When this months California wine came across my tasting station, I had difficulty putting it together with what it was supposed to be. One taste and I knew it was a winner for the price. The part I could not reconcile was the grape variety it was, and the correlation of that with its taste. They were apart. So in that sense it is not perfect. Yet, is not wine made for drinking and enjoying, rather than dissec¬ting? I do not have all my answers regarding why, and the winemakers explanations did not fulfill my curio¬sity. In the meantime, the inventory on the wine was showing good movement as I predicted, so I de¬cided to book it for you, and let the academics take their time. Any input from you will be welcome.
The search for this months import has been going on for a long time. Whenever I visited a wholesaler or importer, I would add "...and what do you have in a dry Alsatian Gewurz.?". Often it would not be young, sometimes starting to oxidize, and when sound, not worth the price asked. Then I came across this Gaschy recently. It was what I was looking for. A classical example. I had to reconcile the price by the quality. I was not used to this price range for a Gewurztraminer from California; but even they are edging up. The decision was to go for it, based on the fact that the learning process is the heart of this program.
Wines evaluated last month: 136
Rejected: 112, Approved: 22, Selected: 2
PINOT NOIR, 1979. HULTGREN & SAMPERTON
Unique architecture and deliberate techniques are the obvious things you notice about this relatively new Sonoma County winery.
The architecture is composed of 3 geodesic dome buildings, designed for the functional aspect of free air circulation within the spherical shape of the dome. No air pockets exist and convection currents create a cooling effect. The buildings are at three levels so that gravity flow can be used for many transfer operations. Smart!
The deliberate techniques come from the team of Leonard Hultgren and Ed Samperton. They blend their advertising and wine making backgrounds respectively into a well rounded plan of wine production and marketing. Hultgren hails form New York and Madison Avenue. Samperton's wine experience includes 10 years in Burgundy, stints in Morocco, New York State, and two wineries in California. They built their winery on the outskirts of Healdsburg in 1978, and their first crush was 1979. Ed believes in.—longer skin contact during primary fermentation...forced malolactic fermentation prior to aging exclusively in new and old small French cooperage.
Pinot Noir has not taken to California like many of the other grapes from France. Soil, climate, correct hybrid, cultivation, winemakers art, all have been analyzed over and over again, with no emergence of consistency and greatness (vis-a-vis our successes with Cabernet).
Our wine is not a classical example of a Pinot Noir, because it does not demonstrate the textbook varietal character. However it is a superwine, well made, bold and flavorful, with ageing potential. Ed says the reason for this is that the grapes came from 70 to 80 year old vines in Alexander Valley. He used an old Burgundian technique, and the wine is still closed in. That's OK with me. It's outstanding.
The wine is deep purple red and dark. It has a fragrant full aroma, with lots of fruit. The taste is bold and flavorful with depth. A hint of bitterness does not take away from overall balance. Blindfolded I would have difficulty identifying it as a Pinot Noir, but it sure is worth it at this price tag. Serve with robust meat dishes, steaks, roast.
Cellaring Notes: Will benefit from 4 to 8 years of ageing.
Regular Price: $5.75/750m1.
Make the Budget Fit Price: $5.51/750m1.
Member Reorder Price: $57.60/case: $4.80/750m1.
CLASSICAL PEDIGREE WINES
As I snoop around warehouses of importers and wholesalers, looking for values as club selections, 1 am often presented with lists of very special wines that have pedigree reputations. When I feel the importer or wholesaler is serious about his storage conditions for these, and he seems sensible about his pricing, I list these very special wines. For a member who knows these wines, and who is interested, I offer a buying service for these wines at member discount prices (approx. 22.5% off).
