by Fred McMillin
for June 11, 1997

The Day Pegase Beat the French


The press and Clos Pegase Chardonnay...

"Well balanced and vibrant"—The Wine Spectator

"Truly world class"—The Wine Investor

The Rest of the Story: World class? I read those words six years ago, so I matched the 1988 and 1989 Pegase against more expensive French Chardonnays. When the ballots were counted, my 55 tasters had preferred the Clos Pegase over the French, 63% to 37%.

About that time, noted critic Anthony Dias Blue was describing the wine as "luscious with toasty pear flavors, great with food." It still is...a stout wine for stout food. The 1994 made an exciting companion for Chef David Mahler's Cajun catfish at San Francisco's Elite Cafe.

1994 Chardonnay, Mitsuko's Vineyard
Carneros District, Napa Valley
Clos Pegase Winery
Calistoga, CA
Phone—(800) 366-8583
$16 range

Postscript: About the words on the label...

  • "Clos" means "walled vineyard" in French. Proprietor Jan Shrem generated the rocks for the stone wall when Napa "Cave Man" Alf Burtleson excavated the winery's wonderful 4,000 barrel, 20,000 sq. ft. cave.

  • "Pegasus" in Greek mythology was the winged horse whose hooves released the spring that watered the vines that produced the first wine.

  • "Mitsuko" is Jan's glamourous wife who could have had no idea what she was starting when in Japan she served him his first sip of...wine!

    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.

  • Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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