The Balkan countries have always fascinated me. Whenever I have a chance to taste wines from any of these parts, I make a special effort to see if they qualify for my program. With the limited number and variety that are imported, the batting average is low. Often the wines are strange to our palate, and I refrain from "way-out" experimental introduct¬ions. Last year, I brought you a white wine from Yugoslavia.(July 1981) Very inexpensive for its quality. It was well received. Your reorders tell me this. Since then I have been searching for a red wine to show you; particularly one that is made from a local grape not familiar to us. Here it is...Babic. You'll like it, and you'll like the price.
I try to balance the mix of wines featured by their importance in the world of wine. (with no compromise of the quality/price ratio). This is the second California Chardonnay for 1982. The price of the premium ones has gone through the roof. The last selection, Danfield Creek, (Feb 82) was a low end example of value. This months Gundlach Bundschu is in another league. Taste the difference. The price is justified, specially when you look at what the other premium labels are fetching.
While you are reading this, Rosemarie and I will be scouring Northern Italy for wines and recipes to study and evaluate. We will test again the concept of "the same wine tastes better in situ", and "local wines are best for local dishes". Reports later.
Wines evaluated last month: 136
Rejected: 112, Approved: 22, Selected: 2
CHARDONNAY, SONOMA.1981.GUNDLACH - BUNDSCHU
Jacob Gundlach left Bavaria for San Francisco in 1850, and came around the horn. Charles Pundschu arrived from Germany in 1862, and became a partner of Jacob in his 400 acre vineyard and winery near Sonoma. Their business grew rapidly and they soon had a bottling plant and warehouse at Second and Market streets in San Francisco. Their wines were immensely popular. They established an agency in New York and exported world-wide. Awards were won at lairs in Philadelphia, Paris, Guatemala and many other American cities.
Disaster struck on April 18,1906. the San Francisco earthquake and fire wiped out in one day what took 50 years to build. Fortunately the vineyard and winery were intact. By September a new enterprise was rising from the ashes, and within a few years they were again producing award winning wines.
In 1919 came the final crushing blow: Prohibit¬ion. The winery was forced to sloe its doors, and the company was dissolved. 100 acres were converted to pears, and the rest of the grape acreage was farmed for the "juice grape" market, even after repeal.
The story of the winery picks up again on Halloween in 1970. The great-great grandson and two in-laws were chatting over a glass of home made wine, when they decided to reopen the winery. Their first wine was produced in 1973, and since then they have done their ancestors proud with the quality of wines being marketed in limited quantities. I was particu¬larly impressed with this 1981 Sonoma Chardonnay.
The "homeland" for the Chardonnay grape or Pinot Chardonnay is Burgundy, France. (If such a derivation must be made). At its best, this noblegrape produces a white wine that is dry, full bodied, with a fragrant varietal character that has ageing potential. The complexities of age are butteriness and deep fragrance. A worthwhile quest.
Our wine is golden yellow in color. It has a typical varietal fruity aroma with depth to it. The taste is fruity to start, crisp, medium bodied, and soon shows the oak base. The flavor just lingers on. Serve with broiled or poached seafood, poultry. I also like it with Fettucine Alfredo.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop and become more complex in 3 to 5 years.
Regular Price: $10.50/750m1
Member Reorder Price: $102.00/case: $ 8.50/750m1
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).
