On April the 26th I attended a trade tasting that was done right. We had to wait in the lobby till the first flight of wines were poured. (No chance to peak at the bottles) We were then asked to take our seats and rate the first four wines. We were told that there were 3 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignons and 1 French First Growth Bordeaux. When the wines were unveiled, the consensus of the 100 odd people in attendance was: 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place were Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon-Montebello 1971, 1975, 1977, and 4th place was Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1970. That is the kind of quality and record Ridge has been chalking up for itself. We went on to taste their new release Zinfandels which were also very impressive. For some time now, I had been trying to bring you a Ridge wine, but allocations have been tight and not enough wine to go around. We finally made it. Enjoy--- you too will be impressed.
Now let me tell you about another trade tasting a few days after! This was a Bordeaux white wines event. There were 28 wines all told, and there was not a single one with redeeming value, except maybe a Sauterne that was half decent, but not worth the price. Very disappointing evening. I started a search for a white Graves to feature from importers who had not been represented at the event. My faith in Bordeaux winemakers was reinstated when I ran into Shay Chevalier and his family wines. (see page 5) Remember that it is quality vs. price that I use as my criterion.
Wines evaluated last month: 189
Rejected: 145, Approved: 42, Selected: 2
ZINFANDEL, PASO ROBLES, 1979 - RIDGE
Talk about "state of the art" winemaking, and you talk about Ridge Vineyards. Furthermore, it is a " Natural state of the art" winemaking. Since 1959, the style and quality of Ridge wines have been dictated by natural wine making practices and limited handling of the wine. Even though the password could be "let the wine be", you tend to detect very pre¬cise game plans when you listen to winemaker Paul Draper. The use of natural fermentive yeasts, the use of racking only as the tool for achieving clarity and stability is part of co-founder David Bennion's philosophy. The winery was started in 1959, and is located in the Santa Cruz mountains on Monte Bello ridge near Cupertino. If anybody is a Zinfandel specialist, Ridge is. The Cabernets are not shabby either (see Cellarmaster Notes on page 1). That is all they make except for Petite Sirah in some years. They will make about 6 different Zinfandels each year, 3 Cabernets or so, all having specific vineyard and region appellations. A study in itself. They own some of their own vineyards, but also purchase grapes from select growers to achieve this diversity. Few California wineries can match this record. If you want to study Zinfandels, start with Ridge.
It was only in 1967 that the origin of the Zinfandel grape was identified. In southeastern Italy a blending wine is made from a similar grape, and in the village of Bari a distinct red wine similar to our better Zinfandels is currently produced. A grape in nearby Yugoslavia and Hungary also shows similar characteristics. Serious attention to this grape has produced amazing wines in California. Distinction is being achieved in the bold style, unique fruity character, and powerful bouquet this grape delivers.
This Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel is deep ruby red in color. It has a fragrant berry fruit aroma that is very penetrating. It has a full body, a fruity taste, with a middle that is balanced for sugar and acid. The finish however shows dominant tannin. The taste lingers on and on as Zinfandel. Serve with pasta or robust meat dishes, stews.
Cellaring Notes: Will age well for 5 to 8 years, becoming mellow and complex.
Regular price: $7.50/750m1.
Member Reorder Price: $76.20/case: $6.35/750m1.
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.
PART 2 (wine numbers WM01 to WM27 were listed in the June Newsletter. If you need a copy please drop me a card and I will send one)
No. - Size - Wine - Year- Price - *
* = Quantity at last count
WM28 - 5th - Stags Leap Cellars -1973 - 75.00 - 11
WM29 - 5th - " - 1974 - 35.00 - 56
WM30 - Mg - Spring Mountain - 1973 - 95.00 - 12
WM31 - 5th - Chateau Montelena - 1973 - 30.00 - 9
WM32 - 5th - Robert Mondavi Unfilt. - 1970 - 75.00 - 6
WM33 - 5th - Clos Du Val - 1973 - 25.00 - 4
WM34 - 5th - Burgess - 1973 - 20.00 - 5
WM35 - 5th - Charles Krug Spec. Sel. - 1965 - 75.00 - 1
WM36 - 5th - Trentadue - 1971 - 15.00 - 6
WM37 - 5th - HMR - 1975 - 30.00 - 12
WM38 - 5th - Chateau Montelena - 1972 - 35.00 - 3
WM39 - 5th - " - 1973 - 30.00 - 5
WM40 - 5th - " - 1974 - 25.00 - 16
WM41 - 5th - Stags Leap Cellars - 1976 - 25.00 - 9
WM42 - 5th - Hanzell - 1976 - 30.00 - 6
WM43 - 5th - Alexander Valley - 1975 - 15.00 - 22
WM44 - 5th - Mayacamas - 1975 - 30.00 - 12
WM45 - Mg - " - 1975 - 60.00 - 2
WM46 - 5th - Freemark Abbey.Edelwien - 1973 - 50.00 - 12
WM47 - 5th - Wente Auslese Spec.Res. - 1973 - 30.00 - 9
WM48 - 5th - Chateau Montelena - 1972 - 15.00 - 1
WINE WITH FOOD
With Eggs and Omelets
Now—whoever heard of serving wine 1 with breakfast? Well—I must say that wine with two fried eggs and bacon does not evoke the mental picture of flavor harmonies! However, there are some very appropriate combinations with certain egg centered dishes that do lend themselves to the serving of wine.
The time of day and the occasion might influence your serving wine or not. Where it always be appropriate to serve a wine with lunch on any day, and likewise with dinner or a later supper, the serving of wine with a morning breakfast is rarely done. Yet, the leisurely late morning lazy weekend, the holiday time, or special occasion breakfasts, with those special breakfast egg dishes could be accom¬panied with wine. The brunches later in the morning, and lunches with egg dish¬es also lend themselves to wine embel¬lishment.
Other than the time of day, the infinite variety of egg cookery dictates "wine" or "no wine". A light fluffy, delicate egg recipe, a creamy or sauce dominated one, or a combination of eggs and meat and/or vegetables, all can find wines to match. The hard cooked egg, with strong "eggy" flavor just says "no" and recalls the taboo of garlic or chocolates and wine.
A California French Colombard or a Grenache rose can go well. From the im¬ports, I particularly like a Swiss white wine like a Dole or Neuchatel. All of these should be young, less than 3 years old.
OMELET WITH HAM, CHICKEN
LIVERS OR SPANISH OMELET
For a California wine, one of the varietal rose wines that is dry or slightly sweet, would be excellent. In the imports, a rose from Provence or Anjou in France can be equally nice. Again, all these wines should be less than 3 years old.
OMELET WITH CHEESE OR
MUSHROOM, EGGS BENEDICT,
EGGS POACHED IN CREAM
A California Chenin Blanc or a Syl¬vaner that is slightly sweet. You will also enjoy a California style Gewurtztraminer that is not too flowery. In the French wines, a Vouvray from the Loire or a Takay from Alsace. Some age up to 4 years is acceptable here.
A Grey Riesling from California will not overpower the delicacy. It must be young. For a French wine, try an Alsa¬tian Pinot Gris, or an Italian Frascati from the Lazio region around Rome, or an Orvieto secco from the Umbria region. The younger the better.
HARD BOILED EGGS, EGG SALAD
A California Sauvignon Blanc with some age (up to 4 years) can match. A French Entre-Deux-Mers or Verdillac, all young, would make a light accompani¬ment.
