Well...since nobody else has posted, I guess I'll take the reigns.

First of all....BIG THANK YOU to Mark Neal for throwing such a fabulous event. If only every Napa Valley winery/owner could be this generous! It was a stunning evening. All the way from the hospitality of the hosts (Mark, his wife, Gove, etc.) to the quantity and quality of wines poured, and food served. All around a Frist Class event!!! I can only hope they do this again next year, and I am fortunate enough to have another seat at the table.

Steve and Lisa....You guys are great! As always it was VERY nice to see you two again. Always a pleasure to be around. Hope to see you again soon. Smile

Mr. Pyang......What can I say....I couldn't have had a better seat at the table, and it was great to hang out. I needed it. Salud my friend! Wink

Mr. and Mrs. Enjoyingwine!.....Thank you for the ride, and the great company! I'm still trying to figure out where Mrs. Enjoyingwine got all of that energy from on the car ride home! Wink

Chico....Nice to see you again too! You crack me up! Wish you could have been at our table? Smile Wink

Emilio and SBC (or something to that effect...I forgot your handle? Confused) It was a pleasure meeting you both. Always good to see and meet some traveling out of town forumites. Hope you guys enjoy your stay!

So here goes some brief notes:

'01 Neal Howell Mtn. Cab

Wow! Both of the '01 Neal Single Vineyard Designates are fantastic wines, and both a bit hard to judge right now as they are VERY YOUNG and VERY PRIMARY. The Howell Mtn. is a notch above the Second Chance as far as being a "darker, more brooding wine". Very mountain fruit in character. Rugged sweet black plum, anise, bitter chocolate, coffee grounds, sage, and a bit of balsamic wafting off the back palate. All wrapped in firm, but well integrated tannin and moderate acids. Should be fantastic with more age. This needs some time....92-94 pts.

'01 Neal Second Chance Cab.

While the Howell Mtn. was a more "brooding wine" lurking in the shadows, this was definitely the Rock Star! Compared to the Howell, the tannin here is just as firm and the acids just as present, but there is some VERY EXPRESSIVE fruit as well. Dark sweet black cherry, cocoa, strawberry/rhubarb pie, and creme brulee. I kept asking for more! Both had long finishes, but this wine was certainly not interested in keeping it's swimsuit on! Great concentration, power, and complexity, but like the Howell, it needs time to integrate and come around. 94-96 pts.

'00 Kistler Vine Hill Chard.

This was served with our salad and appetizer course. I think some of us were served the Vine Hill and some the Dutton Ranch? Not exactly sure. Anyway...very nice Kistler Chard. A couple steps down from the '99 Vine Hill (which is one of my favorite CA chards.). Some wet stone, mineral, sweet lemon pudding, and a light steely/flint character. Lighter bodied, with a minimal amount of oiliness to it. Not overwhelming on the midpalate and the finish was shorter than I hoped. Still a nice wine. Good with food....91 pts.

'91 B.V. GDL

This was clearly starting to tire out. Classic GDL/old school CA Cab. Ambering slightly on the edges. On the nose...Tobacco, prune/casis, and wet earth with a bit of "funk". On the palate it was showing light flavors of bland strawberry, tobacco, sweet wet earth, and plum. I think this peaked about 5 years ago, and then started on the decline. The fruit faded on the finish. 86 pts.

'93 Beringer Private Reserve Cab.

VERY NICE!! This reminded me quite a bit of the '92 only a step or two down. The bouquet mixed old world CA Cab (casis/tobacco) with some new world vibrant fruit and floral aspects (red rose petal, crushed fresh rasberies, cinnamon, and sandlewood). All of this matched well with the mid-palate. Red cherry, dark red floral notes, sweet rasberry, cedar, cinnamon, grandma's spice cabinet, wet earth and cigar spice box. The palate elegantly butterflied open into a long and beautiful finish. I'd give this 93 pts. solid, and well into it's peak years!

'89 Maya out of a 6.0 liter Imperial!!!

It's not every day you get to taste a wine of this stature out of this kind of large format! For me, that was the most impressive part about it. Unfortunately this wine is characteristic of the vintage. It has MONSTROUS structure with mega tannin and crisp vibrant acids, but there really wasn't much, if any, fruit behind it. This wine is still a baby, but I doubt it will ever come around. 85 pts.

'87 Heitz Martha's Vineyard

Very lovely wine. For me this fell between the '91 GDL and the '93 Beringer. Classic Heitz Martha's. Not nearly as potent or complex as the ethereal '74 I had a couple of months ago, but nonetheless, drinking very well, and holding it's own quite well. Tell tale bouquet of mint, eucalyptus, cedar, tobacco, and casis, with a touch of dried herbs. On the palate, very elegant flavors of sweet cranberry, red cherry, mint/eucalyptus, cedar, tobacco, casis, wet earth, and a slight hint of rosemary. This was a straight shooter from the nose, to the palate, through the finish. Very consistent. Still youthful and showing enough tannin and acid for further cellar time, but I see NO REASON to hold off any longer. 90 pts.

