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Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

A Louisville wine dinner
Quality, more than quantity, was the key Saturday evening as a small group of Wine Lovers' Discussion Group participants and friends gathered at our house Saturday night for good food, good wine, and, of course, good fellowship. Bob and Lynda Henrick, Eric and Ginny Stauffer and their friend Vanessa (and baby Jake!) and Mary and I enjoyed a good potluck dinner (highlighted by Eric's tenderloin and Lynda's carrot cake), and we went through seven very fine wines. (I held my notes overnight in order to add reports on the leftover reds after a day's airing in the bottle.)

Le Chevalier de Sterimberg 1990 Hermitage Blanc - Clear pale gold. Odd but intriguing mineral and medicinal scents laced with aromatic hazelnuts and almonds. Full and rich flavors, tart apple fruit with a slight bitter edge and nuances that follow the nose, remaining consistent in a long finish. None of us are quite sure what to expect in an older white Hermitage; some of the signs suggest that further aging wouldn't have been wise, but it's certainly still very much alive. U.S. importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons, NYC.

Huet non-vintage Vouvray Brut ($18.99) - My third taste this year of this excellent Loire bubbly, with consistent notes: Clear, bright-gold, with good yeasty and earthy aromas; flavor consistent, crisp, dry and tart, with a long finish. Importer not shown.

Burgans 1997 Rias Baixas Albariño ($10.49) - Clear straw color. Delicate peach nectar and floral aromas. Clean, crisp flavor, peaches and citric fruit, prompts comparisons with Viognier, but I find it more well-rounded than most Viogniers. Fine wine. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections Inc., Cincinnati.

Beringer 1990 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Dark garnet color, slight haze. Delicious cassis and dark chocolate aromas with a whiff of black olives. Big, juicy fruit flavors follow the nose, soft tannins barely evident. Ready, but in no way over the hill. Twenty-four hours later, oak seems more evident, and the tannins are gone; still very tasty, sweet oak and black fruit, but it seems a little more "veggie" than the night before.

Beringer 1993 Napa Valley Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot - Inky dark reddish-purple, opaque. Deep, brooding black fruit, plummy, hints of raisins. Tannic and tight, lots of fruit and good potential, but even with the beef tenderloin it doesn't give up much. A day's airing doesn't make much difference; it's still hard and lean after 24 hours in the opened bottle, showing a little more oak but still cloaking its fruit behind a heavy curtain of tannins.

Joseph Phelps 1991 Napa Valley Insignia - Inky dark reddish-purple. Blackcurrant and cassis aromas, very nice! Closed and tannic at first, but opens up in the glass to layered complexity and goes very well indeed with the beef. Shows best of the three reds after 24 hours, with classic cassis and light aromatic cedary aromas and a full and rich flavor, tannins still present but softening to reveal ripe black fruit and mocha notes of black coffee and cocoa. Wonderful wine.

Château Guiraud 1988 1er Cru Sauternes - Bright gold. Honey and apricots in a classic Sauternes nose; flavors consistent, honey-sweet and structured. U.S. importer: Jean-Claude Boisset Wines USA, San Francisco.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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