Thursday, July 30, 2009

A disappointing Chateau Valrose 2000

This wine was acquired from a defunct wine store that often had great deals, but sometimes had over-hyped non-deals. This is one of them. I believe it had a 90 point or more rating from somebody (see below) but it's another low 80 pointer. it's better than Ch. des Cedres 2005 (previous entry) but not by much--give Valrose 83 points. The nose was quite nice, blackberry, tobacco, flowers. but the palate was dominated by acid. it already tastes over the hill. not much tannin but the fruit just couldn't compete with the acid. this wine has been well-stored since i got it so assuming it was properly stored by the vendor (which may in fact not be true for all I know), i don't know how it got such a high score from some expert. I now note that Parker didn't rate this, which is perhaps a clue--only Wine Spectator, which I find considerably less reliable. One thing I suggest is keeping track of my taste as opposed to Parker and Wine Spec and over the long run see if there's any pattern, e.g. that WS over-rates lots of Bordeaux but not so much Rhones etc. Both WS and now even Parker have multiple reviewers so as with movies there might well be important intra-publication variations. I should add however that as I say above, so says the WS: blackberry and flowers feature in the review below too.

So here's WIne Spectator, 92 points!
Super well-done. Bright and floral, with lovely raspberries and blackberries on the nose. Full-bodied, with fabulous, silky tannins and a solid core of fruit. Very, very long. The wines from this ch√Ęteau get better and better. Best after 2008. 2,220 cases made.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chateau des Cedres 2005 Bordeaux

This wine retails for about $9. Had it for $18 on half-price wine night at Carrboro restaurant. It's perhaps worth $9, not $18 (let alone the price on 6 nights a week of $36). Presumably restaurant owners buy such bottles because they assume most people at most know something like "Bordeaux are good wines so I'll get one that's fairly expensive relative to the rest of the wines on the list." A shame because at $9 I'd take the Penfolds Koonunga Cab or Cab/Shiraz any day. Not to mention for $18 you could get a really good Australian red, a Cotes du Rhone or a Spanish grenache, charge $36 and get the standard 100% markup. So the owner here assumes his clientele doesn't know enough about wine to realize what a dumb rip-off this is. Maybe he suspects they do know enough to have heard 2005 is a great vintage and indeed this Chat. des Cedres is probably as good as this chateau can ever get.

The wine was drinkable. I'd give it 82 points. It certainly is at its peak now. No bouquet to speak of but simple light fruit and acid and very light tannins. 80% merlot shows in the cherry strawberry finish. I doubt this wine will be drinkable after 2010. For now though it probably serves the owner's needs by flattering his poorly informed clientele.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2005 La Vieille Cure (Fronsac) outside Pomerol

Got a fantastic deal from CH Wine Co on this one for just $16/bottle, about half price, by the case. Apparently the distributor needed to raise some cash fast and god bless him for that. A 93 Point Parker 2005 bordeaux for this price is pretty much unheard of. This is the first of 12 entries, perhaps I'll try one per year through 2020. As always I have not read Parker's notes so I can give my own impression. The wine was shipped to the store only 2 weeks ago so it isn't exactly settled down yet.

The nose is very deep and somewhat unyielding. Color deep purple almost to the rim. I'm getting black cherry and a very pleasant woodsy aroma, not vegetal and not floral but like spring leaves. A hint of toasty oak. On the palate this is just massive. Big tannins, plenty of acid and gobs of fruit, medium to full body. It really tastes and smells undeveloped but with great promise. The finish is very, very long, and warm without being overly hot/alcoholic. This is the most tannic wine I've drunk since beginning the blog in June, really mouth coating and not as soft and integrated as in several other young wines I've had recently. Some licorice and cocoa on the finish. I'd say this one needs about 5 years, ie shouldn't really be drunk till 2015 or so. I'd think it'll be drinking well till 2025 or even 2030 as the fruit seems ripe enough to remain while the tannins soften and the acid will be just about right to sustain the wine without overwhelming the fruit. When it all comes together and has the bottle age it should taste like a very nice Pomerol, somewhat reminiscent of Vieux Chateau Certan 1986 that we had at Charlie Trotter's in May 2009. With more air a raspberry perfume appeared. The wine is about 75% merlot, 22% Cab Franc and just 3% cab sauvignon.

