by Fred McMillin
for June 18, 1998

A Seco Rarin' to Go


The Arroyo Seco wine district is a triangular area named after the Arroyo Seco Creek, a tributary of the Salinas River. Located on the west side of the river, the district's topography and soil distinguish it from surrounding areas. The entire, gravelly region slopes for several miles, providing good water drainage and excellent root penetration.

...Prof. John Baxevanis, Wine Regions of America

The vines in our Arroyo Seco vineyard, Ste. Philippe, are over 20 years old, and grow on their own roots. They have produced some of the best lots that we have blended into our Chardonnay through the years.

...Winemaker Art Nathan

The Rest of the Story

Of course, Art would have loved to produce a wine solely from those exceptional Ste. Philippe grapes, but there weren't enough to make even 500 cases. It would be a masterpiece. Then, two years ago, the winery decided to do just that. So Art hand-tooled the entire process, even purchasing 18 specially-coopered French oak barrels for the batch, etc.

The Wine

1996 Masterpiece Edition Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco
Smith & Hook Winery, Soledad, CA.
Composition—100% Chardonnay
Production—Only 418 cases
Tasting Notes—Intense apple, melon against a lovely vanilla-oak backdrop. My tasters favored it over some very expensive competition.
Food Affinities—Plenty of backbone (13.7% alc.) ... fine for salmon, smoked turkey, veal or pork.
Phone—(707) 935-1711 or (408) 678-2132
Price—$25 range


We mentioned that the Arroyo Seco ("dried up little stream") Creek drains into the remarkable Salinas River...remarkable because it is the largest underground river in the world.

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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