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Copyright © 2016
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for October 2005



In California...
Has Syrah Surpassed Merlot?

Year 2001

"People flocked to MERLOT because they were looking for a Cabernet with training wheels."
     —Josh Wesson, Wine Enthusiast

Year 2002

"MERLOT is finito. The hot grape of the moment is SYRAH."
     —Frank Prial, New York Times

Year 2005

OK, OK. Syrah now may be more fashionable but does it actually taste better than Merlot? To get an idea, we matched nine California Syrahs with similarly priced Merlot counterparts. My panel tasted them blind, and here are the results. The best bottle is listed last. Like you, I don't know what we'll find as I type, since my associate, Edgar Vogt, has coded all the returns.


The Results

Rank   The Wine
9th SYRAH by Zaca Mesa, 2000, $20
8th MERLOT by Casa de Caballos, 2002, $26
7th 7th MERLOT by Solaris, 2001, $16
6th 6th MERLOT by Ballentine, 2000, $22
5th 5th MERLOT (Jack London) by Kenwood, 2001, $24
4th 4th MERLOT by Rodney Strong, 2001, $18
3rd 3rd SYRAH by Edna Valley Vineyard, 2002, $14
2nd 2nd MERLOT by Chateau St. Jean, 2002, $15
1st 1st SYRAH (Le Mistral) by Joseph Phelps, 2002, $30


Merlot won 6 out of 9 matches. It ain't finito, training wheels or not.


And a Parting Chuckle

The vintner became ill and his wife rushed him to the doctor, who took one look and asked the husband to step out into the waiting room. Doctor: "It's clearly a case of too much stress. From now on, you must immediately satisfy his every need...when he comes home after work, meet him with his slippers and a glass of his favorite wine, on weekends sit with him while he watches all the sports on TV, and so forth. That is, give up your interests and eliminate all of his stresses. If you don't, he will die!"

The wife thanks the doctor and hurries to her husband. Husband: "What did he say? What did he say?" Wife: "He said you're going to die!"

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 2005

Copyright © 2005
electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc.