Bucko's New Releases

© 2002 by Randy Buckner
Dec. 27, 2002

Winter 2003 Releases

Old man winter has arrived in full force, and a white Christmas was a reality for many readers, as snow piled up faster than the plows could remove it. The college bowl games have come and gone, with the winners preening their feathers. Sights now turn to the Super Bowl.

The New Year has been toasted in and a host of resolutions have been made. Here is wishing you a very happy New Year and one that I pray will see peace instead of war. May the men and women of our armed forces return home soon.

Another 100 new and current releases are presented for your inspection. The dual rating system evaluates quality (the first number) and value (the second) on a 100-point scale. No wines below 80 points are rated. As always, enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.

Beaujolais wine glass

2001 Barton & Guestier, Saint-Louis Beaujolais, Tradition, France, $9. Light garnet in color, providing a mixed fruit bowl on the nose. Tart cherries and banana nuances are supported by modest tannins. 82/83.

2001 Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly, Beaujolais, France, $12. Black cherry and blueberry aromas meld seamlessly with the berry fruit and a peppery streak. Light bodied and crisp, this one will match those delicate meat dishes. 85/86.

Cabernet Franc wine glass

1999 Buttonwood, Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez Valley, California, $18, 900 cases. Black cherries, Baker´s chocolate and toasted oak delight the senses. Medium-bodied, fruity, with sleek tannins, this is a nice steak wine. Intriguing. 87/88.

2001 La Tunella, Cabernet Franc, Friuli D.O.C., Italy, $14. Fine-grained tannins enhance the lovely berry fruit, herbal notes and peppercorn nuances. Bright acidity rounds out the wine. Good value. A William Grant import. 87/89.

Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux Blends wine glass

1999 Altamura, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $60, 3,000 cases. Very densely colored. Cassis, blackberries and violets make quite a statement. Sporting fully-extracted, sweet, dense fruit, the oak is pretty well integrated and the acidity is refreshing. Tannins are obvious but should come around well with bottle age. 90/88.

Beringer 2000 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Founders´ Estate, California, $12. Aromas of black cherries, American oak, black olive, and dill spice continues on the palate. Tannins are soft and the wine is very drinkable now. 83/84.

2000 Clos Du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, $17. Cherries, cassis and mixed oak aromas repeat in the mouth. Simple but tasty, I´d drink this one over the next couple of years with grilled burgers. 84/84.

1999 Chateau Greysac, Medoc, France, $15. Fairly classic aromas of black fruit and pencil lead. Medium-bodied with supple tannins, the wine delivers for the price class. Enjoy now. 83/84.

2000 Dynamite, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, $17.50, 54,000 cases. Always a good value wine, this one continues the streak. Cassis, plum and cedar aromas intermingle well with the mixed berries. American oak is obvious but does not overwhelm the fruit. 86/89.

2000 Grand Archer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, $20. Plums, cassis and fresh cut cedar characterize this deep ruby wine. Medium-weight, with tannins that are a bit aggressive at this point, this one needs bottle time. 85/85.

2000 Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $15. Another value wine from Hess. Blackberries and cassis aromas combine with mixed berry fruit to provide a crisp, appealing wine, with soft tannins. 86/89.

2000 Sterling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner´s Collection, California, $13. Ruby red in color. Blackberries, black cherries, chocolate and toasty oak prevail on the senses, finishing with chewy tannins. 83/84.

1999 Trinchero, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $12. Initially reticent on the nose, blackberries were coaxed from the glass. Blue and black fruit melds with the toasty oak, with slightly green tannins bringing up the rear. 83/83.

Chardonnay wine glass

2001 Acacia, Chardonnay, Carneros, California, $20, 36,000 cases. Brilliant gold, with lemon yogurt, honey and French vanilla aromas. Full and rich, with layers of apples, spice, sweet oak and caramel. Tasty. 88/88.

2001 Barefoot Reserve, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, $15, 2,732 cases. Made in a soft, creamy style, there is ample fruit and vanilla for everyone. Pineapple and butterscotch interweave through the wine, finishing on a spicy note. 84/85.

2000 Barton & Guestier, Mâcon-Villages, Tradition, France, $9. Light gold with pear and floral notes. Fresh, crisp, and simple, with ripe apple and buttery nuances, this makes a good entry level Burgundy. 83/85.

