For some time now, I have been systematically tasting Bordeaux wines that fall into the price range of our program. It has been some time since I brought you a red wine from France. The importance of Bordeaux in the wine spectrum dictates that I show you one annually or so. The ones I have tasted up to the $11.50 price level have been downright disasters as wines with no redeeming value, or with some redeeming value but overpriced. So - no Bordeaux yet! During the course of the ongoing search I get to evaluate other French wines, and our selection this month was worth the encounter. From the immediate region of the fabled Hermitage wines, this Crozes-Hermitage makes no pretenses, and I think you will enjoy it for what it is. You can get a feel for the latter which is bigger, holder, with ageing potential, and is made from the same grape in the same wine growing district.
The white wine this month is another coup for The Cellarmaster Wine of the Month Club. A first release of a new winery, with a short supply of a really fine wine, at a good price. I call it California's answer to a dry Vouvray. I was in Vouvray last February and my taste buds have a good memory. This wine will not be around very long. If it is your style of white wine - stock up for the summer. (see reorder card for discount member reorder prices of about 25% on this one; courtesy of the winery).
Wines evaluated last month: 78
Rejected: 67, Approved: 9, Selected: 2
DRY CHENIN BLANC, 1981 - MARTIN BROTHERS
On January 30,1982, I received this letter:
Dear Mr. Kalemkiarian; This letter is written to introduce ourselves. Martin Brothers is a new premium varietal winery in the California Central Coast. Our objective is to produce high quality, limited release wines. I am an ex-Mattel marketing executive (and an ex-Margate neighbor of yours). My brother, Dominic, was the winemaker at Lambert-Bridge, where he made highly acclaimed Chardonnay vintages.
Last fall we crushed 66 tons of central coast grapes at our new winery just east of Paso Robles. We are now preparing for our first release, a fine dry Chenin Blanc. I have enclosed a specification sheet for this wine. I felt you might have interest in our winery. We will be in Los Angeles for private tastings the week of Feb. 22. My brother and I would enjoy meeting you and having you taste our products. etc... Tom Martin
And they came -- Tom, Dominic, and their sister. We had a nice visit -- And I flipped! This was the closest to a French style dry Vouvray I had had. Neighbor or no neighbor, it was good.
I will depart from tradition of giving you a history and description of the grape; and instead reproduce his specifications. This information is usually privy, and I thought you might enjoy seeing what they are like when available.
18.6 Tons from South Side Sisquoc River (Tepesquet Area)
harvest Date..…10.5.81 Malolactic Ferment…No
Harvest Sugar...21.9 Time in oak…………7 wks
Harvest pH…….3.57 new Taransaud Barrels
Harvest TA…….0.76 Final pH…………….3.43
Juice Settled…..36 hours at Final TA…………….0.86
45° Final Alcohol………11.9%
Yeast Strain..….Scott Lab Vi- Amount………….1200 cs.
Fermentation A-Dry "Champagne" Bottled ………..3.17.82
Time & Temp…5 weeks @ 52° Release Date.…4. 1.82
Residual Sugar..11mg/100m1. Bone Dry
Presto! ... Harvested last October, bottled in March, released in April, and on your table through The Cellarmaster in June.
I am running out of space, so lets have an exercise - Write your own notes on this wine - 50 words - and try your hand at matching foods to serve it with.
Cellaring Notes: Drink during the next two years.
Regular price: $5.50/750m1.
Member Reorder Price: $49.80/case: $4.15/750m1.
A RARE FIND OF CALIFORNIA WINES
On one of my visits with the wine manager of a major wine wholesaler, I noticed a strange list on his desk. " Paul" he said, " look at this list. I have these wines personally in my cellar, and have accumulated them over the years directly from the winery. They have been stored in our temperature controlled cellars here. My physician has taken me of alcoholic beverages for good. Do you think any of your members would be interested in them?" I was surprised at the list - there are varying quantities of really fine California wines in successive vintages, particularly the very rare and private subscription Stony Hill wines. Look the list over, and if you wish to acquire any of these, I can arrange to get them for you at the listed price plus our usual shipping charges and sales tax. They will not last. If you are interested, move on this right away. These are finds. Subject to first come first served, and availability at time order is received.
