Yes, it was in my possession.

Yes, it was in my possession.

The hundred point scoring system is merely a gauge for determining how much the reviewer that uses it likes the wine, based on their experience and personal preferences. No system, whether it be stars, grades, points or glasses should be used to define a wine, only to define the palate of the reviewer. So, when someone tells me a wine scored a 98, I am curious of course, but not entirely convinced its going to be a great wine. All it tells me is that someone who has tasted many wines in their career liked the wine a lot and felt that it passed certain criteria that they use. I realize having tasted many wines myself, that there are components that are necessary to make it either a mediocre wine or a great wine. Things like fruit quality, tannins, acidity and the integration of all those components. When you find a wine, no matter the cost, that hits all those elements, it is an exciting experience.

As a lot of my readers know, I have a friend (Dionysus) that loves wine and loves to share. His employee ( also a friend of mine), will often get wine from Dionysus and has on many occasions shared them with me. I often wonder why, since some of the wines have just a few sips left, and he could easily take them home and enjoy them solo. Thankfully, like Dionysus, he loves to share and converse with me about the wine that we are enjoying together. Isn’t that what wine is all about after all?

Not too long ago, he stopped by the store with a bottle of ’97 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon with a couple of tastes left that he scored from Dionysus. I was eager to try a Napa Valley Cab that was older than most of the courtesy clerks at the grocery store I work at. It also was given a 98-100 point score from Robert Parker Jr., which merely meant that he liked it quite a bit. I also believe that if someone who has tasted a boat-load of great wines liked it that much, it certainly deserves a try. So, I shared the experience with Bob, and I thought you might enjoy hearing the results.

The wine had been uncorked for a while, so it had plenty of time to open up. It was as smooth as you might expect from a wine with this much experience. Like a jazz piece by Miles Davis, if you know what I mean. No rough edges, just pure smooth. I was particularly impressed with the complexity. Ripe currants, anise, vanilla, mocha and just a hint of herbaceous. It was very close to raisin, but never got there. The tannins were smooth, the acidity was there and not faded into memory…It still had structure, but I felt it was at its peak for drinking. In about three years, it will start it’s decline down the hill into raisin juice history.

Byrant Family Vineyard’s first vintage was 1992 and has become a cult winery demanding a lot of money for a bottle of its coveted Cabernet Sauvignon. A favorite of Robert Parker Jr., garnering some serious scores. This ’97 vintage as I mentioned, received 98-100 points from him. Like many of the pricey wines out of Napa such as Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family Vineyard seeks the services of world-renowned consultant Michel Rolland. Whenever Rolland is in the picture, you can expect a premium price for the wines. In 2014 Bryant Family Vineyard’s wine maker Todd Alexander left the winery to become head wine maker for Force Majeure in Washington State. As he put it, he wanted to make wines that he could afford.

I give the ’97 Bryant Family Vineyard an A-, which means that I enjoyed it just as much as Parker. High-five to my friend for sharing with me, and a shout-put to Dionysus for handing it off. I may never buy a bottle myself, but I am not foolish enough to turn down the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.

Stan The Wine Man

About Stan The Wine Man

I am a blue collar wine guy who has been in the biz for over twenty years. I work at a store in a tourist destination stop. I work hard at finding the best wine for the money. I love the challenge of learning my customer's palate so I can find the best wine for them, whether it is Petrus or white zinfandel. Cheers!
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