by Fred McMillin
for December 8, 1997
A Bargain Blanc
The Vineyard: Vines are now being planted in north-to-south rows on a south-facing slope in the sunny Santa Barbara district. Thus, one side of the bunch sees sun in the morning, the other side in the afternoon. Furthermore, leaves are removed several times during the growing season to avoid excess shading of the fruit.
The Winery: If a trace of grassiness is still in the grapes, it won't be detectable after Chuck ferments and ages most of the wine in small French oak barrels.
So, after all this work, how good is the wine? Well, my 18 panelists agreed with Peter Kay that the Meridian Sauvignon Blanc is a fine value. Not only that, they voted it the BEST WHITE OF THE TASTING. Very seldom does a wine under $10 win such acclaim. For example, the price of the five previous winning whites averaged $21.60. But a number of Blancs are now selling above $15, so I'm grabbing Ortman's while it's still $8.50.
Postscript: While his Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc draw plenty of kudos, Chuck Ortman does not live by white wines alone. His 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon won a first at the California State Fair.
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