by Fred McMillin
for January 11, 1999

 

Win with Chenin


Prologue

Chenin from Clarksburg Chenin Blanc is a superstar in its native central Loire Valley of France.

In California, only a handful of producers take Chenin seriously...particularly distinctive is the Chenin from Clarksburg at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley.

...The Oxford Companion to Wine


The Rest of the Story

So, how does a good Clarksburg compare with a good Loire? My panel tasted one of each blind. Conclusion: Although the California bottle cost only 40% of the French, the rating of the Clarksburg was a very respectable 90% of the Loire (which won Best White of the tasting). So save some money and drink this 90% of a superstar.


The Wine

1997 Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg
Baron Herzog Wine Cellars
Tasting Notes - Refreshing but no harsh tartness. Tad of sugar. Nice change from White Zin.
Food Affinities—Fish and fowl in light cream sauce.
Contact—Kimberly Griff, (415) 346-2929.
Price—$6 to $7


Postscript

Clarksburg, just south of Sacramento in Yolo County, was named after one Judge Clark who settled there as the Gold Rush was starting, 1849. It was made an official viticultural area in 1984. To gain such stature, an area must be distinct from the surrounding region. Clarksburg truly qualifies. It is some 2O feet below the Sacramento River, protected by levees. It has the only vineyards in California where one can look UP from the vines and see the sails of boats pass!

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

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