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by Fred McMillin
for January 3, 2000

 

Our Best Buys of 1999

 
The Trinchero family

The Trinchero family, Bob, Vera and Roger (right) produced our Best Buy.

   
 

Prologue

Of about 1,200 wines tasted this past year, these were the 15 Best Buy.

#15 through #11
Three reds, an exotic white, and the only pink to make the finals. Three are imports.

 
15th - Viognier, Rivefort de France (Beringer), '97, $10
14th - Rose (row-zay) of Syrah, Chateau Miquel, France,(Wildman), '98, $10
13th - Malbec, Trapiche, Argentina (Wildman), '95, $9
12th - Zinfandel, Old Vines, Bogle, Calif., '97, $10
11th - Pinot Noir, Monterey Vineyard, Monterey County, '97, $7
 
#10 through #6
Three reds plus the only Chardonnay and the only sparkler to make our fine fifteen. Again, three of the five are imports.
10th - Chardonnay, Coastal Cellars (Bargetto), Argentina, '97, $7
9th - Merlot, Barefoot, Calif,, No Date $7
8th - Syrah, Delicato, Calif., '97, $6
7th - Brut Sparkler, Codorniu, Spain, No Date, $7
6th - Cabernet Sauvignon, Bel Arbor, Valle Central, Chile, '97, $6


The Final Five

The quality rating divided by the retail price is used to determine the Best Buys. Good white wines generally cost less than good red wines. Hence, it's no suprise that #5 through #2 are white. (There are plenty of good, inexpensive reds in this month's annex.)

5th - Johannisberg Riesling, Fetzer, Calif., '98, $8
4th - Gewurztraminer, Beringer, Calif., '98, $7
3rd - Sauvignon Blanc, Amberhill Calif., '97, $6
2nd - Johannisberg Riesling, Wente, Central Coast, Calif., '97, $6

The Best Buy

This was a suprise. The oldest wine grape in the world yielded the only $5 wine all year that every panelist said tasted good, or even better. The grape is the Muscat of Alexandria and the wine is...

Winner - Moscato (light dessert wine), Sutter Home, '97, $5.
(Serve with sharp white cheese on water crackers, or with un-iced pound cake.)

Postscript

Raisin production in California is big business. In fact, in the 1960s, as many grapes were made into raisins as were used to make wine. The Golden State raisin business was started by the legendary Count Agoston Haraszthy in the 1850s when he brought from Europe...The Muscat of Alexandria.

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created January 2000

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