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Wine Report from the Fort
Which is better Syrah or Sirah?
By Fred McMillin

We are talking about Syrah versus Petite Sirah, which is really the old against the new. Syrah originated in ancient Persia hundreds of centuries ago. Only one century ago, geneticist professor Francois Durif created Petite Sirah in southeastern France.
Now Syrah is enjoying many kudos in the press, but Petite Sirah has also been scoring well in our classes at the Fort. Let’s see which is doing better this year. We sipped eleven pairs and here is the winner of each match.

The winners

Under $15
•    Bogle Vineyards California Petite Sirah 2006, $11
•    Parducci Wine Cellars Mendocino Petite Sirah 2005, $11

Under $20

•    EOS Estate Winery Paso Robles Petite Sirah 2005, $18
•    Steele Wines Lake County Writer’s Block Petite Sirah 2006, $16
•    Valley of the Moon Sonoma County Syrah 2006, $16

Under $30

•    EOS Estate Winery Paso Robles Petite Sirah Reserve 2005, $25
•    Silkwood Wines Stanislaus County Syrah Reserve 2000, $25
•    Silkwood Wines Stanislaus County Syrah 2004, $25

Over $30
•    EOS Estate Winery Paso Robles Cupa Grandis Petite Sirah 2004, $55
•    Hagafen Cellars Prix Vineyards Napa County Syrah Reserve 2005, $65 (scored over 90!)
•    Silkwood Wines Stanislaus County Petite Sirah 2004, $39 (scored over 90!)

    Petite Sirah won 7 of the 11 matches. Hooray for professor Durif!

The search for (a) red (wine in) October
Straight from the largest contiguous organic vineyard in the world, the King Estate Domaine vineyard in Oregon, comes the red Pinot Noir that my Fort Mason class rated a rousing 92: King Estate Domaine Pinot Noir 2006, $60

A super surprise

Ophelia Mercado helps prepare these columns. She was born in the Philippines. Her father often took her to his work when she was a teen. Where was his work? Well, it was in a building called Malacanan Palace. You see, her dad was the official cameraman for the Philippines president.
In the palace, Ophelia would also see the president’s daughter. Where is the daughter today? Her name is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and she is now the president!

Right as rain the wines of Spain
    “Spain’s winemakers are progressing with confidence and skills making distinctive, food-friendly wines.”
Wine Spectator

My Fort Mason class fully agreed with the Spectator when they tasted this Spanish wine: Adegas Galegas Rias Baixas D. Pedro de Soutomaior Albariño 2007, $15 (Cornerstone importers), a very distinctive white wine that will go well with salmon, turkey and veal dishes.


Teachers’ pets   
Fort Mason teacher Edgar Vogt and Presidio Cafe teacher Michael Perry have given us three of their pet wines for super sipping.
Vogt’s votes:
(1) Ventana Vineyards Arroyo Seco Pinot Gris 2008, $18; (2) Rosenblum Cellars Sonoma Valley Zinfandel Reserve 2007, $45; (3) Vina Robles Wines Paso Robles Jardine Petite Sirah 2006, $26            
Perry’s picks:
(1) Bloomfield Vineyards Devil’s Daughter (Chardonnay-Viognier) 2008; (2) Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes-du-Rhône 2007, $10; (3) Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet 2005, $45

School is cool
Edgar Vogt and I teach wine classes for S.F. City College each month, Saturdays, 1–3 p.m.
•    Oct. 10 and Oct. 24: Taste the Terms – Taste wines that illustrate the 100-plus terms used to describe them.
To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit

A final wine smile
In the Greenwich Village townhouse of the legendary James Beard, my wife took cooking lessons for eight years, learning classic American dishes, such as Lobster American Style.

Then she wanted to learn French dishes on location, so we headed for Paris where she qualified for classes at the legendary l’école Le Cordon Bleu.

Yet, when I picked her up after the first lesson, she was rather glum. It seems the chef had taught the class how to prepare Lobster American Style!

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 415-565-5712 or fax him at 415-567-4468


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