||Chateau Routas Rouviere Rose 1996--Bob Lindquist
is new consulting winemaker at this Provencal winery. 65%% cinsault, 25%%
Grenache, and 10%% Syrah, this is one of the most compelling pink wines
I've had. Medium pink/peach color. Bouquet apples/floral. Dry, fruity,
clean finish. Delicious and complex for a pink. (92)
Now the Qupe wines:
Pinot Noir blanc 1982--The very first
Qupe release. 91%% pinot noir, 9%% chardonnay. Normally, pink wines are
not expected to last this long. Color of honey, oxydized nose. Still fruity,
intense flavor, a bit alcoholic. Finishes clean. (78)
Vin Blanc 1984--A real throw-back to
the older days of California wine blending, 32%% chenin blanc, 34%% chardonnay,
34%% pinot blanc. Straw color. Hay/mineral nose. Good acidity and fruit.
Mead/bitter almond/citrus. Crisp, flinty. Minerally finish with citrus
pith. Amazing longevity. (85)
Marsanne 1987 "Los Olivos Vineyard"--Light
straw. Hay/earth nose. Apples. Big, flavorful. Good acidity. Faded fruit.
Minerals/chalk. Bitter finish. Hollow mid-palate. (80)
Marsanne 1995 "Ibarra-Young Vineyard"--Very
light straw. Closed nose. Honeysuckel? Some sulfur. Complex, good fruit.
Minerals, grapefruit. Lingering finish. Not as vibrant as when I had this
a year ago. (85)
Viognier 1996 "Ibarra-Young Vineyard"--Almost
colorless, so pale. Very closed because wine was so cold. After warming,
revealed peach, cloves, pineapple, linament bouquet. Vibrant flavor, characteristic
Qupe bitterness. Very complex flavors, very long finish. Served in half-bottles.
Chardonnay 1983 "Sierra Madre Vineyard"--Medium
yellow. Butterscotch, oaky nose. Delicious, good balance. Fruit held up
well. Earthy nose. Complex, long finish. Aged remarkably well. Magnum.
Chardonnay 1996 "Bien Nacido"--Light
straw. Citrus/lemon/lime nose. Slightly angular attack. Opens up on mid-palate.
Big/round/complex/oaky. Lingering finish. Seems slightly green,stemmy.
Chardonnay 1988 "Sierra Madre Vineyard"--A
little stinky. Honey, toast, bretty nose. Perky mouthfeel. Seems off. Crisp,
grapefruit, acidic finish. Magnum. (82)
Roussanne 1995 "Alban Vineyard"--Straw.
Brilliant nose, like botrytised late harvest sauvignon blanc. The nose
alone makes this worth buying. (Bob confirmed later that 15-20%% of the
grapes were affected by botrytis. This is apparently common for this hard-to-grow
varietal.) Very dry, well- balanced. BUT... the wine does not live up to
its great bouquet, at least at this stage of its life. Disappointing mid-palate,
low viscosity, I would like more fruit. Flinty, mineral flavors.
(87 now, I'd like to see how this ages. I hope the wine in the mouth catches
up to the nose.)
Additional comments: Chateau Routas is Appelation Coteaux Valois
Controlee. The Valois is located in the Var department in Provence,
located about mid-way between Marseille and Nice. It is not one of your
more famous wine regions. Bob seems to be bringing new life and modern
wine-making and vineyard skills to the Chateau. Routas has 100 year old
Carignane vines. Similar vines are being replaced over much of the south
by merlot, chardonaay and other faddish varietals that have no track record
in the region. The owners of Ch. Routas are intent on preseving their vine
heritage. Bob will be bottling an old vines carignane and also using some
in a red blend (with syrah, cab. sauvignon, grenache, whatever). There
will be altogether 4 reds, 2 whites and one pink wine from Ch. Routas.
I can't wait to try the others.
Bob seems to have hit his stride with his white varietals in the past
few years, especially the rhone offerings. His Marsanne has been one of
my favorite summer whites, priced in the $10 range. He also offers a white
"Los Olivos Cuvee" that is typically half chardonnay and half viognier.
It too is a very good wine to look for.
I was surprised by the staying power of the 83 Chard. It seems that
the varietal in California has such a poor track record for aging that
I very rarely risk holding them more than 5-6 years. The poor showing of
the 88 confirms the risk in holding these bottles too long. It's
still fun to find out what happens to a chardonnay as it ages. This isn't
Corton-Charlemagne, but there are occasional gems in California (like Stony
Hill) that get better with time.
Reds. Now it's time to get serious:
Additional comments: I spit a lot. With so many wines, I wanted to be sure
to have my senses sharp enough to judge them all. Otherwise, I would
have pigged out on the Ch. Routas rose, the 92 Central Coast syrah, the
91 Los Olivos Cuvee, and my favorite of the night, the 91 Bien Nacido syrah.
Nevertheless, I exercised restraint so my online pals could benefit from
Syrah 1982 "Paso Robles"--Bob's first
syrah. Light red, orange edge. Gamy, wet dog, earthy. Appealing. Fading
fruit. Still some tannins. A bit acidic middle. Bitter aftertaste. (83)
Syrah 1992 "Central Coast"--Deep ruby
red. Huge nose/earthy/gamy/ briary/red and black berry nose. Horsey. Lovely.
Sweet, luscious, beautiful fruit. Great syrah. Excellent balance. (93)
Syrah 1996 "Central Coast"--Purple.
Berryish nose. Good fruit concen- tration. Sweet approach. Lovely mouthfeel,
deep mid-palate. Lingering finish. Good tannic structure. Should
evolve nicely. (90 now, should get even better.)
Los Olivos Cuvee 1991--60%% syrah, 40%%
mouvedre. Medium red. Earthy/ horsey/hay/appealing. Slight sweetness. Lovely
fruit. Well-rounded. Delicious. Could drink this all day, everyday. (88)
Los Olivos Cuvee 1995--50%% syrah, 50%%
mouvedre. Medium violet. Junior league nose compared to the 91. Tastes
thin, simple. Light, Beaujolais style. Very light tannin. Simple finish.
From magnum. (82)
Syrah 1988 "Bien Nacido Reserve"--Controversial.
Bob's favorite wine of the night, I found this very off. Good color. Bouquet
of adhesive tape/ walnuts/burnt rubber/onions. Gone bad. Putrid off-taste.
Bob says this is a rustic quality that he likes in Rhone wines, like bacon.
Sorry, I have an honest disagreement with the winemaker here. In spite
of the faults with the wine, it still had a good tannic core and concentrated
fruit. But I couldn't get past these strange components. Fortunately, Bob
hasn't figured out how to get this feature into all his syrahs! So I still
think he makes the best syrah in the US. 3 liter bottle. (50)
Syrah 1991 "Bien Nacido Reserve"--Purple.
Earthy, subdued berry and dried fruit aromas. Still intense, concentrated
tannic. Big, full mouthful. Great syrah. Can still use a few more years
of age, it has the fruit and tannic structure to continue to improve. I
bought some when it was first released and it gets better every time I
drink it. 5 liter bottle. (94)
Syrah 1993 "Bien Nacido Reserve"--Deep
red/violet. Beautiful nose. Black fruit/cherry/wet earth. Sweet, light
body. Cherry. Fine tannins. Smooth mid-palate. Good clean finish. Not as
concentrated as the 91. From magnum. (88)
Syrah 1995 "Bien Nacido Reserve"--Deep
violet. Intense nose of berry concentrate, camphor. Short of tannins on
mid-palate, finish. Disappointing compared to other BN Reserves. Could
it improve with age? Magnum. (86)
Syrah 1995 "Bien Nacido Hillside Select"--Bob's
second vintage from this section of the BN vineyard. The 1994 is a tough
act to follow. To my taste, the 94 Hillside is the finest California syrah
I've had. Bob likes the 95 better. We'll see. I actually jumped ahead to
taste this wine after #14, while I still has my taste buds. Medium purple.
Closed in, but sexy/berry/ earthy/ nose. Perfumey. Not as big as the 94.
Good fruit, somewhat light viscosity. Dusty tannins. Slightly coarse,
hot finish. Should come around in a few years. (88 now, 90+ around the
turn of the century?)
The best QPR [Quality to Price Ratio] of the evening has to be
the 1996 Syrah Central Coast. It is just out and can probably be bought
in the low teens. Will it be as good as the 92 in a few years. It's worth
Bob Lindquist is a great guy, an excellent winemaker, and has the energy
to keep expanding his efforts. All of his wines are worth trying. The Qupe's
are consistently very good to excellent, and some of his syrahs are truly
outstanding wines. The Chateau Routas wines will definitely be worth checking
out--there're so many instances of French winemakers coming to America
to make wines, now we have an American winemaker going there. It will be
Only disappontment of the evening--Bob did not bring his Thumbs-Up Late
Harvest Riesling, a phenomenal dessert wine made in collaboration with
Jim Clendenon. Bob and Jim have been co-conspirators in winemaking for
many years now, producing some of the most interesting and bold wines on
the Central Coast. The Thumb-Up was a brilliant, maybe one-time, wine.
The market for Riesling is so precarious, most growers have replanted.
If you love Riesling, please buy more California grown or it will continue