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by Fred McMillin
for December 4, 1997
This Merlot Steals the Show
Prologue: Compared to the large port producers in California, wineries that make small amounts of the wine as a specialty item "yield ports of greater distinction and interest."
...Dr. Marian Baldy, Ph.D., in "The University Wine Course"
The Rest of the Story: Have I ever got a "small, specialty" port wine for you. It's the first release of Oakstone MERLOT PORT. Dr. John Smith, co-owner and winemaker, teaches a course in "The Chemistry of Wine" at San Jose State. He surely got the chemistry right for this dessert wine. His two acres of Merlot reached sugar contents of over 27% with intense fruit flavors. Also, Dr. John used some equally-ripe Petite Sirah, to add color and black-pepper spice. My 18 tasters were impressed by the distinctive flavors, and by the price...only $9 for 375 ml. Dr. Baldy SAID small producers make the more interesting ports...Dr. Smith's Merlot Port is a perfect example.
Postscript: Whence the name "Oakstone"? The Miwok Native Americans once ground live oak acorns into edible meal on large grinding rocks. The Smith's vineyard contains a huge granite grinder. Over time a black oak tree grew up through the rock, fracturing it and creating crevices large enough to walk through. When you visit the winery, you can picnic in the shade of that ancient oak (and have your wine on the rocks?).
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf
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