Click on each wine's name to see its original tasting note.
This 250-acre estate was founded in 1973, passed from the original owners to Japanese drinks giant Suntory in 1984, and then to Beringer Blass in 1997. Cinq Cépages comprises the five Bordeaux grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (76 percent), Merlot (10 percent), Cabernet Franc (8 percent), Malbec (4 percent) and Petit Verdot (2 percent). Winemaker Steve Reeder uses fruit from Alexander Valley, Sonoma Valley, Knights Valley and Dry Creek Valley. The 1996 was Wine of the Year in 1999. 13,000 cases made.
Americans John and Harry Mariani created this estate from scratch beginning in 1978, hiring enologist Ezio Rivella to oversee the winemaking. The work was completed in 1984, and today 2,400 acres of the 7,100-acre property are planted to grapes. Made from 100 percent Sangiovese grown in several estate vineyards, this Brunello spends two and a half years in large oak casks before being bottled. It's the highest rated Brunello normale from Banfi to date. 32,500 cases made.
Nancy and Gary Andrus founded Pine Ridge in 1978, focusing on appellation-based wines. This bottling is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (80 percent) with 8 percent Merlot, 6 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent each of Malbec and Petit Verdot. Winemakers Andrus and Stacy Clark let it age 16 months in French oak, 85 percent new. 5,067 cases made.
Winemaker Dean Sylvester sources grapes from St. Helena, Rutherford, Calistoga, Oakville and Sonoma's Knights Valley for this red, including Cabernet Sauvignon from Whitehall Lane's Leonardini Vineyard and Merlot from the Whitehall Lane estate vineyard. Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot round out the blend. 12,280 cases made.
Dan and Margaret Duckhorn and a group of partners first purchased property in Napa Valley in 1976. For this 1999 Cabernet, winemaker Mark Beringer obtained almost half the fruit from estate-owned vineyards, with the rest coming from other appellations in Napa Valley. The blend is 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 7 percent each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and 1 percent Petit Verdot. 4,240 cases made.
A relatively new project for Piero Antinori, the Pian delle Vigne estate was purchased in 1995. The estate grows nearly 150 acres of Sangiovese, allowing production of significant quantities of this exceptional Brunello. Winemaker Renzo Cotarella ages the wine in a combination of small and large oak barrels. 12,000 cases made.
Acquired by Frescobaldi in 1989, the 373-acre Castelgiocondo estate is one of the largest in the Montalcino area. This wine is 100 percent Sangiovese, aged for three years in large casks and French oak barrels. In 1997, frost reduced the yield to about a ton and a half per acre. Nicol d'Afflitto and Lamberto Frescobaldi share the winemaking duties. 12,000 cases made.
La Nerthe, which dates from 1560, underwent major renovations in 1985 when the Richard family, from Paris, purchased the estate. With 225 contiguous acres under vine, including many parcels that are nearly 100 years old, director Alain Dugas has great raw materials to work with. This Châteauneuf is a blend of 45 percent Grenache, 25 percent Syrah, 20 percent Mourvèdre and 10 percent Cinsault. 17,165 cases made.
Despite extremely difficult conditions in Bordeaux in 1999, proprietor Jean-Hubert Delon and his team managed to make one of the top wines of the vintage. Roughly two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance comprising Cabernet Franc and Merlot, the '99 Las Cases compares favorably with versions from top vintages such as 1995 and 2000. 15,000 cases made.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions