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© 2000 by Randy Buckner
January 19, 2000

New Releases:
Late winter sees the advent of a host of new wines. You will find many new and current release wines sure to please your palate. Please note a new addition to the reviews -- Single-Barrel Bourbon and Single Malt Scotch.

Bourbon & Scotch:
Wild Turkey, Bourbon, Kentucky Spirit, $40. A new, single-barrel 101 proof bourbon. Rich, full-bodied, with lovely vanilla and honeycomb flavors, and a very long finish.

Dram Select, Single Malt Scotch, 12-year-old, Speyside, $30. A bold Scotch, slightly coarse, with sweet vanilla and honey on the palate.

Dram Select, Single Malt Scotch, 21-year-old, Speyside, $65. A very nice Scotch, smooth, balanced, with attractive flavors and a very long aftertaste.

Cabernet Sauvignon:
1996 Atlas Peak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Consenso Vineyards, Napa Valley, $30, 1,500 cases. Simple but nice black fruit, hints of cinnamon, moderate tannins, not overoaked, good acidity, fruity aftertaste.

1997 Barwang, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia, $14, 1,298 cases. Ripe blackcurrant fruit with modest sweet oak flavors, made in an approachable, drink now style. Decent value.

1996 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, $25. This is a nice wine for the price. 100% CS. Approachable now, even better in a year or two. Rich blackberry and black cherry fruit, unobtrusive oak, nice balance, and a long aftertaste. There is a bit of moderate green tannin on the finish that should subside with bottle time.

1998 Canyon Road, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $8, 75,000 cases. Black cherry fruit, light American oak, and a crisp finish. Another nice, big crowd BBQ wine.

1997 Chateau Julien, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barrel Aged, Monterey County, $10, 5,500 cases. Straightforward black cherry, blackberry and American oak tastes, with mild tannins that allow current consumption.

1997 Clos Du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley Reserve, $20, 16,500 cases. Rich, lush black cherry flavors, a hint of cedar, and nice balance. Good value. Pair with grilled red meat.

1996 Clos Du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marlstone, Alexander Valley, $30, 11,400 cases. Cherry, cedar and tobacco flavors predominate, with moderate oak and tannins that dictate aging. A well-balanced, long finish.

1995 Gallo of Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Frei Ranch, Dry Creek Valley, $24, 10,500 cases. Luscious blackberry fruit, obvious but balanced oak, medium tannins that dictate a couple of years of bottle age and a fruity finish.

1997 Husch, Cabernet Sauvignon, La Ribera, Mendocino, $17.50, 4,157 cases. Cherry fruit flavors prevail, with a hint of chocolate and minerals, finishing with soft tannins.

1996 Justin, Isosceles, Paso Robles, $37.50, 4,000 cases. A blend of 45% CS, 28% Merlot, and 27% Cab Franc. Blackberry jam, cedar and oak spiciness prevail, finishing with moderate tannins that dictate some bottle time.

1996 Kendall-Jackson, Cabernet Sauvignon, Buckeye Vineyard, Alexander Valley, $65, 4,200 cases. Dense black fruit with cedar nuances, minerals, a hint of tobacco, moderate but smooth tannins and elegant balance.

1996 Kendall-Jackson, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner's Reserve, California, $21, 260,000 cases. Decent red and black fruit, light to moderate tannins, balanced oak and a lengthy aftertaste.

1995 Kenwood, Cabernet Sauvignon, Artist Series, Sonoma, $65, 3,200 cases. Black fruit and vanilla on the nose, with complex black fruit on the palate, spicy oak and good overall balance.

1995 Marcelina Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $25, 18,758 six bottle cases. Blackberries and cherries predominate here with subtle American Oak peeking through. Nice balance. Very good value.

1996 Schug, Cabernet Sauvignon, Heritage Reserve, Sonoma Valley, $40, 497 cases. Blackberries and plums predominate with a hint of cinnamon, well-balanced oak, and a pretty aftertaste.

1996 Smith & Hook, Cabernet Sauvignon, Baroness Reserve, Santa Lucia Highlands, $40, 417 cases.

1996 St. Supery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $18, 16,870 cases. Blackberries and minerals on the nose carry over to the palate in this tasty, well-balanced wine, approachable now. Very good value.

Chardonnay:
1998 Acacia, Chardonnay, Carneros, $21, 34,000 cases. Very sweet apples and tropical fruit, with good balance. Quite forward, dictating drinking over the next year.

1998 Bargetto, Chardonnay, Central Coast, $10, 4,100 cases. Flavorful citrus and apple fruit, minimal sweet vanilla, and a crisp finish from the 20% MLF style. Good value.

1998 Callaway, Chardonnay, Temecula Valley, $10, 125,000 cases. A good value wine displaying peachy overtones, with nice balance and crispness.

