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 February 26, 1998:
Highly Rates Wines (Mostly)
|95 Anne Gros Bourgogne Rouge--Nice nose. Not very
substantial. Balanced and pleasant. A bit more elegant and refined compared
to their 94. $16
96 Philippe Livera Gevrey Chambertin (North Berkeley)--Classy. Very approachable. Delicious, but could have more concentration. I'd like to try their Premier Crus. $35
96 Nichols Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard--Smoky, toasty oak overwhelms the pinot fruit. Oak and smoke muddles the flavors. Too oaky. Could this blow off with a few years of bottle age? Not worth the risk for $42 per bottle, especially with an upstart producer making their first wine (so far as I know!) from this vineyard. I'm looking forward to the 96 Ojai Pisoni Pinot to be poured at the Wine Cask tasting in a couple weeks.
96 Clarendon Hills Grenache Kangarilla Vineyard--Closed in nose with faint berry aromas. Very balanced. Easy drinking, but some tannic structure. It will be worth waiting to see if this gets more complex with time like its sister wine from the Blewitt Vineyard. $36. Can be found cheaper elsewhere.
95 J.L. Chave Hermitage--Smoky. Sublime. Deep complex aromas despite the closed-up bouquet. Tannic structure holds all the components together. Toasty oak overlays black cherry flavor. Very classy though tightly knit. Seemless. Well worth $75. This wine is not for current consumption, but it will be magnificent around 2010. I hope I can open this along side the 95 Rayas in 10-12 years and argue the merits of syrah vs grenache, of northern Rhone vs southern Rhone. World class wine.
95 La Jota Petite Sirah--Very closed nose. Very smooth, creamy oak and vanilla. Low fruit extract, fine oak in mid-palate and finish. Not overtly tannic. Very classy. Overpriced at $48.
95 Pahlmeyer Merlot--Warm berry nose. Vanilla, not unlike the L'Ecole No. 41 Reserve Merlot. Very good balance, tannic structure. Excellent, but for $50 I'd prefer the Beringer Bancroft.
95 Random Ridge Cabernet--Toasty oak. Good drinking now. Balanced. Would be a fine match to Bar-B-Que. Not a QPR leader at $23.
95 La Jota Cabernet Howell Mountain--Excellent concentrated blackberry and cassis nose. Blueberry, cedar, tobacco, toasted oak. Long finish with some pruney, stewed tomato flavors. Worth the $30.
94 Groth Reserve Cabernet--Sweet berry nose with some briary blackberry elements. Luscious fruit. Very classy. Great integration of oak. Cedar, cigar box, black cherry. Finishes with oak and plums. Classy. I'd rate this a notch below Araujo and Maya among my top 94s. Not a very good price: $108. Nice to try, though. Will drink well soon.
94 Dunn Cabernet Napa--Dried black fruit nose. Tannic structure and smoothly balanced mouthfeel. Good oak. Great flavors, concentration. But the wine needs 10 years to begin to strut its stuff. $60, but can be found cheaper.
94 Dunn Cabernet Howell Mountain--Very pronounced briary, oaky nose. Did I detect some mercaptans? Concentrated fruit, tightly wound but balanced. Long, long finish. Very backward now. Very fine tannins linger on finish. This is a wine for the cellar. 10-15 years. World class wine. $83, but worth finding for less.
On the soap box:
The quality in this tasting was exceptional. Many of these wines would easily rate low-to-mid 90 scores, with the Chave, Groth Reserve, and Dunn HM rating in the 95-98 range.
I am starting to find much more use of highly toasted oak in CA wines. Is this an attempt to win notice at tastings? Sometimes it works for the wine, sometimes it simply draws attention to the winemaker.
Return to the Bernard Roth Archive Index