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"Buy French or California Wines?"

  by Fred McMillin



Should I buy the French or the California wine? Both bottles are the same price, the same year, and pretty much the same varietal makeup...say, $15, 1997,100% Chardonnay, one from Burgundy, the other from the Russian River Valley. My panel tasted 12 pairs, and when we pulled the winners from their sacks, here's what we found. The wines that won their match by the largest margin are listed last.

  Winner Winning Margin (votes) Price Year The Wine
12th - Cal. 1 $15 '96 Chardonnay by Jekel, Monterey
11th - France 2 $20 '95 Chateau Magnol, Haut-Medoc
10th - France 5 $14 '97 Vincent Saint-Veran, Burgundy
100% Chardonnay (Wildman)
9th - Cal. 6 $11 '97 Chardonnay by Hahn, Monterey
8th - Cal. 10 $7 '94 Cabernet Sauvignon by Stone Creek
7th - Cal. 11 $28 '97 Chardonnay by Rosenblum, Loan Oak
6th - France 12 $9 '98 Rosé of Syrah, Chateau Miquel, Languedoc (Wildman)
5th - Cal. 13 $11 '95 Cabernet Sauvignon by Charles Mitchell, El Dorado
4th - Cal. 14 $7 '97 Cabernet Sauvignon by Monterey Vineyard, Monterey
3rd - Cal. 17 $16 '97 Meritage Red Table Wine by Oakstone, El Dorado
2nd - France 23 $19 '97 Pouilly-Fuissé by J.J. Vincent Burgundy (Wildman- pictured)
1st - Cal. 26 $12 '97 Syrah by McDowell, Mendocino


1. California won this contest, eight matches to four.

2. The Golden State's superiority was greatest in the lower price range. There were six pairs of wines under $14, and California won five of the six.

3. Conversely, there were three pairs above $18, and two of those three matches were won by FRANCE!


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