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© 2001 by Randy Buckner

New Releases:
Winter has arrived in full force, with crazy weather nationwide, as evidenced by a rare snowstorm in southern Louisiana. We have finally put the presidential elections behind us, OU is the undisputed national college football champion, the Ravens can claim title to the best of the pro football teams and Wine Lovers’ Page is still the best wine site on the internet. The wines do not care; they keep marching off of the bottling line only concerned about pleasing the consumer. Enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.

Cabernet Sauvignon

2000 Alice White, Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia, $8, 10,600 cases. Ripe cherry and raspberry on the nose, with soft, straightforward berry fruit flavors. Made for early consumption.

1998 Barefoot Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, $17, 1,250 cases. Blackberry and chocolate aromas are repeated on the palate, with plum and vanilla notes, and modest tannins on the finish.

1998 Chateau Julien, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monterey County, $10, 5,500 cases. Raspberry, blackberry and vanilla notes are appreciated on the nose and palate, with minerals and light tannins on the sweet fruit finish. 0.4% R.S.

1997 Chateau Julien, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Monterey County, $28, 600 cases. There are obvious cassis aromas and flavors, with cedar nuances. Firm tannins on the finish dictate bottle aging.

1997 Dry Creek, Epoch II, Dry Creek Valley, $60, 500 cases. 90% Cabernet, 10% Merlot. This is a big boy, highly extracted, needing 3-5 years of aging to round out. Dense black fruit, mint and vanilla are noted on the nose and palate, with added chocolate, leather and spice flavors. There are substantial tannins on the long, fruity finish.

1998 Fetzer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley Oaks, California, $10, 100,000+ cases. Medium-bodied, the wine has blackberry fruit, with a dash of tobacco, olive, mint, and spicy vanilla. Easy to drink now. Good value.

1998 Huntington, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, $12, 1,210 cases. Aromas of raspberry, chocolate and plum. Easy to drink, you’ll find straightforward blackberry fruit and soft tannins.

1996 Mazzocco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, $18, 3,738 cases. Medium-bodied, the wine has ripe cherries and a touch of eucalyptus on the nose and palate, with moderate, supple tannins on the finish.

1997 Preston, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12. Straightforward blackberry fruit, with soft tannins combine to make this ready to drink.

1998 Rosemount, Cabernet Sauvignon, Show Reserve, Coonawarra, $24. Spice, berry, and hints of eucalyptus compose the nose of this medium-bodied wine. Cassis, cedar, black olive and minerals intermingle, finishing with a firm, tannic structure.

2000 Rosemount, Cabernet Merlot, Australia, $8. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Plums and blackberries fill the nose and palate, with soft tannins that makes it an easy drinker. The wine has a sweet finish.

1998 Sawtooth, Cabernet Sauvignon, Idaho, $14. Blackberries, anise and toasty oak define the nose. Medium-bodied, the wine has black fruit flavors, chocolate, spice, and smoky oak flavors.

1998 Shadow Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, $11, 5,000 cases. Ripe black cherry and cedar aromas are followed by straightforward Cabernet fruit, soft tannins and tart acidity.

1998 Snoqualmie, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $15. Raspberry, licorice and vanilla aromas are echoed on the palate. Made in a jammy fruit style, you’ll find mixed oak flavors and soft tannins on the finish.

1997 Waterbrook, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $24, 1,830 cases. Black cherry and plum define the nose and palate. Made in a lighter style, the wine has nice balance and is very approachable now.

Chardonnay

2000 Alice White, Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, $7, 125,000 cases. Very quaffable, this wine has candy apple and citrus aromas and flavors, canned pineapple notes, finishing clean and crisp.

1999 Atlas Peak, Chardonnay, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, $16, 4,000 cases. This medium-bodied wine has ripe apple, with a touch of spice and pear on the nose. The aromas are echoed on the palate. Well-balanced, the wine has a smooth finish.

1999 Callaway, Chardonnay, Coastal Reserve, California, $15, 2,500 cases. Obvious apple and toasty oak aromas are followed by tart pippin apple flavors, light vanilla nuances and crisp acidity. Good value.

1998 Chateau St. Jean, Chardonnay, Robert Young Vineyard, Alexander Valley, $25. Intense aromas of pear, lemon, apple and vanilla are also appreciated on the palate, with a long, vanilla cream finish.

1999 Cinnabar, Chardonnay, Central Coast, $17.50, 2,600 cases. Light citrus and stone aromas. Soft on the approach, the wine is well-balanced, with delicate white peach and pear flavors, subtle oak and friendly acidity. Match with a light fish dish.

1998 Cinnabar, Chardonnay, Reserve, California, $35, 200 cases. Ripe apple, lemon zest and butterscotch highlight the nose. Well-balanced, lush and smooth, you’ll find citrus, melon, spicy vanilla and minerals flavors. Match with grilled halibut.

1999 Columbia Crest, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12. Tropical fruit, cinnamon, and buttery aromas are followed by soft fruit, spice and nutty nuances.

1999 Columbia Crest, Chardonnay, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, $11. A lovely gold color with aromas of apple and butterscotch. Pear, apple, and intense butterscotch flavors dominate, with a long, sweet, full oak finish.

1999 Columbia, Chardonnay, Woodburne Cuvee, Columbia Valley, $14, 15,033 cases. Apple, pineapple and vanilla notes dominate the nose. Heavy smoky oak on the palate, with apple and citrus fruit, finishing with modest acidity.

1999 Geyser Peak, Chardonnay, Block Collection, Carneros, $20, 620 cases. Pear and butterscotch notes on the nose are echoed on the palate, with a soft, creamy, sweet vanilla finish. R.S. 0.47%.

1999 Hahn, Chardonnay, Monterey, $11, 17,536 cases. Pineapple and butterscotch dominate the nose. Tropical fruit, apple and butterscotch flavors are enhanced by balanced acidity.

1999 Hogue, Chardonnay, Fruit Forward Series, Columbia Valley, $10, 90,000 cases. Pear and delicate tropical fruit notes highlight the nose. Yellow delicious apple and pear flavors are up front, with hints of banana, minerals and sweet oak on the finish. Good value.

1998 Hoodsport, Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, $17, 1,451 cases. If you are looking for a Chardonnay unburdened by buttery, oaky flavors, look no further. Limited use of MLF and American oak allows the crisp apple fruit to shine through. Good value.

1999 Huntington, Chardonnay, North Coast, $12, 5,000 cases. The nose has apple, light vanilla and floral notes. Clean, crisp, with lush tropical fruit and peach flavors. Good value.

1999 Ironstone Vineyards, Chardonnay, California, $9. This wine saw no MLF and 42% was barrel fermented. Apple and toasty American oak aromas dominate. The wine is crisp, with citrus, pineapple, and toasted oak flavors.

2000 Kim Crawford, Chardonnay, Unoaked, Marlborough, NZ, $17. The nose is highlighted by green apple and grapefruit aromas. Full-bodied and viscous, the wine offers lovely tropical fruit flavors, pineapple leading the way, with a long, lush finish. 0.33% R.S. Good value.

1999 Mirassou, Chardonnay, Mission Vineyard, Monterey County, $24, 656 cases. Orange/citrus and light butterscotch aromas are also featured on the palate, finishing with food-friendly acidity.

1999 Mirassou, Chardonnay, San Vincente Vineyard, Monterey County, $24, 669 cases. Tangerine, pear and vanilla aromas and flavors highlight this wine. The finish is long, rich and crisp.

1999 Preston, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $10. Tart apple, pear and smoky vanilla aromas are also appreciated on the palate, with a very crisp finish.

1998 Rosemount, Chardonnay, Giants Creek, Hunter Valley, $17. The nose is accented by lime, nectarine and vanilla aromas. You’ll find citrus, apricot and light butterscotch flavors, finishing crisp and clean.

1999 Rosemount, Chardonnay, Show Reserve, Hunter Valley, $18. Citrus and vanilla notes delight the nose. Citrus fruit, roasted nuts, caramel and creamy oak flavors are supported by an acidic backbone.

1999 Salmon Harbor, Chardonnay, Washington, $9, 6,000 cases. This wine has nice citrus, pear, and pineapple aromas and flavors, enhanced by mineral and vanilla notes on the finish. Good value.

1998 Sebastiani, Chardonnay, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley, $35, 2,000 cases. The wine opens with aromas of pear, nectarine and toasty vanilla aromas. Nutty, caramel apple flavors prevail, with lemon, vanilla and a touch of smoke on the finish.

1998 Ste. Chapelle, Chardonnay, Reserve, Idaho, $14, 600 cases. Tropical fruit and vanilla notes are followed by ripe yellow delicious apple and pear flavors, with a very soft mouthfeel.

Fruit Wine

NV Hoodsport, Raspberry, Washington State, Washington State, $13, 5,900 cases. The winery only uses the Willamette cultivar (21 varieties of raspberries). Intense raspberry aromas makes you want to smell this fruit wine all day. Off-dry, with lush raspberry flavors, the finish is long and fruity.

