by Fred McMillin
for September 30, 1999

 

The Winemaker's Nightmare:
Heavy Summer Rains


Prologue

Bel Arbor 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon  
"In 1997 tremendous rains and flooding occurred in the wine country during the months of July and August, due to the greatest warming of the ocean since 1982 (El Nino)."

...Newsletter, Bel Arbor Winery Hopland, California

The Bel Arbor 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon is the Best Buy in a Cab we've tasted in the past twelve months.

...My Tasting Panel


The Rest of the Story

WAIT JUST ONE DARN MINUTE. How can a crop ruined in the summer of 1997 yield such a good-tasting Cab in 1999?

THE ANSWER—Winemaker Phil Hurst dodged a bullet. Those vineyards we're talking about are in Chile, where you pick in the spring and the grapes were harvested JUST BEFORE the deluge. "I breathed a huge sigh of relief," Phil recalls. So here's the wine that made the GRAPE ESCAPE.

1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle Central, Chile
Bel Arbor Winery, Mendocino County, CA
Best Aspect— As they say in politics, "It's the economy, stupid."...in this case, the price; it's a delicious SIX dollars.
Contact—Sara Moore Cummings, (800) 945-WINE, X-7426; FAX (415) 444-7483.


Postscript

If you pick the grapes in South America, how do you make the wine in California? You don't. Phil ferments and ages in Chile. Then the wine is transfered to refrigerated storage in a ship for the voyage north. It is bottled at the winery in Mendocino.

 
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.

 
 

WineDay Annex

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