2000 Barton & Guestier, Pouilly-Fuisse, Tradition, Pouilly Fuissé, France, $19. Light gold, this medium-bodied Burgundy has baked pear and cashew aromas that flow over to the palate, with hot butter notes. 84/85.

1999 Byron, Chardonnay, Nielson Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California, $40, 1,817 cases. Baked apples, figs, vanilla, cinnamon spice, butter and French oak draw attention to this golden beauty. Good acidity adds interest. 88/86.

1999 Byron, Chardonnay, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California, $35, 1,171 cases. Silky smooth and rich, the apricot, pear and toasty oak aromas meld with the pear, caramel, French oak and hot butter notes. Enjoy now. 87/86.

2000 Clos Du Bois, Chardonnay, Calcaire, Alexander Valley, California, $22, 10,000 cases. A nice example of California Chardonnay. Sparkling gold in the glass, with honeysuckle, casaba melon, and vanilla nuances. Quite elegant, the wine has sweet oak, papaya and tangerine flavors, finishing on a buttery note. 88/88.

1999 Clos Du Bois, Chardonnay, Flintwood, Dry Creek, California, $22, 3,000 cases. The nose has obvious citrus, French oak and caramel notes that follow through on the palate. Yellow delicious apples and spice round out this elegant wine. 86/86.

2001 Columbia Crest, Chardonnay, Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington, $11. Medium-bodied and well-structured, but heavy on the oak. The nose displays aromas of apples, coconut, spice, and mixed oak flavors. The immediate taste impression is of spicy oak and coconut, followed by caramel and apples. 84/85.

2000 Covey Run, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington State, $9, 80,000 cases. A tree load of pears takes the nose for a lovely ride. Creamy in texture, the green apple, pear and vanilla flavors combine to make a pretty tasty wine for the less than ten dollar price class. 85/87.

2001 Echelon, Chardonnay, Central Coast, California, $10, 58,000 cases. Light gold in color, this wine displays aromas of pears and Kraft caramels. Soft and creamy, pears, ripe apples, butter, caramel and a healthy dose of oak meld seamlessly. 84/85.

2001 Edna Valley, Chardonnay, Edna Valley, California, $13, 135,000 cases. The first bottle was corked, so I´m glad a replacement was sent. This is a good value wine with a lot of character. Loads of white peaches, pineapple and citrus make an upfront statement, followed by honey, caramel, vanilla, toast and apricot flavors, all riding on a crisp, acidic backbone. 86/89.

2001 Hess Select, Chardonnay, California, $11. Very creamy and soft on the entry, this wine exudes pineapples, canned pears and toasty oak. Chinese five spice lingers on the finish. 83/84.

2001 Husch, Chardonnay, Mendocino, California, $14, 15,051 cases. Mixed oak and citrus carry over to the palate, mingling with the green apples, ample vanilla and buttery nuances. 84/85.

1999 Husch, Chardonnay, Special Reserve, Anderson Valley, California, $25, 715 cases. Apricots, lemon-lime and hazelnut aromas open to a soft, creamy, rich wine with lots of honey and new French oak, but manages to pull off a nice package overall. 88/88.

2001 Macon-Lugny, Chardonnay, Les Charmes, Maconnais, Burgundy, France, $9. Vinified in stainless steel with no oak aging. While simple, this wine delivers great value. Well-balanced, with pear and apple fruit, the crispness begs for grilled shrimp on a wire. 86/90.

2001 Sterling, Chardonnay, Vintner´s Collection, Central Coast, California, $13. A nose of green apples, vanilla and nutmeg augments the apple and pear fruit, finishing out with vanilla and caramel notes. 85/86.

Gewurztraminer wine glass

Gold Digger 2001 Gold Digger, Gewurztraminer, Washington State, $14, 260 cases. The bouquet is true to the grape, yielding lychee fruit and floral notes. Light-bodied and soft, the peachy flavors are somewhat delicate. Enjoy with a mild cheese. 83/83.

2001 Husch, Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, California, $12, 2,400 cases. This light-bodied wine is made for dim sum. Off-dry with light acidity, apricot and grapefruit are the principal players. 84/84.

2001 Three Rivers, Gewurztraminer, Late Harvest, Biscuit Ridge Vineyard, Walla Walla, Washington, $12 (375ml). Luscious grapefruit and Lychee fruit abounds on the nose, with hints of honey comb. Honeysuckle and Ruby Red grapefruit unfold on the palate, with moderate sweetness (7.7% RS). Of medium intensity, the wine is soft. With more acidity this would be a stunner. 84/84.

1998 Trimbach, Gewurztraminer, Cuvée Des Seigneurs De Ribeaupierre, Alsace, France, $30. Inviting floral notes and lychee fruit open rich and full on the palate, with just a touch of bitter bite. Soft and viscous, I´d like to see more acidity. 88/87.

1999 Trimbach, Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France, $15, 17,000 cases. Very perfumed, with a nose of lychee and spices that one expects from Alsace. Light to medium-bodied, balanced, with a lovely combination of fruit and spices. 87/87.

Italian Varieties wine glasswine glass

1998 Montevina, Sangiovese, Sierra Foothills, California, $13. Leather, cedar and dried fruit flavors blend with the red plum, saddle leather and tobacco notes. The wine is quite brisk with a wildberry aftertaste. 85/86.

1999 Terra d´Oro, Barbera, Amador County, California, $18. Lots of plums and tart cherries usher in the wine. Very juicy and fruity. The oak influence is obvious but not overwhelming and the tannins are already workable. 87/87.

Merlot wine glass

2000 Clos Du Bois, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $18. This Merlot is straightforward, soft, balanced, with easy tannins, ripe berries and American oak. Long aftertaste. 84/84.

2000 Grand Archer, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $18. Cassis, plums cedar and leather leap from the glass. Smooth and balanced, the wine displays black fruit, spice, and deft use of oak. Good value. 87/89.

2000 Kenwood, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $17, 45,000 cases. Blackberries, plums, chocolate and vanilla define this Merlot. Full-bodied, rich, and very well-balanced, the finish seems endless. 88/89.

2000 Sterling, Merlot, Vintner´s Collection, California, $13. This is a food-friendly wine, with tangy acidity tying together the black cherries, plums, jammy red fruit, vanilla and chocolate aromas and flavors. This should pair well with grilled meats. 85/86.

2000 Trinchero, Merlot, California, $12. Blackberries, black cherries, and olives course through the wine. A streak of chalky minerality adds interest. Sweet oak and tannins become more evident on the finish. 86/87.

Miscellaneous wine glasswine glass

2000 Barton & Guestier, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Tradition, France, $19. 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah. Black cherry, plum, tobacco, and white pepper aromas repeat on the palate. Medium-bodied and brisk, the finish is full and spicy. Tasty with a grilled buffalo steak. 87/88.

2001 Barton & Guestier, Vouvray, Tradition, France, $9. Simple, sweet, with balanced acidity. The pear and peach fruit matched well with a Stilton and lemon cheese. 83/84.

2000 Buttonwood, Devin, Santa Ynez Valley, California, $16, 475 cases. A 60/40 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the wine delivers spicy fruit and toasty oak on the nose, with butter, figs and peaches on the palate. 84/84.

NV Eaton Hill, Sweet Bisbee, Washington, $10. This is a fun blend of grape wine and estate grown apple juice. Deep gold, with notes of apples and apricots, the wine is soft, sweet and light in the mouth. Serve well chilled with picnic fare. 84/84.

Pinot Gris wine glass

2001 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Oregon, $15. Striking a nice balance between fruit and acidity, peaches, tangerine zest and other citrus notes prevail. This is a tasty wine that should make be perfect foil for shellfish. 89/89.

2001 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Reserve, Oregon, $20, 5,700 cases. Floral, tangerine and honeyed aromas open to flavors of tropical mango and pineapple. Elegant mouth feel, with a rich, crisp finish. 89/88.

2001 King Estate, Pinot Gris, Vin Glacé, Oregon, $18. This late harvest Pinot Gris saw 100% stainless steel and did not go through malolactic fermentation. Intensely concentrated, the wine is rich and viscous, with apricots, tangerine and honey providing nice entertainment. Not cloying for a wine with 13.9% residual sugar. 91/91.

2001 La Famiglia, Pinot Grigio, California, $18. No oak aging or malolactic fermentation was used in the making of this wine. Lean, steely, with refreshing grapefruit, melon and orange blossom. Very food-friendly. 88/87.

2001 Montevina, Pinot Gris, California, $10. Juicy yellow peaches highlight the aromas and flavors of this snappish wine. Fairly priced, this simple but tasty offering should pair well with white fish dishes. 84/85.

2000 Trimbach, Pinot Gris, Reserve, Alsace, France, $15. Interweaving aromas and flavors of nectarines, Asian pear, peaches, kiwi and almonds ride on an easy acidity framework. This one calls for grilled bay scallops. 86/86.

1997 Trimbach, Pinot Gris, Reserve Personnelle, Alsace, France, $30. Botrytis and apricots dominate the nose. Creamy, yet maintaining ample crispness, the fruit is very ripe, bordering on an overripe character. Delicately sweet with a long aftertaste. 86/84.

2001 Winter´s Hill, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 600 cases, $12. There is a lovely apricot tinge to the wine. Rich peach and pear notes intermingle with hints of pineapple. Medium-bodied with tangy acidity, seafood is called for here. 87/88.

Pinot Noir wine glass

1999 Byron, Pinot Noir, Nielson Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California, $45, 1,633 cases. An intense nose of black cherries, tea and allspice. Quite polished, the lush fruit blends well with the sweet French oak and spice. Blackberry jam lingers on the lengthy aftertaste. 88/87.

1999 Byron, Pinot Noir, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California, $45. The crop only averaged two tons per acre. Loaded with black cherry and dark tea/earthy aromas, this wine is very elegant on the palate, with terrific balance. Flavors echo the nose. 88/87.

2001 Clos Du Bois, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California, $17. Sporting a garnet hue, red cherries, caramel and allspice notes are highlighted by the plum and cherry fruit, pleasant acidity, and balanced oak flavors. 86/87.

2001 Echelon, Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California, $12, 37,000 cases. Cranberry and cherry fruit notes carry over to the palate, supplemented by minerals and aged cedar. A black tea, almost rubbery nuance pervades the wine. 82/82.

Husch 1999 Husch, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, California, $18.50, 4,500 cases. Garnet colored, with aromas of strawberry jam, cherries, leather and vanilla. Light, bright cherry and strawberry fruit is complimented by tea on the finish. 85/85.

2000 Kenwood, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Olivet Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California, $30, 2,200 cases. Earthy notes underlie the cherry and red berry fruit. Nicely balanced, the wine unfolds with layers of red cherries, black tea, earth, vanilla and cinnamon spice. I expect it to improve over the next few years. 88+/88.

2000 Winter´s Hill, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $26, 360 cases. Yet another nice Pinot Noir from this small producer. Light to medium-bodied, the wine is filled with Bing cherries, tea, and earthy notes. Silky tannins allow early consumption. This is a perfect match for grilled salmon with mustard tarragon sauce. 88/88.

Riesling wine glass

2000 Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace, France, $15. Light gold, with white fruit, minerals, lemon and a hint of slate on the nose. Crisp, with nice minerality, citrus flavors reign. 86/86.

1998 Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Émile, Alsace, France, $35. Alluring and complex on the nose. Very steely, impeccably balanced, with peach fruit and ever so slight petrol notes. Delightful. 91/90.

Sauvignon Blanc wine glass

2001 Buttonwood, Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, California, $12, 3,800 cases. Lemongrass aromas herald in the tart lemon and light gooseberry flavors. A touch of fig and caramel become apparent on the aftertaste. 84/85.

2001 Clos Du Bois, Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, California, $10. The 10% blend of Semillon is evident by the fig notes that blend with the cut grass and lime aromas. Medium-bodied with tart crispness, vanilla manifests itself on the finish. 85/87.

2000 Covey Run, Fume Blanc, Washington State, $9, 25,300 cases. 84/85. The nose is a pleasing mixture of gooseberries, hay, herbs and Key limes. Light-bodied with similar flavors, the crispness makes this one very food-friendly. 84/85.

Dry Creek 2000 Dry Creek Valley, Fumé Blanc, Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, California, $18. 100% barrel fermented and 50% malolactic fermentation, with a creamy texture. Showing its barrel influence, the wine is spicy, with hazelnuts, vanilla, peaches and citrus nuances. Nice for this style of wine. 88/88.

