© 2002 by Randy Buckner
Jan. 5, 2002

Winter 2002 Releases

The new year has entered with quite a statement around the world. The Taliban are on the run, Australia is plagued with fires, the Southeast United States is blanketed in snow and ice, and the Oregon Ducks are still miffed about roses. Of course none of this has any impact on new wine releases, which continue to roll out in record numbers. The quality of wine around the world continues to improve. Finding exceptional wine is still a worthy pursuit; finding truly bad wine to sacrifice to the drain gods is fortunately becoming less commonplace. Another 100 new and current releases are presented for your perusal. The dual rating system evaluates quality (the first number) and value (the second) on a 100-point scale. As always, enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.

Cabernet Sauvignon wine glass

1998 Beaulieu, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tapestry, Napa Valley, California, $45, 23,500 cases. A refined, well-balanced wine, with very focused red and black fruit, nifty acidity and rounded tannins. A nice effort. 90/89.

Blackstone 1999 Blackstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $10. We can use more of these dandy, everyday quaffers. Rich plum and mixed spice aromas and flavors are found in this well-balanced, savory wine. Ready to drink tonight. 85/90.

1999 Clos Du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $29. Blackberry, cassis, herbal and cedar aromas are echoed on the palate, with a thyme spice nuance. Tannins are full and slightly bitter. The wine should improve with bottle aging. 87/87.

1999 Fetzer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley Oaks, California, $10, 100,000+ cases. Blackberry, cedar, spice and chocolate notes meld well with the light but honest fruit flavors. Vanilla and spice are noted on the medium-length finish. 85/88.

1998 Geyser Peak, Meritage, Reserve Alexandre, Alexander Valley, California, $45, 4,650 cases. An inky appearance with black cherry and cedar aromas. These carry over to the palate with additional layers of berry fruit, spice, leather and balanced vanilla. Full-bodied yet the tannins roll across the tongue without too much carnage. 88/87.

1998 Geyser Peak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $40, 3,400 cases. Purple/black in the glass. Berries and cassis fruit combine with cedar and vanilla aromas to make a fine statement. Full-bodied with concentrated fruit, this wine is a mouthful. The substantial but rounded tannins will benefit from bottle age. 88/87.

1999 Harrison, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $56. Gobs of cassis and cocoa aromas are followed by flavors of same. Elegant, layered, the wine makes a lovely statement. 90/88.

1998 Harrison, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $100, 150 cases. An intense, complex nose of black fruit, chocolate and violets. Lush and elegant on the palate, wave after wave of flavors wash over the palate. 91/86.

1998 Hartwell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, $100, 1,100 cases. You´ll find violets and black fruit aromas, opening to layer after layer of incredibly tasty fruit in an impeccably balanced package. 92/87.

2000 Hogue, Cabernet-Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10, 61,000 cases. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. The wine is fruity, with spice and chocolate notes melding with the blackberry and licorice aromas, however the tannins are somewhat green and chewy. 84/85.

1996 Keenan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $34, 2,294 cases. This is the current release, with the 97 being released ahead of this wine. Loaded with black fruit, cassis, and violet notes, the chunky tannins still need more bottle time. 88/88.

1999 Turning Leaf, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coastal Reserve, Central Coast, California, $10, 42,500 cases. This ruby red wine has a host of aromas ranging from red cherries to cedary notes. Straightforward fruit flavors meld with modest tannins and soft acidity. Ready to drink. 82/85.

1998 Valley of the Moon, Cuvee de la Luna, Sonoma County, California, $25, 3,950 cases. Their Meritage blend offers up plenty of cassis, black cherry, pipe tobacco, and cedar aromas. Well-balanced, medium-bodied, with coarse tannins that will benefit from a couple of years in the bottle. Enticing flavors mimic the nose, with jammy berries lingering on the long, crisp finish. 86/87. *

1999 William Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $22, 26,000 cases. Blackberry and licorice aromas are appreciated in this ruby red vino. Straightforward cassis and blackberry flavors, soft tannins and an easy finish wrap up the profile. 84/84

Chardonnay wine glass

Acacia 2000 Acacia, Chardonnay, Carneros, California, $21, 42,000 cases. Aromas of pears, honey, nutmeg spice and vanilla please the senses. Weighty on the palate, the wine is rich and elegant, with layers of ripe fruit and spice. Creamy vanilla custard is realized on the long finish. 88/88.

