This is an archive of tasting notes from participants in the UK wine forum, with notes from before 2005

UK Wine Forum - USA
Notes from participants in the UK Forum are added in chronological order.

N.B. older US notes are archived here.

reds - whites


03/04 1990 Spottiswade (Napa Valley)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon and the label said 13.4% alcohol. Dark red, the nose was displaying ripe red cherries with a touch of eucalyptus. A very smooth feel across my tongue, level but not exciting. I am not sure whether this wine will improve as it tastes mature to me. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 1995 Beringer - Chabot Vineyard (Napa Valley)
This very dark plum red is, I believe made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (13.7% alcohol). The nose was a happy mix of blackberries, raspberries and soft vanilla oak. The first sip revealed a big wine with solid acidity. It does settle down to a long and warm finish which shows a little hot alcohol. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 1993 La Jota Vineyard 12th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain, Napa Valley)
A dark plum purple and weighing in at 14% alcohol. A sweet black plum nose with a little vanilla oak. Seamless and powerful, some ripe tannins with a long finish and background acidity that cleans well. 92+/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 1993 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain, Napa Valley)
Dark plum purple, opaque and 13% alcohol. The nose shows a luscious morello cherry and is enticing. A huge palate, tannic with a power finish. I found this still young, while others commented that it could be drunk now quite happily. If I owned any bottles I would open my next one in at least three years time. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 1999 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon (Madrona Range, Napa Valley)
A member of the cult cab class and weighing in at 14.5% alcohol. This opaque deep purple liquid showed very ripe black morello cherries and soft vanilla on the nose. Very rich with ripe tannins, there is lots going on in my mouth with the waves of fruit bubbling away. Very young and the acidity takes a back seat. 94/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 1999 Colgin (Napa Valley)
Another cult cab. And topping the fighter's scales at 14.7% alcohol. Opaque purple, with slightly overripe morello cherries and balanced new oak. This luscious and still primary wine is enjoyable and is not just a fruit bomb. A fine thread of acidity runs right though the wine that's noticed on the rounded and clean length. 95+/100. Interestingly, I took 1/3 of a bottle home to drink the next evening. It was even better, with the oak more integrated, the fruit less ripe and waves of pleasures evolving on the palate. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 Pleiades IX Old Vines
£16 (US$30, Euro 22). Dark strawberry red, the intriguing hints at black pepper, a little mint and a touch of eucalyptus. Slightly sweet, the rounded if a tad rustic mouthfeel makes a bold and spicy entrance, lingering long enough on the palate to do justice for its price tag. A little bitter cherry on the finish and slightly acidic, this wine is ready to drink although I suspect another twelve months will do it no harm. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1994 Marietta Syrah California
Deep purple in colour. Quite a youthful nose, full of ripe red fruits, reflected on the palate. This wine went down a treat with the roast duck and would pass for northern Rhone Syrah had it not been for the slightly (pleasantly) sweet ripe fruit. I enjoyed this wine and thought that most others did as well. (Phil Shorten, UK)

01/04 1996 Heitz Cellar ­ Cabernet Sauvignon ­ Napa Valley (California)
Slightly flawed on the nose and palate, possibly by TCA. However as the wine was still drinkable we decided to give it a go. Dark cherry, the medicinal nose also showed a hint of eucalyptus. The rich and slightly sweet flavours were not noticeably Cabernet in style and hence we believed the fruit was muted. Not rated. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1996 Philip Togni ­ Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley (California)
Opaque cherry red. Some oak and sweetness on the nose. A powerful length, again a touch sweet with good length, this wine is drinkable now but I thought it lacked complexity. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Zinfandel, Geyserville, Ridge Vineyards 2000
Deep red. Floral almost, heavenly scented, hugely concentrated on the nose with a poke of spirit coming through and strong hints of ripe apricots. Brambly, jammy and tingly in the mouth with fine sweet fruit/acid balance. Licorice finish which lasted beautifully. Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

11/03 Pinot Noir Avant Garde Domaine Carneros 2001
Very light but consistent ruby red. Unmistakable Pinot fruit on the nose, marked by oh so sweet oak. Brambly, toasted sweet fruit in the mouth, hints of celery. Very pretty with good balance and, at around £13, this is a steal for a Californian wine of this quality. Very good indeed. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

11/03 2000 Lagier Meredith - Mount Veeder Syrah (Napa Valley)
Dark cherry red, I found a plumy and slightly alcoholic nose with a nuance of Coca Cola (that is, caramel). Could this be the oak treatment? Strong acidity, solid tannins and a long length, this wine needs bottle ageing, 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2000 Clos Mimi - Bunny Slopes Syrah (California)
I had tried a bottle of this two months ago that had been opened for four days and it had still provide pleasure (although I had not rated it as that would have been unfair). Virtually black, the nose reminded me of overripe raisins, almost port-like. Very ripe, outrageously luscious and dare I say hedonistic, the tannic structure seems to be submerged among all the fruit. I am not a huge fan of overextracted and ripe, alcoholic wines, but I did enjoy this wine a lot. The label showed 15% alcohol. One of my top wines of the evening. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Ojai - Roll Ranch Syrah (Ojai Valley, California)
I have tried several of these well made wines from the Ojai Winery in the last two months, courtesy of generous visiting guests from the USA. Black colour, a ripe nose with a touch of eucalyptus. Smooth with elegant tannins and a very good mouthfeel. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2000 Martinelli Pinot Noir - Bondi Trough Vineyard
A slightly sweet nose with some vanilla from the oak and stewed plums. On the palate, this high acidity wine showed good length but an alcoholic burn after I had swallowed my first mouthful. This did not improve on the second or third attempt so I had to reduce my rating of it. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Storybook Mountain Vineyards - Mayacaymas Range - Zinfandel (Napa Valley)
I had enjoyed a bottle of the 1990 last year and finished off my last bottle of the 2000 four weeks earlier (very enjoyable). I was waiting to see how the much touted 2001 vintage in California would deliver with this bottle. I believe that all of the fruit for this wine is purchased from other growers. A spicy nose of black pepper led me to the powerful palate, again more pepper than plum. More structure than I was expecting but a good wine. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Storybook Atlas Peak - Zinfandel (Napa Valley)
This is made from estate owned vineyards. More flamboyant on the nose than the Mayacaymas, with nuances of ripe black plum. Sweeter than the previous Zin with a good length, this wine was more flattering at present. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 2001 Martinelli Zinfandel (California)
This huge wine weighed in at 15.3% alcohol, according to the label. A funky nose showed pepper and overripe plumy fruit. Powerful and with a long finish, again I noticed an alcoholic burning sensation when I swallowed this wine. Is this a characteristic of Martinelli wines? 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1999 Dunn Vineyards - Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
Black in colour, I found some coconut on the nose, probably from the oak ageing. Slightly sweet, noticeable acidity, good length, I have to say I was expecting more presence from this wine. Well made and certainly a classy effort. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Miguel Torres 2000 Marimar Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, California)
Pinot Noir made in the US by a Spanish producer, and very good indeed - savoury and structured. Good quality wine. (Phil Shorten, UK)

11/03 Diamond Creek Vineyards (Napa Valley, California)
Three different wines up for tasting, from different vineyards (Volcanic Hill, Red Rock Terrace, Gravelly Meadow), all from the 2000 vintage. These are not cheap wines - all sell for £90+ in the UK. Interestingly, all weigh in at a mere 12.5% alcohol. These are wines made to emulate Bordeaux and do so very well. (Phil Shorten, UK)

11/03 Insignia 1995, Phelps
Very ripe silky black fruit nose. Smooth, fruit pal;ate. Quite silky. Good, quite like Snowden Cabernet. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Montebello 1996, Ridge
Quite a chalky, gravelly palate. Lots of richness and intensity. Very good fruit. Lots of style. Most classy. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 1999 Harlan Estate (Napa Valley)
This was the first time I had tried the 'Cult Cab' known as Harlan and I was keen to see how it would hold up against the big two wines that had proceeded it. We managed to give it about two hours of decanting. Opaque, there was plenty of vanilla and crème on the nose. Powerful, smooth and surprisingly easy to drink, this wine did not show much tannic structure at all. Mark commented that previous vintages usually had more structure, for example the massively endowed 1994. I was impressed. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1992 Merryvale Profile
Initially tannic and closed, but the wine started to open up after half an hour in the decanter. Quite a light colour, but with not the slightest trace of browninging round the edges. Once the intial tannins had died down, the wine displayed a delightfull nose with traces of oak and violets. Brambles and a touch of mineral were the main flavours in the mouth and the wine still had plenty of grip and a reasonable finish. Pretty darn nice to drink, and as its not meant to be a top year for Profile, it does make me look forward to trying some of my own 97 in 10 years or so. (Cameron Clark, UK)

09/03 Beaulieu Vineyards George de Latour Private Reserve 1970
Lovely developed sweet fruit and oak nose. Not the most complex, but a lovely all-round development. With air tobacco and figs come out to play. Good ripeness and mulberry fruit sweetness on the palate, medium bodied with just a hint of drying toward the finish, but not distracting. Very impressive. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 Venge Reserve 1994
The '94 Venge had dense, ripe cassis and sweetly oaked menthol on the nose. Lovely supple fruit, alcohol juts out a bit on the palate but comes back by the finish. Fruit bomby, but tied to pretty respectable structure and balance. Good Calif style, easy to enjoy. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 Phelps Insignia 1995
Cut from a similar cloth. Liquorice and mint on the nose, plenty of oak but melded to good fruit. Good ripeness, perhaps even better balance. Another excellent example. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 Peter Michael La Pavots 1996
This nicked it for me though. Seemed like it had slightly more obvious oak, but that oak tended towards smoke/toast, and gave a slightly more savoury style to the wine. Loved the cooler fruit, and lovely structure. Acid also was a nice counterfoil to the fruit. Seriously classy in my books, and a step up. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 Quilceda Creek, Washington. 2000
Laser like in its blackcurrant fruit, but added to a alcoholic heat and volatility, especially on the nose, then this perhaps didn't show its best. Turned somewhat syrupy. If this was decanted 24 hours ahead, maybe some if this character stems from that? (Although it was 14.9% anyway). Wouldn't discount good potential/development here, but today this seemed to be the only one really out of whack. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, Snowden
Overt, alcoholic nose (15%), a real burn to it. Good, ripe fruit though and not too jammy. Nice palate with some good (added) acidity. Big. Most drinkable. (David Strange, UK)

09/03 Sebastiani (USA) Merlot 1998
Sonoma County (Sonoma - aways reminds me of "soma" the opiate of the masses in Brave New World). Well its not as potent as crack, but this merlot is a little beauty. Its over-ripe so won't appeal to some, but I like the rainsiny, high toned, volatile mix of this kind of grog. Its has a very animally smell - the real leathery aroma that defines merlot for me and at a fiver you can't go wrong. Sweet on the palate as most American wines are, it carries its 13.5% alcohol like a bride over the threshold ... ooer! Majestic £4.99 (Daron Fincham , UK)

