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by Fred McMillin
Russian Civil War, 1918-1921
...San Francisco Chronicle
Fortunately, California's distinguished enologist did not leave for that great vineyard in the sky for another 55 years, passing away in his beloved Napa Valley six years ago on this exact date.
The Rest of the Story
A San Francisco television station was filming my visit with Robert Mondavi at the winery. Who appeared? Andre Tchelistcheff, (pictured some years ago). (CHEL-a-chev) Impressions...
Here are a few tidbits from the life of...
The King of Cabernet
First Champagne—Andre's uncle had thrown a large party on their 4,000-acre estate outside of Moscow. After the guests left the dining room, the 12-year-old future winemaker and a couple of young cohorts tiptoed back into the room to finish off the bubbly beverage their parents seemed to enjoy. It was much fun until uncle discovered them.
Age 17—The estate is burned to the ground by the anti-Czarist regime. For the rest of his life Andre will recall the transient nature of such possessions. Hence, he never had a large home. In fact, California's greatest winemaker never even had a wine cellar..."just a few bottles under the bed."
The first California wine he ever tasted? In 1937 at a Paris International Exposition, he sipped a Wente Semillon and an Inglenook Gewürztraminer. They had genuine appeal...they were "extravagant."
"When I think about wine, I think in French, not English."
"The best two wines I ever made in over 60 harvests were my 1946 and 1947 Pinot Noir at Beaulieu."
In Paris at a wine institute in 1938, Andre
He had job offers from all, but instead went to work in California for B.V. at $125 a month.
Wine of the Day
And a final quote, "I never claimed greatness except with my Cabernet..."
So, today's wine is 81% Cabernet, produced by his
beloved Beaulieu winery.
Name—Tapestry Reserve, 1996
I like S.F. Chronicle writer Sam Whiting's tribute to Tchelistcheff. "His palate was so refined he could tell whether a wine came from Rutherford dust, Oakville dirt, of a furrow in between."
Credit: Excellent reference ; Robert Benson's Great Winemakers of California
This page created April 2000