by Fred McMillin
for April 19, 1999


Age Is All The Rage


Clearly some time in the bottle can smooth out a rough red, but does age improve whites? "Most white wines are drunk too soon, before they have fully developed their bottle bouquet and acquired extra layers of complexity and interest."

...Alexis Bespaloff, Wine Enthusiast

"A little age is a good idea for some wines. Two or three years of bottle age can bring out the oak and butterscotch in a brash young Chardonnay"

...Anthony Dias Blue, California Magazine

Kevin Warren & Hector Bedolla

Belvedere winemaker Kevin Warren (left)and Vineyards Operations Director Hector Bedolla (5th generation viticulturalist). They both keep a keen eye on over 500 acres of Hambrecht-owned vines.

The Rest of the Story

So the experts can detect the pleasing changes in an ageable Chardonnay, but how about we normal mortals? My panel tasted blind the same wine on August 3,1996 and Oct. 31,1998. The 26 months in my cellar made a BIG difference that was obvious to both beginners and veterans. In the first tasting, the Chardonnay just made a "RECOMMENDED" rating. In two years, the score increased about 50%...producing a "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED IN ITS PRICE RANGE" evaluation. Here's the wine.

Wine of the Day

1994 Belvedere Chardonnay, Sonoma County
Belvedere Winery, Hambrecht Wine Group
Grape Sources: 2/3 Alexander Valley, 1/3 Russian River Valley, both in Sonoma County.
Composition—100% Chardonnay
Recommendation—Buy a pair of the current release; drink one now and put the other in a cool spot until the year 2001.
Contact—Phone (707) 433-8236, FAX (707) 431-0826.
More Info—See WineDay of Mar. 4, 1997 about Belvedere titled "Bradford Mountain Memories."
Price—$9 in 1996.


About the name Belvedere, Prof. Erwin Gudde wrote that it is a place name of Italian origin, meaning "beautiful place." The Marin County town of that name was founded about 1890. The winery of that name was founded in 1979.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.


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