On Wine

Wine Ball


Best Wines
of 2011
...So Far


by Fred McMillin


Whites, Sparklers and Desserts

Best Chardonnay:
Under $20: Hahn Estates, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2009, $12
Over $20: Reserve, Jarvis Wines, Finch Hollow, Napa Valley, 2008, $95

Best Desserts:
Under $20: Muscat Ottonell, Targovishte Winery (Bulgarian Masters Vintners), Black Sea, 2009, $9
Over $20: Eisrebe—Scheurebe, J.Phelps Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2009, $50/375ml

Best Pinot Gris/Grigio:
Under $20: Ventana Vineyards, Arroyo Seco, 2009, $18
Villa Toscano, California, 2009, $17

Best Riesling:
Under $10: Targovishte Winery (Bulgarian Master Vintners), Black Sea, 2009, $9
Over $10: Ventana Vineyards, Arroyo Seco, 2009, $18

Best Sauvignon Blanc:
Under $20: Niner Wines, Central Coast—Paso Robles, 2008, $17
Over $20: Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2009, $32

Best Sparkling Wine:
Under $20: Brut Sparkling Wine, Woodbridge Winery, California, NV, $10
Over $20: Blanc de Blanc, Schramsberg Cellars, Napa Valley, 2007, $36


Best Sparkling Wine:
Under $15: Shooting Star (Steele Wines)., Lake County 2008, $14
Over $15: Signature, Deaver Vineyards, Amador County, 2004, $20

Best Cabernet Franc:
Under $20: Steele Wines, Lake County, 2007, $18
Over $20: Will Jarvis Science Project, Jarvis Wines, Napa Valley, 2008, $105

Best Cabernet Sauvignon:
Under $20: Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley, 2006, $16
Over $20: Ferrari—Carano Vineyards, Alexander Valley, 2007, $30

Best Merlot:
Under $20: Shooting Star, Lake County, 2007, $14
Over $20: Founder's Reserve, Steele Stymie, Lake County, 2006, $45

Best Petite Sirah:
Under $20: Glen Ellen Winery, California, 2007, $10/1.5L
Over $20: Silkwood Wines, Stanislaus County, 2007, $39

Best Pinot Noir:
Under $20: Blackstone Winery, Sonoma County, 2009, $18
Over $20: Steele Wines, Santa Barbara County—Goodchild Vineyards, 2008, $26

Best Red Blend:
Under $15: friends.red, Pedroncelli Winery, Sonoma County, 2008, $10 Over $15: Red Duet, Silkwood Wines, Stanislaus County, NV, $17v

Best Sangiovese:
Under $20: Pedroncelli Winery, Dry Creek Valley, 2007, $14

Best Syrah/Shiraz:
Under $15: Pedroncelli Winery, Alexander Valley—Ridge Ranch, 2007, $14
Over $15: Niner Wines, Central Coast—Paso Robles, 2006, $20

Best Zinfandel:
Under $30: Steele Wines, Mendocino Ridge—DuPratt Vineyards, 2006, $26
Over $30: Dry Creek Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley—Somers Ranch, 2007, $34


And a Final Wine Smile

The 1849 California Gold Rush

The '49ers drank Zinfandel and needed clothing, etc. A businessman from the East, Levi Strauss, sensed the opportunity and was a big success, which is not surprising...it was in his jeans!!


Tastings: Edgar Vogt
Statistics: Ophie Mercado


Fred McMillin

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for over 30 years on three continents. He was voted one of the U.S.A's 22 Best wine writers by the Academy of Wine Communications. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

Copyright © 2011, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.

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