by Fred McMillin
for January 28, 2000
Winery of the Week
Phil Baxter, (pictured), does it all at our "Boutique of the Week."
He makes only three wines, Chardonnay, Merlot
and Cabernet Sauvignon. He makes only 7,000
cases a year. It was 1989 when he founded his little
Philippe-Lorraine winery in the Napa Valley.
How did he develop the skills needed for success?
The answer is 20 years in the Valley working
for these masters, Bonetti, Stewart and Webb.
Born among the vineyards of Italy, Bill Bonetti
became winemaker for a large California winery.
However, he wanted to return to what he knew
best...making a small amount of one wine (Chardonnay),
guiding it all the way from vine to bottle.
His Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnays were an instant
success, Think small. Think thorough. Good role model!
J. Leland Stewart
Author Robert Balzer: "Retiring meat-packing executive (Armour)
Leland Stewart moved to the Napa Valley and
bought a small vineyard and a tiny winery."
He was still in his 40s and willing to get
his hands dirty very effectively.
At the California State Fair "the tiny
Souverain Cellars won THIRTY FOUR medals in 10 years.
He thought his best wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon."
R. Bradford Webb
Last but FAR from least was Brad Webb...world-class
biochemist...pioneered the use of French oak with
Chardonnay...brought Freemark Abbey immediate
success by convincing them to limit production
to only the top premium varietals, including a
remarkable Bosche Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
With such mentors, we now understand why Phil
Baxter guides every stage of small amounts of only
Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We
also understand why the last Philippe-Lorraine
awards I've seen were two 91s for the Merlot and
two 92s for the Cab. We'll see how those compare
with my panel's ratings in my next blind tasting.
I would like to include your opinions of Phil's
work in the next article. So get one or more, and
give Global Gourmet your comments.
Price ranges are $16 for the Chard, $25 for the reds.
We will include your name with your comments, if
The winery's name. The first names of Phil's maternal
grandparents?...Philippe and Lorraine.
|| 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