January 2004 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 214
Rejected: 176 Approved: 38 Selected: 4
January is here! Bowl games and debate about who has the best teams and lineups. Here at Wine Of The Month Club, we have the best lineup for you. There's no debate here, these wines are number one! There's no debate on the big game either, PK is partial to USC, Fight On!
We are always looking for something a little bit different and exciting. We have found it here with the Fuedo Arancio Grillo. It's a classic, fruity and refreshing wine from Sicily. A great way to start off the New Year.
Our search for the best wines takes us all over the world. Yet we never overlook our
own backyard and the next wine is proof of that. The Painted Horse Zinfandel is another distinctive wine from California's Central Coast. Ideal conditions make for premium grapes rich with varietal flavor. You are going to love this one.
Our Riolite Vini Scaranto is a superb wine from the Veneto region of Italy. A sip of this wine and you'll be transported back to this beloved area.
The Yarra Burn Pinot Noir is from a winery in Australia that produces wines of varietal character, with the delicacy, elegance and intensity expected of the Yarra Valley. As they say down under "Good on Ya Mate!"
The buzz on the street is that the 2001 vintage is one of the best ever for reds in California. Once you taste the Painted Horse Zinfandel, we think you will indeed agree wholeheartedly!
The consensus is that the 2001 vintage for California reds is on par with 1991, 1994, and 1997, maybe even better. The Central Coast - encompassing growing regions from Monterey in the North to Santa Barbara County in the South was particularly blessed with even ripening temperatures and increasing steady heat near harvest time. Our wine shows the exuberant, dynam¬ic, complex and berry¬ish fruit that the year is coming to be known for, with great concen¬tration, aroma and color saturation. This Zinfandel has a well defined presence of fruit components including spice, bram¬ble-berry and raspber¬ry that make it a joyful
experience from start to finish.
Our Painted Horse Zinfandel is from 30-¬40 year old plantings at Paso Robles Sun View Vineyard, on the east side of Highway 101 where conditions are perfect for Zinfandel. Paso Robles is one of the fastest growing premi¬um vineyard and winery regions in California, with the number of bonded wineries and wine grape acres in Paso Robles more than doubling between 1993 and 2002.
The wine was made by Phil Franscioni, an established, well-known Monterey County winemaking family who is famous in Monterey County for making some of the area's best wines. He has made over 20 vin¬tages in this area and he knows exactly what to do with the fruit.
The grapes were picked very ripe at 25 brix with good acidity and perfect sugar lev-els. The wine was
aged in new and used French and American Oak for eleven months with some racking from barrel to barrel for complexity and nuance.
This may be the best harvest ever from this area. Enjoy!
Wild raspberries, ripe, plum, and a hint of black pepper. Painted Horse Zinfandel should not be kept a secret. Serve with a hearty tomato sauce or a full-flavored barbeque for a memorable match.
Italy and France vie each year for the title of world's largest wine producer. In a country that is always ranked first or second in the world for wine production, Sicily is usually the most pro¬ductive region in Italy. Known to the Greeks as Oenotria, or "land of wine", the Romans in turn recognized the potential of the slopes that gave them Falernum, Caecubum, Mamertinum and other heady wines that were eulogized by poets from Horace to Virgil. Pliny the Elder and Columella were among those who recorded methods of viticulture and enology that included descriptions of how to age and pre¬serve wine and even to make it bubbly.
Though the six regions of Sicily pro¬duce nearly 40 percent of Italy's total wine, they account for only about 14 percent of the DOC/DOCG. Yet, after decades in which the emphasis had been
steadfastly on quantity, producers in all regions have become increas¬ingly convinced that the future lies in quali¬ty, as the class of wines steadily improves while volume steadily decreases.
Sicily is tailor-made for the produc¬tion of wine, as well as olive oil and bread, the "Mediterranean Holy Trinity", and is fast becoming one of Italy's most progressive wine regions with the emphasis toward lighter, fruitier wines-mainly white but also red.
Our white wine selection for this month is proof of the recent trend in Sicily toward lower production and higher quality. Set in the center of an old rural village, the Feudo Arancio winery is an ultra modern Facility boasting state-of-the-art equipment. This 100% Grillo, a local grape variety, is vini¬fied in stainless steel to emphasize fruit and freshness. Its nose presents a pleasant fra
grance of green tea. In the mouth it starts with fruity notes and evolves to a dry, crisp, lemony finish. A clas-sic, refreshing, warm weather wine.
Wine with a character-istic bouquet of nettle, green pepper and jas-mine. In the mouth it starts with fruity notes and evolves to a dry, crisp, lemony finish.
