Hold on to your taste buds. Both wines this month are veritable surprises for the price.
First the Cabernet. Worth much more, and with plenty of ageing potential; this wine is being singled out for a major export effort by the well known old-line house of Bercut-Vandervoort of San Francisco. They have chosen to take coals to Newcastle by introducing this California Cabernet to the finer wine shops and restaurants in France! Are they in for a surprise - All I could find last February in a couple of the better wine shops of Paris was a few of our mass merchandised mediocre brands. Even with the high tariffs, this wine is going to be a buy when compared with their domestic premium Bordeaux wines.
The Auslese is sweet. In the order of things, I bring you one or two dessert type wines a year, as part of our program. These dessert style wines are important in the wine world and deserve your attention. This one is particularly good because it has some age to it. Furthermore it is worth at least twice the price, if not more, when compared with its German counterparts. The limitation of our monthly budget has prevented me from bringing you an Auslese or higher grade of German style dessert wines. This Austrian example is a good alternative. Be forewarned however - it is sweet, and if you setting it aside, label it as such. (lest you forget and open it for your seafood dinner accompaniment at a later time!).
Wines evaluated last month: 134
Rejected: 121, Approved: 11, Selected: 2
CABERNET SAUVIGNON,1978 - STEPHEN ZELLERBACH
If you have always dreamed about having your own piece of land for work; if you had an uncle who made a name in the wine world as well as the diplomatic world (David Zellerbach, former U.S. Ambassador to Rome; founded Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma); surely you would sell your leasing company and buy vineyard land! That's exactly what Stephen Zellerbach did! Other than his Zellerbach Paper Co. duties and a publishing house enterprise, he and his wife Cici manage their vineyard operation in the Alexander Valley. He has a bias for Cabernet and Merlot, and his present plantings are exclusively such. This is his first release. The wine was made by Bill Bagge, his winemaker, who uses locally borrowed winery facilities until the Zellerbach winery building is completed this year. First issues are not always spectacular, but this very first wine of Stephen Zellerbach Vineyards is a whopper for the price.
The noble grape of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, has seen new homes and horizons which have threatened the dominance of the motherland. The infamous 1976 Paris tasting proved this. Other similar events are eroding away at the old lady. Bern Ramey in his ampleography says about Cabernet Sauvignon: " unsurpassed in richness of flavor, intensity of bouquet, and longevity in the bottle, it has given American wines a position alongside the very great wines of the world". The variations that exist in the French Cabernet wines due to the factors of soil, climate, winemaker technics and blending, also exist in the California Cabernet wines. Basically it is bold, somewhat tannic, characteristic green olives varietal flavor when young, and when aged in the bottle it develops fragrant flavor complexities and smoothness. The spectrum of variation is immense. It keeps the Cabernet fan constantly learning and asking for more.
Our wine is deep ruby color and opaque. It has a fragrant bouquet, with a fruity, peppery varietal aroma. Oak is detectable. The wine has a full body, with a mouthfull of intense flavor. Bold, dry, yet velvety, the fruit comes in the middle, and it finishes with wood ( will disappear on age ). Well structured and balanced. Serve at room temperature with robust red meat entrees, steaks, roasts, and when aged, with cheddar cheese after the meal.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and develop complexities for 10 years.
REGULAR PRICE: $7.50/750m1.
MEMBER REORDER PRICE: $76.80/case: $6.40/750m1.
FROM MY TASTING NOTES . .
From time to time, as I shop for Wine of The Month Club selections at wineries, trade tastings, or importer warehouses, an occasional wine will sweep me off my feet. When I find I cannot feature it as a forthcoming selection for the Club, because it is beyond the budget of the basic program, or the quantity available is not sufficient for membership distribution, or the bookings for club selections cannot accommodate another wine of similar style at that period in time, I share my tasting notes for your information. If these wines are available from our Re-order Department, it is so indicated, and will be offered as the supply lasts. (see Re-order card enclosed in your newsletter)
WINE WITH FOOD
PORK, AND GAME
The wines to serve with beef or veal was the topic of last month's column. Don't forget, the sauce, the dressing, or the method of preparation will make a difference in wine decisions. I hope you are saving these pages! I had a reader comment last week that he went back searching for what to serve with ham, but could not find the particular issue of the Review. I told him I had not covered that topic yet, and that it would be in this issue. (Incidentally, if you wish to have reprints of this column, just drop me a line at the Review office).
Saddle of Lamb
For sure a California Cabernet Sauvignon with breed and age. For an import, any of the French Bordeaux from second to fifth growths, or the Crus Bourgeois. If you choose an aged vin¬tage, inspect the bottle for sediment. If any is seen, allow the bottle to stand upright for 3 days and decant before serving.
Roast Leg of Lamb,
Lamb Crown Roast,
A California Pinot Noir of substance and with some age if possible. In the lesser price range, a Napa Gamay would be nice. From France a Moulin-a-Vent, Brouilly or Fleurie with 3 or4 years of age would match well. If you want to venture and learn about wines from other coun¬tries, a pinotage for New Zealand or South Africa will do nicely.
A California Charbono or Barbera would be very harmonious, or try an Italian red Corvo from Sicily or a Spanish Valdepenas from the La Mancha district.
Skewered Barbecue Lamb
For a California wine, I suggest a Petite Sirah, full bodied and bold. For an import, a Cotes due Rhone Villages from France, or Syrah from Australia. (But, being a descendant of the inventors of Kebab, I will describe the traditional way of eating it). Serve with a sesame butter sauce, "tahini", laced with cumin, and accompany "Arac", consumed neat. The latter is an anise flavored brandy. Re¬minds me of Edinburgh, where we were served Haggis with a shot of Scotch, neat.
The difference was that you were sup¬posed to pour your Scotch over the Haggis, and not chink it along with the meal.
If served without a sweet sauce, I suggest a California Gamay Beaujolais, very young and fresh. Equally as nice would be some of the California varietal rose wines like Cabernet Blanc, white Zinfandel, Gamay rose, or Petite rose; again, young and fresh. If you have a sweet sauce for the ham, then serve a medium sweet Clienin Blanc. In the French wines, the traditional Beaujolais Villages for the red wine and a Vouvray demi-sec for the white wine could be counterparts.
A dry California Johannisberg Riesling would be very appropriate. For an import try a German Rheingau riesling of QBA or Kabinet grade of sweetness. Some of the South American Rieslings are nice too.
A California Gamay Beaujolais, again, would be very pleasant. Never buy this over 3 years old. An Italian Valpolicella or Bardolino would be very suitable, as well as the French Beaujolais wines. All must be young.
Pork, Polynesian style with soy sauce and pineapple
A California Gewurztraminer that is dry or medium sweet would be delightful. It should be young and served chilled. For an import, a German or Austrian Gewurztraminer would be very appro¬priate if you can find some.
Roast Pig, Wild Boar
Serve a California Zinfandel or Petite Sirah. Both of these can be served young for these entrees. If aged, they should be bold and dominant to start with. For an imported wine, a Chianti Classico from Italy, or a Hermitage from France would be complementary.
Venison and other game
A full bodied California Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel would be very suitable; some age, but not fully matured. In the imports, try an Italian Barbaresco, a Barolo; a Cote Rotie from France.
RUSTER AUSLESE, 1976 - MORANDEL
If you are ever in Austria at the right season, don't miss the famous "Heurigen" wine tradition. It is reminiscent of the Beaujolais Nouveau events in the Paris cafes. The Viennese and countless number of tourists go to enjoy a few moments of laughter and merry making, accompanied by the fresh young local wines of the last crush. Since these wines are rarely bottled, you can only enjoy them in Austria. Another side of the Austrian wine spectrum is its excellent premium white wines. They are unique, yet related to the German wines in some ways. There are four wine growing regions in Austria. Our wine comes from the town of Rust in the Burgenland wine growing region. Rust is situated on the west bank of Lake Neusidel where the lakeshore vineyards rise to the slopes of the Leitha and Rosalein mountains. The vines in this terrain and climate benefit from one of the warmest and driest micro-climates in Europe. The Morandel family who own three wineries in various parts of this land of "wine, men and women, and song", are one of the leading vintners and exporters. The limited amount of wine exports is responsible for the scarcity of Austrian wines. A real shame. They are bargains for what they are.
Our selection this month is made from the Weissburgunder grape, (Pinot Blanc). It is made in the Auslese grade, a designation parallel to that of German wines. Auslese implies that the wine is sweet and rich, and was made from overripe grapes that had seen the develop¬ment of botritis. The unique thing about this Austrian version is the use of the Pinot Blanc grape rather than the traditional White Riesling. The Pinot Blanc grape, well known in France, Italy, and California as a blending grape, is one of the important grapes of Austria; and as a late harvest wine, it is rarely seen elsewhere.
The wine is golden in color, showing its age. It has a honey bouquet, sweet yet fresh and alive with fragrant fruity aroma. The taste is sweet, with a velvety texture and a full body. The taste of botritis blends well with the fruit. It is long on the finish, with a botritis residual. Serve chilled with desserts like apple cobbler, strudel, English trifle, or flan.
Cellaring Notes: This wine is ready, and can last another 5 to 8 years.
REGULAR PRICE: $7.95/750m1.
MAKE THE BUDGET FIT PRICE: $7.50/750m1.
MEMBER REORDER PRICE:$79.80/case: $6.65/750m1.
Adventures in Eating
Just recently, I purchased Maid Heater's cookbook of "Great Cookies". Some of you might remember her father, news analyst Gabriel Heater. It was recommended by a friend, and when I reviewed the book, 1 purchased two more copies.. one for our daughter Sharon and the other for our new daughter-in-law Lynn.
The cookie recipes were mouth watering, delicious to read, and worthy of the title. She is a renowned pastry chef and her collection of recipes are unique yet not difficult to make.
However, there was a great recipe missing in her book -"Halfway Cookies", as given to me by my friend Margie Vuncannon. Margie's mother-in-law, I'm told, was known for her cookies. She kindly passed these recipes on to Margie, who faithfully bakes the many varieties of cookies for her family the year round.
With picnic time around the corner, I happily share this recipe with all of you. I guarantee you will find this cookie a temptation no one can resist. Be careful, you could become a Cookie Monster after tasting.
MARGIE'S HALFWAY COOKIES
2 cups all purpose flour 1 Tb. vanilla
(sift then measure)
1 Tb. water
¼ tsp. salt
1 large packet of chocolate
¼ tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 egg yolks - slightly beaten
1 cup shortening or margarine
½ cup brown sugar (lumps taken out and packed)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (lumps
taken out and packed)
2 egg whites beaten stiff
Cream shortening and add sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, water, and blend well. Slowly beat in flower which has been resifted with the leavening and salt. Mix well (dough will be stiff). Pat into a greased 10 x 14 pan and sprinkle chocolate bits on top of the dough. Make a topping of the 2 egg whites by beating them stiff with 1 cup unlumpy brown sugar. Carefully spread this on top of the chocolate bits. Put blobs of the topping on the dough, then carefully spread with a spatula. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. The meringue will slightly puff up and get pinkish. Makes about 45 bars.
Hint: Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Egg whites beat fluffier at room temperature. Gradually add unlumpy brown sugar until all the sugar is beaten in. These cookies will keep if placed in a tupperware container.