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© 1998 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved


by Jerry D. Mead

This Sonoma County based wine producer has been appearing on my "Best Buy" list with something, every year, for a couple of decades.

The wines have always offered at least adequate (and sometimes exceptional) quality, while never, ever failing to provide value in the bargain range.

While Louis Martini of Napa was the first to plant and produce Merlot, Stone Creek was one of the first value wineries to recognize its potential and to make Merlot more important in its product mix than Cabernet Sauvignon.

I recently tasted the new and current releases and they're still cranking out the value. It's also good news that the wines are available in most states and markets, and if your retailer doesn't stock a particular wine, it can probably be ordered.

Or you can contact the winery directly for information on retail outlets or to arrange winery visits: Stone Creek Wines, 9380 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood, CA 95452 (707) 833-4455.

Stone Creek 1997 Sauvignon Blanc ($7 or less) Very appealing grassy aroma with more of that same grassy, herbaceous note in the taste, on top of grapefruit citrus. Dry finish, but the richness of fruit implies a sweetness that isn't really there. Rating: 87/90

Stone Creek 1997 Chardonnay ($7) Pleasant melon fruit and very subtle use of oak. Good value in everyday quality Chardonnay. Rating: 84/85

Stone Creek 1997 White Zinfandel ($6 or less) Color of strawberry Kool- Aid, and I'm here to tell you that's pretty. Wow! Tastes of strawberries, too, with a hint of peach. Noticeable, but not cloying sweetness. It likes to be really cold. Rating (86/90)

Stone Creek 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon ($7) Berry and green olive; light to medium bodied. A really nice Thursday grill wine. A hint of astringency won't be noticed in the company of food. Rating: 84/85

Stone Creek 1996 Zinfandel ($7) Another quaffer. It's tasty, but it will fail to satisfy those lovers of "monster" Zins. Raspberry and boysenberry flavors. Serve it with pastas and tomato-based (with lots of garlic, of course) sauces and anything on the barbecue from Italian sausages, to burgers, to lamb chops. Rating: 86/90


Stone Creek 1996 Merlot ($8) Typical black cherry aromas and flavor, in a medium to full bodied red without a hint of harshness. Very complex and nicely wooded for a wine at this price point. Definitely a "Best Buy," and case purchases are highly recommended, the added discount for which should get the price down to $7 or less. For good Merlot, that's a steal. Rating: 87/94


Geyser Peak and imported from Australia winemaker Daryl Groom have been in the top two or three of medal winners from major wine shows every year. But 1998 seems to be something really special.

We recently gave them a perfect 100 point score for Sauvignon Blanc, Fortune Brands bought the winery for more than $100 million dollars, its Meritage red called "Reserve Alexandre" was named best blended red wine in the world and Groom "Winemaker of the Year" by the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London.

And as if that's not enough, the Geyser Peak 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve just won a double-gold and was named winner of the American Airlines Trophy for overall "Best Wine of Show" out of more than 2000 entries at the Indy International Wine Competition. Is that a big deal? I'd say so, considering that some of the other finalists included the likes of Dom Perignon 1990 and 1993 Tokay Aszu 5 Puttonyos from Hungary.

We'll let you know when complete results from the Indy become available.


Scheid is one of those large vineyard operations with thousands of acres of premium grapes, most of which are sold to California wineries from one end of the state to the other. Just to show off, they make a few thousand cases of wine each year to demonstrate what their grapes have to offer.

Alas! Scheid is a Monterey County grower, and the wines are rarely found far from their home base. For more information on retail availability: Scheid, 1972 Hobson Ave, Greenfield, CA 93927 (408) 385-4801.

Scheid 1996 "San Lucas" Chardonnay ($16) My favorite Scheid wine. Really lovely, crisp and delicate with effective but subtle use of oak flavor from 100 percent barrel fermentation. Ripe apple and melon flavors with an acid structure reminiscent of Burgundy. Lingering, complex finish. Rating: 92/87

Scheid 1995 "Monterey" Chardonnay ($20) Richer, fatter and showier, but a little too much of a good thing. So it won a gold medal, the "San Lucas" is a much better food companion and you can save $4. Flavors more in the tropical vein, lower acidity and more aggressive oak flavors. Rating: 86/82

Scheid 1995 "Monterey" Merlot ($22) Serious black cherry aromas and flavors, but with earthy, slightly smoky complexities. Superbly balanced for immediate drinking, but should hold nicely for 3-5 years. Rating: 88/84

The winery also produces better than average Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Cabernet in limited quantities.


The Louis Martini Winery of Napa Valley is offering a user-friendly food and wine tasting kit that includes a demonstration video, a wine-food pairing matrix, score cards, flavor samples, recipe cards and more, all for $19.95 plus shipping.

To order call toll free to (800) 321-9463.


The Orange County Fair remains the world's largest evaluation of all-California wines. The official 130 page awards book is one of the best shopping guides around. You can get your copy for $7 (includes postage) to: OC Wine Winners, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702 (800) 845-9463.


Folie a Deux 1996 "Amador - Old Vines" Zinfandel ($18) Flat out, delicious Zinfandel. Ripe plum and berry flavor has already won the wine two gold medals (Amador & State Fair) and there is absolutely none of that Port or prune quality that sometimes creeps into Amador Zins. Nor is there any harshness or astringency. The wine has only one tastes so good you may be tempted to overindulge. Distribution is reasonably good and you can contact the winery directly for specific retail information at (707) 963-1160. Rating: 92/87

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

© 1998 JDM Enterprises. All Rights Reserved
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