09/03 Clos Mimi 2000 Bunny Slopes
Gavin had opened and drunk from this bottle two weeks ago, so I was not expecting anything from it. Nearly black, with a coconut nose, very ripe like thick jam. Very raison like, luscious, 'hedonistic', outrageous. It reminded me a lot of the 1995 Orion Old Vines that Ron Colvin had brought to an offline several months ago. No score (it would not be fair) but I was impressed. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Hartford 2001 Dina's Vineyard Zinfandel (California)
The Bolshevik behaviour from Charles seemed to have been contagious as Gavin had caught it too. What was a Zinfandel doing at a Rhone style tasting? Anyway, a deep red, with alcohol and red liquorice on the nose. Very young and intense on the palate, quite closed but potential is there. 90-92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Ojai 1999 Thompson Vineyard Syrah (California)
Hand carried by Paul, this gem was opaque purple. The nose was tight and I managed to find some eucalyptus, and ripe cherries. The tight black fruits need a few years to develop but the finish was long. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Kilikanoon 2000 Oracle (California)
Double decanted 12 hours in advance. Opaque purple, strong eucalyptus, almost liqueur like on the nose. Rich but tannic, needs at least five years. 90-92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/03 Copain 2000 Eaglepoint Vineyard Syrah (California)
Deep purple, outrageous nose, flamboyant, some alcohol, almost port-like. Rich, tannic long lasting on the palate. The acid is strong and there is noticeable oak. Needs five years plus. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Griffin Creek 1998 Pinot Noir - Rogue Valley (S.Oregon)
Approximately £16 (US$24) some years ago on release, this was my gift to the Boss. A medium strawberry red, thankfully I could not detect any alcohol on the nose of this 13.5% wine. Instead, cooked red fruits, some earth and a touch of damp leaves. On the palate, well this was clearly the best of the bunch. A warm, balanced red currents tasting wine with some alcohol initially on the mid palate and a long finish. With air, this improved, the wine getting sweeter, more complex and softer, Clearly the wine of the night for all four of us. 89/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Wing Canyon Vineyards Cab Sauv 1997, Mt Veeder
13.35%. Majestic £6 - 15%, French bankruptcy parcel. Interesting, impressionist label. Vinous, oaky nose. Powerful, alcoholic, oak slightly over the top at 1st, but calmed down after 20 minutes. Nice mouth-fill, lightly acidic, salty, with good length. Regretably, only bought a single bottle of this. VG. (Hugh Millar, UK)

07/03 Whitehall Lane Winery [Napa] 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon 15%
Another of the Majestic "French bankruptcy" parcel of a few months ago. Nice "art nouveau" label. Clean deep ruby, with aroma of black fruit and oak. Firm, dry, slightly salty. Long and well balanced. At £6.99 less 15% worth at least twice the price. Fortunately bought 3 of this one. VG+ (Hugh Millar, UK)

07/03 Ridge 1995 Old Vine Mataro (California)
A medium plum red, the nose was a Rhone exhibitionists delight, with ripeness and farmyard smells on the whole with some eucalyptus. The palate was a disappointment as it was very simple and ready to drink. The last bottle I drank of this wine, some four years ago, was far more enjoyable. Time to drink up. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Cline 1997 Ancient Mouvedre (California)
Dark cherry red, the nose was very ripe dark fruits with a dash of eucalyptus. The palate showed sweet fruit with vanilla oak and a good length. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Edmunds St John Durrel 1997 Syrah (California)
A dark plum red, the nose was slightly metallic. Sickly sweet with not much flavour, I am not sure whether this was an off bottle or the hot 1997 vintage in California had cooked the grapes. This wine has given me pleasure in past vintages like 1994 and 1996, but not tonight. 82/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Dalla Valle Vineyards 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
Nigel obviously wanted to give our palates a wake-up call from the previous Rhone flights and so this red appeared. Very dark plum colour, the nose was complex with espresso coffee, mint and ripe blackcurrants all making a show. The resolved tannins magically support the ripe yet crunchy cabernet fruit, making this a very drinkable wine. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 Ridge Geyserville 1999
Excellent stuff lots of forward blue/black berry fruit flavours huge purple rim on this dense inky wine. Not exclusively Zinfandel. This may be what helps everything integrate so well, a big wine,14/15% ABV but not apparent on drinking the stuff. Probably needs food rather than sipping on its own. This wine historically has a good shelf life and see no reason why this vintage should be any different. (Don Reid, UK)

07/03 Sausal 1991 Old Vines Zinfandel Anniversary bottling (1973-1993)
Double-decanted ten minutes before drinking to clear the sediment. This 13.8% wine showed a deep strawberry red with some light strawberry near the rim. The nose reveals aniseed, pepper and red liquorice, some alcohol and stewed rhubarb. With more swirling I found overripe raspberries and a dash of tobacco. Sweet, velvet and mellow, this treasure of liquid mature red fruits makes it presence felt in a warming way. The persistence on the palate is very impressive. The tannins are mostly resolved and the background acidity is refreshing. Ready to drink, this is definitely one of the best Zinfandels I have ever tasted. 92/100. (Roy Hersh, USA)

07/03 Lincourt Vineyards Pinot Noir 1999 Sta Barbara County
14.07%. £3.99 in Majestic's recent USA special parcel. Pale ruby, oak on the nose, and not much else. Very fruity, sweet, smooth, caramel and vanilla. Long. 1st impressions quite favourable, but by 2nd glass had become excessivley sweet & cloying. Fortunately a single bottle purchase. (Hugh Millar, UK)

07/03 Whitehall Lane Winery Cab Sauv 1998
13%. £6.99, 15%. Another from the Majestic "french wholesaler bankruptcy" parcel earlier this year. Never has a parcel been so diverse in quality as this one. Nice art noveau label. Clean deep ruby. Aroma of black fruit and oak. Firm, dry, slightly salty. Damsons and cherries. Long. Balanced and well judged oak. Worth at least twice what was paid; luckily bought 3 of this one. (Hugh Millar, UK)

07/03 Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2000
Thought I'd give this variety another go. Mmmm, I know I like volatile acidity but this wine is all VA and no trousers. I think its past it already. 13.5% abv. Safeway £7.49 (Daron Fincham, UK)

06/03 1997 Ridge Litton Springs
Very dark, plenty of fruit on the nose, perhaps not quite delivering in the mouth. I think I might have enjoyed this more a year or two ago. (Mark Pearce, UK)

06/03 Heitz Cellar 1997 Bella Oaks
This Napa Valley red is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bella Oaks vineyard. It had been laying in my cellar since last summer when I bought a couple from the vineyard, from memory for about c£40 (US$60). No decanting, straight from the bottle. A bright cherry red with thick legs. The nose is heady with elegant soft vanilla, bright red fruits, some aniseed. What a silky entry onto the tongue, expanding in the mouth, impressive length and a good finish. 93/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

06/03 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 88
David Pope set expectations low on this by warning it was probably past it, being from a weak vintage. However… good deep red/garnet colour. Nice "fresh leafy" Cabernet nose. Fresh fruit in abundance (blackcurrants, blackcurrants, blackcurrants said Jari), but also a nice dose of cool leafy smokiness (wet tobacco said Joel, and I was reminded of warm-vintage Loire Cabernet Franc). VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

06/03 J Fritz Monterey Peninsula Late Harvest Zinfandel 77
Blueberry pie, high alcohol, smooth and voluptuous. If the Doisy is a ballet dancer, this is a Sumo wrestler! Impressive though. VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

06/03 J Fritz Dry Creek Valley Late Harvest Zinfandel 94
A bit sweeter and more silky-textured than the 77. Sumo wrestler wearing a kimono? VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

06/03 J Fritz Dry Creek Valley Late Harvest Zinfandel 96
Sorry. Critical faculties fail me after a third round in the Sumo ring! Probably VG/E again… (Paul Armstrong, UK)

05/03 Ridge Montebello 1996
(Served blind) No-one was expecting this to be a New Worlder. Though everyone (I think) realised it was a claret clone not from Bordeaux. Northern Italy was my guess. Another at as a high altitude Spanish wine. Once revealed as a New Worlder by Paul, we new it was from California. Masses of oak and masses of fruit. Massive on the palate. Massive on the finish. Massive on the price. Suggestions from round the table that it's not yet really hit its stride now, but I can't really see where it would be going. (Philip Vaughan, UK)

05/03 1998 Caymus, Special Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Very deep, almost opaque colour with just a hint of purple at the rim. The subdued nose shows a little oak and pencil lead against modest fruit - some coffee too - opens up a little more with an hour or so of aeration. The palate is anything but modest, exploding with concentrated fruit, big tannins and strong acidity. Absolutely not worth the prices being asked, but an excellent wine which you could keep for many, many years. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

05/03 1999 Matthews Cellars (WA)
Interesting blend of 52% Cab, 37% Merlot and 11% Cab Franc. Although I live only fifteen minutes away, I have very limited experience with Matthews' wine. A classy wine with great balance of aromatics, structure and big juicy black fruit. Parker would probably love this wine. Great initial attack that follows through on the mid palate as well as the finish. 93 points. (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 1999 Pahlmeyer "Red Wine" (CA)
a blend of all 5 Bdx. grapes showing deep and dark concentration with some blueberry and boysenberry flavors. Easy to drink and so very approachable at this stage. Great mouthfeel and complexity on the finish. 94 points (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 1999 Northstar (WA)
Sweet strawberry up front and a chocolate nuance that was very enjoyable. Quite approachable with subdued tannins and a lush finish that lingers for quite a while. A worthy effort from the Pacific NW. 91 points (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 1999 Araujo Altagracia Red (CA)
Nose was a tad reticent at first and later showed earth and 'shroom notes with excellent big bright and brambly fruit flavors. Moderate tannins, a searing dose of acidity and a medium finish. 92 points (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 1999 L'Ecole no. 41 Cab. Sauvignon (WA)
Somewhat monolithic in its youth but the potential is clearly apparent. Raspberry and cherry profile with ripe tannins that coat the palate and a smooth but drying finish. This needs another 3-5 years to strut its stuff. Worth the wait. 93 points. (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 1999 Quileceda Creek
Atop the WA wine pyramid from the many reds I have had from this exciting vintage. The winemaker Paul Golitzin is a young man with vision and a little known fact is that he is an ancestor of the legendary winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff of BV fame. Andre came to WA to assist with Chateau Ste. Michelle in its very early days too. Enough history though. This wine needs little introduction. It was tasted alongside the 1998 and 2000 and all three were pretty remarkable, world class wines. It was a close call between this and the '00. So very approachable and the deft balance of a tightrope walker. Loved it! 96 points. (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 1999 Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate
I have had this wine a handful of times and it seems caught in a time warp as it really has not evolved in the past year or two. It is a wine for aging although approachable today, and will certainly benefit from five years of cellaring. Very ripe and dense plum and chocolate flavors, with rounded tannins and a smooth finish. 92 points. (Roy Hersh, USA)

05/03 Ojai Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah 1996
Cripes this is a big wine and quite frankly too big – even for me. Honestly this gives me no place of origin & a real mix of international wine making & massive rich hugeness. Just full of oak, extremely concentrated & still as purple as a beetroot. Cellered for the past 4 years this wine was far fresher & extremely enjoyable on release. Actually the first 6 bottles went down beautifully on purchase. Now the wine, even at seven, still has little added complexity & quite honestly if this Californian Syrah (now more like an massive unbalanced Australian Shiraz) is one of the better US efforts on offer then they can leave these huge mouth filling textured wines to others. Everything is primary & just far to rich, oaky & port like for me. Sorry US Syrah fans (& I do like BIG wins on more than one occasion) but this is far to extracted. Although the fruit hasn't budged much the searing acid seems added and as for the tannins, well they are so soft you may as well not count them. Sorry, but great gravy although others may love it! Eighteen quid on release. (Phil Wilkins, UK)

05/03 Edmunds St. John Wylie-Fenaughty Syrah 1999
On opening smell of alcohol, with black fruits and a little oak. Colour - Dark purple, almost black, very alluring! BTW this is the colour you mouth turns Tasted - After 1/2 hour - Wow strong hit of fruit, with tannin but overall very nice indeed, nice bit acidity not too much. After 1 1/2 hours - Opened up a fair bit with more sweet fruit ahead of some oak and jammy background flavours Overall - Excellent 17/20, bought at Majestic 'pass the parcel' sale of States wines for ~£5 top value! Got three more will put them away for a year then have another go. (David Steven, UK)

04/03 Clos LaChance 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
This 100% Cabernet from the Santa Cruz Mountains was double decanted 1 hour in advance. Deep red in colour, the nose was all new oak vanilla and blackcurrants with a dash of alcohol. Nice one-dimensional, good length on the finish and decent underlying acidity. Everybody had a glass of this wine and they all enjoyed it more than I did as it was too simple and jammy for my taste that evening. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

04/03 Dominus 1994
A wine of the year for me 2 years back; its evolvement surprised me from the last time out (prof. stored). A deep blood red/garnet, no burgundy or much ruby remains. A soaring nose of plumy black fruits, cigar box, mocha and liquorice. A sweet, complex and seemingly mature oaked fruit-bomb. On the palate this wine is expansive, stacks of soft, mouth-filling tannin and good soft acid balance. The finish can't be faulted with its extremely lingering perfume of complex fruit. Only disappointment is the way it developed. I would have thought it might show a more Bordeaux style, but in fact it seems quite typical of the best New World cabs, esp. from Australia with its mix of fruity ripeness, warming alcohol and oak lift. It also is mature for my palate. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

03/04 1998 Dominus
Sucker punch at the end of a meal. Would have been better to take a cheaper wine, but 60 GBP in a restaurant was just to good to resist. Lovely clear wine. Closed nose, and even after 30 min swirling in the glass, not a lot was forthcoming. Very light bodied, it was much more like a young Bordeaux than a Cult Cabernet, but the delicate flavours were complelely dominated by the dry tannins that coated the mouth. Not meant to be a great vintage, but once the tannins fade a bit, there is plenty of refined fruit to turn this into a very good glug wine, although that was probably not the intention. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

03/04 Rocking Horse 1998 Zinfandel (California, USA) - £15 (US$23)
This Napa valley red was bottled unfiltered and is supposed to have been made from 'old vines'. A pleasing ruby red colour. The nose was vanilla, pepper and blackberries. It tasted of pepper and strong acidity, with black fruits and a decent mouth coating finish. I know that many zinfandel drinkers, especially from the USA, have told me that the majority of zinfandel should be drunk within 5 years of the vintage. With this wine I cannot tell if any more age will soften its edges and as I have one more bottle I am inclined to give it more time. Any ageing advice for this wine would be welcome. 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/03 Firesteed Pinot Noir 2000, Oregon
Pale cherry/rose colour. Simple nose of light cherry aroma. Pleasant, slightly tart light palate of crushed raspberries. Short. A light, pleasant drink. OK. I guessed this correctly to be the Firesteed. (David Pope, UK)

03/03 King estate Pinot Noir 1999, Oregon
Good colour. Nose a bit difficult to judge or describe - red fruits, perhaps. Raspberry and cherry notes on palate. Some tannin. On the whole, rather closed and needing more time. OK now, perhaps good in time. (David Pope, UK)

03/03 Cristom Mt Jefferson Pinot Noir 1999, Oregon
Medium colour. Musty nose - corked? Too much sulphur? Dry, tannic palate with some oak. Fruit rather hidden. Not sure about this. The tasting presenter said he had had much better bottles of this before. Judgement reserved. (David Pope, UK)

03/03 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 1998, Oregon
Good colour. Complex nose of fruit and oak. Palate a bit closed but obvious tannin, oak and alcohol. Good fruit underneath all that. Good length. Needs time. A big wine. Potentially good plus - very good. (David Pope, UK)

03/03 King Estate Pfeiffer Vineyard Pinot Noir 1999, Oregon
Good colour. Savoury strawberry fruit on nose and palate. Good length and body. Still tight and needing a bit more time. Should improve. A bit difficult to judge but I don't think I'd pay the retail price of £35 for this. (David Pope, UK)

03/03 Shale Ridge Monterey Syrah 1997
Relatively low alcohol at "only" 13%. Slight loose sediment so decanted. Brilliant ruby colour lightening to rim. Spicy fruity nose taste and finish, silky and smooth finish (smooth tannins?). Fantastic QPR at £3 from Majestic! Tastes more "whole" and better than the previous Cuvee Gaby Colombier Crozes Hermitage. (Jari Worsley, UK)

02/03 King Estate Pinot Noir (Oregon) 1999
Good pinot cherry on the nose, some raspberry which become ripper/jammier with air and a subtle lick of oak giving sweetness. On the simple side, but nicely balanced, good ripeness and character. Elegant but not long. Nice wine overall. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Lincourt Pinot Noir 1999
Jammy raspberry fruit – and on the palate was basically a strawberry liquor with highish alcohol and sweet finish. Odd, more like a breakfast cordial than wine, but more odd than offensive. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Stag's Leap Petit Syrah 1999
This had it all. Bretty, farmyard on the nose turning doggy with air. A volatile edge (high toned), good sweetness of ripe fruit but very drying and tannic. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Fife Petit Syrah 1994
Started out leathery and a touch of oxidation; improves with air showing more fruit but also has a touch of volatility too. A bit angular, and tannic, demands food and shows this varietal really isn't one to wait to soften completely. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Edmunds St John Syrah 1999
Undecanted, showed a sharp, compressed nose that was odd. On the palate the edge was present and the fruit somewhat mute. The decanted bottle I brought didn't really show anything much at all on the nose (making it seem 'cleaner'), but the palate wasn't an awful lot different. Didn't have the fruit of the best bottles, but wasn't the worst either. Half an hour later there's still an edge, it's caused by lactobacillus, and like many aspects of wines people have tolerance levels. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Tablas Creek Paso Robles Zinfandel 1997
Very volatile – for me paint stripper but airfix glue was a very good call. Acidic, undrinkable. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Gallo Sonoma Barreli Creek Zinfandel 1996
Pruny, leathery, somewhat reduced (a call for rubber too). Opens a touch with air but in creeps the volatility as well. A string undercurrent of vanilla oak on the palate. Calls for Amarone like were good ones. If it was Italian I might have felt more forgiving, but it wasn't and I'm not! (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Berry Bros. Zinfandel
Just the way I like them. Simple, unpretentious strawberry/cranberry summer fruits. Light, nicely balanced and an idea summer wine. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Ravenswood Zinfandel, Wood Rd Belloni 1993
Alcoholic and dusty on the nose, no fruit. On the palate is was alcoholic, a bit lifeless and drying out. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Whitehall Lane Cabernet 1998
Syrupy, typically New Worldy, simple cab with undefined but certainly off dry fruit. Tastes like a typical Oz version, somewhat confectionary, undemanding and bland; not faulty though which was a plus! (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Wing Canyon Cabernet 1997
Simple oaky nose to start, not much else underneath initially but not offensive. A bit of smoke and cedary blackcurrant does pop out, but while a nice elegant style, didn't seem to be firing on all cylinders. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Merryvale Cabernet/Merlot 1996
Good plumy, merlot like nose; New Worldy with reasonably complex black fruits; ripe, touch jammy on the palate and lacking some focus, but not bad. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Gravelly Meadow, Diamond Creek 1994
One of the hits; earthy, touch funky in an Old Worldy way, dense with mocha/licquorice complexing notes. Weighty tannins, best with food by a really classy class. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 1997 Shale Ridge Sangiovese, Monterey 13.5 ABV
Very clear, cherry red, not a hint of opacity. Gently oaky nose with a hint of plum and a certain smoky texture. Quite perfumed. Not a huge wine – quite restrained – yet the taste lingers for longer than expected. Fruit is muted, in almost a gentle Pinot style, and the wine is probably past its best. Somewhat lacking in flavour, when compared with the promising nose. Still, quite enjoyable. Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

02/03 Sean Thackrey 1995 Orion
I had drunk and enjoyed various vintages of the Pleiades red wine from this boutique producer. This was a chance to try the legendary full throttle style. Bought by the now extremely happy Ron Colvin, this was the darkest wine of the evening. I smelled pepper, soy sauce, very ripe sweet fruit and alcohol. The seamless, palate warming black fruits were rich and culminated in a long finish. If you want a wine to wake up your jaded senses and spin your palate through 360 degrees, then this is a definite candidate. Not a cheap wine but it has character, just like Ron. Thanks. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

02/03 Newton Merlot Unfiltered 1993
Huge colour no development nose rather monolithic but underneath black fruits and fine tannins, very rich and fruity with big structure. Impressive but will it go anywhere? V good. Not my style. (Paul Redfern, UK)

02/03 Bacio Divino 1995
A mix of Cabernet, Sangiovese and Petite Syrah. What can one say, except wow. This was drunk with Le Bon Pasteur 94 and the 93 Ornellaia, and for my taste was the pick of the 3. The Le Bon was a good wine , with an interesting marzipan/almond nose, but which was a bit thin in the mouth. Good food wine, but the Ornellaia outclassed it. Good sweet nose, the wine was slightly darker in colour and had a lovely silky texture. Nice berry fruit, with touches of mint and Eucolytus. The Baciao was very similar, but just a bit bigger. The coulour was a deeper red, and in the mouth was even more silky. With lots of warm, red fruit flavours, the wine just danced in the mouth and was very, very sedutive. A great wine, and its a pity that it was my only bottle. Would love to get some more, but imagine its pretty expensive nowadays. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

