted 5/13/07.

1996 J. J. Confuron, Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru (Red Burgundy), 96 pts: A wonderful 11 year old Pinot Noir that exhibits gobs of rich, red fruit, complexity and a delicious finish. The deep red color shows no sign of aging. Tasted 9/8/07.

1986 Chateau D’Yquem, Sauternes, 95 pts: Classic Yquem, possessing elegant richness and a spectrum of flavors. See my notes below from 2005. Tasted 9/8/07.

1992 Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 1.5 L (Magnum), 96 pts: An outstanding 15 year old Harlan. Very youthful in appearance with a firm red color with no evidence of age, this wine started out slightly tannic but got better and better as the meal progressed mellowing into a beautifully balanced example of California Cabernet. Multi-layered complexity and a long finish make this stellar wine very drinkable now, but it should last 10 more years if properly cellared. Decanted 30 minutes before consumption, 9/8/07.

1990 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion, 1.5 L (Magnum), 97 pts: This wine begins with a seductive classic Bordeaux nose and continues with smooth, rich, multi-layered flavors and a delicious, long, lingering finish. Gorgeous. One of the best 1990 Bordeaux I’ve tasted. Decanted about 30 minutes before consumption, 9/8/07.

1992 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.0 L, 94 pts, C4+N4F4A3T3E4-: This wine is a wonderful example of how large format and aging at 55C positively affect the aging of red wines. Exhibiting a pure, deep red color with no signs of age, concentrated fruit with layers of complex flavors, and a smooth, strong finish, this wine is ready to drink! Decanted about 20 minutes before consumption, tasted 6/16/07.

1997 Kistler Pinot Noir, Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 95 pts: This California Pinot is 10 years old and still wonderful! Who says California reds don’t age well? It exhibits a firm red color with a slight hint of brick, red berry fruit on the nose and palate, complex flavors and an excellent finish. Cellared at 55C, this wine is ready to drink! It’s reached it peak and is drinking beautifully now. Tasted 5/27/07.

1989 Chateau Palmer, 95 pts: Barny, earthy nose; deep red color with slight hints of brick; complex, layered flavors with strong, lingering finish. Cellared at 55C since release, this 18 year old wine is aging well, and may be held for several more years or consumed now. Tasted 5/27/07.

1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia, Napa Valley, 97 pts: Exhibiting a deep red color with no signs of aging, this beauty is smooth and rich with advancing complexity, wonderful balance and a delicious, lingering finish. Although very drinkable now, it should gain more complexity with further aging. If I had a case, I’d drink one bottle per year for the next 12 years! Decanted 1 hr prior to consumption. Tasted 9/8/06.

1990 Jadot, Bonnes Marre, Grande Cru Red Burgundy, 98 pts, C4N5-F5-A3T3E5-: This beautiful Burgundy has a soft, velvety mouth-feel, rich layered flavors, a barny, earthy nose, and a long, lingering finish. The 90 Red Burgundy vintage is astonishing. At 16 years of age, this wine is vibrant and still developing. The color is deep red with very little sign of age. Cellared at 55C. Tasted 7/15/06.

1996 Chateau Latour. This huge tannic monster is chocked full of fruit, but needs 10 more years before it’s approachable! It’s many years away from reaching equilibrium. Hold this monster for future consumption. Cellared at 55°F. Decanted 3 hours prior to consumption. Tasted 6/18/06.

2002 Kistler Chardonnay, Cuvee Cathleen, Kistler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, 98 pts, C4N4+F5-A3T3E5-, cellared at 55°F. This beauty is a truly stunning example of California Chardonnay that rivals the very best White Burgundy. It possesses a definitive yellow color with crystal clarity, multi-layered richness and flavors, and a super long, delicious finish. It massages the mouth with lushness. The best Kistler Chardonnay I’ve tasted in years! This baby is ready to drink; don’t delay; it won’t get any better than it is now. Tasted 4/7/2006.

