- Q & A
February 2002 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 199 Rejected: 180 Approved: 19 Selected: 2
Every year at this time everybody has sales, so why shouldn't we? Check out the lower than usual prices on re-orders for this month and stock up. We have good quantities on most of the wines, but they won't last long.
We haven't been able to feature a Bordeaux, much less a Superior like this month's Malromé, for nearly eight years. It was worth the wait. This classic won't last long (like last month's Mietz), so don't wait too long to order.
Pedroncelli has been producing fantastic wines at great prices for over 70 years. Even in the last couple of years, when other wineries were doubling their prices, Pedroncelli kept rolling along offering great values without a peep. We are thrilled to offer this wine to you and suggest you try other wines from this wonderful winery.
How much better does it get than offering a phenomenal Bordeaux once owned by one of the greatest of the French Impressionists, Henri Toulouse-Lautre? His story is as tragic as his paintings are glorious. As a young boy, he broke both legs in an accident. They never healed properly resulting in his legs never growing. This accounts for the bizarre figure he became because his torso grew to adult size on a child's legs. He died at his Chateau in 1901 at the age of 37, but fortunately the wine lives on.
Domestic SelectionPedroncelli Winery has come a long way since 1927, when John Pedroncelli, Sr. purchased vineyards and a small winery in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. Today, the vineyards are planted to premium grape varieties; the winery is filled with modern equipment, and wines bearing the Pedroncelli name grace tables from coast to coast. Jim Pedroncelli, John Sr.'s son is Director of Sales and Marketing and has pioneered innovations that have been adopted by wineries throughout California and beyond. The winery began selling wine in gallon and half gallon bottles in the mid-1950s. Demand for premium varietals in fifths began to grow in the 1960s, so they made their first Cabernet Sauvignon in 1965. By 1970, Pedroncelli was offering a full line of premium wines, including Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. On Jim's recommendation, Pedroncelli was among the first wineries to use Sonoma County as an appellation on its label. Sonoma County wasn't well known then, so having the appellation on the labels distinguished their wines. He has kept Pedroncelli sales moving forward in recent years with new packaging and new wines such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, but Jim's marketing philosophy remains simple. "I want customers to appreciate our wines for their quality and their value." Dry Creek Valley is widely recognized as one of California's finest vineyard regions. Only 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the valley enjoys a climate of warm days and cool nights that enables grapes to develop generous fruit at maturity. The Pedroncelli family's 120 acres of vineyards are situated on the valley's eastern benches and hills, where well-drained, gravelly soils help concentrate varietal character. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the hallmark wines in Dry Creek Valley. The warm days bring out the lush fruit and the cool nights retain the natural acids for a terrific food wine.
Sauvignon Blanc, 2000 Pedroncelli
Soo-vin-yahn Blonk Pay-drone-chelly
Rich, ripe nectarine and spice flavors with a touch of vanilla. Great with challenging dishes like our shrimp recipe on page 6.
Perfect now. Serve slightly chilled, about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Imported SelectionMalromé's history starts in the 14th century, when Guiraud the Tastes, Count of Beam, built the chateau. It was partially destroyed during the religious wars in the 16th century, but re-emerged in the middle of the 19th century thanks to the efforts of Napoleon III.
In 1883, Malrome was sold to the countess Adele de Toulouse-Lautrec. Every summer until 1930, Adele came regularly to the chateau to supervise the progress of the vintages. Her son, Henri, also made frequent stays at Malromé. He felt at ease in the grounds, painting ceaselessly. It was there that he produced one of the most beautiful portraits of his mother. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died at the chateau in 1901, his life cut short by impairments suffered during an accident as a child. As there was no direct heir, Malromé was sold to Georges Sere de Riviere, Adele's nephew, in 1933. Other proprietors were to follow until Philippe Decroix and his wife bought Malromé in 1996.
Malrome is fortunate in having an ideal terroir for making quality wine. The estate's clay-gravel alluvial soil is due to a shift in the Pyrenees aeons ago that created the Garonne River. The 50 acres of vines are in a single block surrounding the chateau. The red wine is made from the four traditional Bordeaux grape varieties: Merlot (50%), is rich and concentrated, Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), is powerful, tannic and provides good aging potential, and Cabernet Franc (10%), adds very elegance, aromatics and color.
Bordeaux is the largest fine wine producing area in the world covering over 250,000 acres and producing nearly 70 million cases of wine. While known for its rich and imposing reds, like Malromé, Bordeaux also produces incredible white wines from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and one of the greatest dessert wines, Sauternes. Our selection is a true representation of the area. Rich and flavorful with a superb expression of the magnificent soil from which it was born.
Chateau Malrome, 1997
Mouth filling flood of ripe cassis, licorice and earth all swirling in a perfect amalgam of flavors. Great with beef dishes like our meatloaf recipe on page 6.
Perfect now, but will improve in 1-2 years. Serve cool, about 1/2 hour in the fridge.
Member Inquiry"Paul, We seem to get more confused on the labels of some of these French wines. Can you explain some of the terms?
D.S., Jr., Santa Rosa, CA
I can sympathize with you. They confuse me sometimes as well. Here is a compilation of the most common wine terms you'll find on a bottle of French wine. While it doesn't cover every term that may appear, it's a good starting place and covers most of the words you'll encounter.
Blancs: White. Usually refers to the color of the wine, but can also refer to the color of the land as in Côtes Blancs is an area with chalky, white soil.
Chateau: A physical place like a home, but generally refers to a winery. Term is used primarily in Bordeaux.
Climat: A geographic area or part of an area or vineyard, which also includes the soil, climate and physical characteristics. Similar to terroir but refers more to the physical place than the soil, climate characteristics.
Clos: A walled area like Clos Vougeot or Clos St. Denis
Côte or Côtes: Slope. Most of the great vineyards are on slopes to aid drainage.
Domaine: Similar to chateau but used primarily in Burgundy.
Grand Cru: A specific vineyard designated to be among the best of its peers. Has stricter production guidelines than Premier Cru.
Premier Cru: The next step below Grand Cru. Has stricter production guidelines than Villages wine. Rouge: Red
Terroir: Literally means "earth" but in wine terms actually encompasses the eco system of the vineyard from the slope of the land, sun exposure, rainfall, etc.
Vendage: The vintage or year of the wine.
Villages: Grapes coming from one or more specific villages in a given area that are superior to the rest of the area. Beaujolais Villages is usually a better wine than Beaujolais.