2000 Bargetto, Chardonnay, Central Coast, California, $11, 8,500 cases. This straw-colored wine has obvious pineapple and grapefruit aromas and flavors. Laudable use of oak allows the fruit to shine in this fairly priced wine. 0.5% residual sugar. 85/87.

2000 Beaulieu, Chardonnay, Carneros, California, $18, 40,000 cases. Tropical fruit and pear notes highlight this crisp, juicy Chardonnay. Balanced oak and crisp acidity have you coming back to the glass for more. 88/88.

1999 Beringer, Chardonnay, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $35. Huge smoky butterscotch aromas carry over to the palate. The wine has a creamy, elegant feel, with tropical fruit and pear vying for attention behind the new oak that prevails. 86/85.

2000 Camelot, Chardonnay, California, $10. Aromas show a mix of green apples, pineapple and light oak. Made in a clean, lean style, the fruit dominates the oak in this wine, as it should be. Pineapple flavors are evident, finishing with a nice acidic bite. 85/89.

2000 Chateau St. Jean, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California, $14. A creamy, soft wine with pear, vanilla and buttery notes on the nose. Peaches, citrus and toasted oak come across on the palate. 85/86.

2000 Clos Du Val, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Carneros, California, $23. Exhibiting a golden color with a pale green hue, the ripe apple, pear, vanilla and butterscotch aromas match the palate flavors. Soft and creamy in a classic California style. 87/87.

2000 Columbia Crest, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington, $9. Apple and banana aromas and flavors mingle with light oak notes in this simple yet pleasant wine. 83/85.

2000 Columbia Crest, Chardonnay, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington, $11. Butterscotch, green apple and pear aromas open to a creamy wine with a healthy dose of caramel/oak and underlying pear fruit. 83/84.

1999 Gallo of Sonoma, Chardonnay, Laguna Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California, $23. The wine is loaded with tropical fruit aromas. Soft and creamy on the entry, yellow delicious apple and pear flavors are accented by sweet oak on the long finish. 87/87.

2000 Geyser Peak, Chardonnay, Block Collection, Carneros, California, $21, 1,200 cases. A very forward wine, with juicy green apple scents and a touch of pear for added interest. Classic fruit is supported by brisk acidity, butterscotch and toasted oak flavors. 85/85.

2000 Geyser Peak, Chardonnay, Reserve, Alexander Valley, California, $23, 2,400 cases. Juicy apples, melons and butterscotch aromas are appreciated in this golden Chardonnay. Creamy, soft, with flavors to match the nose and an added clove spiciness on the finish. 87/87.

2000 Geyser Peak, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, $16, 14,000 cases. Shimmering gold with green apple, orange blossom and smoky oak aromas. The creamy entry is backed up by green apple fruit, lush vanilla and balanced acidity. The wine finishes long and fruity. 86/87.

2000 Gold Digger, Chardonnay, Okanogan Valley, Washington, $15. Located only five miles south of British Columbia. Lean and crisp in a food-friendly style, the tart green apple aromas and flavors are allowed to shine by the applaudable use of oak. 86/87.

2000 Harrison, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $40. Full-bodied, full-blown, yet manages to maintain an air of elegance. The wine is packed with aromas and flavors of rich, ripe apples and pears, ending with balanced acidity. 89/87.

1999 Keenan, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $20, 1,560 cases. The apples, apricots and citrus on the nose are accentuated by the crisp, clean structure and full fruit flavors. The finish is long and refreshing. 89/90.

1999 St. Clement, Chardonnay, Abbotts Vineyard, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, $20, 2,000 cases. Weighty on the palate, the flavors of melons, pears, tangerines, nuts and toasty oak blend well with like aromas. 87/87.

1999 Shafer, Chardonnay, Red Shoulder Ranch, Carneros, California, $38. Very elegant, concentrated, and creamy. Sweet oak, ripe apples, and tropical fruit play out on the extremely long finish. 90/89.

2000 Turning Leaf, Chardonnay, Coastal Reserve, North Coast, California, $10. Straw-colored with aromas of vanilla, tropical fruit and toast. Soft and creamy on the palate, ripe apples and toasty vanilla define the flavor profile. 83/84.

