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Copyright © 2017
by Fred McMillin
for January 18, 2000
Estimated Tax Payment Due Today
Brandishing tomahawks, the Bostonians disguised
as Indians boarded the English ships in Boston
Harbor. They threw 342 chests of tea into the sea,
protesting the English tax on it. The year was 1773.
The Rest of the Story
Tonight, after mailing my contribution to the
IRS, what wine shall I use to toast that colorful
What was the wine scene in 1773?
Well, my library contains a fragile volume
printed only two years after the Boston Tea Party.
The yellowed, brittle pages, written by London
physician Sir Edward Barry, tell us that the
best red table wines were made from the Pinot
Noir, the wines of Burgundy. Bordeaux clarets
at that time "were usually made with less care
Picking a Pinot
This is a piece of cake. In the past 20 years,
California Pinots have shown remarkable improvement.
There are many good ones.
Here's a bottle that dazzled my tasters.
1997 Reserve Pinot Noir by Cambria, Santa Maria Valley
100% Pinot, 100% from the Cambria Estate, 100% French oak
Owners—Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke
Seminar— I attended a Pinot senimar given by
Barbara and Jess. The production of this reserve
is typical. There were about 700 barrels of
Estate Pinot from the 1997 harvest. They were
tasted as they aged in the cellar. How many
made the final cut and were blended to make
the '97 Reserve? Only THIRTY!
My Panel's Rating—EXCELLENT
Contact—(707) 544-4000, FX (707) 544-4013
Postscript—Barry on Bordeaux
Sir Edward tells us why the Bordeaux clarets in
London were so inferior to Burgundy reds (he
often used "f" for "s"). "The Bordeaux merchants,
encouraged by the great demand for thefe Wines,
began to mix them with Spanish, though there was
a fevere law forbidding this practice...However,
thefe Wines are often more injured, after they
are imported, than they had been in France. Vintners
in London mix them with other fermented liquors,
and unite them by a repeated fermentation...Few
now can even recollect the peculiar tafte of
[Bordeaux] firft growths, or will drink these
wines in their prefent depraved ftate."
Believe me, that Cambria Reserve is not in
a "depraved ftate."
Credits—Diane Bulzomi, Research Assistant
|| About the
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.
This page created January 2000