May 2003 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 226
Rejected: 200 Approved: 26 Selected: 4
Every month is a new challenge. V taste so many different wines to try and find the best of the best that sometimes we worry if we've tasted them all. This month we will feature two domestics in the Regular Series because the Bouchaine would not have been available next month.
Sometimes even we can't believe the finds we make, but I guess that's what keeps us hanging around and in our 31st year (and counting!).
Usually, when we're interested in a wine, we don't have any problems securing it at a better price than anyone. When we tasted the Painted Hills 2001 Chardonnay we had to offer it.
"Well", we were told, "It's for restaurants only!" What? We've got 20,000 members who would love to get their hands, and palates, on this wine and
we're not taking "no" for an answer.
Whew! It was a close call, but we think it was worth the effort.
The Bouchaine 2000 Pinot Noir is nothing short of amazing. We've been extremely lucky to find great Pinots at this price range and this may be the best yet. Aword of caution, though; they sell out faster than any wine we feature.
The Limited Series features the 2000 Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir, which is nothing short of other worldly. It is without question, one of the great Pinots this state can produce.
And finally, the best wine we had in Europe was, believe it or not, a ' Greek wine. The 2000 Boutari Naoussa will change the way you feel about Greek wines. It sure changed ours.
We first tasted Painted Hills Chardonnay at a local restaurant and were amazed at the flavor and delicate balance it possessed. With some research, we found that it was a brand owned by Diageo, the giant, London-based wine and spirits company. We set on a path to secure it for our mem¬bers and didn't realize how difficult it would be. Fortunately, for all of us, we prevailed.
Diageo is a serious company. They're seri¬ous about their prod¬ucts, their position in the industry and their impact on the commu-nity around them. All of these positives made us respect the compa¬ny as much as we did the wine. Because of Digeao's size and influ-ence, it can source grapes that other oper¬ations only dream of and can offer the wines at much more compet¬-
itive prices as well.
This selection is such a wine. The grapes came from the cooler Sonoma and Central Coast regions, which are both known for the best Chardonnays California has to offer. Sonoma provides the wonderful fruit that only Chardonnay can deliver while the Central Coast addition gives the body and structure needed to stand up to myriad cuisines and food treat¬ments.
The company tries to do the right thing when it comes to busi¬ness dealings with their customers and the consumer, the envi¬ronment and the com¬munities they interface with. We have not seen this kind of com¬mitment to "non sales" activities and must say that it is quite refreshing.
Diageo commits 1% of its pre-tax
worldwide profits to community involve¬ment. The Diageo Foundation has been established to support the way the money is channeled and to help their businesses around the world to
become further involved. We find this trait to be as noble as the wines they pro¬duce.
Engaging tropical and peach nectar fruit flavors is married to a solid oak compliment and a piquant finish. Try with scallop mousse stuffed zucchini blossoms.
Bouchaine Vineyards was founded in 1981 on a 104-acre estate in the pres¬tigious Carneros region of Napa Valley. Located just north of San Pablo Bay, the cli¬mate here is influ¬enced by the fog that floats in each night. The shallow, mostly clay soils are best suit¬ed to the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Bouchaine is the oldest continually operated winery in Carneros and is now owned by Gerret and Tatiana Copeland of Wilmington, Delaware. The com¬pany is dedicated to the production of pre¬mium Burgundian varietal wines from Napa Valley's cool Carneros region.
While orchards and fruit trees were planted here in the 1880's, repeal of Prohibition marked
the modern history of this property. The Garetto family built the winery and made wine here until 1951. It was purchased by the Beringer Brothers and used as their pri¬mary production facility for twenty years. Nestle of Switzerland pur¬chased Beringer in 1971 and continued using the "Buchli Station Road" location for racking, blending and wine storage until Gerret and Tatiana Copeland and friends bought the property in 1981. The facility was upgraded to a fully integrated wine-making operation and renamed Chateau Bouchaine. The Copelands became sole owners in 1991.
The winery com¬pleted an extensive renovation in 1995. Original redwood tanks from the early 1900s were recycled as siding for winery
Pinot Noir and Carneros are almost synonymous with each other. It was the first area in the 1980s to be singled out as having the potential to produce world class Pinot Noir in California. In less than 20 years, it has fulfilled its promise with Bouchaine lead¬ing the way.
Pinot Noir, 1998.
