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by Fred McMillin
It's Derby Time
The horses don't get all the glory. We set up our own White Wine Derby. Entries had to be under $15. The two favorites were both 100% Chardonnay. The difference was that entry Sparkle Plenty had bubbles in the Chardonnay. Its rival, Oakey Dokey, had no bubbles but very nice oak. We had four tasters for each quarter mile of the one-mile race. The winner will be our Wine of the Day.
After the first quarter mile—Oakey Dokey has a one length lead over Sparkle Plenty. The four tasters liked Oakey's complexity created by the fact that the Chardonnay grapes came from four northern California regions, the Napa Valley, the Russian River, Sierra Foothills and Dunnigan Hills (northwest of Sacramento).
After a half mile—Sparkle Plenty draws even.
With 1/4 mile left—Sparkle has taken a one-length lead. During the first half of the race, the tasters were the ladies. Now the men have taken over and they are showing a preference for bubbles in their Chardonnay.
The Winnah—Sparkle Plenty wins by three lengths. The male palates chose the bubbles.
Second Place Ain't Bad
We normally don't reveal the names of the losers in our tastings, but Oakey Dokey is such an easy-drinking, affordable Chardonnay we must tell you it is...
'98 Louis M. Martini Chardonnay, $10.50
Now, on to our winner. Sparkle Plenty is...
Our Wine of the Day
Korbel Chardonnay Champagne, $13
When the three Korbel brothers left Prague in 1850 for San Francisco, they knew how to make locks, guns and cigars. They did not plan to make wine. But with land at 35 cents an acre, they bought some 6,000 acres and soon were vintners.
A century after the Korbels boarded that clipper ship for America, the Heck family bought Korbel. Today, President Gary Heck, (pictured), of the next generation is as creative as the founders, lifting annual sales to the 1.2 million case level. (from California Wineries, Vol. Two, by Pat Latimer, who attended our cooking-wine lessons when we gave them in our San Francisco home.)
This page created November 2000