1998 Canoe Ridge, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $13.50, 5,096 cases. Another good value, food friendly wine. Peaches and apple flavors predominate, finishing with toasty oak. Drinkable now.

1998 Castoro, Chardonnay, Central Coast, $12, 2,700 cases. Well-made, crisp, with butterscotch and apple flavors. Good value.

1997 Chateau Ste Michelle, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $13. The wine is very soft and smooth, with ripe apple fruit and sweet oak flavors. Match with a creamy scallop dish.

1997 Clos Du Bois, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, $14. Pear and citrus/lemon flavors, a kiss of vanilla oak, and decent acidity makes this a nice match for Parmesan Chicken Breasts.

1998 Duckpond, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $9, 8,800 cases. A very good value for fans of the style. Ripe apple fruit and rich butterscotch flavors prevail, with a crisp finish.

1998 Edna Valley, Chardonnay, Edna Valley, $18.50, 113,000 cases. Tropical fruit predominates, with sweet oak and balanced acidity.

1998 Farallon, Chardonnay, Central Coast, $10, 22,000 cases. Clean, crisp, sweet apple fruit and vanilla. Balanced.

1998 Gallo of Sonoma, Chardonnay, Russian River, $12, 50,700 cases. This wine has citrus, apples, moderate toasty oak, and a crisp finish. Good value for the style.

1998 William Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $15, 45,000 cases. Citrus aromas that are also appreciated on the palate, with apples and nicely balanced oak.

1998 Husch, Chardonnay, Mendocino, $12.50, 12,945 cases. Pineapple and peach flavors abound, with a soft mouthfeel and mild creamy vanilla. A good seafood match.

1997 Indigo Hills, Chardonnay, North Coast, $10, 54,000 cases. Nice yellow delicious apples, pears and spicy oak, with soft mouthfeel. Big crowd pleaser made for short term consumption.

1997 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Paradise, Arroyo Seco, $20, 4,602 cases. Citrus/lime, apples and a long, creamy oak aftertaste. Nice wine for the style.

1998 Kenwood, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, $15, 46,000 cases. A wine that will appeal to a wide range of palates. Rich apple and pear fruit, a touch of sweet oak, with a smooth yet crisp finish.

1999 Kim Crawford, Chardonnay, Unoaked, Marlborough, $15. This is a fruit driven wine with mango and pineapple fruit leaping from the glass, crisp acidity and pleasing balance. Great value.

1998 Lolonis, Chardonnay, Redwood Valley, $16. Very ripe apple fruit, sweet oak, a creamy mouthfeel and crisp acidity. Drink short term.

1998 MacRostie, Chardonnay, Carneros, $18.50, 11,400 cases. Pineapple and lemon fruit, with sweet oak and crisp acidity. A nice match for chicken with lemon-caper sauce.

1997 MacRostie, Chardonnay, Reserve, Carneros, $28, 600 cases. Citrus and spicy apples, butterscotch and a dollop of oak all combine to make an interesting wine.

1998 Meridian Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, $11. 80% of the wine was BF in French and American oak, and 80% went thru MLF. A very good buy for those who like moderate oak. Full of tropical fruit, creamy oak and spice, the wine has nice acidity and a long aftertaste that will appeal to many.

1998 Mill Creek, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $14, 1,387 cases. Ripe apples, a light touch of vanilla and crisp acidity makes this a nice match for shellfish.

1998 Mirassou, Chardonnay, Mission Vineyard, Monterey, $23.50, 1,011 cases. Rich lime and tropical fruit flavors, with butterscotch and vanilla nuances. Crisp finish that makes a great match for Fettuccine Alfredo.

1998 Napa Ridge Chardonnay, North Coast, $9. Ripe apples and oak on the nose and palate, with crispness and a sweet fruit aftertaste.

1998 Rosemount Estates, Chardonnay, Show Reserve, Hunter Valley, $18. Apples, peaches, citrus, spicy oak and a nutty character on the finish.

Merlot:
1997 Callaway, Merlot, California, $12.50. Red cherry fruit with a hint of cinnamon, soft mouthfeel and nice balance. Another crowd pleaser.

1997 Clos Du Val, Merlot, Napa Valley, $28, 9,350 cases. This wine exhibits cassis and spicy, toasty oak, firm but silky tannins and fine balance.

1997 Columbia Valley, Merlot, Columbia Valley, $15, 14,000 cases. A straightforward wine, highlighted by black cherry and blackberry fruit and soft tannins. Enjoy now for the youthful fruit appeal.

1997 Fetzer, Merlot, Barrel Select, $15, 28,000 cases. Rich black cherry fruit, spice, vanilla, light tannins and a long, luscious finish.

