by Fred McMillin
for April 22, 1997

A Seven-Vineyard Chardonnay

Prologue: "Chardonnay can produce pineapple flavors. They are sharp, acid-fresh in the cool southern Napa Valley. They are closer to sweet, canned pineapple in the warmer growing regions [to the north]" Dr. Alan Young in "Chardonnay, Your International Guide"

The Rest of the Story: So, should a winemaker use grapes from the cool south or the warmer north? "Use both," is the answer by Rutherford Ranch winemaker Mark Swain. In 1995 he started the Chardonnay harvest on Sept. 9th in the warmer, earlier-ripening north end. Then, the harvest moved south to the central Rutherford-Oakville districts. The seventh, and final vineyard, in the southern Carneros, wasn't picked until the end of the month.

If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of the world's most important white wine grape, definitely try this one. You can taste both the southern tartness and the softer northern fruit...and it's only $9.50.

1995 Chardonnay, Napa Valley (from north to south)
Rutherford Ranch
Silverado Trail, Napa Valley, CA

Category: Recommended

Postscript: For more about the Rutherford Ranch, see the Jan. 23,1997 issue of WineDay.

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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