2000 William Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $15. This light gold wine offers aromas of nectarine, green apple, citrus peel, and floral notes. Built in a lean style, this Chardonnay is quite crisp, with citrus, apple and peach fruit, and a touch of almonds. Judicious use of oak allows the wine to be all that it can be. 87/88

Italian wine glass

Mazzei 1999 Mazzei Fonterutoli, Chianti Classico D.O.C.G., Italy, $25, 18,333 cases. Dark ruby, with charming aromas of cherries, dried cherries, raspberries and saddle leather. The wine is surprisingly approachable now but should age nicely. Lovely fruit and leather flavors are supported by workable tannins and medium acidity. 90/90.

2000 Fonterutoli Poggio alla Badiola, Toscana I.G.T., Italy, $13. Predominantly Sangiovese. This garnet-colored wine is made in an easy to drink style, with straightforward cherry and dried cherry aromas and flavors, and supple tannins. 84/86.

1999 Mazzei Belguardo, Morellino Di Scansano DOC, Italy, $20. 100% Sangiovese from Southern Tuscany. Rich cherries, humidor and wood notes intermingle on the nose. Soft and fruity, the substantial tannins sneak up on you at the end, with a dash of pepper on the finish for interest. 88/88.

Merlot wine glass

1998 Bargetto, Merlot, Reserve, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, $30, 980 cases. The wine is well-balanced and structured for food. Blueberries, violets, vanilla and dill spice delight the nose and palate, finishing long and dry. 86/85.

1999 Clos Du Val, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $25. Blackberries and plums are apparent on the nose, with cedary spice nuances. Very stylish and well-balanced, this wine is all that you can ask from a Merlot. Lush without being overblown, layered complexity, crisp acids, and silky tannins combine for a lovely wine. 90/91.

2000 Fetzer, Merlot, Eagle Peak, California, $9, 100,000+ cases. Leading off with plums, mixed berries and cedary vanilla notes, this new release has straightforward fruit flavors, modest tannins, and sweet vanilla lingering on the medium-length finish. 83/85.

1999 Hartwell, Merlot, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, $60, 400 cases. Very impressive balance, with full black cherry fruit flavors, chocolate, vanilla, silky tannins and a long, elegant aftertaste. 91/87.

2000 Hogue, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10, 9,900 cases. Blueberry, juicy plum , cocoa, and vanilla spice aromas and flavors are presented on a medium framework, with modest tannins and a fruity finish. A perennial value wine. 86/90.

1999 Huntington, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, 2,631 cases, $18. This dark ruby offering has a host of plum, dark chocolate and American oak aromas fighting for dominance. Rich, elegant, with well-structured tannins. Plums, oak and dill spice end with a long finish. 86/87.

1999 Indigo Hills, Merlot, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley, California, $16. Very dark in the glass with dark plum and oak aromas. Sweet black fruit, vanilla, smoke, and chewy tannins makes this a match for grilled beef. 84/84.

1998 Keenan, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $27, 2,100 cases. Very approachable now, the dark fruit expresses a host of rich flavors. Black cherries, chocolate and coffee beans are highlighted by the brisk finish. 89/89.

1998 Keenan, Merlot, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $42. Take their regular Merlot and stuff in another pound of intensity and you have the Reserve. Approachable now, this one will last for many years to come. 91/90.

1999 Kenwood, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $17, 45,000 cases. The flavor profile of this wine is defined by sweet berries, plums and modest vanilla notes, co-mingling with leather and American oak aromas. Tannins are soft and the finish is long. 86/88.

Luna 1999 Luna, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $32, 6,400 cases. You can almost spread the blackberry preserves across your olfactory senses with this dark ruby beauty. Very polished, with full flavors on the palate and satiny smooth tannins. Black fruit, chocolate, and vanilla linger on the complex, lengthy finish. 92/92.

1999 Marcelina, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $30. Deep black fruit aromas and smoky oak emanate from the glass of this dark ruby wine. You´ll recognize blueberry, plum, sweet oak and chewy tannins on the long finish. 87/86.

1999 St. Clement, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $28, 2,600 cases. A perennial winner, this dark ruby offering does not fail. Lovely black cherry, blueberry, licorice and allspice aromas precede the elegant, complex layers of fruit, French oak and spice flavors. The tannins are seamless. 90/90.

