February 2001 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 199
Rejected: 180 Approved: 19 Selected: 2
BACK TO BASICS
We figured we would wait a while before settling down to basics in the new Millennium. After all, how basic can you get in the world of wine than Cabernet and Chardonnay? Well, let me tell you, these wines are anything but basic.
We've been looking for a blockbuster Cabernet Sauvignon for some time. We finally found it in this blockbuster Grove Street Cabernet Sauvignon. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying so many different California wines; we lose site of what California is all about. It REALLY is all about Cabernet. We think you will be amazed.
Chardonnay has been a stepchild in Chile for 150 years. It took a major player like Santa Ema to show what can be done with this most noble of white grapes when planted in the right areas and handled with care. This fragrantly rich offering will change the way you think about Chardonnay, especially one from Chile. It sure changed ours!
Grove Street Winery is located on Grove Street in Healdsburg, the center of Sonoma's wine heritage. Besides making terrific wines, Grove Street honors the wine pioneers of Sonoma by featuring a different house on the label of each wine which at one time belonged to a winery owner operator or personality.
This luscious Cabernet Sauvignon features the house of Lewis Norton. It is a magnificent two story Queen Anne built in 1898. Lewis Norton was the first mayor of the town of Healdsburg to settle the local vineyard and winery disputes on Grove Street. A daunting task for a politician, one would think, but anyone who would live in such an incredible house must have had a touch of class.
Class is what Grove Street Winery is all about. Our selection features all the black cherry, spice and vanilla overtones we've come to expect from great Cabernet Sauvignon from this area. The cooler Sonoma region tends to yield wines with a touch more finesse and fruit than neighboring Napa. These wines offer a bit more in their youth, which is when most of us consume them.
Sonoma is a natural for this grape. Being close to the ocean, the soils consist of shale and limestone for better draining and more nutrients. The climate tends to be temperate, allowing the grapes to mature more slowly and thus pull out more of what the soil has to offer. This longer maturing factor is called "hang time" and refers to the amount of time the grapes hang on the vine. Just an extra week can make a big difference in the finished wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon was first planted in California in the 1860s by farmers eager to jump on the wine bandwagon as it was beginning to role. Unfortunately, there was no organized viticulture in the state and most farmers planted their grapes in the wrong areas. It took 100 years to finally sort things out which is why you'll see Cabernet planted in less areas than it was 100 years ago. Without a doubt, Sonoma is one of the best.
Bold and rich nose of black cherry and marzipan. Lots of juicy black cherry and licorice flavors with a big finish. Heavenly with the flank steak recipe on page 6.
Great now. Will
continue to improve.
Serve slightly chilled
(approx. 10 min. in
In 1917, Pedro Pavone Voglino, the son of an Italian winemaker, emigrated from his native Piemonte and settled in the Maipo Valley of Chile. Pedro built what now amounts to a small dynasty as the Santa Ema Winery is now in the 3rd generation of Voglinos and is making one of the best daily wine values in all of Chile.
He planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc and for the next several years sold his grapes to the finest wineries from Chile. In 1956, his son, Felix Pavone Arbea, founded Viña Santa Ema. Since then, the winery has been run by Felix and his children. His son, Felix Jr., is in charge of production and daughters Rosanna and Pilar are in charge of marketing and management. Mr. Pavone Sr. oversees the entire operation of the winery. He is also the keeper of the flame that assures the family traditions his father began over 70 years ago are kept alive. Their main goal is to achieve quality wines rather the quantity.
Viña Santa Ema wines are 100% estate bottled and come from the 750 acres which they own in the Maipo and Cachapoal Valleys. The family purchased the latter in 1965 where they planted Chardonnay for the first time. In the past few years the winery has begun a total renovation which includes stainless steel tanks, new bottling facilities and the exclusive use of new French oak for their reserve wines. This year, the winery has acquired the services of Goetz von Gersdorf, a German-born head oenologist for Viña Concho y Toro to consult and oversee winemaking.
As with the rest of Chile, Chardonnay is a relative newcomer to the Santa Ema line. It has, however taken to this area quite well. Though Chile is in a much warmer latitude than most other countries, its very high elevation puts it in a unique situation. While the valley floors can hit blisteringly high temperatures, the wine area of Chile is as temperate as Sonoma and is able to tap into a consistent source of water, the Andes Mountains whose tops are always covered with snow. A perfect situation for a perfect wine.
Ripe pineapple and kiwi components with hints of vanilla and spice. A great match with the salmon recipe on page 6.
Perfect now. Will
keep for a year or
two. Serve slightly
chilled (approx 2 hrs.
Adventures in Good Food
Here are a couple of our favorite recipes. The All Season Flank Steak is a perfect winter meal, taking advantage of the cold weather to enjoy a hearty meal with our outstanding Grove Street Cabernet Sauvignon. Salmon and fennel is a match made in heaven, especially when paired with our awesome Santa Ema Chardonnay.
ALL SEASON FLANK STEAK
1 flank steak (1 1/2-2 lbs.)
1 med. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 rib celery, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups day-old bread cubes
1/4 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. each: thyme and marjoram
1/2 tsp salt (you can add more later)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup beef broth (prefer low salt)
1 cup Grove Street Cabernet
2 Tbsp. corn starch 1/2 cup water
Cut 1/2 inch deep diagonal slashes across the surface of steak (pound if desired). Saute vegetables in butter and let cool. Add bread crumbs. Combine pork with seasonings. Knead with hands. Spread over steak. Add bread mixture pat firmly and roll up. Tie or secure ends with skewers. Brown meat in large skillet. Drain off drippings, add beef broth, wine and
simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turn occasionally. Remove meat and strain broth if necessary. Combine corn starch with water. Stir until dissolved and add to broth. Cook until thickened. Serves 6.
SALMON WITH FENNEL
2 sprigs fresh parsley, minced
2 shallots or green onions, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh fennel or 1 tsp. dried, crushed fennel seeds
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. Santa Ema Chardonnay
4-6 oz. salmon steaks or fillets about 1" thick at the thickest part
1 tbsp. chopped fresh fennel or 1 tsp. dried fennel seed for grill
To marinate salmon: Combine parsley, shallots, fennel, pepper, oil, wine and lime juice in a shallow glass pie plate. Place fish in marinade and turn after 30 minutes. Leave on second side 15 minutes.
To Grill Salmon: Oil grill racks.
Place 1 tablespoon fennel over hot coals. Place fish on grill and cook for 5 minutes. Brush salmon with remaining marinade and turn. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes depending on thickness of the fish, or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. Should still be slightly pink on inside as it will continue to cook once removed from the grill. Let sit for 1-2 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
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