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 January 1, 1999:
New Year's Day Wine and Dine Marathon
To welcome the guests:
|95 Flowers Chardonnay Camp Meeting Ridge (Sonoma)--Medium
straw color with some tartrate crystals. Lemon, floral, slight oaky nose.
Crisp acidity, layered flavor profile of honey, minerals, flint, lemon.
Almost like a sauvignon blanc. Very long finish, lingering minerality,
bit of a bitter bite. Pineapple, butterscotch, balanced. Fine all around.
Next came an assortment of cheeses (Sage Derby, Savoie, Rouzaire Gratte-Paille triple cream, Rouquefort, Stilton) with:
89 Trimbach Riesling Clos St. Hune VT--Light gold. Nose of hay, kerosene, paraffin, musk melon, peach. Medium acidity, lots going on. Tropical fruit, coconut, pear, peach, apple, slightly sweet (about Spatlese level), lingering minerality, honey, banana, pineapple. Musky. Very long, granite, chalky, tongue coating. First WOW wine. 95+
85 Ch. La Lagune (Haut Medoc)--Medium brick red. Bit closed, earthy, cedar, black cherry, oaky nose. Mature, smooth, round. Light texture, bit high acid, low tannin. Older cherry, black raspberry, leather, iron, earth flavors. Some light tannins on finish. Good dinner wine, but nothing more compelling than that. Drink up. 87
First course was chosen specifically to complement the wine that accompanied it. I cut papardelle from sheets of fresh lasagna pasta and served it with butter, Tuscan olive oil (from Tenuta il Poggione, Montalcino), and an Italian white truffle paste. It went great with:
82 Gaja Barbaresco Sori Tildin--Decanted off a small amount of sediment. Dark red violet, slight lightening of rim. Full, earthy, rich, mineral, leather, black fruit nose. Still big, fine tannins. Immense fruit, finely honed structure. Black cherry, plum, iron. Refined, expansive finish. Still years away from its best. Second WOW wine. 95+
82 Leoville Las Cases--Double decanted with some sediment. Very dark violet. Cedar, blackberry, tobacco, iron fillings, gunpowder, iodine. Big, tannic, black plum, blueberry, cherry. Very rich, huge fruit backed by substantial tannins. Very long, very full. Still young. Probable maturity in 15-20 years. In top form. Better than at the Parker 100 tasting in LA last month. WOW #3. 97+
61 Chateau Fassegue St. Emilion Grand Cru (brought as a mystery wine)--Double decanted with huge amounts of sediment. Medium brick/orange with browning rim. Nose of older, mature, almost tawny Bordeaux. Some volatile alcohol and oxidation, raisin, cloves. Faded, thinning, acidic, but good fruit flavors still there, if on the citrus/tropical end of the spectrum, strawberry(?) and a hint of damson plum. Some residual tannin. Finish is fine if a bit short. Definitely over the hill, but an interesting curiosity that is not yet undrinkable. 84-
Most people who ventured an opinion of the Fassegue guessed older Bordeaux, probably 50s or 60s. I guessed 64 Cantemerle.
Next came roast duck with traditional stuffing, wild rice pilaf, and a leek/fennel gratin.
89 Comte Lafon Volnay-Santenots-du-Milleu--Medium red violet. Restrained nose that opens up after 15 minutes in glass. Earthy, violets, fresh leather, cassis aromas. Top notch fruit, very tannic still, talcky, black fruit. Very Volnay, but a powerhouse of one. Long way to go to develop that typical Volnay elegance, but the fruit is there. After 15 minutes, develops a sweetness in mid-palate. Peppery, almost syrah-like fruit. Perfect balance. Some earthy, chalky, stoney qualities. Long evolution ahead. Verging on WOW. 93+
92 Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir--Light ruby, fading rim. Typical S&B brooding iron and earth, mushroomy nose. Fine cherry, fairly tannic, long, earthy, lingering tannic finish. High acid, high toned, bright. Fruit will probably not outlast the tannins. Drink over next 2-3 years. 90-
95 Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir--Medium Burgundy red. Fresh toasty, oaky, earth, violets. Killer nose. Very full, rich, black cherry, oaky, wonderful. Great finish. Very long, chewy tannins. Mushrooms. Lush, tannic. Needs time. A WOW in the making. 93+
Next came seared and roasted venison strip steak with a port reduction sauce and lingonberries, served with Russian black kale sauteed in duck pan drippings.
