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 May 30, 1999:
Dinner at Todd's
|On the wines: I mostly agree (within a point or two) with
Bruce on the scores.
96 Pahlmeyer Merlot-Voluptuous application of oak, and in my mind slightly overdone. Still, a beautiful wine. I have previosly rated this 95 points; it showed a bit lower Sunday.
95 Pahlmeyer Red-Best wine I've had from Pahlmeyer. Creamy cherry/vanilla/cola, length, depth and balance. I have previosly rated this 94+ points; I stand by that, and it now impresses more than the 96 merlot.
97 Dehlinger Estate Unflitered Chardonnay and 96 Lewis Reserve Chardonnay--Both lovely wines. The Dehlinger is fruit driven, both in its zesty bouquet and its fresh fruity flavors. The Lewis is more tightly structured, flinty/chalky mineral flavors with very classy, drier finish. I slightly prefered the Lewis, but this reflects my leanings toward Burgundian styling. Both wines are in the 92-94 point range.
93 Denis Mortet Gevry Chambertin Les Champeaux--My first Mortet, though I own several 93, 95 and 96 mixed bottlings. Typical of the 93 vintage, this was fairly tannic, tightly wound but not austere. There is great purity of fruit here (very Gevrey as the Brits are apt to put it), though not with the density or accessibility, say, of Denis Bachelet's Les Corbeaux or VV in 93. On the high acid side, it bodes well for future development. Give it 5-6 years, at least. Should end up a 91-92 pointer, but it's less than that now.
97 Unti Dry Creek Syrah--As Bruce sez, very monolithic. Medium weight, light oak treatment, I don't really think it has too far to go, but I also don't think it will ever rate outstanding. 87+
97 Plumpjack Sangiovese--This reminded me of the Leonetti Sangiovese in that it has the house style stamped all over it, a manufactured wine, and is indistinguishable from it's Cab/Merlot counterparts. Tom Hill would say we need a paradigm shift to place New World Sangiovese in their proper context. Well I don't know what that paradigm might be, if it is ever even discovered. But for now, I'm in the "Why Bother?" camp. So long as sangioveses like this taste like creamy, overoaked cab, why not just label the bottle "Cherry Vanilla Cola Cream with 13.5% Alcohol"? Pleasurable on its own terms, it will surely clobber most Italian Chiantis in the seduction department. But this is NOT a substitute for its distant Tuscan cousins. Sip this alone; not recommended with Italian food. 90/82 depending which side of the fence you occupy.
At dinner: There were also fresh pear slices in the arugula salad. The chevre was the type called "crotin", essentially a small cylindrical puck of goat cheese that has been aged slightly until it develops the thinnest of skins and firms up in texture a bit. It is not yet a "stinky" cheese.
95 Dagueneau Pur Sang--Indeed this Pouilly-Fume has closed down a bit. When first released, the fruit was more apparent. Not that it was unbalanced, it just has lost some focus and breadth. Give it another 5-6 years to turn the corner. It will last a decade or more after that. 91+
98 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc--Very nice wine. Honeydew nose. Vibrant flavors. 92, but drink within a couple of years. Not an ager.
The quail, finished with a dab of truffle butter, were served on a bed of French green lentils topped with collards sauteed in duck fat. This, in my mind, was the best dish of the evening, definitely star-quality that could easily be served in the finest restaurants with nary a suspicious glance from the most discerning of gourmands.
96 Saintsbury Brown Vineyard PN--I had earlier rated this 92+. On this occassion, the wine was showing beautifully, probably on the + side of 92. Saintsbury's best PN effort, but terribly overpriced at nearly $60.
94 Gary Farrell Allen Vyd PN-- Aside from the temperature (a bit warm), a wonderful, complex mouthful of PN. 93
95 Georges Mugneret Chambolle Musigny Les Feusselottes--I've had only one or two approachable 95 Red Burgundies. This was not one. Marked by high acid, austerity, some tannic grip. One might have expected C-M to be more forward (e.g. Arlaud's 95 C-M VV) than other ACs. This one needs bottle age to flesh out. 88-90.
92 Elderton Command Shiraz--Showing a briny quality that, by itself, I do not like in shiraz. But with the beef, it was delicious. 92+
95 Clarendon Blewitt Old Vines Grenache--Still a mammoth wine, it is starting to shed its edges. Last tasted in November 97, this now can actually be drunk enjoyably with food without overwhelming it, so long as the food has some substance (e.g. beef). If you only have 1 or 2 bottles of this, you really should wait at least until 2005-2008 to open it. And it will easily last another decade beyond. World class grenache. 95+
Also tasted: 95 Jade Mountain Merlot Caldwell Vyd Napa--A big, burly, tannic, oaky monster merlot. The oak is somewhat like bittersweet chocolate, the tannins are fine but with a biting, astringent edge on the finish. The fruit tastes ripe, but there may not be the density to outlast the tannins. This one is a big "IF". Some at the table did not notice or mind the tannins, but Bruce, Todd and I agreed they are excessive, at least for now. I think the wine needs 8-10 years to shed its tannic edge, but the fruit may not hold up. 87+ points for now. If the wine retains balance in 10 years, it could pick up another 3-5 points.
Dessert was based on the local organic Chandler strawberries that are at their peak now in Santa Barbara County. The mascarpone was flavored with orange zest and lightly sweetend with honey. It was topped with a Godiva chocolate star with raspberry filling. The strawberries were drizzled with Extra Vecchhio Balsamico (the thick syrupy kind). The plate was finished with a lemon-poppy seed biscotto. The dessert wine was perfect.
94 Antinori Vin Santo--The right bitter almond, mandarine, caramel and fig flavors and sharp acidity to cut through and enhance dessert. Not a super-sweet, mind-blowing dessert wine, but the correct match for the occasion. 91.
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