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April 2002 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 226 Rejected: 200 Approved: 26 Selected: 2
BACK TO BASICS
We haven't featured a Chardonnay in a while, and this Maddalena was the perfect selection to kick off this year's Young Artist Series. The Wine of the Month Club was one of the original founders and is still a major supporter of this program, which gives a percentage of each bottle sold to a budding young artist to help further their education.
Oh, and the wine's a blockbuster, too! We're finding that the wines that consistently come out on top in our tasting panels are coming from the Central Coast. We love the long fruit components and lingering acidity which separates them from their northern neighbors. We feel that you will too.
It seemed as though we featured five or six Australian Shiraz's in a row. I thought that's all they made over there. Well, this Cabernet will certainly turn the tables around, not to mention a few heads. You'd swear you are drinking $30 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at a fraction of the price. We're certainly not going to complain. We think it's about time somebody stood up and took a bite out of those high prices. It's no wonder Australian imports into the United States increased 40% last year.

Domestic Selection

Our selection this month is the second in our Young Artist Series Wines, a program of which the Wine of the Month Club is proud to be a sponsor and founder. We believe that art is very important in our daily lives. It gives us a broader prospective of the world around us. The Young Artist Series is our way of helping to further the exposure of young artists who will hopefully create works that someday will enrich all of us.
The wine was picked from the best lots of Maddalena Monterey Chardonnay. Founded in the late 1970's, Maddalena Vineyard established extensive vineyard holdings in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties. Back then, the Central Coast was relatively unproven in its ability to produce world-class wines. Today, however, the coast is the most rapidly growing premium wine region in California.
The Riboli Family's largest holdings are in Monterey, one of the coolest growing areas in the state and one of the best. Their dedication to quality goes from the vineyards to the cellar, where fourth-generation winemaker Anthony Riboli and senior winemaker David Vergari employ traditional techniques to create superb wines. All vineyard lots are fermented separately to preserve the it of each parcel of land. After fermentation, wines are aged in new and used oak barrels from numerous French and American coopers. Careful blending creates the greatest degree of complexity and insures consistency of style from vintage to vintage.
Chardonnay is the star of the Central Coast. The cool growing season ensures a long "hang time" for the grapes; a major factor in producing complex wines with long finishes. We haven't offered a Chardonnay for a while. We've been waiting for an outstanding one to come along and this was it.
Chardonnay, 2000. Young Artist Series
(Shar-doe-nay)
Tropical, mineral nose with flecks of peach and guava. Full in the mouth with vanilla notes and green apple.
CELLARING SUGGESTIONS:
Could in improve in a year or two. Serve chilled, about 30 minutes in the fridge.

Imported Selection

The beginnings of Nugan Winery took shape in Valencia, Spain, when a young Alf Nugan entered the fruit export market. The 1940s saw Alf pioneer what is now a thriving business located in Griffith, New South Wales. Drawing on his experiences from Spain, he used both innovation and strict quality control to become a pre-eminent supplier of superior produce, firstly to Australia and then the world. He chose Griffith in South Western New South Wales because of its abundance of sunshine and the availability of water allowing for agricultural applications all year round.
All wines for the Nugan Family Estate are sourced from their own vineyards to produce premium wines for the domestic and export markets. The wines are sent to Nugan's Terra Nova Estate, a state of the art, European style winery complex promoting wine tourism with a fine restaurant and accommodation facilities.
The Riverina region is semi arid, with about 12 inches of rain a year. The vineyards are irrigated through an elaborate series of underground pipes and wells. The water so pure it has been approved for brewing. Each vine is watered only as needed, determined through a series of underground moisture meters.
Recently appointed Manager/Winemaker John Quarisa is a valued addition to Terra Nova Estate. He gained extensive experience in all facets of wine making during his 16 years at McWilliams. John was responsible for producing premium award winning wines, which includes gold medals for Hanwood Chardonnay between 1997-2000.
Shiraz is the grape most closely associated with Australia. Yet, it is Cabernet Sauvignon that is the fastest growing grape in the country. The heavyweights come from -South and Southeast Australia, but the grape is taking hold in Jew South Wales. From simple quaffing wines to huge, chewy California-clones, Australia may one day boast more Cabernet than Shiraz. This selection could easily lead the pack.
Cabernet Sauvignon, 2000 Nugan
Kab-air-nay Soo-ving-yahn Noo-gen
Big and bold cassis and wild blueberry flavors abound here with hints of vanilla and spice. Full and rich in the mouth offering much of the above aroma with a long finish.
CELLARING SUGGESTIONS:
Will certainly mellow and complex in the bottle for 1-3 years. Serve cool.

Adventures in Good Food

SUPER SIDES
This month we feature a couple of our favorite side dishes.
POTATO PIE
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup whole milk, warm to the touch, but not hot.
5 1g. Russets
6 oz. bacon (approximately 6 slices)
2 eggs separated
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup or 4 tblsp.)
1/2 stick flour (1/4 cup or 4 tblsp.)
1 large onion
PREPARATION:
Heat oven to 400°.
Peel potatoes and grate coarsely. Place potatoes in cold water for at least an hour. Chop onion and bacon finely and sauté over low heat in butter.
Add flour to onion and bacon mixture and sauté until incorporated. Turn off heat. Add warm milk.
Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add yolks and beat approximately 30 sec. or until incorporated.
Fully drain potatoes, squeezing through paper towel and add to eggs. Add onion mixture and fold to incorporate.
Place in glass 9x11 inch baking dish (actually any dish that is about 1" to 2" high will do) and bake in preheated oven at 400° for 15 min. Reduce to 375° and bake 1 hr. Garnish with sour cream and green onion. Serves 8.
Do not consider fat or calorie content.
RISOTTO WITH WILD MUSHROOMS
INGREDIENTS
1 cup rice, preferably Vialone Nano (a type of rice similar to Arborio) If not available use Arborio.
3-4 cups homemade chicken stock
2 med. shallots, minced
2 Tbs. butter
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup good quality imported provolone cheese, grated
Pinch of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
PREPARATION
Heat the stock until barely simmering, but not boiling. Sauté the shallots in 1 Tbs. butter until translucent. Briefly rinse the rice in cold water (about 3 sec.) This removes the excess starch. Add the rice to the shallots. Add the mushrooms to the stock. Sauté the rice for about a minute. Add the stock to the rice at about 1/2-cup at a time. It's okay if some of the mushrooms get in too. Continue to stir the rice for the entire cooking time, adding stock as it is absorbed. It should take about 20 minutes for the rice to be cooked, but not too soft. There should be a bit of a bite to it. When rice is finished add remaining tablespoon of butter and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
You can add 5 oz. of lamb or pork per person to make a main course.
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