April 2005 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 218
Rejected: 207 Approved: 10 Selected: 4
April is shower¬ing us with so many great wines that we have to make some very serious decisions about which ones to choose for you. But we are positive that these selections will bring you more tasty and memorable wine experiences.
2001 Palio Vecchio, Napa Red
is the new project from Napa Valley's Luna Vineyards. This is only the second vintage of this wonderful wine! Palio Vecchio is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, tastes delicious and is an incredible value!
2004 Catamayor Sauvignon Blanc
is From one of the world's most exciting new wine regions. This is the first major shipment to the U.S.; the very first one was only 400 cases! One
of the privileges of being a member is being able to enjoy this rare treat. Uruguay is ready for the world market and we are excited to share this treasure with you!
2003 Hill of Content, Pinot Noir
from the cool climate of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia is a wine for all seasons and foods. Its amazing depth of character drinks beautifully now but will evolve over the next few years. This wine is a crowd-pleaser for all your occasions.
2000 Gladiator, Salice Salentino
made in the vineyards of the south¬ern part of Apulia, Italy is a rich, rustic red wine made from the Negromara grape. This wine is distinctive, spicy and shows a lot of char-acter with an inexpen¬sive price tag. The region is on the list of Italy's best wine values.
Palio Vecchio means "old prize" in Italian. This is a fitting name for this Merlot and Sangiovese blend. The winemakers have combined traditional Italian winemaking with the modern benefits of aging the wine in French oak to create a classic wine of uncommon depth and quality. They buy the grapes from carefully selected vineyards in the eastern hills of Napa Valley. The valley floor can sometimes get too hot for Merlot, but breezes in this area allow the grapes to develop the rich, plummy flavors that have made this grape so popular. The Sangiovese is farmed on the Game Farm Vineyard which is rich with dense rocky soil. Both varietels are fermented using naturally occurring yeast and are unfined and unfiltered. This production style leaves the wine with much of its natural character and personality to shine through in the glass.
Luna Vineyards is located at the southern most end of the historic Silverado Trail, a region known for its natural beauty and
quiet sophistication. Luna has achieved critical acclaim and are known for producing wines that are elegant and refined. They believe that the mysterious quality that makes certain wines stand out from the rest is "the soul that comes from the vineyard and the winemakers hands."
The Sangiovese/Merlot Napa Red is a brilliant color of dark cherry. The nose has aromas of black cherry, spice, and notes of baker's chocolate. This is a serious mouthful of wine. The aromas are gorgeous dark fruits, sweet dark plums and cherry with a touch of spice and subtle earth tones. The wine has excellent structure and ripe tannins which will mellow with a few years in the cellar. This wine has a soft lingering finish. A few years ago this wine would have sold in the $20.00 plus range and would have sold out! We are thrilled to have landed this wine for you to drink and/or add to your collection. Enjoy this wine with antipasti, pasta, roasted chicken and grilled pork loin. It matches great with pecorino toscano cheese as well.
Color: Brilliant dark
Nose: Sweet dark
plums, cherry, spice
and chocolate notes.
Excellent structure and
Soft lingering finish.
Do you know the way to San Jose' Uruguay? Did you say Uruguay? Yes, we did! Uruguay's wine industry dates back 250 years, and started getting world wide recognition in 1870 with the world's finest examples of the Tannat grape. Once a Spanish colony, Italian immigrants followed and started some of the first commercial vineyards in Uruguay. There are cur¬rently about 300 wineries. The strategy of this coun¬try's wine industry is not to make more and more wines, but to make better wines every year.
Uruguay is a mostly flat and humid country and its location at 30 to 35 degrees latitude are the same as Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, which makes it a logical place to grow grapes. The climate is cool¬er than other South American winegrowing regions and shares with Bordeaux a maritime influ-ence and plenty of humidi¬ty so perfect for grape growing. Bodega Castillo Viejo is a family run bodega for three generations. Producing top quality estate bottled wines is the goal today as it has been in
the past, and is the legacy that has been passed to the current generation as well. "Wines from our family to the world", the Etcheverry family take great pride in every aspect of the wine-making process. Since 1927, the family passion has been to master the mysteries of great wine-making. The goal has been, since the beginning, "con¬stant improvement, a style that leads us daily to incor¬porate new knowledge, and to develop new and modern techniques, while keeping ourselves loyal to the oldest traditions in wine making." They have 321 acres under vine and all the wines are estate bottled. Their wines have had great success and recognition due to their unique character and personality. The 2004 Sauvignon Blanc is noted for its bouquet which jumps out of the glass. Distinct, aggressive aromas of tropical fruit, passion fruit, and guava eagerly greet you. The palate is rich and warm with citrus and melon wrapped in creamy French oak and balanced with fine crisp acidity. The finish lingers long after the wine is gone. Here is a perfect wine for an aperitif or with a meal of fish, chicken and salad.
Color: Soft yellow-green
Nose: Rich passion fruit,
guava and vanilla nose.
Delicate flavors wrapped
in French oak.
Rich and creamy.
Fine crisp lengthy finish.
