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by Fred McMillin
for October 2002

Wine

 

A Four-Varietal Shootout

 

"Which California red varietal gets the highest ratings in your tastings?"

—Dr. Alan Greenwald, ON WINE Reader

 

THE PLAN

To get an answer, we set up a tasting of 6 quartets of affordable, same-price bottles of:
     * Cabernet Sauvignon
     * Merlot
     * Pinot Noir
     * Zinfandel

One set was in the $8 range, another about $13, etc. Edgar Vogt wrapped the bottles, my picky panel went to work, and here are...

 

THE RESULTS

    Ranked 4th—Pinot Noir. Scored only one second place.

    Ranked 3rd—Cabernet Sauvignon. Won only two second places.

    Ranked 2nd—Merlot. Picked off two seconds and two firsts.

    Ranked 1st—Zinfandel. Won one second and FOUR firsts.

So Zin did it again. Prior tastings in recent years also indicated that under $25, Zin wins!

 

THE TOP TWELVE

Here are the best 12 wines of the tasting, with the highest-scoring wine listed last. That is, the further you read, the better the bottle.

    Rank—Wine

    12th—ZINFANDEL, Dunnewood, Mendocino, '98, $9

    11th—MERLOT, Delicato, California, '00, $6

    10th—CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Lake Sonoma, Alexander Valley, '98, $21

    9th—PINOT NOIR, Beringer Founders' Estate, '00, $12

    8th—ZINFANDEL, Gallo of Sonoma, Frei Vnyd., '98, $19

    7th—CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Barefoot Reserve, Sonoma County, '98, $17

    6th—MERLOT, Michel-Schlumberger, Sonoma County, Contact—Joe Gargiulo, '96, $2l

    5th—MERLOT, Lockwood, Monterey, '99, $18

    4th—MERLOT, Camelot, California, '96, $13

    3rd—ZINFANDEL, Deaver, Amador County, '99, $19

    2nd—ZINFANDEL, Kenwood, Sonoma County, '99, $16

    1st—ZINFANDEL, Kenwood, Nuns Canyon, Sonoma, '99, $20

 

COMMENTS

* Voted BEST BUY was the $6 Delicato MERLOT.

* Sonoma County wineries had nine entries and six landed in the top twelve.

* Oregon, Chile and Bulgaria all had entries but none won.

 
 
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 October 2002

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