02/03 Edmunds St John 'Wylie-Fenaughty ' Syrah 1999
Blooming hell, less than £4 in Majestic deal, what a glass! The colour is an opaque but bright deep burgundy with coloured rim and rich looking tears. There's clearly a stong barrel influence but not in a directly obvious way of the flavour profile, just an overall sence from the size, density and structure of the wine. Perhaps the slightly drying (but long) finish down to oak, and will smooth out in time but for me this is not an overly tannic wine, just one of those really big blockbuster, mouthfilling styles. The thing that really sings for me is it actually comes across as a modern styled Hermitage, for me the closest comparison is the excellent Les Greffieres Hermitage 1998 from de Vallouit. The very dense black fruit on the nose has that meaty character that seems to suggest that a bacon fat like development is likely. On the palate you could hardly want for more fruit, not jammy but fully ripe and dense - the acid cut is just on the money and while initally the alcohol just showed a tadge, but with air even that seemed to integrate. This clearly could be sold at £24 and be reasonable value for money. Instead we paid what amounts to around 50p for the contents of the bottle - extraordinary value. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

01/03 Mondavi Regular Cabernet Sauv 1974
Nose good berry fruit, some coffee, not a cedarly nose but otherwise not dissimilar to similar age red bordeaux from a good year. Tannin all intergrated. Taste, now that is the funny part, a caramel, smooth mouthfeel and a wiff of cocinut, some refreshing acidity which makes the wine great to sip and contemplate some food, I lacked. Good bottle, about 40 USD all in from Winebid. (Roland Leung, Hong Kong)

01/03 Ridge 1994 Geyserville (California), 14%, £15 (US$23)
A deepish dull cherry red moving to a bright cinnamon rim. The pleasing nose of red berry fruits, soft oak and black olives led me to take my first sip. Medium bodied at first, this opened beautifully on the palate and seemed to hover there for a long time. Warming, enjoyable and quite frankly excellent, this impressed all who sampled its understated delights. I am not sure when to drink my remaining brace of bottles but judging by tonight's showing it will not be too long! 92/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/03 Santa Cruz Cabernet, Ridge 1996
Good wine, but didn't stand out after the Rosemount except for what I think I'm beginning to recognise as the "Ridge perfume". Very Good. (Mark Pearce, UK)

01/03 Kunde 1999 Century Vines Zinfandel – (California) - £17 (US$27)
This estate bottled Sonoma County wine is from the Shaw vineyard, planted in 1882. I bought a few bottles from the winery in July 2002 after being impressed at its showing there. A deep plum colour. The nose is very distinctly zinfandel with blackberry & pepper predominant, some vanilla as well from the new oak used (it was aged in US oak for 14 months). It tastes medium bodied, ripe but with acidity showing its presence, black fruits as well. Nice wine and more importantly, my sister enjoyed it and guessed Californian zinfandel. I was impressed! 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/03 Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot 1997, California
Deep garnet, fruity nose reminiscent of claret, smoky. Strong fruits on the palate - blackcurrant & plum, dry - almost salty. Extended length, medium bodied, smooth & well balanced. Very approachable, even on opening, without food. No perceptible change after 30 minutes. Outstnding QPR at £4.69 less 15% - thank you Jane MacQuitty! VG+ (Hugh Millar, UK)

01/03 Beaulieu Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1967
Menthol and mint nose with soft fruit. Low alcohol (11.5%). Palate is soft but has good acid. Quite balanced, not overblown. Good. (David Strange, UK)

01/03 E&J Gallo Frei Ranch Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 1995
Bit spirity at first, but also nice complex very sweet fruit. Nicely mature. Intriguing wine if you accept the sweetish style - not usually my favourite, but I enjoyed this one a lot. VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/03 2001 Bonny Doon Vineyards, Planet Red California Mourvedre
Deep colour. Nose is a penetrating red and black fruit mix. On the palate the fruit is intense and persistent. Good acidity and not-bad tannins. Quite an interesting wine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

01/03 Sky, 1996 Mount Veeder NAPA Valley
Picked this up at Oddbins in Edinburgh a few years ago, but seemed to have kept it too long. Slightly cherried nose, but in the mouth the wine is thin. Only 13%, which is low for Californian Zin, so it was never going to be much of a blockbister. Any tannin that was there has softened, and really as a glug wine its ok. Only reason we bought it was the incredibly tacky label, and no way is it worth the 15 pound we paid. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

01/03 Edmunds St John Wylie-Fenaughty Syrah Sonoma 1999
Lovely "thick" purple-red colour, slightly cloudy. Nose: bit closed, but with time more and more aromas of black olives, slightly high-toned, with some raw meat too. Palate: raspberries earth and meat. Stunning intensity - very impressive, but some tart "sweet n sour" cranberry flavours are a bit raw at the moment. Anticipate that this'll all integrate and soften more with time though. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/03 Hedges Cellars Three Vineyards Washington 1997
Colour: dark cherry red. Major tears in glass. Piercing nose of roses/honeysuckle/hay: surprisingly floral! Also a bit of tar/creosote (or "famels" cough medicine as Sue fondly remembered from her childhood). Deep, dry, herbal fruit, very persistent slightly high-toned finish. Some minerally "iron" wrapped round the fruit. A bit austere for the moment at least, but impressive "terroir" here. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

12/02 1991 1980 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon "Cold Creek Vineyard"
(Magnum) – rusty ruby color with light orange tinged rim. This wine is tart, lean, acidic and austere. Some earthy fruit still hanging on, but barely. A failed science project. Cooking wine? Maybe. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1992 Cain Five
Not usually a wine that I cellar, but I got a great deal on these a few years ago. Aromas of green pepper and vegetal notes worried me early on. With time in glass this evolved to more of a green olive and herbaceous note. Not for everybody's palate, but showing dusty, earthy dark berry fruits with very expressive secondary characteristics. All 5 Bordeaux grapes used here, and it tastes like it. Cab leads the way with 53%. I am glad I have a few in the cellar, as this wine is now hitting its stride and has room to improve. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1992 Pine Ridge "Stags Leap District" Cabernet Sauvignon
The sweet licorice, herbs and cherry fruit aromatics are followed by ripe, and jammy plum flavors which are rich and concentrated. Tannins are still lively and the finish is elegant and long lasting. I loved this wine, which is still on the upswing. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1994 Dominus Cabernet Sauvignon
Very dark ruby color with some brick/age showing on the rim. A wealth of aromas here: animal scent and leathery nose with a spicy, cedary note and Brett that gave more rusticity to the wine. One of the outstanding 1994 CA Cabs, it is a huge wine but not overly extracted like Screaming Eagle's 1994. Dominated by black cherry and blackberry flavors, this Dominus is developing outstanding secondary nuances and its still youthful and tannic enough to go the distance. Yeah baby. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1994 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon
Every time I drink this wine I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to do so once again. This is one of my all-time favorite bottlings of CA Cab, a benchmark wine, certainly in my top 5 Cabs EVER consumed from CA. Just about opaque eight years later, a very dark ruby persists. The Shafer shows almost Zin like aromatics with bright brambly blackberry and a touch of pepper, yet it is unmistakably Napa Cab. The fruit is so dense and ripe that it is like drinking a glass of blackberry pie. The tannins don't quit and this wine is absolutely everything I want in a well-balanced bottle of Cabernet. Too bad the Dominus was consumed on a different night, rather than in a side-by-side showdown, although I think the Shafer is more to my liking. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1995 BV Georges de Latour, Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasted blind, almost the entire tasting group guessed Bordeaux. With 55% new American and 45% new French oak, the wood was complementary here. A dark, brooding, opaque wine with cassis and boysenberry flavors. I liked the hint of cedar on the finish, which added to the intricacy of this youngster. Mouth gripping tannins that don't let go, but plenty of fruit to handle them. 100% Napa Cab and the majority in the group really liked this wine A LOT, I know I did. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1997 Covey Run "Yakima Valley" Syrah
Magnum – Purchased by a friend on release at the winery. After drinking this wine a few of us wanted to send letters to the winery telling them that if they make Syrah that can not hold up for five years, especially in Magnum…they should stick to Chardonnay. Not much else to say here except sorry for the rant. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1997 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington)
Disclaimer: I am not a big Leonetti fan as normally I find the overt oak is out of synch with the fruit. This Cab from a middling vintage in WA was far more integrated (in terms of judicious use of oak) than some of Leonetti's Cabs and Merlots from recent great vintages like 1998 and 1999, not to mention 1994. Initially an intriguing sun-dried tomato nose that gave way, with raspberry and mulberry present. Ripe, juicy and probably the best Leonetti I have yet to taste. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 2000 Hedges Red Mountain Reserve
Bottled in August of this year and will hit the market in April of 2003. Tight and tannic and in need of decanting to enjoy today. Lots of spiciness on the nose and bright, red berry flavors with dominating raspberry fruit. Excellent concentration and it already has a very good mouthfeel considering the unforgiving young tannins. Give this a few years in the cellar and it will rival the fantastic '91 as well as the outstanding '94 and '99 versions. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1989 Eyrie Reserve Pinot Noir
Pink color with brown rim and showing more age than what's in the glass. David Lett one of the legendary pioneers of Oregon winemaking, does not believe his Pinots need to be extracted wines to show outstanding PN flavors. This Reserve is a bit monolithic, if not simple with strawberry notes, soft in the mouth and a rather short finish. It just is not that interesting for a 13 year old wine. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1996 Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Pinot Noir
Strawberry, cinnamon and mushroom aromas on this six year old PN. Given that it was under $20, this is a QPR winner in my book. Supple fruit with plenty of acid to carry it forward and clearly a CA Pinot. This wine is still evolving and will be even better in a year or two. Bien Nacido fruit never disappoints when it comes to Pinot Noir, and Villa Mt. Eden's "Grand Reserve" level of Syrah, Cabernet, PN, Chardonnay and especially Zinfandel are excellent values and well made wines that deserve more critical acclaim. A great everyday wine brand. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1993 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Swirling aromas of dark cherry with a good attack and soft, sweet cherry and red berry fruit. A very fine wine from this producer, it possesses a lovely mouthfeel for a domestic Pinot Noir. The tannins are still rather lively and this wine will hold in cellar for five + years until peak. A slight note of alcohol on the finish but it was minimal. My favorite BF, up until the 1998, although I really enjoyed the 1996 too. The 1993 BF was better for consumption now, though. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1994 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
The fruit here is starting to fade as is the acidity. This wine depicts some semblance of dark cherry hanging on and a caramel note on the finish, which shows its age with tannins that are overly ripe. This is a disappointing wine from such a heralded (and lately, maligned) vintage from the Willamette Valley. Unfortunately, the texture of the wine is coarse, especially in comparison to the previous wine that had such a sense of elegance. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1995 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
I liked this wine initially but it did not hold up well in the glass and started to head over the horizon pretty quickly. Wonderful nose early on, with spice and cinnamon and a slight note of alcohol was present on the modest finish. Drink up. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1996 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
A greenish note with vegetal aromatics accompanied by 'shrooms, dried leaves and damp soil. This may sound unpleasant, but it is what I enjoy in Pinot Noir. Its finest attribute though is the sumptuous mouthfeel. Really silky and smooth and a pleasure to roll around in the mouth. Although it is soft and has plenty of generous raspberry fruit, there are some round tannins that show that this has significant upside potential. I liked the '93 better for drinking this evening, but for cellaring this would be my choice of the wines tasted so far. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1997 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
Stylistically this Pinot departs from the earlier wines in the vertical. It is far less extracted, has a much lighter body and shows soft, resolved tannins. The fruit is sound and more in the Eyrie mold of winemaking than BF. This wine is for near term drinking pleasure and is in no immediate danger of heading south. Well constructed and more about finesse, a well-balanced wine with a really enjoyable and smooth finish. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1998 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
I have finally found a truly GREAT Beaux Freres this evening. As mentioned, the 1993 is a very good wine. But 1998 has all the components for current consumption and excellence for cellaring. Dark in color and an earthy spirit, with ripe, dense fruit and tons of acid that one expects from a vintage like this. Here Beaux Freres shows, that which it is truly capable of … greatness. Extremely youthful and a big wine with a fantastic mouthfeel and future. Grab a case IF you can. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1999 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
What struck me most about this wine was the extraordinary balance. This may have even more long term potential than the 1998. Back-to-back great vintages and BF got 'em both right. This wine is very fruit forward and shows cherry and earthy nuances that are delicious and dominate the palate. It has a surprisingly generous yet soft mouthfeel and fine length on the finish as well as great structure too. Although this wine has a lot going for it, I still prefer the characteristics that depict the soil and overall package of the '98 when scrutinizing both. Darn tough choice though. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 2000 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir
I expected a three-peat given that 2000 was another in a string of fine Willamette Valley vintages. After the 1998 and 1999 this was a lean let down, possibly even acidulated? The fruit is somewhat reserved and this may be shut down at this stage. Good acidity and a nice mouthfeel but the fruit just doesn't come easily. Revisit in a year. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 Sean Thackrey Pleiades IX (California) £14 (US$21)
I have enjoyed several vintages of this wine. Double decanted 1 hour in advance to remove the obvious sediment. An opaque deep plum red/purple with a faint pink rim. The nose was very spicy but in an unusual way. It resembled a hypothetical smell of roasted venison and Cajun chicken. The taste was slightly sweet and medium bodied, still spicy and a constant, if surprisingly tame finish. If the palate delivered what the nose promised, then this would have been my most unusual wine of the year. As things stand, it was a reasonable wine to enjoy. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

