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 10, 2002:
“I’m in the Mood for Rhone” Tasting and Dinner
With appetizers (grilled quail, grilled shrimp,
red pepper-olive crostini):
|2001 Verdad Grenache Rose
(with ~8% temperanillo)—Second vintage of Louisa’s Spanish-influenced rose.
Subdued fruit, good acid. Bit of tannic bite at end. About 86 points. I
much preferred the debut vintage last year. Also, a far cry from John Alban’s
Sonrojo rose, perhaps the best domestic rose I’ve had.
With smoky grilled salmon served with grilled corn salad (this was a great first course and an inspired match to the wines):
00 Qupe Roussanne “Alban Vineyard”—Spicy, buttery, mineral nose. Lush, complex, toasted nuts, succulent golden fruit, dry pineapple. Excellent finish. One of the best Qupe Roussannes. 92
00 Alban Estate Roussanne—Deep golden color. Honey, flinty, hay, smoky nose. Super rich, concentrated gold fruit. Layered complex, minerally, loquat flavor. Bit alcoholic finish. Zippy acidity, citrus zest. 93
Smoked Duck with Smashed Wild Turkey Sweet Potatoes (as good as the duck was, the smashed yams were to die for):
00 Alban Central Coast Syrah—Funky, gamy, blackberry nose. Very Rhonish character, tar, mineral, black fruit. Terrific. 91+ Not available on John’s mailing list. A blend of estate and purchased Paso fruit.
00 Qupe Whitehawk Vineyard Syrah—Light band-aidy smell. Smooth blackberry, blueberry. Very dry, ultra-fine tannin. North Rhonish tight structure. Quite good. Bit tarry finish. Modest fruit. 89
Grilled Bison NY Steak with Grilled Ratatouille (a lot of meat thus far, and this was overkill, rare and delicious):
00 Qupe Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Syrah—Animal fur nose. Huge chewy, tarry dark fruit , terrific integration of its components. Cola, minerals, complex. Needs 3-6 years. 93+ A bit atypical of Hillsides past, much more dark, earthy and animally compared to the usual highly aromatic, ethereal perfume and elegant, silky textured style.
00 Alban Estate Grenache—Bit high toned. Lacking usual floral notes. Suave, creamy mouthfeel. Good acid, blackberry, blueberry, forward oakiness, cola, black pepper. Big mouthful of wine with supportive tannins. Needs 4-6 years. 92+
00 Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Purisma Mountain Syrah—White pepper, sandalwood aromas. Liqueur-like richness. Black raspberry, tar. Yummy. Well integrated oak, tannin. 92
99 Alban "Oechsle" (50-50 blend of late harvest botrytised viognier and roussanne)—Nose of crème brulee. Fantastic zingy TBA-like. Spicy, botrytised. Terrific, high acid, ginger, cloves. Long finish. 96. Comparable to Alois Kracher’s better TBAs, though with different flavor profile. [Note: Those of you who are familiar with Kracher’s TBAs will know what I mean by better ones. Even the lesser cuvees are downright decadent.]
I had the pleasure to sit next to John Alban and got to learn quite a bit about him, his background, and his winemaking. I met John at his debut Emporium winemaker dinner in 1994 (I think). His 93 Grenache was a mind-blowing introduction to what the varietal was capable of in the hands of a dedicated grower/winemaker. He also showed an impressive roussanne then, probably the only roussanne made in CA at the time. Albans’s roussanne is, in my view, still the quintessential version produced outside the Rhone. John is quite a talker and story teller. A fun guy to get to know. And pretty much every wine he makes these days is impressive—not in the Manfred Krankl kind of manipulated way, but in its harmony, Rhonish integrity, and quality of fruit. Do not hesitate to try any Alban wine. Just be aware that the Estate syrahs and grenache tend to need a few years of bottle age. [The impressively endowed 97 Reva Syrah we had last night needs another 2-4 years.]
I’ve followed Bob Lindquist’s wines since the 1990 vintage, and I’ve had various of his wines going back to 1982, the first Qupe vintage. Bob is one of the original Rhone Rangers; only three CA wineries released a varietal syrah earlier than Qupe. Even though Qupe is primarily a Rhone varietal winery, Bob makes a good Chardonnay, too. Since 2000, he and Louisa have been exploring Spanish varietals, grown at the former Ibarra-Young vineyard in Los Olivos. Some temperanillo is blended in the garnacha rose. Their other wine, a varietal albarino, is superb. The 2000 was better than any I’ve had from Spain. The Qupe style tends toward elegance rather than power. You will not get 200% new oak. You will not drink the ash of a Santa Maria BBQ pit. You will get an enjoyable dinner wine.
Bob Senn puts on the best winemaker dinners in SB County. Unlike the typical events hosted by restaurants, where you get the impression that the winemaker is there because the distributor is going through the motions of building visibility, Emporium wine dinners are about local yokels. You get growers and winemakers hanging out “in the neighborhood”. Very unpretentious and informative, without hype. And the grub is usually pretty darn good.
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