Lovely, bright crimson color with great depth in the middle. Hints of strawberry flavors and a sweet/tart cherry in the mouth with sashes of vanilla and cinnamon.
Limited Series Selection
The Boutari Winery was founded in 1879 by Yanni Boutari. In many ways, this very mod¬ern winery with its far-flung vineyard enterprises, is the Robert Mondavi Winery of Greece. The original winery, outside of Naoussa, has a 124-acre vine¬yard. There are also six other wineries located throughout Greece in places like Goumenissa, Santorini, Attica, Nemea, Paros and Crete. Resurrecting the unique qualities of the indigenous grape varieties of classical Greece, sometimes combining them with more well-known French varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Boutari has elevated the quality of wines from this most ancient of wine-growing
The history of winemaking owes so much to Greece, given that the wines of this country are rarely the focus of the wine writ¬ing of this era. Greek winemaking has gone through many eco-nomic and stylistic changes. However, Boutari has seized the moment, and is mak¬ing wines of real style and substance. They clearly have improved vineyard practices, making wines of more concen¬tration and balance. More importantly, they have improved winemaking prac-tices, integrating such techniques as stain¬less steel, cold-tem¬perature fermenta-tion and French oak barrel aging. Today, Boutari is the world's num¬ber-one selling Greek wine, and has earned its place on any fine table.
It has won many awards over the last 50 years both in Greece and interna¬tionally. Boutari's Naoussa is made from the Xinomavro vari¬ety cultivated in the Naoussa A.O.C. region of northern Greece. It enjoys the position of being Greece's top selling premium wine world-wide.
Deep red color. Very intense aroma of olive, tomato, quince, cedar and red fruits in combination with oak, smoke, chocolate, vanilla and spices.
Limited Series Selection
Robert Stemmler's passion for winemaking spans over forty years. A native of Germany, Robert Stemmler com¬pleted his formal edu¬cation in winemaking at Bad Kreuznach Wine College in Germany. In 1961 he traveled to America to accept a winemaking position at Charles Krug Winery, one of Napa Valley's most prominent wineries. He quickly earned the reputation as one of the leading winemak¬ers in California.
In 1976, Stemmler started his own winery. He concentrated on his true passion, Pinot Noir. His 1982 Pinot put him on the wine map. It was awarded the "Best Pinot Noir in America." Today, Robert Stemmler is rec¬ognized as one of California's top Pinot Noir producers and he
continues to devote his energy to his passion of making California's best Pinot Noir.
Our offering is well-focused with depth on the palate and a silky texture framed by firm tan¬nins, lingering ripe fruit with earthy nuances and chocolate undertones.
Stemmler's Pinot Noirs have been the rage because they go counter to the "sweet nothings" that have been produced by too many other wineries. His wines are bold, distinctive and marry uncompromisingly well with challenging foods.
Pinot Noir is still the most elusive grape in the world. Even its most exalted domain, the Cotes du Nuits in Burgundy, it is more often disappointing than exciting. Yet, when it hits the mark, no other wine can
match it. Sonoma's more friendly climate hits the mark more often than most.
Here is great Pinot Noir at its greatest. Don't wait too long, these wines tend to disappear quickly.
Lots of ripe pure fruit with an emphasis on black cherry and anise laced flavors. The wine is both rich and complex displaying integrated notes of baking spices, cocoa and toasted oak.
"Paul, I'm planning a
wine and cheese party. Which
cheeses complement wines
and vice versa?"
B. L. K.
Look for acidity in wines, it's often an asset. Good choices include Sauvignon Blancs, sparkling wines, and dry Rieslings.
Lean toward richly fruity reds. They work well with cheese's salty flavors. Pinot Noirs, Syrahs, and Zinfandels are good bets.
Try different goat cheeses with wine. Overall, they are surprisingly versatile together. Avoid heavily oaked wines, such as super-oaky California Chardonnays. Their buttery richness can be overwhelming
with similar qualities in the cheese.
Steer clear of excessively tannic reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignons. Salt and tannin are a train wreck in the mouth, so tannic reds don't work well with most cheeses.
Consider the effect of added flavorings on the wine match. If a cheese is coated
in black pepper or herbs, for instance, that can throw off your pairing, so take the char-acteristics of any flavorings into account when choosing wines. Select one wine that's compatible with a wide range of cheeses, or several, each suited to specific cheeses.
The wines that go best with the greatest number of cheeses are fruity and on the sweet side, but with plenty of acid to stand up to the rich-ness of cheese.