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ON WINE

Bordeaux Bicentennial : Jefferson Tribute Has Outpouring of California Wines

June 21, 1987|ROBERT LAWRENCE BALZER

THOMAS JEFFERSON, who was interested in wine making, made a trip to the even-then-famous wine region of Bordeaux in 1787. In celebration of that visit, more than 120 American wines will be tasted June 22 at the American consulate in Bordeaux.

Eighty-five California wines will be poured by owners and wine makers; some of the most prominent brands are Beaulieu, Beringer, Cakebread, Caymus, Charles F. Shaw, Clos du Val, Domaine Marion, Inglenook, Iron Horse, Jekel, Robert Mondavi, Christian Brothers and Trefethen. The collection is studded with gems that have bested French Burgundies and Bordeaux titles in highly publicized landmark tastings. That is, no doubt, why the French have rescheduled their only tasting of Bordeaux first-growth wines opposite the consulate tasting.

Guests at the consulate tasting are bound to be both perplexed and delighted by Randall Grahm's Bonny Doon Vineyard 1985 Le Cigare Volant ($12.50), a wonderful Santa Cruz Mountain red wine made with Rhone varietals (to be released in Los Angeles Sept. 1). And one sip of his 1986 Bonny Doon Muscat Canelli "Vin de Glace" ($15 per half-bottle) will have heads shaking in disbelief. Maverick Grahm made this "ice wine" by freezing ripe grapes without waiting for Mother Nature to do it, then making the wine. It's a nectar for the gods.

Charles F. Shaw will show his 1985 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($13.50), a superb challenge to Meursault in poetic styling by wine maker Rick Forman, and his 1986 Napa Valley Gamay ($5.50), for which the winery is famous. Possibly because it challenges the best Graves of Bordeaux, Shaw did not take along his 1984 Napa Valley Fume Blanc ($7), which glides over the palate like silk and proves once more that a fine wine of Sauvignon Blanc grapes need have no grassiness.

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