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 March 24, 1999:
Dinner with Bert Williams, Former Winemaker, Williams & Selyem
Bert chose wines from the 93 vintage, much maligned, but not deservedly he says. He generally prefers his pinot noirs with 5-7 years of age, so the 93s fit the bill.
Dinner was: Avocado Nest with Maine Lobster and
Ossetra Caviar or Shitake Feuillete Rabbit Roulade with Frisee and Goat
Cheese or Braised Leeks w/ Black Truffles Roast Lamb Loin w/ Black Truffle
Risotto and Mushroom Sauce St. Agur Cheese Plate (a mild French Bleu) Fraise
Ecrase w/ Glace Menthe (Macerated Strawberries w/ Mint Ice Cream)
?? Whitcraft Sparkling Blanc de Pinot Noir--Sorry I missed the vintage. This is very refined, very restrained, elegant, not much yeastiness, and not much complexity. Most people liked it a lot. I found it wanting in flavor and depth. Otherwise, without any edges. 87
93 W&S Chardonnay Allen Vyd RRV--Light straw color color. Smoky oak, flinty, slight sulfury nose that blows off. Crisp, mineral driven, lemon mid-palate, chalky. Finishes a bit flat in mid-palate, but with lingering minerals, green apple, some bitterness. Like an elegant Meursault in style. 91/100
93 W&S PN Summa and Coastlands (Sonoma Coast)--According to Bert, this is the only time he's blended vineyards, and the combination was better than either individual component. Medium ruby. Very lovely, elegant, forward nose. Floral, lilacs, blackberry, anise, cloves, and some VA. High acid, perky, zingy, cherry, cloves, moderate tannin, fading fruit, bit thin middle, low tannin finish. Somewhat merlot-like in texture (not really a compliment). Drink up if you got it. 87-
93 W&S PN Ferrington Vyd Anderson Valley--From a 1.5 acre vineyard that has since been expanded. Ligher ruby color. Big earthy, smoky, black raspberry nose. Brilliant, bright, raspberry, earthy. Good bite on the finish, but a bit hollow mid-palate. Lavender, tar. Ultimately lacks depth and refinement. Drink up. 88
93 W&S Zinfandel RRV (13.5%)--103 year old vines. Medium dark ruby. Big earthy, briary, blackberry, sweaty horseblanket aromas. Vibrant, lush, feminine, black raspberry, tarragon, bit bitter. Very long, still tannic, high acid. Low viscosity, high extract, bit hollow middle. Somewhat alcoholic finish with some caramel secondary flavors. Interesting wine. Good w/ cheese. 89
After dinner, I tried a couple dessert wines from the Citronelle list: 96 Voss LH Sauvignon Blanc--Definite botrytis, as advertised on the label, but little else, bitter, and not all that sweet. I sent this back. 85
97 Arrowood Hoot Owl Vyd LH Riesling--Having just had the 96 last weekend at Todd Serota's Grange tasting, getting to try the 97 was quite a surprise. The 97 was very good, not quite as dense and zesty as the 96, but a fine way to finish the meal. A 90+ wine.
And a pulpit-lite because I'm not feeling very feisty today:
It was good to meet Bert for the first time and learn something about his wines and his personality. Very amicable guy. I suspect this wasn't a serious enough affair, though, to pull out his heavy hitter wines. Hopefully such an occasion will present itself in the future.
The Chardonnay was the best wine presented. Really classy stuff. And those 91 points I rated it would be a little low for those that love elegant, Burgundian chardonnays.
The PNs had very different personalities. Many preferred the Summa/Coastlands for its implicit harmony, but I liked the more sauvage character in the Ferrington, a style that hits closer to home.
The Zinfandel was an unexpected treat. The 93 was not released commercially because of very low yields, though I'm sure Tom Hill got his 5 cases of it so he could have a bottle to try every year through 2050.
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