© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
This was the happy situation at Judson Byrn's house in the Denver suburbs on Nov. 18, where five of us -- Judson and his friend Carol and Steve Carpenter from the Denver area, and Craig Potts and I, visiting coincidentally from out of town -- got together to break bread and pull cork. It was a great, if casually informal gathering, and as you'll see, the wines were truly fine:
Rochioli 1997 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc - Pale straw color. Very ripe and generous grapefruit aroma over subtle spicy oak, and a tart and crisp flavor with loads of grapefruit and some emerging oaky vanillins. I'm increasingly convinced that Rochioli's SB has to be enjoyed as quickly as possible after release; the intense fruit that makes it special quickly retreats behind the wood within the wine's first year. This one's still got it, though, and I'm glad I caught it reasonably early.
Les Cailloux 1995 Cuvée Centenaire Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Inky dark ruby. Delicious grilled-meat, lavendar and fennel aromas over intense black fruit. Full, "chunky" black-fruit flavor follows the nose, "garrigues" and spicy black pepper becoming more evident with time in the glass. Complex yet balanced, lots of character; one of the best of many good 1995 Chateauneufs I've tried. U.S. importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC.
Saddleback Cellars 1995 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Very dark blackish-purple. "Dusty," minty black fruit aromas with a vinous note that suggests even higher alcohol than the 13.5% claimed on the label. Huge fruit flavor, luscious and "sweet," with lots of oaky vanillins but even more fruit. Tannic but still approachable; "outrageous" in the best sense. Quite a wine experience.
Muga 1985 Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja ($31.99) - Clear ruby-amber color, rather light, with delicate but complex earthy, floral, rosy and red-fruit aromas. Flavors consistent with the nose, light and delicate and almost fragile. Not oxidized nor, apparently, cooked, but it seems lighter and more aged than I'd expect of a 13-year-old Rioja Gran Reserva. U.S. importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky.
Chateau Talbot 1986 Saint-Julien - Clear ruby. Classic Bordeaux aromas, cedar and tobacco, earthy and ripe. Rich juicy fruit flavor, tannic and tart; structured and delicious but still quite young; will reward more cellar time. U.S. importer: Bordeaux Wine Locators Inc., Rainier, Wash.
Graham's 1985 Vintage Porto (375 ml) - Inky dark, almost black. Delicious stone-fruit aromas with an intriguing smoky quality. Full, sweet and heavily tannic -- still very young -- but delicious fruit sweetness and a firm acidic "grip" make it a delight. U.S. importer: Premium Port Wines Inc., Sonoma, Calif.
Thumbs Up 1994 Santa Barbara County White Riesling - Bright gold color. Very intense Sauterne-type aroma, honey and apricots and light botrytis, leads into a full apricot flavor, thick and honey-sweet.
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