1999 Shafer, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $38. Loaded with blackberry jam, the wine is intense with a long finish. Sweet vanilla oak flavors, minerals and supple tannins round out this dandy new release. 90/88.

1999 M. Trinchero, Merlot, Chicken Ranch, Napa Valley, California, $25. A polished wine that is easy to drink. Full-bodied, lush, with plenty of tasty fruit and oak. 88/88.

Miscellaneous wine glasswine glass

2000 Barton & Guestier, Vouvray, Tradition, France, $9. Simple, sweet and fruity, this wine is designed for early consumption and should work well with the mixed holiday foods. 83/83.

Beringer Nouveau 2001 Beringer, Nouveau, Red Table Wine, California, $8. A real melange of strawberry, black cherry, plum and cotton candy aromas and flavors. Soft on the palate, this is actually a pretty fun, fruity wine to drink over the short term. 84/84.

1999 Beringer, White Table Wine, Alluvium Blanc, Knights Valley, California, $16. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Chardonnay. Viscous on the palate while maintaining adequate acidity, the wine is packed with vanilla cream, fig and nectarine flavors with nutty nuances on the finish. 85/85.

1999 Fife, Max Cuvée, Napa Valley, California, $40, 1,018 cases. A fun blend of 45% Syrah, 45% Petite Sirah and 10% Zinfandel. Lots of layered fruit, lots of flavors interplaying, all in a nicely balanced package. 88/86.

1999 Horton, Norton, Orange County, Virginia, $12. A deep, rich, purple/black color. Tart aromas of cherries and plums are enhanced by tobacco leaf and smoky notes. Very tart on the palate with grapey flavors and a spicy finish. Match with grilled sausage links and honey mustard. 81/81.

1999 Luna, Canto, Napa Valley, California, $60, 800 cases. This is a blend of 54% Sangiovese, 38% Merlot and 8% Cabernet. The wine is almost black in the glass and has an engaging nose that invites you back again and again, with violets, blackberries, saddle leather and earthy notes. Very rich and refined, with tannins that sneak up on you. Complex flavors of blackberries, ripe strawberries and currants linger for a considerable time. 90/87.

1999 Mendelson, Muscat Canelli, Dessert Wine, Mendocino, California, $35, 800 cases (375 ml). Peaches and orange peel play on the nose while flavors reminiscent of candied orange peel, honey and ginger coat the tongue. Only depth of fruit holds this one back. 13% residual sugar. 85/81.

1999 Montevina, Barbera, Amador County, California, $12, 5,760 cases. Plump, creamy, with easy going tannins. Ripe plums, black cherries and earthy wood notes mingle on the senses with black fruit, vanilla and cedar flavors. Warm finish. 84/84

Pinot Gris wine glass

2000 Bargetto, Pinot Grigio, California, $16, 2,500 cases. Wonderful floral aromas of jasmine and roses highlight this light straw wine. The floral bouquet reverberates on the palate, with tropical fruit thrown in for good measure. With a tad more acidity this would be stellar. 87/86.

2000 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Reserve, Oregon, $20. This wine screams for fettuccini with its lemon-lime and pear aromas and flavors. The unerring structure lends itself well to food. 89/88.

1999 Mendelson, Pinot Gris, Dessert Wine, Napa Valley, California, $35, 875 cases (375 ml). This lovely copper-colored wine has a muted nose of coconut cream. Very sweet at 15.8%, creamy on the entry, with honey, citrus and apricot flavors. With more depth this would be a dandy. 85/81.

Pinot Noir wine glass

2000 Acacia, Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, $25, 20,367 cases. Plums, tea leaves, nutmeg spice and roses mingle on the nose, providing a lovely opening. Silky tannins glide across the tongue, followed by intense fruit flavors and earthy notes. 89/89.

Barefoot 2000 Barefoot, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $15, 1,783 cases. This wine seems to always be the best of their line. Opening with classic Pinot aromas, pleasing cherry and pomegranate fruit delight the senses, with nice acidity more evident on the finish. Easy to drink right now. 86/89.