12/02 1994 Byron, Santa Barbara Reserve Pinot Noir
Deep ruby core just a little browner at the rim. Nose starts with overwhelming 'old wood' notes. Given an hour or two you are left with a very nice savoury & meaty nose. Ther's quite good acidity to go with concentrated, though very cooked fruit and still traces of wood. Actually a very good wine, but leave in the decanter for an hour or so first. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

11/02 2001 Wildflower (Valdigue) J.Lohr, Monterey
Colour is bright with purple hues, nose shows soft sweet cherry with oak lurking. Mouthfeel is supple with raspberry/strawberry fruit but with a pithy edge to it, it has a savoury hint, a touch of cream and a dab of smoky oak on the finish. Enjoyable easy drinking. V.nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

11/02 1992 Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 13%
Nice mature colour. Some ruby at centre, facing to pale ruby cum brick. Lightish and attractive cabernet nose that fades quickly. Quite full on attack. Some fruit, but it's struggling to make itself known. VG structure, long and notably mouthfilling with good soft tannins. Excellent length. Pretty much à point, or on reflection, I think I've just caught it before it goes over. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

11/02 Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Pinot Noir 2001
This is more like it. 13.5% abv. Not too light in colour. A wee bit of sediment. Some tannic grip. Some stinky wood and compost heap. This is in the rhubarb and beetroot style. Not sweet enough on the finish for my taste so I won't be forking out £15.99 for it again from Majestic. (Daron Fincham, UK)

10/02 Storybook 2000 Mountain Vineyards Napa Estate
14.5% - £17 (US$26). Double decanted 30 minutes before drinking. A deep purple plum colour draws my nose to the Riedel Chianti stem in anticipation. Would the 14.5% alcohol overpower the fruit? My nose smelled a crème caramel dessert, probably from the American oak used to age the wine. It also has a wild, fresh smell, maybe because it is made in the Mayacaymas range, not on the valley floor. I remember a similar smell when drinking the Ridge Mountain Cabernet's from 1992 & 93. A dense blackberry and plum injection of fruits, very smooth with ripe tannins and pleasing acidity. This is drinking very well, no need to wait. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

10/02 Ca'del Solo Sangiovese (Bonny Doon) 1999
Deep purple colour, nice fruit on the nose and on initial taste with well integrated tannins. Nice and perfectly gluggable but just a tad boring. 14/20 (Simon Wharton, UK)

10/02 1998 Franciscan *Cuvee Sauvage* Chardonnay
I have had this from other vintages and liked it a heck of a lot more, albeit that was from the '94 and '95 vintages. This Chard was so wood laden that I poured half the bottle on my deck hoping it would fill some knot holes. I've been to the winery often over the years and like some of their older wines, but it seems that they have become way too fond of playing with various oak treatments and toast levels from various cooperage sources. Drain fodder in '98. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1992 David Lake Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon "Red Willow Vineyard"
This was produced on the 30th anniversary of Columbia Winery's inception. Red Willow is a prolific vineyard site in WA that has been around since 1973. This particular Cab came from a warm vintage in WA and had 24% Cab Franc blended in...which is a high percentage for WA juice and just below the legal limitation for a Cabernet. Fine red fruit and well integrated oak that complements this juicy wine. Good structure and probably close to peak now. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1992 Rex Hill Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
meaty, musty and initially smelled like stale dish rag and I am not kidding. It blew off to some degree but luckilly the flavors were much better than the nose. Light medium bodied with drying fruit that is mature but not gone. Intriguing black tea and leather combine to present a wine that would not be guessed as Oregonian. Once I got past the aroma, I enjoyed this quite a bit as it had a velvety texture and sumptuous finish. Who woulda thunk it? (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1993 Ridge Monte Bello
I read such poor commentary on this wine from '93 on many wine message boards. Granted it is not in the same league with the 1991, but on its own merits it was a well balanced wine that tasted darn good to me, nonetheless. I am glad I still have one more to go. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1995 Hedges Red Mountain Reserve
this is the first wine I have ever drank directly from Primat (27 liter bottle which contains 3 cases of wine and weighed around 85 lbs.). 65% Cab, 35% Merlot from Tom's excellent site on the Red Mtn., which arguably produces some of the very best red wines in WA. In this format, the '95 showed similar to the '99 which is quite good. Still showing its youth with big red berry flavors and just perfect acidity that was derived from this cool vintage. Exc. concentration here and very dary purple in color. Spicy aromas with a tantalizingly soft mouthfeel that is the hallmark of this wine, yet the tannins are extremely gentle yet not shy. For those that can obtain a bottle, the 1991 is a must for any serious NW wine collector's cellar. This 1995 probably has less potential but would easily rate 94 points in my book. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1995 Delille Cellars "Chaleur Estate"
Speaking of Red Mtn. fruit, this wine showed up in a 5-liter bottle which looked REALLY small compared to the above 27-liter behemoth. I worked the bottle line when this went into glass in 1997. It is not as fine as the 94 or '99, but it is a very good wine tasted on its own...92-93 pts. I have always enjoyed this vintage for Chaleur and it is under rated by the media. It saw 20 mos. of barrel aging and 6 months in the bottle prior to release. Distinctive Red Mtn. fruit that shows great depth and balance and is still shy of peaking. I have an extra case available if anyone would like to make a trade. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1998 Archery Summit "Premier Cuvee" Pinot Noir
I could have sworn I grabbed a 1996 bottle as I knew it was time to finish that one off as it is tired if not over the hill. Well I had huge expectations when a friend told me that this bottle was my 1998. I only tasted this upon release and it was quite enormous at the time and a bit too extracted but balanced. I was way underwhelmed as this is "supposedly" one of the top notch Oregon gems from a spectacular Pinot Noir vintage there. It is fruit forward yet lacks a sense of place and even a tough read as a Pinot Noir when tasted blind. Much softer than I expected too. It is a good PN but considering what the Archery charges, I am going to duck the arrows in the future, except maybe their white wine called Vireton which I break out with Turkey (amongst others) on Thanksgiving Day each year. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1999 Delille Cellars "Chaleur Estate"
From Mag(s), tasted this wine two consecutive nights both times from decanted Mags (first night at Delille). From 65% Cab with Merlot and Franc blended in, with 85% of the big fruit coming from Red Mountain. IMHO it is the finest Chaleur Estate since 1994. It seemed ready to drink and was in perfect balance at this early stage. Very surprising as this is quite atypical of C.E. from my vantage point. Black fruits and chocolate dominate here and possess a stunning attack. Slight alc. showing on the nose which is distracting but will certainly integrate with time. Excellent cellar potential if the tannic structure comes out from hiding beneath the dense, upfront fruit. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2000 Clos du Val "Carneros" Pinot Noir
I have been a big fan of the Cabs from this winery and Bernard Portet rarely misses the mark with his old Napa bottlings. I was unfamiliar with their Pinot Noir though. Anyway, medium-light body with leather, tar, black fruit and a chocolate and tobacco flavored finish. This is an atypical PN for the Carneros region and lacks the silky, gentle mouthfeel one expects from grapes grown there. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2000 Patricia Green Cellars "Four Winds" Pinot Noir (Yamhill Cty., Oregon)
Those who know Patricia, are very familiar with her excellent Pinots that were produced at Torii Mor, also in Oregon. She is one of the more well-known female winemakers in the state as well as Lynn-Penner Ash who also ventured out after years at Rex Hill to do her own thing. Anyway, this is quite tasty juice and on the lean and dry Pinot path. Dried cranberry and raspberry flavors with some smoky cherry on the finish which is dry and medium in length. This really needs some time in bottle to be fair but it does show promise and I know the 2001 also is supposed to be a hot little wine. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2000 Edna Valley "Paragon" Syrah
Over extracted, overtly manipulated and out of balance to boot. Cherry and pepper round it all off. I don't even want to know what this costs! Sorry, I have nothing nice to say about this wine and almost deleted posting it. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1994 Ridge Montebello, California
Deep clear red-purple, dark core, colour extending fully to edge. Lots of blackcurrant fruit on the nose with a slightly minty edge, wrapped in a veneer of oak and vanilla. Hint of cassis. On first tasting, tight dense multilayered berry fruit and gripping tannin keeping things in check. No flab at all - real structure and balance, and quite unlike Napa blockbusters in this regard. Great length. Excellent/outstanding. As time went on, the fruit became more pronounced, and the tannins softened slightly, but even at 8 years, it's still very young. (by Ray Abercromby, UK)

