Did a Sonoma vs. Napa blind tasting last night of Zins, Cabs, and Merlot, all from recent/current releases. All of the wines were dead-on in terms of their appearance so I'll skip the commentary on how they looked.
Some surprises in the group if you'll read on. The wines are posted in the order they were served.
'98 St. Francis Reserve Merlot: Tight nose of plum and chocolate; palates matches w/a touch of smoky oak, w/execellent mouthfeel. Mid-length finish. I'd rate this 86-87 pts. Suprisingly nice wine - #5 of 6, $43.99.
'99 Stag's Leap Cellars Merlot: More open nose of red fruit, toasty oak, quite a bit of alcohol. A bit closed at first, the wine became very fruit-forward, w/red plums and spicy oak; quite tannic w/a long, drying finish. A touch better than the St. Francis @ 88-89 pts. - $39.99, #4 of 6.
'98 Arrowwood Cab - Not a vineyard specific bottling. Intense, spicy red fruit, slight but pleasant bell pepper notes, and smoky oak on the nose an palate, this one had more than just a touch of EtoH heat, too. A big, fruit-forward Cab w/some aging potential - 90 pts., $44.99, tied for #1.
'01 Gundlach-Bundschu Zinfandel - Huge nose of woodsy,spicy blackberry; soft blackberries flavors, nutmeg, chocolate and sweet oak. Very mouthcoating, lots of tannin, long, sweet finish. 91 pts., tied for #1, and $24.99.
'00 Ch. Potelle VGS Zinfandel - Carried the same profile of the Gun-Bun but not to the same extremes, solid zin w/a long, spicy fruit finish. 90 pts., $42.99, and #3 of the night.
'00 Plumpjack Cab - Darkest wine of the evening, was nearly opaque. Very tight nose at first, opening to reveal cherry, herbs, and smoky oak. Somewhat thin flavors of dark cherry and cedary oak, fine-grained tannins and a warm, spicy fruit finish. Not bad, but it didn't pass muster against the others. $55, 85-86 pts., #6 WOTN.
Were it not for the price on some of these, I'd probably buy anyone of them having not tasted them before last night. I was pleasantly surprised w/the St. Francis Reserve Merlot, having had what appears to be a 'bad bottle of '99 Pagani Ranch Reserve Zin not too long ago.
Both zins were very nice, w/the Gun-Bun taking the WOTN honors (even before everyone knew the price). I also found the Arrowwood to be a fine bottle from an off vintage...just proves you need to taste your way through the '98s as they're obviously not all bad.
On a sidebar - we started the evening w/'01 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc - deep golden color looked more like a Chard than a SB, plush grapefruit and zippy citrus notes, w/a long, racy
finish. 90 pts. easy.
The dinner wine was the Marquis-Phillips '02 Cabernet Sauvignon - no need to elaborate 'cuz it was extremely tasty. Deep red-black color, oozing black fruits, eucalyptus, and sweet, chewy tannins. 91 pts., and a super buy $14.99.
(musings from the great white thread-killer!)
[This message was edited by kybo on Sep 21, 2003 at 10:23 AM.]