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 18, 1998:
|The wines were served blind in flights of four. My tasting
notes reveal my impressions before the identities were revealed.
(Except where noted, the wine color was medium to dark red-violet, as per usual.)
95 Merlot--Forward, open bouquet of black cherry, chocolate, flowers, vanilla, cloves. Medium extracted, fine tannins, some oak showing. Raspberry/strawberry. Thinnish mid-palate, bit acidic finishing with drying tannins. Not especially concentrated. 87/100
90 Reserve Cab Seven Hills Vineyard--Slightly cloudy first bottle was corked. (Only about half the participants who got pours from the first bottle apparently cared enough to get refilled from the second bottle that was clear and fine.) Oaky, deep black cherry, cedar, tobacco nose. Gunpowder. Sweet black cherry fruit, resolved tannins, bit dry. Fading fruit, good, not great. 88
93 Merlot--Lot of sediment. Woody, stewed fruit, slightly funky, green pepper nose. Light weight in mouth, medium level of tannins, good acid. Cherry soda. Good, though somewhat alcoholic finish, would be a decent food wine. 84
95 Sangiovese--Bit closed at first. Funky, warm black cherry, spicy nose. After the funkiness blows off, becomes lovely, warm, seductive. Smooth, lush straw/raspberry fruit starting to dry out. Fine tannins hold finish well, but acidic. 88
91 Cab--Bit cloudy and darker color than most. Beautiful oak, chocolate, blackberry, leather, sweet vanilla bouquet. Sweet cherry, strawberry flavor. Balanced. Cloves. Delish finish with fine tannins. 93+
96 Merlot--From a problem vintage, 99% of the grapes came from CA. Bit funky, closed up at first. Then opens to reveal huckelberry, cloves, pepper, cotton candy. Moderate fruit, high acid, bit vacant in the mid- palate. Blueberry. Drying tannins, long finish, but very nice. 88
95 Cab--Another very dark specimen. Very forward bretty, funky, oaky, black cherry fruit. Funk eventually blows off. Leathery, black cherry, oaky. Seems like older cab. Fine tannins. Stoney. Vanilla. But a hollow middle. Finishes with slightly underripe, drying tannins. Not bad. 89
94 Cab--Another very dark one. Closed at first, then black cherry, flint on nose. Sweet cherry cola, vanilla, green pepper, herbaceous. Gains complexity as it breathes. Finishes tannic without showing a lot of fruit, and a bit acidic. Nonetheless, excellent wine that should improve over the next few years. 90+
94 Merlot--Cloudy. Spicy vanilla, cloves, black currant, chocolate. Closes up after a few minutes. Very rich, lush, ripe plum fruit. Very concentrated, substantial tannins, anise. Finishes with sweet tannins, lovely fine fruit. Long. Very big wine. 97
93 Cab--Funky, rich, bretty, stewed fruit, black cherry, very open nose. Funkiness fades. Sweet cherry, rich merlot fruit flavor (I was clearly wrong about this, though there is 8.5% merlot in the wine). Vanilla, chocolate. Somewhat acidic. Long, smooth, very ripe, fine tannic but bit acidic finish. Excellent. 95
92 Cab--Soft floral, jalopeno, cherry nose. Leathery. Bit closed. Good fruit, concentrated, acidic. Tannins dominate mid-palate. Complexity develops with time. Alcoholic, big fine tannins, bit green in the long finish. Very good wine. 91+
92 Merlot--From another problem vintage for merlot. Cloudy, sedimented from first bottle. Second bottle was clearer. Funky +. Prunes, black plum, leathery, boot polish nose evolves gracefully into a very pretty bouquet. Sweet very ripe black raspberry, cola. Bit missing in middle. High acidity. Hot, long finish with fine tannins. 93
Rantings from the oak pulpit:
I did pretty well at identifying the varietals from the first two flights (6/8), but missed the last four. It seemed like the style of these wines could easily lead one to confuse the merlots and the cabs.
After the tasting, votes were tallied for the top 3 wines. They were: 1) 95 Cab, 2) 94 Merlot, 3) 94 Cab.
Now I cannot imagine what folks were thinking when they voted 95 Cab the best wine. Unless it was palate training based on young cabs, they were clearly in error. The 94 merlot stood out head and shoulders above every other wine, and it had all the taste signatures (to me) of a great Cab. I had even gone back and retried a number of the top vote getters to be sure I wasn't missing something. I wasn't. Even the 91 Cab that had such beautiful balance and structure and delicious fruit did not register on the radar screens of most tasters. (???)
In general, the wines were very-good to excellent, but only two wines
were real standouts (94 Merlot, 93 Cab), and that was surprising. Even
the 94 Cab, which impressed me the first time I had it last year was just
in the middle of the pack this time in my rankings.
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