MERSAULT - 27 DIFFERENT ONES
WINE# SIZE DESCRIPTION YEAR BOTTLE BOTTLE
MER82 fifth Ropiteau Mignon 1978 $18.40 $14.26
MER92 fifth " 1979 $16.50 $12.79
MEM82 fifth Pierre Matrot 1978 $18.90 $14.65
MEUL2 fifth " 1979 $20.70 $16.05
MEUT2 fifth Antonin Rcdet 1978 $17.45 $13.53
MECC2 fifth Domaine Chavy 1978 $18.90 $14.65
MCH92 fifth " 1979 $20.70 $16.05
MB792 fifth Pierre Bouzereau 1979 $15.25 $11.82
BCRM8 fifth Bouches Cheres-PC
Ropiteau Mignon 1978 $27.95 $21.67
MEBR2 fifth " 1979 $26.50 $20.54
MEB02 fifth Bouches Cheres-PC
Dom.Rene Manuel 1980 $19.45 $15.08
MEC62 fifth Champans, Guyon 1976 $11.75 $ 9.11
MGM82 fifth Genevrieres-P.C.
Dom.Mchlot Garnier 1978 $28.60 $22.17
GDRM9 fifth "Dom.Ropit:eauMignon 1979 $27.45 $21.28
MECG2 fifth CharmesP.C.DomGuyon 1978 $27.95 $21.67
MEC92 fifth " 1979 $28.00 $21.70
MECP2 fifth Charmes-P.C.
Prieur Brunet 1978 $25.50 $19.77
MEUD2 fifth Chevalieres
Prieur Brunet 1978 $21.50 $16.67
CCDM8 fifth Clos Cromin
Domaine Boulanger 1978 $19.25 $14.92
MEG82 fifth Goutte D'Or-P.C.
Ropiteau Mignon 1978 $27.95 $21.67
MEG92 fifth " 1979 $26.50 $20.54
MEPF2 fifth Perrieres-P.C.
Pierre Matrot 1979 $28.10 $21.78
MEPQ2 fifth "Ropiteau Mignon 1979 $27.45 $21.28
MEP82 fifth Poruzot-P.C.
Ropiteau Mignon 1978 $27.95 $21.67
MEP92 fifth " 1979 $26.50 $20.54
MER02 fifth "Dom. Rene Manuel 1980 $19.45 $15.08
MSL92 fifth Santenots-LaboureRoi 1979 $16.00 $12.40
PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND ORDERS FILLED AS STOCKS REMAIN AVAILABLE
WINE WITH FOOD
With Cheese (part 2)
I am supposed to include some tables in 1 this months column, that show which wines accompany various cheeses. I real¬ly did not mean tables! I intended to list the types of cheese and then list some wines that would be appropriate for the cheese. Tables of a sort I guess! I just did not want you to get the idea that this was a regimented subject.
Let's look at some of the cheeses from England. They are good, robust, plenti¬ful, and usually more to our taste in this country. The English are pretty good wine connoisseurs so let's look at an English Country Cheese Council and a Wine Development Board tasting recom-mendations: (I have added some Cali¬fornia wine counterparts for those of you who wish to stay with the domestic wines).
Caerphilly—young dry white German wine of QBA. Kabinet, or their new Halb¬trocken grade. A dry California Riesling or Sylvaner will do well instead.
White Wensleydale—dry white Frascati from Italy. for a Californian, Pinot Blanc.
Red Leicester—claret. (which is a syn-onym for a French Bordeaux). Let your pocketbook and the expertise of your wine merchant be your guide. You can't go wrong with a California Cabernet Sauvignon as a substitute: and with a lot more confidence in the acceptability of the wine.
Double Gloucester—Beaujolais; the younger the better. For a California counterpart any of the young Gamay Beaujolais will do fine.
English Cheddar—red Italian Barbera: and in the better labels, some age will add to the enjoyment. A California Barbera will fill the bill.
Sage Derby—Alsace Traminer has all the charm unique to it. Try some of the California Gewurztraminers: they have a different style but will do very well.
New Lancashire—sherry, particularly Spanish, and based on your preference for the level of sweetness. I like a Fino or a Manzanilla, which are both very dry and nutty. The California sherries generally leave a lot to be desired, but there are a few good ones.
Blue Wensleydale—Cyprus Command¬eria. It is only recently that this wine has been available in the United States. It is a sweet red wine made from grapes whose juice has been concentrated by exposure to the sun. Very interesting wine. We have no American counterpart for it but if I had to make a choice I would select an Amer¬ican port. Many good ones are around.
