Northside SF
Wine Report from the Fort
California versus the world — 2011

Northside San Francisco reader Dr. L. Kaminsky asked how well affordable California wines score against bottles of the same varietal and price from any other part of the world. In our Fort Mason classes, we've made such comparisons with wines from 10 other countries including France, Bulgaria, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and more as well as two states, Oregon and Washington. Here are the results:

World whites
• Sauvignon Blanc Monkey Bay Wines Marlborough 2008, $7
• Sauvignon Blanc Cupcake Vineyards Marlborough 2010, $14
• Chardonnay Targovishte Winery Bulgaria 2009, $9

California whites
• Chardonnay Château Julien Monterey County 2009, $12
• Riesling Shooting Star Lake County 2008, $15
• Riesling Ventana Vineyards Arroyo Seco 2009, $18

World reds
• Merlot Vendi, Vidi, Vici, Vini Wines Thracian Valley 2009, $8
• Shiraz Cupcake Vineyards Barossa Valley 2008, $14
• Pinot Noir King Estate Oregon 2009, $27

California reds
• Zinfandel Sobon Estate Amador County 2005, $18
• Syrah Sunset Cellars Wirth Ranch Solano County 2007, $18
• Cabernet Sauvignon Niner Wine Estates Paso Robles 2006, $28
• Pinot Noir Steele Wines Santa Barbara County 2006, $32

California edged the world 7 to 6.

Seating is limited, but learning is not
Enroll in a fall semester wine class at the Fort Mason Campus of S.F. City College on the following Saturdays, 1 p.m., 20 wines, $50 a class.
• Sept.10: Taste the Terms — Taste wines that illustrate the 100-plus terms used to describe them.
• Oct. 8: California vs. the World — Golden State wines compared to others of the same vintage from France, Australia, Chile, Italy, and other wine-producing areas.
• Nov. 5: California’s Five Wine Districts — Learn the state’s five wine districts and how they are different.
To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit Register one week before classes begin to receive a $10 discount.

A final wine smile
Voltaire (1694–1778), French philosopher and satirist, wrote: "Wine is the divine juice of September."

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

Fred McMillin has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents and was voted one of the 22 best wine writers in America by Academy of Wine Communications. E-mail:;
fax: 415-567-4468

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