Bucko's New Releases

© 2002 by Randy Buckner
April 26, 2002

Spring 2002 Releases

The proverbial spring has sprung. It is that time of year when thoughts turn to mowing the grass, weeding the yard, planting flowers, getting ready for those backyard deck parties, and a sense of renewal. Those hearty reds and Ports get put back on the shelf and out come the light whites. Don't bury those reds too far, because the BBQ grills are firing up, demanding a red wine be served with those grilled meats and won't be denied. Share the good times with friends and family. 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

1999 Cenay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blue Tooth Vineyard, Napa Valley, California, $30, 600 cases. Full-bodied and full-flavored, with loads of cherry and plum fruit and French oak unfolding, supported by a nice acidic backbone and satiny tannins. Fans of the style will love this wine. 87/87.

1999 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15. The wine has an appealing dark ruby color, with aromas of cassis, chocolate, mint and cedar wood. Black cherries, plums, spice and easy tannins delineate the wine. 85/87.

1999 Cinnabar, Mercury Rising, California, $17.50, 5,400 cases. A Bordeaux blend with brambly blackberry, cedar and vanilla aromas. Flavors of sweet cherries and plums predominate, with black olive and French oak nuances. Tasty. 87/90.

1999 Clos Du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, $62, 2,900 cases. There is no looking through the ink of this wine. You'll enjoy a very complex nose of cassis, herbs, mint and sandalwood. Bright acidity greets the palate, followed by very rich, layered fruit, dark chocolate, cedar and generous but satiny tannins. This is a full-bodied wine that needs bottle time to shine. 90+/88+.

1999 Estancia, Red Meritage, Alexander Valley, California, $30. This is a nice value wine. Well-balanced, complex, fruity, not overoaked, with modest tannins. All that it needs is a prime rib to accompany it. 89/90.

1998 Fetzer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barrel Select, North Coast, California, $17, 16,000 cases. Black cherry, vanilla, and tobacco leaf aromas and flavors with medium-weight coarse tannins and a quick finish. 83/84.

1999 Franciscan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California, $27. Fruity, crisp, chewy tannins, a splotch of olive, and sweet vanilla combine to make a pretty tasty wine overall. 86/86.

1999 Franciscan, Magnificat, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California, $45. A Bordeaux blend, this medium-weight wine has aromas and flavors of berries, cinnamon and sweet vanilla. Elegant in the mouth, you'll find substantial but rounded tannins and a sustained finish. 89/88.

Hess Collection 1998 Hess Collection, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $35. Pretty successful for the vintage. Ripe black fruit, licorice, clove, mint and cedar delight the senses, with full tannins that do not bite. Enjoyable now. 87/87.

1999 Hogue, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard Selection, Columbia Valley, Washington, $18, 13,332 cases. Cherry, plum and vanilla aromas and flavors are found, with moderate tannins and a touch of bell pepper on the finish. 83/84.

1998 Mount Veeder, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $40. This wine is enjoyable now. Rich and rounded on the palate, with red fruit and sweet vanilla aromas. Distinct mint notes play on the finish. 87/86.

1997 Mount Veeder, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $80. A blend of five grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon predominant. The wine is complex, with focused black fruit, significant tannins that need time, and a brisk finish. Oak does not play the leading role here. 89/87.

1999 Pedroncelli, Cabernet Sauvignon, Three Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, California, $14.50, 9,086 cases. Dark ruby, with aromas of blackberries, spice and dill. Soft tannins are noted on the entry of this light-medium bodied wine, with blackberry fruit and American oak flavors. 84/86.

1998 Quintessa, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California, $95. A tough vintage did not seem to make a difference with this lovely wine. A Bordeaux blend, the wine is nicely fruited, layered and rich, with complex tannins and a long finish. 90/87.

1999 Rowland, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Triangle, Napa Valley, California, $28, 600 cases. Lots of character in this deeply colored wine, with a host of aromas and flavors ranging from blackberries and black cherries to violets, allspice, licorice and sweet oak. Silky tannins caress the palate. 89/90.

1997 Simi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Alexander Valley, California, $75. Powerful, tight, with restrained fruit, bold but silky tannins, all wound up like a ten-day clock. This one needs several years in the bottle. 90+/88.

