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by Fred McMillin
Best Chardonnay? Best Merlot?
Handley, Anderson Valley,Mendocino County '98, $13
($8 Gewurz, Meridian)
|8th||-|| Johannisberg Riesling,
Sattui, Napa Valley, '98, $13.75
($9 J. Riesling, Jekel)
|7th||-||Viognier, Joseph Phelps,
Napa Valley, '98, $30
(none below $10 so no Best Buy)
|6th||-||Sauvignon Blanc, Yorkville
Winery, Randall Hill Vineyard, '97, $1O
($7 Sauvignon Blanc, Parducci)...both in Mendocino County.
|5th||-||Symphony, (or "Obsession"),
Ironstone Vineyards, California, '99, $7
("Obsession" is also the Best Buy at $7.)
|4th||-||Pinot Gris Reserve,
King Estate, Oregon, '98, $18
($9 Pinot Gris, Duck Pond)
|3rd||-||(dessert) Icewine, Inniskillin,
Niagara Peninsula, Canada, '97, $75—375 ml.
($5 Muscato—dessert—Sutter Home)
Brut Reserve Champagne, Clicquot, Reims, France, 1988, $65
($8 Barefoot Bubbly)
Joseph Phelps, Napa Valley, '97, $40
($6 Chardonnay, Rivefort de France—Beringer)
|9th||-|| Pink (Nebbiolo Rosato),
Montevina, Amador County, '99, $16
($6 White Merlot, Beringer)
Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, '97, $30
(No Best Buy)
|7th||-||Dessert (Late-Harvest Zinfandel),
Rosenblum, California, '95, $15—375 ml.
(No Best Buy)
|6th||-||Merlot, Peju Province,
Napa Valley, '97, $35
($10 Merlot Farallon)
|5th||-||Shiraz (Syrah), Wolf
Blass Presidents Selection, Australia, '96, $18
($9 Carramar Shiraz, Australia)
|4th||-||Zinfandel, Gary Farrell,
Maple Vineyard, Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley, '97, $30
($9 Ironstone Zin)
|3rd||-||Meritage red Bordeaux varietal
blend, Oroppas, St. Clement, Napa Valley 1998, $45
(No Best Buy)
|2nd||-||Pinot Noir, Gary Farrell,
Rochioli Vineyard, Sonoma's Russian River Valley, '97, $50
($7, Pinot Noir, Monterey Vineyard)
Beaulieu, Georges De Latour Private Reserve, Napa Valley,
($7 Monterey Vineyard Cab)
Donald Ziraldo makes sensational new Icewines.
A French Champagne beat a large number of California sparklers.
Australia has done much more work with Shiraz (alias, Syrah) than has California. Hence, it's no suprise that the Aussies won both Best Shiraz, and Best Buy Shiraz.
Canadian Icewine has quickly become one of the planet's best dessert wines. Among the white wines, my tasters rated it above everything but Chardonnay and Champagne.
Conclusion: Napa makes great wines, but they ain't cheap.
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 January 2001