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 20, 1999:
|98 Trevor Jones Chardonnay (Aussie)--Low oak, fruity
with minerals. Excellent now, but lowish acid makes this not a long keeper.
94 Lane Tanner Vin Gris of PN (Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium exclusive)-- Only one barrel made. Bit funky and past its prime, but could still be good with summertime BBQ. NR
94 Bonny Doon (California)--Showing firm tannic structure. Less jammy than on release. On the black fruit/plum end of the flavor spectrum. Aromatically closed. 87
92 Leroy NSG Au Bas de Combe--Soft earthy nose. Fragrant. Lush, linearly structured. Black raspberry. Light mid-palate. 89
95 Williams-Selyem Hirsch--Great voluptuous nose. Perfumey. Soft, restrained. Very elegant, and lacking complexity. Needs time? 88(+?)
95 Rochioli Three Corner Vyd--Sweet, balanced. Closed nose. Medium weight. Bit stemmy. Black fruit, iron mineral complexity. Long, refined. 91+
97 WH Smith Hellenthal Vyd--Round, cherry nose. Cherry cough syrup flavor. Long, tannic. Excellent overall, though bit on clunky finish. 90+
94 D. Laurent CM 1er Cru Aux Beaux Bruns--Soft, acidic. Not bad, but fades in the finish. Fairly simple. 86
92 Meo-Camuzet Richebourg--Closed nose. Finally some serious wine. Tightly structured. Deep mineral/iron filing/terroir inflected. Violets. Long. Classy. Fine product for the vintage, though lacking in fullness. 90
90 Jadot GC Estournelles St. Jacques--Sweet candied rose bouquet. Leathery. Cherry. Deep, long. Bit angular in mid-palate. 89
94 Au Bon Climat Rincon & Rosemary Vyds.--Classy earthy, horse blanket nose. Earthy, mushroomy flavors overlaying solid fruit foundation. Great typicite from the Talley fruit. Long finish and a long life ahead. 91+
90 Gros Freres et Souers Clos Vougeot Musigni--Perfumey. Good grip. Very classy, structured. Caramel, black plum. Chewy. Very fine long tannic finish. Shows oak, some stemminess. After 2.5 hours in glass, turns oxidized. 92+
96 JM Millot Echezeaux--Minerally, toasty oak nose. Classy, wet fur, gamy nose. Delish! Elegant. 92
97 Miner Monterey County (Pisoni Vyd.)--Sharp, stemmy, fairly tannic finish. I can't see what all the fuss is about. 87(+?)
94 Pisoni (from Gary Pisoni's single barrel)--Earthy, iron, leather nose. Bit perky, acidic, odd. Tart long finish. 85-
94 Dom. Drouhin Laurene (OR)--Dark. Animally, meaty nose. Soft, balanced, meaty. Still tannic on finish. Not yet developing secondary/tertiary complexity. 90+
97 Flowers Hirsch--Smoky, gamey with Asian spices. Oak-driven, cherry flavors. Over the top for the vineyard. 88
89 Senard Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru--Smells of celery. Not tasted.
96 D. Laurent Clos Vougeot--Quite good, needs time. 90+
89 Rochioli RRV--Beautiful nose. Sweet, lush, gorgeous. But rather woody finish detracts from overall enjoyment. 87-
95 D. Laurent Hospice de Beaune Auxey-Duresses--Sharp, perky. Really delicious. Great fruit. After 2 hours, shows a bit too much oak. Needs time. 91
94 H. Jayer Vosne-Romanee Beauxmonts (Rarest of all Jayer wines. Just 1/2 barrel made.) Asian spices. Execellent acidity, soft mid-palate. Good complexity. 90
95 Kistler Sonoma Coast--Lovely nose. Simple mid-palate. Long, tannic. Needs time. 88+
95 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge--Some VA. Clunky, new oak. Thin middle. Not very impressive. 86(+?)
90 Marquis d'Angerville Volnay Fromiet--Sweet voluptuous nose. Dried flowers, black fruit, plummy, dried peach bouquet. Superb, complete wine. Deep, rich, plum, dried cranberry, leather. Very long, puckery. Classic with life ahead. 94
96 Martinborough (NZ)--Open funky, earthy nose. Sweet cherry cough syrup. Not bad. Stemmy, tannic finish, puckery. 87
97 Gary Farrell RRV--Very nice forward nose. Floral, alcoholic. thin middle. Puckery finish. Somewhat stemmy. 85
89 Leroy V-R Les Beaux Monts--Finishing on a high note! Very open nose. Perfumey, slight VA, grapey. Lush, ripe, chewy, round. Not deep or complex. Needs time. Has a bit in reserve. Very fine, pure, raspberry/cherry. Will improve. 91+
Basic bleatings from the bloody pulpit: Whew! 28 wines. The preacher is hung over. Don't do it to yourself, he preached! You'll regret it in the morning. Well take my advice: Next time, spit.
Lane Tanner bled off some PN juice in 94 and turned it into a very good pink wine for Bob Senn. As she made spectacular PN in the 94 vintage, the pink wine was also wonderful when young, with decent complexity for such "unserious" stuff. It's fading now, but is not so far gone that it cannot be enjoyed with robust fare. Drink up if you got it, but you probably don't since it is so rare.
Perhaps equally unusual is Bonny Doon's PN. I am not aware if he made it in other years, but the 94 was from the get go an attention grabber. (What else could it be coming from Randall Grahm?) The initial lively plush fruit has given way to a much more serious wine than I would have expected. It should age for another 4-6 years.
There are numerous generalizations that a less circumspect preacher might make from this tasting, but I'll limit myself to just the more controversial ones.
The 92 vintage in Burgundy has been panned by many. Yet top producers were able to fashion some serious, correct wines, perhaps lacking in concentration and depth, but not in breeding. A recent 92 Leroy Clos Vougeot, and the examples above demonstrate my point.
This was my first chance to try most of these wines. What stood out is the decided edge I'd give to Burgundy. Now bear in mind that none of the Burgundies were what one might consider the best of the best. And the US representatives probably would be comparably ranked among its peers. So at the level of second tier, Burgundy crushed the competition. (Note: By second tier I mean either not the top vineyards or vintages, but made by the best producers, or made by second tier producers in a great vintage.)
The Flowers were big disappointments. Having had 94 CMR, 96 CMR Moon Select, and 97 Carneros already, and being impressed by them, the above two wines seemed out of character with what I've had before. Maybe the competition was too stiff.
The Miner seemed a minor effort for all the cult-talk that's revolving around the producer. I'm mystified. Interesting to compare a PN from Gary Pisoni's own private-reserved lot. I would like to have had a few other producers' Pisoni's to compare. So far, my impression has been that the wines are really good when first bottled, but they do not age well. We'll see...
Surprise of the night was the Volnay from d'Angerville. Truly special, and it clearly displayed the greatness of the 90 vintage (along with the other 90s).
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