1998 William Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $38, 4,510 cases. A pretty tasty wine for the difficult vintage. A melange of flavors and aromas delight the senses. Cassis, plum, cedar, tobacco, spice, vanilla, and silky tannins all work in unison. 87/86.

1999 Windsor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Mendocino County, California, $16.50. Tart on the entry, straightforward blackberry fruit, toasty oak and moderate drying tannins define the wine. 84/84.

2001 Yangara Park, Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia, $10. Cherry, blackberry and cedar aromas and flavors are braced by snappy acidity and rounded tannins. Straightforward but tasty. 83/85.

Chardonnay wine glass

Beringer 2000 Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $16. If you have liked previous versions, this one will not disappoint. Lots of toasty oak and butterscotch on the nose, with a creamy, soft acidity entry. Apples, citrus, nuts, sweet vanilla and butter play on the tongue. Nice for this style. 86/88.

1999 Chateau St. Michelle, Chardonnay, Reserve, Columbia Valley, Washington, $31. Quite delightful for this style of wine, being soft, creamy and medium-bodied. Apples, pears, hazelnuts and toasty oak are the central players on the nose and palate, with a lengthy finish. 89/89.

1999 Cinnabar, Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, $25, 1,288 cases. Vanilla cream notes highlight this golden Chardonnay. Yellow delicious apples and pears are framed by nice acidity and French oak flavors. 86/86.

2000 Estancia, Chardonnay, Pinnacles, Monterey County, California, $13. Straw colored, with pear, yellow delicious apple and vanilla notes on the nose. Lots of pear dominated fruit, integrated oak, light acidity, and a medium finish wrap up this value wine. 86/89.

2000 Fetzer, Chardonnay, Barrel Select, Mendocino County, California, $13, 51,200 cases. Pineapple, coconut, and vanilla notes delineate the nose of this medium weight wine. Flavors of apple, citrus and caramel are sustained by brisk acids. 84/87.

1999 Franciscan, Cuvee Sauvage, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California, $35. The winemaker states that only wild yeasts were used with this Chardonnay. This is a full-bodied, rich wine, with loads of pear fruit, vanilla and brisk acids. Fans of this style will greatly enjoy this wine. 90/90.

2000 Franciscan, Chardonnay, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California, $18. Toasty oak and pears characterize the nose. Viscous on the palate while maintaining an adequate degree of acidity, the wine yields pear, apple and vanilla flavors. 86/87.

2000 Hess Collection, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $19. Pretty classic California Chardonnay, with vanilla, smoke, lemon drops and Granny Smith apple aromas. Medium-bodied with balanced acidity, flavors speak of vanilla, coconut, lemons and canned pineapple. 86/87.

2001 Kim Crawford, Chardonnay, Unoaked, Marlborough, New Zealand, $18, 4,000 cases. Aromas are reminiscent of white peaches and Ruby Red grapefruit. Flavors of peach, mango and fig linger on the long, soft finish. 89/90.

2000 La Crema, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California, $20. Gold in color. Apple, pear, butterscotch and smoky oak battle for attention both on the nose and palate. Creamy in the mouth, a smoky finish lingers for some time. 85/85.

2000 Pedroncelli, Chardonnay, F. Johnson Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $14, 1,045 cases. This straw colored wine is announced by coconut, vanilla and pineapple aromas. Medium weight on the palate, with a host of vanilla and butterscotch flavors and hints of pear fruit. 83/85.

2000 Simi, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California, $17. This wine follows a pretty standard formula, with lots of apple and pear, made in an easy drinking style. 85/87.

1999 Simi, Chardonnay, Reserve, Russian River Valley, California, $30. This is definitely a step up form their regular bottling. The nose is rich and complex. Apples, pears, spice, vanilla and moderate acidity combine to make a tasty package. 88/88.

2000 St. Clement, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $16, 6,500 cases. Easy on the palate, with lots of stone fruit, upfront toasty oak and nutty nuances. Aromas of toasted oak, roasted hazelnuts and pineapple play a supporting role. 88/90.

1999 Toasted Head, Chardonnay, Giguiere Ranch, Dunnigan Hills, California, $25. The wine is packed with aromas and flavors of coconut, pear, pineapple, tangerine, clove spice, and generous buttery, smoky notes. Nice for the style. 86/86.

