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Old Americans


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Notes from a dinner at a French restaurant, with mostly American wines:

1994 Fetzer Valley Oaks Gewurztraminer – modest price, very decent varietal nose, good flavours marred by the usual flaw of too much RS. Shows promise – maybe one of these days they’ll ferment one of these dry.

Mumm’s Napa Reserve Brut – this bubbly had a pretty good yeasty, toasty nose, medium body and good follow-through. It seemed pretty darned good, in fact, until we opened:

1990 Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve – about two cuts higher with this one. Much better nose, smooth, well integrated fruit, better length.

1991 Arrowood Sonoma Chardonnay – a well coloured little wine with a bit of citrus and a lot of caramel in the nose. Long and complex, this aged chard held up amazingly well.

1996 Shafer Merlot – good cocoa nose, some obvious age in the colour, this wine is all together now and drinks well. Probably won’t get any better than it is now.

1997 Canoe Ridge Wash. (Columbia) Merlot – warm fruit driven nose, sweet and pleasant, drink now.

1986 Ch. St. Jean Alexander Valley Cabernet – although labelled as cab, this also has merlot and cab franc, but I didn’t have time to track down Dick Arrowood to see how much of what. An initial mustiness blew off quickly and there were tons of sweet concentrated fruit on palate, a fruit bomb yes, but also elegant and showing good length. Only now coming into its drinking window. Excellent.

1986 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet – slightly harder wine with a more Bordeaux like nose balanced, forward, and just lovely, with some great flavour coming in right at the end. Good length.

1989 Arrowood Sonoma Cabernet – a mate to the 91 Chard, both in a box and each signed by Dick. Also a Bordeaux nose, but sweeter, and on palate smooth and long – very good showing.

1987 Dunn Napa Cab – glad this wasn’t the Howell – the regular Napa was big enough! Huge mint nose, silky smooth on palate, and very long. A very pleasurable mouthful of wine, with soft tannins that will carry it for years to come.

1991 Ch. Clerc Milon – not avintage that I have much to do with, but the nose was commendable even if the profile of the wine was predictably lean.

1992 Woodbridge Portocinco – yep, you read it right – Woodbridge! Made from 5 Port varietals it had a hot sweet nose, was hot in the mouth, and the colour was a bit light. Taylors and Grahams need not lose sleep over this one, but it was fun to try a curiosity.

Crimean Maccahape Muscat - (don’t hold me to that spelling) – great Muscat nose and sufficient acidity to carry it off.

1990 Zaca Mesa Late Harvest Riesling – at 27% RS this was predictably sweet, but it was also quite well balanced unlike many Californian and Canadian sweeties these days. Great nose!

2001 De Bortoli Nobel One – Very sweet and a bit flabby, especially after the Zaca.

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