Northside SF  

October '09

Wine Report from the Fort
What are the best California wines of this century in the Northside?

By Fred McMillin

We’ve tasted a lot of wine at the Fort Mason campus of San Francisco City College. Here are the highest-scoring wines of this century:

Second best: Barbera Port Deaver Vineyards Amador County NV, $20. Score was 97.
The best: Merlot Jarvis Wines Napa Valley 2005, $70. Score was 98.5.
Postscript: Of course, we are only one-tenth through this century, so we will probably have a new leader later.Text Box:  

Do you know these answers?
Hint: they are spelled backward.
Question: The first wine labeled Petite Sirah was produced in 1961 by what winery?
Hint: It was located in the Livermore Valley.
Answer: nonnacnoC.
Question: Navarro Vineyards is a premier winery in what county?
Hint: The county was named in honor of the viceroy of New Spain, Don Antonio de Mendoza, in 1542.
Answer: onicodneM.
Question: San Francisco attorney Jess Stonestreet Jackson pioneered the production of Chardonnay with a little sugar in it. He found that the public liked it because it sold out in six months. Who was the winemaker for this early Chardonnay?
Hint: The winemaker founded his own winery in 1991 in Lake County and his first name was Jedediah.
Answer: eleetS haidedeJ.

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What is the mother of Chardonnay?
Harriet V. Hunt and Matthew C. Lawes of the University of Cambridge say in The New York Times that “the mother of Chardonnay is the Gouais Blanc.”
Here are the best offspring of Gouais Blanc that we have tasted at the Fort recently:

Chardonnay $10 maximum
Fetzer Vineyards California 2005, $9
Firestone Vineyards California 2008, $10
Silkwood Wines California 2005, $9
Wild Hare Winery California NV, $7

Chardonnay $20 maximum
Blackstone Winery Monterey County 2008, $12
Dry Creek Vineyards Russian River Valley 2007, $20
Fess Parker Winery Santa Barbara County 2008, $18
Lake Sonoma Winery Russian River Valley 2008, $17
Valley of the Moon Russian River Valley 2008, $16

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An underdog wine is underpriced?
Speaking of Chardonnay, Underdog Wine Merchants (925-456-2500, in Livermore is offering four bottles of Chardonnay at $6 each. The unusual feature is that the four bottles are in one container with a nozzle. Winemaker Jeff Yamamoto says, “The container will keep the wine fresh at least six weeks after opening.” As for wine itself he says, “My goal with these wines is to balance the fruit, acid and oak components in a way that allowed the fruit to shine in the best possible light …” More next month.
The wine: Chardonnay Monthaven Winery Central Coast 2008, $24 (3 liters)

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A blast from the past: The Smothers Brothers Cab
There were only 500 cases of wine produced with a Smothers Brothers label according to my sources. That was in 1977. Imagine my shock when a Northside San Francisco reader donated a magnum of Smothers Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon to our Fort Mason tasting class. Not only that, but in spite of its years, it was still quite good. Little wonder that when the winery’s name was changed to Remick Ridge in 1978, it wasn’t long before it was praised by notables such as Julia Child. The vineyards also appeared in an episode of Seinfeld.

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Classes praised by Thor Rayward, Ph.D.
Dr. Rayward writes, “I have had the privilege of tasting and judging with Fred, and later in concert with Edgar Vogt, since 1992. The classes are noted for their pragmatic, straightforward clarity [that] this wine historian and educator has brought to his faithful followers over the years.”
Here are the San Francisco City College/Fort Mason Campus classes on Saturdays at 1 p.m.:

Spring semester
May 8: More Terms – Taste wines that illustrate the 100-plus terms used to describe wine. More people take Taste the Terms over again because the wines and terms are different each time.

Summer semester
June 12: Basics for Beginners – Learn the five basic types of wines and how they are made.
June 26: Taste the Terms – Taste wines that illustrate the 100-plus terms used to describe wine.
To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit
services/continuing_education.Text Box:  

A final wine smile
When the great Julia Child was asked what was her favorite wine, she replied, “Gin.”

Credits: Edgar Vogt (tastings); Ophelia Mercado (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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