2000 William Hill, Chardonnay, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $23, 10,000 cases. Toasted oak and vanilla dominate the aroma profile as well as the palate. Creamy, with nuances of butter, spice and tropical fruit. Oak fans will love this wine. 84/84.

2000 Windsor, Chardonnay, Private Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $17.50. Oak dominates the nose. Creamy and plush, butterscotch and toasty oak support the pear and apple flavors. 85/85.

2001 Yangara Park, Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, $10. A Kendall-Jackson import. Light gold in the glass, with tropical fruit, white peach and delicate vanilla notes on the nose and palate, supported by nice acidity. 86/90.

Gewurztraminer Gewurztraminer wine glass

2001 Fetzer, Gewurztraminer, Echo Ridge, California, $8, 100,000+ cases. The blend of 13% Muscat adds floral notes to the grapefruit and lychee aromas. Flavors are straightforward but Fetzer manages to squeeze out enough acidity to match the 3.54% residual sugar. 83/85.

2001 Geyser Peak, Gewurztraminer, California, $9, 17,000 cases. Off-dry at 1.4% residual sugar, with balancing acidity. The nose is loaded with grapefruit, lychee and honeyed aromas. There is nice intensity of flavors, with honey, pineapple and tangerine vying for attention. Good value. 86/88.

2001 Hogue, Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10, 9,430 cases. This off-dry wine gives off aromas of grapefruit, apricot and citrus peel. Straightforward fruit flavors finish somewhat short. 82/83.

Merlot wine glass

1999 Callaway, Merlot, Reserve, California, $16, 2,875 cases. Lean-styled, with aromas and flavors of blackberries, herbs and American oak, finishing with tart acidity and vanilla notes. 84/84.

1999 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $18. Straightforward plum and berry flavors, moderate tannins, and nice balance are supported by aromas of plums, cherries, cola and oak nuances. 84/85.

1999 Estancia, Merlot, California, $16. This is an easy drinking Merlot, with black cherry and vanilla aromas and flavors, nice balance and painless tannins. 86/87.

1999 Fetzer, Merlot, Barrel Select, Sonoma County, California, $13, 22,500 cases. Blueberry aromas are enhanced by subtle notes of sage and cedar. Sweet blueberry, chocolate and cola nut flavors are framed by zesty acidity. 86/89.

1999 Franciscan, Merlot, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California, $22. Blueberry and vanilla aromas follow through to the palate, with a touch of olive for added interest. A nice match for that tenderloin. 87/88.

1999 Hogue, Merlot, Vineyard Selection, Columbia Valley, Washington, $18, 34,400 cases. This ruby wine has plenty of cassis, olive and vanilla on the nose. Soft on the entry, black cherry, plum and vanilla define the flavor profile. 84/86.

1999 Pedroncelli, Merlot, Bench Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, California, $14.50, 10,000 cases. This ruby Merlot emits plum, berry, and toasty oak aromas, which are echoed on the palate. Crisp acids and friendly tannins add structure. 85/87.

1999 Simi, Merlot, Alexander Valley, California, $20. Black cherries, spice, cedar and brisk acidity all play in harmony, ready for those grilled meats on the deck. Easy to drink right now. 87/88.

2000 Veramonte, Merlot, Casablanca Valley, Chile, $10. You'll appreciate black cherry and herbal notes both on the nose and palate. This wine is an easy drinker, very smooth, a big crowd pleaser for those summer parties. 85/86.

1999 William Hill, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $21, 24,000 cases. Inviting aromas and flavors of blueberry, dewberry, vanilla and slight dill spice finish with soft tannins and acidity. 85/85.

1999 Windsor, Merlot, 40th Anniversary, Dry Creek Valley, California, $40. Black cherry, currant and American oak aromas repeat on the palate, with full Merlot flavors. The finish is reminiscent of cherry tarts. 85/83.

Miscellaneous wine glasswine glass

McCrea 2000 McCrea, Viognier, Yakima Valley, Washington, $22. Absolutely delicious. Stick your head into a flower bouquet and you have the aromas. Lovely floral flavors delight the palate, with nice acidity breathing life into this beauty. 91/92.

