The import wine this month is another example of the availability of reasonable wines that are very good. It is surprising, considering they have traveled 6000 miles, at today's shipping costs and taxes. Best of all, along with the bargain feat¬ure is the opportunity to taste and evaluate wines that have different dimensions to them-from grapes we do not have in this country and from regions that we would normally consider obscure. It is a small world really.
I picked the California wine late last year, and I had given up hopes of featuring it because the distributor was running out fast. At the annual California Wine Festival in December, I spoke to the winemakers and asked if they had any left at the winery. "No we are out" was the an¬swer. Back to the distributor, who put a "hold" on a remaining portion for me, so I could still bring it to the members. For those of you whose prefer¬ences leans to white wines, please try this with an appropriate meal. It is bold, big and luscious, and might overwhelm you when served alone. It is a textbook example and worth your attention.
If you are ever able to schedule 3 days off in early December, you should try to attend the Calif-ornia Wine Festival. It is held annually in Mon¬terey and lasts 3 days. Lectures, panels, ex¬hibits, wine tastings. This year there were 89 wineries showing 338 wines!
Wines evaluated last month: 186
Rejected: 151, Approved: 33, Selected: 2
PETITE SYRAH, 19796 ROUDON - SMITH
What does mechanical engineering and wine have in common? Give up? A correct answer would be Bob Roudon and Jim Smith. These two engineers met in 1971 -and developed a friendship that led to a wine making venture. Their wives Annamaria and June lend support and talent to complete the team. Their winery is located in Santa Cruz. Bob Roudon is the self taught winemaker. He has a bent for avoiding over processing of wines, and concentrates on minimal handling and natural stabilization. Jim Smith handles the vineyard end of the business. In the early 70's they experimented with several var¬ieties and settled on specializing with three red wines and one white wine. I bring you their Petite Sirah. One of the most outstanding I have ever had. A masterpiece.
For some time, our California enologists have been predicting great things to come from the Petite Sirah grape - That time is upon us now. It was previously thought that the California Petite Sirah grape was the same as the Syrah of the Rhone Valley in France. (Of Cote Rotie, Hermitage, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape fame) This has been shown otherwise. It is traced to the Duriff grape of France. Both produce wines that can be intense in color, bold in aroma of black currants and pepper, with a mouth filling, burly, assertive taste. They can be harsh and rough when young, but mellow and silken on maturity. Prior to the 60's, wine made from California Petite Sirah was used for blending. It was a source of color and tannin. In the last twenty years our vintners have developed free standing varietals that show great breed and prom¬ise. Bob has used a Cote Rotie technique of blend¬ing some white wine with his Petite Sirah. He used 5% Chardonnay to soften and lighten.
The color is opaque deep purple red. The nose is a fragrant berry nose, with overtones of pepper. The taste is powerful. It has a full body, glycer¬inny texture, with good balance. Tannin is appar¬ent but not overpowering. It is long on its var¬ietal flavor. Serve at room temperature with roast or robust sauced meat dishes. Pasta with marinara sauce sounds good too.
CELLARING NOTES: Will improve for 10 years or more. Worth tracking.
Regular price: $9.90/750ml
Member reorder price: $94.80/case: $7.90/750ml
BIANCO ALCAMO, 1980 - FIUMEFREDDO
The island of Sicily, (the football at the tip of the shoe of Italy) is our visit for tasting an import this month. Famous for the active volcano Mt. Etna on its east coast, the northwest portion of the island is crowned by the gulf of Castelmare, above the province of Trapani. Extensive vineyards exist here for producing a neutral white wine used as a base for making Italian Vermouth on the mainland. Attempts by local growers to estab¬lish their own appellation resulted in their own D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata = Controlled Denomination of Origin) of Alcamo, which is the name of a town in the center of this growing region. Over the years the nature and quality of the wine has improved, and is now worth looking at more seriously. The Fiumefreddo winery in Alcamo made this particular cuvee and vintage of white Alcamo for the consortium of growers. Most export wines from this area are regionally labeled. There will be variations in quality from one producer to another.
White Alcamo is made from 80% or more Catarr¬atto grape, and not more than 20% of Trebbiano, Damaschino, and Grecanico. It is required by D.O.C. to have not less than 11.5% alcohol. Traditionally it is low in aroma, light, dry, crisp, but soft; an easy drinking light wine of low acidity.
Our Fiumfreddo Alcamo is faint light yellow in color. The nose has a low intensity fragrance that stays with you. If the wine warms up in your glass, it emits a vanilla aroma. The nose demon¬strates an assertive "sweetness", yet the wine is not sweet at all. Further, it has an "Italian" nose. (I will be picked on for this adjective). The wine has medium body, dry, with low acid but not flabby. Vanilla comes through in the taste in a dry way. It has a delicate lasting flavor. A buy for the price. Serve well chilled with green olive salad or olive hors d'oeuvres, light sauteed seafood entrees, or broiled lobster.
CELLARING NOTES: Drink young, up to 3 years old.
Regular price: $3.50/750ml
Member Reorder Price: $34.20/case: $2.85/750ml
Adventures in Eating
"Whew!!.. we got through the Holiday Season. I feel as though I have a "food hang-over", or what¬ever you want to call it. Our Christmas was exceptional this year and we are grateful our children could all be with us and share the joys of the season together. I hope you too had a warm and loving season.
Having this "food hang-over", it was difficult to get into a recipe mood this month. We have all been cooking up a storm, and I felt we needed some respite from this but still have a tasty concoction we could quickly assemble.
Very often on Sundays, while I was growing up, my mother would prepare a "Sunday" supper. She was a superb cook, but now and then, took time off. I wanted to share one of those ideas with you for this month's recipe.
MOM'S LIGHT SUPPER SANDWICH
1 lb. sliced Jack cheese
2 pita pocket breads
1/2 bunch chopped parsley
4 green onions, chopped,
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 lettuce, shredded
Cut pita bread in half, and heat in oven. Have other ingredients ready. Fill pocket bread with ingredients listed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite homemade or canned soup, cottage cheese with fruit, or just by itself. It is hearty and delicious. Add some fresh tarragon sprigs, if you have any. That really adds a dimension to the flavor.
"Just enough food and drink should be taken to re¬store our strength, and not to overburden it."