Blue Stilton—port, the authentic Portu-guese variety. And, the sky is the limit for the vintaged ones. What a treat that can be. The California varieties are not really in the running. but some very interesting varietal ports have been made and are worth trying.
This ends the English cheese reper¬toire. I didn't realize cheese would take this much room. We'll have to cover the French cheese next Time.
Reprint of a column by the Cellarmaster
Paul Kalemkiarian in the REVIEW
GEWURZTRAMINER, 1979. A GASCHY
Some say that "Alsatian wines" should be called "French Rhine Wines". I disagree. To prevent confusion, I would like to leave the Rhine designation to the German family of wines. Furthermore, I like the ring of Alsace. It is so distinct. It should not be removed from our wine vocabulary. That's enough for Bacchic semantics!
Antoine Gaschy is mayor of Wettolsheim, and a leading vintner in his region. The vineyard holdings and the cellars have been in his family since 1619, through all the political changes and wars that have criss-crossed this region. It is a wonder that this land looks so peaceful and unravaged.
A veritable picture book landscape, Wettolsheim is located between Munster and Colmar, down from the east slope of the Vosges mountains. Known for its wines and unique cuisine, the Alsace stands apart from the other French regions. Here you will find different grapes and unusual dishes that are unique to the area. Wine making dates to Roman times, and so does the penchant for goose liver specialties. If you skip Alsace on a visit to France, you have missed an experience.
TheGewurztraminer grape is one of the seven classed as "cepages nobles". The emphasis here is the type of grape, rather than the vineyard areas as in other regions of France. Wine labeled with the grape name must be 100% of that variety. Gewurztraminers from the Alsace have not been duplicated anywhere else. They have a flowery character that is so fresh and delicate, one can pretty well identify them. The classical wine will be light, spicy, fragrant, and long on the finish. It can be made as a dry version, or in the full spectrum of sweetness levels. We in California have come close, but never hit the mark in producing an Alsatian style Gewurz. (Now I am not saying we should try to imitate... We have our own thing to do... I encourage that...).
This Gaschy Gewurztraminer is straw yellow in color. It has a deep varietal aroma, intensely flowery and penetrating. I call it a " candy " nose. The wine has a medium body, and the fruity, spicy flavor makes you think it is going to be sweet; but it stops you in your tracks...with its dryness. It is strange in a pleasing way, and a classical example of these delightful wines of Alsace. Serve with fresh fruit, cream type cheeses, or with a curry meal.
Cellaring Notes: Not for ageing. Ready.
Regular Price: $9.49/750m1.
Member Reorder Price:$89.88/case: $7.49/750m1.
Adventures in Eating
I never fail to get "turned on" when I stop to realize, time and time again, the infinite ways a particular ingredient can be prepared.
String beans are in their full glory in the markets now. I remember as a little girl, sitting and painfully stringing them for my mother. Today they are long, green, tender and crunchy morsels, ready for the adventuresome cook.
The only way one chances to savor string beans in a restaurant is from the frozen variety that is steamed (or boiled) with a little butter. My mother would not have thought of preparing beans in that manner. Ours was fixed to be the main meal accompanied by rice pilaf and a dolop of yogurt over the beans. Hearty and delicious.
MOTHER'S STRING BEANS
2 Tb. butter
1 lb. green beans, french cut (sliced in half long way) or 2-10oz frozen packages of beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 lb ground beef
Dash of red pepper
Salt & pepper/taste
Saute onions in butter for 5 minutes, and add meat. Continue sauteing the meat until it is browned, stirring often. Add minced garlic, tomatoes, water and tomato sauce. Cover and slowly simmer for 20 minutes. You should have a nice sauce. Add the cut green beans, bring to a boil, season to taste. Cover and continue simmering the beans over low heat until the beans are cooked. Unlike other bean dishes, this must cook awhile, at least 45 minutes. The beans should absorb the sauce and be thoroughly cooked.
This dish can also be prepared without the meat. It makes a delightful side dish. Optional additions are oregano or marjoram, and lemon juice. Serves 4 - 6.