The Bernard Roth Archives
We happy that Bernard, who has sampled so many wines, has shared his notes with us. We do have, or have had for sale a few of the wines Bernard writes about, and we include a link to our stock page whenever it is a producer we carry (but since the stock page is kept up-to-date and the wines are sold, don't expect any but the newest of wines to show up in our stock!). Mostly though, since we specialize in County of Santa Barbara Wine and Central Coast Wine, we don't carry a lot of the wines Bernard writes about. But we think it is important that you be able to have an idea what they're like in case you are planning to buy some somewhere, or have them in your own collection. Enjoy.
Here are Bernard's notes from April 17, 2001:
Legendary Wines of Temecula and Cucamonga
|99 Henry’s Drive Cabernet Sauvignon (Aussie)—Medium
dark. High toned, menthol and red fruit bouquet. Medium weight red fruit,
high acid. No faults. Tasted again 2.5 hours later and the wine was still
vibrant and yummy. Very fine, if not especially complex. 92
98 Paul Hobbs Merlot (Michael Black Vineyard, Napa)—Dark purple. Lovely plummy nose with some medicinal overtones. Supple texture. Flavor is oak-infused cherry juice. Hollow mid-palate and short finish. Needs time. 87 (+?)
97 Groth Reserve Cabernet—Medium color. Nice toasty oak, cherry bouquet. Somewhat lightish weight, refined, elegant. Cherry, oak, charcoal flavors are carefully finessed. Balanced, elegant finish. Not especially tannic. 91(+)
97 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Reserve Morisoli (Napa)—Medium dark. Bit closed. Oaky juice with black cherry. Currently kind of one-dimensional. After 1 hour, still showed rather simple flavor structure. 90(+?)
98 Hartwell Cabernet—Dark red violet. Gorgeous, expansive bouquet of purple fruit, black raspberry, classy oak, menthol. Rich, classy, supple, with somewhat clunky tannins, good length. Somewhat medicinal, black raspberry, black cherry, toasty oak. Tastes just a little bit manipulated with its oak treatment. Quite delicious now, but will fruit hold up as oak integrates and tannins settle out? 92(+?)
97 Lokoya Cabernet Diamond Mountain—Very dark. Restrained bouquet with mint, dark fruit. Very rich, refined, integrated, dark fruit. Very big wine, zingy acidity. Some iron minerality, black licorice, tobacco, leather. Big fine tannins show serious structure, but not supple. Very long. Bit too toasty oak, but should evolve nicely over 10-15 years. 94-96.
99 Seven Lions Zinfandel Martinelli and Duckhorn Vienyard (RRV) —Medium purple. Sweet candied apple nose. Raspberry, some oak. Definitely a unique zin experience, but too simple for the (stupid) $48 price. High toned acidity, candied flavor. 90
99 Torbreck “The Steading” (60% Grenache, 20% mataro, 20% shiraz)—Dark. Not much nose. Some eucalyptus. Round, plumy, some earthy minerals in finish. Very fine tannins. Needs 2-4 years. 89(+?)
99 Lengs and Cooter Old Vine Shiraz—Medium dark purple. Classy plumy nose with nice use of oak, mint. Classic Aussie shiraz with dark plum flavor, some fine tannins. Yummy. Needs 2-3 years. 91+
98 Sine Qua Non “The Antagonists” (Grenache)—Medium red violet color. Wonderful sweet framboise nose. Great rich strawberry, raspberry fruit. Subtly deep flavors. Long, deceptively tannic, slightly hot finish. Needs 2-5 years. 92-94, plus extra point for the weird pin-shaped bottle right out of a Flying Karamzov Brothers routine. [Is that them in the label?]
99 Wild Duck Creek Shiraz—Very dark blue violet. Huge nose. Sweet menthol, framboise. Very deep, chewy. Rich, fruity with substantial tannins. Low acid. Bit missing in the mid-palate, but should fill out with time. Long finish. 93+
98 Chateau de la Negly “La Porte du Ciel” (Languedoc)—Dark purple. Nose of chocolate, black raspberry. Luscious, strucutured, big fruit. Classy, almost cab-like mesh of black cherry, toasty oak, cola. Big drying tannins. Needs 6-10 years. Excellent, though not the least bit Rhonish. International in style. 93+
98 Clos de Truffieres (100% syrah, Languedoc)—Bit closed nose with charred oak. Some high toned, liqueur-like fruit. Super rich, creamy smooth low acid, dark fruit, plum, minerals, and earth. Very tannic. Blueberry. Classy oak, but perhaps overdone. Needs 8-10 years. 94.