10/02 Bonterra 1995 Syrah – Mendocino County, California – 14% - £12 (US$18)
A deep red colour showed me a good balance of oak and black fruits on the nose. It tasted medium bodied, soft, easy to drink, virtually no tannins. Someone remarked that this was a 'reception wine', that is it goes down easily but it makes no impression on you. Inoffensive, someone else remarked. Although relatively cheap for a Californian wine, this was too expensive for what it was. I would have been hard pushed to guess that this was a minimum of 85% syrah, possible 100%, in the bottle. My score a generous 5 (4.6) (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 1999 Laurel Glen, Reds - California
Medium ruby colour. Nose is oaky but with blackberry and plum. Sweet, okay fruit. Acidity is quite strong and a medium finish. Still Quite Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Buehler, Zinfandel - Napa
Medium ruby colour. Sweet nose and palate. Good tannin and acidity with very nice fruit. Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Sterling, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Ruby colour. Very fruity nose. Tannic with good acidity. Nice and fruity. Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1997 Sterling, Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Deep ruby. Nose is a little reticent, just some high flowery tones. Palate has lovely fruit, strong tannins and excellent acidity. Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Estancia, Cabernet Sauvignon - California
Ruby colour. High toned nose with some blackcurrant.The palate is deeply flavoured. Something about this wine is not to my own taste, but it's certainly different so Good for that! (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Franciscan, Oakville Estate Merlot - Napa
Ruby colour. A deep chocolate nose. The palate is very tannic but comes with good fruit. Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Franciscan, Oakville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Deep ruby. The nose is a little cheesy - can this be right? Quite sweet palate with less forceful tannins than most. Quite Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Estancia, Meritage - Alexander
Ruby colour. Coffee and chocolate on the deep, low toned nose. The tannins are certainly prominent but there is also very good fruit. I think Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Quintessa, - Napa
Medium ruby. The nose has coffee and something deep and sweet. The palate is also sweet and perhaps a little 'jammy'. Good tannin but excellent fruit. Very Good Plus? (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Cuvaison, Merlot - Napa
Deep ruby colour. Oaky nose - a little dirty, perhaps not well integrated. Oaky palate too. Not so interesting for me - Okay. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Murray, Syrah Les Coteaux - Santa Barbara
Good colour. A very individual scent - plums plus gewurztraminer! Palate is quite coffee-ish. Good concentration. An unusual and interesting wine - Very Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Ridge, Lytton Springs - Sonoma
Deep ruby, still with some purple colour. Nose is quite subdued. The palate has strong fruit and tannin but is well balanced. Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Scherrer, Zinfandel - Alexander
Medium cherry colour. Jammy nose. Medium density palate with high density tannins. Only Okay. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Scherrer, Cabernet Sauvignon - Alexander
Dark, still with a purple rim. This is tannic but has a long finish. Quite fruity. Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Stags Leap, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Medium ruby colour. Nose has some oak plus high blackberry tones. Tannic but excellent fruit. Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Schafer, Merlot - Napa
Ruby colour. Nose is subdued but the palate has intense fruit. Not too bad tannin. Some oak on the finish too, but Very Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Schafer, Firebreak Sangiovese/Cabernet - Napa
Deep ruby colour but still a cherry edge to the glass. Oaky nose with some plum fruit. Very tannic with good fruit but it's hard to express the type. Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Schafer, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Ruby colour. Coffee and oak nose. The fruit comes through very well considering the strong tannin it has to contend with. Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Forman, Merlot - Napa
Medium ruby colour with quite a subdued nose. The palate is relatively sweet with good black fruit and strong tannin. A Good wine (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Forman, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Ruby colour. Black fruits on the nose. A melange of black fruits on the palate too. Good full tannin. Very Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1997 Corison, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
The colour is mainly ruby but there's still some cherry evident. There seems to be coal on the nose - very mineral. Nicely balance with excellent strong fruit. Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon - Sonoma
Ruby colour with some licorice on the nose. Oak marks both the palate and the long finish but fruit is first-class. Very Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Pahlmeyer, Red - Napa
More of a garnet colour. Some oak on the nose but it melds beautifully with the fruit. A noticeably soft and smooth palate, very refined tannin here. Excellent fruit. At least Fine! (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Heitz, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Ruby colour. A sweet black cherry and blackcurrant nose. Tannic but the fruit last very long on the finish. This is Very Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1997 Heitz, Bella Oaks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Ruby coloured. The lovely nose has macerated fruits and coffee. Excellent fruit here plus a good tannic palate. Also Fine (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1997 Joseph Phelps, Merlot - Napa
Garnet colour. Cooking plums on the nose. Tannic, but very good fruit in support. Long finish too. Very Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1998 Joseph Phelps, Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa
Deep ruby colour. Blackcurrant/blackberry nose. Very tannic. In this case I'm not so sure that the fruit is capable of competing with the tannins. Quite Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Joseph Phelps, Insignia - Napa
Colour is an opaque ruby, still some cherry at the rim of the glass. Subdued nose. Very tannic, but this time the fruit is more interesting and definitely up to the job of competing with the tannin. Very Good (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1998
surprisingly mature appearance. Lovely earthy, cherry infused nose. Qutie closed on the palate with raspberry, cassis flavour. V ripe and sweet. Elegant unobtrusive tannins. Moderate acidity. 10-12 yrs drinking. V good (21/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1997
deeper hue than the 98. Nose is still quite closed and greener & chocolatey. Full-bodied, huge grip with spicy red fruits. V focussed and refined on the finish. More muscular than the 98 and may outlast it. (22/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1995
deep dulllish brick. A full redcurrant/cranberry nose. A bit stalky. Mature palate and surprisingly forward. Quite woody and not showing the harmony of the other vintages. (19/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1990
brick red with tawny rim. A heavenly plummy/raisin nose. Xmas cake. V intense. Lovely balance on the powerful palate. Tastes like a mature Burgundy grand cru. Sweet cherry/mocha finish. One of the best vintages with acidity to last another 10-15 yrs. (23/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1985
nose soars from the glass: mulberry, coffee, liquorish. V rich, smooth and velvety on the palate. Same concentration as the 90. V elegant, beautiful wine. Drinking at it`s peak now. (23/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1984
light tawny rim and not clear in the glass. Nose is quite Burgundian and mushroomy. Med-bodied. Suffers after the 85 but still just drinking with a nice chocolatey finish. Drink up. (19/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1983
deeper colour than 84. A truffly, almost reductive nose, verging on cabbagey. But palate is v intense with vanilla, blackcherry notes with a tangy orange-peel finish that lingers 30+seconds. (21/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1978
a stunning nose - v Bordeaux-like. Still v fresh and vigourous. Quite earthy and rustic in style. Well-structured and tannic with notes of tobacco and sweet cherries. Again an sweet orange-peel/cherry finish. Great harmony, v stylish and with a few years left. (24/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1977
an open-knit, mature nose without the depth of the 78. Dried earth. Mulberry & oranges. Palate is still fresh although just starting to dry out, especially on the finish. (18/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Stag`s Leap Cask 23 1974
classic Californian vintage. Deep brick colour. Rich powerful nose of liquorish, chocolate and nougat. V concentrated on the palate, fuller-bodied but perhaps less elegant than the 78. Black pepper and damsons on the finish with a wonderful intense sweet finish. V long. Stunning wine. (24/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

09/02 Honig 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon - $30
Blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Colour: Deep dark brick red. Nose: Strong Cabernet nose of black fruits, some oak. Palate: Ripe, black cherry, blackberry, toasty oak. Enjoyable. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Heitz Cellars 2000 Chardonnay
At 14.5% this was definitely a richer, oaky style and typical of much Napa chardonnay. Nice but not really to my liking. 82/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Heitz Cellar 1999 Zinfandel
A good introduction to zinfandel for the day, this 13.5% wine was spicy with pepper and soft black fruits. Simple and enjoyable. 83/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Heitz Cellar 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Cabernet and 13.5% alcohol, this was herby, ripe, but needed 1-2 years to settle down. 84/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Heitz Cellar 1997 Trailside Vineyard
100% Cabernet from a superior vineyard, this definitely hit the spot and was the best wine that I tasted. 88/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Heitz Cellar NV Ink Grade Port
6 Portuguese grape varieties go into this blend from the 1998 and 1999 vintages, and I enjoyed this. 89/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Praeger Port Works 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon – 13.5%
100% Cab from this excellent vintage. Colour: Medium deepish red. Lighter than I was expecting. Nose: Closed, restrained cabernet. Palate: Again surprisingly smooth with a 20 second finish. Maybe that's because the bottle had been opened for a while. Nice. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Jarvis 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon 13% Napa Valley US$95
Colour: Very dark purple, opaque. Nose: Soft vanilla, blackcurrant fruit, concentrated. Palate: Excellent, full-bodied young cabernet with a long 30 second finish. I was impressed, hence 94/100. I did not know it at the time but this was the best red wine tasted of my Napa trip. I ended up buying a few bottles including a magnum. Not cheap but this is serious wine. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde 2001 Zinfandel
Decent introduction to their Zin range – 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde 1999 Century Vines Zinfandel
This was very good – creamy, concentrated, closed but looking good for the future. 92/100. Guess which one I ended up buying 3 bottles of at $25 per bottle – what a bargain! (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde 1997 Merlot
Good merlot – enjoyable – 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice Cabernet Sauvignon, no need to wait to drink – 86/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Drummond Vineyard
Single vineyard cabernet, concentrated, needs 3 years, hence 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Drummond Vineyard
Richer, riper, more concentrated, stronger tannins, impressive – 92/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Far Niente 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon $115
Colour: Quite dark red. Nose: Blackberry, dusty, some vanilla oak. Palate: Integrated palate, creamy, dark cabernet fruit. Paired with Parmaggio Reggiana cheese. Nice wine but overpriced, IMHO. 87/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Swanson Vineyards Silverado 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Release
Colour: Medium deep red, not as dark as one would expect for a cabernet. Nose: Powerful, tannic, alcohol, black forest fruits. Palate: Smooth creamy introduction with a long finish of ripe tannins and good acidity. Very good - 92/100. When it is developed in five years plus I believe that it will be an atypically Napa Cabernet, more Bordeaux-like in style. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Swanson Vineyards Silverado 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon
Colour: Very deep, almost opaque. Nose: Intense Cabernet. 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Palate: Very young and tight, closed fruit on the palate followed by a long finish. Very good. 93/100. More enjoyable than the Limited release at this stage but this will change with time. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 2000 Blackstone Merlot, Napa Valley
A young wine with a strong, fruity smell. I am not yet able to distinguish the fruits, but I'd say they lean more to the currant than the peach. There is a hint of something I can't help but call "chocolate," however, that description gives the wine more due than it is worth. (I know I'm supposed to call it "nose," but I just can't yet bring myself to sound like I know what I'm talking about.) The taste is buttery, with strong tannins. It would do well with another year or two before another tasting. If you drink it now, allow a full hour or more for it to breathe before serving. A fruity vintage, to say the least. Lots of interesting byplay on the tongue. I'd say this is a fairly good wine with a food that can assert itself well. (Don, USA)

