Mead On Wine

© 1997 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved
Vol. I No. 32

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by Jerry D. Mead

    I know you won't feel a bit sorry for me, but surely
you realize that I taste hundreds upon hundreds more wines every year than I
can ever write about. It's a rare day in my life when fermented grape juice
does not cross my lips.

Some wines don't get written about or reviewed because they are simply sense wasting space on the mediocre. Some wines don't get mentioned because they are bad, but not bad enough to bother warning you about. But most don't get written about simply because of a lack of space, or because they have no story to tell, or because there's some other wine in my notebook that I prefer.

I always feel bad when I don't get around to reviewing deserving wines. I really enjoy sharing my positive taste experiences. Today is clean out the notebook day. No stories. No winemaker profiles. Just lots of tasty wines. Some are limited production wines from small producers, so if you have trouble finding something call my office for help tracking them down. Call (800) 845-9463, and leave a number where we can call you if you get the recorder. Or E-mail:

Deer Springs 1996 "Monterey" Chardonnay ($8) Really forward, aggressive...pineapple and tropical fruits. Very youthful, but very pleasant. Slightly sweet perception in the finish, but it still works with food. Rating: 84/90

Michael Pozzon 1995 "Napa" Chardonnay ($9) Another bargain Chardonnay. Tropical fruit and serious oak. A little toasty-smoky, but mostly vanilla and nutmeg. Rating: 87/90

Michael Pozzon 1994 "Special Reserve Napa" Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) This multiple medal winner is blended to 13 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent Merlot, and was aged for 18 months in French oak. Intensely flavored of berries and cassis with chocolatey richness in the finish. This one's a steal. Rating: 89/95

Glen Ellen 1996 Fume Blanc ($7 or less) Clean melon fruit with undertones of grapefruit and a hint of new mown grass. Soft but dry finish. Tasty everyday white. Rating: 84/88

Stonehedge 1995 "Barrel-Fermented" Chardonnay ($12) Very rich, ripe and toasty. Flavors of mango and guava and a little fresh pineapple. Round and voluptuous, but with still crisp and refreshing acidity. Exceptional for the price. Rating: 89/94

Stonehedge 1994 "Napa" Malbec ($18) If you're not familiar with Malbec, it's a member of the Bordeaux family of grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and has similar flavor traits. This particular example is more Merlot-like than most Merlots. Soft, velvety and sumptuous. Ripe currant flavor with a bit of plum and black cherry. Already showing signs of developing complexity. Exceptional. Rating: 93/88

Stonehedge 1994 "Napa" Zinfandel ($15) Ripe plum and raspberry fruit. Very nicely balanced; feels good in the mouth. Ripe but not overripe. Hints of pepper-spice in the after-flavors. My kind of Zin. Rating: 92/88

Rutz 1995 "Russian River" Chardonnay ($20) Ripe tropical flavors made more interesting by buttery, vanillin richness. A little toasty-smoky quality in the aftertaste from aging in heavily toasted barrels. Unfined and unfiltered, for those who care to know such technical details. Even though Rutz has very limited production, this wine is available in 20 states including California and Nevada. Rating: 92/84

Rutz 1995 "Quail Hill" Chardonnay ($25) Almost wonderful...but NOT. Based on smell and first taste impression, I thought I was going to like this one even better than the "Russian River" version. Alas! There's an awareness of alcohol that spoils the overall impression. Rating: 82/75

Rutz 1995 "Russian River" Pinot Noir ($20) Because this is Rutz's lightweight Pinot (many of the heavyweight vineyard designated wines are released later in the fall) does not mean it's a wimp. Lovely light cherry and cranberry flavors. Very subtle notes of earth and tar in bouquet and aftertaste. Good with salmon or tuna. Rating: 86/84

Rutz 1995 "Sleepy Hollow-Monterey" Pinot Noir ($25) This is a vineyard with a track record and it shows its stuff here in body, extraction and flavor intensity. Crushed rose and plum with very earthy complexities. Very limited production. Rating: 90/85

Rutz 1994 "Napa" Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) Even though blended to 12 percent Cabernet Franc this is one really big Cabernet. Ripe blackberry, black cherry, cassis and maybe even a little huckleberry in the background, makes for an interesting and complex flavor profile. Chewy body. Pleasant bittersweet chocolate aftertaste; firm tannins; very long finish. Cellar worthy. Rating: 94/85


Blossom Hill 1995 "California" Symphony ($5 or less) We are talking flat-out bargain summer sipper here. It will remind you of Gewurztraminer, with its flavors of grapefruit, pear and lichee and some kind of stone fruit. Nectarine? Peach skin? Something. It's semi-sweet, but manages to remain refreshing. Oh! Symphony is its very own grape variety, a hybrid cross created at U.C. Davis some years back. Find it discounted and buy it by the case for pouring around the pool. It also makes a great base for wine coolers and spritzers. Rating: 86/94


You can still order the complete results of the largest blind tasting (2200 entries) of California wines in the world. The 160 page awards booklet of the Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition is a dandy shopping guide and can be had by sending $6 to: OC Wine Winners, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702.

Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.


© 1997 JDM Enterprises. All Rights Reserved
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Latest Update: September 14, 1997