2000 Bargetto, Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, $25, 780 cases. Looking for a Pinot with an acidic pinch? This one fits the bill. Straightforward cherry flavors meld with ripe cherry and tea leaf aromas, finishing crisp and bright. 85/85.

1999 Beaulieu, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, California, $35, 4,200 cases. Inviting cherry aromas open to bright cherry fruit. Medium-bodied, with nice balance, the wine is very approachable now. 88/87.

2000 Chateau St. Jean, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California, $19. This sparkling ruby beverage has lots of dark cherry, earth, brown sugar and black tea on the nose and palate. Leaning towards the lean side, the oak is well-integrated and the acids brisk. Match this one with a grilled pork tenderloin. 87/88.

2000 Echelon, Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California, $13.50, 29,200 cases. Lots of ripe berries and mushrooms on the nose that also carry over to the palate. Straightforward, but a likeable quaff. 83/86.

2000 Edna Valley, Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, California, $22. Smoky Pinot Noir fruit announces itself on the nose, then unfolds on the palate with layers of red fruit, vanilla cream, smoky oak, silky tannins and complimentary acidity. Approachable now. 87/87.

1999 Gallo of Sonoma, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California, $13. Ruby colored with red cherry and sun-dried tomato aromas. Simple but honest fruit flavors, soft tannins, made in a drink-me-now style. Nice acidity. 84/86.

2000 Villa Mt. Eden, Pinot Noir, Coastal, California, $10. Lovely strawberry and floral aromas open to a nicely balanced, medium-bodied wine with cherry, cranberry and tea highlights. 85/88.

Port wine glass

NV Montevina, Zinfandel Port, Amador County, California, $15, 3,000 cases. A blend from the 1996 and 1997 vintages, with aromas of fresh raisins, toffee, orange zest and cocoa. Similar flavors play out on the palate along with a candied fruit note. 9.85% residual sugar. 84/85

Riesling wine glass

2000 Anapamu, Riesling, Monterey County, California, $16. Peach and floral notes on the nose echo on the palate. Off-dry with soft acidity and a touch of apricot on the finish. 83/83

Rhone wine glass

1999 Barton & Guestier, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tradition, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France, $19. A light ruby hue with black fruit, humidor aromas and spicy notes on the nose. There is a nice mix of red and black fruit, with tobacco nuances on a light to medium framework. This one can be enjoyed now. 85/85.

1999 Barton & Guestier, Cotes du Rhone, Tradition, Cotes du Rhone, France, $9. Light aromas of red fruit and black pepper adorn this garnet colored wine. Lightly-styled for immediate consumption, the wine delivers for the price class. Cherry, licorice and peppery flavors are balanced by adequate acidity. 84/85

Sauvignon Blanc wine glass

Brancott 2001 Brancott, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, $11. The color is light straw with a green tinge. Jalapeno pepper and gooseberry aromas blend seamlessly with the herbaceous and citrus flavors. The finish is clean and crisp. 88/90.

2001 Brancott, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve, Marlborough, New Zealand, $17. Both crisp and creamy on the palate, you´ll find gobs of gooseberries, jalapeno peppers and papayas on the nose and palate, with a long, delicious finish. 90/90.

2000 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10. An eye-appealing crystal clear straw wine that has aromas of grapefruit, lime and cut grass. Full-bodied with zippy acidity, the lemon-lime flavors should pair well with grilled shrimp and lemon butter with pressed garlic. 86/88.

2000 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $14. Fresh-squeezed limes dominate the flavor profile, with a touch of pear and vanilla shining through. Creamy on the entry, loads of citrus fruit and modest oak spice greet the palate. The wine maintains enough acidity to be food-friendly. 87/88.

2000 Dry Creek, Sauvignon Blanc, Soleil, Late Harvest, Sonoma County, California, $20 (375 ml), 900 cases. This botrytized Sauvignon Blanc exudes honeysuckle, peach and apricot aromas. Honey, peach, apricot, and orange peel delight the palate, but the acidity is very soft for the 10% residual sugar. 84/83.

2000 Meridian, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $8. Citrus, lemongrass and toasty oak aromas and flavors in a straightforward package with light acidity. Ready to drink. 82/83.

