Wine Country Here We Come!

divider500.gif (1221 bytes)

QUIZ TIME! Beringer

The Rhine House

It was 4:50 by the time we walked onto the beautiful Rhine House, so we made a bee-line straight to the tasting room; we could admire the famous landmark after closing. There were still a number of people at the bar, and the tasting room manager ended up staying open for a good half-hour. We presented him with our cards (to his delight), and proceeded to sample a number of wines.

The highlight here, for this taster, was a three oz. glass of the 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve (Wine Spectator's #1 Wine of the Year in 1990); it cost me $12. And, though there can be no denial that this a wonderful wine, I was a little underwhelmed; my head was still full of the heady, sensuous '94 Opus One, with all of its overt fruit. I'd love another crack at this one with a clean palate; it was certainly apparent that it had the stuffing to go for many more years.

We continued to taste several other bottlings, and the late harvest wines made a big impression on all of us. The Director and Zinfan took a shine to the '94 Port of Cabernet Sauvignon, while everyone loved the 1993 Founder's Reserve Barrel Fermented Nightingale and the 1994 Johannisburg Riesling California Special Select Late Harvest.

We made several purchases, and enjoyed the pleasant drive back to the Tree House, where we took another long swim, and tasted three more wines.

Tasting on the Deck

1995 Beringer Napa Sbragia Limited Release Chardonnay
1985 Lytton Springs Winery Sonoma Zinfandel
1987 Lytton Springs Winery Sonoma Reserve Zinfandel

Botrytis Boy had picked up a 1995 Beringer Napa Sbragia Limited Release Chardonnay, and opened it without hesitation. This wine showed all of winemaker Ed Sbragia's signature style, with its pale golden color, spicy oak, and big flavors and aromas of pear, fig, apricot, and candied pineapple. This fine, lovely wine was enjoyed by all.

Then, Mr. Gumby and I decided to compare two Lytton Springs Winery bottlings from the last decade; my 1985 L.S. Sonoma Zinfandel, and his 1987 L.S. Sonoma Reserve Zinfandel. Surprisingly, both of these were still tannic and in need of further cellaring.

The '85 Sonoma had a brick-garnet color; the initial green, gravely, stony character gave way to reveal big rich blackberry, black cherry fruit, with smoky leather nuances on the palate. C.Z. described as "pruney and old vineish," while this taster was reminded of a fine Croze-Hermitage. Once this opened up, it was quite enjoyable, which was more than could be said for the '87 Reserve.

The '87 never did open up while we tasted it; this was a case where a decanter would have come in handy. It barely showed a hint of brick to its dark garnet color, and the nose had big, rich, spicy bramble and zinberry aromas. While the flavors had those elements, along with plum and pepper notes, the formidable tannins overwhelmed them. There is still plenty of fruit for this one to age at least another five years.

Meet you in the Valley of the Moon


If you can guess the total value of all wines consumed during the trip, we'll send you a purple pocket protector!

How's that for a deal?



HOME Gang of Pour Home Page PAGE

Gang of Pour Unleashed Directory

Prologue - Blast me off to Sonoma

Redwood Tree House & Ridge Lytton Springs

More Ridge Lytton Springs

Rafanelli Commentary

Power Tasting - Day One

The Music

Ridge ATP Party

Opus One - Day Two

Valley of the Moon - Day Three


Jason Brandt Lewis - Day Four

Newton Vineyards - Day Five

Bodega Bay - Day Six

Morning Reflections - Day Seven

More Wineries - Day Seven

SFJoe and Tasting Notes - Day Seven

Dinner Party and Tasting Notes - Day Seven

Departure and Epilogue - Day Eight