09/02 Dalle Valle 1994
Very good wine, but still too young. The nose is faintly berried and there are hints of oak. Nothing startling. In the mouth you initlly are seduced by some lucious berry fruit and restrained new oak. Impressive, but then the acidiy and the tannins kick in and the finish is obliterated. Not quite gum ache, but there is plenty enough in the background to suggest a while in the cellar is needed. Add in the good fruit compenent and I think in 5 years + time a real sexy top class wine is going to emerge. Pretty impressive stuff if you have the patience to wait and I think the term "elegance" is quite suitable. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

09/02 1997 Huntington Cellars Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a very surprising wine. I picked it up for about 11USD per bottle which comes out to about 7 UKP (Please, someone, tell me the ASCII version of "UK pounds!"). While it is very understated on the nose*, it responds well on the tongue. This wine is ready to drink right now, and would do itself proud next to any food courageous enough to accompany it. Slightly peppery, with a fruity background. I'm still not very good at identifying the fruit, but I'd say close to plum. The aftertaste is smooth and holds well. The tannins are almost non-existent, suggesting a poor holding quality of this wine. Drink now, drink fast, and drink a lot. (Don, USA)

09/02 Clos LaChance 1997 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet
The deep cabernet colour was opaque, with long and slow 'legs' down the side of the glass. The nose was vanilla, some eucalyptus and ripe blackcurrants. It tasted of blackcurrants as well, although the finish was slightly bitter. Did it need to breath? Was it out of balance? I am not sure, and although it was very drinkable for my sister, I did not make it past the second glass. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/02 1996 Kent Rassmussen, Carneros Pinot Noir
(Tasted vs Dujac 1988 Charmes-Chambertin) Colour betrays some age, deep ruby core fading to brick red at the edge. Nose is amazingly similar to the Dujac above, except instead of pipe tobacco, the additional dimension is like a caramel coffee. Still some tannin and very good acid balance. The fruity palate retains primary black cherry, though could do with being more 'fat'. Nice length too. Two years since first tasting, this still rates as the best P.N. I've tasted from the US of A, definitely in the same ball-park as the Charmes above, but given a similar level of development, seemingly lacks the Charmes' longevity. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

06/02 Azalea Springs Cellars Napa Merlot 1997
Kent Rasmussen is the winemaker at this 6.5 acre venture. Luminous blood red. Good nose of red fruit in a petrolly-oaky sauce, similar in mouh, finishin with a bittersweet touch as of cooked vegetables. Medium length, quite drinkable but ridiculous at L27. (Nerval, UK)

04/02 Harlan Estate 1995
intense blueberry nose. The palate was v backward, unevolved quite brutish at the moment. It will be interesting to see if this developes the finesse some other wines in this dinner possessed. For me, it was too monolithic. (It was my first time tasting Harlan and I preferred Shafer Hillside.) (19/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

04/02 Flora Spring Trilogy 1984
By far the oldest Californian I've tried. Fantastic wine. Very soft, with lots of tobacco and pepper in the nose and some raisons in the mouth. Very complex, very long and very good. A real kick in the teeth for the "new world wines don't age" brigade. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

04/02 Ridge Monte Bello '89
Significant crystal formation at base of cork & in the neck although very little sediment on decanting.The garnet rim faded back into an impenetrable deep crimson,the nose was massive giving fresh ripe blue/black fruits.In the mouth a huge wine without the presence of obtrusive tannin and alcohol levels,wonderful sweet cassis on the palate very gentle spice & vanilla but as with the alcohol & tannin beautifully integrated.A huge wine that was at the same time effortlessly elegant.An absolute joy that improved over the hour it took us to consume,a memorable experience & so far my wine of the year '02. (Don Reid, UK)

03/02 1996 Robert Mondavi, Carneros Pinot Noir
Medium ruby colour, fading at the rim. Nose is very oaky, the high toast version. It's got sweet dark cherry fruit too and some stewed tea. The palate is again very oaky and a little astringent in the finish. The fruit and thickness is quite good, and better than the 1995 version which was very acidic with no fruit to balance, but completely unbalanced oak. No second glass for me, I think the oak might outlast fruit. (My wife liked this one) (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

02/02 Annette's Reserve Zinfandel, 1997 Rosenblum Cellars
Very ripe nose of raspberries. Palate showing lots of ripe cherry, cranberry and raspberry fruit. Medium finish is quit soft and not giving much balance to the ripe fruit. 13/20 (Paul Anderson, UK)

02/02 Pinot Noir 1997, Knights Valley Winery, Calistoga, California
A: Ruby red, clear rim. N: Cherry and strawberry fruits on the nose with hints of citrus and prunes. P: Initial flavours of ripe red cherries and strawberries but a searing (unnatural ?) acidity comes flowing through completely ruining the palate. Loads more acidity and no tannin on the finish, leaving an unpleasant vegetal aftertaste. S: I get the impression that this has been bolstered with acid to counteract the ripe fruit in a naive attempt to give the wine balance. Very disappointing. (Paul Anderson, UK)

02/02 Viader 1992, 1993
Finishing off the odd bottles. Terrible wine. Wines were great 3 years ago, but now they are tasting horribly old to me. Got that paper smell and taste I associate with corked wine. Both bottles the same. As usual I was the only one who thought the wines were gone and everyone else glugged them down and said how good they were. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

02/02 Anderson Conn, Reserve Cabernet 1992
Nose initially made me think it was corked, but cleared into a lovely medicinal smell. Great old wine. Lots of animal type smells, and in the mouth the wine was balanced but not overly extracted, oaked or alcoholic. Pruney sour taste, with a long finish. Classy wine that needed food. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

02/02 Carmenet 1985 Sonoma Valley
Solid purple with a slight clearing towards the rim. It is a blend of 87% Cab Sauv, 8% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc; cassis, cigar box and a little more tobacco. Has more of that characterisetic Cab Franc character. Tannins integrated, finishing sweet but somehow rougher than the Clos du Marquis. Retasted tonight no change, again drinking very well and can hold or drink. (Roland Leung, Hong Kong)

01/02 1996 Calera - Jensen Vineyard, Mount Harlan Pinot Noir
Apparently 25 year old vines, 30% new French oak, 26HL/Ha and indigenous yeasts. Medium ruby colour. Some oak on the nose, but mainly prune and cooking black fruit. Palate has good acidity and tannin both of which are nicely covered. Dried fruit such as raisins comes through with quite a lot of oak on the palate and finish. The oak actually makes this wine not a lot of fun with food, though good on its own. Still a seriously good pinot noir and certainly worthy of another continent, unfortunately it costs more than many a Grand Cru so it is difficult to rave about ! (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

01/02 1996 Domaine Carneros Estate, The Famous Gate – Carneros Pinot Noir
Ruby colour tending to brick. Lot of bottle stink on this one, but fine 25 minutes later. This is less cooked than the 'Jensen' but still stewing red & black cherry on the nose. Acidity is higher but well enough covered and shows good tannin. The palate is again strongly marked by oak, though less so on the finish which is creamy medium length Victoria plum. Again this is better without food. I liked this a lot, but I loved the 1995. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

01/02 Lake County Syrah 1998, Shooting Star, California
A: Very dark brooding red. Viscous legs. N: Immediate hit of pepper on the nose, with perfume, violets and brambles coming through. Also hints of caramel. P: Big and ripe at first but also with hints of delicate perfume. Lovely rich brambles and spice give a nice dual-layered palate. Ripe tannins on a good length savoury finish. S: Very good. Drink now - 2004. My first of the mixed case of Californians from Oddbins Online and pretty impressive it was too. (Paul Anderson, UK)

01/02 Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 95
Drunk as a 'glass filler' after the Haut Marbuzet at the same meal, this held its own surprisingly well I thought. Softening red colour, but not much fading at the rim yet. Nose of slightly overripe small berries and a touch of tobacco. Crisp acidity on entry leads to a mellow fruit follow through. Surprisingly similar in profile to the Hait Marbuzet though not quite the same balance - a shade more acid, a bit less fullness of fruit. Decent stuff without too much of the residual sugar that usually puts me off Californian wine. Good/very good. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/02 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Cab Sauv 1991
Medium purple/red with a slight fade to rim. Very ripe and rich blueberries and Ribena with prunes, blood(!) and wet earth. The palate was completely mature with toasty oak, chocolate, tobacco, herbs and soft tannins with no real signs of decay. Not the most enjoyable wine drunk, but some may like it. One bottle left. (Phil Wilkins, UK)


10/03 Alban Vineyards (California) Viognier 2000
I was disappointed with the nose - not much there, a hint of pine resin maybe. Similarly, the palate didn't offer much in the way of fruit either. (My wife asked is this high alcohol? Well, yes: 14.5% on the front and 15.1% according to the importers stick-on back label.) She thought it similar to a dry sherry. I like dry but this was as near to bone as anything I've had that doesn't include oxidation in the recipe.The only thing I did get out of it was a laugh: its from the Edna Valley and the image of Barry Humphries it conjured made me chuckle. £4.99 Majestic. Not recommended. (Daron Fincham, UK)

09/03 Kistler Hudson Chardonnay, California 2000
Showed just how disarming the classy New World, classy oak treatment can work. Powerful and creamy oak still allowed some citrus undertones to come through. Palate offered much of the same with a longish aftertaste of the creamy oak to finish. Attractive, until you returned to it from the following. Then it seems more confected, singular and even disjointed. Answer: don't compare to Burg, enjoy for what it is. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 Chardonnay les Noisetiers 2001, Kistler
Hard, oaky nose, very tropical fruit. Hot alcohol burn. Very dru oaky palate. Hot alcohol finish. SOme tropical fruit. Just a bit flat and boring. Might be alright if you like oak and alcohol, I suppose. (David Strange, UK)

06/03 Mayacamas Chardonnay 85
Medium straw/gold. Soft buttery nose (much more subtle than the Mas Jullien above). Rich but subtle on the palate, great intensity and length. This has aged and integrated beautifully. E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

04/03 Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay 1995
Gold colour. Smells like someone relieved themselves in an oak barrel after varnishing it. Not good, and way past it. (Stephan Muller, UK)