You will notice I have not mentioned champagne in any of the recommenda¬tions above. The fact is that champagne would be very appropriate for all the categories above. The taste of the spark¬ling aspect of the wine adds to the com¬patibility. I tend to favor the lesser Cal¬ifornia champagnes and some of the ones made from other grapes like Green Hungarian, Chenin Blanc or Gamay (rather than the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). The finer, classical champagnes with the yeast overtones of flavor should be reserved for savoring alone or with milder fares. Try some of the Vin Mousseaux from France, like the San¬cerre, Vouvray, or Muscadet. (These are among the other sparkling wines of France, without the pedigree of champagne from the official Champagne region in the North East. They are delightful, and less than half the price.
GRAVES, CHATEAU DU MAYNE,1980 - R.CHEVALIER
For many years, Shay Chevalier was regional sales manager of a well known American brewery. A tragedy in loss of his brother catapulted him into the family business in France. His brother was the eldest son, and had inherited the family wine business when their father died. "The eldest gets everything" he said, "I had to go into something else" The untimely death of his brother thrust the managing of the firm in his hands. He returned to France, surveyed the situation, kept all the relatives working, and made a change. The old label had to go! Just that one change based on American know how, increased the volume 30%. Step number two was to introduce the wines to America. That is what he is busy with now. He lives in the USA, and commutes to France when he is needed for executive decisions. In the meantime the cousins run the day to day operation. His great grandfather, Alfonse Maximillian Chevalier started the business in 1828, and it has been in the family ever since. They are based in Romaneche-Thorins in the Beaujolais region of France, and have vineyard properties in Bordeaux as well. Chateau du
Mayne is part of this, and is located in the parish of Graves.From the label, it seems our wine is offer¬ed as a regional wine rather than a chateau bottling, but wait and see, you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality.
The white wines of Graves are primarily made from the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. A very distinct dry style of wine is produced. Winemakers say in Graves that the Sauvignon grape contributes backbone, acidity, and aroma, while the Semillon is responsible for body, softness, and roundness. Based on the soil, blend, and the skill of the winemaker, you will encounter light acid wines to deep full bodied unctuous ones. An underlying herbaceousness can prevail as a varietal character for the Sauvignon grape.
The wine is straw yellow in color. It has a herbaceous nose, followed by a fruitiness. Very distinct. It has a medium body, dry, with perfect acid balance. The finish is light, and flavorful of the grape. Serve with poultry or seafood dishes that have sauce embellishments.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop some complexities for 3 years maximum.
Regular Price: $5.95/750m1.
Member Reorder Price:$57.00/case: $4.75/750m1.
Adventures in Eating
Let me warn you of this month's recipe, before we get started. It is a product that needs canning---chutney. I find so many people shy from this process. Don't be shy; it can be fun and what you make will certainly be more delicious than anything you can buy in the markets. Chutney is a versatile product for summer and winter taste treats. It goes well with any meat, hot or cold, plus your variety of curries. The English have a delicious novel use for it at tea time. They make cream cheese and chutney sandwiches. Even good for an American summer's lunch. Great on good bakery white bread. The cream cheese must be at room temperature, and I like to add a bit of sour cream to give it a spreading texture.
Summer's bounty of fresh peaches is upon us, so I am presenting a fresh peach chutney recipe for you this month.
4 quarts chopped peeled peaches
5 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup mustard seed
1 cup seedless raisins
2 Tbl. ground ginger
1 cup chopped onions
2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dry hot red pepper (to taste)
2 to 3 cups brown sugar packed
Blanch peaches in hot water and they will peel very easily. Most of the chopping can he done in a food processor. Combine all ingredients and slowly simmer, stirring from time to time, for 40 minutes or until chutney thickens a bit. Pack into sterilized jars boiling hot, leaving 1/8 inch head space. Adjust caps. Yield: about 7 pints. (The secret to canning is to have everything hot, and the sealing lid hot too. I put the sealing lid in the water while I sterilize the jars. After filling the jars, make sure you dry and clean all around the top of the jars, and dry the sealing lid. Place lid, and screw on the cap. If your jar does not seal, you can put the jar into the micro-wave, re-heat the seal, and start all over again. No problem really).
Good luck and bon appetit.