2000 Clos Du Val, Ariadne, Napa Valley, California, $32, 1,550 cases. Light gold with a green tinge. Figs, melon, a hint of grass and floral notes define the elements of this wine. Well-structured, the wine is an ideal match for shellfish. 88/87.

2000 Shenandoah, Barbera, ReZerve, Shenandoah Valley, California, $24, 219 cases. This plum purple wine is their first ReZerve Barbera. The nose speaks of black cherries and mocha. Mixed berries and plums unfold on the palate, with satiny tannins and very food-friendly acidity. 88+/88+

1999 Sobon Estate, Mourvedre, ReZerve, Shenandoah, California, $24, 119 cases. Bright black cherry aromas are underscored by vanilla highlights. While not showing typicity, there are plenty of plums, berries, and vanilla notes to please the palate. 87/87.

1999 Veramonte, Primus, Casablanca Valley, Chile, $20. Generous mixed red and black fruit pleases the senses, with herbal notes adding interest. Overall the wine is nicely balanced. 60% Carmenere, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. 89/90.

Ecco Domani Pinot Gris wine glass

2001 Ecco Domani, Pinot Grigio, delle Venezie, Italy, $10. A very full, floral nose with pineapple fruit. Very clean, with medium acidity, delicate fruit and a refreshing finish. 89/91.

2001 Kim Crawford, Pinot Gris, Boyszone Vineyard, Marlborough, New Zealand, $18, 500 cases. Stone fruit and honey on the nose. Straightforward fruit with a short finish. 25% barrel-fermented. 84/84.

Pinot Noir wine glass

1998 Beringer, Pinot Noir, Stanly Ranch, Los Carneros, California, $30. The wine opens with charming aromas of leather, black tea, and forest floor notes, followed by flavors of black cherries, mushrooms, cedar, spice, and slightly bitter tannins. 87/86.

1999 Beringer, Pinot Noir, North Coast, California, $16. Garnet-colored with pretty classic Pinot Noir red fruit aromas, complemented by vanilla and brown sugar. Cranberry adds to the cherry fruit, brown sugar and vanilla flavors. 85/87.

2000 Cenay, Pinot Noir, Rodgers Vineyard, Napa Valley, California, $26, 337 cases. This wine is very intense on the nose and palate. Black cherries, brown sugar, and root beer barrel candy aromas are definitely atypical. Flavors of cherries, strawberry jam, spice, and French vanilla finish long and brisk. 86?/86.

1999 Cinnabar, Pinot Noir, Garys' Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, $42, 300 cases. A lovely nose of cherries, spice and damp earth. Elegant on the entry, the tannins are silky smooth. Red cherry and plum flavors are enhanced by well-integrated French oak. This wine was panned by some critics – I disagree. 90/88.

1999 Cinnabar, Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, $38, 250 cases. Black cherry, tea, vanilla and smoke aromas are echoed on the palate. The wine is medium-bodied with supple tannins and brisk acidity. 87/86.

2000 Clos Du Val, Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, $38, 1,850 cases. A lovely fragrance of dried cherries, dark tea, and a small dollop of French oak delight the nose. Elegantly balanced and showing its breeding, all segments of the wine seem in perfect harmony. Delightful. 92/91.

2000 Estancia, Pinot Noir, Monterey County, California, $16. A nice dinner wine. Light-bodied, smooth, fruity, and balanced, complimented by red cherry and raspberry aromas. Much better than their 1999. 87/89.

1999 Estancia, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Monterey County, California, $25. Ripe red cherries, berries and vanilla dominate the nose and palate. Easy tannins and modest acidity round out the wine. 87/87.

2000 Fetzer, Pinot Noir, Barrel Select, Sonoma County, California, $15, 10,000 cases. Brilliant garnet. Red cherry aromas are augmented by raspberry, cedar and spicy nuances. Lightly styled with smooth tannins, the tart red fruit is enhanced by a light hand on the oak. 84/87.

2000 Kenwood, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California, $17, 46,000 cases. Garnet colored, with dried cherries and toasty oak aromas. Well-integrated in all respects. The black cherry and dark tea flavors are enhanced by silky tannins and zippy acidity. Enjoy over the next couple of years. 87/88.

