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by Fred McMillin
for March 2002

Wine

 

Star Wars

RISING STAR #1—"Boom! That was the sound of Merlot exploding onto the American wine scene a few years ago."
          —Wall St. Journal GUIDE TO WINE

RISING STAR #2—"It's official: Syrah is hot. The wine press is buzzing, vineyard plantings are up... Whoopee!"
          —SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

 

So which is better? We selected 10 Merlots and paired them with 10 Syrahs of the same price and vintage... our own WAR OF THE STARS.

Here are the ten bottles that won their match. The highest-scoring wine is shown last. That is, the quality improves as you go down the list.

 

The Winners

    10th—Merlot—Chateau Souverain, Alexander Valley, 1998, $17
    9th—Syrah—Rosemount Shiraz (Syrah), S.E. Austra1ia, 1999, $12
    8th—Syrah—Monterra, Monterey, 1998, $10
    7th—Syrah—Beaulieu, North Coast, 1998, $25
    6th—Syrah—Kendall-Jackson, California, 1999, $12
    5th—Syrah—Rancho Zabaco, Sonoma County, 1999, $18
    4th—Merlot—Amberhill, California, 1999, $11
    3rd—Merlot—Trinchero, Central Coast, 1998, $12
    2nd—Merlot—McPherson (Brown-Forman), Australia, 2000, $8
    1st—Merlot— Gary Farrell, Ladi's Vineyard, Sonoma County, 1997, $30

 

Conclusion

* Each varietal won five matches.

* However four of the winning Melots outscored all of the Syrahs.

* So, this blind tasting indicates that while Syrah (chiefly from California) is competitive, the leading rising star is still Merlot.

 
 
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.

 


 

 
 

This page created March 2002

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