2000 M. Trinchero, Sauvignon Blanc, Mary´s Vineyard, Napa Valley, California, $18, 500 cases. A pretty wine, elegant, with a lot of grapefruit, citrus, and sweet vanilla on a crisp background. 88/88

Sparkling Wine wine glass

NV Freixenet, Cava, Brut, Cordon Negro, Spain, $9. A blend of three Spanish grapes, Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada. Very aromatic, with a fine to medium bead. Delicately sweet with plenty of acidity, this terrific value sparkler offers lovely fruit and a long, doughy finish. 85/90.

NV Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, Sparkling Wine, Penedès Region, Spain, $20. Only the first pressing of Macabeo and Parellada grapes goes into this limited production sparkler. Medium-bodied with a fine bead, the tropical fruit and pineapple aromas repeat on the palate. Toasty/leesy flavors unfold on the long finish. 87/87

Syrah wine glass

1999 Anapamu, Syrah, Central Coast, Paso Robles, California, $16. This well-balanced package has sweet black fruit, vanilla and smoky oak aromas and flavors. Match with grilled meats. 85/86.

1999 Geyser Peak, Shiraz, Sonoma County, California, $17, 4,400 cases. Dark ruby red. Plums, spice, vanilla and smoky notes delight the nose. Very soft and silky, this medium-bodied wine offers up a plumy richness, satiny tannins, and a modest finish. 86/86.

1999 Goosecross, Syrah, California, $30. This lovely wine has earthy aromas and flavors, with dried cherry, dark tea and mushroom notes. The aftertaste is very long and pleasing. 89/89.

1999 Jade Mountain, Syrah, Napa Valley, California, $25, 757 cases. Densely colored with a nose of blackberry and white pepper. Very graceful on the entry with everything in harmony. Sweet black plums, pepper, spice and subtle French oak make a nice statement. 89/89.

1999 Rancho Zabaco, Syrah, Sonoma County, California, $18. Mixed berry and smoky aromas repeat themselves on the palate, with a healthy dose of vanilla spice on the soft finish. 84/85.

1999 Villa Mt. Eden, Syrah, California, $10. The plum, strawberry and earthy aromas of this ruby wine repeat on the palate. Straightforward, with lively acidity and strawberry jam, this will match well with homemade meatloaf. 85/88

Zinfandel wine glass

1999 Fetzer, Zinfandel, Valley Oaks, California, $10, 57,000 cases. Aromas of dried cherries, sandalwood and spice punctuate the wine. Light-bodied and simple, the wine does offer tasty berry fruit with a black pepper streak running through it, finishing with a crisp note. 82/83.

Fife 1999 Fife, Zinfandel, Old Vines, Napa Valley, California, $22.50, 2,800 cases. Lots of blueberry and black cherry on the nose of this full-bodied wine. Jammy, peppery fruit flavors, with cranberries leading the way, finishing with supple tannins. A real dandy for the style. 90/90.

1998 Gallo of Sonoma, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, California, $13. Ripe red cherry aromas and flavors, easy going tannins and friendly acidity wrap up with a modest finish. 84/86.

1999 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Jack London Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, California, $20, 4,960 cases. Dark ruby with mixed berry aromas. Sweet berry fruit on a medium-bodied framework, with modest tannins and short finish. 85/85.

1999 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Mazzoni Vineyard, Alexander Valley, California, $20, 1,100 cases. Plum and cherry aromas highlight this ruby new release. Medium-bodied with modest tannins, the flavors are defined by plums, cherries and spice. 86/86.

1999 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Nuns Canyon Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, California, $20, 575 cases. Showing best in their line of Zins, this ruby wine offers up raspberries, plums, vanilla, spice, rounded tannins and crisp acidity, finishing long and fruity. 88/88.

1999 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California, $16, 28,000 cases. Jammy Zinfandel aromas, spice and vanilla carry over to the palate, with straightforward black cherry fruit and supple tannins. 84/84.

1999 Rancho Zabaco, Zinfandel, Stefani Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $22. Ripe red cherries and aromatic floral notes that are difficult to describe are followed by sweet fruit flavors, balanced oak, and moderate rounded tannins in a tasty package. 86/86.

1999 Villa Mt. Eden, Zinfandel, Old Vines, California, $10. Raspberry, plum, mint and mixed spice aromas and flavors are enhanced by medium tannins and mineral notes on the short to medium finish. 83/85.

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