by Fred McMillin
for June 4, 1997

A Chardonnay Shootout

They came from as far away as Argentina and France.
They came from as close as Oregon and California.
They were entries in our annual Chardonnay Shootout.
The tasters were simply presented with glasses of wine, with no clues.

When the ballots were counted, we had a clear winner. The label said "Cave Fermented"...and it's SOME cave. The owners spent more than twenty million dollars to create not just a storage cave, but an entire 45,OOO-sq.-ft. underground winery. ABOVE ground they have 37 acres of outstanding grapes, which they sold to leading wineries (Grgich, Clos Du Val) before their own winery was ready to roll.

Winemaker Dimitri Tchelistcheff made from the grapes what we'll call a 100% wine...100% Chardonnay...100% malolactic fermentation (adds buttery richness)...100% new French oak. The result is a brilliant, bold white wine. Owners William and Leticia Jarvis are very proud of all 1,000 cases.

1994 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Monticello Road, Napa, CA
Contact—Denise Hammerberg, (800) 255-5280

Category: Excellent

Postscript: The Jarvises bought their 1,400-acre estate east of Napa in 1985. They planted Chardonnay that first year, and those vines produced the grapes for this grand '94.

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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