March 2002 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 242
Rejected: 226 Approved: 16 Selected: 2
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING
We featured a Julius Wile wine last year and the response was overwhelming. While we resist featuring two wines from the same producer too close to each other, I am reminded of the words from a member that keeps echoing in my mind, "Just pick the best ones!" That was probably five years ago, but it still rings true.
Well it's sure hard to argue this one. It is big and rich and just what we want to taste in Syrah, even if it is labeled Shiraz. It's a blockbuster and by far the winner in our panel tasting.
Touraine is so breathtaking in its splendor and beauty, that we sometimes forget just how magnificent the wines are. Our Sauvignon this month is no exception. It is a big, mouthfilling wine that will augment any food it is paired with.
This wine will change the way you feel about Sauvignon Blanc. It is truly exceptional, especially at the price. Don't miss out.
Julius Wile has had one of the most incredible careers in the wine business. It began in 1934 when, as a college student, he attended wine industry events and dinners sponsored by the International Food & Wine Society with his father and André Simon, one of the greatest wine authors and personalities who ever lived. After World War II, he represented his father's importing business at Wine and Food Society events. In 1951 he became an individual member of the society and shortly thereafter a member of the New York Branch board where he has been intimately involved ever since.
He became one of the most respected wine importers, even eclipsing his father's reputation, as well as being one of the most influential members of the Society. He used his vast connections in the wine trade to enhance the status of the Society and arrange events including trips to France, Italy and Germany. He also arranged tastings with the world's greatest wine producers including Piero Antinori, Madame Bollinger, Bruno Prats and recently a definitive tasting of old Bordeaux with Michael Broadbent. Even today, while approaching 90, Julius Wile is active in the wine trade and the Food and Wine Society.
Our selection was assembled by a group of Sonoma vintners with a special eye toward praising the life work of Julius Wile. It was done with his blessing and is significant because of its tremendous value. Most others would have opted for a wine in the high end of the price scale and beyond the reach of most of us.
Syrah was chosen because it is one of the new rising stars in wine. Its suppleness allows it to be consumed young, yet it has all the body and flavor to age further. The grape is labeled Shiraz in Australia and South Africa to more closely identify with its original name which was probably taken from an ancient city in the Middle East over 8,000 years ago. This little gem is a real find and one I am sure you will delight in serving.
Earthy, ripe sweet/tart cherry and spice matched with a jolt of vanilla. Perfect with the chili crusted flank steak recipe on page 6.
Perfect now. Serve
cool, about 30 min. in
Chateau de Pocé is owned by the Chainier Family in the Touraine. Touraine is in the center of the stunningly beautiful Loire with its picturesque countryside and famous castles. Chateau de Poce is a breathtaking 15th century edifice located in the heart of the Touraine. The Chateau is surrounded on three sides with vineyards. The fourth side is nestled against a forest.
The winery is outfitted with the most modern equipment and, while the Old World techniques are still revered, the grapes are allowed to show their fullest potential using New World technology. This region has a long and exciting history. The wines are rumored to be the favorite of Joan of Arc, who supposedly drank them the night before each battle.
Sauvignon Blanc is almost exclusively the province of the eastern Loire around the villages of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Yet, it is now finding its own following here in the Touraine, just 75 miles west of Sancerre. Normally hard and steely in their youth, the wines age beautifully in 3-6 years, many longer. Striking acidity balanced by peach nectar, gravel, a very unique flinty character and a clean grassyness makes this a great wine with rich shellfish dishes.
Our selection fits the classic example like a glove. It exhibits the slightly herbal component inherent in the grape and complements it with a striking peach and guava fruit flavor and a shuttering finish. Winemaker, Francois Chainier, has become legendary in these parts for making what has been called the classic Touraine Sauvignon. We're sure you'll agree.
Chateau de Pocé
Sha-toe day Poe
Lean, clean and mean herbal and ripe tangerine flavors with loads of pippin-like acidity. Fresh and fragrant. Great with shellfish dishes like our shrimp recipe on page 6.
Perfect now, but will
improve in 1-2 years.
chilled, about 2
hours in the fridge.
"Paul, We love the monthly selections. Once in a while we find them in our favorite restaurants and order them. However, often we see wines on the wine list we are unfamiliar with. Can you offer some guidance?
P.J., Denver, CO.
This is a tough one. It is very difficult to offer advice when you don't know the restaurant. Many restaurateurs are very wine savvy and realize how it can enhance a meal. Unfortunately, many don't. Assuming you're frequenting a restaurant that understands the importance of wine with the meal, here are a few suggestions.
After you decide what you're eating, take a look at the wine list. Don't feel like hassling it? Just ask the server to suggest something by the glass.
If you know whether you'd like white or red, you're halfway there. In better restaurants, often the staff will know what will complement what you've ordered -- just ask.
If the list is overwhelming but you know you want, say, a red, simply find any red in your price range, point to it and tell the server, "I was thinking about this one -- ¬but maybe you have an idea of something that would work better." A sensitive server should steer you to something appropriate that is within your budget.
Now, say yours is a party of four, all of whom are eating different things. What do you do? The best plan is to choose an all-purpose wine. A crisp white, such as a not-too-oaky sauvignon Blanc, will go with everything from salads to fish and chicken to pastas to veal and pork. A light or medium red -- a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, for example -- will be delicious with many fish, especially salmon and tuna, as well as just about any pasta, chicken or meat dish.
In a pinch, if you can't find one bottle that satisfies all, you can always order two half-bottles, one white and one red. Or, you could consider a glass or bottle of white first, then a glass or bottle of red.
When the server shows you the bottle, you don't have to admire it -- just check that it's the right wine in the right year. When he or she opens it and gives you the cork, don't sweat it -- just put it on the table. If you want, you can feel it and murmur, "humpf," and leave it to the server and your companions to wonder what you mean.
Now the server pours the wine for you to taste. Why? Not to find out how much you like it, just that it's in good condition. Give it a swirl and a big sniff. Smell okay? Not weird or musty? Then it should be okay. You're not required to offer an opinion -- just nod or say it's fine.
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