Some mental impressions (I didn't take notes) notes on a few recent wines:
2003 Long Meadow Ranch "Peter's Vineyard" Sangiovese
Napa Valley, California
A weekend guest brought this wine, and I have to tell you that when I saw 'Napa' and 'Sangiovese' I thought "uh oh". Well, my fears were entirely ungrounded, as this wine is excellent. Excellent, that is, in it's own right and without further qualification, though it's also easily the best non-Italian sangiovese I've ever had, too. Highly aromatic nose--the kind that makes you want to just sniff, not sip--of cherries, berries, herbs and tea, and all those on the palate with a sweet sandalwood finish. Medium bodied with elegant acidity and no noticeable oak. A real bright spot on the bleak Cal-Ital horizon, but sadly very small production (I was told 150 cases) and not available off the Ranch.
1998 Beckman Cabernet Sauvignon
(Paso Robles?), California
25 dinner guests last Friday night brought a plethora of wines, and I only had time to stop at the wine table and grab quick samples. Most of the wines were thoughtful choices, but under the circumstance most were also of the "okay, move on" variety. This Beckman cab was one of the few that stood out from the pack. Prior history with Beckman has been scant but good--the few Beckmans I've had have been notably restrained for a hot area prone to jamminess and generous oak--but even then this Cabernet was an eye opener. Well balanced with good cabernet flavors, no spoof, no jam, and acquiring some nice elegance. Would seem to have a good life ahead of it.
1994 Von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon
Another party wine. On the brown side and rather bretty. Not entirely unpleasant, but surprisingly advanced. I know it's owner keeps his wines in temperature controlled storage, but either this wine tanked way too soon or the wine got heat-damaged early in life. (Flavorwise, the latter would be my guess.)
1998 Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon
I sure like this winery's wines; they seem to hold off on the oak and big fruit style popular in this state and and opt instead for Bordeauxish restraint. These wines seem to gain character as they age, too, and this one showed plummy fruit with some nice leathery secondary notes. Probably at peak.
1997 Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon
The gentleman who brought the Reininger also brought this wine, and he held this one back to pour later as something special. (Which I thought was a really classy touch, however I preferred the Reininger. ) Plummy fruit was overshadowed by toasted oak.
2005 Inniskillin Reserve Pinot Grigio
Another one of the delicious BC pinot gris, with fragrant white flower (night-blooming jasmine, actually) and hazelnut nose and lemony fruit on the palate.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov