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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for February 23, 2000

The Case of the Missing Claret

El Dorado Winery Association On June 2, 1663, the greatest diarist of the 17th century, Samuel Pepys,("peeps") summoned his cellarmaster. Pepys was the proud owner of a tierce (equivalent of about 225 bottles) of Claret. They were to "go down to the cellar and consult about the drawing of it. There to my great vexation I find that the cellar door hath long been kept unlocked and about half of the wine drunk! I was deadly mad at it and examined my people round, but nobody would confess it." Evidently, Pepys' servants appreciated red Bordeaux as much as did their irate employer.

We mention this tale because Samuel Pepys was born on this date exactly 367 years ago. So, tonight's toast to the Cambridge-educated Secretary of the British Navy must be made with a claret. Here's an affordable one, produced from Bordeaux varietals grown in California's Sierra Foothills.

1996 Claret, Coulson Winery, El Dorado, CA
Cabernet Sauvignon from the Von Huene
Vineyard— 40%, Cabernet Franc from the Clos du Lac Vineyard—60%.
5 years in French oak
Fined with egg whites, not filtered.
Winemaker-proprietor—Oregon State University chemical engineer Edgar Coulson added U.C.-Davis wine science courses and after 14 years of award-winning home winemaking went commercial in 1995.
Laboratory Analysis—No problem. Edgar runs a wine lab.
Rating—Every panelist rated it "good" or better. That's unusual, because we almost always have one or two tasters that rain on the parade. RECOMMENDED.
Price—Good value at $15
Contact—El Dorado Winery Assoc., (916) 446-6562, FX(916) 448-9115

Food Affinities

Christopher Driver's Pepys at Table, U. Of Cal. Press, includes dishes for these 17th century recipes:

    Broyled Chop of Pork
    Chicken with Colliflowers
    A Tart of Green Pease

Sounds good, but since the Coulson Claret is gentle enough for fowl, I'm having the "Fricacie of Partridges."

Credits: Andre Simon's The History of the Wine Trade in England, Vol. III

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 February 2000