"WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB"
This is an all cabernet month. A red cabernet and white cabernet. Before you say anything, read on. Yes — the white is really a red/white — and, while some of you are walking away, let me tell the rest of you that there is a redeeming value to red/whites or rosé wines. For those who are inclined to snub the pink wines — please close your eyes when you drink the California selection this month. It is a varietal rosé hiding behind the veil of the French adjective "blanc" denoting that a white wine was made from a red grape. Sometimes the grape skins stay in contact with the grape juice ,a little longer than they should and the wine becomes a rosé. On balance (as per stockbroker jargon) the new generation of rosé wines are charming and well worth your exploration.
As for the red — it was the surprise of my cabernet life. I was minding my own business tasting the 68 wines I was supposed to be evaluating at a Trade event for California wines. (with success only for 5 candidates) Somebody handed me a glass and said "Try this, it's from Australia." My memory bank immediately recalled all the disappointments over the years. I have been trying wine after wine looking for a good Australian to bring to the club, with no avail. One taste, and zap — it had to be featured. No wonder — look at the credentials of French wine expertise!
CABERNET SAUVIGNON BLANC,
1979, BALLARD CANYON WINERY
Gene and Rosalie Hallock have a thing going. On weekdays, he travels from his ranch 3½ miles north of Solvang to Santa Barbara to practice dentistry, and she stays at the ranch to watch the vines, the fermentation, the ageing, and the four youngsters they have. On weekends, he does the heavy stuff, and makes the wine decisions with his assistant wine-maker Robert Indelicato (graduate of Fresno State. Enology) The Hallocks purchased their ranch as a retirement spot. It was pastureland and grain fields initially. In 1974 they planted wine grapes for the purpose of selling them to vintners. Deciding to make their own wine, they applied for a bonded winery license. In September of 1978, they were on their way. Two years of vintages are under their belt, and there are two bronze medals on that belt for our feature wine alone. (Los Angeles County Fair, 1980 and The San Jose Mercury News Tasting, 1980).
During the last 5 years, more and more California vintners have experimented with making white wines from red varietal grapes. This, really has developed into a whole new world of better rosé wines. With most red grapes, the natural pigment under the skin of the grape still escapes and tints the grape juice from a mere hint of color to a deep hue, based on how long the skins are kept in contact with the juice. The objective is to produce a light, white style wine, with the varietal flavor and aroma of the red grape. These characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape come through beautifully in this dry, delightful, summer wine.
The wine has a light pink color, with a hint of orange. The aroma is intense and not what you expect a wine with this color to be; it is fruity, but with austerity to the fruit. If a wine can have a "dry" nose, this does. It has dominant green olives aroma, with the pepperiness that you look for in red cabernets and sometimes miss. The taste is full of flavor; dry to start, with a slightly eased sweetish finish. It is light in body and short in the mouth, but very satisfying. The bottle may show crystals on the cork or a crystal sediment. These are tartrate crystals; a byproduct of the saturation of the natural grape juice acids in the wine. Just decant if you can see any. Serve well chilled as an aperitif or with light lunches, cold vichyssoise, avocado, albacore, shrimp or crab salad.
Cellaring Notes: Drink young. Will not improve.
Regular Price $3.95/fifth
Member reorder price $3.25/fifth
Member reorder price $39.00/case
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1978.
This glorious cabernet comes from Moonambel (whoever heard of it?), situated in the western section of the State of Victoria, Australia. Taltarni vineyards is at the top end of a small valley in the Australian Pyrenees, 120 miles northwest of Melbourne. It is a sister company of the famous Clos Du Val Wine Co. of Napa California. Two sons of Andre Portet (technical director of Chateau Lafite Rothschile 1955-1975) set out from Cognac, France (their home) to make their mark in the world of wine. After inspecting vineyards in most of the wine producing countries of the world with an investor, they selected Napa and Moonambel for their ventures. The California success is legend. (Club selection June 1975 — Cabernet Sauvignon 1972, Clos Du Val) The Moonambel success is equally spectacular. The brothers Portet-Bernard in California and Dominique in Australia have transported their French wine training and family experience across the oceans, and succeeded noticeably. The Taltarni (aboriginal for "red earth") Vineyard is 1200 acres, of which 250 is now producing grapes. The soil, considered by the Portet brothers, as the major foundation for good wine, is quartz, gravel, and clay. A modern winery, French winemaking techniques, and the adaptive genius of Dominique produced his first Gold Medal in 1978 for his Cabernet Sauvignon at the Royal Melbourne.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is extensively planted in Australia, producing at times some wines that are hard to recognize and attribute to the grape. Most of the time, the finesse and elegance is missing, and a clumsy wine is the result. Good Cabernet from France and California shows an unmistakable varietal character that is herbaceous and weedy when young, almost bitter from its astringency of tannin. With oak ageing and time in the bottle, it softens and produces remarkable development that is full, rounded, rich yet subtle. Not difficult to learn to identify and very easy to learn to like and enjoy, particularly when accompanied with a matching meal.
