by Fred McMillin
for November 19, 1997

Durell Versus DuPratt

Prologue:

"California winemakers today are making more small-lot, single-vineyard-designated wines than ever before. One of the most successful is Jed Steele who has released a parade of 1995 Chardonnays rated 90 or above."

-Jeff Morgan., Wine Spectator, July 1997

"The Durell vineyard is located at the very northern end of the Carneros appellation as it stretches up towards the town of Sonoma. The hills protect the vines from the cool winds off the San Francisco Bay, giving a richer Chardonnay."

-Jed Steele

"The Du Pratt vineyard, probably the most famous in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley, is a small, mountain-top vineyard at 1,100 feet elevation. It does not produce a Chardonnay with lush, soft fruit but instead the wine is more acidic, tannic, firm and sinewy."

-Jed Steele

The Rest of the Story: Do you like your 1995 Chardonnay "rich" or "sinewy"? My ten tasters tried both wrapped bottles, and gave both of them EXCELLENT ratings. However, one received a slim 4% more votes than the other. The envelope, please.

The winner was the sinewy Du Pratt...$25...loaded with character...made for thoughtful sipping and delightful supping, with salmon, smoked turkey, and even lamb.

The Wine:
1995 Chardonnay, Du Pratt Vineyard, Mendocino County
Steele Wines, Kelseyville, Lake County, CA
Rating —92 in Wine Spectator; EXCELLENT by my panel.
Contact—Marie Steele, (707) 279-0213
Price—$25

Postscript: For further information on one of Califonia's leading winemakers see a) The Steele Appeal, Feb. 21, 1997 WineDay and b) Jed Knock's 'em Dead, Sept. 3, 1997 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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