Mead On Wine
Last Week98 Indexsubscribearchive

© 1998 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved


by Jerry D. Mead

Just beginning to be known in this country, Vina Tarapaca of Chile's Maipo Valley was founded in 1874. Having recently undergone six years of new construction and refurbishing, not to mention the acquiring of Sergio Correa, one of Chile's most famous winemakers, Vina Tarapaca has positioned itself to be one of the top international brands originating in Chile.

The addition of large quantities of new French and American oak barrels along with international marketing by Beringer Wine Estates of Napa Valley, and enological and viticultural sharing with Beringer's team of vintners, should guarantee an ever growing worldwide profile.

I still think that, overall, Chile's vineyards produce better red wines than white, but one of the Tarapaca whites does spin my "tastevin" around a few times.

Tarapaca 1997 "Valle Central" Sauvignon Blanc ($7) Buy a couple of cases to get you through the summer! Major, knock you over the head, grapefruit and grapefruit rind aromas and flavor. Rich mouthfeel, but bone dry in perception and reality. Bring on the oysters, swim-fish in lemony sauces, and shellfish of all kinds. Rating: 89/94

Tarapaca 1997 Chardonnay ($7) Good fruit; nice fleshy mouthfeel; primarily citrus flavors. Stainless steel style; cold fermented and crisp. Another "Best Buy." Rating: 85/90

Tarapaca 1997 "Maipo Valley-Reserva" Chardonnay ($10) A touch of wood is the major difference, and a somewhat richer, rounder mouthfeel. Same basic, citrus fruit flavors. Rating: 86/88

Tarapaca 1996 "Maipo Valley" Merlot ($7) Chile's Merlots are usually among my favorite of their wines, but not this time. Very young, nicely structured with decent berry fruit flavors. But it's slightly astringent. Time may help, but who bothers aging $7 wines? Rating: 82/86

Tarapaca 1994 "Reserva" Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) Big, dusty berry fruit flavors with notes of earthy complexity. Some smoky notes, too, from barrel aging. Lots of body, backbone and tannins, but everything in balance with the promise of considerable aging potential. Rating: 88/90


Tarapaca 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon ($7) Blows the winery's Merlot away. Buy this one by the case for current consumption or up to five years cellaring. Classic berry, plum and black cherry fruits in a medium-bodied, user-friendly style. A pleasant, lingering aftertaste is already beginning to show complexity in the very young wine. Rating: 86/95

Vina Tarapaca wines have broad national distribution and should be available in at least limited availability in most states. For information on nearest retail outlet contact: Beringer Imports, P.O. Box 111, St. Helena, CA 94574 (707) 963-8989, Ext. 2162.


One of my favorite Sonoma County wineries for 30 years or so is Pedroncelli of Dry Creek Valley, that region which I constantly credit with growing the best Zinfandel on this planet.

Pedroncelli makes sound white wines, which I probably too often tend to ignore because I'm so taken with the reds, not only for quality, but for value.

And value has always been a Pedroncelli quality for as long as I can remember. It's one of those brands upon which you can almost rest assured that any bottle you buy (especially if it's red) will taste good and cost less than most comparable wines of competitors.

Pedroncelli 1996 "Dry Creek" Fume Blanc ($8.50) A blind person would have no trouble identifying the grape variety. Fume Blanc is a synonym for Sauvignon Blanc and this has the absolutely typical, pleasantly herbaceous aromatics of alfalfa, mint and grapefruit. It is very dry, almost to the point of austerity, and serves better with food than as a cocktail wine. Bring on the oysters! Or maybe some tuna sushi. Rating: 86/88

Pedroncelli 1995 "Three Vineyards - Dry Creek" Cabernet Sauvignon ($12) Ripe and perfectly balanced with traditional flavors of boysenberry and cassis. Just enough wood influence to add a note of complexity. A pleasantly tart finish cuts through fairly intense food flavors to refreshen the palate after each bite. Rating: 88/88

Pedroncelli 1995 "Mother Clone-Dry Creek" Zinfandel ($12) This wine is made from the original, old head pruned vineyards on the family estate and somewhat newer plantings made from cuttings from that original "mother." The vines that provide the fruit for this delicious red wine range in age of 20 to 85 years old. It has wonderful and classic Zinfandel raspberry fruit, with very little oak influence. There are spicy, brambley notes to both bouquet and after-flavors. In a word...delicious! Bring on the lamb chops, barbecue chicken or shiskabobs of pork, lamb or beef, right off the grill. This wine will handle the charcoal flavors. A solid "Best Buy." Case purchases highly recommended. Rating: 95/95

Pedroncelli wines are widely available, more so in wine specialty shops and restaurants than in supermarkets. To inquire about retail availability or for visitor information: Pedroncelli Winery, 1220 Canyon Road, Geyserville, CA 95441 (800) 836-3894 or E-mail:


So you've done Napa and Sonoma to death, you've been to France, Italy and Spain. But do you have your "passport" for New York Wine Country? It's really much bigger than you are probably aware of...500 miles worth from Eastern Long Island to the western border of Pennsylvania with lots of interesting stuff in between.

You can acquire a really classy, 24-page, 4-color booklet, with maps, address, phone numbers and more, on heavy stock for free, but please send $1 to cover postage to: Wine Country Passport, 350 Elm St, Penn Yan, NY 14527.

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

© 1998 JDM Enterprises. All Rights Reserved
The Mead On Wine WebSite is designed, maintained and hosted by Wines on the Internet.