I think from the high tannin I awoke Friday morning with a huge headache. Earlier notes on Le Bon Pasteur 2005 suggested more promise and current pleasure (and it's a Parker 94 point wine, from Pomerol itself, and cost much more $, so it goes).

So here's what Parker says, pretty close to me. I think the wine must have become more tannic since he tasted the bottle in 2008. He calls spring flowers what I called spring leaves...:
La Vieille Cure’s amazing 2005 is even better than their terrific 2003 and 2000. The 2005 boasts an inky/ruby color as well as a gorgeously sweet perfume of charcoal, black cherries, black currants, and spring flowers as well as an underlying mineral component. Superb concentration, full-bodied power, wonderful symmetry, purity, and texture, and a multidimensional mouthfeel are all found in this fabulous sleeper of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020+

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tignanello 2004 Super Tuscan IGT

Had July 20 evening at Tom and Deborah's (with Gabriel, Clay, Inge), purchased from area, good wine store for about $80 (average price on Winesearcher is around $120). This wine is actually #4 wine of the year by Wine Spectator in 2007!

Clearly it's too young; it's deep but pretty closed in the nose and needed 30-45minutes to open up a bit. With air we get tarry Sangiovese dark red spicy fruit, perhaps a bit of cherry, a bit of violet, blueberry and currant. This took 45-60 min. to open and probably the wine should have been decanted. With air too the finish became wonderfully long and complex, pleasantly vanilla notes, with caramelized plummy quality (called raisin below) aided by the Belgian cheeses and prosciutto that went beautifully with the wine. THere's plenty of fruit, acid and tannin, but the latter two need integration.

Drinkability would be best 2012-2025 (which more or less matches the professionals below). I would not give it 95 points, more like 92+, but this may be due to the greater ability to judge future potential among the professional wine critics.

Wine spectator 95 points
Offers aromas of blackberry, with hints of raisin and lots of spices. Full and velvety, with wonderful concentration and a long, rich finish. Very stylish and exciting. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best after 2012. 26,665 cases made. –JS

3 notes from Parker

The estate’s 2004 Tignanello is a modern-day classic. Suggestions of macerated cherries, menthol, sweet spices, licorice and French oak meld seamlessly into a perfumed silky-textured core of ripe fruit. The tannins remain incredibly fine throughout. The wine’s vibrant color and fresh flavors suggest it will age gracefully over the next decade. This is a remarkably refined Tignanello. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. 95 pts

Pale+ ruby colour. Subtle, slightly closed aromas of red cherry, raspberry, violets, mocha and cinnamon on the nose. The medium+ bodied palate provides a great intensity of cherry, spice and tea flavours balanced by crisp acidity. Medium to firm, grainy, very fine tannins and a long, long finish. Young. Drink 2010 – 2020+. Tasted November 2008. 95 pts

The 2004 Tignanello (85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc) presents a livelier shade of ruby along with fresher aromatics and flavors. Deeply expressive, it reveals black cherries, licorice, tar and sweet toasted oak on a linear, silky-textured frame of great class and elegance, showing outstanding presence on the palate and fine tannins to round out the finish. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. 93 points

Monday, July 20, 2009

2004 Rocca di Montegrossi Toscana Geremia

At restaurant in Pigneto near Tom and Deborah's. 35 Euros. Drunk after sending back a bad Chianti much to consternation of wait staff. But it was a good idea as this was a nice IGT with 60% merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauv. It came feeling warm and I was worried it hadn't been stored properly (as was the bottle we sent back).

Anyhow, it was a bit rustic though integrated a bit better with time in glass. Black cherry plum, with time got more pleasing cherry vanilla--presumably the merlot dominance coming out and no doubt there is some oak aging in there. this wine needs time for tannin and acid to integrate with the fruit. This one did not have smooth tannins. It will never be profound and complex but will be more pleasant with another year in bottle. I'd say drink 2010-16 and give it 88 points. If it were available in the US for under $15 I'd say it's worth it; otherwise I'd go for an Aussie Cab Merlot blend==i'd get much more pleasure from a Mollydooker or DeLisio in this price range.

Now if you look below at Parker's rave review the only thing I can think is that poor storage is the culprit, as always raising the acid levels beyond the fruit and foreshortening its aging potential and current drinkability. On the other hand, Wine Spectator is closer to my own rating.