1982 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, 95 pts, C4+N5-F4-A3T3+E4: Exhibiting a deep, dense red color with no sign of browning, this 23 year old beauty is very alive and well. The nose is a combination of dirty gym socks and earthy, barny aromas. In the mouth, we have moderate concentration and complexity adding a subtle tannic bite in the finish. Should last 10+ years or longer if properly cellared (55F). Tasted 12-3-05.

1986 Chateau D’Yquem, Sauternes, 96 pts: Exhibiting an inviting light caramel color, this beauty possesses the richness and complexity expected of a 19 year old super cru Sauternes. You can’t stop drinking this wine! Although delicious now, its peak is still in the future. Try again in five years. Cellared at 55F. Tasted 12/3/05.

1990 Leroy, Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru (Red Burgundy), 100 pts, C5N5-F5A3T3+E5-: This 15 year old red Burgundy looks and drinks like it was just born! It exhibits a youthful, deep red color with no signs of age. Rich and complex on the palate through the finish with overwhelming red berry aromas and flavors. The best red Burgundy I have ever tasted! The wine was not decanted, and there was moderate sediment including some chunks and some fine particles. Recommend straining last one-third of bottle. Although ready to drink now, it should last another 15 years or more. Cellared at 55F. Tasted 9/8/05. (Note: See if you can find my notes on this wine from a previous tasting.)

1994 Phelp’s Insignia, Napa Valley, 98 pts, C5-N4+F5-A3T4-E5-: From the great 1994 vintage, this baby is opaque red with no signs of age–a monster that could last another decade or more. It is lush and thick, with a muscular structure that would put Latour to shame. Some complexity now, with more to come. Mouth-coating richness with a long, luscious finish. Try again in 3 years. Tasted 4/16/04.

1991 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel, 99 pts: What amazing wine this has become. Deep red in color (almost opaque), this wine is smooth as silk, exhibiting rich, complex flavors that follow through the finish. Zins are not suppose to last 13 years!!! But this one did, and it’s a beauty! No question that 1991 is a great Zin vintage, and Ridge is the best Zin producer. Definitely at its peak. Drink now. Tasted 2/1/04.

1994 Dominus, Napa Valley, 98 pts, C4+N4F4+A3T3+E5-TFR3:Deep red with no signs of age; slight Bordeaux nose with earth/truffle; a smooth, velvety, rich wine through the long finish with budding complexity; still young; wait 2 years; a baby with years of life ahead–IF stored at 55 F. Tasted 11/7/03.

1994 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, 91 pts, C4+N4F3+A3T4-E3+TFR3: A beautifully balanced red Bordeaux with classic Latour breeding. Although 1994 is not considered a great vintage, this Latour is more than worth its $50 futures price tag!! (We’ll never see that again!) Tasted 10/18/03. (NOTE: Tasted again on 11/7/03 with similar notes. The wine is bright red and shows NO signs of browning at the edges!)

1992 Dalle Valle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 95 pts, C5-N4F4+A3T3+E4+TFR1: Beginning with a complex, rich nose, this wine is loaded with layers of concentrated fruit and ending with a long layered, lush, semi-complex finish. Drinking beautifully now. Don’t wait. Tasted 9/20/03.

1992 Ridge Zinfandel, Lytton Springs, California (MAGNUM), 92 pts, C4N3+F4-A3T3E4-TFR1: Eleven years old and still hanging on, this wonderful example of aged Zin possesses excellent flavor, complexity and a smooth, easy drinking finish. The wine is at its peak and won’t get any better. Regular (750 mL) bottles MAY be over-the-hill. Drink now. Tasted 1/26/03.

1996 Pavillion Rouge, Margaux, 94 pts, C4+N4F4A3T3+E4+TFR3: What a delicious wine! It glides down effortlessly leaving the palate and mind with memories of glorious flavors and a rich, well-balanced finish. This wine is getting better and better. (See review of 4/19/02). A wonderful Bordeaux for a fraction of the cost of its big sister, Chateau Margaux! Tasted 1/18/03.

1995 Beringer Merlot, Bancroft Ranch, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 94 pts, C4N4-F4A3T3+E4+TFR3: Very smooth, seductive, easy-drinking Merlot with rich flavors and budding complexity. Delicious now, but should be better in 2 years if properly stored. Tasted 1/9/03.

1991 Oakville Ranch Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 97 pts, C5-N4F5-A3T3E4+TFR1: Exhibiting a gorgeous dark red color with no signs of age, this beauty explodes with sweet, rich Cab fruit in the mouth. Smooth, complex and ready to drink. Layered flavors and complexity on a long finish. Here’s a great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the three best vintages of the 90s (94 and 97 are the other two). Although it should last longer, the wine is at or close to its apogee and should be consumed over the next few years for maximum enjoyment. This wine rivals the best Bordeaux! Tasted 1/3/03.

1995 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 94+ pts, C5N4F4+A3T4-E4TFR3: Very youthful appearance. Opaque red with a classic Cab nose. Rich with a tannic edge. Big wine. Needs more time for tannins to soften and come into equilibrium with the fruit. Wonderful flavors with budding complexity that will develop more with time. Could be awesome in 2-5 years. Tasted 8/15/02. NOTE: 1995 Napa Valley Cabs were tannic on release and still retain a tannic edge. Should they soften a bit more, the 1995 vintage could surpass my earlier expectations. Definitely a vintage to watch.

1995 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon, Eisele Vineyard, Napa Valley, 93+ pts, C5N4F4?A3T4E4?TFR3: Starting with hints of coffee/mocha on the nose, one is greeted with a very dense, opaque red Cab that shows no signs of age. Its fresh, big, tannic structure is quite robust, making it difficult to accurately assess this hunk. This is a bruiser of a wine and needs time to soften more. Don’t try again for 2 years. Tasted 8/10/02.

1994 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, 95+ pts, Napa Valley, C5N3?F4A3T4-E4+TFR3: Color is red with hints of purple. Closed cedar nose. Rich with slight tannic spike on long finish. Got softer with time. This wine has years to go. Will develop additional complexity with time. Has great potential. Try again in two years. Tasted 8/2/02.

1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia, Napa Valley, 98+ pts, C5-N4F5-A3T3+E5-TFR3: Another example of just how good the 1994 California Red vintage was, this spectacular proprietary red, based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon, possesses an incredible balance of fruit, acid and soft tannins. Exhibiting a dark red color with no signs of age, it has multi-layers of richness and flavor with a very long, delicious, complex finish. Wow! Although very drinkable now, it should go many more years with proper cellaring. Try again in two years. Tasted 5/25/02.

1990 Maya (Proprietary Red), Napa Valley, 95 pts, C5N4?F4+A3T4E4+TFR3: A blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this proprietary red from Dalle Valle Vineyards is named after the owner’s daughter. It’s a powerful, muscular wine with a young, deep, dark red color that shows no sign of age. This beauty is rich, thick, smooth, mellow and shows signs of budding complexity. Although drinking nicely now, it is no where near its peak, having many years to go. Try again in two years. Tasted 5/3/02.

1996 Pavillion Rouge, Margaux, 93 pts, C5-N4-F4A3T3+E4TFR3: The second wine of Chateau Margaux exhibits a gorgeous red color and mildly earthy nose. It is exceptionally smooth and velvety with excellent balance. Good concentration and flavors lead to a harmonious, semi-long finish. Drinking extraordinarily well now but can go longer. Further evidence of the great 1996 Bordeaux vintage. Tasted 4/19/02.

1997 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir, Three Corners, Russian River Valley, 93 pts: A wonderful wine with excellent concentration and balanced structure. Classic Pinot Noir flavors lead to a complex, long finish. Tasted 4/26/02.

1995 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir, West Block, Russian River Valley, 92 pts, C4-N4-F4-A3T3+E4-TFR1: No signs of age in the color. Very Burgundian nose with muted earthy tones. Mature red berry flavors with excellent balance and structure. More austere than the 1997 vintage. Tastes like Grand Cru Red Burgundy. Ready to drink now, but could go a few more years. Tasted 3/15/02.

