1978-11 November Classic Newsletter
November 1978 Selection of California Wine
LE FLEURON VIN BLANC N.V.
The Le Fleuron label is the second label used by the Jospeh Phelps winery. The Phelps winemaking operations are located in the center of Napa Valley, near the town of St. Helena. The winery is equipped with the finest and most up to date winemaking equipment. The first Joseph Phelps wines appeared on the market in 1974 and in the few years since then they have gained themselves quite a reputation.
Le Fleuron Vin Blanc is a blended wine which is made up of wines which do not, for one reason or another, conform to Phelps regular Line of varietal bottlings. The blend contains Johannisberg Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and some Chardonnay. For value versus quality, which is the objective of The Cellarmaster Wine of The Month Club, we felt this was a wine and a winemaker well deserving your attention.
This Vin Blanc is a superb example of the blending skills of the wine-maker. It is light, dry, crisp, clean and very well balanced. It is a pleasant change from the varietal course of wines. Try it chilled with light foods.
November 1978 Selection of Imported Wine
CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE MASSON-DUBOIS 1974
The village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is located some 12 miles north of the old papal city of Avignon in Southern France. The "chateau neuf" (new castle) was the summer home of the French Popes in the 14th century. The vineyards are planted on an extraordinary high, stony tableland which dominates the Rhone and surrounding fertile plain. The soil consists of very coarse gravel and small bolders on which it seems impossible for even vines to grow.
About a dozen different grape varieties are grown in this section of the Rhone and the wine contains an admixture of most of them. Some of the more widely planted varieties are the Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Clairette.
This Masson-Dubois Chateauneuf-du-Pape is deep crimson in color, full-bodied, soft and warm on the palate. It has the fruity bouquet, typical of Rhone wines, and is a surprise for its 1974 pedigree; cosider laying this one down. It goes well with all red meats.
Carnet Sauvignon 1976
Carnet Sauvignon grapes
from Monterey County
Grapes from several Monterey County vineyards made this Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were picked at 22 degrees of Brix. I feel that this level of maturity perfectly captures the freshness and intensity the Cabernet Sauvignon grape as grown in Monterey County.
Chardonnay grapes from
Edna Valley vineyard
These grapes came from Edna Valley, found in San Luis Obispo County, It makes a wine full, rich and will bottle age well. We recommend that our Chardonnays receive two or three additional years cellaring to bring out their full potential. This wine is no exception.
PINOT NOIR BLANC 1976
100% Pinot Noir grapes
from Home Vineyards
This is a still white wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. Even though the processing is identical to that of a white wine, the wine itself tends to come out a bit on the orange side. This, at first appears like an unusual practice. It is not. I was amused when a California winery recently came out with such a wine and called it unique. Some of Martin Ray's dated from the 1950's; I myself had made one in 1968; and, of course, the French have been doing it for years. So what else is new. Perhaps only the Zinfandel white and to my knowledge I made the first one in 1964.
This wine made from 100% Pinot noir grapes is quite a rich wine and I anticipate a distinct following to develop for it. It will be interesting to see how long this, and others like it, will live. As a possible clue to this riddle, there is little doubt in my mind that it is the Pinot noir, and not the blanc de blanc (Chardonnay) which makes the long-lived Champagne.
CHATEAU ST. JEAN
VINEYARDS AND WINERY
● 1977 MUSCAT CANELLI ALEXANDER VALLEY
The 1977 vintage Muscat Canelli is our first "major" release made entirely with this varietal. It was made for general distribution in a slightly sweet style . . . 2.2% residual sugar by weight. It is a delicately spicy and fruity dessert/ table wine. Although the wine would improve somewhat with additional age, I feel it is best enjoyed in its youth. $6.00/each $54.00/case
● 1975 VIN ROUGE
This wine is our second release in a series of what we call our "Generic" varietals. The 1975 vintage Vin Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Barbera. It was aged 16 months in French, Slavonian and American oak. If it is given two to three years bottle aging, it should develop into a very good claret type wine. $3.75/each $40.50/ case
● 1977 JOHANNISBERG RIESLING ALEXANDER VALLEY ROBERT YOUNG VINEYARD
The 1977 vintage, with it's unseasonal rains and unusual hot spells, played havoc with most of the area's grapes. However, we were able to harvest the white or Johannisberg Riesling before the rain turned out in force. These wines were made from grapes infected with little or no botrytis and are of a Kabinett or drier style than our late harvest selections. All contain less than 2% residual sugar after fermentation and are quite delicate. Each lot exhibits various nuances which differentiate them from one another . . . but the underlying similarity suggests wines with intense fruity and ample acidity, to balance the small amount of residual sweetness. $5.50/each $59.40/case
● 1977 GEWÜRZTRAMINER SONOMA COUNTY
Our 1977 vintage Gewurztraminers promise to be similar in style to their 1976 counterpart. Although California's North Coast Counties of Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa exhibited uneven ripening with this varietal in 1977, through several selective pickings, we were able to carefully select only the ripest bunches. The result is two exceptional Gewurztraminers. The Sonoma County Gewurztraminer is a blend of grapes from several growers in the Sonoma and Alexander Valleys. The, Rancho Alta Vista Gewurztraminer is made entirely from fruit harvested on a small Sonoma Valley dry-farmed vineyard located northeast of the town of Sonoma. Both wines are semi-dry with less than 2% residual sugar after fermentation and exhibit fine spice and fruit in their early development. $6.25/each $67.50/case
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and marketing surveys have revealed that more people serve wine for this day than for any other occasion. And why not; when so much effort has been lavished on one meal, it should be complete with a bottle of wine to grace the table. Turkey being the usual fare for the day, the selection of wine is somewhat simplified, as almost any dry white wine is suitable. Your choice of wine should be guided more by your personal preferences than anything else. If however, you are that once a year wine drinker, we would like to suggest the following:
MONTEREY VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY - 1976
● This is a dry wine with a light straw color. It has a pleasant nose and medium body, with the varietal character coming through nicely. It s very well balanced and has a pleasant finish, which lingers with you a while. A good buy at $6.00 per fifth.
WENTE BROS. PINOT CHARDONNAY - 1977
● This is also a dry wine with a very light golden color. It has a medium body with just a touch of oak. It is soft, well rounded, and finishes well. An incredibly good value at only $4.95/fifth.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE JOHANNISBERG RIESLING - 1976.
● This Johannisberg from Washington state is a genuine surprise. It is everything you would expect in a Johannisberg, and at a very reasonable price. A dry wine with good color, body, and varietal character. It is available at $4.25/fifth.
CHATEAU MONTELENA JOHANNISBERG
RIESLING - 1977
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CHAPTER — 153
PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY
● This is a North Coast selection, and has a very slight trace of residual sugar. It is nonetheless considered a dry wine. It is well balanced and perfectly delightful. Supplies are a bit low but, it is a terrific buy while it lasts at $5.50 per fifth.