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by Fred McMillin
for December 20, 2000

 

A Fight to the Finish


Prologue

"Finish" refers to the lingering tastes in the mouth after the wine has been swallowed. Great wines have complex finishes of long duration.

Peju Province

"Peju Province."

In a recent blind tasting of California Chardonnays under $25, we timed the finishes with a stopwatch. The winner, that averaged 15 seconds, is from the Napa Valley. Let's see how the grape has done in that valley.


Napa Valley Chardonnays

Napa led the Chardonnay charge 30 years ago, when its 650 acres exceeded those of any other California county. Within 15 years, Napa plantings increased tenfold. Today, Sonoma and Monterey counties have more Chardonnay planted than the Napa Valley, but Napa holds its own on quality, as indicated by...


Our Wine of the Day

1998 Peju Province Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $22
The Boss's Opinion—"This wine goes very well with good friends and sunsets."...Tony Peju
A Critic's Opinion—The Wine Spectator's James Laube wrote of the 1995 vintage: These Chardonnays are improving. The '95 is EXCELLENT; rating = 90.


The Peju Problem

Located in the fabulous Cabernet area of Rutherford, the Peju property presented Tony P. With a problem. Rutherford tends to be too warm for this wonderful white-wine grape, which robs the grapes of refreshing acidity. Yet, ace observer Anthony Blue wrote of the Peju Chardonnay, "While we expect great Cabernet from the winery, the big surprise was the quality of the Chardonnay." How did Tony do it?


Down By The River Napa

The proprietor's answer: "We found a Chardonnay-friendly microclimate in Rutherford. It's a tree-shaded area along the cool banks of the Napa River." If you want to taste the result and can't find it, contact...

Mrs. Herta Peju, (707) 963-3600, FAX (707) 963-8680. If your taste buds are like my panel's, you won't be disappointed.


Postscript

Anthony Dias Blue's review of a recent vintage: "Tropical fruit and nice oak, round and balanced with good intensity and a long finish!"

 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 
 


 
 

This page created December 2000

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