NV Hoodsport, Rhubarb, Washington State, $13, 6,300 cases. Delicate rhubarb aromas. Clean, crisp, off-dry, with light rhubarb flavors, this is a delightful fruit wine. Match with a cheese plate. The winery likes to pan fry oysters and use the wine in a reduction sauce that brings out the sweetness inherent in Hoodsport oysters.

Gewurztraminer

2000 Hogue, Gewurztraminer, Fruit Forward Series, Columbia Valley, $8, 9,560 cases. Grapefruit and lychee aromas and flavors prevail. Off-dry at 1.14% residual sugar, the wine finishes with delicate acidity.

1998 Hoodsport, Gewurztraminer, Yakima Valley, $13, 1,759 cases. Lovely grapefruit on the nose. Delicately sweet at 2.4% residual sugar, grapefruit and green apple flavors prevail, finishing with nice acidity. A good match for pacific rim foods.

Merlot

1998 Callaway, Merlot, Coastal Reserve, California, $15, 1,600 cases. Soft on the palate, the wine has black cherry, cedar, and smoky vanilla aromas and flavors, with soft tannins on the finish.

1998 Chateau Julien, Merlot, Barrel Aged, Monterey County, $10, 12,000 cases. The nose is highlighted by obvious cherry and licorice notes. Medium-bodied, there are gobs of black cherry fruit and lovely minerals. Good value.

1997 Chateau Julien, Merlot, Reserve, Monterey County, $20, 600 cases. Leading off with a soft mouthfeel, cherry flavors predominate in this wine, with a hint of black pepper underlying the subtle oak on the finish.

1998 Duck Pond, Merlot, Fries Desert Wind Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $11. The wine has dark fruit and vanilla aromas and flavors, with substantial tannins on the finish that will benefit from bottle aging.

1999 Fetzer, Merlot, Eagle Peak, California, $10, 100,000+ cases. Ripe black cherry, cinnamon and vanilla aromas. Medium-bodied, with black fruit flavors, mild toasty oak nuances and modest tannins on the long, crisp finish. Good value.

1998 Geyser Peak, Merlot, Block Collection, Sonoma Valley, $26, 560 cases. Plums, mint, and dried herbs profile the nose. The wine has mixed black fruit and French vanilla flavors, with modest tannins rounding out the wine.

1997 Preston, Merlot, Columbia Valley, $12. Ripe plum and blackberry aromas and flavors highlight this wine, with additional blueberry jam and a touch of olive. Soft tannins make it approachable now. Very good value.

1999 Salmon Harbor, Merlot, Washington State, $9, 6,000 cases. Black cherry, chocolate and mint aromas carry over to the palate, with toasty oak and minerals on the finish. Good value.

1998 Shadow Hill, Merlot, Columbia Valley, $11, 5,000 cases. The nose is reminiscent of chocolate covered cherries. Soft berry fruit and modest tannins are found in this ready to drink wine.

1998 Trey Marie, Trutina, Columbia Valley, $30. 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is medium-bodied and has lovely balance. Blackberry and cinnamon notes on the nose are echoed on the palate, along with chocolate, anise and coffee nuances. Moderate, silky tannins round out the wine.

1998 M. Trinchero, Merlot, Family Selection, California, $12. This wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black cherry fruit, plum, tobacco, enhancing herbal notes and sweet vanilla which persists on the finish.

1998 Waterbrook, Meritage, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, $36, 630 cases. Raspberry and cherry aromas and flavors predominate in this well-balanced wine, with moderate new oak, plum and silky tannins on the long, succulent finish.

1997 Waterbrook, Merlot, Columbia Valley, $21, 4,200 cases. Raspberry and dark chocolate define the nose of this wine. Medium-bodied, with silky tannins, there are intense raspberry, cocoa, and toasty oak flavors, with a soft, easy finish.

Miscellaneous

2000 Alice White, Cabernet-Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, $7, 35,000 cases. Ripe red fruit on the nose with straightforward black cherry fruit and soft tannins.

1999 Buttonwood Farm, Marsanne, Santa Ynez Valley, $12, 353 cases. Fresh pineapple aromas, brisk acidity, tropical fruit flavors, and light mineral notes on the finish. Match with squash soup.

1997 Buttonwood Farm, Syrah-Cabernet, Santa Ynez Valley, $30, 144 cases. Enticing black cherry, raspberry, mint and vanilla aromas are detected in this full-bodied wine. Rich, complex fruit of blackberry and plum are enhanced by vanilla spice and earthy undertones.

