October 1977 Selection of California Wine
PETITE SIRAH 1975 CALLAWAY
As promised, here is our much-touted California selection for this month. Since the origin of these grapes and the process followed to make this wine is completely outlined on the back label, we will not repeat the information. However, it is quite informative and you will enjoy the wine even more by knowing its background.
Beyond a doubt, this is the biggest, fruitiest and most elegant Petite Sirah we have ever tasted. Because of its youth, just bottled last March, there are still a few rough edges that will smooth out with another year of ageing. The color is the darkest we have ever seen in any wine. The fruit can be sensed across the room and lingers in the mouth.
If your taste tends to the heavier, fuller style wines, then this Callaway 1975 Petite Sirah is for you. Because of the relatively short supply, we encourage you to place your order as soon as possible to insure delivery. It won't last long. A magnificent compliment to Pate de Fois Gras.
October 1977 Selection of Imported Wine
COTES DU VENTOUX 1976
The name Chateauneuf is almost universally associated with the fine red wines which come from this famous area in southern France. What few people know is, that this area also produces a small quantity of white wine; some of rather good quality. This Cotes du Ventaux is one of these wines.
Ventoux is actually the name of a remarkable but somewhat isolated, 6000 foot peak, Le Mont Ventaux. The name literally means, "The Windy Mountain", and it is well named. It dominates a large section of the lower Rhone Valley and its lower slopes and surrounding foothills are largely covered with vines.
This white Rhone has a deep, golden color which is a little out of the ordinary for such a young wine, but is by no means a flaw. It has a medium body and a very pleasant, slightly tart, finish. Enjoy this one chilled with light meats, or fowl.
Domaine Chandon - First day of 1977 crush. Lots of excitement. The whole establishment is a superb piece of architecture and technology. Well worthwhile a stop next time you are in Yountville. A first class restaurant fronts the winery. The setting is elegant and the menu is impressive, all served in the gracious tradition.
Joseph Phelps - Tasted their outstanding Pinot Chardonnay 1975, to be released in October. Don't miss this one. It will be very short. In shorter supply is their forthcoming (date of release not announced as of this writing) Pinot Noir 1974 Heineman Mountain Vineyard. An achievement as Pinot Noirs go.
Chateau Montelena - The Barrett's were away, and Bob Royce showed us this charming setting. Mike Grigich their winemaker left Chateau Montelena and is forming his own Grigich Hills winery. In the meantime, his 1975 Chardonnay is another outstanding release. Jerry Luper, their new winemaker of Edelwein and Cabernet Bosche fame from Freemark Abbey was preparing to crush the next day.
Beringer - The typical St. Helena tour was followed by a tasting of the "never fails to surprise me" Malvasia Bianca as a dessert wine. For the price it is a superb buy. $2.95/fifth
If you fly to San Francisco, and drive to Napa, be sure and stop at Zack's in Sausalito. Sit on their patio and enjoy lunch watching the seagulls and the vista of San Francisco Bay. A real California experience. It is a big chardonnay and has already done quite well in a number of comparative blind tastings. It appears as though this one will be even better than the 1975 vintage. It will improve with additional bottle age. $8.50/fifth
1975 CABERNET SAUVIGNON - This is an exciting Cabernet. It has a dark rich color, medium body, with very good fruit and tannin. It contains approximately 8% Merlot which should help it develop. The wine should be cellared for some time, before drinking. With this additional bottle age it should become a very fine wine indeed. The winery feels that this wine is superior to either its 1973 or 1974 vintages. $8.50/fiftL
FOR THAT SPECIAL CELEBRATION
A Salmanazar will serve 50 people, two glasses each of champagne or 25 people, four glasses each of champagne, because it is a single bottle that has 208 ounces in it.
And what's better, is that it contains Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial.
This size is rare. We were allocated 2 bottles by the importer in January, and one is gone. Our wine manager used it for his 25th Wedding Anniversary party. The Moet was superb.
There are very few bottles left around town, so if you want a giant souvenir bottle for your cellar, come see it and plan to use it for your next major celebration, before somebody else does. At $189.00 the sensation it causes is worth the price of admission.
Two special events are being announced in this month's column. The first, German Rieslings, is being sponsored by the Manhattan Beach Chapter and will be held on Friday, October 28. Announcements for this event are being mailed by that Chapter to all our regular LADV members. If you are not a member and would like to receive an announcement, stop by the display on the counter at the store, or call the Manhattan Beach Chapter Director, "Van" VanderStucken, at 370-2823.
The second event features an evening with Dick Peterson, Winemaker at the Monterey Vineyard. He will bring not only his expertise, but also freshly-picked varietal grapes to match with his wines. This event is to be on Friday, November 11. The announcements are being distributed now to give adequate advance notice for this unique tasting experience.
A knowledgeable group of 59 LADV members and their guests gathered on Tuesday, 24 August, to taste compare eleven of the top California and French Merlots. The group clearly showed its preference for the Merlots heavy with Cabernet, picking 1st: Sterling '72 (40% Cabernet) and 2nd: Ridge '74 (49% Cabernet) over the 1973 Chateau Petrus (7% Cabernet). Many of these Merlots had a sweetness, not due to residual sugar, but rather to the grape, reminiscent of a Burgundy. Our suggestion: For those who love a big Burgundy, but haven't found any in recent vintages, try these fine Merlots. We think you will be pleased.