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February 2004 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 206 Rejected: 183 Approved: 23 Selected: 4
February has been a month of love, passion and romance. You will love this month's selections and you will feel the same passion we felt when we first tasted the wines. As for romance, we can't do much more than provide the wine... the rest is up to you!
Regular Series
Our white wine for this month expresses the French Concept of "joie de vevre," the joy of life as well as any wine we've ever had. Like life itself the 2002 Joliesse Chardonnay Reserve is a wine that should be enjoyed every day.
With the 2001 Enrico Mercuri "Pearl" Shiraz, Enrico Mercuri fulfills the role of a classic negotiant in search of only the finest, handcrafted, lots of artisinal wines, produced from Australia's known and unknown growing regions.
Limited Series
You really are going to have fun with this wine, the 2002 Mitolo "Jester" Shiraz. Our "Jester" will steal your heart from the second you unscrew the cap, yes... we said unscrew, to the time you finish this delicious wine!
The 2001 Peralta Cabernet Sauvignon is from a winemaker who asks "What good is a great wine if no one can afford it"? His dedication paid off with this great wine that is balanced, has character and is very affordable. Enjoy!

Domestic Selection

The folks at Joliesse Winery really enjoy life, especially the California lifestyle! For a wine that embodies such a California spirit, it is interesting to note that Joliesse is part of Boisset America. Founded in 1980, Boisset America is an importer and supplier of French and California wines. As a family-owned business with roots in the heart of Burgundy, the company represents centuries of French winemaking tradition. This French Connection encompasses more than just the business side. Chardonnay is esteemed throughout the world for its richness, complexity, and depth of flavor, and some of the greatest Chardonnays come from Burgundy. The popularity of the grape begins with the fact that it is very easy to grow. Although its homeland is Burgundy, it is quite adaptable in much warmer and some cooler climates all over the world. Another positive aspect for the grower is that Chardonnay grapes produce relatively high sugars and are very generous and consistent in their yields. Most importantly, Chardonnay proves very malleable in the hands of the winemaker. It is very difficult, although not impossible, to make a poor wine from it. Chardonnay will respond well to a variety of processes, which in turn will result in a wide range of styles. Cooler sites and cool vintages often yield more delicate, crisp, apple, pear and citrus fruit flavored Chardonnays. Warmer sites and vintages yield riper, softer, peach and pineapple flavored Chardonnays. Our Chardonnay is a light-to-medium bodied wine, gorgeous pale gold in color. On the palate, the flavors come through with distinct green apple, melon and lemon flavors in a smooth style that finishes with hints of oak and vanilla. By the way, Joliesse comes from the French word for grace and loveliness, which we feel was created with this outstanding vintage!
Chardonnay, 2002
Joliesse Reserve
California
(jo-lee-ES)
Gorgeous pale gold color. Intense ripe melon and honeydew scents. Distinctive for green apple, melon and lemon flavors in a smooth style with lovely hints of oak and vanilla.

Imported Selection

The 2001 Enrico Mercuri "Pearl" Shiraz is a select lot of 100% Syrah (Shiraz) wine, blended and bottled exclusively for the Wine of the Month Club. This is the first time this blend has landed in America with its distinctive nuances, richness, elegance and varied components of fruit. Enrico traveled the half dozen or so most prominent growing areas in South Eastern Australia assembling this blend—and sourced fruit as well as finished wine from as many as a dozen suppliers and vineyards. Well aware that 2001 was a great year Down Under—with near-perfect growing conditions in many areas—he contracted for a number of unique and special lots of Syrah and then assembled them painstakingly to perfection. The final cuvee spent a year settling and maturing in a variety of small and upright barrels, some new and some used to add character and polish. The resulting wine features a dark ruby hue with black and violet highlights. The nose is pure Syrah drama—with an explosion of spice, black pepper, espresso bean, chocolate and rare, meaty aromas. In the mouth the Pearl is full bodied and noticeably rich but still light on its feet and balanced with a striking delineation and purity of fruit flavors & great length. No wonder Syrah has asserted itself throughout this legendary wine land to emerge as the dominant varietal. The arid to hot climate and long growing season allow for grapes of remarkable ripeness, with tiny berry size, deep fruit color and low yield for added intensity. Mercuri's lifetime spent combing his country's labyrinth of wine regions qualifies him as one of Australia's most distinguished merchants—a negociant with an eye and palate for the finest lots of juice and parcels of vineyard, and a trader who is able to bring these riches to market at an exceptional value, wherein all wine lovers may partake of the treasures Down Under— without paying the now stratospheric prices seen on so many bottles of Syrah and Shiraz wines. Enjoy!
Shiraz, 2001
Enrico Mercuri "Pearl"
South Eastern Australia
A full bodied wine with an explosion of spice, black pepper, expresso bean, chocolate and rare meaty aromas.

