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- Bucko - 02-05-1999 11:25 AM

1997 Swan Lone Redwood. Tight and closed, hard to get much out of it. The 96 was a stinker. No rating.

1997 Swan Ziegler. Generous but tight dark berry and spice-from-oak on the nose; a real powerhouse but holding its power in tightly. Needs serious time. Highly recommended.

1997 Swan Stellwagen. Cab-like fruit on the nose; a cranberry-like quality on the palate; none of the usual pepper, very tight. Recommended.

1997 Saddleback -- Barrel sample of the Zin fruit only, without the added Cab that makes up the final wine. Apparently this fruit is from a new source, possibly with younger vines, and I was not impressed. Lots of
spice from oak, old Italian wine-type bricky flavors similar to Sangiovese. Pass.

1997 Ravenswood Old Hill. Closed and tight; very structured; dark fruit and strawberry; tingly and delicious; needs time. Should be a real winner at the price. Recommended.

1997 Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard. Open on the nose; heavy dose of black cherry skins; good dark fruit; remarkable acidity and spice; needs time. Recommended.

1997 Ravenswood Cooke. Hits my "Ravenswood" stereotype on the nose -- a bit of brick, a bit of stately cab, tight but still giving evidence of copious dark blackberry fruit; same on the palate with some raisiny qualities; very structured; closed; needs time; my bet is it's going to be very good indeed. Recommended.

1997 Ravenswood Lodi. Lovable zin nose that balances between lushness and stateliness. Savory and fruit-forward. Drinkable now. I would not have guessed this as a Ravenswood. Round, plummy, and jammy on the palate. Recommended.

1997 Renwood Old Vines. Light, bright fruit on the nose; Woody and bricky and astringent on the palate and an excellent finish. Recommended.

1997 Renwood Grand Mere. Supposedly this is pretty much like the old vines, but in French oak instead of American. Smooth and less spicy than the Old Vines on the palate; quiet and savory, decent depth, good structure. I like it a lot. Recommended.

1997 Renwood Jackrabbit Vineyard. Very portlike, rich, swampy and overripe on the nose; same on the palate, very reminiscent of Zinfandel port; residual sugar; a bit odd, but not bad if you're expecting port... Recommended.

1997 Ridge Geyserville. Star of the show for me. Wow! Massive power; very complex; good acidity highlights the various flavors perfectly. Sweet fruit. In some ways reminiscent of a Bordeaux from a ripe year
like '82. Absolutely fantastic. Highly recommended.

1997 Ridge York Creek. Very closed and boring. Pass.

1997 Ridge Lytton Springs. Very distinctive, powerful, typical Lytton fruit; black cherry with a touch of vanilla; good structure but a little too much oak for me, though it may integrate. Incredibly delicious fruit.
Significant tannins. Needs time. Recommended.

1997 Pagani Ranch. This is a wine that seems to make the argument that jamminess is a virtue. A nose of beautifully ripe, fragrant berries; Bursting berry on the palate; lush and powerful; spreads out in the mouth
and hangs on a long while. The acid makes it perky and refreshing. Exceptional smoothness is atypical of the vintage. A topnotch Pagani if you like the typical style of this wine. I do, at least on occasion. Recommended.

1997 Rosenblum Paso Robles. Very jammy fruit without the depth and smoothness that made that appealing in the Pagani. Astringency from oak and vanilla from oak on the palate, not my kind of thing. Recommended with reservations.

1997 Robert Biale Aldo's Vineyard. A bit too much oak for me, but lots of fruit to stand up to it. Forward fruit and good structure. I *think* the wood will mellow and produce a VERY GOOD wine. Recommended.

1997 Rosenblum Annette's Reserve. Subdued on the nose, though you can tell there's power there. On the palate, a wow! burst of fruit, vanilla from oak that is in check, excellent finish. Highly recommended.

1997 Zoom Contra Costa County. Mild nose of nice tangy fruit and coffee. Rounded and short on the palate, not for me. Pass.

1997 Zoom Paso Robles. Strawberry jam with bitter orange peel on the nose. Good fruit attack, brickiness, and good acid, but dissipates and fades on the finish. Recommended with reservations.

1997 Vigil, More-Fry Vineyard. Fruity and a bit floral on the nose; Intense burst of forward tangy fruit on the palate, maraschino cherry and bitter orange peel and strawberry. Moderately high but tolerable tannins; tasty but a bit disjointed, though time will likely take care of that. Impressive. Recommended.

1997 Vigil, Beatty Ranch. Weird. Strong bay leaf on the nose and palate. Good finish and good fruit; an interesting thing to have at a tasting, but I wouldn't want a whole glass. Pass.

1997 Turley Hayne. Powerful, upfront, in your face fruit. This is more accessible than many other Turleys I've had, but for me it is like
drinking a Zin-vodka cocktail. There's just too much alcohol "impact" and alcohol flavor and alcohol aroma for me to really enjoy it, as opposed to being intellectually impressed by the power, depth, and complexity of the
fruit, which I was. Probably a must-purchase for Turley fans, definitely more going on than in the '96. For me, Pass.

1997 Norman "Monster". Intense rich Zinfandel nose that is reminiscent of a late-harvest wine. Delicious ripe fruit, excellent balance, very tasty to drink now. May fall just a bit short on the finish, but that's
quibbling. Great stuff. Highly recommended.

1997 Norman Late Harvest (dessert). Jammy and intense on the nose; very concentrated, black cherry-tinged fruit on the palate. A real winner of a dessert zin. Recommended.

1997 Storybook Mountain Vineyards. Plummy black cherry nose; burst of herbal fruit (as though spiced with oregano, say) on the nose makes it a weird one for me. Pass.

1997 Cline. Couldn't judge these at all. They were all full of sulfur, and I just couldn't taste past it.

1997 Acorn Allegria. Nice nose of bright, delicious Paso Robles-type jammy blackberry fruit; Restrained on the palate; good acidic tingle; blackberry fruit. Backward, will presumably open but I don't have the
same confidence in that judgement that I do for, say, the Ravenswood Cooke. Steve Van Horn pointed out that it shows great fruit on the front of the tongue, but nothing in the middle of the tongue. He's right. Recommended with reservations.

1997 Bohemian Cellars, Alexander Valley. Sharp nose of tasty zinberry fruit,
stingy on the palate, dark zin fruit, good acid, but not much depth of fruit. OK wine. $11-12 price point makes it viable. Recommended.

1997 Dasche Cellars. Tasty dark fruit plus strawberry. Recognizably Ridge-like (Tom Dasche used to be assistant winemaker at Ridge until last June, specializing in Zin. I have to try not to be worshipful because he
had a big hand in the 1993 Ridge Essence). Really nice wine, not as intense as the best of the Ridge lineup. Recommended.

1997 Dasche Cellars Late Harvest (dessert). Wow. Best LH wine here, probably the 4th best LH Zin I've ever had (after 1978 Calera, 1993 Ridge Essence, and 1995 Ravenswood McGill). Noticeably Essence like, though with much lower residual sugar (around 6%, if memory serves). EXCELLENT. Highly recommended.

1997 DeLoach Estate. Nice nose, cherry compote and orange peel. Mostly tannins on the palate. Pass.

1997 Deloach OFS. Lots of tannins, and too oaky for me. A shame, because there is a lot of nice fruit hiding in there. Pass.

1997 J. Fritz Late Harvest Redwood Hill (dessert). 6.3% RS. Sharp, non-jammy, refreshing. A with-dessert rather than as-dessert wine. Tasty. Recommended.

1997 Pezzi-King Estate. Middle of the road between jammy and sharp; good black cherry fruit. Strong acidity. Not super-intense, but very respectable. Recommended.

1997 Pezzi-King Maple Vineyard. Solid zin nose, good burst of fruit, a bit short on the finish. Recommended.

Thanks to Bryan Loofbourrow for a lot of the transcribing.

More to come........

Bucko