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by Fred McMillin
for May 2004

Wine

 

The Big Bargain Battle
(Did France or California win?)

Prologue

"Many people think of France as the home of expensive wines, because so much of its reputation is built on famous wines like Chateau Lafite Rothschild. But France is also home to many great bargains." —Wall Street Journal

The Rest of the Story

So how do the French "cheap thrills in a bottle" stack up with their California counterparts? To get an answer we tasted 12 pairs, matching, for example, French and California $8 Merlots.

Here are the 12 winners, with the highest rated wine listed last. That is, the further you read, the better the bottle.

 

The Winning Wines

Rank   Wine
12th - California—Sauvignon Blanc, Dunnewood, 2002, $7
11th - California—Red Heritage Cuvée, Curtis, 1999, $12
10th - France—Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, B&G, 1999, $7
9th - California—Chardonnay, Talus, 2002, $8
8th - France—Merlot, Fortant, 1989, $7
7th - California—Merlot, R. Mondavi, Private Selection, 2001, $11
6th - France—Merlot, B&G, 1999, $7
5th - California—Merlot, Talus, 2001, $8
4th - California—Chardonnay, Echelon, Central Coast, 2002, $10
3rd - California—Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenet, 2001, $18
2nd - California—Merlot, Ironstone, 2000, $10
 

And we're No. 1!

 
1st - California—Merlot, Wild Horse, 2001, $18
 

The Answer

The picky panel selected the French $7 B&G Merlot as the Best Buy of the Bunch. Other than that, the Golden State had the better bargains with nine winners and only three losers. Merlot fans will be very happy with the $10 Ironstone and the $18 Wild Horse.

 
 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 


 

 
 

This page created May 2004

Copyright © 2004
electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc.

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