The Bernard Roth Archives
We are 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 28, 1998:
Australia and California Rhones
Hell of a good tasting. More superb cheeses from The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.
The table talk at Todd's end of the table was a bit distracting, with bets being placed on the identities of various wines. I'm pleased that even the more expert palates had difficulty with this tasting.
I had not had most of these wines, and was able to identify two: the Charles Melton Nine Popes was distinguishable for its grenache, and I nailed it even though I had never tasted the wine before. I had had the Blewitt grenache and the Sine Qua Non Red Handed blend, and was able to eliminate those possibilities.
I've also had the Ojai on two occasions. Its blue color was one telling trait. The other was its distinct flavor profile and softer tannins.
I was surprised I could not pick out Sine Qua Non "The Other Hand". The first time I had this wine last autumn, its toasty oak was so in your face I thought the inside of the bottle must be charred. There was still a slight hint of toast, but the wine seems to have dropped that intensity.
The Edmunds St. John seemed too astringent for current drinking. It's gotten a lot of good write up, and the bouquet was fabulous, but I'm reserving judgment on the wine so long as the astringency hangs in there. A score it a 90, but that could go up or down a few points as it evolves.
I kept my top three wines from the first flight to see how they compared to those in the second. They were: 1. E&E, 2. Blewitt, 3. Red-Handed. After about 3 hours, the E&E faded and I preferred the Blewitt and Red. The Jasper Hill showed a step ahead of the Blewitt about even with the Swanson and Araujo. The Red was a notch behind. This comparison was before the wines were revealed.
After we learned the identities, about 3:30 into the tasting, I poured a few remaining drops from a Grange bottle (guilt-free, as I provided one of the two Granges). The wine had eveolved into a seemless package. This may be an indication that the wine has a noble future, but on this day I spotted it back in the pack.
The group voted the top 3 per flight. Flight 1: 1. E&E, 2. Grange, 3. Melton Flight 2: 1. Hardy, 2. Araujo, 3. Langi Ghiran
Overall top 3: 1. E&E, 2. Grange, 3. Hardy
Clearly, the group preferred the Aussies, but I had CA in 2nd and tied for 3rd place. Not so clear a sweep.
I don't know what it is about group scoring and popularity of certain styles, but this is the second tasting I've been to in which the Grange was a group favorite and I put it in the pack (the other was a double blind tasting). I'd guess all the components are there in the 92, but I cannot imagine it rising the the highest level.
The common denominator among the highest group scored wines seems to be smoothness, softness, very fine tannins. Even Tom Garcia, who likes 'em big and tannic went the other way for this tasting. And I, who likes refinement and elegance, was more impressed by big structure and intensity than usual. Go figure.
Finally, I was very happy to have tried the Araujo. Such small production wines are very difficult to come across. Araujo acquitted itself well.
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