The F&BJ 10 Best Wines of '98
By S. Clemens
1997 St. Valentin, Alto Adige, Sauvignon: Simply the best Sauvignon Blanc of my experience. Perfect balance, structure and high pitched gooseberry fruit. Imported by Brian Larky of Napa. $20.00. Phone 707-257-7453

1994 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Fay Napa ValIey Cabernet Sauvignon $50.00 Stag's Leap's Fay vineyard is a pinnacle of winemaking in California. Vintage after vintage it ranks as one of the world's best Cabernets, showing particularly well in mediocre vintages. With the great 1994 vintage it shies away from excess and focuses on finesse. Power and restraint, a persistent level of intensity, and layers of incredible yet subtle complexity. Cedar, cherry, black currant and French oak, with great length. One of the few wines worth such a hefty' price tag. Phone: 707-944-2020

1997 Hogue, Columbia Valley, #1 Chenin Blanc this reminds me of why I'm passionate about wine. The moment the cork is pulled the aroma fills the room--melon, lime and flower scents come in waves, with subtle depths and light spice. Crisp, dry impression (despite 1.5% residual sugar), tart and refreshing. I can't think of a food this wine wouldn't enhance.  Perhaps the best Chenin of my experience. A great value. 12,000 cases produced. $7.00 

1996 St. Clement, Abbotts Vineyard, Cameros Napa Valley, Chardonnay:  A magnificent achievement, com-bining   power   and finesse.    The  richest Abbotts Vineyard Chard to date, it serves up spice, toast, cinnamon and pear flavors cloaked in silk, with perfect balance, and great length.  An excellent value $20.00 Phone:

1996 William Hill, Napa Valley, Reserve Chardonnay As smooth and sexy as a Ben Webster sax ballad, this Chardonnay is the best Davis has produced in a long and distinguished career. The fruit, a complex melange of melon, tart peach, papaya and lime, is interwoven with vanilla, subtle smoke and leesy spice. It swells out of the glass, and all that the nose promises is fulfilled on the palate. She may spend the rest of her life trying to duplicate this marvel. Phone 707-433-8268

1997 Sobon Estate, California Shenandoah Valley, Rhone Rose: Rose is a maligned category, but this one will make doubters sit up and take notice. A medium-bodied blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, it has an aromatic floral nose, threshold sweetness, bright fruit, and an intensely fruity finish. Only 400 cases produced. $9.00 Phone; 209-245-4455

1995 Pine Ridge, Napa Valley Andrus Reserve: A Bordeaux style blend that would make a Bordelais weep with envy. Like Latour in a good year, this is a substantial yet subtle wine, with firm structure and integrated tannin, showing aromatic cassis, mint, blackberry and oak spice. Impressive now, it will continue to develop over the next decade or more. $85.00 Phone: 707-253-7500

1997 Taltarni, Victoria Australia, Sauvignon Blanc: Spectacular. Great depth and finesse with oodles of varietal character and lay-ers of complexity. Dried marorum and sage coupled with intense fruit-citrus, guava-smoke, and spice. Best with veal, pork, seafood or poultry. Imported by Cbs du Val. $13.00 Phone: 707-259-2200

1996 Archery Summit Arcus Estate,  Oregon,  Pinot  Noir: Extraordinary finesse. Light ruby color, with layer upon subtle layer of fruit, dried flowers, leather and spice. Beautifully balanced, lively and long. Expensive but a real treat. Only 354 bottles produced. Serve with salmon or light curry. 559.00 Phone: 503-854-4300

1994 Domaines Schiumberger, Vin D'alsace, Reserve; A blend of 80% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling and 10% Gewurztraminer, this is a bizarrely wonderful wine-like sticking your nose into a big floral bouquet. Toasty, spicy, caramelly with more layers than a flaky croissant. $18.00 Phone: 877-563-9453

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