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The Best of 1990 : Top Discoveries From California Wineries

December 16, 1990|ROBERT LAWRENCE BALZER

HALF-A-CENTURY of observation leads me to write this once more: The Acropolis of fine winemaking has moved from Europe to California. Fluctuations of the dollar and vintage and crop variations affect pricing, but on a quality basis, the best wine buys today are from our own California vineyards and cellars. Chauvinistic prejudice? Maybe, but not enough to tilt the balance of truth.

The following list--my choices of the best wines of 1990--includes medal winners from worldwide competitions, wines singled out in these columns and wines privately poured on winery visits. All are available, either at your local wine emporium or from the winery. These are wines of extraordinary finesse and outstanding value . . . with something for everyone.

SPARKLING WINES Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut: $18.00 Gloria Ferrer 1985 Brut Carneros Cuvee: 20.00 Chateau De Baun ROMANCE 1987 Brut, Sparkling Wine: 12.00 Jepson, Mendocino 1986 Blanc de Blancs: 16.00 Culbertson, California Blanc de Noir: 12.00 Schramsberg Napa Valley 1986 Blanc de Blancs: 19.90 Scharffenberger, Mendocino 1986 Blanc de Blancs: 20.00

WHITE WINES Beringer, Knights Valley 1988 Sauvignon Blanc: $10.00 Boeger, El Dorado 1988 Sauvignon Blanc: 7.50 Buena Vista, Lake County 1989 Sauvignon Blanc: 7.50 Chimney Rock, Napa Valley 1989 Fume Blanc Stag's Leap District: 10.00 Honig Napa Valley 1988 Sauvignon Blanc: 8.75 Kendall-Jackson, Lake County 1988 Sauvignon Blanc Proprietor's Reserve: 12.00 Chappellet Vineyard, Napa Valley 1988 Chenin Blanc "Dry": 7.50 Claiborne & Churchill, Edna Valley 1987 Gewurztraminer-Dry: 8.00 Renaissance, North Yuba 1988 Dry Riesling: 8.00 Bouchaine, Napa Valley, Carneros 1986 Chardonnay: 19.00 Chateau Potelle, Napa Valley 1988 Carneros Chardonnay: 14.00 Domaine Michel, Sonoma County 1987 Chardonnay: 16.00 Fetzer, Mendocino: 1988 Barrel-Select Chardonnay: 10.00 Fisher Vineyards, Sonoma County 1988 Chardonnay, Coach Insignia: 18.00 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley 1988 Chardonnay: 15.00 Grgich Hills, Napa Valley 1988 Chardonnay: 22.00 Guenoc, Guenoc Valley 1988 Chardonnay, Genevieve Magoon: 20.00 The Hess Collection, Napa Valley 1988 Chardonnay, Estate: 13.75 Kendall-Jackson, California 1988 Chardonnay, The Proprietor's: 22.50 Merryvale Vineyards, Napa Valley 1989 Chardonnay Stag's Leap District: 18.00 Raymond, Napa Valley 1987 Chardonnay: 14.00 Roche Vineyards 1989 Carneros Chardonnay: 12.95 Sanford, Santa Barbara County 1988 Chardonnay: 15.00 Sebastiani, Sonoma Valley Clark Ranch 1987 Chardonnay: 13.00 Wente Brothers Arroyo Seco 1987 Chardonnay, "Special Selection": 18.00 Zaca Mesa, Santa Barbara County 1988 Chardonnay, Reserve: 16.50

RED WINES Arrowood, Sonoma County 1986 Merlot Reserve Speciale: $25.00 Beaulieu Vineyard, Napa Valley 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour: 35.00 Beringer, Napa Valley 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley: 14.00 Chappellet, Napa Valley 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Reserve: 18.00 Chateau Souverain, Sonoma County 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon: 9.50 Creston Manor, San Luis Obispo 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon: 9.75 Domaine Michel, Sonoma County 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon: 19.50 Firestone, Santa Ynez Valley 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon: 11.00 Fisher Vineyards, Sonoma County 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon Coach Insignia: 20.00 Grgich Hills, Napa Valley 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon: 20.00 Guenoc, Lake County 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon "Vintner's Selection": 20.00 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Alexander Valley 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon: 21.50 Charles Krug, Napa Valley 1984 Cabernet Sauvignon "Vintage Selection": 20.00 Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve: 43.83 St. Supery, Napa Valley 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon Dollarhide Ranch: 13.00 Simi, Sonoma County 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve: 25.00 Smith & Hook, Monterey County 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon: 15.00 Vichon, Napa Valley 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon Stag's Leap District: 22.66 Villa Mt. Eden, Napa Valley 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon: 11.00 Guenoc, Guenoc Valley 1987 Petit Sirah: 9.00 Bouchaine, Carneros 1987 Pinot Noir: 14.00 Roche Vineyards 1989 Carneros Pinot Noir: 16.95 Zaca Mesa, Santa Barbara County 1988 Pinot Noir, Reserve: 16.00 Enz Vineyards, Lime Kiln Valley 1984 Pinot St. George: 16.00 Boeger, El Dorado 1987 Zinfandel, Walker Vineyard: 8.50 Benziger of Glen Ellen 1987 Sonoma Mountain, A Tribute: 25.00 Hacienda Winery Sonoma County 1987 Antares: 28.00 Inglenook, Napa Valley Red Table Wine 1985 Reunion: 35.00 Justin Vineyards 1987 Paso Robles Reserve: 20.00

DESSERT WINES Chateau M, Monticello Cellars 1987 Late Harvest Semillon 375ml: $18.75 Lambert Bridge, Sonoma County Amadeus 1989 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (13%RS) 375ml: 12.00 Villa Mt. Eden, Napa Valley 1989 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (18.2% RS) 375ml: 12.00

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