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by Fred McMillin
for December 6, 2001

Falling Star Chardonnay

Rescue Your Holiday Budget With...

Our Best Buys of the Year 2001


During the year we tasted hundreds of wines priced below $12, and here are the best. The further you go down the list, the more bang for the buck. Grab the current release, if you can't locate the vintage listed...because these are from steady, reliable producers.

Rank   Price Varietal or Other Category Winery, Etc.
17th - $10 French Colombard "Carnival" Peju Province, '97
16th - $11 Sauvignon Blanc Yorkville Cellars, '99
15th - $ 8 "California Champagne" Barefoot Bubbly Brut, NV
14th - $10 Merlot Trinity Oaks (Trinchero), '98
13th - $11 Brightlighter (white) Handley, '99
12th - $ 8 Gewürztraminer Fetzer, '00
11th - $11 Shiraz (Syrah) Beringer Founders' Estate, '98
10th - $ 6 White Zinfandel Sutter Home, '99
9th - $ 8 Johannisberg Riesling Hogue, WA, '00
8th - $ 7 Dessert Riesling Columbia Winery, WA, '00
7th - $ 7 Chateauneuf du-Pape "Tradition" Barton & Guestier, France (Seagram), '98
6th - $ 7 Torrontes Santa Julia Argentina, '00 (Winesellers)
5th - $ 6 Chenin Blanc Beringer, '99
4th - $ 7 Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Creek, '96
3rd - $ 7 Zinfandel Montevina, Terra d 'Oro, '97
2nd - $ 5 Chardonnay Falling Star, Argentina, (Wildman), '00 (pictured)
1st - $ 5 Dessert Moscato Sutter Home, '99


Hogue General Manager Wade Wolfe (left) and Director of Winemaking David Forsyth

Hogue General Manager Wade Wolfe (left) and Director of Winemaking David Forsyth.

1. It's interesting that some of the best types of wine are not on the list, because all those we could recommend cost more than $12. Missing are Viognier, Pinot Noir and Port wines, among others. Also, while they came close, no Chilean or Australian bottles made the cut, as their prices slide upward. A few years ago, Australia did very well as it was breaking into the U.S.A. market with low prices.

2. Going down the list the first eight were from California. But, of the last nine, five were from outside the state, one from France, two from Argentina and two from Washington State.

3. Our Best-Buy Winery of 2001? Beringer won two spots. But the owner of Montevina also owns Trinity Oaks and Sutter Home... hence, boasting four top bottles, our winning budget-saving winegrower is the Trinchero family!


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 December 2001