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by Fred McMillin
Meet a Master
The Rest of the Story
Fortunately, I asked Bechtel V.P Joe Battin and his wife to attend, so I would have witnesses who could verify the outcome, be it good or bad.
We all tasted 16 wines, which I poured in another room so nobody could see the bottles.
WINE A—Steve swirled, sniffed and sipped. "Herbal, grapefruit flavors; a Sauvignon Blanc from a cool growing region." Sure enough...it was from a cool area of the Dry Creek Valley.
WINE B—"The waxy texture indicates some Semillon has been added to this Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity has probably been reduced by barrel fermentation." Hey, he's pretty good. The Blanc did have something like 20% Semillon and was 100% barrel fermented.
WINE C—"Typical apple, pear Chardonnay flavors; buttery in the back of the mouth, so there's been malolactic fermentation." By now I was glad I had witnesses, because Steve hadn't missed yet. The wine was a Chardonnay, by Field Stone, and had undergone malolactic fermentation, which converts tart malic acid (in green apples) to the more bland, buttery lactic acid (in milk).
Clearly, Steve is deadly with whites. How did he do when we got to the reds?
WINE I—"The bright clarity indicates it is well made. Tilt the glass and the violet rim means it is quite young. In the back of the mouth, it is pleasantly hot, indicating a high alcohol content." Sure enough, it was a Sierra Foothills Zinfandel less than two years old and with a very high alcohol content of 15.7%.
WINE J—"The aroma is pronounced but not dominated by any one varietal. It must be a blend, probably of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc." By now, the Battins and McMillins are in awe. The Rosenblum "Holbrook Mitchell TRIO" was 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 35% Franc. At the end of the tasting, I asked which wine of the 16 was best, and Steve's choice is our...
Wine of the Day
Clos Du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
Steve won't be there, but if you wish to enroll in this spring's tasting course on the History of California Wine, phone S.F. City College, Ft. Mason Campus, (415) 561-1860, Course #FW3l9.
02/14/00—A Fine Valentine
02/11/00—A Tale of Two Mumms
02/09/00—It Takes a Village
02/08/00—The Flora Aura
02/07/00—The History of Wine
02/04/00—Our Winery of the Century
02/03/00—A No Flaws Shiraz
02/02/00—Monterey On Display
02/01/00—The Ashbrook Outlook
This page created February 2000