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VINO FINO TASTERS
1996 ST. EMILIONS
Tasted April 18, 2001


The 1996 vintage is regarded by the producers in St. Emilion as a "Tres Bonne" vintage with 15+ years of cellaring potential.  The wines, though made predominantly of Merlot, were hardly the fruity, roly-poly wines we see from many West Coast Merlot estates.  These were big-structured wines, for the most part and the did have sufficient tannins to warrant serious cellaring.

The terroir in St. Emilion is a sandy alluvial soil, except in the areas bordering Pomerol where it's more gravelly.  The wines, based on Merlot, also have Cabernet Franc, known locally as "Bouchet," as well as minor percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon.  

The estates in St. Emilion were first "classified" in 1955, 100 years after those in the Medoc.  A few different twists are in place here:
1.  The classification is not based on "terroir," but on a tasting of a recent vintage of wine.  "What have you done for me lately?"
2.  The classification is updated on a regular basis, the most recent revision occurring in 1996.
The wines are then classified as "basic" Saint-milion and Saint-milion Grand Cru. Within the "Grand Crus" there is Premier Grand Cru Class grade "A" (Ausone & Cheval Blanc) and grade "B" (currently eleven estates).  There are currently 55 Saint-milion Grand Crus Classs.

My tasting notes and rankings reflect my preference for wines which have a more precocious character, I suppose.

Here are the results:

The Wines Gerald's Rank GROUP RANK Total Points 1sts/2nds/
Lasts
Chteau
ANGELUS
1996
Classe B
5 1 43 6/0/0
Chteau
BEAU-SJOUR BCOT
1996
Classe B
7 8 82 0/0/2
Chteau
CANON-la-
GAFFELIRE
1996
8 6 66 1/1/3
CLOS FOURTET
1996
Classe B
2 5 56 2/3/2
Chteau
LA DOMINIQUE
1996
1 7 72 1/1/4
Chteau
LA GAFFELIRE
1996
Classe B
3 4 55 0/3/1
Chteau
GRAND MAYNE
1996
5 2 46 3/2/0
Chteau
GRAND-PONTET
1996
4 3 48 0/3/1

8th Place: BEAU-SJOUR BCOT
A dusty and somewhat closed or shy nose to this reserved and tannic red.  This estate had lost its ranking as a Premier Grand Cru Class, but regained it with this vintage.  I did not find enough charm or substance to pay much attention here.  Only one taster had it ranked in the "first division" (places one through four), and even then, it was a fourth place wine on their score sheet.

7th Place:  LA DOMINIQUE
This estate is owned by Clment Fayat, owner of Chateau Clment-Pichon in the Medoc, a lovely estate whose wine we like quite a bit.  I liked the more supple texture of this wine, as well as its herbal, spicy, olive-like aromas.  The oak contributes a mocha character to the wine.  I was the lone first place voter, a significant number of tasters finding less to like here than did I.



6th Place:  CANON-la-GAFFELIRE
This winery has a significantly higher percent of Cabernets than the rest of the field, making for a somewhat differently-styled wine.  I am not a fan of the jammy or really ripe fruit character in these wines, something I think is a note this estate's winemaking team strives for.  

5th Place: CLOS FOURTET
I think the Lurton brothers are "dialed in" with this estate.  It is often one of the more showy wines of Saint-milion, having a beautifully cedary bouquet and ripe, plummy Merlot fruit.  The balance of fruit and tannin (capable of 8-15 years of cellaring in my view) is excellent.  


4th Place: LA GAFFELIRE
Located between chateaux Ausone and Pavie, La Gaffelire has been run by the same family for something like four centuries!  Only one Vino Fino taster found something less-than-stellar here.  I liked the mildly dusty Merlot fragrances and the brightness of fruit and silky texture on the palate.  Even so, this shows 8-15 years' worth of tannin.

3rd Place: GRAND-PONTET
I recall tasting some vintages of this back in the early 1980s and finding it to be a nice, showy bottle of wine.  Its style seems similar to what I recall tasting years ago.  It's got a cocoa note to the fragrance and flavor, with a fairly substantial tannin level, suggesting a decade or so of cellaring.

2nd Place:  GRAND MAYNE
I liked the mildly woodsy notes of this cedary, nicely fruity Saint-milion.  I marked it down for being a shade out of balance with bitter, aggressive tannins.  Perhaps these will round out with time.  To me the nose was more impressive than the coarse palate.


 

1st Place:  ANGELUS
This was well-liked by the group, having nearly half of the first place votes.  It is a very nice bottle of wine, having some herbal and olive notes and a touch of wood.  There's a spice note here, too.  Either this is richer than the rest, less tannic or more intensely-"stuffed," giving it an approachability which many favored.  



