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Copyright © 2016
by Fred McMillin
Sign at local wine shop..
All others must pay cash!
The Rest of the Story
OK, already. If I must pay cash, I want a bargain. The bargain is going to be the BEST BUY from my last tasting (conducted by my partner, Edgar Vogt). The wine and I go back together quite a way. Here's my July 2, 1991 comment about it in the San Francisco Independent: Best Buy: Chardonnay by Bel Arbors, Cask 89, $4.30. A good wine at a great price...etc. Before we consider the 1998 vintage, let's check the wine's origins.
Twenty years ago California began producing low-cost, cork-finished wines named after the grape. They were called "fighting varietals." For $5, instead of a "Chablis" you could get a much more prestigious "Chardonnay." Always a leader in the good-value field, Fetzer brought out a new line in 1981-1982.
The name of the lane in front of the winery was Bel Arbres, "beautiful arbor" in Italian. So, the Fetzer fighters' label was Bel Arbres. Too difficult to pronounce, so in my 1991 column it had become Bel Arbors, which later was further shortened to today's Bel Arbor.
But while the name has changed, the label's reputation hasn't. Authors Dan Berger, Charles Sullivan, and Robert Parker Jr. all list Bel Arbor among California's best wine values...Thus, here's today's Fetzer fighter.
Wine of the Day
'98 Bel Arbor Chardonnay (by Fetzer)
The public likes Fetzer wines! A good index is how much equipment it takes to satisfy the demand. Stainless steel tanks—7.7 million gallons, warehouse storage—600,000 cases, Bel Arbor Chardonnay production—122,000 cases.
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This page created May 2000