by Fred McMillin
for January 13, 1998

Plum's the Word


"Our '95 Sangiovese offers juicy plum flavors."

...Montevina Winery

The Rest of the Story: A student in my Fort Mason class asked if the above description meant Montevina had added plums to the fermenting grapes. Answer: No, the winery means that the 100% grape wine has flavors that remind the taster of plums.

To illustrate the difference we compared the 100%-grape Sangiovese with "Plum Yum," a wine made entirely from fully-ripe Pacifica plums by non-commercial winemaker Jim Nofziger. "Grossman's Guide to Wine" says California plum wines are quite successful, and Jim's is a fine example. Plum Yum has won at least one fruit wine Best of Show for three years in a row. Happily, Jim reports there are 80 gallons of the '97 under preparation. Most of it will be given away for Charity Fund Raisers. Jim's number is (415) 355-2065.

As for the comparison, Plum Yum has surprising depth. It even garnered some Best of Tasting votes in my class. However, the Montevina Sangiovese scored even higher ... in fact, it's the best $12 Sangiovese we've tasted in the last six months.

The Wine:
1995 Sangiovese, Amador County, CA
Montevina Winery
Plymouth, CA
Food Affinities—A medium-bodied red for ham, veal, smoked turkey, char-grilled salmon, pizza
Contact—Stan Hock (707) 963-3104

Non-grape fruit wines can be very good. In his "Essentials of Wine," Robert Finigan tells of being asked to identify the varietal and country of origin of a white wine. "Light, fruity and thoroughly delightful, it clearly was a young California Chenin Blanc. To the obvious pleasure of my inquisitor, actually it was from New Zealand made from kiwi fruit!"

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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