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 June 19, 1998:
|85 Dom--I was not terribly excited by the choice
since I was not that impressed with the wine when I had it about
6 years ago. This time was different. The Dom has gained significant
complexity with age. The fruit is striking--almost sweet. Many Champagnes
have a chalky-dry mouthfeel; the Dom is more sweet and creamy. I
didn't attach a numerical score to my notes, but it's probably about
93 Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre--I had low expectations, even from Lafon, from the 93 vintage. Minerals, honey, lemon zest, nuts, and butterscotch, but bone dry. Stony. Very subtle, almost too austere. Lacks a bit of acidity to carry through the finish, but then this wine lacks concentration and viscousity, too. For fans of big Chardonnays this would rate about an 84. For White Burgundy lovers, perhaps a 90. This wine went really well with the smoked salmon blini, not so well with the foie gras.
92 Z-H Clos Windsbuhl GW--Very open nose of roses, lychees. Complex palate of orange, nuts, slight sweetness. Great paired with foie gras. This is one of Z-H's examples of GW under control, so it marries well to food. Other vintages and vineyards from Z-H show GW over the top and exaggerated, impressive and oppressive at the same time. 92 pts.
91(?) Ponsot Clos de la Roche--I had expected the 90 vintage and did not look at the label to confirm the vintage. No matter. This is the wine I most differ from Bruce on, and I'm going to assert that I am more the Burgundy lover, so I loved this wine. Great nose of earth, black fruit, cherry. A bit bretty in the proper Burgundian way. Real sweet fruit, very spicy, fine tannins on finish. Layered minerality (the terroir thing). Peppery. Very concentrated fruit. A bit of hot red pepper on finish. This is very classy Burgundy, Grand Vin. 96. (Incidently, Parker rated the 91 vintage of this wine 95 points.)
94 Janus--Yeah, Amphissa got the whole dang long name correct, but anyone who wants to find this wine can simply ask for 94 Janus. If your merchant doesn't know what you're talking about, then they can't get the wine. Limited availability, but if you seek, ye shall find. Complex nose of earth, minerals, blackberry, some oak. Very lush fruit. Very fine tannins on finish, and a bit tart at the moment. 93+ I expect this wine to round out in 6-8 years. Definite world class wine, built for aging. I expect it to be a 95-96 pointer in a decade.
95 L'Ermita (Alvaro Palacios)--Ocean brine nose gives way to corkiness. What a shame. Lovely sweet fruit, smooth mouthfeel. Coulda been somebody. Oh, well. Maybe someone will be nice enough to bring another bottle to another tasting some time so we might get this one figured out.
81 Grange--My second time with this. First time in a double blind syrah tasting, I had this in the middle of the pack in not so distinguished company. This time: Black cherry and menthol. Leather, iron, earth, violets. Finishes with camphor, eucalyptus. 94+ Still evolving.
95 Bryant Family--Beautiful nose. Cassis carried by volatile alcohol. Very sweet oak, vanilla, cloves. Buttered popcorn, dill/celery. 94+
94 Harlan--My first time with this wine. What's all the fuss about? Well...Initially muted nose. Very delish fruit. Menthol, woody. Long finish. A bit clumbsy. With time in the glass, it keeps getting better. My score goes from 93+, 94+, 95, 96, over about 45 minutes. So if you are lucky to have a few bottles (I'm not) and want to drink it instead of putting it to auction (almost unheard of, but possible), then consider decanting this wine. It will benefit from the O2 exposure. Now for the sake of comparison, since all the wine mensches are weighing in with how great is 94 Harlan, I've put it in the upper echelon of 94 Cabs, a notch below Araujo and Maya, a notch above Insignia. Why? More concentration than the Phelps, less refined structure than the Araujo and Maya. It might drink better than either right now, but I don't think it will in a decade when the Araujo hits stride. And I also think the oak in the Harlan makes too much a statement in the flavor profile. Could change, but for now that's how I call it. Enough splitting hairs. 96 pts is great in anybody's system!
89 von Kesselstatt Riesling Josephshofer BA (Saar)--Nose of botrytis up the wazoo. Fine peach fruit, but loses in mid-palate. Flabby, low acid. Real disappointment, seeing how I plunked down big dough for a rather mediocre wine. I owe the gang a better performing wine next go round. A thin 88.
63 Fonseca--Mind boggling sex wafting from the glass. Very extraordinary complexity, concentration. No words will do justice. 99+ Will last another 40 years. Very youthful tasting fruit, very high tannin levels, and its already thrown a heap of sediment. My wine of the night! Maybe even wine of the year so far.
I thank Todd Serota, Bruce L., Nina and Gina for making this all happen. It was great to meet some new folks: Astorman, Toby, Jan, Svetlana, Raina. And I enjoyed reconnecting with those I'd already met before: Lissette, Mark, John (thanks for buying the mag of Dom), Hal and Susan. And thank all for bringing and sharing such wonderful wines.
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