by Fred McMillin
for September 9, 1997
Grgich Chardonnay, Up, Up and Away
Prologue: May 1976—In Paris, Mike Grgich's '73 Chardonnay was competing with the best French bottles. In the Napa Valley, Mike nervously opened a telegram. It read, Stunning success in Paris tasting. You took first place.
The Rest of the Story: Mike had made that wine for Chateau Montelena. The next year he founded his own winery and made a 1977 Sonoma Chardonnay. After release, the wine went up against 220 competitors in the "Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown." It was judged "Best Chardonnay in the World." That did it! The wine world suddenly realized that Mike had an exceptional way with Chardonnay. His '78 was served to Queen Elizabeth II. His '79 was poured for King Juan Carlos of Spain. President Reagan served it to French President Francois Mitterand.
Furthermore, quality has not declined. A few years ago in James Laube's 382 page "California's Great Chardonnays" the author wrote, "If I were forced to choose only one California Chardonnay to drink and cellar each year, it would probably be Grgich Hills." This summer's release is the '95 Napa Valley. My tasters were dazzled...Chardonnays simply don't get bigger and more satisfying than this one. If you've never tasted a Grgich, now is the time to find out what you've been missing.
'95 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Postscript:Correcting the Record—Wine literature refers to Mike's growing up on the family cotton farm near Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Mike advises that the cotton effort was an unsuccessful trial. Grape vines did much better, so Mike grew up working on a vineyard, not a cotton farm.
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