by Fred McMillin
for January 5, 1998

How to Solve a Wine shortage

Prologue:

  • "Bel Arbor—The best wines in the world under $10."

    ...Robert Parker, Jr., America's foremost wine critic

  • "In 1995 California wine sales enjoyed the largest increase in the past 20 years. They continued at a blistering pace in 1996. Combined with two years of low yields, we had a California grape shortage."

    ...George Rose, Bel Arbor spokesman

The Rest of the Story: Bel Arbor winemaker Phil Hurst solved the shortage by setting up shop in one of South America's best wine-grape districts the Central Valley of Chile. There he crushes and ferments. Then the young wine is shipped in refrigerated tanks to California for final aging and bottling. My tasters just tried Bel Arbor's second Chardonnay vintage. It's the 1997 since harvest is in March ... highly consumer friendly ... refreshing but not too tart ... soft fruit flavors ... And only $5.99.

The Wine:
1997 Chardonnay, Valle Central, Chile
Bel Arbor Vineyards
Hopland, Mendocino, CA
Food Affinities—Supports, rather than dominates, so pairs nicely with light fish, fowl and pasta dishes.
Contact—Sid Goldstein (415) 444-7400, George Rose (707) 744-7448
Price—$5.99

Postscript—The Name Game: Whence "Bel Arbor"? Lumberman Barney Fetzer built his winery in 1968 in the Redwood Valley on a road named Bel Arbres, Italian for "beautiful arbor." It became the name of Fetzer's value- oriented second line of wines. "Arbres" being an unfamiliar word in America, it was simplified to Arbors, and recently to "Arbor."


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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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