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by Fred McMillin
for June 5, 2000

 

An Ovation for the Bride


Ovation Chardonnay  
'Tis the season for bridal shower and wedding gifts. Our recommendation. Give a bottle of the best Chardonnay we've tasted so far this year, the $40 Joseph Phelps 1997 "Ovation." But there nearly was no 1997 Ovation for the bride, because it was...


A Very Scary Vintage—1997 in Napa

January—Torrential rains.
July-August—Too hot. August 5th hit 109 degrees. Much more of this and the grapes would be ripe in a few weeks and have to be picked before flavors were well developed.
More August - Suddenly, the fog rolled in on Aug. 9. The high was 72 degrees. The temperatures remained low and the ripening process virtually shut down. Winemaker Craig Williams tells us then, on Aug. 18th an inch of rain fell, "raising the spectre of mold!"
September— Too cool. The Chardonnay may not ripen at all. Then, on Sept. 19th Mother Nature turned up the heat, and Craig soon could turn on the grape crusher. Craig says 1997 "kept us very humble."

Whew! Close. Ovation is Craig's 1,000-case flagship Chardonnay. In just a few years of making this wine, he already has critics raving over it; James Laube, "The Ovation is dramatic, complex, concentrated." When I last checked, orders were limited to three bottles of...


Wine of the Day

1997 Ovation Chardonnay
Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Napa Valley (84% Carneros)
Rating—Laube has given previous vintages a 92 and a 93. My tasters gave the 1997 a 92 and Best Chardonnay so far this year.
Contact—The office of Hilary De Puy, (707)963-2745, FAX (707)963-4831
Price—$40


Postscript—Why Recommend Chardonnay?

It's reasonable to ask why not recommend Cabernet Sauvignon for the bridal gift instead of Chardonnay? Answer: popularity. California acres of Cab 51,000, Chardonnay 93,000!

 
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 June 2000

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