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September 4, 2017
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VINO FINO TASTERS
1997 SAUTERNES
July 18, 2001

Taking a break from the "usual" tasting featuring Cabernets and Chardonnays, host Mark Naismith opted for something "completely different" as the Vino Fino tasters sampled a set of Sauternes from the very fine 1997 vintage.

The 1997 growing season started early and held great promise for the Cabernet and Merlot-based red wines.  A cool summer and tropical conditions in August caused some problems in the vineyards.  

The producers in Sauternes and Barsac view 1997 as a very fine vintage, close to 1990 and 1989 in quality.  The wines from estates which sorted rigorously are excellent, big, rich and intense.




Here's what we found:

The Wines Gerald's Rank GROUP RANK TOTAL POINTS 1sts/2nds/
Lasts
Chteau CLIMENS
Barsac
$75
3 6 71 0/1/2
Chteau COUTET
Barsac
$42
4 2 47 2/2/1
Castelnau de SUDUIRAUT
2nd label of Chteau Suduiraut
Sauternes
$26
7 8 77 0/0/3
Chteau
DOISY-V
DRINES
Sauternes
$48
2 4 48 3/1/1
Chteau NAIRAC
Barsac
$54
1 1 44 4/3/1
Chteau
RABAUD-PROMIS
Sauternes
$33
5 7 74 0/2/3
Chteau RIEUSSEC
Sauternes
$67
8 5 59 1/2/1
Chteau SUDUIRAUT
Sauternes
$45
6 3 48 3/2/1

 

The results show the wines in the "upper division" were rather closely grouped.  Three wines did not fare particularly well in the statistics, one was in the middle of the pack and the first four wines were separated by a mere 4 points.  One taster could have changed the results significantly!

8th Place:  CASTELNAU de SUDUIRAUT
Showing a waxy, figgy, mildly-honeyed fragrance at first, as this warmed I was reminded more of apples or an apple brandy fragrance.  It's a bit coarse on the palate, fairly sweet with no defects, but not a great deal of excitement given the other wines in this tasting.

7th Place:  CHATEAU RABAUD-PROMIS
With lots of honeyed notes to the aroma, this showed great promise (pardon the pun) on the nose.  It's nicely proportioned on the palate, but not as sweet or unctuous as some others.  I gave it a one star rating (on a three star scale).

6th Place:  CHATEAU CLIMENS
Climens is a highly-regarded estate, but its wines these days are more refined and elegant when young.  As a result, some tasters dropped this in their rankings.  I found it very aromatic and a bit floral with hints of Darjeeling tea on the nose.  It's honeyed and rich on the palate, but not as "fat" as some others.  One-and-a-half stars.


Sauternes Taster Gary Peer


5th Place:  CHATEAU RIEUSSEC
The nose shows some botrytis cinerea (the "noble rot" that contributes some honeyed notes to the fruit), but I felt there was some less-than-noble rot to the fragrance and dropped this down to my last place ranking.  The flavors are honeyed and significantly finer than the notes shown on the nose.  One star.

4th Place:   CHATEAU DOISY-VDRINES
Many Sauternes have a rather high level of volatile acidity as part of their make-up.  This one had the most noticeable level of this "sharp" character in its aroma and yet there was enough honey to the fragrance to overcome this flaw at the present time.  The wine, with aging, may not fare well.  The 97 Doisy-Vdrines has lots of sweet honey and vanillin flavors...very rich on the palate.  Two stars.

Tax expert Tim Zainer Assesses the Sauternes.

3rd Place: CHATEAU SUDUIRAUT
I downgraded this because of its "nutty" aromas which I interpreted as oxidation.  It is big and rich, though, showing honey and lots of fat, ripe notes.  One star.

2nd Place:  CHATEAU COUTET
The aromas not only displayed a honeyed character, but there was a "creamy" fragrance to this as well.  It is exceptional on the palate, big, rich, honeyed, oily and has a very long, fine finish.  Two stars.

1st Place:  CHATEAU NAIRAC
Nairac stood out from the rest of the wines showing a woodsy, vanillin character, most likely due to its aging in oak.  The flavors are big, deep and oily.  Vanillin, orange peel and ginger are components of this exceptional wine.  Some tasters downgraded it because of its lack of structure and acidity.  It was more forward and "ready to drink" compared to most.  That may be a flaw if you're looking for something to set aside for drinking in 2030.
Two stars +.



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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