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Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for January 27, 2000


The Long Shot


Before the large tasting of wrapped bottles, I figured the chances of Bottle K winning were about one in 100. First, it was a Zinfandel and Zins win Best of Tasting about twice a year. Second, the competition included wines that were up to $19 more expensive. Last, it was made by a restaurateur whose annual production was less than 1,000 cases a year. In fact, he called his wine Blockheadia, figuring he was certainly a blockhead for getting into the wine business.

Nevertheless, Wine K won by a large margin. My tasters were anxious to unwrap the bottle.

The Rest of the Story

Micheal Ouellette left his two Boulder, Colorado restaurants in 1988 to become the Managing Partner of one of the Napa Valley's most prominent restaurants, Mustards Grill (love it!). Purchasing wine for his restaurants for two decades had taught him that the reds must have "restaurant- friendly tannins." So, in 1992 he decided to try making his own, with a ton of Zinfandel grapes purchased from Francis Ford Coppola. and here's what noted critic James Laube wrote about it. Winemaker Michael Ouellette's first vintage is "ripe, smooth and polished...well crafted with classy Zinfandel flavors. Mild tannins make it easy to enjoy!"

Since then, Michael has lined up grapes from two 100-year-old St. Helena vineyards, and they furnished the grapes for Wine K. Here it is.

Blockheadia Ringnosii Zinfandel  

Wine K

1997 Blockheadia Ringnosii Zinfandel, Napa Valley
Vineyards—Blakeney, Wollack
Winery Name—Lorenza-Lake Winery
Winemaker's Opinion— "This is a block-buster, clearly the best wine we've ever made."
My panel's comments:

  • Masterful. Agile TANNINS.
  • Big, rich, dark chocolate finish. (Linus Hollis)
  • Raspberry & spice, fantastic depth (Edgar Vogt)
    Panel Conclusion—One of the very top Zins of the last 12 months. SUPER!
    Contact—Stacy Haddock, (707) 963-8593, FX (707) 967-9548
    Price—$25 range


    About those century-old vines, in 1888 America's foremost enologist, Prof. George Husmann wrote, "I have yet to see the red wine of any variety, which I would prefer to the best samples of Zinfandel produced in California." Looks like Michael has made another one of those Best Samples!

    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.


    This page created January 2000