Then.....there were "other" bottles that started appearing at the table.....

'01 Pride Reserve Claret

Thanks to Pyang for uncorking this beauty! Lovely Pride vino! This, to me, is a bit more of an elegant and restrained Pride Reserve (when compared to the '01 Reserve Cab. or the '01 Foley Claret). Dark ruby red/purple in color. Typical Pride nose of candied red fruit and dark red roses. Lots of sweet fresh candied strawberry, cherry pie, toasty oak, vannilin, and mocha. Not quite the 1906 S.F. Earthquake that the Res. Cab. is, but still quite potent. The Merlot shows it's dominant character here. 95 pts. for me.

'01 Rudd Oakville Cab.

Thanks to Enjoyingwine for this one! To me this was fairly straight forward. Dark ruby red/purple in color. Red cherry, cinnamon, cigar spice, and some mocha. Nice wine, but this didn't impress me much. I wasn't fond of the '00, and while I liked this much better, I'm not going to rush out an make any purchases. 92 pts.

'75 Ch. d'Yquem

Thanks to Chico for bringing this, but....oh yeah....wait....I forgot....HE DIDN'T OPEN IT!!! You evil temptor!! Razz Wink Big Grin Mad Razz

Cheers everyone!!!


So much wine.....so little time!!!
Original Post
Sounds like a great event.

My experience with the '91 BV GDL and '93 Beringer PR was opposite yours. The '91 BV, while a shadow of the great GDLs of the 70s (and before from what I hear), I felt was drinking well and pretty close to its peak a couple of months ago. I thought the Beringer was a decent wine but a far cry from the '92, and probably less to my liking than the GDL, though I felt that it could still improve some. After reading some of the posts today about the Beringer maybe I'll need to retaste it.
For all of you that came to the event, thank you for sharing your time and support for Neal Family as well as supporting my childrens school. It also gave me a chance again to see all of you and to share great wines with great friends. We will be doing this again, life is to short not to.


ps: drab thanks for the tasting notes.

You always bring a tear to my eye. Such a sweet, caring, good natured, friendly, giving, respectable, and revered man. You are truly my hero!

I was hoping that maybe you could hijack this thread? Would you be so kind to do that for all of us? We'd really appreciate it.....

With love and admiration,


So much wine.....so little time!!!
No, I like this thread just the way it is. The kissy-kissy-make-up was beautiful, simply beautiful. As an amateur seismographer, I must admit I'm partial to eruptions, earthquakes, and landslides. They occur in Northern California with regularity. Tick, tick, tick...

Just one more sip.
Speaking of hijacking, how is my post different from yours on Emilio's South Florida tasting notes, that was deleted because of your rants? Well, I guess there was one difference. I was sober when I posted on that thread. You making a bid for King of Hypocrites? Smile

Just one more sip.
Very nice notes. I certainly enjoyed meeting you, Pyang, Chico, Steve and Lisa, Mr. and Mrs. Enjoyingwine and Emilo. What a NIGHT!! When I woke up the next morning my wife was concerned we stayed too late. Well based on PYANG's post we didn't stay long enough. By the way Pyang I did enjoy the Pride Reserve...Thank you very much for sharing it with me Wink! Mark you certainly know how to throw a party Cool. THANK YOU, THANK YOU & THANK YOU! BTW The pizza crust was outstanding! Almost as good as mine.
I know we had a stellar line-up of wines Saturday night, but I kept on going back for the 01 Neal Napa Cab. I just can't get enough of this wine!
It was a pleasure meeting everyone and if you ever make it to PHX please make sure to give me a call.
I would also like to give a huge thank you to Mark for putting together such a wonderful dinner and being a gracious host! The dinner was great and the grilled shrimp and pizza appetizers were just as good. Nice to meet everyone that I hadn't met before and only wish we had more time to talk.

Very nice to see pyang and Chico again and a special thanks to pyang for making sure I got a glass of the 2001 Pride Reserve Claret! My wife and I had a very nice visit with Steve and Lisa, and thanks to Steve for giving me some great suggestions on some Pinot Noirs.

My wine of the night was definitely the 1994 Bryant. Beautiful, concentrated, well balanced, with a very long finish and a real joy to drink. It really stood out among so many other great wines. From there I especially enjoyed the 2001 Pride Reserve Claret (thanks again pyang!)and the Neal wines. DRAB is right on with all the tasting notes although I would rate the Neal Howell Mountain higher. The Second Chance is drinking better right now (although it should be better in 5 or more years) but I think the Howell Mountain should be a blockbuster 10 or more years from now. It is really tight right now but you can taste the potential in this wine. If you have this wine wait at least 10 years and I believe you'll have something really special.

And last but not least a special thank you to my wife for driving us back to the hotel as SPS wasn't the only one that was 'foggy' after all the great wine. Wink Smile

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