The 1985 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva "Tenute Marchese" ($21)--For those who think of Chianti as a simple dry wine lacking in body, this is the wine to change your mind. It is a virtually perfect wine in all respects and an absolute prototype of classic Chianti making. Produced only in the best vintages, the Tenute Marchese is always a great wine, and this one is deeper and more complex than many I have tasted, with a profusion of typical Chianti characteristics, from cherry to anise to a light toasty quality, and an intensely complex finish. There are few wines in the world that represent their region as well as this wine represents the Chianti Classico region.
The 1989 Nalle Zinfandel ($13.50)--Another wine that typifies the region and the grape variety to perfection. Doug Nalle may be the best Zinfandel maker in the state, and this wine, though lighter than some past vintages, is still amply endowed with cranberry-like fruit and a delicate grace note of oak. The tannins are more modest, and the overall body of the wine is more like a Moulin-a-Vent than past vintages. Great with lighter red-wine dishes from roast beef to salmon.
The 1990 Winterbrook Early Harvest Zinfandel ($5.50)--A $500,000 advertising and promotion campaign has been launched to try to convince people that some red wine is best when chilled, and that this is the perfect wine to chill. Of course, Beaujolais producers have long been saying that their red wine is best chilled. This wine has a jammy, Jell-O-like aroma (it reminds me of fruit juice), and the taste is awfully soft and almost sweet. It's better chilled, but not much better.
The 1988 Rutherford Hill Chardonnay "Jaeger Vineyard" ($13.50)--Muted pineapple and other tropical fruit scents plus a note of butter cream, and a taste that's fairly soft. Nice wine for those who like a softer style of Chardonnay.
The 1989 Sobon Estate Fume Blanc ($9.25)--A fresh herb aroma--a trace more herbal than some Sauvignon Blancs--that made me think of sage. There is ample fruit in the mid-palate and a fairly crisp finish. Well made.