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American wines worth celebrating

American wines worth celebrating

Happy Birthday America! There is no better way to celebrate than toasting with an American-made wine today.

Today, American wines rank among the best of the world. But it wasn’t always so.

For centuries fine wine was confined to prestigious European vineyards. Mentions of Bordeaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon or Burgundy’s Pinot Noir were found only in tasting notes or journals from noble families of royalty or those with enough wealth to travel across the Atlantic. These were the privileged few who could enjoy the sacred consumption of some of the world’s finest wines.

But in 1976, British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a unique blind tasting (the wines’ vineyards and producers were not revealed prior to tasting), known as The Judgment of Paris with California versus French wines. The judges were some of the most renowned wine critics with the world’s most elite palates. The outcome was an upset with two Napa Valley wines coming out on top: a 1973 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.

I would have loved to have been in the crowd to see the look on the judges’ faces when these California wines were announced over some of the world’s most elite French vineyards.

For more about the tasting, read George Taber’s Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. Taber, an American, was the only journalist attending the event.


  • 2016 Bogle Essential Red, California (about $14 retail)
  • 2016 Sterling Vineyards Napa Chardonnay, California (about $14 retail)


  • 2016 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $19 retail)
  • 2015 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $38 retail)
  • 2015 Bell Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $55 retail)
  • 2014 Chateau Montelena Caberent Sauvignon, California (about $63 retail)
  • 2015 Reynolds Family Chardonnay, California (about $33 retail)
28 American wines to simplify holiday

28 American wines to simplify holiday

Labor Day is a celebration of America’s labor movement and the contributions of American workers, but for most it is a time for family and friends to convene on location — preferably near a body of water or forest — and enjoy the last three-day weekend of summer.

There is no better time to keep wine choices uncomplicated and versatile. For this week’s recommendations I’m focusing on value wines from American wineries.



  • 2015 Simple Life Pinot Noir, California (about $14 retail)
  • 2015 Bogle Essential Red Blend, California (about $13 retail)
  • 2015 Force of Nature Red Blend, California (about $18 retail)
  • 2014 Cline Zinfandel, California (about $17 retail)
  • 2015 Sean Minor Pinot Noir, California (about $14 retail)
  • 2015 Francis Coppola Diamond Edition Claret, California (about $16 retail)
  • 2015 14 Hands Merlot, California (about $15 retail)
  • 2015 Bell Red Blend, California (about $18 retail)
  • 2015 Seven Falls Cellars Merlot, Washington (about $16 retail)
  • 2015 Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $17 retail)
  • 2015 The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $16 retail)



  • 2016 Five Rows Chardonnay, California (about $17 retail)
  • 2016 McManis Family Vineyards Viognier, California (about $14 retail)
  • 2016 Simi Chardonnay, California (about $20 retail)
  • 2016 Bell Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $17 retail)
  • 2016 Olema Chardonnay, California (about $15 retail)
  • 2016 Charles Smith Vino Pinot Grigio, California (about $15 retail)
  • 2016 Charles & Charles Riesling, California (about $16 retail)
  • 2015 Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2016 Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2016 Sivas-Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $15 retail)



  • NV Scharffenberger Methode Traditionnelle, California (about $20 retail)
  • NV Roederer Estate Brut, California (about $32 retail)
  • NV Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs, California (about $22 retail)
  • NV Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs, California (about $29 retail)
  • NV Gruet Brut, New Mexico (about $19 retail)
  • 2012 Domaine Carneros Brut, California (about $36 retail)
  • NV Chandon Brut Classic, California (about $24 retail)