2001 Dynamite, Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, California, $11, 7,500 cases. Melon and grassy notes emanate from this straw colored wine. Very ripe fruit of muskmelon, and citrus, with a touch of cotton candy. 84/85.

2001 Gold Digger, Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest, Washington State, $13. Gold in color, the wine has aromas and flavors of peaches and juniper berries. 86/84.

2001 Husch, Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, California, $12.50, 11,500 cases. There is a slight apricot hue to the wine. Pear, tropical fruit, and lemongrass characteristics meld with citrus flavors and nuances of oak and cut grass. Very brisk. 84/85.

2001 Montevina, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $10. Leaning toward the citrusy style of Sauvignon, the wine is soft and ready to drink. With the lemongrass and melon characters, this was a nice match for an endive, walnut and Roquefort salad. 85/86.

2002 Reynolds, Sauvignon Blanc, New South Wales, Australia, $10. Vibrant gooseberry and citrus aromas provide a lovely opening. Echoing the nose, the flavors are augmented by casaba melon nuances. This is perfect foil for shellfish and a good value to boot. 86/88.

2001 Trinchero, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $12. Lemon and citrus zest scents resound on the palate, with lovely acidity giving structure to the wine. The finish is long and clean, with just a hint of oregano. 85/86.

Semillon wine glass

2001 Eaton Hill, Semillon, Fairacre Farms Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $10. Light to medium-bodied, this crisp new release gives off aromas and flavors of lemon zest and fresh figs. Match with your favorite shellfish. 85/86.

2001 Snoqualmie, Semillon Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington, $7. 83/85. Light-bodied and simple, but crisp and tasty. Figs, green apples and citrus delineate the flavor profile. 83/85.

Sparkling Wine wine glass

NV Freixenet, Brut, Carta Nevada, Spain, $6. Slightly sweet at 1.5% residual sugar, this light gold bubbly is defined by the apricot and pineapple aromas. Simple but refreshing, peaches and vanilla add to package. Terrific value. 84/88.

NV Freixenet, Brut, Cordon Negro, Spain, $10. Always a good value, this one continues the trend. Golden straw in color, the wines leans towards the yellow delicious apple flavor spectrum. 85/88.

NV Freixenet, Extra Dry, Cordon Negro, Spain, $10. Floral, fruity notes open to sweet peach and pear flavors. Very crisp with a lingering acidity, this is a perfect match for those who love hot Thai food. 84/86.

Greg Norman NV Greg Norman Estates, Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Australia, $20, 3,000 cases imported. Golden straw with a green tinge, you´ll appreciate a medium-fine bead and aromas of citrus, toast and strawberry jam. Full on the palate, the flavors are rich, complex and linger on the finish. Tasty. A Beringer Blass import. 88/88.

NV Korbel, Brut, California, $12. Light gold with a medium mousse, this wine is pleasantly tart and lemony, offering honest value. Apple and rose petal nuances give character to the wine. 84/86.

Korbel NV Korbel, Natural, Russian River Valley, California, $14. Delicately sweet, the wine is soft and fruity. Bartlett pears and toasty nuances linger on the palate. 85/86.

NV Segura Viudas, Brut Estate, Aria, Spain, $12. A nice example of Spanish Cava, this sparkler is dry, crisp and invigorating. Pineapples, raw almonds and toast are quite obvious, with a touch of bread dough expressing itself on the finish. 85/87.

NV Segura Viudas, Brut Reserva, Spain, $10. Gold in color with a medium bead, this bubbly is very floral, with apple nuances. Spritzy and creamy in the mouth, fresh fruit and delicate bread dough notes linger on the palate. Good value. 85/88.

NV Segura Viudas, Reserva Heredad, Penedès, Spain, $20. This light gold sparkler has a complex, perfumed bouquet that is quite alluring. Brisk and intense, the fruit melds well with a yeasty, doughy component on the finish. 86/86.

Syrah wine glass

1999 Coulson, Syrah, Johnson Vineyard, El Dorado, California, $15, 165 cases. Pretty classic aromas of black fruit, smoked meats, and violets. Medium-bodied, with straightforward flavors of blackberries, plums and smoke. 84/85.

