The Bernard Roth Archives
We are 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 28, 2003:
Pinot & Mushroom Magic
|01 or 02 Los Olivos Wine &
Spirits Emporium Blancs de Noirs ( a still white made from PN,
1 barrel produced by Bill Cates)—Very dry white. Good aroma. Sort of like
01 Clos Pepe Santa Rita Hills Estate ($40)—Good aroma. Big, firm tannins, vibrant. Oak a bit prominent for now. Give it 2-3 years.
00 Domaine Alfred Edna Valley Califa Vineyard Estate ($42)—Great Burgundian nose. Firm tannin. Tight, raspberry fruit. Tasty, but not as good as 99 vintage. Needs 2-3 years.
01 Fiddlehead Cellars Santa Rita Hills Estate “Fiddlestix” 728 ($38)—Reduced. Very oaky, drying tannins. Not my style.
01 Flying Goat Cellars Santa Maria Valley Dierberg Vineyard ($32)—Sweet aromatics, spice apple. Lush, ripe, cherry fruit. Needs time for oak to resolve.
02 Flying Goat Cellars Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard (barrel sample $25)—Fresh aroma. Delicious fruit, balanced, deep, long, complex. Terrific. One of the WOTN.
01 Huber Santa Rita Hills ($24)—Aromatic, slight animally, bretty. Pretty. Initially very attractive. Real rich. Then slight volatility, high acid, seems disjointed. Will it come together or fall apart?
00 Lafond Santa Rita Hills Lafond Vineyard (a repeat performance from last year $28)—Tight, cola-like nose. Rich, dark, blackberry, stemmy, Coke, toasty oak. Tannic finish. Better than last year, maybe best Lafond PN yet, but too tannic. Needs 2-3 years.
01 Lane Tanner Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard (N Block $27.50)—Classic Bien Nacido nose of mushrooms, dry cherry. Very lively, lush fruit, high acid. Needs time to come together. One of Lane’s best BNs.
01 Loring Santa Rita Hills Clos Pepe (new price: $429, now that he’s a cover boy!)—Closed. Interesting, rich, vibrant. Liqueur-like mid-palate.
01 Ortman Family (Riverbench Vineyard, SB County $34)—Sweet velvety aroma. Very pure fruit, beautiful, integrated, liqueur-like. One of the stars of the night.
01 Rozak Santa Rita Hills ($24)—Voluptuous nose. Very deep, rich, intense, very classy. Great wine. Give it 2-3 years. One of the WOTN. QPROTN!
01 Siduri Santa Rita Hills Cargasacchi Vineyard ($50)—Very dark. Very sweet liqueur-like flavor. Briny, Barossa-like density. Exotic. Very full. Brilliant wine. Among the WOTN.
00 Silver Lake Marie Vineyard SB County ($40)—Funky, tomatoey, stewed, sweet fruit, vegetal. Pass.
01 Tantara Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard (G Block 30 year old vines ($42)—Classic, funky, animally, gamy BN nose. Rich, suave, mulberry, tomatoey. Good, with some bitterness in finish.
01 Testarossa Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard (G, H Blocks ($45)—Nose similar to Tantarra. Sweet, velvety, no tomato(!). Super Bien Nacido. Medium weight, cherry, zesty, spicy. My favorite BN of the evening, just a bit above Lane’s.
00 Whitcraft Hirsch Vineyard (A lone Sonoma example ($60)—Slightly reduced, warm nose. Rich, spicy, sour cherry, stemmy, bitter finish. Lacks delicacy.
And some musings from the bloody pulpit…
Last year (the 00 vintage), I slightly preferred Brian’s Clos Pepe to Wesley’s. I’ve had both 01s several times, and they keep trading places. This time, I slightly preferred Wesley’s. BTW, Brian has taken BYOB one step farther… He’ll forever now be known as the BYOF champ.
Last year, the two 1999 Domaine Alfred wines were the surprise of the evening. This year, with higher expectations, the 00 Alfred Califa seemed a touch less balanced. Even though they hold the wine in bottle longer than most, it still seems to need time.
Kathy Joseph’s Fiddlestix Vineyard continues to disappoint. I used to love her purchased PN wines, but her estate vineyard just does not live up to the potential that other SRH producers get from the appellation. She ought to talk to Bruno more to get the lowdown on the region. Only Lafond is similarly perplexing, given their longer experience in the area.
Chuck Ortman (of Meridian fame) has undertaken a private label with grapes purchased around the state. This PN is fabulous, reflecting a skilled winemaker who has been around the block (so to speak) making affordable wines with local grapes. This time, he can go for exquisite quality without being constrained by volume and marketing pressures. At $34 (or less), a fine value in today’s PN market.
This year’s surprise is Rozak. We’re starting to see some of this grower’s SRH vineyard designate wines (PN, syrah, chardonnay) since the 2000 vintage. This wine was made with assistance from Steve Clifton and Greg Brewer, who also get fruit from Rozak. It shows their careful crafting and minimal intervention. GREAT QPR!
Somehow, Adam Lee takes Peter Cargassacchi’s PN grapes and goes to press before anyone else (that I’m aware of) and makes a big splash. Perhaps a bit controversial in style, as this wine is just plain bigger than PN wants to be (save the occasional Pisoni blockbuster). For those who love big Aussie shiraz, try this with your next BBQ venison.
I tried Chris’s PNs, including the Hirsch, just a few weeks ago at the Winery (shared with Jaffur’s). It wasn’t any better then. If memory serves, the wine was chapitalized. It is not one of Chris’s best, and he’d probably disown it if he didn’t need to sell the wine. Apparently, he’s had a running problem with the Hirsch owners, not being able to get the vineyard crew to deliver grapes in clean enough condition (too much debris, leaves, etc.). This wine is terribly overpriced. If you want a good Whitcraft PN, try one of his BN Block designates, all of which are cheaper and better.
ps. Brian’s wine doesn’t really cost $429 the bottle. Autographed copies
of WS go for that. The wine is $43.
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