Limited Series Selection
Elegance & Finesse is Yarra Burn's signa¬ture. Nestled below the impressive Mount Donnabuang in the Warburton Ranges, Yarra Burn benefits from the cool breezes that sweep over the mountain peaks, and the soothing after¬noon sun which gen¬tly warms the valley. Together they influ¬ence an ideal cool cli¬mate for viticulture.
Established in 1975 by David and Christine Fyffe, the Yarra Burn winery is situated near the small rural town of Yarra Junction, just sixty kilometers north of Melbourne. The Burgundian climatic conditions allow Yarra Burn to produce wines of distinctive varietal character, with the delicacy, ele¬gance and intensity expected from the Yarra Valley.
Attention to detail is paramount at all stages of production
at Yarra Burn, and all winemaking and viti¬cultural techniques are constantly reviewed and improved. Drip irriga¬tion, soil and climate analysis and sophisti¬cated trellis systems for canopy manage¬ment all ensure that the grapes being pro¬duced are of the high¬est quality; while the expertise and passion of the winemaking team, combined with careful oak selection guarantee that the fruit will be crafted into premium wines of distinctive flair and flavor.
Sephen Pannl has gained a reputation as one of Australia's leading red winemak¬ers.
He enjoys making the Yarra Burn wines as, the access to the high quality, cold climate fruit creates opportu¬nities for experimen¬tation. Stephen has a passion for Pinot Noir and Yarra Burn is the source of some of the
country's best quality Pinot Noir. The Yarra Valley has achieved more with this diffi-cult variety than any other Australian wine region.
Pinot Noir, 2000.
Strawberries, cherries and blueberries with the complexity of cloves, cinnamon, truffles and forest floor. Medium bodied, with intensity, balance, texture and a long seductive finish.
Limited Series Selection
This month's red wine comes from the DOC area known as Colli Euganei located southwest of Padova (Padua) in the south central part of Italy's Veneto region. The Veneto is one of Italy's top three or four regions in total wine production.
The Colli Euganei DOC area produces five varietal wines plus a rosso and a bianco. Only vineyards situat-ed on hills or foothills that are exposed pri¬marily to the south and southwest with soils that are a mixture of volcanic and organic elements are consid¬ered suitable.
This is a relatively new operation; found¬ed in 1997 with the first vintage being 1998. The winery is surrounded by castles, towers and churches built from the 7th cen¬tury onwards.
Riolite Vini is an ultramodern facility, utilizing the most pro¬gressive technology and most up-to-date standards of vinifica¬tion. The company is headed by Franco Bernabei, the most respected winemaker in Italy.
Scaranto refers to a type of calcareous terrain, which is very characteristic of the Collie Euganei. The land is composed of limestone, marl and volcanic rock pro¬duced by prehistoric sub-oceanic activity. These mineral-rich soils have the power to transform Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot into world-class wines better than any other area in Italy. Indeed, it is the only area in Italy whose DOC only allows these grapes.
The wines have superb varietal char¬acter, not to be com¬pared with Bordeaux or California, and keep
their own uniqueness, which is uniquely Colli Euganei. This blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet was picked in late September and October and aged in small oak barrels for 9 months before bot¬tling.
Colli Euganei DOC
Rich cassis and
Leather in the nose.
Body is medium
with rich complex-
ty. Finishes dry
with cedar compo
"Paul, Two Buck
Chuck is all over the
news. How good is it
and how can it be
sold so cheaply?"
M.M., Los Angeles,
For those of you who aren't familiar with "Two Buck Chuck", it is a wine sold in California for two dollars and throughout the rest of the country at a slightly higher price by a popular chain of stores. We at Wine of the Month Club feel that it isn't a very good wine. After looking at the numbers and defi¬nitely after tasting it, we think you will agree.
As with anything that is sold, there are cer¬tain costs that need to be paid. Wine has some costs such as the packag¬ing and brokers fee and such. If we start with a case of wine and work backwards, we can pretty
much see how this wine gets to you at such a low price.
First of all the case of wine is sold for $24.00. Out of that you need to deduct packaging materi¬als and related costs of $12.00, store's markup of $4.80, and brokers fee of $3.00 This leaves approx¬imately $4.20 to buy the wine. Normally grapes from the Napa Valley can cost anywhere from $9 to
$15 dollars per gallon. As you can see, this does¬n't quite fit into the budget of $4.20 that is left to buy the 2.2 gallons needed for a case of wine. Therefore, you have to buy wine from other regions of California (like Fresno?) that are less expensive and that sell for $2 to $5 dollars per gallon. Essentially, lesser quality grapes at a reduced price. Inferior materials make for an infe¬rior product. Remember, you can make good wine from good grapes, but you can't do the same with inferior grapes. At wine of the Month Club, you will always get quality wines at great prices.