VINO FINO TASTING ARCHIVE

2007 RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS  February 2010

A RANGE OF FRENCH CHABLIS WINES  January 2010

HOLIDAY DINNER & WINE MARATHON  December 2009

ROSÉ SPARKLING WINES  November 2009

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  October 2009

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  September 2009

GREEK RED WINES  August 2009

2005 BUDGET BORDEAUX  July 2009

CAMPANIAN WHITE WINES  June 2009

MIXED BAG OF CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS  April 2009

RIOJA WINES, MOSTLY FROM THE 2004 VINTAGE  March 2009

NORTH COAST PETITE SIRAHS  February 2009

SYRAH & PETITE SIRAH COMPARISON  January 2009

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2008

MOSTLY 2005s: NAPA CABERNETS  November 2008

SONOMA COUNTY PINOT NOIRS  October 2008

SANTA RITA HILLS -2006 VINTAGE- PINOT NOIRS  SEPTEMBER 2008

NEWLY RELEASED ZINFANDELS  August 2008

WHITE RHÔNE VALLEY WINES  JULY 2008

LOIRE VALLEY SAUVIGNONS  JUNE 2008

FRENCH CHABLIS 2005-2006  MAY 2008

NORTHERN RHÔNE SYRAHS  APRIL 2008

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIRS  January 2008

ANNUAL HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS DINNER  December 2007

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  November 2007

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  October 2007

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO WINES  September 2007

SONOMA'S 2005 VINTAGE ZINFANDELS  August 2007

CURRENT RELEASE (2004-2005) ZINFANDELS  July 2007

ROS WINES FROM ALL OVER  June 2007

ITALIAN LAGREIN WINES  May 2007

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  April 2007

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE PINOT NOIRS  March 2007

MOSTLY 2004 CABERNETS   February 2007

CRU BEAUJOLAIS  January 2007

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2006

CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS  November 2006

PINOT NOIRS of VALUE-PRICING  October 2006

WORLD OF SYRAHS TASTING September 2006

AUSSIE CABERNET-SHIRAZ BLENDS  August 2006

ALEXANDER VALLEY (California)  and MARGARET RIVER (Australia) CABERNETS  July 2006 

CALIFORNIA PETITE SIRAHS  June 2006

2004 NORTH COAST PINOTS and a FRENCH INTRUDER  May 2006

AGLIANICO : BASILICATA & CAMPANIA'S MAJOR RED WINE  April 2006

NERO D'AVOLA - A TASTE OF SICILIA  March 2006

UNDER THE VINO FINO RADAR ZINFANDELS  January 2006

HOLIDAY WINE TASTING & DINNER  December 2005

BUBBLIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD  November 2005

NORTH COAST PINOT NOIRS  October 2005

STATE OF CONFUSION CABERNETS  September 2005

TIM ZAINER'S SIDEWAYS LOOK AT MERLOTS  August 2005

LOIRE VALLEY CABERNET FRANCS  June 2005 

CALIFORNIA SYRAHS  March 2005

2002 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS  February 2005

VINO FINO HOLIDAY WINE MARATHON  December 2004

CHARDONNAYS OF MODEST PRICE November 2004

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO  October 2004

2002 CENTRAL COAST PINOT NOIRS  September 2004

AUSSIE SHIRAZ-CABERNET BLENDS  August 2004

GEWRZTRAMINERS FROM ALSACE July 2004

2001 SOUTHERN RHNES (7 Chteauneufs & a Vacqueyras)  June 2004

AGLIANICO WINES FROM CAMPANIA & BASILICATA  May 2004

MONTEPULCIANO WINES FROM THE ABRUZZO & MARCHE REGIONS  April 2004

SONOMA ZINFANDELS  February 2004

1997 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO  January 2004

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA 2003

2001 CTES du RHNES  September 17, 2003

2000 OREGON PINOT NOIRS  August 20, 2003

WEST COAST SYRAHS  July 16, 2003

2000 Bordeaux  June 18, 2003

2000 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS May 21, 2003

OFF THE BEATEN PATH SYRAHS APRIL 16, 2003

2002 NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANCS  March 19, 2003

1999 California CABERNETS  February 19, 2003

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA December 4, 2002

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  August 21, 2002

CHAMPAGNES & SPARKLERS July 17, 2002

Interesting Paired CHARDONNAYS
May 15, 2002

2001 Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS   Feb. 20, 2002

1999 ZINFANDELS January 16, 2002

HOLIDAY SEASON BACCHANALIA
December 5, 2001

1999-2000 New PINOT NOIRS November 14, 2001

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS October 17, 2001

1998 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 19, 2001

1999 LANGUEDOC REDS August 15, 2001

1997 SAUTERNES July 18, 2001

Mostly 1998 NEBBIOLO June 20, 2001

1999 PINOT NOIRS May 16, 2001

1996 SAINT-MILION Tasting April 18, 2001

CARNEROS CHARDONNAYS March 21, 2001

1984-1985 NAPA CABERNETS/John Vignau Memorial Tasting  October 20, 2000

1997 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS   September 20, 2000

1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS   August 16, 2000

WINES FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: CLARETS  June 21, 2000

WINES FROM UNDER THE TUSCAN (and Umbrian) SUN   Aprile 19, 2000

1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC May 17, 2000

 

 

 

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