by Fred McMillin
for June 28, 2001
Cinnabar Winery—Can You Taste the Difference?
Two years ago, Cinnabar founder Dr. Tom Mudd (Stanford U., laser research) and his veteran winemaker George Troquato (Cal Poly, agronomy) selected the best 10% of their 1988 Chardonnay and designated it their Reserve (200 cases).
In our last blind tasting, we compared it with the 2,600-case 1999 Central Coast Cinnabar Chardonnay. Grapes for both wines came from the same three vineyards. Winemaking for the two was essentially the same (100% Chardonnay, 100% malolactic fermentation, both aged on the lees, etc.) The Reserve did spend more time in the bottle, 12 months vs. one.
The cost is $17.50 compared to $35 for the Reserve. Can we ordinary folks tell the difference? Thirteen students in my last blind tasting gave the answer.
- The 1999 was rated "good."
- The 1998 Reserve was rated thirty six percent higher, and won Best White of Tasting. Case closed!
Contacts—Joe Gargiulo., (707) 762-2700, FX (707) 658-0032. Winery, (408 )741-5858, FX (408) 741-5860.
Yorkville Cellars—Vineyard Talk: Who's Correct???
About Yorkville Cellars in Mendocino County
Version I -(from a 488-page major wine book published by Alfred Knopf)
"In the late 1980s, Ed Wallo acquired a small vineyard once owned by the Konrad Winery."
"He converted it to organic farming methods."
Version II -(from a letter in my files)
"The Konrads never owned that small vineyard"
"Ed Wallo did not convert it to organic farming methods. It was first planted in 1982, and was organic from the very beginning."
OK? Is the book or the letter correct? Did Ed Wallo buy the vineyard from Rear Admiral Edmund Konrad or not? Did Ed Wallo initiate organic farming there or not? Well, the letter in my files was written by...(the envelope, please) Ed Wallo! Case closed,
For quite likely the best organic Sauvignon Blanc you've ever tasted, buy Yorkville Cellars' current release. Ed's office: (707) 894-9177, FAX (707) 894-2426.
Malvadino Vineyards—A Crazy Winery?
"We're the only winery crazy enough to...
...Ann Marie and Dave Adler, Malvadino Vineyards, Sierra Foothills
The Rest of the Story
What's this about? Well, it's about the Mission grape, which draws this kind of critical opinion.
"Wine made from the Mission grape is not distinguished."
Master of Wine Jancis Robinson
"The Mission makes very poor red table wine."
Noted wine historian Charles Sullivan
Now we can understand the Adlers saying: "We're the only winery crazy enough to plant Mission vines in a new vineyard with the express intent of making more Mission wine!"
Why This Mission Madness?
I can give you two important reasons for trying Malvadino Mission wine. First, even Jancis Robinson (above) says the grape has "enormous historical significance." My classes are always glad they tasted it because...
1) It made the first drinkable wine in the New World (about 1525 A.D.)
2) Then it follows that it is the only variety to make wine in the New World from that year to this.
Reason #2 For Trying Mission Wine
I took an assortment of Mission wines to the Robert Mondavi winery and tasted them with the lab enologists. Also, they ran a complete analysis on each. Several of them were judged to be sound and good. (I didn't have a Malvadino at the time.) Our conclusion: While the Mission garnered few honors in the early days, modern winemaking can make a big difference. E.g., the Spanish padres stored their Mission in hides, hair side in; Malvadino uses French oak! Quite possibly, the Malvadino product is one of the best Mission red table wines man has ever tasted. It certainly is worth spending $13 to find out. I'm putting some into my next few tastings and will report back.
Just the Facts
Principal Owner & Winemaker—Rocco Malvini
Contact—The Adlers, (209) 754-1002, FAX (413) 771-0098.
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.
This page created June 2001