Wine Tasting: U.S. of A. 1995 and 1996 (3rd Mar 1999)

Some very impressive wines that I presented at Glasgow University College Club. Overall the 1995/1996 vintages seem to be attractive and forward if not as concentrated as the wines from the early 1990's.

1. 1996 Forman Chardonnay

3rd Mar 1999 GBP17 USA Table White

Bright, pale gold.
Restrained, leesy nose.
Medium to full bodied with ripe tropical fruit and peach flavours.
Fresh acidity, nicely integrated oak and a long warm finish.
Lovely now, may well develop over 2 to 3 years.

2. 1996 Landmark Damaris Chardonnay

3rd Mar 1999 GBP20 USA Table White

Bright yellow/gold.
Buttery, oily, leesy nose with lots of alcohol and grapefruit flavours.
Medium to full bodied with a lovely fat texture and flavours of vanilla, nuts, cream and sweet peaches.
Excellent integration and balance with a good mineral finish.
Drink now.

3. 1996 Edmund Saint John Cotes Sauvage

3rd Mar 1999 GBP13 USA Table Red

Deep purple/red, redding at rim.
Ripe, jammy, alcoholic nose of forest fruits and spice.
Medium bodied with flavours of brambles and white pepper.
Crisp, fruity acidity and layers of alcohol leading to a dry, tobacco and oak finish.
Drink now on its own or with a steak.

4. 1995 Fetzer Bonterra Sangiovese

3rd Mar 1999 GBP12 USA Table Red

Garnet fading gradually to red at rim.
Dense and dumb, with spicy, tarry, vegetal notes.
Light to medium bodied with juicy acidity, black cherry fruit and a dry pencil-shaving finish.
Well integrated and attractive now with food.

5. 1995 Masi Osar Rosso di Veronese

3rd Mar 1999 GBP16 Veneto Table Red

Opaque purple/red, paling slightly.
Herbal, vegetal nose with rich, sour plum fruit.
Medium bodied and rounded with juicy, sweet and sour black fruit and cherry flavours, some charred oak.
Good acidity and chewy tannins.
Needs 3 to 6 or more years. Outstanding.

6. 1996 Ravenswood Old Vines Sonoma Zinfandel

3rd Mar 1999 GBP12 USA Table Red

Almost opaque garnet, very gradually paling to a pink rim.
Quite dumb but deep, with black cherries, vegetation notes of pickled herring (?!?)
Medium bodied and juicy with sweet forest fruit flavours and a hint of creamy coffee.
Integrated with ripe tannins and lively acidity.
Drink now.

7. 1996 Marietta Old Vine Zinfandel

3rd Mar 1999 GBP11 USA Table Red

Opaque purple/red, pinking slightly at rim.
Inviting, lush, barnyardy nose with overripe plums, allspice, oak and mushrooms.
Full bodied with sweet, alcoholic, plummy fruit, raw tobacco flavours and some charred oak.
Soft with massive extraction, good acidity and firm tannins - Needs a big bowl of Bolognese.
Lovely now, should develop over 2 to 3 years.

8. 1996 Edmund Saint John Syrah California

3rd Mar 1999 GBP12 USA Table Red

Opaque red/purple to red.
Dense, closed, slightly dank nose with spicy, cedary notes.
Medium bodied with fresh cherries, black pepper and charred oak flavours.
Good tannins and acidity, but slightly coarse and lacking in the middle - needs another 2 to 3 years to develop.

9. 1996 Tria Syrah

3rd Mar 1999 GBP14 USA Table Red

Opaque purple/red fading gradually to pinkish red.
Quite closed and dank, with some spice and black fruit aromas.
Medium to full bodied but still dumb, with cherry and redcurrant fruit, white pepper and oak.
Fresh acidity and firm tannins - needs another year or two to open out.

10. 1995 Wing Canyon Cabernet

3rd Mar 1999 GBP19 USA Table Red

Opaque garnet/red gradually fading to a very pale pink/red rim.
Attractive, enticing nose - earthy and rich with hints of wet dog and a touch of stalkiness.
Full bodied with tangy redcurrant fruit, a touch of sulphur, and lovely vegetal/tobacco undertones.
Good alcohol and extract and firm tannins.
Needs 3 to 4 years to break out - very good.

11. 1994 Chasse-Spleen Bordeaux

3rd Mar 1999 GBP18 Bordeaux Table Red

Very dark brown/red evenly fading to pink/brown.
Quite closed with complex, slightly leafy and vegetal notes, and gooseberry and cassis fruit.
Medium bodied with sweet berry fruit, liquorice and spicy oak flavours.
Firm tannins on a long, dry, cedary finish.
Drink now or over the next 3 to 4 years.
Very impressive, particularly since it had only arrived the day before and was probably in shock.

12. 1996 Laurel Glen Counterpoint

3rd Mar 1999 GBP14 USA Table Red

Opaque purple to pink/purple at rim.
Quite dumb on the nose with some cassis and slightly medicinal notes.
Medium bodied and warm, with slightly thin blackcurrant friut, ripe tannins and fresh acidity.
Dry, reasonable finish.
Attractive now with food, may well fatten out with time.

13. 1995 Quilceda Creek red

3rd Mar 1999 GBP30 USA Table Red

Opaque black/red to red/pink rim.
Brooding, alcoholic nose with savoury, meaty aromas.
Medium to full bodied with firm, mouthdrying tannins, and a rounded texture.
Sweet berry fruit, tobacco and cedar flavours carry through to a meaty, tannic finish.
Complex and drinkable (just) now, much better in 5 to 6 years.

14. 1996 Togni Cabernet Sauvignon

3rd Mar 1999 GBP42 USA Table Red

Opaque red/black almost to rim.
Opulent and alcoholic nose - complex and rich with aromas of cassis, capsicums, vanilla and sweaty, dark fruits.
Full bodied and lush, with sweet cassis/plum fruit, peppery oak and tobacco flavours.
Alcoholic with good balance, firm tannins and a long, complex, herbaceous finish.
Lovely now, this will be stunning in 5 to 6 years.