Limited Series Selection
John Larchet made his first Pinot Noir under the Hill of Content label in 2000. Since then his wines have become very popular and have been met with great reviews. All the fruit is sourced from the Mornington Peninsula vines in Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. An hour's drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is situated on Port Phillip Bay. The Peninsula has a hilly landscape, a cool, maritime influence and winds which prevent frosts. The soils vary from sandy loam, clay and red volcanic. This is very much a boutique winery region with 110 vineyards and 30 wineries. The beaches and rolling hills make the region a major tourist area for weekends and holi¬days. John says, "Hill of Content" was born out of my desire to create interest¬ing region specific wines at a price that allows for 'lib¬eral' consumption. The name translates as "Hill of Happiness", referring to a state of mind rather than a
geographic place. It is my own little way of seeking revenge against so many of the anonymous glass pour wines that are so often dis-appointing and not worth talking about. You be the judge if I have succeeded with my goal." Well, we think he did and we think that you will agree. This wine is ready for our eager consumption.
John Larchet was born in Dublin, Ireland. He fell in love with Australia and the wines while travelling there after college. He is industrious and full of pas-sion and humor. The label sports a man riding a bicy¬cle, carrying wine bottles instead of baguettes. The wine has a bright red color. The nose is gorgeous with loads of red fruit, spice, and notes of earth. The palate is vibrant with fresh cherry and plum with notes of mineral and car-damom spice. The wine is young and drinking beau-tifully now, but will evolve over the next few years. Truly a wine for 'liberal' consumption, so be sure to have some on hand for later. Match with rich fish dishes or duck and lamb.
Hill of Content
Color: Bright red.
Nose: Red fruit,
spice and earth.
Balanced & elegant.
Flavors of fresh
Soft, fruity finish.
Limited Series Selection
Gladiator wines are hard to miss. Keep your eyes peeled for the gladiator on the label, suited up and ready to save good people from drinking lousy, over¬priced wine. The Salice Salentino 'Gladiator' is made in the 'heel of the boot' in Italy's Apulia region. This region pro¬duces about the same amount of wine as Germany and is now coming into its own for wines that are delicious as well as affordable. Salice Salentino is one of the best wine regions in Apulia. This is a small community north of Lecce in an area covered with vineyards and olive orchards with several farmhouses and ancient watchtowers. The vine¬yards here have been planted almost exclu¬sively with Negromara since the 6th century B.C. Because of the black hue of the grape clusters, the variety was called 'niuru maru' in the local dialect. The Negromara grape consistently makes juicy,
black, slightly tannic wines which are great with Italian dishes such as beef braciole and lasagna. Gladiator is mostly Negromara and is blended with a bit of Malvasia Nero, which is another indigenous grape of the region and adds a perfumed bou¬quet to the wine. Gladiator is a great example of the progres¬sive winemaking bent on drawing international attention to these stylish, quality wines coming from 'the boot'. It has a light, ruby red color with a touch of orange on the rim. The nose is opulent and intense with a dis¬tinct floral scent mixed with dried cherry and fresh blackberry fruit smells. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, dry, rich and rustic. The tex¬ture is velvety with mixed dark fruit flavors and a pleasant mix of wood tannins. There is an elegant yet slightly bitter after taste. Drink this wine tonight with a hardy pasta dish and age some for at least two years for a special treat.
Color: Light ruby red
with orange tints.
Nose: Intense, floral,
dried cherry, fresh
Velvety texture, dry,
At a recent wine tasting we
kept hearing the phrase
'malo' and 'it's not 100%
malo', or 'there is no malo'.
What does this mysterious
It is encouraging to hear that you are attending wine tast¬ings. It is time to 'mellow out about malo.' Malo is short for malolactic fermentation, which is the conversion of the strong, harsh malic acid (which is normally present in new wine and apples) into the weaker lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Lactic acid is the acid of milk.
This transformation makes the wine less harsh, less tart, and more supple. It can also add flavor and complexity to both red and white wines and eliminates the chance of the fermentation occurring after the wine has been bot¬tled. This result would be a wine that is gassy and cloudy.
The process is not at all related to alcoholic fermen-tation. Malo almost always
happens after alcoholic fer-mentation, which is why it is sometimes called a 'sec¬ondary fermentation'. Mastery of this fermentation process was one of the great developments in winemaking in France and the world in the 20th century.
Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally when the temperatures become warmer in the spring. There can, however be too much or not enough malo and a con¬trol system is the key to per¬fecting the wines.
Chardonnay has a great affinity for malolactic fermen-tation, creating soft, creamy almost buttery textures. Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Gewurtztraminer show their true colors with the fresh fruit acidity that makes them so great tasting. A wine that is bottled and meant to be drunk immediately would not need malo. Most red wines naturally go through malo-lactic fermentation. It is the white wines, generally Chardonnay, that are moni-tored and stylized.
It all boils down to the wine-maker's discretion and the style of wine she/he wishes to produce. It is fun to buy several different styles and see which ones suit your tastes and recipes. So have fun and see what you prefer.