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by Fred McMillin
for November 26, 1997

A Doggone Good Wine

The Wine:
Chateau La Paws
Cote Du Bone
Mourvedre, 1996
Rosenblum Cellars
$13

Postscript: The label shows a typical French chateau and 16 paw prints...a fun approach for a fun wine...made to avoid the rough edges of many one-year-old reds by using 20% whole-cluster grapes, gentle hand punching, etc. But wait! While avoiding harshness, Kent Rosenblum still managed to pack in all kinds of plum and black-cherry intensity. How did he do it? Easy. The grapes came from two Conta Costa vineyards, with vines ranging from 40 to 95 years of age. By now, yields are minuscule, flavors are huge. But hurry... only 3,000 cases.

Great minds run on the same track. Kent advises they have added a conveyor belt that "allows us to pick out undesirable grape bunches" on their way to the crusher.

Exactly 110 years ago Captain Gustave Niebaum startled his Napa Valley competitors by installing at Inglenook "an elevator, which has a gradual ascent." The undesirable grape bunches "are thrown aside by a man on each side." The St. Helena STAR said that if other vintners would adopt this practice, a great improvement would take place in California wines. Looks like Kent is doing his part.

Note: For more about Rosenblum Cellars, see WineDay, Mar. 12, 1997, "The Best Little WINERY in Town." and the >Sept. 24, 1997, "A Muscat Aristocrat."


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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