CHAMBERTINS - 25 OF THEM
WINE# SIZE DESCRIPTION YEAR BOTTLE BOTTLE
CHDM8 fifth Chambertin.Domaine
Marcilly 1978 $52.75 $40.89
CH292 fifth " 1979 $57.50 $44.57
CHB92 fifth Chambertin.Clos de
Beze.Pierre Gelin 1979 $51.85 $40.19
CHAB2 fifth " Antonin Rodet 1974 $34.38 $26.65
CHMB2 fifth " " 1976 $49.50 $38.37
CCBR8 fifth " " 1978 $54.90 $41.18
CHL22 fifth Charmes Chambertin
Antonin Rodet 1972 $22.95 $17.79
CHL82 fifth " " 1978 $32.70 $25.35
CCH84 magnum "Laboure Roi 1978 $77.50 $60.07
CHD92 fifth "Dupont-Tisserandot 1979 $35.85 $27.79
GCR62 fifth Gevrey Chambertin
Antonin Rodet 1976 $18.75 $14.54
GEVP2 fifth " " 1978 $21.20 $17.21
GEH82 fifth "Geoffroy 1978 $28.00 $21.70
GEV82 fifth "Pierre Gelin 1978 $28.50 $22.09
GEV92 fifth " " 1979 $19.95 $15.47
GCQ92 fifth "Antonin Guyon 1979 $25.85 $20.04
GEG82 fifth "Dupont-Tisserandot 1978 $25.75 $19.96
GEG92 fifth " " 1979 $21.95 $17.02
GCP82 fifth "Clos Prieur-PC
Geoffroy 1978 $31.75 $24.61
GJD92 fifth "Clos st Jacques-PC
Clair Dau 1979 $24.50 $18.99
GEW12 fifth "Estournelles-PC
Antonin Rodet 1978 $32.70 $25.35
GEWK2 fifth "Lavaux St Jacques
Antonin Rodet 1978 $32.70 $25.35
MAG82 fifth Mazis Chambertin-GC
Pierre Gelin 1978 $41.00 $31.78
MAZ92 fifth " " 1979 $37.50 $29.07
MCDT9 fifth "Dupont Tisserandot 1979 $35.85 $27.79
PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND ORDERS FILLED AS STOCKS REMAIN AVAILABLE
WINE WITH FOOD
With Cheese (part 3)
If any marriage is made in heaven, it is that of cheese and wine. I devoted a whole column to English cheese last month, and by rights should do the same for the French. There are some 250 varieties, mostly cream style, and superb with that crusty bread. Unfortunately we only see a few of them over here. They have a short shelf life and our palates in this country have not encouraged extensive imports. I will cover the readily available ones, along with cheese from other countries that are seen at cheese shops and grocers.
Camembert, Brie, Boursault (and other creamy similar cheese): A fine French bur-gundy, or Bordeaux, or a California Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bel Paese, Monterey Jack: Gattinara, Neb-biolo, Valpolicella, a light California zinfandel or petite sirah.
Port-du-Salut, Pont l'Eveque, California Rouge et Noir Breakfast cheese: A St. Emilion or Pomerol. A California merlot.
La Tomme de Raisin (grape seed coated French cheese) Fondue au Marc, Laughing Cow. One of the villages of the Beaujolais like Moulin-A-Vent, Brouilly, or a California Napa Gamay.
Chevre, or French goat cheese: Alsatian or California Gewurztraminer. French chablis. German Rehingau region wine or a Cali¬fornia counterpart White Riesling.
Samsoe, Gruyere, Emmenthaler, Jarls-berg, Swiss: German rieslings or sylvaners, Alsatian, Swiss neuchatel or dole, California Pinot Blanc, Pinot Chardonnay, or dry ries-ling
Fontina, (Italian or Swedish). Parmesan: Barbera. Montepulciano, Chianti. Rhone wines. California Petite Sirah.
Gouda, Edam, other Dutch cheese: Sher-ries and ports, Spanish red Rioja, lesser French Bordeaux. California light zinfandel, or Pinot Noir.
Various American and Canadian Ched-dar, Tillamook, Longhorn: Madera, Port, Sherries, bold Petite Sirah from California or a bold Zinfandel. Some aged Cabernet from California.
Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Danish, American or French veined blue cheeses: A fine French Burgundy, if the budget can stand it, a Hermitage or Cote Rotie. In the Italians, a Barolo or Chianti Classico Riserva. A better California Pinot Noir or aged Petite Sirah.
Some form of bread, rolls, or crackers are necessary when serving cheese with wine. In the formal setting, a special cracker like Eng-lish water biscuits, plain Wassa bread or Finn crisp make ideal accompaniments, and the presentation is tidy. All the new varieties of flavored crackers are not suitable. They take away from the essence of the special cheese you are offering and introduce other nuances that detract, and sometimes interfere with the taste sensations. Less formal, but ideal for the enjoyment of cheese, crusty French bread sliced thin from a "baguette" or in the form of rolls makes a wonderful flavor enhancer, equalizer, and carry medium. Sour dough bread is not as good. Other sliced breads or soft roll do not seem to make it.