Parker 93 points:
The 2004 Geremia is equally commanding in its stature and potential. This blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon spent 18 months in Allier oak barrels. It reveals awesome richness and depth with a level of juiciness and mid-palate generosity that the San Marcellino doesn’t quite have. The wine remains extremely fresh and primary in its expression of dark macerated cherries, minerals, spices and sweet toasted oak. Despite its lushness, the wine also possesses considerable structure that begs for extended bottle aging, yet readers who are fortunate enough to own this wine will have a hard time being patient. This is a thrill to taste. Even better, it offers phenomenal quality for the money. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2024

Wine Spectator 88 points
Stylish aromas of mineral and blackberry follow through to a medium-to-full body, with fine tannins and a fruity finish. A little simple, but clean and well-crafted. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best after 2008.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2003 brunello val di suga--presumably from VIgna Spuntali at Rome wine bar

Sweet oak nose, ruby color more than purple with a bit of brick age on the rim. blackberry and tar and smoke on nose and palate. after 20 minutes the nose opened and finish more complex, balanced and lengthy. soft tannin and plenty of acid for improvement and lasting, best drinking 2009=2015. 90+ points

with tom, gabriel, clay, inge on walk around center Rome

Parker: 91 points
The estate’s 2003 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Spuntali is big, fat and juicy in its dark red fruit. The wine possesses lovely richness and depth. Naturally, because of the heat in 2003, the delineation and clarity of the finest vintages is missing, but the wine more than makes up for it with its accessible, generous personality. The 2003 Vigna Spuntali is one of the finer Brunellos of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

il bruciato 2006 by Antinori

With Tom, Deborah, Gabriel, Clay, Inge and myself in Rome and as gabriel says, "tasting wine and getting drunk."

Tenuta Guado al tasso is the maker, supposedly in vineyard next to sassacaia. Mixes of cab, merlot, syrah. Bolgheri is .the area. Antinori apparently owns it. Now what I smell on the pleasant nose is a mixture of cherry vanilla, a slight black currant, and some provencal spice, which are accounted for by the merlot, cabernet, and syrah. Initial impression on first drinking was a too simple wine with initial attack of soft fruit follopwed by a hollow mid-palate and short finish of not much interest. the tannins are soft and this seems like a wine that won't last more than 3-4 years. After 30 minutes of course the acid is reduced and fruit comes forth better, with a fruitier finish. As always I've written the notes before consulting the professional notes below. I am closer to Parker on this, both score and impression, although I certainly don't see it lasting for more than 3-4 years and can't believe it'll get any better after 2009.

parker: 88 points. The 2006 Bruciato is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah that spent eight months in French oak. This brooding, intense wine flows from the glass with the essence of dark cherries, tar, smoke and menthol. It offers excellent length and a long, resonating finish that captures the warmth of Tuscany and the 2006 vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2016.

Wine Spectator: Subtle and aromatic, with violet and berries on the nose. Full-bodied, with supersilky tannins and a long, clean, polished finish. The second wine of Guado al Tasso, with a bit more Merlot than the first wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and others. Best after 2009. 20,830 cases made/ 90 points.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

mas doix salanques 2004 priorat

very smoothed out from the last time i tasted about a year ago. tannins have melted into the background and acid also, so now you taste abundant fruit with accent on blackberry and black cherry/kirsch and plum, maybe blueberry. a touch of lavender and very mild garrigue (provencal spice including lavender that grows in rocky dry climate of Provence). very long finish with soft tannin and acid nicely accenting the fruit. with air i actually detected a bit of hazelnut and then remembered that priorat was for a long time primarily known for hazelnut production! presumably still some hazelnut trees around and it's not impossible for the roots and leaves and thus fruit to pick up some of the hazelnut chemicals (which is why some Calif cabernets have eucalyptus overtones). This will be good till 2015 or so. I don't think the acid/tannin components are up to maintaining the wine much beyond. A few days later after being in refrig, the wine was ok for a few minutes but soured in the glass.

mas doix also makes a wine Mas Doix Doix Costers de Vinas Viejas (old vines) which is $100-120. This Salanques is about $40. The more expensive one I'e had once and it was sublime, right up there with the best wine i've ever had. i have a couple bottles of the expensive one and a couple of this Salanques left, I think in 2004 vintage, so next time, i'll do a comparative tasting.

