by Fred McMillin
for February 12, 1997
The Queen of Chardonnay
Prologue: "Wine was first discovered by a woman." From William Younger's "Gods, Men, and Wine"
The Rest of The Story: No, Simi's Zelma Long wasn't the woman who invented wine, but in 1980 she did create one of America's finest Chardonnays, the Simi Reserve. The experts rave over its intensity and complexity, but does it really taste much better to we ordinary folks that just like a glass of wine with dinner? To find out, I put a bottle of the latest release, the 1993, in with some $15 competitors (the Reserve is $28) in a blind tasting by we "ordinary folks." When I poured the Simi, it stopped the show. Every taster voted it best by a wide margin. Case closed.
1993 Reserve Chardonnay
Postscript: While Zelma remains close to the winemaking, she is now Simi's President and CEO. This led to the professional women's Roundtable organization selecting Zelma as their Woman of the Year. That put her in with some pretty fast company, for whom did they choose previously? Julia Child!
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