On Wine  

A Vintage from Hades?


by Fred McMillin

"California's 2003 vintage overall is one of the weakest in the past decade and a half."      —Wine Spectator magazine

Not all California vintages are good. For example, in our tastings at Fort Mason, two out of three times the 1998 vintage wines scored lower than their 1997 and 1999 counterparts.

So when various press reports trashed the 2003, we set up a tasting versus 2004 & 2002 bottles to see if we had another vintage from hades. Here are the winners of each match, listed in order of increasing price.

On Wine: Rankings
Fred's Tasting Panel Ranks California Vintages
10th '03 Pinot Noir Coastal Ridge, California, $7
9th '02 Syrah Gallo of Sonoma, Sonoma, $12
8th '03 Chardonnay Hahn, Monterey, $15
7th '02 Carignane Frick Winery, Mendocino, $16
6th '03 Zinfandel Sobon Estate, Fiddletown, $20
5th '03 Merlot-Reserve Kenwood, Sonoma, $25
4th '03 Cabernet Sauvignon Simi, Alexander Valley, $26
3rd '03 Barbera-Signature Deaver, Sierra Foothills, $30
2nd '03 Cabernet Sauvignon Valley of the Moon, Sonoma, $50
1st '02 Encounter Gary Farrell, Sonoma, $65


Vintage 2003 won 7 of the 11 matches. My tasters felt 2003 was closer to heaven than hades.


And a Final Wine Smile

Warning: This Simi Cabernet may be hazardous to light-colored clothing.


Fred McMillin

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 San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


Copyright © 2007, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.


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This page created February 2007

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