Parker tasted in 2007, 94 points:
The 2004 Salanques is the second wine of Mas Doix made from barrels not making the cut for Costers de Vinas Viejas. It is 65% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, and equal parts Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon aged 14 months in French oak. Inky purple, the wine has a lovely perfume of mineral, truffle, pencil lead, kirsch, black currant, and blueberry. Ripe and full-bodied, the wine has a velvety texture, superb depth, and gobs of flavor. Drink this pleasure-packed wine over the next 8-10 years.

Wine Spectator gave this 87 points and is just totally off the mark. In general I find them giving lower scores than Parker, which is OK, but they also miss the mark seriously about 1/6 of the time, roughly. may be a product of their group tasting method or just that Parker is better and also formed my own wine aesthetic since he was my first guru starting in 1981. Spectator:

Candied cherry and light herbal flavors are expressive, though slightly rustic, in this firm red. The crisp acidity provides a sweet-and-sour profile. Lively. Best from 2008 through 2012. 1,900 cases imported

Note from RME: It is NOT sweet and sour unless you think all wine merits that description, and it's certainly not rustic.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2005 Rolf Binder Heinrich GSM

Left is a nice picture of mataro starting to ripen in Binder's vineyard in Feb 2006 (equivalent to August up here). At end see interesting discussion of the way this very vintage of Heinrich was put together.

Very deep, profound nose of caramel, burnt oak, violet, cherry and raspberry. There’s a scotch-like component, like it’s been aged in old sherry casks! This is one of those wines where one whiff tells you it’s gonna be fun to drink (like the 2004 De Lisio Grenache). It is dominated by Grenache, I suspect. There’s plenty of acid in this full-bodied wine, but tannins are very soft. The color actually is a bit lighter than cabernet-dominated wines and is showing a small hint of brick at the edge indicating less long life than most of the reds I’ve reviewed previously. I suppose this one qualifies as a fruit bomb, but that seems unfairly derogatory since it’s certainly not a simple wine. The finish is extraordinarily long and that requires acid, tannin and some alcohol too. I’d speculate that this one is nearly as good as it will ever get. All in all, it’s not as complex and profound as other Grenache or GSMs (or Priorats) I’ve had, but it's not simple/one dimensional either. I’ll say it’ll peak in 2010 and go for 5-6 years after that. At the bottom I'm pasting a kind of interesting entry from the Binder winemaker's blog where he discusses the work that went into this wine (which turns out to be mostly Shiraz and Mourvedre (called Mataro sometimes in Australia) and only 15 grenache). What Parker calls creosote below is what seemed to me that Maderized/oxidized/burnt element. He thinks it'll last till 2014 or so and I'm saying a year or two longer. He's probably right of course. I certainly didn't get any blueberry or currant/cassis.

Update: Opened after vaccum pumping and refrigerating normally next day (7/8/09). Delectable today, even silkier, softer tannin and acid. The burnt oak/caramel is receded tho present and now it tastes more like a fruit bomb shiraz, though the sweet blueberry, like a pastille, is now present to my nose. A hint of flowery and spicy perfume, as if it had real bottle age. Yes, a good quality red is often more enjoyable the next day. In fact, a clear distinction between the less good and better is even when the former is fine day 1 it won't be worth drinking day 2. This one cost under $25 and as such is a bargain. Notice the differences between what Parker and Wine Spectator tasted. The main thing is to pay attention and savor the complexities of taste, mouth feel, finish--not to worry about exactly what fruit tastes are "really" in there.

Here's what Parker said in Oct 2006 (2.5 years ago as I write). 93 points:

The 2005 Heinrich, a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Shiraz (15%, 30%, and 55% respectively), reveals a dark purple hue along with a sweet perfume of crushed rocks, blueberries, creme de cassis, creosote, vanilla, and spice. It is a full, earthy effort to consume over the next 7-8 years.

Wine spectator: Smooth and velvety, this is a plush mouthful of milk chocolate-accented cherry and autumn leaf aromas and flavors that linger nicely on the harmonious finish. Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache. Drink now through 2011. 91 points.

Here's the informative material from the Binder website/blog talking about making this wine in 2005:

Wine is constantly being tasted on a day by day basis to see how it is developing but once a year we taste in methodical order every barrel of red wine in the winery. This is the definitive tasting as from it we decide which barrel will go to which final wine of the number we make at Veritas.

This is an exhaustive process and this year it was spread over five days with about six hours tasting each day. We tasted over 700 barrels covering the 2004 and 2005 vintages. The tasters were Christa Binder Deans, Kym Teusner and myself.