Limited Series Selection

Frank Mitolo began his own wine company as a result of a keen interest in wine and winemaking. His background is in horticulture, producing potatoes and onions which are sold throughout Australia and the world. Frank experimented with small-scale winemak¬ing for six years before he decided to produce wines commercially in 2000 under the Mitolo Wines label. The grapes for Mitolo Jester come from the Willunga district of McLaren Vale. The soil in Willunga is heavy grey loam over sand¬stone, with black cracking Biscay clays intermixed. The soil has excellent water-holding capacity and requires minimal irri¬gation. McLaren Vale has a distinct maritime climate, cool breezy nights, and warm mild days. These factors contribute to an even ripening period, allowing the develop¬ment of rich fruit fla¬vors and fully ripe tan¬nins. And, yes, that is a screwcap on the bottle. Before you send us a letter or an email to ask "How in the world could you send me a bottle of wine with a SCREWCAP?", read on. Evidence suggests that screwcaps protect wine far better than cork. Cork is made from the bark of a tree and every cork is slightly different. A variation in cork quali¬ty inevitably produces a variation in wine quality. Even more serious is cork taint which dulls the wine's fruit flavor and makes the wine smell like old books or musty card¬board. Tests have shown screwcaps pro¬tect wine from taint and oxidation while allowing it to age gracefully without outside help. The result is a wine show¬ing true characters developed from the wine itself, as intended by the winemaker. Because there will be no leakage of gases through the screwcap wine seal, your wines will cellar equally well in either upright or horizontal position. Now sit back, unscrew and enjoy!
Shiraz, 2002.
Mitolo "Jester" McLaren Vale
Intense, ruby color, with intoxicating aroma of black cherries, licorice and spice.

Limited Series Selection

The Peralta Family Winery is named after Rosalie Peralta, the great grandmother of the current owners and a descendent of Luis Maria Peralta who lived in the historical Peralta Adobe. The Peralta Adobe is locat¬ed in downtown San Jose, California where it has survived 200 years in the center of a rapidly changing city. The home is the oldest building in California's oldest civil settlement, San Jose, and is the only remaining struc-ture from the original Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. The goal at the Peralta Family Winery is to preserve the her¬itage of their ancestors and keep their name and their dedication intact. They produce wines of quality and balance at prices that are affordable for everyday consumption. The Cabernet Sauvignon offers clean, ripe flavors of cassis, cranberry and leather enhanced by judicious oak and a great finish. Ed Masciana, Peralta's pre-eminent winemak¬er and blender, uses his 20+ years of experience to craft wines of bal¬ance and character while keeping a firm eye on costs. His phi¬losophy is "What good is a great wine if no one can afford it?" Half of the grapes that went into this wine came from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyards. Their grapes adorn wines with $20 to $30 price tags. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% Paso Robles, 5% Santa Barbara County. And Cabernet Franc and Merlot 12.5% each from Santa Barbara County. The Cabernet Franc and Merlot were aged in 33% new French oak, the bal¬ance in 1 and 2 year old French oak. The Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in new and used American oak. This is a quality wine at a very afford¬able price.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2001.
Peralta Central Coast
Offers clean, ripe flavors of cassis, cranberry and leather enhanced by judicious oak and a great finish.

Member Inquiry

"Paul, Are Rieslings always sweet and Cabernets and Merlots always dry?
S.M.V & B.V.K., Los Feliz, CA

The sweetness of a wine is not determined by the varietal (grape type). It is determined by the wine-maker and when he or she stops the fermentation pro¬cess of any given wine.
There are two compo¬nents and two by-products involved in fermentation. Sugar, yeast, alcohol and carbon dioxide. Sugar is present in the ripe grapes, yeast is present on the skin of the grapes or is added to the grape juice by the wine-maker. Sugar is converted into alcohol by the action of the yeast and stays in the wine. Carbon dioxide gas is also produced by this process and escapes into the air. Fermentation begins once the juice is in the con- tainer (stainless steel or wooden barrels). During this process, the average temperature of the must (juice) rises to between 60F and 85F and sometimes higher. If the temperature rises above 85F, fermenta¬tion is likely to stop since the yeasts cannot function at that extreme tempera¬ture.
Fermentation stops when all of the sugar is con¬verted to alcohol, resulting in a dry wine. Or it stops when the alcohol level gets so high that the yeast can not function (around 15% alcohol by volume), creat¬ing either a dry, high-alco¬hol wine, or if some sugars remain, a sweet, high-alco¬hol wine.
Lastly the fermenta¬tion process can stop if the wine maker intervenes before all the grapes have been converted to alcohol. This is done by adding a spirit to the wine such as brandy (creating a high-alcohol sweet wine) or by chilling the wine rapidly (creating a moderate-alco¬hol wine with small amounts of residual sugar resulting in a slightly sweet tasting wine).

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