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© 1999 JDM Enterprises
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by Jerry D. Mead

  The first time I tasted a Forest Glen wine was more than a year after the winery's first release, a 1991 Chardonnay. It came to my attention when it was ranked the number one medal-winning Chardonnay of 1993, and it sold for less than $10.

    Even though I was chief judge at one of the competitions at which it won, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about the best, and best value, white wine of the year. I didn't know who the winemaker was, where the wine was made or from where the grapes originated. How could this be?

    I started doing some detective work. By day's end I knew everything.

    Forest Glen was being made by a company called Classic Wines, which had previously specialized in large volume jug wines. The winemaker, Ed Moody, had never before made a barrel-fermented wine. And to cap it off, the winery still had almost every case of the medal winningest wine of the year because they had zero experience at selling this kind of wine.

    A lot of things have changed since then. The winery not only knows how to sell fine wines, but Forest Glen can be found in all 50 states. And Moody is now an old hand at barrel-fermented wines.

    What hasn't changed is that the wines have never been priced above $10 (often less on sale and at discounters) and they continue to win awards and medals, often against competitors selling for two, three and four times as much.

    Like Napa Ridge, Canyon Road and a handful of other brands, Forest Glen is one of those you can trust to always give a major bang for the buck. I recently tasted all five wines in the line and every one is either a "Best Buy" or a "Steal Deal." Case purchases highly recommended.

    Forest Glen 1996 Sangiovese ($10) The newest variety in the Forest Glen stable, it is blended to a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. It will also be the most difficult of the wines to find, but production will increase dramatically over the next few years. Plum and berry fruit and earthy complexity. Best value Sangiovese in America. Rating: 88/98

    Forest Glen 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) Ripe, voluptuous, cassis and blackberry fruit. Very forward aromatics and flavor concentration. Substantial structure, but without a bit of harshness. Rating: 88/95

    Forest Glen 1996 Shiraz ($10) Forest Glen's best wine, but still a little more difficult than the others to find. Even wine writer and Francophile Robert Parker gave this one the nod, and he's rarely kind to value-priced California wines. A huge burst of complex, earthy plum flavor. This is better Shiraz (same as Syrah) than many selling for twice the price and more. Rating: 90/98


    Forest Glen 1997 Chardonnay ($10) This 100 percent varietal wine is 100 percent barrel-fermented, and almost unheard of statement for a wine in this price category. May be the best Forest Glen Chardonnay since that spectacular 1991. Ripe, tropical flavor, with smoky, toasty, butterscotch nuance. Soft, round, mouthfilling and barrel-sweet, even though "bone dry" in reality. Rating: 89/96


    Forest Glen 1997 Merlot ($10) Big, ripe, user-friendly wine, with mostly juicy cherry fruit. Not especially complex, but it's the kind of easy-to-drink red that most Merlot drinkers are looking for. There is none of that astringency or bitterness that beginning red wine drinkers so often complain about. Match it with veal, tuna, salmon, turkey or even a steak. Rating: 88/94

    Forest Glen wines are widely available and may even be found in supermarkets as well as wine shops.


    Monterey Peninsula 1997 "Sleepy Hollow Reserve" Pinot Noir ($20) Very limited production at about 400 cases, it will be difficult to find. Call the marketing company at (707) 257-6394 if you need help in tracking it down. Deep black cherry and dying rose bouquet and flavor. Some earthy-smoky notes at play around the edges. Rich and complex in a medium-bodied, elegantly structured style that will definitely improve with age. Rating: 90/92



  America's greatest wine historian, the late Leon Adams was a devout red wine drinker. He would drink white wine, but only if nothing red was available, and I once saw him scold the top political leaders of Sicily for serving only white wine at a dinner for visiting journalists.

    One of Leon's favorite sayings (which he may have borrowed from someone else, as I have often borrowed from him) was: "All Wine Would Be Red If It Could," which has been turned into one of a series of heart-shaped (to remind that moderate wine consumption is heart-healthy) buttons bearing wine slogans.

    The 3-inch high buttons are usually sold by a wine magazine for $1.50 each, but Mead On Wine readers can get them for $1 including postage. Write to: All Wine Red, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702.



  A few weeks back we told you about a new wine information source on the Internet, where many experts are available to answer your questions and where you can also submit, or read other's, tasting notes.

    It was brand new then and there's a thing or two you should know. There's a new shorter address to get there:

    Also, outspoken British wine and Champagne authority Tom Stevenson has become a regular participant, as has prolific American wine writer and author Dan Berger.



  The Napa Valley winery is offering a special kit to help you discover how to pair your favorites foods with wine. The kit includes a video, an easy to use pairing matrix, score cards, flavor samples, recipe cards and more and it's only $19.95 plus shipping. Call (800) 321-9463. Martini also has a website at

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

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