Some wines that earlier in the year had picked up enough oak and wines that we do not want to show much of an oak influence have already been taken out of oak and are in tanks. These components are used if required in the final wine blends.

From the barrel tasting we then make a trial blend of the final wine from the barrels selected to see what it will taste like and if it looks O.K. the individual barrels are blended together and returned to oak.

To explain this clearly it is best to use an example, and this is how we composed the Rolf Binder Heinrich Shiraz Mataro Grenache 2005.

Behind the Veritas winery is a shiraz block called Stephanie Lot 2. This yielded 18 barrels. Of these we thought two barrels were good enough for the Heysen, a grade higher than Heinrich, nine were right for Heinrich and seven will become Christa Rolf (the domestic brand)/Halliwell (the overseas brand).

We then made a trial blend of the nine barrels which is equal portions of each barrel to see how it tasted. In this case we were happy and they were all approved as Heinrich. It can be that the barrels do not blend nicely so you then find out which one or two do not belong in the final blend. If this happened that barrel or barrels is declassified to a lower grade wine.

At Veritas if it does not fit the wine style it is declassified and we do this often.

Now a base can be anything from one barrel to a dozen or so, and in a very big winery can run into hundreds. Incidentally the process we are doing at Veritas is pretty standard Australian wine making practise.

So these nine barrels form one of the bases of the shiraz component of Heinrich. For the 2005 Heinrich we ended up with seven shiraz bases. These are next examined in detail and compared with each other. Of the seven it was decided that only five were good enough. Of the two bases declassified one will go to Rolf Binder Christa Rolf Shiraz Grenache 2005 and the other to Rolf Binder Hales Shiraz 2005. This of course lifts the overall quality of these two cheaper wines.

For the mataro component of Heinrich we ended up with two bases. One from the 100 plus year old bush vines from behind the winery and the other from plantings done in 1972 that are next to the winery and were taken from cuttings off the old bush vines.

The grenache we are very particular about and every vintage it generally comes down to a special lot from our Western Ridge vineyard in the Gomersal sub-region of the Barossa. And that is how it turned out this vintage with only one base of grenache making it to the final blend. We looked at 18 barrels of this base and whittled this down to 12. The six that were declassified will go to the Christa Rolf/Halliwell Shiraz Grenache lifting the quality of this wine.

This then led to a final Heinrich 2005 blend of 55% shiraz, 30% mataro and 15% grenache. Each variety is made into the final blend and is kept separate and the wines go back into oak. At this stage we may elect to change the oak, for example we are about to bottle a red which will free up some good two year old oak and the grenache component will go into this oak.

So we were pleased to finish an exhausting week but it may be the most important week in the winery.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Umami perhaps sets Kalin chardonnays apart?

In looking around for more info on Kalin I found the discussion of the newly discovered (or at least newly applied to wine) fifth taste besides sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Kalin Cellars - Wines With The Fifth Tasteumami.gif (9289 bytes)

Most wines evoke the taste sensations of sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Kalin Cellars wines are among the VERY, VERY few wines presently available that evoke the FIFTH Taste of Umami. Umami is a newly discovered basic taste that is fundamentally different from the other four. It is variously described as delicious, savory or meaty. It is associated with the taste of perfection - a wine, fruit, cheese, mushroom or ham that is at its peak of flavor maturity and quality. Most wines are either not capable of attaining Umami or are offered for sale long before the fifth flavor of perfection is achieved. Kalin Cellars wines are aged in temperature and humidity controlled underground cellars until they achieve the perfection of Umami. Only after three to ten years of bottle age are these wines released for sale. To learn more about Wine With The Fifth Taste please visit the Umami Wine Page.

Clos l'Obac costers del siurana 2001

Clos l'Obac is a Priorat, a Spanish wine area that has become my second favorite (to bordeaux). Tends to use grenache, syrah and also cabernet, merlot and carignan. This one, on the nose and palate: the grenache has that dense sweet berry, with a resemblance to huckleberry pie with vanilla ice cream. The syrah comes out more in the briary, spicy component of the taste. The nose is pretty restrained now and clearly can go 2-3 more years before it rounds out and fully opens. Underneath the grenache smell for me is the hint of black currant that indicates cabernet--and maybe cherry from merlot? Color is purple ruby with only the slightest hint of age at the rim. Plenty of soft tannin on a long finish that emphasizes strawberry-cherry component with acid that sustains the finish. A whiff of alcohol on nose and a bit of heat on finish, both of which should calm down in a couple years. Medium body and moderately silky palate. I'd think this will be best from 2011 to 2018.

Notice from the pictures Priorat is an arid area--it's good for wine grapes to have to struggle, roots have to go deep to get water and nutrients--but it's close enough to the sea to get some nice humidifying cloud cover.

Clos l'Obac on the 2nd day, 24 hours after opening and using vacuum pump and standard refrigerator: incredible how it's changed and now tastes very much like a cabernet. Tannin and acid have receded in favor of the now extremely silky black currant and vanilla fruit. Like drinking a different and at least as pleasurable a wine. I recommend everyone retaste their red wines after 24 hours. The best ones will give as much pleasure a day later.

July 7: two days since opening. 3rd day clos l’obac the spice is more recognizably rosemary (though I am eating rosemary bread as I sip) and the wine no longer tastes like a cabernet so much. More like a blend between day 1 and 2. There’s some cabernet present with a hint of mint and currant. It’s lost some body and zip and won’t be very good tomorrow. There’s a Madera quality to the nose today—I guess that means oxidation is taking its toll. Certainly you could drink this l’Obac today with considerable pleasure, though having it alongside the just-opened Binder Heinrich makes the comparison unfair.

Parker 91 points writing in 2004

This unfiltered blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot, and Carignan, aged for 14 months in new French oak, and bottled unfiltered, boasts a deep purple color along with a pure bouquet of raspberries, blueberries, wet stones, and toasty, subtle vanillin. Medium-bodied with outstanding concentration, impressive elegance, and a nice texture, this tight but promising 2001 should hit its prime in 2-4 years, and last for 12-15.

Wine spectator 91 points also
Powerful, rich with extract and tannins, offering ripe fruit flavors of plum and dried cherry that mingle with spicy oak and notes of wild herb. More muscular than expressive, but should open with food. Best after 2004. 200 cases imported.

Bob's Note on Priorat
Some of the most hedonistic wines I've ever had are Priorats, though my experience with them is only about 3 years, since our spring 2006 trip to Spain when we on a whim decided to detour to Priorat while heading back to Pamplona after a couple days in Barcelona. We got to the village, had a very good meal at a simple restaurant, along with a 2002 Clos Mogador that blew all of us away. We'd had at l'ABAC restaurant in Barcelona a 2004 Mogador if I remember the vintage right. That was a revelation and it's what led to the detour. The restaurant proprietor in Priorat kindly called a winemaker in Montsant who was associated with Rene Barbier, founder of Mogador, and we had a terrific tour and tasting at Laurona. Montsant is just outside Priorat, making some excellent wines the way Canon and Fronsac can make 'em almost as good as Pomerol in Bordeaux area.

kalin 1994 chardonnay cuvee W

Recently released after 15 years at the winery. Full body, almost viscous, and dark gold like an older Sauternes. There is a lot of burnt vanilla oak, butterscotch, honey and tropical fruit. I'm sure many would say the oak overpowers the more delicate fruit but it's OK with me. It's like an aged version of Beringer Private Reserve or Sbragia chardonnay, big fruit, big oak. This is less in style than it used to be in the 80s and 90s but that's when I cut my wine teeth. There's a nice finish with enough acid to stand up to most foods (in this case, even chicken wings with mustard or bbq sauce). We were lucky enough to get a case @ $25 btl, a large discount. shared with friends and will be interested to hear their reactions. I'd guess this has a year or two but not much more to last.

Here's Parker's notes from Dec 2007. 94 points

Even more impressive is the youthfulness of the 1994 Chardonnay Cuvee W. This wine, which comes from 60-year-old vines planted on gravelly soils from the old Wente clone, was bottled without filtration in 1995. Light gold in color with a stunning nose of honeyed citrus, candle wax, some caramelized oranges and nectarines, terrific acidity and a finish of a good 40+ seconds, this is old-style but remarkable Chardonnay made by an eccentric genius who continues to be uninfluenced by anything other than his own intriguing vision of high quality wine.

The reclusive and idiosyncratic Terry Leighton continues to release his wines a good ten years later than just about anybody else in California. He also continues to turn out one of the finest Sauvignon Blancs and longest-lived Chardonnays.