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by Fred McMillin
for April 11, 2000

 

Clear Lake Takes the Cake


Prologue—Part I

Lake County (north of Napa County) takes its name from Clear Lake, the largest, fresh-water lake in California. Ringed by inactive volcanoes, it is possibly the oldest lake in North America, being about half a million years old.

Due to its high elevation, evening temperatures are very low, and the growing season is one of the longest in the state.

It is the most consistent wine-producing region in California and exhibits unlimited potential.

...Prof. John Baxevanis, Wine Regions of America


Prologue—Part II

"If nominations were being taken for California's greatest winemaker since the 1970s, Jed Steele's name would be in the first rank."

...Noted wine historian Charles Sullivan, Cal. Wine Companion


The Rest of the Story

Therefore, today's wine comes from what will become a great region made by a self-described "1968 cellar rat" who became a great winemaker.

Furthermore, the varietal is right and the price is right...a Cabernet Sauvignon for $15. The label is Shooting Star, Jed's second label which regularly wins Best Buy recognition.


The Wine

1996 Shooting Star Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation—Clear Lake
Critic's Opinion—Robert Parker Jr. recently rated a dozen Shooting Star wines and this Cab tied for the best with an "87"..."purely made, fruit-driven, no hard edges, good structure. Should drink well for 4 to 6 years."
My Panel—Good fruit, muscularity, pronounced plum and cassis
Rating—HIGHLY RECOMMENDED in its price range
Winemaker Credentials—I quoted Charles Sullivan above, who was kind enough to give me a full set of the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. Scanning them I noticed two articles on deacidification of wine by calcium double-salt precipitation. The authors? Noted U.C.-Davis Professor R. E. Kunkee and graduate student Jed Steele (pictured).
Contact—Ph. (707 )279-9475, FAX (707) 279-9633
Price—$15 range


Postscript

Jed claims the Shooting Star name is derived from his middle name, Jedediah Tecumseh Steele. I have a differnt theory. Jed was an All-Conference basketball star at Gonzaga University...which means he must have been a Shooting Star.

 
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.

 
 


This page created April 2000

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