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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for December 27, 2001


One in a Thousand...

Our Best Wine of the Year


Renaissance in the winter.

The terraced vineyards of Renaissance in the winter.

During 2001 we tasted about a thousand candidates for Best Wine. Here are the top bottles, the best of each varietal and the best of other categories. That is, the list shows our best Chardonnay, our best Merlot, etc. It also shows the best Chianti, the best Barolo, etc. The further you go down the list, the higher the rating, until you reach the Best of the Year. So, here's our...


Thirsty Thirty

Rank   Varietal or Other Category Winery, Etc.
30th - Pink Lilac Tyme by Casa de Caballos, Paso Robles, '00, $15
29th - Gewürztraminer Geyser Peak, '00, $9
28th - Champagne Pommery Brut Royal, NV, $25
27th - Dessert Riesling Sand Castle Winery, Delaware Valley, '95, $15 (375 ml.)
26th - Pinot Gris Rancho Zabaco, Sonoma Coast, '00, $16
25th - Pinot Blanc Hugel, Alsace, Imptr.- Wildman, '99, $12
24th - Rhone Blend Le Mistral, Joseph Phelps, '98, $25
23rd - Dessert Sauvignon Blanc Errazuriz (R. Mondavi), Chile, '99, $15 (375 ml.)
22nd - Sangiovese Renaissance, Sierra Foothills, '99, $21
21st - Johannisberg Riesling Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma County, '99, $12
20th - Petite Sirah Hidden Cellars, Eaglepoint Ranch, Mendocino County, '97, $30
19th - Sauvignon Blanc R. Mondavi's Reserve Fumé Blanc, '97, $32
18th - Barbera Robert Mondavi, '98, $20
17th - Barolo By La Spinona, Italy (Imptr.—Wildman), '96, $49
16th - Cabernet Franc Steele, Clear Lake, '97, $16
15th - Negrette By DeRose, Cienega Valley, '98, $20
14th - Chardonnay Rosemount, Orange Vineyard, Australia, '99, $23
13th - Amarone By Santi, Italy, Imp.-Wildman, '96, $50
12th - Dessert Moscato By Trinchero Family, '98, $12
11th - Cal-Ital Red "La Vita" by Bargetto, Santa Cruz Mountains, '97, $50
10th - Port Dessert Wine Guenoc Vintage 1997, $35
9th - Viognier Renaissance, Sierra Foothills, 00, $19.50
8th - Pinot Noir Marimar Torres Russian River Valley, 1999, $32
7th - Syrah Rosemount's Balmoral, '98, $50
6th - Cognac Maison Surrenne "Legacy XO" (Germain-Robin), NV, $100 France
5th - Blend of Bordeaux varietals "Orropas" by St. Clement, Napa Valley, 99, $50
4th - Zinfandel Folie à Deux, Harvey Vineyard, Amador County, '98, $28
3rd - Merlot Dutch Henry, Napa Valley, '98, $28
2nd - Dessert Chardonnay Late Harvest, Kendall-Jackson, '97, $20 (375 m1.)

Surprises So Far

St. Clement

St. Clement produced a top contender for our Best Wine of the Year.

1. Viognier ranked higher than Chardonnay in my blind tastings. (I'm a shameless Viognier booster.)

2. The Rancho Zabaco (Sonoma) Pinot Gris whipped a large number of native Gris/Grigio from France and Italy! Try it.

3. The little-known Negrette out-scored 14 bigger names.

4. Those old-vine Zinfandels really are better. The Folie à Deux Harvey Vineyard is one hundred twenty-nine years old!

Now, on to our...


Wine of the Year

It's the $120 Reserve Napa Valley 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon of Robert Mondavi. America's esteemed critic Robert Parker, Jr.'s opinion: "Explosive richness, marvelous extract, superb purity, impeccably well balanced." Little wonder that my panel gave it a near-perfect 98.


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