by Fred McMillin
Your wine shop has a display of five California red varietals under $15. Which grape usually is the best? To get an answer, my picky panel tasted an array from my cellar and here is how the varietals ranked.
California Red Varietals|
|1st||And the winner: Zinfandel|
Here are the top-scoring nine bottles, with the best listed last.
Our Nifty Nine|
|9th||Cabernet Sauvignon||Rex Goliath, California, NV, $9|
|8th||Cabernet Sauvignon||Five Rivers, 2003, $10|
|7th||Cabernet Sauvignon||Chateau Julien, 2005, $10|
|6th||Pinot Noir||Queen of Hearts, 2002, $10|
|5th||Pinot Noir||Turning Leaf, 2003, $12|
|4th||Zinfandel||Sobon Estate, 2004, $13|
|3rd||Syrah||Hahn Estates, 2004, $14|
|2nd||Zinfandel Special Reserve||Shenandoah Vineyards, 2004, $10|
|1st||Old Vine Zinfandel||Bogle Vineyards, 2005, $11|
No Merlot, one Syrah, two Pinot Noir, three Cabs and three of the best four were Zins. In this low price range, Zinfandel continues to excel!
None of the Above
The first varietal planted in the Golden State was none of the above, but the MISSION grape. How good was the friars' early wine? Sir George Simpson was the Hudson's Bay Company's rep in California about 160 years ago. After sipping a sample of the Golden State's first varietal, he wrote in his diary, "Politeness alone induced me to swallow it."
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He was voted one of the U.S.A's 22 Best wine writers by the Academy of Wine Communications. 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.
Tasting: Edgar Vogt and Kenny Martin
Statistics: Ruby Dequis
Copyright © 2008, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.
This page created May 2008
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