No. - Size - Wine - Year - Price *¬¬
WM01 - 5th -Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauv
- - ignon. Private Reserve.Geo.Lat. -1965 - 100 - 2
WM02 - 5th - - 1966 - 80 - 3
WM03 - 5th - - 1967 - 75 - 6
WM04 - 5th - - 1968 - 70 - 11
WM05 - 5th - - 1969 - 60 - 1
WM06 - 10th - - 1969 - 20 - 32
WM07 - 5th - - 1970 - 60 - 21
WM08 - 10th - - 1970 - 20 - 2
WM09 - 5th - - 1971 - 40 - 21
WM10 - 10th - - 1971 - 15 - 96
WM11 - 5th -Hanzell Pinot Noir - 1967 - 50 - 1
WM12 - 5th - - 1968 - 40 - 5
WM13 - 5th - - 1969 - 35 - 6
WM14 - 5th - - 1971 - 30 - 12
WM15 - 5th - - 1972 - 25 - 12
WM16 - 5th - - 1974 - 20 - 6
WM17 - 5th -Stony Hill Chardonnay - 1974 - 35 - 2
WM18 - 5th - - 1975 - 30 - 8
WM19 - 5th - - 1976 - 25 - 11
WM20 - 5th - - 1977 - 20 - 12
WM21 - 5th- Stony Hill Johannisberg Rslg - 1975 - 20 - 7
WM22 - 5th- - 1976 - 20 - 10
WM23 - 5th- - 1977 - 15 - 12
WM24 - 5th- - 1978 - 15 - 12
WM25 - 5th- Stony Hill Gewurztraminer - 1975 - 20 - 5
WM26 - 5th- - 1976 - 20 - 8
WM27 - 5th- - 1978 - 15 - 24
Remainder of his wines will be offered next month.
WINE WITH FOOD
For Luncheon Dishes,
Casseroles and Pasta
Before I discuss wines to serve with cheeses, desserts, eggs, salads, (yes some salads can have wine accompaniments) which are the topics of the next four columns, I decided to cover a catch-all group of meals of an everyday nature. They lend themselves to informal occa-sions and in many cases wine will accent their simplicity. With a little showman¬ship of presentation, they can become quite impressive fare. Let's see what we can match in the wine department to embellish these dishes and help make them into feasts.
(as well as Submarine, Torpedo, Hoagie, and Grinder sandwiches)
Now for Phyllis MacFaddens' recipes on the opposite page. My favorite vegetable — mushrooms! — but alas, that garlic and thyme in the second and third recipe preclude a wine accompani¬ment. It is practically impossible to find a wine that will stand up to the garlic in the second recipe, and to the lemon, garlic, and herb thyme in the third recipe. Both recipes are delightful but a wine should be skipped with their course.
The first recipe is really a great one to serve wine with:
A Grey Riesling from California or a Pinot Blanc will go very nicely if you fancy a white wine. Equally appropriate can be a California Gamay Beaujolais or Grignolino. Do not overlook the rose spectrum of wines either; the varietal roses are delightful like Pinot Noir Blanc, Cabernet Rose, or Petite Rose. Be sure they are on the dry side, and ask your wine merchant about this. All of these should be young and fresh. For an import– here is where the famous wine that "goes with everything" goes well — Liebfraumilch. Some are sweeter than others, so serve a dry one. A Swiss Neuchatel would also be very nice. Be sure it is young. Not over two years old. Some of the Alsace wines, like their Sylvaners or their Rieslings, are delightful with cold-cut lunches. For the submarine, torpedo, hoagie or grinder sandwiches, go easy on the salad dressing that is usually added to these sandwiches as it can conflict with the wine.
BAKED MUSHROOMS SWISS
I suggest a California Pinot Blanc here. A few great ones are being made now by a few California winemakers. At recent
tastings I have favored Buehler Vine¬yards (about $9.00) and Jekel Vineyard (about $7.50). In the import department a Pinot Bianco from Italy is different but worth trying and learning about. Try Santa Margherita from the Alto Adige region (about $7.00) and Tenuta S. Anna from the Fruili region (about $4.50).
A California Emerald Riesling or a Dry Chenin Blanc will be most appropriate. They should be young and fresh, again not over two years old and served chilled. A Spanish white wine from the Rueda region or a Sicilian Alcamo Bianco will fill the bill from the import side. The younger they are the better.
VEGETABLE AND MEAT
A red wine usually goes best here. One with medium body and fruitiness. Serve a California Napa Gamay or Carignane. Both can be up to five years old. If you find a French Morgon or Fleurie with about four years of age, and it is from a good vineyard, you will enjoy the match. A Bourgueil or Chinon from the Loire in France would also be excellent.
RICE OR PASTA WITH MEAT OR
TOMATO SAUCE, PIZZA
My favorite is medium body California Zinfandel or a California Barbera for this type of meal. Fom an import naturally an Italian wine would be best. Try an Italian Barbera or better still a Chianti Classico. Another good choice is a Corvo Salaparuto Red from Sicily.
RICE OR PASTA WITH CHEESE,
FISH, OR WHITE SAUCE
California has some charming Sauvignon Blancs that are just right for these dishes. This varietal in its dry version has enough substance in its flavor to stand apart from the food and exert its own flavor, yet not overwhelm. Age up to five years enhances these wines so do not hesitate when this is the case. For an import, the French counter¬part. A Graves appelation white Bordeaux will fill the same bill (but not the the register receipt! — they are more ex-pensive but worth trying sometime). More humble in the French scale of classifications, but very nice, and from similar grape origins, are the Entre-Deux-Mers of Bordeaux. They should be young.
LA PETITE RUCHE,1979.CROZES-HERMITAGE
If you travel North from Marseille and follow the river Rhone, you will pass historic vineyards dating back to the 10th. Century. One of the famous wines from the Central Rhone wine growing region is Hermitage, with a history back to the Crusades. They have been and are superb wines way beyond the budget of this program, but worth studying on your own when you run into them. Lesser, usually good, and often excellent are the wines of Crozes-Hermitage, the region around the latter, with a wider appellation. As you look to the terraced vineyards, you see stone walls separating them. Quite often, publicity conscious growers whitewash their names on these walls. The name Chapoutier appears here and there. Since 1808, the Chapoutier family alone has specialized in producing and marketing the wines of all the major wine growing districts of the Rhone Valley. The painstaking work of several generations of this family has resulted in their famous bottlings being recognised the world over as classic wines from the Rhone. Yet one must select and evaluate. Every harvest creates a new vintage, and every cuvee is a product of an individual effort by the winemaker. This Crozes-Hermitage "La Petite Ruche", which is a trademark brand of the Chapoutier family, is superb for what it is supposed to be and for the price.
The Syrah (relative to our California Petite Syrah) is the grape used for this wine. As in some other regions in France, a limited quantity of white grapes are permitted to be blended by the Appellation restrictions. Here it is restricted to 15% and may be with Marsanne and Roussane white grapes. The Syrah grape at its intense best displays an aroma of black currants and possibly fresh pepper, with a color approaching blackness. Mouthful, burly, and massive wines can be produced which show lots of tannin and fruit acids; maturing to smooth and rich aged wines if the necessary combination of elements are present.
The wine is brilliant red. The initial aroma is fruity, with a Syrah or "Rhone" character. A fragrance follows and ends the very clean and pure grape nose. The taste is fruity, dry, with again the Syrah varietal character very obvious. The wine has a medium body, somewhat acidy which enhances the fullness of flavor. Fruit is long on the finish.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and round out for 3 years. Not for longer ageing.
Regular Price: $8.19/750m1.
Member Reorder Price:$84.00/case: $7.00/750m1.
Adventures in Eating
Each year in the month of May, ten neighbor couples make a yearly trek to Singing Hills Country Club in El Cajon for a weekend of relaxation, conversation, and wine evaluation. One of the participants is a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Wine and Food Society and challenges The Cellarmaster (Paul) to identify wines. Once that starts, they go on and on. This year Paul decided he wanted to surprise the gang with something different for dessert.... an Auslese sorbet.
I was given the indubitable honor of researching a recipe; but alas, non was to be found from my resources. You know the saying " necessity is the mother of invention"; so I improvised from a couple of recipes. The sorbet was the hit of the evening. I was asked for the recipe by several, so since I had thrown it together at the last minute, I could not in good conscience give approximate measures to our friends. I retraced my steps and formalized it. So here you have it:
ROSEMARIE'S AUSLESE SORBET
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. fresh grated lemon peel
4 Tb. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups Auslese grade wine
Place sugar and water in a pan, and bring to a simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients except the Auslese wine, and slowly simmer for 5 minutes. Measure and cool. Except for the volume of the raisins, you should have 2 cups of liquid. Add an equal amount of Auslese wine (try last months selection of Ruster Auslese) stir, put in your freezer, and stir now and then. Allow 4- to 6 hours to get slushy. Or, better still, place in a home ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions for making a sorbet. It will not freeze solid but gets delightfully slushy (this takes 1 to 2 hours). So refreshing. This recipe can be increased prop¬ortionally. Just allow enough room in your container for expansion due to freezing. I imagine you can improvise this recipe for any other white wine sorbet that you might want to experiment with. I thought a Gewurztraminer might be fun to try. I would add a 1/2 teaspoonful of finely chopped crystal-lized ginger along with the raisins. It should taste wonderful. For a garni, a sprig of fresh mint on top, and a good crispy ginger cookie sounds just right. Enjoy!