2005 Commanderie de la Bargemone, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence A wine I've not had before, purchased for it's wonderfully wordy-busy, antique-looking label, the kind I find irresistable. It seems so sincere and purposeful. Lucky for me, the wine turned out to be a lot like the label, I quite liked it. Very dry, very stony, with a stemmy, slightly sherried flavor to the fruit that is obviously in the fruit and not the result of oxidation. Love it's uniqueness.
2000 Rubino della Palazzola, Umbria I bought this wine from a Garagiste mailer, and several months later I fell for another emailer on the same wine, only I didn't know it until I picked the wines up and realized I had a case. The mailer must have been very convincing because I bought six each go and I had never ordered six of anything else I hadn't tried. Felt rather foolish then, and I feel even more foolish now because I really can't see the last of this wine fast enough. Every time I pull a bottle, I like it less than I did the time before. Each has less brilliance and precision, each is muddier. I'm sure I was promised that it was like the Latour of Umbria and would last 20 years, but that's hardly true: any unfinished wine shows oxidation by the next day. I don't even know what's in it: at first I thought it had some cabernet, but now it shows more like merlot. Anyway, it's a Winebow import, and the original price was $20. 7 down, 5 to go (big sigh).
1999 Canneto Aglianico Here's the reverse story. I bought these some time ago and only started drinking them within the last year. Every bottle is getting better--or there's significant bottle variation. Whatever, where at first I thought it was at peak or possibly slightly past, in fact it now seems like it has more time. There's now black fruit among the red, the wine's firmer and brighter, and the tannins suggest it can hold here for some time. Very traditional, very nice.
1997 Bernardus Marinus, California My first time with this proprietor's blend, and I was impressed. Lovely maturing cabernet fruit with a flavor profile and iron minerality not unlike a Ridge Monte Bello, though I don't mean to imply that the wine's exactly in that league. I don't believe it is, but there's a semblance, and I love all those roasted cherry, red clay and graphite aromatics. It is my very favorite thing to find in a California cabernet. The drying finish suggests that the wine has peaked, but for the $17 I paid for this bottle (MSRP's over $50, I believe), that's not an issue. Lovely wine.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov