Mead On Wine

© 1996 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved
Vol. H No. 27

Sonoma Creek Update

by Jerry D. Mead

That small Sonoma winery with the modern look labels with the horse theme that always remind me of Indian blankets, is at it again...making good wines and winning medals every time they turn around.

While the wines won't be found in every state in the union, nor in every corner store where they are represented, Sonoma Creek does have broad distribution for a small winery. If you have trouble finding any of the wines: Sonoma Creek Winery, 23355 Millerick Rd., Sonoma, CA 95476 (707) 938-3031.

Sonoma Creek 1993 "Carneros Reserve" Chardonnay ($15) Lean, appley, with some bright pineapple flavors, and chalky, flinty, mineral notes, with subtle smoky-toasty undertones. A lot of wine for the money. Rating: 90/90

Sonoma Creek 1994 "Contra Costa" Zinfandel ($10) light plum and berry fruit, with a little earthy-tarry quality.

As quaffable as a Gamay Beaujolais, but with much more serious and complex flavor. Great cookout wine...hamburgers anyone? Rating: 85/88

Sonoma Creek 1994 "California" Zinfandel ($10) A gold medal winner at the 1996 New World International, this one is a blend from five top regions...Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, Mendocino and San Benito. Ripe plum, blackberry and a hint of dark cherry. Intense, with layers of flavor.

Very drinkable, but with a little tannic spine that will see it improve for 3-5 years. "Best Buy." Rating: 90/93

Sonoma Creek 1993 "Sonoma-Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) Earthy, dusty, blackberry and cassis aromas and taste. Deep, ripe flavors throughout. Round, supple mouthfeel and soft tannins. Rating: 87/87


Sonoma Creek 1994 "Sonoma" Chardonnay ($10 or less) This gold medal winner, also from the New World International, is an unbelievable value, a real steal deal. It's the kind of flavor and quality you usually start to find at $15 and up. Soft, luscious, and lightly oaked on a citrus and apple flavor base. It goes beyond's delicious. Rating: 85/100

If you're unfamiliar with my scoring system, that's 85 points out of a possible 100 for quality; a perfect 100 points for value.


The San Francisco Fair International Wine Competition is continuing its posture as one of America's stingiest wine judgings. With more than 2100 wines evaluated only about 3 1/2 percent won either gold or double-gold. The fact that more than 650 wines won silver or bronze doesn't mean much to consumers, because gold is all that motivates them to buy.

I've been trying for more than 20 years to convince consumers that silver and bronze medalists are special wines, too, but they just won't listen. At any rate, you can order the official awards book containing all the winners by sending $6 to: SF Wine Winners, Box 880281, San Francisco, CA 94188 (800) 845-9463.

San Francisco Fair does have a red, white and sparkling wine sweepstakes award, a winemaker of the year award and "Best of" recognition for many of the most popular wine varieties.

Best of Show White honors to De Loach 1995 "Russian River" Fume Blanc.

Best of Show Red is multiple medal-winning and totally delicious Joseph Phelps 1993 "Le Mistral," a proprietary Rhone-style blend.

Best of Show bubbly went to the French, Charles Heidsieck 1985 "Cuvee Millinaire" Blanc de Blanc, Champagne.

Winemaker of the Year honors go to the winemaking team at Gallo's Sonoma Winery, no doubt having something to do with the fact that they grabbed two double-golds for two different Cabernets and walked away with the "Best Chardonnay" award. If there is an afterlife, Julio is smiling.

That "Best Chardonnay" is Gallo Sonoma 1994 "Russian River-Laguna Ranch," a wine which I gave 93 points a couple of months back, and after retasting it I'd probably move that score up a few notches.

Best Cabernet Franc (we're predicting this will be the next hot red to follow in Merlot's footsteps) goes to Geyser Peak 1994 "Alexander Valley-Winemaker Selection." Winemaker Daryl Groom is on a roll.

Best Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine I haven't tasted yet, from a small Napa winery that has been quietly around for a very long time, Nichelini 1991 "Napa Valley-Estate." It also won gold at Orange County.

Why is it no surprise that the Best Pinot Noir accolade goes to Gary Farrell for the jillionth time, it seems, for 1994 "Russian River-Allen Vineyard."

Best Merlot is no soft fruity number, it's Whitehall Lane 1994 Napa Valley, and it's as big and bold as many Cabernets.

Best Zinfandel according to SF Fair is Rosenblum 1994 "Mt. Veeder-Napa-Brandlin Ranch."

We'll give you more of the double-golds in a future column.


In the remaining space, I'll tell you about some more golds from the world's largest California wine judging, at the Orange County Fair. Here's a few small categories (remember OC judges by price):

In the medium priced Barbera class ($10.01 to $15) a single gold to Boeger 1993 "El Dorado." Boeger is located at Hangtown, aka Placerville.

In the $15.01 and up class another lone Barbera gold to Eberle 1994 "Paso Robles-Norman Vineyard."

A single gold for the infrequently seen red wine called Carignane in the under $9.50 price range to Rey Sol 1994 "California." Rey Sol is produced at Mount Palomar Winery, near Temecula in Riverside County.

And a single gold for Sangiovese (the growing in popularity red with the Italian origin) to Adler Fels 1994 "Mendocino."

When I mention many wines from many producers I usually offer to help you find them. For an address or phone of a producer, who can usually direct you to a local retail outlet, call my office at (800) 845- 9463.

Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.


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Latest Update: September 20, 1996