Rowland 2000 La Crema, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California, $25. Full aromas of raspberry, cola, cinnamon and cedar pleasure the nose. Medium-bodied, fruity, with plenty of cedar, black tea and smoky notes. Soft tannins allow for early consumption. 86/86.

2000 Pedroncelli, Pinot Noir, F. Johnson Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $14.50, 3,800 cases. A full nose of dried cherries, strawberries, red plums and black tea open to similar flavors on the palate. There is nice balance in this light to medium-weight wine. Very nice for the price category. 85/87.

2000 Rowland, Pinot Noir, Jill's Vineyard, Central Otago, New Zealand, $26, 224 cases. A delightful Pinot from down under. Classic Pinot Noir aromas are found in this medium-bodied wine. The acidity enhances the berry, plum, dried cherry and light earthy notes. Spicy oak plays in the background and does not overtake the fruit, as it should be. Delightful. 90/90.

Riesling wine glass

2001 Eroica, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $20, 10,000 cases. This is without a doubt the best New World Riesling that I have tried. It is loaded with aromas of honeysuckle and peaches, which carries over to the palate. The crisp acidity sets off the wine, making it a standout. 91/91.

2001 Fetzer, Johannisberg Riesling, Echo Ridge, California, $8, 100,000 cases. The 15% Muscat blend adds floral notes to the apricot and honeysuckle perfume. Fairly sweet at 3.39% residual sugar. The flavors are simple but tasty. Serve chilled with Feta cheese and pear slices. 83/85.

2000 Geyser Peak, Riesling, Late Harvest, Mendocino County, California, $19, 440 cases (375ml). This dark gold wine was at least 50% botrytis affected, yielding aromas of candied apricots, peaches, honey, almonds, and floral notes. Very sweet and rich, this is an attention getter. Fully extracted fruit coats the tongue and reveals layer after layer of complexity. The acidity stands up to the 16% residual sugar. 90/90.

2001 Hogue, Johannisberg Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10, 52,000 cases. This light, brassy wine yields apricot and tangerine aromas. Off-dry at 1.57% residual sugar, the delicate flavors echo the aromas. Enjoy with a cheese plate. 86/87.

2001 Hogue, White Riesling, Late Harvest, Washington, $12, 40,000 cases. Light gold, with aromas of apricots, tangerines and peaches. The flavors mimic the nose, with adequate acidity to match the 4.73% residual sugar. Match with Camembert cheese. 85/88.

Sauvignon Blanc wine glass

2001 Bogle, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $8, 23,000 cases. Gold with a tinge of green. The wine has a lot of citrus and grassy notes with a touch of pineapple. A pleasant sipper at a pleasant price which reveals a fruity, crisp wine with a lengthy finish. 86/89.

2001 Fetzer, Sauvignon Blanc, Echo Ridge, California, $8, 90,000 cases. Fresh aromas of green apples, cut grass, and citrus peel pleasure the nose. Bright acidity greets the palate, with green apple and lemon/lime highlights. Good value. 85/88.

2001 Shenandoah, Sauvignon Blanc, Amador County, California, $10, 1,648 cases. Citrus, tropical fruit and toasted coconut unveil their aromas, followed by crispy acidity and lush fruit. 30% barrel-fermented. 85/86.

2000 Simi, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California, $14. The nose is accented by grapefruit and lovely grassy scents. This carries over to the palate, with nice balance to the wine. Match with your favorite shellfish. 88/89.

2001 Stone Creek, Sauvignon Blanc, Special Selection, California, $8, 1,400 cases. Hay and citrus aromas are followed by simple but honest fruit flavors in a well-balanced package. A nice quaffer for those summer gatherings. 83/86.

2001 Veramonte, Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile, $10. This value wine is bursting with lemongrass and tropical fruit aromas. Rich and fruity, with grapefruit and grassy flavors, finishing with a refreshing crispness. 86/87.

Red Triangle Syrah wine glass

1999 Callaway, Syrah, Reserve, San Luis Obispo County, California, $16, 3,200 cases. Somewhat muted in the glass, with black fruit and bacon fat eventually coaxed from the wine. Lean styled with an easy hand on the oak. 85/87.

