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by Fred McMillin
for December 16, 1999

 

Top Gun Ortman

 

Prologue

Meridian Chardonnay  
While the public loves Chardonnay in all shapes and sizes, not all critics are as enthusiastic. Examples:

"Experts say that Chardonnays have the flavors of fruit, butter, toast. Sounds like a good breakfast wine."

...Jack Mingo's Wannabe Guide To Wine

"The typical Chardonnay winemaker is more carpenter then vintner, chiefly concerned with oak: how much, how new, how charred, how long a soak? The wine critic, poor sap, must create unique descriptions for hundreds of the wretched concoctions, no matter that they're all virtually the same, varying only in the ham-handedness or SUBTLETY of their oak treatment."

...Willie Gluckstern's The Wine Avenger


The Rest of the Story

"Charles Ortman, Meridian founder and chief winemaker, aims for and achieves SUBTLETY rather than power. And his. '89 Chardonnay, don't faint, is priced at $9.75." ...Bob Thompson, arguably the most careful observer of California wines.


Don't Faint

Ten years later, the Meridian Chardonnay is priced at only $11. Charles' recent letter to me is sprinkled with words like "moderate" and "delicate," spell it SUBTLE. So here's your affordable Chardonnay to serve before and with the first course (potato and leek soup or salmon mousse) of your holiday meal.


Wine of the Day

1998 Meridian Chardonnay
Appellation—Santa Barbara County
Rating—Highly recommended in its price range
Contact—(805) 237-6000, FAX (805) 239-9624 for the winery, or spokesperson Allison Simpson at (707) 963-7115, FAX (707) 963-1735
For More About Meridian:
Aug. 1, 1997 WineDay's,"Ortman's Flight Plan"
Dec. 8, 1997—"A Bargain Blanc"
June 12, 1998—"Death of a Vineyard"
Price of the Wine—$11 range


Postscript

Bob Thompson's admiration for Ortman's winemaking goes back a long ways..."His 1985 Chardonnay instantly made Meridian into one of those names I copy onto a list and carry around in my wallet for about three years in case I run across a stray bottle in a store somewhere. In this case I never did. Rats!" (San Francisco Examiner)

 
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

More articles by
Fred McMillin

 

Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.

 

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