by Fred McMillin
for February 12, 1997

The Queen of Chardonnay

Prologue: "Wine was first discovered by a woman." From William Younger's "Gods, Men, and Wine"

The Rest of The Story: No, Simi's Zelma Long wasn't the woman who invented wine, but in 1980 she did create one of America's finest Chardonnays, the Simi Reserve. The experts rave over its intensity and complexity, but does it really taste much better to we ordinary folks that just like a glass of wine with dinner? To find out, I put a bottle of the latest release, the 1993, in with some $15 competitors (the Reserve is $28) in a blind tasting by we "ordinary folks." When I poured the Simi, it stopped the show. Every taster voted it best by a wide margin. Case closed.

1993 Reserve Chardonnay
Simi Winery
Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA
Contact: Nancy Gilbert, (707) 433-6981

Rating: Excellent

Postscript: While Zelma remains close to the winemaking, she is now Simi's President and CEO. This led to the professional women's Roundtable organization selecting Zelma as their Woman of the Year. That put her in with some pretty fast company, for whom did they choose previously? Julia Child!

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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