1997 Hahn, Merlot, Santa Lucia Highlands, $11, 36,000 cases. Rich black cherry fruit, a dab of olive, balanced oak and soft tannins. An incredible value.

1997 Indigo Hills, Merlot, California, $15, 23,500 cases. Pleasant cherry fruit on the nose and palate, medium tannins, a light touch of oak. Should please a wide range of people.

1997 Jade Mountain, Merlot, Caldwell Vineyard, Napa Valley, $34, 1,170 cases. Very ripe blackberry and plum fruit, minerals, a dash of oak, finishing with moderate tannins.

1997 Kendall-Jackson, Merlot, Buckeye Vineyard, $33, 3,479 cases. Rich black fruit nose that carries over to the palate, with blackberries, plums, and moderate tannins, finishing with complex fruit flavors.

1997 Kendall-Jackson, Merlot, Vintner's Reserve, $21, 441,500 cases. Nice black cherry fruit and toasty oak, with moderate green tannins that need time to resolve.

1997 Kenwood, Merlot, Sonoma County, $20, 35,000 cases. Bold berry fruit and silky tannins makes this an easy drinker. Finishes with moderate oak flavors.

1997 MacRostie, Merlot, Carneros, $26, 3,000 cases. Complex black fruit, balanced spicy oak, a hint of mint, silky tannins and a very long aftertaste combine to make a lovely package.

1997 Pezzi King, Merlot, Susie's Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, $22, 1,400 cases.  Huge black fruit nose with pure blackberry jam on the palate -- atypical but tasty.

1997 Chateau Souverain, Merlot, Alexander Valley, $17. Rich black fruit nose, with black cherry and plum flavors, moderate tannins, and a kiss of oak. Approachable now, better in 2-3 years.

Miscellaneous:
1997 Atlas Peak, Sangiovese, Atlas Peak, $30, 1,000 cases. A hearty red wine that is made to drink with rich Italian foods with tomato sauces. Black cherry flavors, just a hint of spicy oak, and bracing acidity.

1999 Beringer, Nouveau, $8. It is that time of year again. Beringer usually turns out a decent rendition and this year is no exception. 100% MLF. Strawberries and cherries predominate with a hint of spice and a white pepper aftertaste. This will work well for that big crowd of mixed palates.

1998 Geyser Peak, Gewurztraminer, California, $8, 2000 cases. Slightly sweet, delicate, and spicy Gewurztraminer fruit made for short term consumption. A nice match with Thai food.

1998 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Vin Glace, Oregon, $18. Residual sugar 13.5%. Rich pear, apple and lime fruit, with enough acidity to brace the wine -- no syrupy palate feel. There is a very long lime and orange aftertaste.

1998 King Estate, Riesling, Late Harvest, Oregon, $18. Quite sweet at 13% residual sugar. Intense honey and apricot flavors abound from the botrycized fruit. Serve with a rich cheese.

1998 Paraiso Springs, Pinot Blanc, Santa Lucia Highlands, $13, 1,775 cases. A clean, crisp, refreshing wine, with melon fruit and oak spiciness.

1998 Shenandoah, Black Muscat, Amador County, $12, 675 cases. 100% Muscat Hamburg. Sweet, with rich fruit flavors that would be a perfect match for a cheese plate. Serve chilled.

1997 Valley of the Moon, Pinot Blanc, Sonoma County, $20, 2,900 cases. Melons and citrus fruit are balanced by crisp acidity, and a long, dry finish.

Pinot Noir:
1997 Fetzer, Pinot Noir, Barrel Select, $15, 13,000 cases. Unfortunately the bottle was corked -- no note.

1997 Gundlach Bundschu, Pinot Noir, Rhinefarm, $18. Black cherry fruit predominates in this wine, enhanced by vanilla oak flavors and silky tannins.

1997 Paraiso Springs, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $22.50, 3,300 cases.  Stylistic, with very ripe fruit of black cherries, and earthy, forest floor flavors.

Rhone Varietals:
1997 Cline, Roussanne, Los Carneros, $20. A lesser known Rhone varietal that is a perfect match for shellfish. Melon and honeysuckle flavors, with refreshing acidity. Drink short term before the 14% alcohol overpowers the fruit.

1997 Jade Mountain, Syrah, Hudson Vineyard, Napa Valley, $32, 600 cases. Black fruit, bacon, a dash of pepper and spicy oak all combine to make an attractive package.

1997 Jade Mountain, Syrah, Paras Vineyard, Mount Veeder, $52, 530 cases. Almost black, with a smoky nose. Smoky bacon flavors with a dollop of sweet oak, minerals, and impeccable balance.

1997 Kendall-Jackson, Syrah, Vintner's Reserve, $17. This is another wine meant to be enjoyed with a hearty food dish. Lots of black fruit, pleasant earthy flavors and crisp acidity.

