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by Fred McMillin
It was a Seven-Sip tasting. After one sip, the panel had to kick out one of eight wines. Then, they took a second sip...of the surviving seven wines...and eliminated another. After seven sips, we had the winning Survivor!
The eight wines were California reds, two each of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. All entries had to be in the $16 to $20 range. Here's what happened.
We eliminated a good Merlot...the '96 Audubon from the Hopper Creek Vineyard in Napa Valley, (pictured).
A tasty Pinot Noir bit the dust...the '98 Chateau St. Jean from Sonoma County.
Ouch. We lost the other Pinot, even though it was rated by the tasters HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Buena Vista Pinot Noir from the Carneros, vintage 1996. Onward.
The other Merlot is gone...the '98 Flora Springs from the Napa Valley. The survivors are the Cabs and Zins.
A Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon drops out, the '95 Belvedere...VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
We lose one of the classic Zinfandels, Gary Farrell Collins Vineyard Zinfandel from Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. Vintage 1994. Thus, the finalists are a Zin and a Cab. The odds must favor the Cab, given that grape's much greater stature.
A wine rated EXCELLENT was eliminated...a '97 Gundlach-Bundschu from the Morse Vineyard in the Sonoma Valley...A ZINFANDEL.
So, almost predictably, even though the bottles were wrapped so the panel didn't know what wines they were throwing overboard, the winner was a representative of the Western Hemisphere's best wine, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Winner, Our Wine of the Day
1994 Rosenblum Yountville Vineyards Napa
Four years ago ace winemaker Kent Rosenblum sent me a message that "this wine will improve with cellaring." Was he ever right!
The town in the heart of the Napa Valley is named after hunter-trapper-vintner George Yount who arrived in California in 1831. He created unique roofs for General Vallejo's buildings; they were made from wooden shingles. The General was so appreciative that he tried to give George a parcel of land in the Napa Valley...18,000 acres. George argued that he'd prefer a mere 2,000. General Vallejo, who wanted the land occupied by his friends rather than the nearby Russians, was persistent. So George reluctantly agreed to receive about 9,000 acres. It included a settlement named Sebastopol, which was changed to Yountville about 1860, five years before George Yount's death.
This page created August 2000