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by Fred McMillin
for October 19, 1999

 

Reely, Reely BIG

 

Prologue

Early reviews of wine from grape X:
70 A.D.—Pliny ranks the wine from Grape X among The Grands Crus of Rome.

170 A.D.—The Roman emperor's physician, Galen, says wine from Grape X is of moderate strength, good for the stomach and GOOD IN THE MOUTH! (Source—Hugh Johnson's Vintage)

Later review of wine from Grape X:
1986 A.D.—"Grape X produces a very characterless wine...with little aroma, etc."

...Master of Wine Jancis Robinson


So What's My Name?

Ivan Tamas Winery

One of the 1st
Tamas labels (from my files)

I make more wine than any other grape in the world.

I make white wine.

Piece of cake. Must be the noble Chardonnay. NO. NO. NO. Would you believe, it is Trebbiano. (Pliny called it Vinum Trebulanum,grown four miles from Naples.)


How Good is the Wine?

About the quality, are we to believe Pliny's plaudits or Jancis' jabs? Let's talk to the first two vintners to produce a wine in California labelled TREBBIANO.

Ivan Tamas and Steve Mirassou, Sr. tell me how they've made a more intense Trebbie than the Italian model Ms. Robinson was knocking.

Key—Cut the yields. The Treb produces like crazy, spreading the contributions of soil and climate over far too many grapes.

Second—Cold fermentation in stainless steel. The University of California spearheaded the discovery that when the yeast works more slowly, lovely white-grape fruit aromas and flavors appear.

Last—They give it some age, to let the inherently high-acid (tart) Trebbie change into something that's easier on the taste buds; less shock...more echos of Dr. Galen's grape that was GOOD IN THE MOUTH.


Wine of the Day

Tebbiano by Ivan Tamas Winery
Grapes grown in the Livermore Valley, CA.
Comment—You MUST try one bottle, to see what got the Roman Empire so excited. It'll cost you less than $10 bucks...mighty reasonable for such a sip of history...with fish or fowl, and a good herb sauce.
Contact—Steve Sr. or Jr., (925) 456-2376, FAX (925) 456-2381


Postscript

If the Trebbiano grape produces the most wine in the world, why doesn't it line the shelves of the supermarkets in America?

Answer: A huge proportion of the wine is distilled into brandy.

 
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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