Cheese at the end of a meal, with a complementary wine, is a tradition well worth bringing back!
Reprint of a column by the Cellarmaster
Paul Kalemkiarian in the REVIEW
BABIC. 1979 - VINOPLOD
I have a hard time believing the story that the Dalmatian breed of dog was named after the appearance of the islands off the coast of Dalmatia. What that has to do with wine I don't know! It was just a piece of trivia passed on to me by the importer of our red wine this month!
Babic is made around Primosten and Rogoznica, in Dalmatia. Where is Dalmatia? you ask. Well, its in Croatia, if that is any help; and Croatia is one of the six republics of Yugoslavia. A host of wines are made by the dozen or so cooperatives. They operate independently from the state and compete vigorously. The end product is the preservation of regional character and diversity. One is amazed at the names found on local wine lists. Only a few are imported into the United States, and their prices are very reasonable.
Vinoplod is one of the major cooperatives, sit¬uated near the town of Sibenik. Wine making here has a tradition of many centuries. Records exist of wine exports from Sibenek under Venetian rule in the 14th Century. Last year, when I was chatting with an importer who specializes in Yugoslavian wines; he told me that on his next buying trip, he was going to make a special effort to find a premium red to import. He has a good palate, and Babic was his choice. His comment was that Babic would appeal to the " American palate ". (There is something to that. ...However much a student of wine you are, there are some wines one has difficulty with. I could not believe what I was tasting at a foreign, not to be named, wine booth at the San Francisco Food and Wine show last month. Strange things.)
Babic is made from a local grape by the same name. I find it listed only in one text, with no details. It is considered a premium wine grape by the Yugoslav Wine Association, and they describe its wine as dry, light, with a faintly bitter finish.
My tasting notes say the following: Ruby red color of medium intensity. Aromatic, young nose, with a pleasant grape aroma not experienced before. (I attribute this to varietal character). Some greenness to the nose. It has a medium body, with a flavor that follows the nose. Mellow, yet young, it has a velvety texture, with lots of fruit that is round. The flavor is lasting, which develops into a hint of bitterness. Serve with ham, pork roast, Lancashire cheese.
Cellaring Notes: Not for any significant ageing.
Remarkable for the price. Regular Price: $3.75/750m1
Member Reorder Price:$34.80/case: $2.90/750m1
Adventures in Eating
We are happily busy, planning our trip to Northern Italy, while writing this column. Naturally, the main objective is to taste, taste, and taste more Italian wines and dishes. I hope to explore some of the recipes I have read, and wanted to know more about.
Last month's exquisite dry Gewurztraminer brought to focus the curry dishes of Asia. I have fallen in love with Asian cuisine. One of the important segments of this style of cooking is curry. Good curry powder is the first important ingredient. Several varieties exists. A favorite of mine is Sri Lankan type curry. (Ceylonese). It is different to Indian curries, in that it is dark roasted and with a completely different aroma.
You can make this curry powder and keep it refrigerated in a jar. Next time you prepare a curry dish, use it instead of the commercial product. You will be surprised at the difference.
(And, one of the few wines that can handle light curry dishes is a dry or medium sweet Gewurz¬traminer)
CEYLON CURRY POWDER
1 cup Coriander seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1/2 cup Cummin seeds
2 Tbl. Whole curry leaves
1 Tbl. Fennel seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 stick Cinnamon (2 inches)
2 tsp. Chilli powder
1 tsp. whole Cloves
2 Tbl. ground Rice
In a dry pan over low heat, roast separately the coriander, cummin, fennel and fenugreek, stirring constantly until each one becomes fairly dark brown. Do not let them burn. Put into blender container together with cinnamon stick broken in pieces, the cloves, cardamom and curry leaves. Blend on high speed until finely powdered. Combine with chilli powder and ground rice if used. Store in airtight jar.
When you make your curry dish, add 1 tsp. of ground turmeric to your recipe.
Spices are much less expensive at specialty markets. Find them in your phone directory, they are an aromatic experience. Bon Apetit!