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© 1999 JDM Enterprises
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by Jerry D. Mead

  Can you imagine being a young man, single and an international winemaker, making wine on two hemispheres and in association with four important properties? Not too bad for a young fellow who made his first wine at age ten from a neighbor's table grapes.

    This dual hemisphere winemaking is possible because harvest comes in the fall in the northern hemisphere and in spring in the southern. Our protagonist, one Aaron Pott, makes wine at Vina Tarapaca in Chile in the spring and is consulting winemaker at Rivefort de France in Provence and to Campanile in Friuli and Castello Gabbiano in Tuscany, both in Italy.

    Born into a wine drinking family in Eugene, Oregon, Pott earned his enology degree at U.C. Davis, and later did graduate work at University of Burgundy.

    Bacchus has smiled on Pott from the start. He was winemaker and manager at Chateau La Tour Figeac in St. Emilion, and also has Chateau Troplong Mondot, Newton Vineyards in Napa and Robert Mondavi on his resume.

    After taking some time off to see the world (Africa, Egypt and India), his mother alerted him to a classified ad in a San Francisco newspaper seeking an international winemaker with language skills. Pott is fluent in French and does just fine in Italian and Spanish.

    His new employer is Beringer Wine Estates, the corporate entity that not only owns Napa's Beringer, but Sonoma's Chateau Souverain, Central Coast's Meridian Vineyards, Stags' Leap Winery and value brand Napa Ridge.

    So how is Pott doing? Well, we reviewed the Tarapaca Chilean wines about six months ago and found them all excellent and excellent value. I can't comment on the French wines because I haven't tasted them. I did recently taste the Italian collection, based on which I'd say he's on a roll.

    Campanile 1997 Pinot Grigio ($11) Melon and grapefruit zest. Good fruit throughout with a very crisp, tart finish. And there's something in the chalky-mineral vein as a complexity in the aftertaste. It worked with sashimi and should work with oysters. Rating: 86/87

    Gabbiano 1997 Chianti ($11) A traditional blend for Chianti, dominated by Sangiovese with small percentages of two other local red grapes and 5 percent of Trebbiano, a white grape used for body and to enhance aromatics. Deep red raspberry flavors with subtle notes of tar and earthiness. Tart acidity makes it ideal for cutting through heavily spiced, tomato-based sauces and will handle all the garlic and onion you can throw at it. A sold "Best Buy." Rating: 86/92

    Castello Gabbiano 1994 Chianti Classico Riserva ($17) Aged two years in oak casks, the fruit comes from hillside vineyards, dry-farmed in lean soil that yields intense and concentrated fruit. There are no white grapes in the Riserva. The flavors remain in the raspberry range, but deeper and darker, more like black raspberry. Very long finish. Rating: 89/89

    Castello Gabbiano 1993 Chianti Classico Riserva ($24) This wine should really be labeled "Super Riserva" or some such. It's more than just another year older. You can spot it on the shelf by its gold foil label. Aged for two years in Slovenian oak casks and then another 16 months in small French "barriques." The added age, combined with the additional time in cooperage, make for the most elegantly structured of the Gabbiano Chiantis and the most complex. Layers and layers of raspberry, with hints of cedar and spice. This one would go nicely with a rack of lamb, a veal chop or a game bird. Rating: 92/90

    PerAnia 1993 ($30) Named for the youngest daughter of the owner of Gabbiano, this wine is 100 percent, single-vineyard, Sangiovese Grosso, from the estate's oldest vines, with the smallest yields and pretty obviously the deepest flavors. Very deeply colored, with intense flavors of black raspberry, ripe plum and nutmeg/vanilla spice. It was aged for 18 months in brand new French barrels. Rating: 92/87


    Gabbiano 1996 Chianti Classico ($12) This wine combines the freshness and food affinity traits of the basic Chianti with many of the charms of the Riserva wines, especially as to fullness of body and ripeness of flavor. Very ripe raspberry and plum fruit with spicy notes from 18 months in wood and with less astringency than the basic Chianti. It will accompany a wide range of foods from the spicy and acidic to many cheeses and most red meat dishes. Case purchases recommended. Rating: 88/95

    All of the wines have national availability. Should you have any trouble finding them, contact Beringer Wine Estates at (707) 963-7115



  For the past several weeks we've told you about heart- shaped buttons bearing wine slogans to let you tell the world about your affection for nature's most perfect beverage.

    There was "Have You Had Your Red Wine Today?," "Kiss French - Drink American" and "All Wine Would Be Red If It Could," all being guaranteed conversation starters.

    The last two in the collection are more straightforward, saying simply "I Love Red Wine" or "I Love White Wine." A national wine magazine sells these things for $1.50, but Mead On Wine readers can have any of the five for only $1 including postage. Just make sure to spell out which button(s) you want to: Wine Buttons, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702



Wine is produced in 44 of the American states, but the West Coast and New York get almost all of the attention. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, to name three, all have thriving wine industries.

    One other is Missouri, whose wineries have been winning lots of medals at major wine competitions. Many of the best Missouri wineries are within an hour of St. Louis. Call Blumenhof Winery at (800) 419-2245 or check out the 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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