Notes from a tasting of American wines.

2012 Jean-François Ganevat Grusse en Billat – interesting starter – don’t get to drink Jura chards very often. Elegant, clean and balanced, not a typical chard nose – citrus (mostly lemon) with a faint intriguing oxidative note, mineral and good acidity in the mouth, medium length.

1986 Monticello Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Jefferson Cuvée – cellared since release, showing a dark garnet colour right to the edge, a nose of cedar and wood smoke, smooth entry, good length. Mostly CS, also 12% M and 4% CF. Classic Napa cab.

1979 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Similar colour, a nose first of caramel and then of dark fruit with a bit of mint. Still tasty, if after it’s ‘due-by’ date.

1994 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – first in the nose was a big hit of menthol, followed after a bit by currant and anise. Bright colour right to the rim with no lightening. Soft tannins were present and the wine had a full bodied smooth midpalate presence and a long finish. Proof that you can make a lovely Cab with fairly low alcohol levels. Randy Dunn was winemaker at Caymus back in the days when I actually liked Caymus, before the Wagners took over themselves and started pumping their wines up into Parkerian behemoths.

2007 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch – I have always enjoyed the Ridge wines, so numerous and inventive, especially with their ATP wines (which we could seldom but locally). This one was 92% zin, 3% petite sirah, and 5% Alicante, and it was similar in colour to the Dunn, but had a far sweeter nose and the ripeness followed over into the palate, but it was not too sweet and the raspberry and vanilla in the nose was pleasant. Medium length, decent.

2017 Bedrock Old Vines Zinfandel – dark wine with a very odd initial nose – metallic like a just emptied tin can. That passed and it became more cranberry scented. Medium body and interesting.

2003 Alban Vineyards Syrah Seymour's Vineyard – a massive bottle (about 1 ½ lbs more than a normal bottle, empty, contained a massive wine with 16.5% alcohol! Deeeep purple (you could almost hear Smoke on the Water starting to play in your head) with a rubber, cassis and smoke nose, ripe fruit, tobacco, black pepper and bitter chocolate on palate. The sort of wine that seems to get very high scores, perhaps just based on the shock and awe principal. Would I buy this? No. Did I find it interesting? Yes, if for nothing else because of scoring an 11 out of 10 for intensity.

2012 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval – D.O.A. Perhaps scared by the Alban?

Merryvale Muscat Antigua – this non-vintage Muscat de Frontignan had a sweet orangeade nose as well as an orange colour. A bit one note, but the high residual sugar was fairly well balanced by the high acidity. When we started in on the cheese, a bite of Bleu d’Auvergne taken with this wine made it snap into focus a bit better.