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"The Best Affordable Red???"

  by Fred McMillin


The Question

Michael Amorose

Grape Guru Michael Amorose.

You're buying a $10 to $20 red wine to drink tonight. Your wine shop has these five varietals on the shelf: Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah-Petite Sirah. Above $30 the Cab blends usually win, but since my budget stops at around $20, are they still the best? Let's see...but first, meet the judge.


The Judge

In the handsome, oak-paneled dining room of the prestigious San Francisco Commercial Club, my host was praising the '82 Reserve Robert Mondavi Cab. When I asked Michael Amorose why he knew so much about it, he replied that he prepared the wine list for the club!

While purchasing wines for a class at the well-known, downtown shop of Fred Foster, I asked how he selected his wines. The answer: "I sit down and taste them with Michael Amorose."

That was 12 years and about 200 wine lectures ago for Michael. Also, the sixth edition of his CATALOG OF CALIFORNIA WINES had just been published. Now, the 1999 GOOD WINES AT GOOD PRICES is out, and is the basis for today's answer.


The Results

I ranked the varietals based on how many were given THREE STARS by Michael. The envelope, please.

Rank Number of 3-Star Wines Per 10 Entries Varietal Avg. Price of
The 3-Star Wines
5th 1.3 Pinot Noir $20
4th 1.9 Merlot $18.60
3rd 2.2 Cab $17.20
2nd 2.7 Zin $17.40
Winner 4.3! Syrah &
Petite Sirah

So the Syrah-Sirah had the most winners. You'll want to buy the book to learn all the goodies, but here are the five least expensive.

5th—$15 '96 Shiraz, Clos du Bois, Alexander. Vly.
3rd—(tie) $14 '95, Petite Sirah, Foppiano Russian Rvr. Vly.
3rd—(tie) $14 '97 Syrah, Qupe, Central Coast, Cal.
2nd—$12 '96, Syrah, Shooting Star, Lake County
Winner—$10 '97 Syrah, McDowell, Mendocino.



The book is Wine, Good Wines at Good Prices. To order send $12 to Gail Unzelman, Wayward Tendrils Newsletter, P.O.Box 9023, Santa Rosa, Ca 95405. I've known Gail for years and purchase virtually all of my old wine books from her.


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