Northside SF  

October '09

Wine Report from the Fort
Who won the Northside Wine Skins Game?
By Fred McMillin

Gary Player won the first golfers’ Skins Game in 1983. What is a golfers’ skins game and why is the Northside Wine Skins Game replacing it in 2009?
Each November the golfers have a dramatic skins game, which is a special type of betting. The player who wins the hole by taking the fewest strokes wins a “skin” and gets a point for that hole. However, if two or more players tie for the lowest number of strokes, the next hole is worth two points. Thus, several holes tied in a row make the next hole worth a lot of points. Gary Player won $170,000 in the first Skins Game ever, beating Arnie Palmer, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.
The Skins Game was canceled this year because of the weak economy. Hence, Northside is holding a three-hole Wine Skins Game this year among four California wineries: Dry Creek Vineyards, Kenwood, Sobon Estates, and Steele Wines. All wines had to be less than $40.

Here’s the Wine Skins Game
Kenwood’s Reserve Chardonnay 2007 ($25) wins the first hole worth one point.

The second hole is a tie between Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($25) and Sobon Estates Zinfandel 2005 ($18). No points, so the third hole is worth two points. Kenwood is still ahead with its one point.
SteeleSteele Wines Pinot Noir 2006 ($30) takes the final hole – the winner! So Steele Wines won two
skins and the Wine Skins Game by two points over Kenwood’s one point.

Postscript: For an excellent article on the golfers’ Skins Game, see

Cabernet – How much should you pay?
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most highly regarded California red wine. How much should you pay for a good bottle? To get an answer,
we reviewed the results of our past two years of Cabernet tastings at our S.F. City College classes and found this:
Quality improved rapidly as the price increased from $10 to $20. The average $10 wine scored 83 (solid, well made); the average $20 scored 87 (very good with special qualities).
Quality improved further but only half as much from $20 to $30. The average $30 rating was a coveted 90!
Quality continued to improve from $30 to $50, with the average $50 wine scoring 92.5.
Cabernet conclusion:
We have found that Syrah and Zinfandel ratings don’t improve much above $20, but with California Cabs you get more bang for the buck at prices well above $20. Here are some top-rated Cabs to try:

Fat Cat Wines California Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $10
Napa Ridge Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $12
Hahn Estate Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $14
Lake Sonoma Winery Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $24
Dry Creek Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $55
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Teachers’ pets
Fort Mason teacher Edgar Vogt and Presidio Cafe teacher Michael Perry have chosen three of their pet wines for super sipping.

Vogt’s votes
: (1) Foggy Bridge Winery Columbia Valley Riesling 2007, $18; (2) Ventana Vineyards Arroyo Seco Rubystone (Rhone blend) 2006, $18; (3) Rosenblum Cellars Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 2007, $45

Perry’s picks: (1) Ferrari Brut Trento DOC (Italy) NV, $20; (2) Chateau de Reignac Bordeaux Superior 2005, $26; (3) Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti Doc “La Court” 2005, $45

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School is cool
Edgar Vogt and I teach wine classes for S.F. City College each month, Saturdays at 1 p.m. There is only one this month:
Nov. 7: California vs. the World – Compare and taste 20 California wines with their counterparts from France, Australia, Chile, Italy, and more.
To enroll or wait-list, phone San Francisco City College at 415-561-1840, or visit

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A white wine twofer
A twofer? It’s rare but at the Fort we just had a two for one – best buy of tasting and best of all the white wines: Montpellier Vineyards California Viognier 2005, $7!

In praise of Cabernet Franc
“Francs” for the memory
Always a big deal with any fine meal,
Whether crafted by Jarvis, Gehrs or Steele,
So Franc you so much.
(Also thanks to Bob Hope)

Please read responsibly: Some final beverage banter from the L.A. Times
Many vintages ago a journalist wrote that president Theodore Roosevelt at times was drunk. The president sued the writer and won the case, including an award of damages. The amount? Six cents!

Credits: Edgar Vogt (tastings), Ophelia Mercado (statistics)

Fred McMillin was voted one of the best wine writers in the United States by the Academy of Wine Communications. Phone him with questions at 415-565-5712 or fax him at 415-567-4468.


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