1997 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa Valley, 99+ pts, C5N4?F5-A3T4-E5-TFR3: Velvety and super rich, this Cab is in its infancy exhibiting budding complexity in multiple layers. Extraordinarily thick, the opaque red/purple color coats the glass. Delicious, smooth, rich, long finish. Balanced in spite of its huge concentration, there’s a long, wonderful life ahead for this legend. It will become more complex with time and develop the essence of the best Cabs–rich, layered flavors. Tasted 3/9/02.

1986 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe, 95+ pts, C5-N4F4A3T3+E4+TFR3: Exhibiting a rich red color with no signs of age, the nose is classic Bordeaux– earth, leather, and truffle. In the mouth it is rich and smooth with complex flavors and a long finish. This outstanding Cos has years to go. Try again in 3 years. The bottle was decanted one hour before consumption. Tasted 2/23/02.

1994 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 91 pts, C4N3+F4-A3T4-E4-TFR3?: Impressive red color shows no signs of age. This excellent wine exhibits a semi-rich mouth-feel with a small hole in the middle, resulting in a break in the flavor continuum. The question is will the hole fill in with time or has this wine reached its full potential? I wouldn’t chance it–drink within the next year. This wine must be decanted as it contains significant sediment. Tasted 2/23/02.

1989 Chateau Haut Brion, Graves, 96+ pts, C5-N4F4+A3T3+E4+TFR3: Starting with an elegant truffle nose, this First Growth is classy, elegant, smooth, and complex with a long finish. Although very drinkable now, it should last many more years with proper cellaring. Graves at its best. Decanted just before tasting. Tasted 2/12/02.

1989 Chateau Angelus, St. Emilion Grand Cru, 94+ pts, C5-N4F4A3T4E4?TFR3: The very attractive red color shows no signs of age. Exhibiting an appealing earth, truffle nose and a firm tannic structure this wine wonderful wine has not reached its maximum potential of pleasure. Big, young and firm, this St. Emilion should improve with 5 more years of bottle age, which will allow the tannins to soften. This wine essentially a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot with the Cab Franc predominating. Decanted just before tasting. Tasted 2/9/02.

1992 Ridge Zinfandel, Lytton Springs, Sonoma, MAGNUM, 90 pts, C4N3F3+A3T3+E3TFR1: It’s rare to find a 10 year old Zin that is still drinking well. Showing very slight browning and leather on the nose, this wine exhibits mature Zin flavors and complexity in its smooth finish. Currently at its peak, it will soon start sliding downhill. Drink up! (The 750 mL format is already over-the-hill. See January 27, 2001 review below.) Tasted 2/3/02.

1996 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena Home Vineyard, Napa Valley, 90 pts, C4N3?F3+A3T4E3?TFR3?: This rare special bottling for the Napa Valley Wine Auction offered an opportunity to taste one component used in the Private Reserve Blend. The Home Vineyard surrounds the Beringer Estate Winery in the town of St. Helena. This unique bottle of Cab offered up a beautiful dark red color, a reticent nose and tangy, spicy fruit flavors that continue through the mildly tannic finish. Although a very interesting wine, it is one-dimensional and unable to reach the heights offered by the blended Private Reserve. Tasted 1/12/02.

1989 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Saint Julien, 95+ pts, C5-N4-F4+A3T4-E4+TFR3: When first released, this was an awkward, disjointed wine. It has evolved into a rich, complex effort with excellent balance and that Las Cases refinement. There is no evidence of aging in the dark red color. With years to go, it will gain even more complexity and velvety characteristics. If consumed now, decant and "work" it in a large Bordeaux glass to maximize your pleasure. With proper cellaring, it will last 10 or more years. Tasted 1/19/02.

1994 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 97 pts, C5-N3?F5-A3T4-E4+TFR3: Rich, smooth, balanced, complex, powerful, mouth-coating, delicious. Very youthful appearance. Has years to go, if cellared properly. Try again in three years. Tasted 12/25/01.