2000 Firefall, Syrah, Baby Rattlesnake Vineyard, Fair Play, California, $20, 191 cases. Blackberry and ripe cherry scents underscore this deeply hued wine. Quite elegant on the palate, the ripe tannins lure you in then slam you on the finish. Black cherries, coffee and nicely balanced oak wrap up the package. 89/90.

2000 Fitzpatrick, Syrah, Fair Play, California, $20, 134 cases. A host of blue and black fruits and light smoky notes are found in this well-balanced wine. The tannins are well polished and the fruit is nicely integrated with the oak. A hint of pepper seeks attention. Brisk throughout, this is a BBQ friendly wine. 87/87.

2000 Granite Springs, Syrah, Fair Play, California, $18, 370 cases. Deeply hued with mixed red and black fruits, and French oak. A black pepper streak weaves its way through the blueberries and plums. The chewy tannins need bottle time and then this should be good BBQ fare. 86/87.

2001 Hahn, Syrah, San Luis Obispo County, California, $12, 5,000 cases. Densely colored. Lovely raspberry, blueberry, and white pepper aromas are very alluring. Medium-bodied, crisp, and fruity, this wine gives a lot of bang for the buck. 86/90.

2000 Holly´s Hill, Syrah, El Dorado, California, $22, 100 cases. Light ruby with a distinctive nose of raspberries, orange peel and black pepper. Very spicy on the palate (cloves), cherry fruit and black pepper are supported by modest acidity. A little atypical but nice. I envision this pairing well with Chinese orange beef. 86/86.

1999 Madroña, Syrah, Reserve, El Dorado, California, $20, 454 cases. Classic smoked meat and black fruit aromas repeat on the palate, with a touch of blueberries, black cherries, leather and sweet oak. 87/87.

2000 Montevina, Syrah, Amador County, California, $10. Blueberry, plum and vanilla highlights repeat in the mouth. Caramelized oak flavors exert more influence with time in the glass. 84/85.

1999 Perry Creek, Syrah, El Dorado, California, $16, 600 cases. Dark ruby with scents of blackberries and herbs. Medium-bodied, the wine has straightforward blackberry fruit unburdened by a lot of oak. Easy to drink right now. 84/85.

2000 Sogno, Syrah, El Dorado, California, $15. Blueberries and toasty oak highlight the nose. Light-bodied and crisp, blueberries are the predominant flavor, with a lingering berry aftertaste. Perfectly drinkable right now. 85/86.

Zinfandel wine glass

2000 Clos Du Bois, Zinfandel, Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, California, $22, 2,099 cases. Blackberry and American oak aromas and flavors are very evident from start to finish. Hints of black pepper, spice and cedar add interest to the long berry aftertaste. 85/85.

Dry Creek 2000 Dry Creek, Zinfandel, Old Vines, Sonoma County, California, $21. Average age of the vines is 85 years. Raspberries, ripe plums and a Port-like aroma delight the nose. Medium-bodied, fruity, with supple tannins, the wine finishes with flavors of black currants, plums and tea. 87/87.

2000 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Jack London Vineyard, Sonoma, California, $20, 7,000 cases. Lots of berry fruit is present from start to finish. Well-structured, the spicy oak may be too much for some, a thrill for others. Tannins are easy to take right now. 86/86.

2000 Kenwood, Zinfandel, Reserve Mazzoni Vineyard, Alexander Valley, California, $20, 1,100 cases. Ruby red. Loads of raspberries, plums and sandalwood flow from the nose to the palate. This is a pretty Zin, not your high alcohol, over extracted beast. Medium in weight, with good integration, you´ll also notice a dash of herbs and a kiss of mint. 88/88.

2000 Lake Sonoma, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, California, $17, 3,700 cases. This ruby red Zin has classic aromas, with raspberries and blackberries taking command. Very juicy in the mouth with rounded tannins, the oak becomes quite obvious on the extended finish. 85/85.

1999 Terra d´Oro, Zinfandel, Amador County, California, $18. Brambly, briary fruit and cedar notes fill the nose. Classic Zin fruit is maintained by rustic, mouth puckering tannins. The aftertaste is long and fruity. Give this one a couple of years in the bottle to calm down a bit. 85+/85.

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