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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for August 2000

Atlas Peak Chardonnay

A Sixteen Dollar Shootout


"Honey, bring home a good wine tonight, but don't spend over $16."

What to buy? To get an idea, we selected a large number of $16 California wines for a blind tasting. Half were white (chardonnays) and half were reds of various varietals. Which taste best right now? Here are the top twenty, with the winner listed last.


The Top Twenty ($16 California wines)

Rank White Red The Wine
20th x   Chardonnay Reserve, Mirasson, Monterey, '96
19th x   Chardonnay, Handley, Anderson Valley, '94
18th x   Chardonnay Reserve, Adler Fels Russian River Vly., Aquarius Vyd., '95
17th   x Pinot Noir, Beaulieu, Carneros '98
15th-tie   x Zinfandel EOS, Paso Robles, '97
15th-tie   x Merlot, Beaulieu, Napa Valley, '97
14th   x Pinot Noir, Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma County, '98
13th x   Chardonnay, Handley Dry Creek Valley, '96
12th   x Zinfandel, Gundlach-Bundschu, Sonoma Vly, Morse Vineyard, '97
11th   x Merlot, Clos LaChance, Central Coast (San Ysidro), '97
10th x   Chardonnay Reserve, Meridian, Coastal, Edna Valley, '98
9th x   Chardonnay, Gundlach-Bundschu, Carneros, Sangiacomo Ranch, '97
8th x   Chardonnay, Oakstone, Carneros, Sangiacomo Ranch, '97
7th x   Chardonnay, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, '98 (pictured)
6th   x Pinot Noir, Buena Vista, Carneros, '96
4th-tie   x Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Charles Mitchell, El Dorado, '95
4th-tie   x Zinfandel, Rosenblum, Contra Costa, Continental Vineyard, '97
1st-tie   x Cabernet Sauvignon, Belvedere, Dry Creek Valley, '95
1st-tie   x Merlot, Charles Krug, Napa Valley, '96
1st-tie x   Chardonnay, Handley, Anderson Valley, '97

So, what do I take home. If we're dining on something that walks on two legs, it's the Handley Chardonnay. If it walks on four, I'll buy the Krug Merlot.



Reds won five of the top six spots. Only three Cabs were entered, and two made the top six.

The cool Carneros district looked good, garnering four places with two Chardonnay and two Pinot Noir.

I see some lesser-known names that keep popping up with successful wines in these tastings...Belvedere, Clos LaChance, Charles Mitchell.

Credits - A thanks to Edgar Vogt, who does all of the heavy lifting in these tastings, including wrapping a ton of bottles.


This page created August 2000