1998 McDowell, Marsanne, Mendocino, $15. A lovely wine with apricots and delicate spicy oak. A nice match for crab cakes with garlic mayonnaise.

1998 McDowell, Viognier, Mendocino, $15. Very floral, with peach fruit bursting from the glass. Nice balance with a long aftertaste. Good value.

Sauvignon Blanc:
1998 Brander, Sauvignon Blanc, Estate $11. This wine is bold in expressing itself. Very grassy on the nose and palate, with lovely peach fruit, nice balance and a crisp finish. Good value.

1998 Chateau St. Jean, Sauvignon Blanc, $9. A clean, refreshing wine, with melon and fig fruit, light grassiness, and subtle oak. Very good value.

1998 Husch, Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, $11.50, 9,949 cases. Nice Sauvignon fruit with just a hint of grassiness, a light hand on the oak, and lively acidity.

1998 Jepson, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve, Mendocino, $15, 375 cases. Another clean, crisp, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, with just a hint of gooseberry. Steam that crab.

1998 St. Supery, Meritage, Napa Valley, $20, 2,208 cases. This is a very lovely, elegant, balanced wine, with luscious citrus and grapefruit flavors and a hint of orange peel.

1998 Schug, Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, $12, 830 cases. Clean, crisp, lemon and citrus fruit, cask fermented in neutral oak cooperage. Nice shellfish match.

Sparkling Wine:
NV Jepson, Blanc de Blanc, Mendocino County, $18, 800 cases. Very fine bubbles in this tasty offering. Clean, crisp, 100% Chardonnay fruit made in a dry style.

1989 Jepson, Blanc de Blanc, Late Disgorged, Mendocino County, $35, 585 cases. A sleeper worth the hunt. Lovely aged fruit, with complex, toasty flavors, crisp acidity and fine bubbles.

Korbel Champagne Cellars, Millennium Commemorative Cuvee, $18, 30,000 cases. Light gold with medium bubbles, apple fruit with berry nuances, made in an off-dry style.

Zinfandel:
1997 Chateau Souverain, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $13. A mix of red and black fruits, soft tannins, and good balance, made in a drink me now style.

1997 Clos Du Bois, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $14, 47,000 cases. Spicy red and black fruit made in a light style for near term enjoyment.

1997 Gallo of Sonoma, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $12, 13,800 cases. Jammy raspberry fruit, currants, a hint of pepper, decent balance of oak and acid, and a long, fruity aftertaste. Good value.

1997 Gundlach Bundschu, Zinfandel, Rhinefarm Vineyards, $20. Nice red and black fruit, a hint of pepper, well-balanced, with soft-moderate tannins that should tame with a little bottle time.

1997 Gundlach Bundschu, Zinfandel, Morse Vineyard, $16. Black fruit predominates here, with smooth tannins and a moderate aftertaste. Ready to drink now.

1997 Kendall-Jackson, Zinfandel, Vintner's Reserve, $17, 49,830 cases. Pleasant, straightforward Zinfandel fruit made in a style for near term consumption.

1997 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Jack London, $20, 8,330 cases. Appealing black fruit with briary flavors, balanced oak, mild to moderate tannins and a long aftertaste.

1997 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, $15, 12,665 cases. Attractive red fruit, spice, mild sweet oak with a mellow finish.

1997 Lolonis, Zinfandel, Redwood Valley, $16. Big, jammy red and black fruit, well-balanced oak, nice acidity, and a long, fruity aftertaste. Great with BBQ.

1996 Louis Martini, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $12. Sweet, brambly black fruit, a dollop of oak, light tannins and a long finish.

1997 Peachy Canyon, Zinfandel, Westside, $19, 3,652 cases. Red and black fruit nose, which carries over to the palate. Big alcohol at 15.8% alcohol but there is decent depth of fruit here. Slightly green tannins.

1997 Peachy Canyon, Zinfandel, Eastside, $15, 1929 cases. Lightest color of their line, with a red fruit and vanilla nose, ripe red fruit on the palate, 15.4% alcohol, tannins less apparent than their other wines.

1997 Pezzi King, Zinfandel, Estate, Dry Creek Valley, $24, 1,200 cases. Raspberry and cranberry fruit, nice acidity, moderate tannins that need some bottle time, and a long aftertaste.

1997 Pezzi King, Zinfandel, Small Lot Reserve (SLR), $22, 900 cases. Currents and plums abound, with soft tannins and lovely balance. Approachable now.

1997 Rancho Zabaco, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $12, 21,425 cases. Black fruit and vanilla on the nose that carries over to the palate, nice balance, and a long aftertaste. Good value for those liking a moderately oaked style.

1997 Sobon Estate, Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, $15, 1,330 cases. Smoky oak and red fruit aromas, with rich, jammy fruit on the palate and moderate toasty oak flavors.

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