This blog and the Grand Tasting at the California Wine Experience have a lot in common. I don’t have enough time for both of them!
Last night was fantastic, with so many outstanding wines to taste, but I just didn’t have time to try all of them. It’s frustrating. The fact that so many people from the U.S. wine trade are also there compounds the difficulty of getting to the wines I wanted to try. I felt like I was on the campaign trail, with all the handshaking and greetings.
Anyway, the two best wines for me last night were the 2002 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Hillside Select and the 1996 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains. The former was so well-defined, with gorgeous fruit and sleek and racy tannins, while the latter was rich and powerful with beautiful fruit and round tannins. I loved the lead pencil and plum character of the Monte Bello. It reminded me of a top vintage of Mouton. Paul Draper of Ridge said to me that he wanted to prove that the 1996 was as good or better than the 1997, even though the latter had a better reputation. No problem, man. Great stuff.
Afterward, I had dinner with some friends at Boulevard. Wine merchant Andy Lench brought a few 1986 Bordeauxs including the Mouton, Leoville Las Cases and Latour. The Mouton stole the show. It was so rich and round and opulent. I didn't remember Mouton 1986 being so friendly and almost jammy. But when I was drinking these wines, I couldn't help but think about the 1996 Ridge. Am I crazy?