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Copyright © 2016
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for December 2003



What Gift Always Brings a Big Smile?

Answer—A bottle of wine! and here are some great gifts, bottles given top ratings by my classes at San Francisco State University, College of Extended Learning. We've also written a few words that you might like to include on the gift card.


White Wines

White-robed Cistercian monks introduced this variety nine centuries ago. Able to ripen well in some parts of almost all wine regions, it has become the world's most popular white wine grape. The Bottle: Chardonnay by Gary Farrell, Russian River Valley, Westside Farms, 2000, $34

Rapidly becoming one of the most fashionable whites in the wine world, this Pinot Noir mutant now makes Oregon's best white. The Bottle: Pinot Gris by Duck Pond, Oregon, 2002, $12

This variety may be grown legally in only one district of France, Alsace. And some years the Trimbach Estate makes the world's best. The Bottle: Riesling by Trimbach, Cuvée Frederic Emile, 1999, $35


Pink Wines

Winston Churchill said, "I am easily satisfied with the best." He was speaking of champagne by...The Bottle: Pol Roger, Brut Rosé Champagne, 1995, $63


Red Wines

The world's most important red wine grape is a newcomer, orginating some six centuries later than Chardonnay. The monks jump-started both the Riesling and Chardonnay, but not this one. The Bottle: Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve by Jarvis, Napa Valley, 1997, $125

Ka-boom! That was the sound of Merlot exploding onto the California wine scene. Golden State acres: 1980 = 2,700, 1997 = 32,900. The Bottle: Merlot by Cinnabar, Paso Robles, 2001, $19

Philippe the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, named this grape about 1375, which can claim to be the most important variety of the second millennium. The Bottle: Pinot Noir Reserve by Barefoot, Russian River Valley, 2002, $15

1897—California's most widely planted red wine grape. 1997—California's most widely planted red wine grape...and some of those 1897 vines are still yielding fine wine grapes. The Bottle: Zinfandel by Steele, Very old vines from the Catfish Vineyard, Lake County, 2000, $21


And at the End of the Meal

Like Rogers and Astaire, another perfect pair, Stilton cheese and...The Bottle: Tawny Port by Ramos Pinto, Portugal, four years in wood, non-vintage, $14

Cognac, the world's finest brandy, was created 300 years ago. The United States' finest brandy was created 20 years ago. Some critics have called the American product "the best on the planet" Germain-Robin in Ukiah. Start with one of the very affordable bottles, Germain-Robin California Fine Alambic Brandy, $34

If you can't find one you want, fax me at (415) 567-4468 and I'll help.

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 December 2003