- Q & A
May 2000 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 238 Rejected: 202 Approved: 36 Selected: 2
THE ARTESIAN FACTOR
Our two selections this month are produced by operations that can only be referred to as artisan. Quail Creek is owned by Quail Ridge, a small, pioneering winery that began in the Napa Valley over 20 years ago. The wines were instant hits and kept up the high quality it had set for itself when the owner was killed in a freak accident at the winery. The wines live on, though, and with the addition of other properties like their Quail Creek, we can only expect what hard work and dedication can produce.
We've been looking for years to find a great German wine for our members. There's no such thing as a large winery in Germany. Their vineyards are a patchwork of small grower/producers intent on furthering the universally accepted axiom that Germany produced the finest white wines in the world. The Geil Gewurztraminer is a classic soil-driven, spicy wonder than will delight for years to come.
Domestic SelectionQuail Creek is owned by Quail Ridge, one of the most prestigious wineries in the Napa Valley. Founded in 1978, it gained recognition as one of Napa Valley's ultra-premium producers of classic varietals. In 1981, Leon Santoro, then assistant winemaker at Stags Leap Wine Cellars, joined Quail Ridge as an equity partner and helped manage the winery's growth. In the years to follow, Quail Ridge was successful in raising capital to fuel the winery's increased production, broaden distribution and increase sales. Quail Ridge wines were served at the White House to Prince Charles and Princess Diana and at a superpower summit in Iceland to Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev. In 1986, Christian Brothers Winery purchased Quail Ridge. Grand Metropolitan then acquired Christian Brothers. Two former Grand Metropolitan employees, Brent Simpson, then VP Sales Fine Wine Group and Anthony Bell then VP, GM & Winemaker of Beaulieu Vineyard, founded Rutherford Benchmarks, Inc. (RBI) and bought Quail Ridge from Grand Metropolitan in 1995. RBI then moved Quail Ridge into a full production winery located in the heart of the Napa Valley on Hwy. 29 in Rutherford, CA. A hospitality center was opened and work began on increasing wine quality while focusing on the Bordeaux varietal wines for which Quail Ridge had become famous. Heather Dawley is part of the winemaking team that heads up Quail Creek. The same attention to detail and commitment to creating lasting and revered wines that made Quail Ridge an icon is being used at Quail Creek with stunning success. That will be quite apparent with one sip of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Napa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon have become almost synonymous with each other. It's the soil. Rich in iron, granite and shale, the perfect drainage combines with the high mineral content to produce an environment that Cabernet relishes. You'll relish the results when you pour this elixir into your glass.
Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
Bright cherry and cassis flavors with sufficient oak to know that it's there, but not overpowering to the point of annoyance. Big finish and power to match the beef and stew recipes on Page 6.
Will complex for another 2-3 years Serve cool.
Imported SelectionThe Geil Estate is located in the Rheinhessen, approximately 30 miles southwest of Frankfurt along the Rhine River. Further north is the Rheingau, where Germany's most powerful and profound wines are made. The Rheinhessen is not as well known, but oftentimes can make a wine of richness and character that will rival those of its more famous northern neighbor. While the Rheingau is almost exclusively planted to Germany's noble Riesling grape, the Rheinhessen offers more variety. Gewürztraminer is also highly prized here and Geil specializes in this exotic grape on its perfectly tended 50 acres with soils comprised mainly of chalk and loam. The estate is run by the 7th generation of the Geil family. In that time it has earned a tremendous reputation in Germany. garnering numerous awards and praise for its wines in Gault Millau, Europe's most prized guide to the finest wine and gastronomy. Gewürztraminer is one of the few crossbreeds that have been highly successful. Even its name is a crossbreed. The original grape on which it is based is called Traminer. It was first grown in the Middle East (as were all grapes) and migrated to Italy, Germany and France. Roughly 200 years ago, the finest Gewürztraminer was being made in Alsace which at the time was part of Germany. The wineries noticed that some of the Traminer grapes gave off a spicy, aromatic aroma and flavor and some did not. They isolated the spicy grapes and called them Gewürztraminer because "gewurzt" means "spicy" in German. Some wineries still grow Traminer. For what reasor we can't possibly figure out because once you taste the spicy version, you just can't go back to the other one. Our selection is grown in a specific vineyard on the Geil estate called Römerpfad, which translates to "path of the Romans" after the Romans who planted grapes there a mere 1800 years ago. It was probably none other than King Charlemagne who noticed that the snow melted on the top of the hill first and (correctly) surmised that it would be a better place for grapes to be planted than on the flatlands.
Gewürztraminer 1999 Geil
Geh-vurtz-tra meanor gile
Spicy, apricot nose signals the rich fruit components to follow and the contrasting mineral and sweeping fruit. Can't miss with the potato soup recipe on page 6.
Perfect now. Will continue to complex for several years. Serve chilled.
Adventures in FoodYUKON GOLD POTATO SOUP
2 1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 cans (7 oz) low-fat chicken broth,
3 garlic cloves
2/3 cup Half & Half
1/3 cup chives, chopped (about 1/2 bunch
Cook potatoes and garlic in broth until tender. Put in blender. Return to pan. Add half & half. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with chopped chives.
1 lb beef round, 1/2 inch thick
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
1 lg. onion, sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 lg. tomatoes or 1 (#2) can tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 green pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 cup Quail Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
1/8 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1 1/2 tsp. salt
A favorite among the French families of old New Orleans. Cut beef into individual servings and brown in shortening. Remove meat and set aside. Lightly brown the flour in same shortening, add onion and celery and cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients and meat. Cook covered until meat is tender. Serves 4.
SAUSAGE AND MUSHROOM STEW
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup, undiluted
1 1/2 lbs. smoked sausage, cut into small chunks
5 med. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
3 med. onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 med. head cabbage, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, halved
In an oven proof 5 quart dutch oven or roasting pan, combine all ingredients, except mushrooms. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, stirring several times. Add the mushrooms. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Stir again before serving. Yield: 6 - 8 servings.