1987 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonny’s Vineyard, Napa Valley, MAGNUM, 92 pts, C4+N3-F4-A3T3E4TFR1: Deep, dark red color with no signs of browning. Bell pepper, vegetal nose that diminished with time in glass (or maybe I got used to it?). Good concentration of flavors. Moderate complexity. Long, semi-rich finish. Ready to drink. Tasted 12/25/01.

1994 Dow’s Vintage Porto, Portugal, 94 pts, C4N?F4A3T3+E4+TFR3: Smooth with exceptional balance. Just a baby from an outstanding vintage. Long, rich finish. Although quite drinkable now, it’s still an infant that will gain additional complexity with bottle age. Tasted 12/25/01.

1990 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 95 pts, C4+N4-F4+A3T3+E4TFR3: Brilliant red, young color with no signs of brown. Sturdy tannic structure with a fruit center. A rich, powerful wine with firm tannins. Could use two years to build more complexity. Getting better and better with more time in the glass. Decanted one hour before consumption. One of the best 90s I’ve tasted. Awesome effort. Tasted 12/16/01.

1987 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley, 94 pts, C4N4-F4A3T3E4TFR2: Red, youthful color with no signs of browning. Mild truffle, earthy nose. Complex, layered flavors. A true classic. Ready to drink now, but could go 3 or more years with proper cellaring. Decanted one hour before consumption. Tasted 12/16/01.

1990 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Saint Julien, 98+ pts, C5N5F4+A3T4-E4+?TFR3: Amazing truffle, earthy, classic Bordeaux nose. Very youthful. A rich monster with a scrumptious, lingering finish. Needs years of aging to attain its full complexity potential. A treasure is hiding within the extraordinary extract. GREAT wine from a great vintage. This is what Bordeaux is all about! Wait 5 years before trying. Although only the winemaker knows the exact blend, the Chateaux 240 acre estate supports 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Tasted 11/30/01.

1990 La Grande Dame, Champagne, 96 pts, C3+N3+F4+A3+T3E4+: Displaying a light straw yellow color, small bubbles and a little dough on the nose, this beauty is very rich and smooth, possessing a truly lingering finish. Although drinking beautifully now, it should last at least 5-10 more years (with proper cellaring, of course). Tasted 11/18/01.

1990 Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol, 97 pts, C4-N4F4A3T3E4+TFR3: Bright red color with no signs of age. Earth, truffle nose. Smooth with a delicate, subdued richness. Very, very youthful in appearance and taste. Later, richer and more complex on the finish which seems to linger a minute or longer. Wow! This beauty is mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and possibly a touch of Malbec. Delicious now–can it get better? Tasted 11/18/01.

1995 Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Ruchottes, (White Burgundy), 95 pts, C3+N4F4A3T3E4TFR3: This spectacular 6 year old White Burgundy exhibits a clear, bright yellow color, and a muted melon nose. Viscous, lush mouth-feel–thick, thick, thick. Very mellow, long finish. Has several years remaining, although mighty good now. Tasted 11/16/01.

1996 Domaine des Pedrix, Echezeaux, (Red Burgundy), C4N3?F4A3T3+E4?TFR3: Possessing all the components required for excellence, color, concentration, structure, it needs time to become harmonious. It has a complex future. Cellar it properly and don’t touch for 2-3 years. Tasted 11/16/01.

1997 Kistler Chardonnay, Hudson Vineyard, Carneros, 93 pts, C3N4F4-A3T3E4-TFR1: This cloudy Chard exhibits an appealing caramelized fruit nose, excellent concentration and a lengthy, semi-comlex finish. The cloudiness is a visible detractor found in all the 97 Kistler Chardonnays I’ve tasted. Apparently, it arises from the unfiltered, unfined process. (These are not tartrates!) Could last a couple more years, but I’d recommend consumption over the next year. Tasted 10/1/01.

1997 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 95 pts, C3+N3+F4A3T3E4TFR1: A mature, well-balanced, slightly buttery Chard with a long, rich, complex finish. Don’t wait–drink now. It won’t get any better. Tasted 10/1/01.

