Northside SF  

October '09

Wine Report from the Fort
Northside’s ‘Wine March Madness’
By Fred McMillin

Randall GrahamBasketball – Some 64 colleges enter teams in the “madness” tournament, with one emerging as the winner.

Wine tasting – Some 64 affordable California red wines, each from a different winery, were entered in the Northside’s Wine March Madness tournament, with one emerging as the winner.
Here are our 16 best – beating out 48 rivals:

• Barbera Sobon Estate Shenandoah Valley ‘ReZerve’ 2003, $24
• Cabernet Sauvignon Chateau Julien Monterey County 2005, $36
• Cabernet Sauvignon St. Supery Winery Napa Valley 2004, $38
• Carignane Sobon Estate Shenandoah Valley ‘ReZerve’ 2003, $24
• Petite Sirah Concannon Vineyards Livermore Valley ‘Captain Joe’s’ 2006, $30
• Petite Sirah Parducci Mendocino County ‘True Grit’ 2005, $30
• Pinot Noir Bogle Vineyards, Russian River Valley 2007, $15
• Pinot Noir Hahn Estates Monterey County 2005, $20
• Pinot Noir Deaver Vineyards Sierra Foothills 2007, $25
• Red Blend Ventana Vineyards Arroyo Seco ‘Rubystone’ 2006, $18
• Syrah Steele Wines Lake County ‘Writer’s Block’ 2007, $15
• Zinfandel Barefoot Cellars California 2007, $7
• Zinfandel Glen Ellen Winery California ‘Proprietor’s Reserve Old Vine’ 2007, $7
• Zinfandel Dry Creek Vineyards Sonoma County ‘Heritage’ 2006, $17
• Viognier Rosenblum Cellars California ‘Kathy’s Cuvée’ 2008, $18

And here is the winner of the Northside’s Wine March Madness – it scored 91 points!

Red Blend Bonny Doon Vineyards California ‘Le Cigare Volant’
2005, $30

An Irish manmade Cognac?
In 1765, Irish aristocrat Richard Hennessy, who had been serving in the French forces, founded a brandy trading business at the town of Cognac, France. Under his son James, the company expanded rapidly. Today, Hennessy is a leader in Cognac, selling 50 million bottles a year worldwide.
Some time ago my wife and I visited the company and were treated to a tasting from a cellar they called “Paradise.” It had bottles dating back many years. The oldest we sipped was distilled when who was president? Abraham Lincoln!
Postscript: Cognac keeps.


Maggie’s back in town
Maggie Peak is the new representative of wineries owned by leading beverage company Brown-Forman. Among her outstanding wines are Jekel’s Riesling, Sanctuary’s Zinfandel and Sonoma-Cutrer’s Chardonnay. More later.


Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines
… and go to Fort Mason to take a wine class, Saturdays, 1 p.m., 20 wines:
• March 6: California vs. the World – Twenty California wines are compared / tasted with their counterparts from France, Australia, Chile, Italy, and more.
• March 20: Napa vs. Sonoma – A careful comparison of Napa wines with their Sonoma counterparts. Are Sonoma Chardonnays superior?
• April 24: More Basics – More careful comparisons of important varietals.
To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit


A final wine smile
Have you heard about the new cocktail, “The Madoff”?
You go into a bar, order the cocktail, the bartender mixes it with a flourish and drinks it. You are left with nothing.


An extra wine smile
Some vintages ago, I recall having a fine deli picnic at the V. Sattui Winery in Napa Valley. All of which reminds me of W. C. Fields’s comment: “What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?”

Credits: Edgar Vogt (tastings); Ophie Mercado and Ruby Dequis (statistics)

Fred McMillin was voted one of the best wine writers in the United States by the Academy of Wine Communications. Phone him with questions at 415-563-5712 or fax him at 415-567-4468.

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