The terraced vineyards of Renaissance in the winter.
During 2001 we tasted about a thousand candidates for Best Wine. Here are the top bottles, the best of each varietal and the best of other categories. That is, the list shows our best Chardonnay, our best Merlot, etc. It also shows the best Chianti, the best Barolo, etc. The further you go down the list, the higher the rating, until you reach the Best of the Year. So, here's our...
Varietal or Other Category
Lilac Tyme by Casa de Caballos, Paso Robles,
Geyser Peak, '00, $9
Pommery Brut Royal, NV, $25
Sand Castle Winery, Delaware Valley, '95,
$15 (375 ml.)
Rancho Zabaco, Sonoma Coast, '00, $16
Hugel, Alsace, Imptr.- Wildman,
Le Mistral, Joseph Phelps, '98, $25
Dessert Sauvignon Blanc
Errazuriz (R. Mondavi), Chile, '99, $15
Renaissance, Sierra Foothills, '99, $21
Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma County, '99, $12
Hidden Cellars, Eaglepoint Ranch, Mendocino
County, '97, $30
R. Mondavi's Reserve Fumé Blanc, '97, $32
Robert Mondavi, '98, $20
By La Spinona, Italy (Imptr.—Wildman),
Steele, Clear Lake, '97, $16
By DeRose, Cienega Valley, '98, $20
Rosemount, Orange Vineyard, Australia,
By Santi, Italy, Imp.-Wildman, '96, $50
By Trinchero Family, '98, $12
"La Vita" by Bargetto, Santa Cruz Mountains,
Port Dessert Wine
Guenoc Vintage 1997, $35
Renaissance, Sierra Foothills, 00, $19.50
Marimar Torres Russian River Valley, 1999,
Rosemount's Balmoral, '98, $50
Maison Surrenne "Legacy XO" (Germain-Robin),
NV, $100 France
Blend of Bordeaux varietals
"Orropas" by St. Clement, Napa Valley,
Folie à Deux, Harvey Vineyard, Amador
County, '98, $28
Dutch Henry, Napa Valley, '98, $28
Late Harvest, Kendall-Jackson, '97, $20
Surprises So Far
St. Clement produced a top contender for our Best Wine of the Year.
1. Viognier ranked higher than Chardonnay in my blind tastings. (I'm a shameless Viognier booster.)
2. The Rancho Zabaco (Sonoma) Pinot Gris whipped a large number of native Gris/Grigio from France and Italy! Try it.
3. The little-known Negrette out-scored 14 bigger names.
4. Those old-vine Zinfandels really are better. The Folie à Deux Harvey Vineyard is one hundred twenty-nine years old!
Now, on to our...
Wine of the Year
It's the $120 Reserve Napa Valley 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon of Robert Mondavi. America's esteemed critic Robert Parker, Jr.'s opinion: "Explosive richness, marvelous extract, superb purity, impeccably well balanced." Little wonder that my panel gave it a near-perfect 98.
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. 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.