On this Thanksgiving Day, we wine lovers can be thankful for...
Thank You, Louis Lucas and Judge Lewellen
Some thirty years ago Louis Lucas and his brother planted a vineyard in what became the prestigious Santa Maria Valley. Before long some of California's best wineries were lining up to purchase their flavor-laden grapes.
Then, just five years ago, Judge Royce Lewellen joined with Louis to make their own wine from the best grapes. So we quietly slipped two Lucas & Lewellen bottles into a large, blind tasting. The 1999 Chardonnay won Best White of Tasting.
The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon hit the jackpot... my picky panel gave it a ninety one! For outlets, contact the office of Colleen Thompson, phone (805) 344-3000, FX (805) 344-3452.
Thank You, John Bargetto
"This wine was eight years in the making," says John Bargetto of the Bargetto Santa Cruz Mountain winery. Sure enough, I see production included four years of aging before release, two in oak and two in glass. It's called La Vita ("the life" in Italian), and is made from Italian varietals grown in the Bargetto mountain vineyard. How good is this 1997? (lots of Italian-like sunshine that year) Well, I checked our tasting results on Cal-Ital reds for the last nine years and La Vita($50) outscored all the competition. It was the only Cal-Ital to be rated excellent. Contact John or Martin Bargetto, ph. (831) 475-2258, FX (831) 475-2664, for much more info.
Thank You for Barbara's Baby
Barbara Banke, with a partner, bought the vineyard in 1986. and oversaw the construction of the winery (Cambria). The vineyard was named after her daughter, Katherine. As president of Cambria, Barbara toured the USA winning tastings with her delicious Katherine's Chardonnay.
Certainly, one could say Cambria was "Barbara's baby." Hence, it was no surprise that when I met her a few years ago, I found her charming and knowledgeable, able to field any question without the slightest hesitation... And dedicated to producing the best.
Tip From A Master Sommelier
I first encountered Katherine's Chardonnay Dec. 30, 1991, when Master Sommelier Steve Morey suggested I include the 1990 vintage in my weekly tasting. Sure enough, it won Best White by 15% over the second place entry...that was the first vintage. Just wait until you try the current release, the 1999 tenth vintage, $22. Contact Kelly Montee at (8O5) 934-9324, FX (805) 934-3589.
PS—About that partner who helped out, it was her husband, Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall-Jackson... some team!
Thank You, Georges Duboeuf
Your first taste of the French 2001 vintage is here...the heralded Beaujolais Nouveau. We try to get a Duboeuf Nouveau in time to add pizzaz to our turkey-day leftovers.
Thank You, Mike Benziger
Mike provided this technical definition of fermentation: "Fermentation is the chemical process that converts grapes into dollars."
(For info. on the wines of Benziger's Imagery Estate Winery, phone (707) 935-6203, FX (707) 939-8928.)
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.