by Fred McMillin
for January 15, 1997

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1992 Cabernet Sauvignon

1995 Proprietor's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

1995 Chardonnay, Central Coast

California Monterey Vineyard Gonzales, CA $6.90

Veteran winemaker Phil Franscioni had seen some rough springs in Monterey County's Salinas Valley, but none more chaotic than that of 1995. Devastating storms delayed the awakening of the vines. In fact, they never did catch up. So, while it was risky, the grapes that made this wine were left on the vines three weeks longer than normal.

Then, aften harvest Phil pulled out all of the stops. He divided the grapes into three cuvees.. Fruit flavors were maximized in Batch A by fermenting cold in stainless steel. No wood was used. Batch B was started the same way, but after fermentation was aged in oak to add vanilla and spice. Full body and richness were the goals with Batch C. Hence, it was fermented in both French and American oak. After that, it spent five months in those barrels in contact with the flavor-enhancing yeasty sediment called lees.

All that work and more saved the day, or rather, the vintage. You'll find delicate apple-grape flavors, refreshing acidity, a bit of vanilla and spice...the wine came out fine, but I'm not sure that Phil's fully recovered yet.

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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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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