From our last four dinners:
2003 Spring Valley Cab Franc
Blue-ish purple color. Vanilla and black currant nose, with similar oversized flavors and a little green bell pepper. Rather ballsy. For those who love nuanced Loire cab francs, this is the anti-Christ.
Haut-Medoc, BordeauxNow, no way is this producer the equal in stature to any of the other 97's I owned, but it is the only one about which I can say that every bottle has gotten better and better. It did not drink well in its youth, it was tight, hard and herbacious. But every single bottle has been less so and travelled a perfect time line, tasting just like the last bottle but with __ many more months of bottle age (I started with a case and a half because I got them for $5 ea) and the wine is actually showing quite well now and probably at or near peak, though it has the tannins to hold here for some time. It tastes now of black cherries, licorice and anise frond. A very persistent, earnest little wine that has exceeded expectations and continues to improve long after it's fancy brothers started fading.
1993 Brane Cantenac
Brane-Cantenac, specifically the 85 vintage, was the first Bordeaux that ever really had its way with me, and I remember that 'first time' (sigh) every time I open another bottle. It has, therefore, always surprised me that Brane Cantenac isn't held in anyone else's high esteem--Parker merely rates it as 'good' and says it should be downgraded from 2nd Growth to merely Medoc, apparently based on excessive mediocrity in the 60's and 70's and rumors that the wine's Growth status was given in 1855 only because the Baron de Branne (yes, with two n's) was such a formidable politician. Well, I could care. I only know from the 85 and a few vintages tasted since that I like this wine's mixture of red fruits and earthy, iron-rich flavors. The '93 doesn't have a future, but it's drinking nicely right now and was worth every penny of the $20 I paid for it a few months ago.
2001 Del Rio Vineyards Claret
Rogue Valley, Oregon
The owners of this winery saved my life one night and in gratitude I bought a bunch of their wines. I had not heard of them before that day, and I would have bought anyone's wines who had done me such a fine favor, but lucky me, my rescuers actually had superb vineyards and Ken Wright on board to make their wines. This bottle was from that stash, and chosen in hopes of picking up some Pacific NW green bell pepper character to pair with pasta in a beef and green pepper sauce. That worked. Made from equal parts Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Malbec and Merlot, this is a very fine wine. When I served my husband his first glass, he took a sip then sat bolt upright and demanded to know, "WHAT is THIS?" Excellent complexity of blackberry and boysenberry fruit, herbs, a bit of cedar, tobacco leaf and that green pepper note I was looking for. Big but not forward (14% abv), concentrated but not extracted, with excellent acidity and sweet tannins. One of the best Pac NW big reds I've tasted. Drinks well now, decanting not required.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov