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by Fred McMillin
for February 16, 2000


Meet a Master


Prologue

Steve Morey  
It was the first meeting of my S.F. City College class on the history of California wine. A handsome young man, had asked some very perceptive questions during the lecture-tasting. The roster indicated his name was Steve Morey, (pictured), so after the class I asked him about his background. It turned out he was one of a very few U.S.A. Master Sommeliers, and handled the wines for a prestigious San Francisco restaurant. So, I invited him to my home for a private tasting. Here's what happened.


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
For availability, contact Elizabet Skemp, (707) 252-6125


Postscript

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.

 
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 February 2000

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