86 Gros Freres Richebourg--Orange/brick. Closed, tawny, chapitalized, burnt sugar, creme caramel nose. Very unusual, somewhat oxidized. Stinging tannins, orange, cherry, earthy, loam, very complex. Very, very long lasting finish. Very much Grand Cru, though not a well stored example. Still, this is excellent. Big wine with years to go. Fruit will hold. Grippy. Excellent match to the venison. 93+
96 J-F Mugnier Musigny--Dark Burgundy. Great nose. Lavish toasty oak, blackberry, huckelberry, vanilla. Lush ripe cherry, green pepper, blackberry. Fantastic. Really deep, concentrated, long. Iron and plum skin on finish. Very masculine. Vin de Garde. Killer Burgundy. Fourth WOW. 96+
95 d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz McClaren-Vale--Inky purple. Forward, toasty, smoky, briny, cinnamon, cloves nose. Very intense fruit backed by lush oak. Very syrah fruit, intense black fruit, spicy, vanilla, lots of chocolate. Very long, immense. Great stuff. WOW #5. 94+
As we start with the desserts (sherry triffle, that perfect New Year's pudding, and grasshopper chocolate mousse cake):
76 Sanctus Jacobus Piesporter Schubertslay Auslese GK--This is my last remaining bottle of wine that is still drinkable from my years in graduate school, and it was not especially well-stored during much of that time. Dark amber. Bit too old now. Botrytis, mandarin bouquet. Not so sweet, light viscosity, dried apricot, butter, sherry, bit of sharp minerality, but a short finish with flat texture. OK balance with good acidity. Nectarine, some buttery, orange, toffee components. On the down slope. 88-
90 Lafaurie-Peraguey Sauternes--Medium gold. Slight botrytised nose. Tropical, coconut, some bitter orange, honey. Thick, unctuous. Fine finish. 93+
93 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Tokaji Aszu Szt. Tamas 6 Putonyos--Dark amber. Very botrytised, pungent, waxy. Thick, unctuous, very sweet, syrupy, big acids, mandarin, honey. Extremely long finish (60+ seconds), orange marmalade. Double WOW (#6). 97+
Alvear Solera Abuelo Diego 27 Pedro Ximenez--No notes. Standard issue good QPR thick tawny molasses, caramel, chocolate, raisiny dessert liquid. A set up for:
NV Chamber Rare Tokay Liqueur--Dark brown. Very tawny, raisin, brown sugar, burnt sugar nose. Extremely rich, deep, burnt, bitter, extracted, raisin, dates, chewy Mexican vanilla, toffee, coffee, sharp espresso, chocolate. So complex, so long. Incredible. 2 minute finish. Turkish coffee plus. Really incredible. Still stinging, tannic, acidic finish. Lots of burnt toast. Amazing. Better than previous tastes of this wine. Triple WOW. 99
Domaine Charbay 'Nostalgie' Black Walnut Liqueur--Very dark brown. Very intense, volatile (30% alcohol), woody (duh,it's walnuts!), foresty. Very thick. Extremely long, alcoholic finish. WOW again. 99
Alvears PX 1830 Dulce Muy Viejo--No notes. This is essentially motor oil with a cork. Mindboggling stuff. Sort of like cooking down the Abuelo Diego 27 slowly over 150 years until all that's left is thick essence of sherry cask, molasses, prune extract, chocolate liqueur, with the viscosity of crude oil. WOW doesn't do this justice. Off the scale.
No bloody pulpit for the New Year on this occasion. After all, who needs preachy sermons when recovering from the festivities. Not to mention, after the 9 hour marathon event, the rabbi doesn't feel so creative today. I got glassware to wash. And don't even get me started about New Year resolutions.
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