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 July 17, 1998:
Recent Pinot Noirs
Here's my notes:
|96 JK Chardonnay (Santa
Barbara, made by Lane Tanner)--Honeysuckle and oak nose.. Medium weight.
Tropical flavors, modest oak and low acidity. Good zesty mineral finish.
96 Stephen Ross PN Vin Gris--Slight orange/pink color. Moderately complex but smooth, simple, easy to drink. Balanced, with some fruit and minerals showing on finish. A fine summer quaffer. 84
The rest are PN reds:
96 Presidio Mission Vineyard (SB County)--Light strawberry nose. Raspberry, strawberry flavor. Earthy tannic finish. 82
96 Calera Central Coast--Earthy, Burgundy nose. Thin fruit, overoaked. Acidic, oaky finish. 79
96 Stephen Ross Edna Ranch (Edna Valley)--Earthy, oaky, slight bretty nose with raspberry. Light weight, strawberry/raspberry flavor, oak. Light finish, slightly dirty. 83
96 Stephen Ross Bien Nacido--Muted nose of distinctive BN fruit. Sweet red cherry friut, seems light weight. Integrated oak. Decent finish. 85
96 Brophy-Clark (Arroyo Grande)--Lovely earthy, mushroomy nose. Black cherry. Deep extracted fruit. Plum, cherry, good tannin. Long finish. 89
95 Kynsi Paragon Vineyard (Edna Valley)--Funky, berryish, horsey nose. Slightly skunky. Soft, very little tannin. Decent acid. Smooth finish. Grenache-like flavors. 86
96 Whitcraft Bien Nacido N-Block--Distinctive, elegant BN nose. Ripe berry flavor, some oak. Smooth, integrated, balanced. Fine finish. 90
96 Whitcraft Hirsch Vineyard (Sonoma Coast)--Beautiful nose. Black raspberry, lilacs and roses. Round, voluptuous, smooth. Very fine tannins, integrated oak. Too good to spit this one! 92
96 Lane Tanner Bien Nacido--Very open earthy, black cherry, BN nose. Light maraschino flavor, light oak. Fast fade on finish. 85
96 Lane Tanner Sierra Madre Vineyard--Moderately fruity, floral nose. Cherry flavor. Soft, short finish. Low tannins. 83
96 Hitching Post Santa Maria Valley--Cherry nose. Luscious ripe cherry, earthy, medium weight. Fine finish. 87
96 Hitching Post Bien Nacido--Ripe cherry, earthy BN nose. Very rich, luscious fruit, cherry/raspberry. Nice finish with herbal, grassy overtones. 89
96 Hitching Post Sanford & Benedict Vineyard--Rich black cherry, horsey, bretty, earthy Burgundian nose. Sweet black cherry, plum, tomatoey. Long tannic finish. 92
96 Hitching Post Highliner--Beautiful lush nose of black cherry, dried roses. Sweet cherry, vanilla, cola. Almost syrah-like mid-palate and finish. 93
95 Santa Barbara Winery Reserve (Lafond and BN Q-Block Vineyards)-- Warm, sexy, black cherry, oak nose. Very rich black cherry, plum fruit. Fine tannins with oak, fruit on finish. 91+
95 Fiddlehead Willamette Valley--Slight floral, earthy nose. Tannic, thin fruit, earthy, medium acidity. A minor effort. 84
95 Calera Jensen Vineyard--Rich black cherry, earthy, green pepper nose. Vegetal, cherry/plum, herbaceous, finish is tannic/stemmy, but a big PN. 88+
93 Whitcraft Blanc de Noirs (Bien Nacido PN friut)--Appley, french toast, hay, tarragon nose. Rather frothy, big buubly, soapy mouthfeel. Modest yeasty complexity. Slightly minerally dry finish. 88
From the bloody damned pulpit built from oak timber harvested from K-J's clear-cutting of Santa Barbara county land:
What a mixed bag. Some really good and really mediocre wines from some of my favorite producers.
First, the surprises. It is good to taste new producers that seem to have their acts together to make excellent PN from the challenging varietal. Brophy-Clark pulled off a wonderful wine (first vintage???). The Kynsi wasn't far behind, but their fruit probably wasn't as good.
OTOH, the Presidio is to be avoided. Even the usually reliable Calera offered up a dismal generic PN under their cheap Central Coast banner.
Now Stephen Ross turned out really exceptional wines in 94 and 95. His (Steve Dooley's) 96 seem to be lesser wines, possibly reflecting on a lesser quality vintage in 96 in the SB/Central Coast area. Even Lane Tanner turned in a less than exciting group of pinots. I supoose she's been getting bumped down the priority list in choice of fruit. She's bottled beautiful BN pinots in the past (especially in 92). This effort is not up to her usual standards, perhaps again because of the vintage.
Chris Whitcraft makes controversial wines, and I've posted before on my impressions. These two 96's are two of his best productions over the past three or four years. The BN N-Block is quite fine, and the Hirsch is right up there with the best. I'd drink both over the next 3 years. Unfortunately, Chris's experiment with the bubbly, though showing some elements of refinement and complexity, has too clumbsy a mouthfeel to elevate it to the level of the better sparklers in CA. Priced in the $50 range, it's grossly overpriced like Kristone. Pass on it.
The SB Winery Reserve is consistent with my notes from a double blind tasting a couple months ago. This is Bruce McGuire's best PN yet. It is a powerhouse PN that will need 5-6 years to show its best.
Finally, the quartet of HP wines shows that Frank Ostini should now be counted among the premier PN makers in SB. The S&B and Highliner are absolute knockouts that any PN lover should be on the look out for. The S&B is SB County's top PN vineyard and makes wines that are for aging. The HP should easily go 6-8 years before peaking. The Highliner is more generously endowed with obvious fruit, but it too seems structured for longevity.
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