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April 2000 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 235 Rejected: 210 Approved: 25 Selected: 2
OUR FIRST WINE DINNER OF 2000
FOR MEMBERS ONLY: Our first winemakers dinner of the new Millennium. We'll start with a private tasting for members only at our newly remodeled Wine Shoppe. Then, we'll take a leisurely walk to Mundial Restaurant for a superb five-course meal complemented by the wines of Bedford Thompson. See page 6 for more details.
We love Sauvignon Blanc as our first choice with food. It's perfect with today's cuisine and it's refreshing qualities make it go with almost anything. We definitely hit a home run with our Healdsburg Vineyards. We're sure you'll agree.
We're as proud of ourselves for wrestling this wine from its producer, San Leolino, as we are to offer it to our members. First we showered him with praises. Not over the wine, mind you, but over how great our members are and how he'll be introducing his incomparable wines to a whole new breed of consumer that enjoys it for what it is, not what some wine critic has to say. It's a powerful beauty that definitely pays homage to the great Tuscany area.

Domestic Selection

Healdsburg Vineyards is a small winery located in Northern Sonoma County near the town of Healdsburg. This area is considered the center of Sonoma County's thriving wine business since its three most famous appellations, Alexander Valley, Russian River and Dry Creek Valley, all meet here. Healdsburg Vineyards source their grapes from all over California's coastal regions, which guarantees the marine influence on the grapes. That influence assures a longer growing time and results in grapes with richer flavors, better extracts and cleaner acids. Sauvignon Blanc is a grape that adapts to California's warmer climate better than most. In order for its full flavor to be realized, it needs to ripen evenly and over a longer period of time than even some red varieties. Without the right amount of sun, the flavors can border on off vegetable aromas to down right stemmy and crude. With the right amount of ripeness, however, this grape transforms into one of the food-friendly elixirs on earth. It is so named because it - actually shares a kinship with the noble Cabernet Sauvignon, though different colors and may even be a parent of Cabernet. They both share an inherent herbaceousness, which is what prompted the naming of the grape. The grape has been most successful in the Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé regions of France's Eastern Loire valley. Here is where the purest expression of this lovely grape reaches its zenith. Taking a clue from its Loire counterparts, Healdsburg Vineyards uses no oak, thus preserving the integrity and nuance of Sauvignon Blanc in its most unadulterated state. Here is one of the best we've found and a wine that will delight even the casual wine consumer.
Sauvignon Blanc 1998 Healdsburg Vineyards
Soo-veen-yohn Blonk
Clean and fresh, slightly herbal and offering a bold apricot, peach fruit component. Terrific acidity and finish allow it to blast through challenging seafood dishes like the baked snapper recipe on Page 6.
CELLARING SUGGESTIONS:
Perfect now. Aged to perfection. Serve chilled.

Imported Selection

We are very pleased and excited to bring you this extraordinary wine from one of the greatest wine-producing areas on Earth, Tuscany. It is also from the 1997 vintage, which, if you haven't heard, is considered one of the finest vintages here in a century. We don't like all the hype on vintages that are supposed to be the "greatest", but we have to admit, every wine we've tasted from this vintage has been awesome. Stefano Farina of Piedmont owns the San Leolino property located in Panzano, at the heart of Chianti. Since some of the grapes came from outside the strictly controlled Chianti zone, it can only be labeled as Rosso Toscano, thus the favorable price. A wine labeled Chianti of this quality would cost more than double. Le Bocce is made from 100% Sangiovese, arguably one of the greatest red grapes in the world. The grapes are fermented very slowly at cool temperatures to bring out the vibrant fruit. It is clarified by transferring from one barrel to another instead of filtering which also filters out the complex flavors. The wine spends four months in French oak barrels to round out the flavors and is then bottled and aged additionally for the exciting complexities to reach their full development. All in all, a very expensive way to make great wine. Over the last ten years Tuscany has seen the creation of an astonishing number of new wines. Most attention has been paid to Sangiovese, which is now recognized as a fine grape variety in its own right. These changes in the vineyards have been accompanied by an enormous improvement in winemaking techniques, not least in the aging of the wine, with the increasing use of French oak barrels. The worldwide acclaim for these wines has seen prices more than double in the last five years making this selection an astounding value. Don't miss it!
Le Bocce, 1997. San Leolino
Leh-bochay San Leo-leeno
Huge, rustic earth and leather flavors can't hide the immense black cherry and currant fruit. Large and lovely, this gem will shine with large dishes like the beef stir-fry recipe on page 6.
CELLARING SUGGESTIONS:
Perfect now. Will continue to complex for several years. Serve cool.

Adventures in Food

BAKED SNAPPER
INGREDIENTS:
1 whole 3-pound fish such as snapper, bream, or talapia
1/2 cup Healdsburg Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup Kalmata olives, pitted
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
1 head fennel, bulb sliced paper thin, green tops set aside and chopped
1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves only
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
PREPARATION METHOD:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Clean and gut fish, remove top and bottom fins, scale and remove gills. Place fish in a shallow casserole, just large enough to hold the fish. Pour wine over fish and add olives, jalapenos, tomato sauce, fennel and oregano. Drizzle fish with olive oil, place in oven and cook until just cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove, sprinkle with fennel tops and serve immediately. (An excellent accompaniment for this dish would be tiny potatoes, roasted with garlic and rosemary.)
BASIC TOMATO SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 ounces virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 medium carrot, shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans of tomatoes, crushed and mixed well with their juices
Salt, to taste
PREPARATION METHOD:
Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, but not brown (about 10 minutes). Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to just bubbling, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately, or set aside for further use. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to 6 months.
STEAK 'N POTATO STIR-FRY INGREDIENTS:
1 tbsp. oil
2 med. potatoes, peeled, halved and sliced thin, boiled for approx. 5 minutes or until just barely tender, but still uncooked.
1 med. onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 lb. green beans, cut in half
1 celery rib, sliced
3/4 lb. beef sirloin, trimmed and sliced thin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup Le Bocce from San Leolino
PREPARATION METHOD:
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add potatoes, onion and garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add carrots, beans and celery; stir-fry 5 minutes. Add beef, salt, pepper and thyme; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add beef broth and wine; simmer 2 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
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