by Fred McMillin
for October 5, 1999


Tough Love



They love wine, the students in my latest class at the Fort Mason Campus of San Francisco City College. BUT, it's a very tough love, as we shall see.

Fred McMillin

Fred teaching
at Ft. Mason.

The Rest of the Story

The 20 wines we studied and tasted included some prestigious Chardonnays, three pricey RESERVE reds and a Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by one of California's top winemakers. What did the class think of them? NOT A SINGLE ONE even made a RECOMMENDED rating. In fact, the class flunked 19 of the 20. However, ONE wine not only was given a passing grade, it received a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. Here it is.

The Head of the Class

1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Cakebread Cellars, Rutherford, CA
Winemaker—Bruce Cakebread
Winery Time with Cabernet—Bruce's parents, Jack and Dolores
Cakebread planted their first Napa Valley Cab vines in 1976. Bruce says this 1995 probably is their best ever. Here are some of the changes he made for the 1995, compared to the highly-rated 1994.
French Oak Aging—Used a higher percentage of new barrels.
Post-fermentation Skin Contact—Bruce decided to follow flavor formation in each tank in great detail. As a result, some of the '95 wine was taken off the skins after only 2-1/2 weeks, other batches remained as long as 4 weeks.
Service—Open the bottle three or four hours before pouring to let the flavors unfold.
Contact—Operations Manager Dennis Cakebread (Bruce's brother), (707) 963-5221, FAX (707) 963-1067.

Note - For more about the winery see these WineDays: "A Cakebread Calmity?", June 2, 1999 and "Highbread Cakebread", December 12, 1997.


If you are interested in our Fort Mason wine classes, FAX me at (415) 567-4468. and whence the name "Mason?" The War Department named it over a century ago in honor of the military governor of California during the start of the Gold Rush, General Richard B. Mason.

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.


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