1999 Rowland, Syrah, Red Triangle, Napa Valley, California, $26, 550 cases. Raspberry and blackberry liqueur aromas are augmented by anise and white pepper notes. Very deep, rich flavors play out on the palate, with silky tannins allowing early drinking. Plums, blackberries, and licorice battle for the forefront. Oak is obvious, but certainly does not dominate this bruiser. This is serious Syrah for the style. 90/91.

White Zinfandel wine glass

2001 Pedroncelli, Zinfandel Rosé, Sonoma County, California, $8, 2,330 cases. The color reminds you of a red candied apple fair treat. There are strawberries with a touch of citrus zest on the nose. A more serious style of White Zin, being dry, crisp, and fruity, this will make a nice summer quaff. 84/85.

2001 Stone Creek, White Zinfandel, Special Selection, California, $6, 5,500 cases. Watermelon tweaks both the optic and olfactory nerves, with strawberry notes for accent. Slightly sweet at 1.53% residual sugar. Soft on the palate, with plenty of strawberry flavors to please those who choose this wine. 82/84.

Zinfandel wine glass

1999 Fetzer, Zinfandel, Barrel Select, Mendocino County, California, $12. Aromas of raspberry jam and vanilla carry over to the palate, with cracked black pepper nuances. Medium drying tannins are noted on the finish. 85/87.

1999 Franciscan, Zinfandel, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California, $20. Medium-bodied with lots of berry jam aromas and briary notes. Fruit abounds in this Zin, with plenty of acidity to please most palates. 87/87.

Ravenswood 1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Lodi, California, $13. Raspberry and cranberry aromas and flavors are underscored in this light-bodied wine. Menthol notes provide added interest. 85/86.

1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Mendocino, California, $14. Red fruit and vanilla are displayed on the nose. Sweet red fruit runs into a hollow mid-palate, followed by chewy tannins. 85/86.

1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Monte Rosso, Sonoma Valley, California, $30. This wine is loaded with ripe berry fruit, plums, currants and red raspberries. Medium to full-bodied, the tannins are very polished and the finish is long and lovely. 90+/89.

1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Old Hill, Sonoma County, California, $36. Gobs of red fruit and mint aromas. Very rich on the palate, with complex tannins, layers of red fruit and mint, finishing long with berries lingering on the palate. 91/90.

1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California, $15. Rich red berry fruit and vanilla aromas are followed by cranberries and raspberries. Medium-bodied, the wine has a long aftertaste and drying tannins. 87/89.

1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Teldeschi, Dry Creek Valley, California, $30. Ripe red fruit, generous vanilla and a suggestion of mint are found on the nose and palate. Medium in weight and tannins, the finish is long and fruity. 89/88.

1999 Ravenswood, Zinfandel, Vintners Blend, California, $10.25. This is a fun wine to drink. Raspberry jam and light briary notes are buttressed by crisp acidity. We need more of these inexpensive, fruity quaffers. 87/90.

2000 Sobon Estate, Zinfandel, Cougar Hill, Shenandoah Valley, California, $15, 1,018 cases. This light ruby wine has mixed berry fruit and a touch of mint on the nose and palate, with cedar notes and generous tannins. 84/85.

2000 Sobon Estate, Zinfandel, Fiddletown, California, $18, 1,200 cases. Brambly, jammy red fruit aromas are appreciated in this medium to full-bodied wine. This is a fruit bomb, with peppery nuances and brisk acidity. The wine carries the 14.9% alcohol well in its youth. 89/89.

2000 Sobon Estate, Zinfandel, Old Vines, Shenandoah Valley, California, $13, 2,500 cases. This is big-time raspberry jam in a glass! This wine is another of your full-blown styles with loads of fruit and 14% alcohol. This is a dandy for fans of the style, with plenty of crisp acidity and balanced tannins. 88/90.

2000 Sobon Estate, Zinfandel, Rocky Top, Shenandoah Valley, California, $15, 1,365 cases. The nose yields scents of crushed raspberries, vanilla and wood aromas. This is a big wine with jammy fruit, peppery notes and cedar flavors. Finishing crisp, there is a bit of heat from the 14.9% alcohol. 85/86.

1999 Valley of the Moon, Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California, $15, 5,385 cases. Lean-styled, with cranberry and currant aromas and berry fruit. Soft tannins and crisp acidity add support. This is a nice Zin to match with tomato-based dishes. 84/85.

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