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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for March 28, 2000


The Boss Blew It


"One cold, dark, spooky night in late October 1993, I took the duty of arising at 2 A.M. and doing the pumpovers." (Proprietor William Jarvis)

In fermenting red wine, the contact between the liquid and skins is vital to add color and flavor. The skins float to the top, so liquid is pumped from the bottom of the tank up to the top to wet down the skins—a pumpover.

William Jarvis

William Jarvis at the scene of the crime.

The boss connected the hoses to wet down the cap of Cabernet Sauvignon skins. He had pumped about three fourths of the Cab up to the top when...GASP! He had used the wrong hose and pumped all that Cabernet Sauvignon into the Cabernet Franc!! William Jarvis was sick. What would he tell his sterling winemaker, Dimitri Tchelistcheff? He couldn't go back to sleep.

The Rest of the Story

In the morning the boss despondently told his horrified winemaker that the tank of award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon now contained thirty-six percent Cabernet Franc.

A week later the gloom was still heavy. In the past Dimitri had added as much as 8% Franc to their Cabernet Sauvignon. The blend was worse than the Cab alone, so they had never sold a Cab blend. William's blend was given a wide berth.

Tasting Time

Then one morning Dimitri walked into the boss' office smiling. "The blend you made is great." Eight percent Franc hadn't worked, but 36% made a red with a fresh, fruity zest that hid any harsh tannins. The Jarvis red blend was born. It was named Lake William. Critic James Laube in California Wine agreed with Dimitri. He said Lake William was Jarvis' best wine, rating the first vintage, that '93, EXCELLENT.

Vintage 1997

Four years later, The Lake now contained two more Bordeaux varietals, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It just picked up a gold at the Atlanta Wine Summit International Competition. I quietly slipped a wrapped Lake William into my last tasting of 24 bottles. The winner came in SIX points above the second place finisher...and sure enough, the winner was The Lake. Details...

1997 Lake William red blend by Jarvis
Winemaker—Dimitri Tchelistcheff
Notes—Ready to drink now with beef, pork, lamb.
My panel's comment—"Carumba!"
Contact—Denise Hammerberg, (800) 255-5280, X-105, FAX (707) 255-5282


The Jarvis Newsletter quotes WineDay's review of their Cabernet Franc, which "is super. It can leap tall buildings in a single bound."

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 March 2000