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by Fred McMillin
for April 2003



So Rare...
Wines Everyone Likes!



* This wine is one of my favorites. (Critic Robert Parker, Jr.)
* This wine is overripe and inferior. (New York Times)
They are reviewing the same wine, a Spanish Rioja.

* This wine has bright fruit and lively acidity.
               ("21" Club wine expert Christopher Shipley)
* This wine is thin and too tart.
               (Wine authority Eric Asimov)
They are reviewing the same wine, a $22 Portuguese red.


The Rest of the Story

It's hard to find a wine that everyone likes. As we see above, even the most educated palates can disagree. In my classes, typically one student out of five doesn't like any wine we pour. Consequently, I note carefully when every member of a class rates a wine better than "good." Here are the last 10 that gained such approval. The very best is listed last. Hence, the further you read, the better the bottle.


Rare Wines...Everyone Liked 'Em A Lot

Rank   Price   Year   The Wine
10th   $32   1999   Sattui Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Morisol Vineyard
9th   $18   1999   Rancho Zabaco Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
8th   $18   1999   Castelletto (Mt. Palomar) Trovato red blend, Temecula
7th   $18   1999   Montevina Terra d'Oro Zinfandel, Amador County
6th   $29   1997   Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Sagemore Vineyard, Columbia Valley
5th   $12   2001   Malvasia Bianca (white), Ca' del Solo, (Bonny Doon), Monterey
4th   $36   1999   Gary Farrell Tina's Block Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
3rd   $14   NV   Ramos Pinto Ruby Porto, Portugal, Importer: Maisons M&D
2nd   $17   2000   Lake Sonoma Winery Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
1st   $50   1998   Bargetto's "La Vita" (Italian varietals), Santa Cruz Mountains


1. Some very good Chardonnays, Cabernets, and Merlots did not make the list. A few tasters are underwhelmed by the stunning, high-intensity types.

2. These results say the selection most likely to please absolutely every guest is a top-rated Zinfandel.

3. John Bargetto's 1997 "La Vita" was a big winner, and so is this 1998. Would make a fine gift.

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 April 2003