1994 J. Rochioli Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Neoma’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 94 pts, C4N3?F4A3T4-E4TFR3: Bold, concentrated Cab flavors encapsulated in a firm, but not overbearing, structure. Shows elegant richness with great balance. A stylish, well-constructed wine. Although drinking well now, it should improve with one/two more years of bottle age. Great effort for a RRV Cab! Tasted 10/1/01.

1997 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Rochioli Vineyard, 94 pts, C4N4F4A3T3+E4-TFR3-: Exhibiting red berries on the nose and raspberry, strawberry flavors, this Pinot shows its pedigree. Although a smidge light in the mouth, it exudes the best characteristics of this fine appellation. Drink over the next 3 years. Tasted 8/4/01.

1994 Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 99 pts, C5-N4F5-A3T4E5-TFR3: One is greeted with a gorgeous deep red color with a tinge of purple. A big, tannic monster chocked full of concentrated fruit flavors in a complex, layered matrix that massages the palate for minutes. Very viscous mouth feel. Wait 5 years, at least, to try again. The contents were decanted about one hour before tasting. Tasted 7/10/01.

1997 J. Rochioli Chardonnay, South River Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 95 pts, C3+N4-F4A3T3E4+TFR1: One of the most decadent Chardonnays you’ll ever experience, drinking this wine is like eating cotton-candy. Very rich with a long, sumptuous finish. Tasted 7/10/01.

1996 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (Oakville), 99 pts, C5-N4F5-A3T4-E5-TFR3:Exhibiting lots of blackberry tones on the nose, this essentially opaque wine is prodigiously concentrated with layers of thick flavors and complexity. Very smooth and silky for such a young wine. The slightly tannic, long finish represents a continuum of the mid-palate opulence. No question that this is one of the very top 1996 Cabs. There is only one other (Harlan) I’ve tasted which competes with this beauty. It is very young and fresh with outstanding future potential. Wait until 2006. Tasted 6/19/01.

1997 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir, West Block, Russian River Valley, 97 pts, C4N4+F4+A3T3E4+TFR3: Cherries and other red berries in nose and mouth; very rich with excellent balance; focused, intense layered flavors; long, delicious finish. Wow! Drinks great now but should last a few more years with proper cellaring. Tasted 5/19/01.

1974 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (6L), Napa Valley, 98 pts, C5-N4+F5-A3T3E5-TFR1: This 27 year old Cab exhibited amazing richness and complexity with unbelieveable smoothness. Its silky texture lead to a deliciously long finish. Who says California Cabs (in 6L format) don’t age? The bottle was uprighted about 2 weeks prior to decantation which occurred about two hours before consumption. Large amounts of sediment were present and about one liter of wine was "lost" with the sediment. (Saved, but not consumed.) If you have this wine in 750 mL format, it’s ready to drink and hopefully was well stored. Tasted 4/7/01.

1996 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 84 pts, C3-N2+F2+A3T4E2+TFR1: Dull light red; slightly stemmy nose; thinnish and astringent; muted strawberry/raspberry flavors. A delicately flavored, light Pinot with a nice vicous mouthfeel. Ready to drink. Don’t hold! Tasted 3/16/01.

1993 Chateau Margaux, Margaux, 90 pts, C4N3+F3A3T4E3+TFR3?: Consuming a First Growth Bordeaux is always a great experience, even if the wine is from the non-stellar 1993 vintage. This Margaux is a very well made wine with all the components in sync except for the tannins, which are somewhat harsh and unyielding. Will the tannins soften in time to balance with remaining fruit? I don’t think so. Drink this wine in the next several years; it’s as good now as it will get. Tasted 3/2/01.

1990 Charles Heidsieck Brut, Champagne, 93 pts: Moderate yeast/dough nose; creamy and rich; long, flavorfully rich finish. Drink within the next year; it won’t get any better than it is now. Tasted 3/2/01.

1992 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel, California (750 mL), 75 pts: Warning! This Zin has gone over the top and is heading downhill. If you like Zins at this stage, this wine is for you. Personally, I don’t. A great wine in its day, but, as you should know, Zins don’t age well and should be consumed within five years of vintage, sometimes earlier. Tasted 1/27/01.

1990 Leroy, Clos de la Roche (Red Burgundy), 99 pts, C4+N5-F5-A3T4-E5-TFR3: Dark red color with no sign of age; wonderful truffle Bordeaux-like nose; young, fresh, BIG, rich; could mistake for a Bordeaux in a blind tasting except too refined; slightly tannic, huge mouthful, complex; should last another 20 or more years; Awesome, multi-layered flavors; lingering "sweet" finish. The wine was decanted 15 minutes before consumption. Magnificent. Tasted 8/26/00.

1987 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 90 pts, C5-N3+F4-A3T3E3+TFR1: Excellent color. Bordeaux-like nose; slightly dirty, pruney and barny. Smooth with sweet fruit. A little lacquer on the finish which is characteristic of older Cabs that are on there way down. This wine has definitely peaked and is slowly declining. DRINK NOW; it’s ready! The wine was decanted 1.5 hours before drinking. Two-thirds of the cork was wet. Moderate to heavy sediment present. Tasted 8/16/00.

1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Riverblock, Russian River Valley, 70 pts: Displaying a light red color with no signs of brown, this Pinot was lean and overly acidic. Its citrusy quality leads one to speculate that too much citric acid was added during fermentation to adjust the pH. I’ve had many great bottles from this producer, but when they falter, it’s usually in this citrusy manner. Tasted 5/6/00.

1994 Rochioli Pinot Noir, Westblock, Russian River Valley, 98 pts: (Tasted alongside the 1995) Dark red color. Broad, delicious flavors. Velvety smooth. Shotgun of flavor and richness. Richer, more concentrated than the 1995. Great Pinot Noir! Tasted 2/4/00.

1995 Rochioli Pinot Noir, Westblock, Russian River Valley, 96 pts: (Tasted alongside the 1994) Lighter red than 94. More austere and slightly tannic compared with 1994, but not in a negative way. More focused flavors, more structured but less concentrated than the1994. Nonetheless, a stunning Pinot Noir! Tasted 2/4/00.

1987 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley, 96 pts, C4+N4F4+A3T3+E4TFR3: Wow!What a tasty morsel we have here! The color is brilliant red and shows no signs of age. The nose is very Bordeaux-like with some earth/truffle. Sweet rich fruit lead to a smooth, silky, long, complex finish. Drinking deliciously now, it can go longer with proper cellaring. An example of well-stored California Cab. Decanted about 90 minutes prior to tasting. Tasted 10/16/99.

1991 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe, $?, 92 pts, C4N4F3+A3T3+E4-:What a great wine from an off Bordeaux vintage! 1991 was not a stellar vintage for Red Bordeaux, but this baby is complete a mild earth, truffle nose and a silkiness in the mouth that I did not expect. There’s a little bite but excellent balance and pedigree. It’s drinking beautifully now, but should last several more years with good cellaring. Tasted 9/18/99.

1991 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon, Eisele Vineyard, $?, 95+ pts, C5-N4F4+A3T3+E4?: Exhibiting subtle, reserve flavors and mouth-coating richness, this wine needs more time to develop its full potential. Possessing latent complexity, it is still very tightly wound and immature. My first and lasting impression of this wine is its richness and how well it should develop with more bottle age. Note: Very "clean" in contrast to the 91 Montrose. Tasted 9/18/99.

1991 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 99 pts, C5-N4F5-A3T3+E5TFR3:I pulled this wine from my cellar to see how the 91s were doing and was blown away! The deep red, semi-opaque color shows no signs of age. Greeted with a fragrant nose, and then sweet, viscous fruit, the youth of this wine is apparent. Multi-layered richness and complexity lead to a delicious, lingering finish. Moderate to heavy bottle coating sediment. If you’re lucky enough to have this in your cellar, it’s drinking wonderfully now and should keep for several more years. Don’t wait too long as it can’t get much better. Since most collectors are not that familiar with this label, you may be able to find it for a reasonable price. It’s well worth the search. Tasted 7/20/99.