1997 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Franc, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $24, 775 cases. Black cherry, a touch of menthol and light vanilla aromas on the nose. Sweet black cherry fruit, nuances of tobacco and tart acidity round out this wine.

1999 Covey Run, Chenin Blanc, Washington State, $7, 4,622 cases. A delicate nose of pippin apple, off-dry at 2.6% RS, with melon and peach flavors on a soft finish.

1999 Covey Run, Lemberger, Yakima Valley, $7, 4,000 cases. Aromas and flavors of cherries and berries, earthy undertones, food-friendly acidity, with a long, fruity aftertaste. Very good value.

1998 Hoodsport, Lemberger-Cabernet, Yakima Valley, $15, 1,279 cases. 67% Lemberger, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Delightful plum, cherry and cedar aromas. A nice expression of the grape, the lush fruit is similar to the nose, with a hint of earthiness and modest tannins on the finish. Match with grilled salmon.

1997 Sebastiani, Mourvedre, Domenici Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, $20, 750 cases. The nose of blackberry, licorice and herbs is echoed on the palate, with a hint of cedar, and moderate tannins on the finish.

1999 Waterbrook, Melange, Columbia Valley, $15, 4,591 cases. Strawberry, current and berry aromas are also realized on the palate. Medium-bodied, the wine has nice balance and stimulating acidity. This is a blend of multiple grapes.

1999 Winter’s Hill, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, $12, 285 cases. Made it a light, crisp, lean style, the wine has lovely peach fruit, floral notes and impeccable balance. Excellent value.

Pinot Noir

1999 Clos Du Bois, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $17. Easy on the palate, the wine has red cherry aromas, mixed berry flavors, smoke, spicy oak and brisk acidity.

1999 Clos Du Val, Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley, $26, 1,565 cases. Strawberry, cherry and cinnamon spice are emphasized on the nose. Rich and lush on the palate and well-balanced, you’ll find ripe red fruit and moderate smoky oak on the finish.

1999 Kenwood, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $17, 28,000 cases. Dark tea, black cherry and coffee aromas are repeated on the palate. This wine is medium to full-bodied, lush and well-balanced.

1998 Sanford, Pinot Noir, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, $42. Black cherry, plum and toasty oak are appreciated on the nose and palate. Full-bodied and well-balanced, the wine also has sun-dried tomato, raspberry and black pepper notes.

1998 Winter’s Hill, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $22.50, 250 cases. This medium-bodied wine is very focused, with tart black cherry fruit, a hint of earthiness, and soft tannins on the bracing finish.

Riesling

2000 Hogue, Johannisberg Riesling, Columbia Valley, $8, 61,500 cases. Off-dry at 1.77% RS, the nose has lovely apricot and orange zest aromas. Tangerine flavors predominate, with a hint of vanilla on the gentle acidic finish.

1998 Ste. Chapelle, Riesling, Ice Wine, Reserve Series, Idaho, $20 (375ml), 380 cases. This wine has a rich, candied fruit nose, very sweet citrus, nectarine and pomegranate flavors, with a soft, lingering finish.

1999 Ste. Chapelle, Riesling, Special Harvest, Idaho, $10, 4,631 cases. Aromas of guava and apricots are followed by peach and ginger spice flavors. 6.3% RS.

Sangiovese

1997 Atlas Peak, Sangiovese, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, $16, 30,000 cases. Raspberry, plum and a kiss of vanilla sum up the flavors and aromas of this food-friendly wine. Very approachable now.

1999 Clos Du Val, Sangiovese, Stags Leap, Napa Valley, $27, 742 cases. The cherry/berry nose is matched by the same flavors in the mouth. Medium-bodied, the wine has lively acidity and smooth tannins.

Sauvignon Blanc

1999 Chateau St. Jean, Fume Blanc, La Petite Etoile, Russian River Valley, $20. Grapefruit, mown grass and vanilla notes highlight the nose. There is a creamy entry, with citrus, lemongrass, and honeydew melon flavors, mineral notes and modest vanilla highlights on the crisp finish.

1999 Fetzer, Sauvignon Blanc, Echo Ridge, California, $9, 56,000 cases. This pleasant quaffer has lemon and gooseberry aromas and flavors, with a touch of lime on the crisp finish. Good value.

2000 Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ, $17. This wine saw 5% barrel fermentation and 23% malolactic fermentation. Gooseberry and white peach highlight the nose. Up-front guava and passion fruit melds nicely with the obvious gooseberry flavors. The finish is long, with pleasant herbaceousness and moderate acidity.

1999 Sanford, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Coast, $14.50. Somewhat atypical, yet strangely interesting. Gooseberry, green olive and jalapeno pepper aromas and flavors, with citrus, herbs and bright acidity on the finish.

1999 Waterbrook, Sauvignon Blanc, Klipsun Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $8, 3,895 cases. The nose is highlighted by citrus, melon and vanilla notes. Pear and green apple fruit fill the mouth, supported by lively acidity, with vanilla flavors coming through on the finish. Good value.

Semillon

1999 Columbia Crest, Semillon, Columbia Valley, $9. Citrus, melon and a touch of fig tempt the nose. You’ll find similar flavors, supported by bracing acidity.

1998 Hoodsport, Semillon, Yakima Valley, $13, 386 cases. Crisp, clean, and fruity, with pear and fig nuances, and just a touch of American oak A nice expression of the grape.

1999 Snoqualmie, Semillon Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $7. A subtle nose of citrus and vanilla is followed by up-front spicy vanilla flavors, with light apple notes on the soft finish. 0.43% RS.

Sparkling Wine

NV Korbel, Brut Rose, Kenny G. Artist Label, $13. Pale salmon, with medium-fine bubbles, this bubbly has lovely cranberry aromas. Off-dry, you’ll find cranberry and currant flavors and nice acidity. Good value sparkler.

NV Korbel, Natural, Inaugural Cuvee, $13. Ripe Jonathan apple aromas and a delicate mousse. Tart apple and light toasty notes are framed by crisp acidity.

NV Ste. Chapelle, Sparkling Brut, American, $8. A delicate, off-dry sparkler that is very effervescent, with creamy citrus flavors at a fair value. RS is 1.03%.

NV Ste. Chapelle, Sparkling Spumante, $8. More of a dessert wine than a sparkler, the wine is quite sweet at 9.0% RS. A blend of 60% Chenin Blanc and 40% Chardonnay, peach and pear fruit prevails.

Syrah

2000 Alice White, Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, $8, 14,739 cases. Black cherry and licorice on the nose. Soft tannins, straightforward berry fruit, with a touch of minerals on the finish.

1998 Buttonwood Farm, Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, $22, 333 cases. Dark fruit, anise and cedar play on the nose. You’ll discover dried cherry fruit, violets, cedar and vanilla on the long finish.

1999 Ironstone Vineyards, Shiraz, California, $9, 16,450 cases. Bright red cherry and spicy oak aromas are followed by jammy black fruit, a hint of pepper, and chewy tannins.

1998 McDowell, Syrah, Mendocino County, $12, 14,500 cases. Soft and supple on the palate, this Syrah can be enjoyed tonight. Black cherry fruit flavors prevail, with hints of vanilla and white pepper spice on the finish.

1998 McDowell, Syrah, Reserve, Mendocino County, $24, 1,500 cases. Enticing violet and plum aromas lead to lush berry fruit flavors, perfumed notes, and a moderately tannic finish. Two to three additional years in bottle will enhance the wine.

1998 Meridian, Syrah, Paso Robles, $15. Blackberry jam is the main theme here, with a touch of smoky vanilla and soft tannins. Easy to drink now.

Viognier

1999 Callaway, Viognier, Coastal Reserve, California, $16, 2,500 cases. The wine has a lovely floral bouquet, honeysuckle predominating. White peach and perfumed flavors are supported by food-friendly acidity. Good value.

1999 Geyser Peak, Viognier, Block Collection, Alexander Valley, $19, 470 cases. Very floral, with honeysuckle and orange zest aromas. Light-bodied, the wine has a fruit bowl of flavors, with a soft finish. Drink early for the youthful flavors.

Zinfandel

1999 Cline, Zinfandel, California, $10, 86,000 cases. This wine is all about raspberry jam, on the nose and on the palate. Well-balanced, with nicely integrated oak and loaded with fruit pleasure. There is a very long, lush, berry aftertaste, with modest tannins. Excellent value.

1998 Clos Du Bois, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $14. Blackberry, plum, and smoky oak notes lead off. Jammy mixed black fruits, cracked pepper, moderate tannins and brisk acidity make a nice package from a difficult vintage.

1998 Lake Sonoma, Zinfandel, Dry Creek, $15, 4,330 cases. This Zinfandel offers honest cherry, black pepper and cocoa flavors, finishing with brisk acidity. Drink now for the fruit.

1997 Mazzocco, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $16, 3,965 cases. Blackberry and Asian spices fill the nose, followed by blackberry jam flavors and balanced oak nuances, made in an elegant style.

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