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by Fred McMillin
for March 30, 1998

The Killian Decision


Prologue

There is no such thing as a typical Chardonnay. Cool-climate Chardonnay flavors are different from those of warm climates.

..."Chardonnay, Your International Guide," by Alan Young


The Rest of the Story

Ed Killian, Chateau Souverain winemaker, couldn't agree more. He tells us the cool Carneros region Chardonnays have green apple and pear characteristics while the warmer Alexander Valley yields juicy ripe apple flavors...Alan Young would add "canned pineapple."

So which did Ed use for his '96 Souverain Chardonnay? Answer: He used both, and then added some French oak contact. The result is what he calls an "apple pie and spiced pear" Chardonnay. My 13 tasters loved it, voting it best white wine of the tasting. The competition included several bottles costing about twice the Souverain's $13.


The Wine

'96 Sonoma County Chardonnay
Chateau Souverain, Alexander Valley Grape
Sources: Carneros and Alexander Valley
Rating—EXCELLENT
Price—$13 range


Postcript

As to the Alexander Valley, it is the longest of Sonoma wine districts, running north from Healdsburg to Cloverdale. It is named after the Rocky Mountain fur-trapper, Cyrus Alexander, who arrived in Healdsburg about 1840.


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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