This wine is deep ruby red, nearly opaque. It has the typical varietal cabernet aroma, slightly grassy at first, but the fragrance soon overcomes it and burst into a penetrating bouquet in your nose. It promises you better things in the taste. In the mouth it is big and bold; full of flavor, but a little harsh due to the oak. It finishes slightly bitter. Serve at room temperature with robust beef dishes in about 5 years or more — but do try it now, it will be an education and a benchmark. (For now, it will go well with the Tamale Pie recipe in the Wine & Food column on page 6.)
Cellaring Notes: Will improve for up to 15 years or more. Well worth laying down.
Regular price $8.00/fifth
Member reorder price $6.65/fifth
Member reorder price $79.80/case
WINE AND FOOD
ADVENTURES IN EATING
Here it comes, ready or not ... summer. Those of us who live in California, are bombarded with the "casual" manner of entertaining not only in summer, but during the winter months as well. However, summer presents an even more casual style of caring for our friends and thus, enables us to prepare do-ahead meals that are impressive and tasty.
A recent article described the White House style of entertaining to be "California" all the way and it would be a trend setter for the rest of the nation Mrs. Reagan not only is looking for the food substance to be Californian but decor as well.
This month's Wine of the Month, an Australian Cabernet, brought back to my mind a delicious Tamale Pie recipe given me by a dear friend who vacations on Balboa Island each summer. She loves to entertain during her vacation, and finds this casserole one that is appreciated by anyone who has the good fortune to be invited to visit them This is her casual style of going California
QUEENIE'S TAMALE PIE Serves 8
1½ lbs. ground meat
1 large onion, chopped
1-1 lb. can tomatoes (whir in blender briefly to break pieces up)
½ of a 10 oz. can of enchilada sauce (Las Palmas)
1- 2¾ oz. can sliced ripe olives
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder (or one cove crushed fresh garlic)
⅛ tsp. pepper
¼ cup salad oil
1 cup farmer style cottage cheese mixed with 1 egg and 2 cups shredded jack cheese
1- 2 cups shredded longhorn cheese
1 small bag regular fritos
The night before: Brown meat in skillet with onion, salt, garlic powder or fresh Stir in olives, enchilada sauce, and canned tomatoes Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
Saute tortillas on each side until soft. Be careful they do not get brown. This takes only minutes. Cut tortillas in half. Layering of casserole:
Start with some meat mixture, next some cottage cheese and lack cheese mixture, then the layer of tortillas. Repeat this a second time, ending with meat mixture on top. Cover with foil and place in 350° oven for 30-40 minutes or until the casserole is good and hot. Uncover, sprinkle fritos and longhorn cheese on top and stick back into the oven until the cheese melts (10 minutes). Yum
Serve with an avocado and papaya salad and you have a great summer California style casserole.
"Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart-. . Ecclesiastes.
The CELLARMASTER Wine of the Month Club
The Cellarmaster Wine of the Month Club is a unique and enjoyable way to taste and learn about many of the fine wines currently available.
When you become a member you will receive each month
one red wine selection for the month
one white wine selection for the month. (or sometimes a rosé)
an information newsletter describing the wines and their origins
One wine will be a domestic, and the other an import, and both bottles will be full fifths. This sequence will alternate the following month. The total cost for both bottles will never exceed $12.00 plus sales tax and shipping costs of $1.75.
Membership also carries the privilege of purchasing wines from previous selections (as available) at members reorder prices which show discounts from 10% to 25%
For free membership information, write or call:
THE CELLARMASTER Wine of the Month Club, (Dept. N)
Post Office Box 217, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 (213) 378-8998