First in 14 Years : A New Wine From Freemark Abbey

Times Wine Writer

A series of news notes from the wine industry. . . .

Freemark Abbey Winery in the Napa Valley has released its first new vineyard-designated wine in 14 years with the release of a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sycamore Vineyard.

The vineyard, owned by John Bryan of Piedmont, Calif., is located adjacent to the Bella Oaks Vineyard in Rutherford.

The 1984 Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyards Cabernet ($20) is very ripe and supple with forward cherry and chocolate flavors, an attractive fruity aftertaste and ample tannin.

The only previous vineyard-designated wine in the Freemark Abbey line was a Cabernet designated Bosche, off John Bosche's ranch near the winery, which first made its appearance with the 1970 vintage.

Michaela Rodeno, who has been an executive with Domaine Chandon winery in Yountville since its inception in 1973, has resigned to accept a position with a new winery in the Napa Valley owned by a large French company.

Rodeno, who has been vice president at Domaine Chandon since 1981, will become vice president and general manager of the huge winery, tentatively named Atkinson Manor. It is owned by Skalli S. A. of France.

Guild Wineries, whose major wine brand once was Cresta Blanca, said it will release a line in the so-called Pop-Premium segment of the wine business under the name Dunwood Vineyards and Winery.

The line includes a North Coast Chardonnay (15,000 cases); a California Cabernet Sauvignon (5,000 cases) and a California Sauvignon Blanc (9,500 cases), all to sell for between $5-$6 a bottle.

A premium Chardonnay (2,500 cases) and Cabernet (2,000 cases) with Napa Valley designations will sell for $9.50 each; a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (2,000 cases) will sell for $7. Also in the line are a White Zinfandel and a Reserve Red and Reserve White.

Dunwood becomes Guild's top brand now that the company has eliminated Cresta Blanca. Guild said months ago it was replacing Cresta Blanca, which was founded in 1882, with the Mendocino Vineyards' brand. Cresta Blanca wines are still marketed in the Far East, said a company spokeswoman.

Also eliminated in a brand-slimming move were the Roma and Tavola brands. Guild also produces the successful Cook's American Champagne.

Barbara Frank, the granddaughter of the late Dr. Konstantin Frank of Hammondsport, N.Y., has joined S. Anderson Vineyard in the Napa Valley as assistant wine maker.

Frank earned a master's degree in enology from Fresno State University. Her grandfather was a respected grower and one of the first proponents of growing French grape varieties in New York's Finger Lakes district. Before Frank the region had been considered too cold for such varieties.

John Scharffenberger, owner of Scharffenberger Cellars in Mendocino, has been appointed president of a new organization to promote sparkling wines made in the United States by the French method.

The Methode Champenoise Producers Assn. is open to all wineries whose production is 90% from the French method, in which the bubbles are produced in the same bottle in which the wine is sold.

Vice presidents of the group are John Culbertson of Rancho California and Stan Anderson of the Napa Valley. Treasurer is Bob Stashak, wine maker at Korbel in Sonoma.

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