99 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz—Impenetrably dark. Focused black cherry, cocoa powder nose. Powerful, liqueur-like intensity. Very rich, but bit hollow in finish and touch hot. Lovely, balalnced, but big fine, grainy tannins give a chewy finish. All the ingredients, but needs time to come together. Give it 6-8 years. 94(+?)
99 Noon Eclipse (Grenache)—Medium dark. Musty nose. Heavy, thick, black fruit. Anise. Big plum-skin tannins. Wonderful, but what is it? Not CdP. Needs 8-10 years. 93+
Bonus 99 Noon Eclipse TN from Aja dinner last month (thanks Bruce L. for bringing it)—Very dark purple. Very concentrated, chewy, very American oak. Huge, long. Anise, licorice, black plum and blackberry. Very tannic. Over the top. 95
It’s been a very long while, and the natives have been very restless. Without further adieu, here’s the bloody pulpit.
Though not a heavy hitter in the grand scheme of big red wines, the Henry’s Drive Cab impressed me for its restraint. There’s plenty of yummy fruit, but I’d be hard pressed to recognize it as cabernet. More like a Rhone blend.
The Paul Hobb’s merlot was no doubt put into this tasting without forethought of malice. Following the fantastic 97 Hobb’s Hyde Vineyard cabernet, Bob must have had reasonably high expectations for this merlot. And at $68 a bottle, it had better behave like Pahlmeyer to stand a chance with this crowd. Well a 90 point merlot might be a nice find for $20-25, but this wine landed with a thud. Want good merlot for a reasonable price? Go with Havens.
The 97 Groth Reserve pales next to the monumental 92 and 94 vintages. If 97 was such a hot vintage (note to Laube and the WS crew: you guys gotta do a better job defending 97), then why didn’t Groth, of all folks, show their brilliance? I guess $120 doesn’t go as far as it used to…
The Hartwell was very impressive, and if the parts come together in a few years, it will deserve a WOW! But $95 is a bit much to risk on such an “if”. Maybe the oak manipulation I sensed in the wine is what expensive consulting winemakers do with young vine fruit to justify exorbitant prices. I’ll see if the formula works only if someone else is buying.
Finally I got the chance to try a Lokoya, and I can see what the fuss is about. A very stylish, concentrated, tightly sculpted cab. Too bad this is K-J or I’d show more enthusiasm. It could be worse, though. At least it’s not Gallo.
The Seven Lions wines are made by Fred (of Burt) Williams. This effort produced a fun, sassy zinfandel. Sort of on the Kool-aid end of the zin spectrum, diametrically opposite the Turley Hayne style. Same stupid price as Turley zins, but without the power and class. When upstarts in the business think they can put out a $40 zin, I’m gonna have to find another hobby!
Sine Qua Non continues to impress. Great Grenache fruit sold in a hollow bowling pin. What a concept. What a wine. Gotta be Alban vineyard Grenache as no one else can grow it right in CA.
The two Languedocs are both very impressive, new world style syrahs. Clearly, they have no hope of winning accolades among haard core Rhone-o-philes, so they have gone after the international clientele with these efforts. No way to discern terroir in these syrahs as there’s no history to these wines. BUT… They sure are yummy. The Negly reminds me almost of a huge, young Latour in terms of density, structure, and complexity. The Truffiere (in 97 it went by the nickname “Cuvee Max”, and I miss that personal affectation on the label) is a worthy follow-on to the huge 97. Both vintages are built in the vein of SQN’s Against the Wall, showing the same characteristic charred oak wafting over intense black fruit. Both these wines will be great in 8-10 years, but I can’t get over the prices ($80, $95 respectively). Ouch! The Languedoc ain’t in Kansas anymore!
99 Fox Creek is a worthy follow-on to the monumental 98. One can’t expect back to back monumental, but 99 is at least as good as 97. The hitting streak continues.
Finally, having the Noon twice in 2 months is a treat. Now, Bruce, if you can oblige to save a bottle for a decade hence, I’d love to try it again when I can comfortably drink more than an ounce of this elixir. Maybe then we’ll learn if it is truly wine. For now, score it a Jeff Ames 97.
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