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by Fred McMillin
for April 2006

Wine

 

California Reds—Which Varietal Makes The Best $20 Wine?

The best California red wine is a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. But the cost for the top bottles is often $100 or more. So which varietal makes the best TWENTY dollar wine?

To get an answer my picky panel rated $20 wines from five varietals and here's what we learned.

 

The Results

Rank   Comment
5th - Recommended. Of all things, Cabernet Sauvignon. The name of the best bottle was "Dynamite."
4th - Also, recommended—Merlot. Looks like Bordeaux's best varietals have some pretty stiff competition in the $20 category. The best bottle was by Geyser Peak.
3rd - Highly recommended—Syrah. This trendy red lived up to its notices. The best bottle? Chumeia.
2nd - Highly recommended—Pinot Noir. The top bottle of this rising California star was by Sterling.
1st - Superb—Zinfandel. With lots of help from very old vines, Zins were the clear winner. They were so good, we will list all of the top four, with the best last:
     

• Jessie's Grove, Westwind
• Rosenblum Sauret
• Folie a Deux, Amador County
• Steele Pacini

 

And a final smile...

Devout Franciscan Father Narcisco Duran made California's first brandy some two centuries ago. A peer described it as "double distilled, crystal clear, and as strong as the reverend father's faith!"

 
 
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 April 2006

Copyright © 2006
electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc.

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