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Great White Wonders of 1999

(June 11, 1999) My beautiful bride loves the color red, but she’s allergic to red wine. So when her birthday rolls around, we open up lots of -- you guessed it.

     This year, once again, our wine-geek buddies were nice enough to gather for a blow-out White Night.

10bottleswhitenite99small.jpg (24256 bytes)
WHITE NIGHT LINEUP. Sorry I couldn't nab all the bottles for this shot. It was a rowdy crowd...and thirsty enough to drain a bottle of badly corked '93 Marcassin Lorenzo, while I looked on in horror. For blackmail-quality photos of selected participants, click here.

     Here’s what I took notes on:

*1995 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay (third from right, above) was not at all what I anticipated What would you expect from the long-awaited "White Grange?" Well it wasn’t big, fat and flamboyant, but tight, focused and very acidic. Plenty of oak, but well within bounds. I wonder how much acid was added and how the wine will age.

**+1996 Sine Qua Non Omadhaun and Poltroon (fifth from left) is a nifty double-play. It’s got the sex-appeal of a Chard -- and the slippery mouthfeel of a big white Rhone. Showing better than it was some months ago.

***+1994 Zind-Humbrecht Gerwurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl (fourth from left) is a love-it-or-leave-it tour de force. So fragrant, so intense, so thick, so long, so in your face! You like rose petals and lychee? I love ‘em. I thought this wine blew everything else off the table. But Phylis took two sips, turned up her nose and got back to the Chards

***+1996 Marcassin Gauer Ranch Upper Barn (second from left) is the ultimate Chardonnay power play. Amazing attack, dominates the palate, smothers your senses in tropical fruits. It was showing a few oaky splinters tonight, but I suspect that’s because it’s still very young. The ‘92 Gauer is now at its peak; this one could do with some bottle age too.

**+1996 Kistler Cuvee Cathleen Chardonnay (not shown) falls just a bit short of the Marcassin. Oak-averse folks will say it’s better -- but I’ll just say it’s more acidic, less oaky and not quite as long.

***1995 Kistler Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay (far right) is another winner in the Kistler style that rings my chimes a little harder. Seemed more pulled-together tonight than its younger sibling.

Cristal 1990 Champagne (not shown) disappointed me. Cooked bottle?

And what, you may ask, did Phylis like best? ***1996 Peter Michael Belle Cote! (Third from left.) Yet another strong showing for this very complex, very showy, yet very classy new Chardonnay from Peter Michael.

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