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© 2001 by Randy Buckner
March 31, 2001

Early Spring Releases:
Early Spring teases us with the lovely weather to follow, grapevines are springing to life, and the wines keep rolling out the winery doors.

Starting with the next article, we will make a significant change in format. Wines will be rated for the first time, using the scale that Jerry Mead made famous and which we now resurrect: The first number will rate the wine, the second number the wine value. People in and out of the business have requested ratings at a 7 to 3 vote, and we have responded accordingly. Tasting notes will likewise be expanded. Watch for all these new features next month!

Cabernet Sauvignon

1999 Barwang, Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia, $9. Somewhat muted blackberry and cedar notes on the nose. Tasty blackberry fruit, olive, and smooth tannins round out this good value wine.

1997 Clos Du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Briarcrest, Alexander Valley, $36, 2,100 cases. Huge blackberry jam and dark chocolate leap from the glass. Intense on the palate, the wine displays blackberry, chocolate, toasted oak, a dash of herbs and tobacco, on a well-balanced framework. A sure hit for those who like big Cabs.

1998 Geyser Peak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Block Collection, Kuimelis Vineyard, $26, 1,165 cases. Black cherry, cassis and cedar aromas highlight this crimson wine. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins, the wine has lush black fruits and spicy oak flavors.

1998 Geyser Peak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Block Collection, Vallerga Vineyard, $35, 1,964 cases. Deeply colored and aromatic, with obvious cassis, berry, tobacco and cedar notes. Lush on the palate, with silky tannins, the blackberry fruit and cassis notes delight the palate. Good value.

1998 Hogue, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard Selection, Columbia Valley, $16, 13,332 cases. Black cherry, green olive and toasty oak aromas are also appreciated on the palate. Chalky mineral nuances and soft tannins give focus to the wine.

1997 Lake Sonoma, Cabernet, Alexander Valley, $21, 3,575 cases. Blackberry, black cherry and a hint of dill on the nose and palate, with American oak and moderate tannins on the finish. Will benefit from additional aging.

1999 Rosemount, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hill of Gold, Mudgee, $19. Dark ruby in the glass, the cassis, cedar, and candied plum aromas charm the nose. Plum, blackberry, currant and hackberry flavors ride on a firm, but supple tannic backbone.

1998 Rosemount, Traditional, McLaren Vale, $23. Cassis and American oak aromas compliment the dark, ripe fruit flavors. Chocolate, smoky oak, and supple tannins round out the wine.

1997 Windsor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Russian River, $20.50. Blackberry and black olive enhance the nose. Medium-bodied, with similar flavors, there is a definite cedar note on the moderately tannic finish. Give this one 2-3 more years in bottle.

1997 Windsor, Meritage, Stockhausen Signature Series, Sonoma County, $23.50. Black fruit, dill and vanilla aromas and flavors are found in this medium-bodied wine. Supple tannins and vanilla on the aftertaste. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc.

Chardonnay

1999 Barwang, Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, $9. Aromas of apple, pear and vanilla define the nose. Full-bodied, with butterscotch and vanilla flavors overlaying a crisp finish. Match with grilled prawns and lemon butter. Good value for the style.

1999 Chateau Ste Michelle, Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, Columbia Valley, $13. 100% BF and MLF with a creamy entry. Pear, lemon, honey and vanilla aromas and flavors define this wine.

1999 Chateau Ste Michelle, Chardonnay, Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard, $20. The nose is delineated by green apple, spice and vanilla. Creamy French vanilla, citrus, and honey flavors carry over to the long finish.

1998 Clos Du Bois, Chardonnay, Flintwood, Dry Creek Valley, $22, 2,900 cases. Smoky oak and spiced pear aromas. Lush and creamy on the palate, butterscotch, pear, and apple flavors prevail, with a long, toasty finish.

1999 Covey Run, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $9. Light gold, with pleasing floral, spice and pear aromas. Soft on the palate, the wine is defined by straightforward apple and peach flavors.

2000 Fetzer, Chardonnay, Sundial, California, $9, >100,000 cases. Very consistent in their style, with pineapple, lemon peel and sweet oak aromas. Very fruit-forward, the ripe apple and pear flavors win out over the citrus and vanilla nuances. Good value.

1999 Geyser Peak, Chardonnay, Reserve, Alexander Valley, $23, 2,400 cases. A fragrant nose reminiscent of biting into a crisp yellow delicious apple, with a hint of butterscotch at the end. Very smooth on the palate, you’ll appreciate ripe apple, pear and spicy oak flavors. Drink early for the fruit.

1999 Hogue, Chardonnay, Fruit Forward, Columbia Valley, $10, 90,000 cases. The nose has green apple, pineapple and vanilla notes. Fruity, with nice acidity, the wine has plenty of green apple and creamy oak flavors.

1999 Hogue, Chardonnay, Vineyard Selection, Columbia Valley, $14, 10,000 cases. The tropical fruit, vanilla, citrus and light pear aromas are repeated on the palate, with a long, caramel cream finish.

1999 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Camelot Vineyard, $17, 22,098 cases. From a 30-year old vineyard in the Sierra Madres. Toasty oak and caramel aromas and flavors, with pineapple fruit and spicy notes on the long finish.

1999 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Grand Reserve, $19, 65,853 cases. Light gold, with aged apple and toasted oak aromas. Similar flavors are echoed on the palate, with pears coming through on the mid-palate. 100% MLF and BF.

1999 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Vintner’s Reserve, $11. Straw in color, with ripe apple, toffee and mixed oak aromas and flavors, with a sweet caramel apple finish. 100% MLF and 95% BF.

1999 MacRostie, Chardonnay, Carneros, $19.25, 12,000 cases. Light gold, with pear and citrus aromas. Very focused, very clean, with the aromas repeated on the palate. Well-integrated oak and crisp acidity round out the wine. Good value.

1998 MacRostie, Chardonnay, Reserve, Carneros, $28.50, 400 cases. Golden yellow, with ripe apple and butterscotch aromas. Creamy and lush, apple and pear fruit prevails, with an obvious hazelnut/toffee component.

2000 Rosemount, Chardonnay, Hill of Gold, Mudgee, $17. A fresh nose of apple, fig, and vanilla notes. Round and lush on the palate, apple, melon, pineapple and sweet oak meld to deliver a very approachable wine.

1999 Rosemount, Chardonnay, Rose Label, Orange Vineyard, $23. White peach, citrus and French oak on the nose. Creamy vanilla, peach and pineapple flavors are supported by an acidic backbone.

1998 Rosemount, Chardonnay, Roxburgh, Australia, $30. Golden straw coloration. Fig and ripe pear notes are appreciated on the nose and palate, with light apricot flavors, subtle French oak, and a creamy backdrop.

1999 Valley of the Moon, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, $15, 3,000 cases. This medium weight wine has a nose of pineapple and toasty oak, which is repeated on the palate, with a touch of pear coming through on the finish.

1999 Windsor, Chardonnay, Private Reserve, Russian River, $17.50. Ripe pear, vanilla and nutty notes are followed by a creamy entry, pear and tangerine flavors, with a long, crisp, fruity finish.

1999 Windsor, Chardonnay, Stockhausen Signature Series, Russian River, $18.50. Ripe apple, caramel, and toasted oak aromas are echoed on the palate, with a heavy toast aftertaste. An oak lover’s delight.

Gewurztraminer

2000 Columbia Winery, Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley, $7, 10,000 cases. Light gold, with the varietal aromas lychee, grapefruit and spice. Off-dry at 3% residual sugar, the aromas are echoed on the palate, with barely enough acidity to keep the wine interesting.

2000 Fetzer, Gewurztraminer, Echo Ridge, California, $8, 100,000+ cases. The nose has apricot, peach and floral notes. Off-dry, the wine shows green apple and yellow peach flavors, with very light acidity. 3.69% RS.

2000 Geyser Peak, Gewurztraminer, California, $9, 14,000 cases. This wine only saw stainless steel, allowing the fruit to shine. Off-dry, the wine has lychee and rose petal aromas and flavors. Match with Pacific Rim foods.

1999 Husch, Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, $11, 3,200 cases. Enticing peach, spice and mandarin orange aromas. Off-dry at 0.8% RS, apricot and citrus flavors and balanced by delicate acidity.

1998 Husch, Gewurztraminer, Late Harvest, Anderson Valley, $15 (375 ml), 910 cases. Concentrated apricot and honey aromas are repeated on the palate, with a dose of spicy peach. Moderately sweet at 12.4% RS, the wine finishes with light acidity.

Mead

NV Sky River, Dry Mead, Washington, $10, 1,000 cases. An intense honeyed nose is followed by exotic fruit and honey flavors. Match this Mead with curry dishes.

NV Sky River, Semi-sweet Mead, Washington, $10, 1,500 cases. With a honeyed nose less intense than their Dry Mead, this wine has pear and honey notes. Pair with Mediterranean foods.

NV Sky River, Sweet Mead, Washington, $10, 1,000 cases. Aromas of pear, honey, and field flowers are repeated on the palate, with dessert level sweetness. On those cool winter nights, this can be enjoyed warmed with a dash of cinnamon.

Merlot

1999 Barwang, Merlot. South Eastern Australia, $9. Blackberry, plum and cedar note are appreciated on the nose and palate. Supple tannins allow for early drinking. Nice summer BBQ wine. Good value.

1998 Clos Du Bois, Merlot, Reserve, Alexander Valley, $22, 9,700 cases. Ripe cherry, juicy raspberry, cocoa and toasted oak aromas are repeated on the palate. Smooth tannins allow early consumption, but the wine will benefit from two years in the bottle.

1998 Hogue, Merlot, Vineyard Selection, Columbia Valley, $16, 34,400 cases. Cassis, black olive and fresh plum aromas. Easy on the entry, with silky tannins, the wine exhibits dark fruit, spice and sweet oak flavors. Paired well with Cajun-spice catfish.

1998 Mirassou, Merlot, Harvest Reserve, Monterey County, $18, 5,910 cases. Black cherry fills the nose of this medium-bodied wine. Juicy black cherry fruit, a healthy dollop of cedar, and silky tannins round out the wine. There is a long, fruity finish. A nice match for dolmas.

1998 Rosemount, Merlot, Orange Vineyard, $26. Deeply colored, with a rich nose of blackberry, spice and toasty oak. Black cherry, plum, caramel, vanilla and supple tannins are featured on the palate. Match with grilled meats.

1998 William Hill, Merlot, Napa Valley, $22, 16,000 cases. Blueberries define the nose of this wine. Blackberries, blueberries, French oak and silky tannins highlight the bottling. Pair with dishes ranging from grilled beef to pizza.

1998 Windsor, Merlot, Stockhausen Signature Series, Sonoma County, $25. The nose is dominated by blackberry and plum aromas. Medium-bodied, with dark fruit, moderate tannins, and a long, berry aftertaste.

Miscellaneous

1997 Castello di Gabbiano, Chianti Classico, Riserva, Italy, $17. Imported by Wine World Imports, Napa. This is a friendly Chianti that is dark ruby in the glass, with black fruit and cedar aromas. Earthy raspberry and blackberry fruit, light cedar notes, moderate acidity, and a long, fruity finish make for a good value wine.

2000 Geyser Peak, Riesling, California, $9, 30,000 cases. Very floral, with typical honeysuckle and white peach notes. Off-dry at 2.6% RS, the wine has light fruit flavors and light acidity, requiring a match with delicate Asian dishes such as shrimp with oyster sauce.

1999 Hogue, Cabernet-Merlot, Columbia Valley, $10, 60,379 cases. Cherry and licorice aromas abound. Black cherries, leather, American oak, and silky tannins combine to make an easy drinking wine. Good value.

1997 Marques de Arienzo Crianza, Rioja, Estate, $10. Ripe red cherry and spicy plum aromas are echoed on the palate, with nuances of white pepper and dill. Very well-balanced, this wine will pair nicely with grilled flank steak and portabello mushrooms. An Allied Domecq Wines import. Very good value.

1998 WillaKenzie Estate, Gamay Noir, Willamette Valley, $16, 353 cases. Bright red cherry aromas are followed by black cherry and blackberry flavors, cedar notes, and moderate tannins. The nice acidity and flavors makes this a perfect spaghetti wine.

1999 WillaKenzie Estate, Pinot Meunier, Willamette Valley, $20, 720 cases. Spicy, peppery, berry aromas are followed by lovely, soft red fruit and white pepper flavors. This wine is very approachable now and will enhance a host of food dishes.

1997 Windsor, Cabernet Franc, Stockhausen Signature Series, Sonoma County, $20. Berry and light herbal aromas are followed by lush flavors of blueberry, plum, dill, and vanilla spice. You’ll find the finish tart, with silky tannins.

Pinot Gris

1999 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Oregon, $15. Pale straw, with obvious peach, papaya and honeysuckle aromas. Well-balanced, with food-friendly acidity, you’ll enjoy peach, apricot and nectarine flavors. A nice match with grilled shrimp and tarragon butter.

1999 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Reserve, Oregon, $20, 3,380 cases. Pale gold, with a host of aromas ranging from mango to pear. Flavors of melon, papaya and honey predominate, with a full, slightly hot finish.

2000 Montevina, Pinot Grigio, $10, 20,000 cases. This wine received 100% stainless steel handling. Lemon peel and yellow peach aromas are repeated on the palate. Very fruity and crisp, this wine pairs nicely with chicken and dumplings. Good value.

1999 Pepi, Pinot Grigio, Oregon, $12, 3,241 cases. 100% stainless steel handling with no MLF. Citrus, pear and melon notes on the nose and on the palate. A natural food wine with the brisk acidity.

1999 WillaKenzie Estate, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, $16, 3,559 cases. This is a well-balanced, fruity effort from WillaKenzie. Very fragrant, with aromas and flavors of pear, honey, apricot and ripe apple. Delicate sweetness (0.46% RS) is noticed on the crisp finish.

Pinot Noir

1999 MacRostie, Pinot Noir, Carneros, $22, 400 cases. A classic, funky Pinot nose, with intense, earthy, black cherry fruit and just a hint of green peppercorn. You’ll find moderate, silky tannins on the long, crisp finish. Match with your favorite duck dish.

1998 MacRostie, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, $36, 150 cases. A refined nose of cherry and light vanilla. Elegant on the entry, black cherry and dried cherry flavors dominate, with well-integrated vanilla notes, in a nicely balanced package.

1997 WillaKenzie Estate, Pinot Noir, Pierre Léon, Willamette Valley, $30, 1,868 cases. Rich black cherry, vanilla and light wood notes. Rich cherry fruit flavors, balance, and enhancing acidity exemplify this wine.

1999 WillaKenzie Estate, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $23, 1,723 cases. The nose has black cherry and wormwood notes. Full-bodied, well-balanced, with black fruit, moderate tannins, integrated French oak, and a long, fruity finish.

Sauvignon Blanc

1999 Chateau Ste Michelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $14. Tropical fruit and vanilla define the nose of this wine. On the palate, sweet French oak is in the forefront, with tropical fruit flavors peering through from the background. Brisk finish.

2000 Fetzer, Sauvignon Blanc, Echo Ridge, California, $9, 90,000 cases. Lemongrass and Granny Smith apple aromas are followed by lemon-lime, green apple and slightly herbal flavors. Drink early for the fresh fruit flavors.

2000 Geyser Peak, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, $10, 54,000 cases. Light gold, with big grapefruit and herbal aromas. Very crisp and clean from the stainless steel treatment, the flavors mimic the nose. Shellfish and grilled seafood will pair nicely with this wine.

1999 Kendall-Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Vintner’s Reserve, $10. Pale straw with light herbal and citrus notes. Clean, refreshing, with sweet melon, citrus and gooseberry flavors. Good foil for grilled halibut.

2000 Montevina, Fume Blanc, California, $7, 10,000 cases. Grassy, citrus aromas are echoed on the palate, along with melon notes. Refreshingly crisp and dry, this wine begs for shellfish. Good value.

1999 Pedroncelli, Fume Blanc, Dry Creek, $10, 4,200 cases. Light straw in the glass, enhanced by lemongrass and herbs on the nose and palate. Clean and crisp on the fruity finish, this is a nice match for shrimp and leek linguine in white wine sauce.

2000 Shenandoah, Sauvignon Blanc, Amador County, $10, 1,526 cases. Very aromatic, with grassy notes prevailing, and just a touch of a coconut accent. Similar flavors are found on the palate, with a dash of honeydew melon on the crisp, slightly sweet finish. 0.5% RS.

Syrah

1999 Barwang, Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, $9. Crimson colored, with Rainier cherry and plum aromas. Mixed red and black fruit, white pepper and soft tannins define this easy drinker.

1998 Clos Du Bois, Shiraz, Reserve, Alexander Valley, $16, 4,770 cases. Lovely raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, and a touch of smoke charm the nose. Easy on the palate, rounded tannins, jammy fruit, cocoa, and moderate smoked oak give definition to this wine.

1998 Geyser Peak, Shiraz, Reserve, Sonoma County, $40, 1,500 cases. Deeply colored, with plum, licorice and vanilla spice notes. Full-bodied and moderately tannic, the wine exhibits plum, licorice and black mushroom flavors. The wine needs 3-5 years to develop.

1998 Rosemount, Syrah, Balmoral, McLaren Vale, $50. From 50 - 100 year old vineyards. Full concentration of black fruit, spicy toasted oak flavors, and a long finish with soft tannins. Needs a few years in the bottle.

2000 Rosemount, Shiraz, Diamond Label, Australia, $12. Deeply colored, with plum and spice aromas. Generous, ripe, brambly fruit predominates, followed by light American oak flavors and supple tannins. A nice match for your favorite BBQ dishes.

1999 Rosemount, Shiraz, Hill of Gold, Mudgee, $19. Richly colored, the nose displays plum, black cherry and candied ginger aromas. Jammy red and black fruit, smooth tannins, and spicy oak flavors finish with easy acidity.

1997 Rosemount, Shiraz, Orange Vineyard, $26. The nose yields black cherry, plum, and subtle oak notes. Black currant and black cherry flavors are enhanced by silky tannins, with smoky oak on the finish.

White Zinfandel

2000 Montevina, White Zinfandel, Amador County, $6.50, 20,000 cases. A light pink color with melon and raspberry aromas. Delicately sweet and fruity, watermelon flavors prevail.

2000 Shenandoah, White Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, $7, 4,800 cases. Organically grown, this light coral wine has aromas of strawberry and watermelon. Delicately sweet at 1.3% RS, watermelon is the dominant flavor. A nice summer sipper. Good value.

Zinfandel

1999 Peachy Canyon, Zinfandel, Incredible Red, Bin 110, $11, 9,519 cases. Brambly fruit aromas and flavors, the wine had cranberry peering through on the tangy finish. Good value.

1997 Pedroncelli, Zinfandel, Pedroni-Bushnell Vineyard, Dry Creek, $15, 1,042 cases. Intense aromas of blackberry, raspberry, and American oak. Jammy fruit flavors, oak spice and supple tannins delineate this wine. Approachable now. Good value.

1998 Pedroncelli, Zinfandel, Midnight Run, Dry Creek, $20, 250 cases. An elegant nose of blackberry and vanilla cream. Blackberry, raspberry, and black pepper flavors are bolstered by a moderately tannic finish. Will benefit from 1-2 years of aging.

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