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Tasting Notes

November 17, 1994|DAN BERGER

1991 S. Anderson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon "Richard Chambers Vineyard" ($46)--This Stag's Leap District wine is in limited supply, but it's worth seeking. The aroma has currants and berries with traces of cedar, sandalwood and spices. The finish is almost sweet it's so complete. The 20-acre Chambers vineyard, shared by S. Anderson and Shafer Vineyards, is one of the budding stars of the Napa Valley and this wine accents fruit, not oak. Expensive, but dramatically good.

*1991 Spottswoode Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($39)--The aroma is ripe and loaded with berry and cassis notes, with the classic dried herbs so typical of the Napa Valley. The fruit is dense in the mouth, but there is a grace rarely found in such a deeply flavored wine. As good as Cabernet as I have had in the last two years.

* 1993 Fess Parker Vineyards Pinot Noir ($15)--The former screen and television star (Davey Crockett) has made a striking statement off with this handsome, fruity wine from his Santa Barbara County vineyard that leaps into the league with the best of the region. The aromas are cherry, strawberry and cranberry, and the wine has so much fruit it almost tastes sweet, with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg in the delicate yet long finish. Marvelous depth and complexity here.

* 1992 Armida Vineyards Chardonnay ($11)--Delicious spiced pear and apple aroma, a hint of toast from oak aging, and a fresh, mouthwatering fruitiness in the aftertaste. A broadly appealing wine that doesn't have the buttery or butterscotch-y taste some people like, but it goes with a wide variety of foods.

* 1990 Iron Horse Vineyards Cabernets ($16)--A combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this is the best such blend yet made by winemaker Forest Tancer off his family-owned T-bar-T ranch in Alexander Valley. The fruit is deep and rich with cassis, anise and blackberry aromas; the taste has a mint and herbal complexity. The wine is deeply flavored and rich, but not heavy with oak or tannin. A bargain in a wine that should be long-lived, yet is already drinkable.

* 1992 Monterey Vineyard Classic Cabernet Sauvignon ($6)--Surprisingly complex and deep Cabernet character for the price, with traces of herbs enhancing the black cherry and anise aftertaste. An excellent wine with the accent on fruit, not weight.

* 1993 Hogue Cellars Semillon ($7.50)--Spiced pear and melon aromas are dramatic proof that Columbia Valley in southern Washington is one of the blessed places on earth for this grape that is widely planted in France's Graves and Sauternes districts. The wine is dry, but succulently flavored in the finish. A companion wine, 1993 Hogue Cellars Fume Blanc ($7.50) is also exceptional, with pear, pine and dried herb aromas predominating.

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