January 23, 2000

’96 & ’98 Draycott Burge Reserve, ’98 Hattrick, ’98 Fox Creek “JSM"

Well, what started out yesterday afternoon with a wine run and shopping spree at the Wine Library, concluded last evening with dinner for five at Tre Amici Restaurant. The occasion was a birthday bash for “showboat” Steve Levy. Steve’s birthday is actually today but he didn’t have a date for Saturday evening…so, I felt sorry for him and invited him to join Tammy and I for dinner. My sorrow soon changed to bewilderment, as did Steve’s date situation! Over the course of the next hour Steve made at least a dozen phone calls and “waa-laa”, Steve soon had not one but two women wanting to accept his invitation for a date. Don’t ask me how he did it…but somehow it worked.  Not wanting to offend either of the women, Steve asked both women to join him. He’s such a stud! Maybe someday I’ll just have to buy his book “Secret Confessions of the Showboat”. Heck and all I wanted to do was to taste the ’96 and ’98 Burge Reserves side by side. 

Anyway, we all sit down for dinner and start opening the wines. Lets see with the appetizer course, we started with the ’98 Hattrick and the ’98 Fox Creek “JSM”. While I have six tasting notes on the ’98 Hattrick, this was my first note on the newly released ’98 Fox Creek “JSM”. As I recall, I was not moved by the ’97 “JSM”. The ’98 on the other hand is a slightly different blend than the ’97 Fox Creek “JSM”. Specifically, it has more Shiraz and less Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the final blend. It was an excellent bottle of wine as was the ’98 Hattrick but the ’98 Draycott Burge Reserve stole the show! To my notes: 

’98 Hattrick- This decadent and explosively rich wine was a hit from the get-go. What I liked about the Hattrick was the wonderful mouth feel of lush Grenache and Syrah fruit! The wine is literally oozing with decadently rich, ripe, jammy, licorice and black cherry like flavors. It also finishes very well and should drink effortlessly over the next 10 years. My sixth tasting note. Score it “95+”.

’98 Fox Creek Shiraz/Cabernet “JSM”- This wine took a good thirty to forty five minutes to start to come around. The wine is deeply scented and on the palate, it cuts a fuller more complete profile than its predecessor does…the ’97 Fox Creek “JSM”. Like the ’98 Hattrick, there is explosive richness in this wine with a significant depth of fruit, stunning complexity and highly extracted core fruit flavors. Drink it over the next 12 to 15 years. My first tasting note. Score it “96”.

 ’96 Draycott Burge Reserve- While I have ten tasting notes on this wine, this was the first off bottle I’ve encountered. Steve Manzi had previously warned me to be on the lookout for off bottles. Low and behold the next one I taste is off. The wine was not corked, but rather showed disjointed flavors with an almost effervescent fizz on the palate. Steve Levy was feeling a bit sick after this experience. That is until we opened the ’98 Draycott Burge Reserve. 

 ’98 Draycott Burge Reserve- While Rick Burge and Rolf Binder made a sensational ’96 Reserve, the ’98 Burge Reserve is even more profound! The bouquet was singing from the get-go. It offers up deeply scented aromas of sweet raspberry compote, licorice, minerals and exotic spices. In the mouth, the ’98 Burge Reserve shows massive power, extract and grip a la the ’96 Burge Reserve and even offers up a bit more concentration and extract. It is drinking great now but begs to be laid down for a few years. Like the ’96 the ’98 is seamless and bursting with fruit and flavor. This medium to full-bodied wine has only ripe tannins with no trace of harshness. I should add that the wine is so deceivingly forward right now and has the potential to last fifteen to twenty years or more! Probably the finest Burge Reserve that will ever be made! My first tasting note. Score it “99/100”.