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by Fred McMillin
for September 22, 2000

 

Winery of the Week  
 
A Super Second Label


Prologue

Steele Winery  
The phenomenon of second wines was born in Bordeaux in the 18th century. They are likely to contain the produce of young vines together with the least satisfactory lots from older vines. However, second wines can represent good values.

...Jancis Robinson, Oxford Companion to Wine


The Rest of the Story

Those words got me to thinking about a second label that does exceptionally well in our tastings, the Shooting Star label of the Steele Winery. Let's rank the top ten stars and see what they tell us. They are made by one of the very top winemakers in the Western Hemisphere, whose name (and physique) are nearly as imposing as his wines...Jedediah Tecumseh Steele.


The Top Ten

Shooting Star Wines

Rank   The Wine
10th - Grenache, Columbia Valley, Washington State, 97, $9
9th - Blue Franc, Washington State, '97, $11
8th - Chardonnay, California, '96, $14
7th - Merlot, Lake County, $15
6th - Cabernet Franc, Clear Lake, '96, $12
5th - Syrah, Lake County, '97, $12
4th - Syrah, Lake County, '98, $12
3rd - Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, '97, $13
2nd - Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, '96, $15
1st - Pinot Noir, Carneros, '97, $14 (label pictured)

Conclusion

If you want a good red wine in the $12 to $15 range, grab a Shooting Star.


Postscript

    a)Contact: Phone (707)279-9475, FAX (707)279-9633

    b)Why so many Lake County wines? (Originally, the region was the northern part of Napa County.) Well, Jed first achieved fame as the winemaker for Kendall-Jackson in Lake County. When he went out on his own in 1991, his reputation was so great that his first production was sold out before it was made. The next year, he added the Shooting Star label. Most of them were made in Lake County, and they still are.

 
 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. 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 September 2000

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