02/03 Bonny Doon Viognier 2000
From Santa Cruz. Good varietal apricot fruit on the nose, fresh, fruity, nicely bal lanced palate with a rounded, easy going character. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 St Francis Chardonnay 1997
Very developed; nutty, maderized and quite disjointed acid on the palate – certainly over the hill. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Arrowood Chardonnay 1994
Fresher, but very oaky, honeyed and sweet, with a citrus cut keeping it fresh but somewhat hollow with an oaky finish. Has seen better days perhaps but still retiring gracefully. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 Mondavi Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc 1983
I found yet more VA, with quite an obvious acetic side. The difference in colour was noted between the two halves and the other showed lovely, caramel, honeyed, orangey/peachy fruit with good acid cut giving focus and crispness. A lovely example aging very well. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

02/03 1997 Ravenswood Chardonnay, USA
Yellow, with a light rim. Slightly evolved nose, with tropical fruit and buttery hints. Medium-bodies with a hint of creamy texture, simple fruit and acid. Not a huge wine, but pleasant. Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

02/03 1997 Topolos Orange Muscat, Russian River
Quite amber in color, this was a balanced Muscat with nasturtium floral scents and laced with mandarin orange and juicy, mouth filling tangerine. Good acidity and well made overall. I am not a big fan of orange Muscat in general but this was a good rendition. 86 points (Roy Hersh, USA)

01/03 Armida Winery 2001 Pinot Gris (California)
A light lemon colour, the exotic nose reminds me of freshly cut pineapple, lyches and lemon sherbet. It tastes refreshing, even cleansing, with a tangy finish. I could not taste much sweetness, although it was off dry. I don't know what this will develop into but it was interesting to drink. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

12/02 1991 Waterbrook Chardonnay (Washington)
This science experiment turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I thought this would be D.O.A., but that was not the case. This is the first time I have tasted a WA Chardonnay with over a decade of bottle age. I would not suggest running to find this wine, but it did provide for some interesting conversation. The fruit is fading but had nice butterscotch and almond notes and enough acidity to make this worthy of a few more sips. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1998 Landmark "Damaris Reserve" Chardonnay
This is right up there in my top tier of domestic Chardonnay producers for both the "Overlook" but moreso the Damaris (Reserve) bottling. Landmark also makes some very fine CA Pinot Noir, especially from the Kastania Vineyard and their prices are still quite reasonable (in the $25-40 range for all wines) and I paid well under $30 for this upon release at the winery. Oakaphobes will enjoy this wine for its purity of Chard fruit and excellent aromatics. Excellent (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1999 Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc
Although my favorite domestic producers of Sauvignon Blanc and Fume Blanc are Rochioli and Ferrari-Carano respectively, this Fume was impressive and made for a fine complement to a warm goat cheese and greens salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Good fruit to acid balance and I enjoyed the tart, green apple flavors very much. Would be a great shellfish pairing too. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1992 Chateau Lorane Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (Oregon)
Not much nice to say about this wine. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1992 Eola Hills Ultra Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (Oregon)
I don't get it. Besides the acetone note and a ridiculously high level of residual sugar, there is little else left except some pleasant coconut on the finish. (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1995 Columbia Crest *Late Harvest* Semillon (Washington)
I bought a few cases of splits when the winery was dumping inventory at $3. per 375 ml. in 2000. Dark golden in color and still improving today, this wine was picked at 30.5% brix, and vinified at 13.5%. Enough of the statistics though! This is a good bottle of LH Semillon with little resemblance to Barsac/Sauternes except on the nose and color. The palate is lighter in style, maybe similar in that way to Climens. Botrytis was easy to capture in grapes from the Columbia Valley in 1995, especially from properties close to the three rivers (Yakima, Snake and Columbia). Peaches, honeysuckle and apricots linger on the tongue and waft up from the glass. A darn good domestic dessert wine! (Roy Hersh, USA)

12/02 1991 1999 Silvan Ridge Ice Wine "Bing Vineyard" Gewurztraminer (Oregon)
Just when I was worried that none of the 3 OR stickies would show well after the Beau Freres vertical, this wine delivered a smile. Very pale in color but the decadent floral aromas and yummy viscous juice were worth waiting for. As it warmed up in the glass it just kept getting better. It is the second best dessert wine I have had from Oregon. The first was an Andrew Rich "LH Gewurztraminer" from this same vintage.

11/02 1999 Ch. St Michelle Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Pale yellow/gold in colour with a nose of concentrated melon fruit. In the mouth delicate citrus flavours not unlike a lemon marmalade, leafy/herbal notes with a touch of sherbet, fruit dominates superbly with oak in background. Finish has a fine acidity but a core of intense fruit. V.V. nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

10/02 1999 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc
Still stands as my go to domestic Sauv. Blanc along with Rochioli which I feel are the two best made in the USA. I love this style with crisp flavors and balanced acidity, a wild nose of geraniums and some minty/herbal, melon nuances. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1999 Justin Vineyards & Winery (Paso Robles) Chardonnay
although it is rare that I get to open Chards, I hosted a party at our home and had to pop open a few whites for the folks that were not really into trying reds. This was more impressive then I had expected. Bright flavors that were everything I could ask from a CA Chard. Very little oak perceptible and a seamless quaff that I enjoyed tremendously. I don't say that about domestic Chards too often! (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1999 Geyser Peak Chardonnay Reserve
Great QPR and a well made CA Chard with penetrating fruit and clearly a deft hand by the winemaker who lets the grapes do the talking. I enjoyed this wine and might be tempted to buy a couple of more bottles, as it went perfectly with a warm pear and blue cheese salad over grilled romaine served as a second course. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2001 Delille "Chaleur Estate Blanc"
This is new to me as I have had their other white wine in the past, but this Sauv. Blanc and Sémillon blend is a smooth operator, with a melange of pear and pleasantly musky grape flavors. A nice discovery with excellent acidity and some toasty coconut on the finish this wine will wind up in my cellar. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 Schramsberg 1998 Blanc de Blancs, California – 12%
Strong lemon colour, plenty of fine bubbles. Very fresh nose, some yeast and biscuit, well balanced taste. Served blind, I would probably say this was from the Champagne region of France, and that is a big compliment in itself. Is this the New World's best champagne? 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 2000 Silverado, Sauvignon Blanc - Napa
Pale yellow. Hint of aniseed on the nose. Palate is very fruity with good acidity. Length is good, but the finish is a little harsh. Quite Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 2000 The Monteray Vineyard, Chardonnay - Californian
Yellow. Melony nose. Thick but strangely anonymous in the mouth. Only medium length too. Okay. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 2000 Estancia, Chardonnay - Monterey
Pale yellow. Very fruity nose, melon and grapefruit. Fresh palate, succulent and good acidity. Medium length. A Good wine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Franciscan, Chardonnay - Napa
Yellow. Oaky but pineapple showing through. Fattish with appley fruit on the palate. Long slightly oaky finish. Good Plus. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 2000 Cuvaison, Chardonnay - Carneros
Pale yellow. Subdued oak and melon on the nose. The concentration in the mouth is certainly good, as is the length, but still a bit harsh. Quite Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 1999 Phelps, Chardonnay - Carneros
Pale yellow. A good pure and fruity nose. The fruit being a little higher toned than the previous wines - peaches. Still a little 'square' in the mouth, medium length finish. Quite Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 2000 Landmark, Overlook Chardonnay - Sonoma
Pale yellow. Nose has toasty oak but is quite well presented. Quite fat with good acidity. Long oaky finish. Quite Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 2000 Shafer, Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay - Carneros
Lighter gold. Slightly nutty nose - cashews, pineapple too. Palate is wide with good acidity, but cannot match the nose for interest. Still Good. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 Honig 2000 Sauvignon Blanc
Colour: Light yellow. Nose: Tropical fruit, quite bright not too grassy, understated. Palate: Nice entry, medium weight, longish crisp finish. Nice. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Honig 2000 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
Colour: Slightly darker yellow than above. Nose: Seemed more powerful in alcohol terms but closed. Palate: More expansive, full-bodied, longer finish. Very good. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Praeger 2000 Late Harvest Riesling "Sweet Claire" – 7%
Colour: Light gold. Nose: Medium sweet. Palate: Medium sweet Riesling taste with good cleansing acidity. 14% residual acidity. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Praeger 2000 Late Harvest Riesling "Madeline"
100% Riesling with some brandy added somewhere during fermentation, aged in new oak barrels. Very unusual! Colour: Dark gold. Nose: Tropical fruits, pineapple. Palate: Creamy, rounded, and really nice. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Jarvis 1999 Chardonnay 12% Napa Valley US$42
Colour: golden yellow, bright. Nose: Vanilla, quite like a wine from Burgundy. Palate: Soft, sweet, some butter. Like a cross between a Mersault and a Puligny Montrachet - nice. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Kunde Estate 2000 Chardonnay
Light yellow oaked chardonnay smelling of tropical fruit, drinking well. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Far Niente 2000 Chardonnay $52
Colour: Citrus yellow, like Sauvignon blanc. Nose: Bright citrus fruit. Palate: Like a young Mersault with a long finish. 90/100, paired with mushroom tart. Not a great QPR, but a good standard. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Far Niente 1998 Dolce $150
Dessert wine from this estate. 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Trying to copy the wines of Sauternes, especially Chateau d'Yquem. Colour: Bright gold. Palate: Luscious, sweet, highly enjoyable, and expensive. 92/100 (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Bonterra Chardonnay 2000
For some reason, I really fancied a buttery Chardonnay with serious oak treatment to accompany my cod in creme fraiche sauce. The combo worked a treat and the wine was great - almost no fruit, perhaps a tangy pear to provide enough acid to balance out the feeling of toffee sweetness. Quite powerful and rich though not heavy in the mouth. Good plus plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

08/02 1989 Château St.Jean, Alexander Valley Johanisburg Riesling
Striking amber colour. Nose is sweet with dried fruits; raisins, sultanas, perhaps even dried cranberries. Palate is thick and very sweet & fruity with a burnt sugar aftertaste like from well cooked jam tarts. It's thick in the mouth, but with just enough acidity to avoid it becoming cloying. The finish is not so long as some of the wines here, but it's certainly the most decadent. My choice for top wine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

06/02 Gary Farr Viognier 2000
Flowery and narcotic Viognier nose of some elegance. A bit neutral in mouth, with an almondy, opaque texture and not much fruit showing. Quite long but unconvincing. Bready texture, spicy finish. L15.30?? No thanks. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bonny Doon Ca'Del Solo Pinot Grigio 2000 Monterey £13
Usual wacky label saying something about not surprising elephants I think. Gorgeous colour with a wonderful pinky/orange hue to the wine. The nose is sweet with floral hints, jasmine and maybe a hint of ginger. Crammed with fruit on the palate, mainly peach and apricot, has good acidity and a lovely lingering finish. Am off to buy as much as I can 17/20 (Anthony Taylor, UK)

02/02 Bernardus 1999 Sauvingnon Blanc
Still a terrfic wine. Lovely buttery Fume Blanc. Put on a lot of weight in the last few months, and is starting to get a bit of that old ripe sauvingnon taste. Only a few bottles left. Will drink 2 soon and will leave the last for a couple of years. Hope the 2000 is as good. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

N.B. older US notes are archived here.