[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

A wine dinner in Denver
Sometimes when you get a group of wine lovers together and everyone just brings along something "interesting," the results present an array of wines so interesting that it's really hard to believe it wasn't planned that way.

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.

Have you tasted these wines?
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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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