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 August 18, 2002:
Clos Pepe Open House - Many Producers
A variety of other producers’ Clos Pepe chardonnays were available. My favorite was Ojai’s 2000, followed by the Brewer-Clifton. Both of these showed some restraint, refinement, lively fruit and less of the tropical, buttery traits that so often betray CA chardonnay.
Then we tried two cuvees each of the 2000 and 2001 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir. I’d already reported on the 2000 regular cuvee sampled at Bob Senn’s PN and Mushroom Madness event. The Vineyard Select is even better. It may be too soon to say, but the 2001’s of both could be even better. Later, a number of other producers’ Clos Pepe PN were poured, including Loring, Siduri, Brewer-Clifton, and some that I’ve forgotten. It was a near toss up for me between the dense, pure and alluring Siduri and the more elegant yet higher acid B-C. All were good specimens of the Santa Rita Hills AVA. I look forward to following Clos Pepe as the vineyard matures and its wines gain greater complexity and depth.
The featured event was a part blind, part double
blind tasting of older Bordeaux. The first 8 bottles were blind, including
two CA ringers, the next 7 were contributed by attendees without being
listed. My notes and guesses:
|86 Talbot—Musty, slightly oxidized. Sweet, stewed
cherry nose. Obviously Bordeaux. Drying. At first I thought it could be
an off bottle of the 83 Lafite. Then I tried a pour from the second bottle.
Very smooth and better. 88 points. I guess it to be the Talbot. 1 Mark.
89 Mondavi Reserve—Nose like red burgundy and cherry. Dry, older Bordeaux. Little fruit, tannic. 81 pts. Second bottle: Younger, tannic. Better. 88 pts. Montrose? Nix.
88 Vieux Ch. Certan—Fresh, primary aroma. Good aged character in taste. Thin finish, puckery. The Benziger Cab Franc? ¼ Mark, as VCC is 25% cab franc.
83 Lafite—Sweet older nose, dried out cherry. Second bottle: Pruney, soft, Left Bank, puckery finish. About 82 pts. Is it the Barton? ½ Mark for pegging the bank.
85 Montrose—Stewed cherry cough drop. Sweet, classy. Best of Show (pretty much by consensus of those I talked to). Smooth, layered, bit chewy. Must be Lafite. 94 points. Boy was I wrong. Naught.
89 Canon la Gaffelière—Classy fresh aroma. Chewy cherry. Good substance. Needs 6-8 years. Tannic, puckery finish. 88. CA cab? Naught-squared.
89 Benziger Cab Franc—Cleaner nose than most. Classy, pure, soft, Right Bank. Second bottle: Lively berry nose. Terrific, younger, cherry, fruity, tannic. 90 points. Not certain, but maybe the Certan? Well, I’m consistent in my mixing up the two wines. Another ¼ Mark.
90 Leoville-Barton—American cab nose. Chewy, chunky red fruit, plumy, lotta oak. Not bad. 87 pts. Mondavi? Nix. Again a certain consistency to my inconsistency.
Thus ends the single blind portion. These were unknown to me, except the bottle I brought (which I forgot to try before its bag was removed).
82 Ch. Gazin—Sweet, vanilla cherry new oaky nose. Soft, Right Bank. Layered, rich. Best wine aside from the Montrose. 92 pts. ½ Mark for guessing the right side.
90 Vieux Chateau St. Andre (Montagne St. Emilion)—My bottle and I only tried it after the bag came off, silly me for forgetting about bottle #10. Sweaty, cherry nose. Fresh, sweet black fruit. Plummy. Still tannic. Good showing. Needs 6-8 years. 90 points. This is a surprisingly powerful wine, made by Petrus’s winemaker. I’m sorry to see my last bottle go. It would have been nice to try this again. Early on, it was fairly stern and it is just now starting to show its terrific fruit concentration (for a backwater chateau).
90 L’Evangile—Oxidized, musty nose. More interesting in mouth. Dry cherry, chalky finish. Right Bank. ½ Mark.
89 Chasse-Spleen—Slight medicinal, sweet nose. Complex bouquet. Yummy, chewy, complex tobacco. Puckery tannins. No guess.
88 La Croix de Gay—Oxidized raisiny old character. Fruit is gone. Rough chalky tannin. Generously 80 points. No guess as none was warranted.
78 Prieuré-Lichine—Classy sweet bouquet. Smooth, harmonious, woven texture. Aged character. Clearly well-stored. St. Julien? Well, got the bank. ¼ Mark.
91 Lafite—Good, chewy, yummy. Tasted after the silver foil was removed. Guess: 91 Lafite. 8 Marks. ;-)
These kinds of tastings can be instructive when conducted under proper conditions. But outdoors with everyone standing, crowding at the tasting table, with a breeze, the commotion of many conversations, spending as much time trying to find a place to spit as actually trying the wines, etc., it was hard to focus on the task at hand. I scored myself 3.75 out of 13.
It also seems like some of the bottles had not been well-stored. 83 Lafite should not have been so evolved, even perhaps damaged.
All in all, it really was about the people, the local wines and community.
Lots of fun and I hope to make this event in future years.
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