1998 David Bruce Central Coast pinot noir. This has been lurking in my cellar since about 2000. It's definitely old; it's got that bottle age nose on it. Color's a lovely stained damson brick; smell is lovely. Taste is a little thin and disappointing but who knows, this might get better in another hour or so.
[Update: It got MUCH better fifteen minutes later. Mmmmm. Delicious!]
2002 Ste. Chapelle dry riesling, Idaho. This costs $5 at the supermarket and has absolutely no right to smell as lovely as it does for that amount of money. The sugar level is perfect, it's got good acidity, and it's disappointingly thin on the palate. Still, for $5? What more do you want? This is seriously good value. It was too warm when I tasted it; the bottle is currenly outside being snowed on and may taste better colder.
NV E. Barnaut Champagne, Bouzy. This is one of the best sparkling wines I've ever tasted. You can get this for about $24 at Washington state supermarkets or at Pete's in Bellevue. This is not the silky smooth, toasty biscuit kind of Champagne, but rather the edgy, acidic, lemony, refreshing style... and yet it still has some of that yeasty biscuit smell on the nose. Absolutely brilliant.
2000 Gary Farrell Sonoma pinot noir, thanks to genxcub. This was a seriously lovely bottle of pinot noir, although perhaps not quite as fantastic as his vineyard designated bottlings. Still, a very pleasant experience and all the better because I didn't have to pay for it. Thanks again, Bill! :)
1996 Schloß Saarstein long gold capsule auslese riesling, Germany. Disappointing. Very acidic, not enough sugar or interest to make up for that. No petrol flavors. Infanticide?
NV Pacific Echo brut, Anderson Valley. This is kind of gummi bearish right now; too sweet and simple. I think if you could just leave it in the cellar for a year or two it'd mellow out into something far more interesting. The least expensive serious sparkling wine you can get though [no offense to Spain, but cava just isn't as complex as this]. Recommended, especially compared to other $14 American sparkling wines.
NV Roederer Estate brut, Anderson Valley. This was disappointing, to be honest. This is about $17 but wasn't as steely as the similarly priced Taittinger Carneros. I remember their wine as being a LOT better than this... this probably needs extra bottle age before it tastes decent. Either that or they've changed their cuvée to be sweeter than it used to be. V. disappointing.
2001 Andrew Rich Les Vigneaux syrah, Washington. Fabulous. Fan-fucking-tastic. Somewhere between cool and warm climate shiraz, subtle French oak, absolutely beautiful from start to finish. I can't wait to try his other wines... just wish they were somewhat less expensive. Worth every penny of the $20 we paid though.
2002 Bonny Doon l'Etoile II [dry muscat], Monterey county. This is such a trifle of thing, but beautiful regardless. Made in a dryish sweet style, this was not meant to last into 2004, and it didn't. We killed the second bottle with my Dad last week, and it was scrummy. I don't know of anyone who makes wines like this; God bless Randall Grahm for doing something different. I am however still scared to try his sweet syrah... *shudder*
NV Bouteille Call port of syrah with raspberry wine added, also from Bonny Doon. This was way too fun. This was a one-off Grahm put together about a year ago, and it's still drinking really well. I don't think you could possibly take this seriously, but mmmm, raspberries, alcohol, and shiraz mix really well. I wish I'd bought more. jcoldrey, we're saving a bottle for your visit.
And finally: Justin 'Obtuse' dessert wine. I don't know what this was, but damn, this was good. What a way to close out a length drinking session with my Dad. We'd spent most of the time comparing a burgundy with the Western Australian Picardy pinot noir, neither of which quite 'did it' for either of us... but this was more than good enough to send everyone to bed satisfied.