January 1999 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 220
Rejected: 201 Approved: 19 Selected: 2
Our first set of wines from the last year of the decade, the century and the millenium features little-known grapes with big flavors. We've been a fan of Parducci's Charbono for close to 20 years. It's always been a great food wine at a terrific price. A few years back we featured their proprietary blend, Bono-Sirah, which was a huge favorite of our members. This one may even be better. It's so perfect for those hearty, warm winter meals that I can't wait to cook something just to drink it!
Misty Cape is another small, handcrafted wine producer in the emerging wine powerhouse of South Africa. While Colombard's 43 acres in California won't be competing for the spotlight with Chardonnay, it is certainly turning heads in the southern-most grape growing region in the world. Wines like this are so food friendly and so appealing on their own, we often wonder why they haven't been more popular than they are. After you try them, we think you'll be as excited as we are.
Parducci comes about as close as any winery in the United States to be considered as one of the founding fathers of the wine industry on this side of the Atlantic. With the repeal of prohibition, the Parducci family emigrated from Italy in 1931 to found the winery. From then until as recently as 1973, they were the only winery of note in Mendocino County. Today, along with Fetzer and several other respected names, Mendocino is being discussed in the same revered tones as Napa and Sonoma.
And for good reason. This is one of the most versatile areas to grow grapes in the state. The cool coast, known as the Anderson Valley, is perfect for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The warmer inland areas around Ukiah support the production of Cabernet, Zinfandel and the warmer climate grapes like our Charbono.
It was John Parducci who pioneered the planting and production of his native grapes before it became a fad. Nobody had ever heard of Charbono in the early '70s. Indeed, it was so difficult to sell that it ended up in the Parducci Red Table wine sold in large bottles for every day consumption. No wonder that wine was so good! His was always considered the best of the jug wines because he used grapes like Charbono, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Barbera, all great grapes in their own right.
Today, Parducci is owned by a large venture capital group headed by Carl Thoma. Carl is a "local boy makes good" story having received his MBA from Stanford and maintaining residences in St. Helena and Ukiah as well as his head office in Chicago. In 1997, Thoma hired Bob Swain as head winemaker and they are just beginning to take off. Swain's love of the "orphan" varietals coupled with a respect for Parducci's insistance that the wine should taste like grapes, not oak is beginning to show as the new wines are released.
Charbono is an odd little grape that is said to be from the Piedmont region of Italy, though it has ties to a French grape called Charbonneau grown in the center of France. No matter. This is a lively, robust wine that will complement robust winter dishes.
Big and bold cherry and vanilla with loads of spice come blasting out of the glass and fill the room with rich, ripe aromas. Expansive flavors on the palate of the same cherry and spice elongated by a piquant tartness that cuts through rich and robust flavors. Perfect with the pork recipe on page 6.
Perfect now and
for many years to
come. Serve cool.
In less than a decade, South Africa has made more strides in less time than any wine--producing nation in the world. The KWV (South Africa's wine co-op) is still the largest producer, but each year its piece of the pie is being chipped away by artisan winemakers hungry for the worldwide recognition they were denied for so long due to the country's apartied policies in the 70s and 80s.
South Africa's principle grape-growing districts are all huddled at the very tip of the country around the Cape of Good Hope. Grapes were planted in Constantia by Dutch traders in the 1650s for the purpose of making wine. It was the first stop for ships sailing from Australia to Europe and wine was believed to cure scurvy, a common problem for sailors at the time. From Constantia the vine spread to South Africa's best known area, Stellenbosch, as well as the two other respected areas, Paarl and Swartland, all within 20 miles of each other.
Colombard, like the Charbono, is another grape of little significance in the United States. Yet, when grown in the right area, it is transformed into the loveliest of swans. For decades, it was the principle grape of the Cognac region. White wines began appearing around Cognac from the local grapes. The Gascogne region in the southwestern part of the country became known for its lovely-scented wine made from Colombard. For comparison's sake, France has 5,000 acres of Colombard while California has a total of 43 acres.
It is in the furthest tip of South Africa's wine-growing region, however, where it shines brighter than anywhere. The soil and climate conditions here give the wine a forward, melon and gooseberry flavor profile that is the envy of those who try to make in elsewhere. Misty Cape's wine comes from the revered area of Stellenbosch where the surrounding mountains generate heat during the day and the vineyards are cooled by the sea breezes at night. All in all, a perfect combination.
Clean, crisp and forward flavors of pippin apple, yeast and granite.
Beautiful bubble activity just adds to the festive flavor of this wine. Great with smoked
salmon or caviar.
Perfect now. Will
hold for another
year. Serve chilled
"Paul, I'm planning a trip to New York and would like to visit some wineries there. Any suggestions?."
R.A.C., Santa Monica, CA
The Finger Lakes have received the most attention, but my favorite area is Long Island. It's only two hours from the heart of Manhattan, at the end of an elongated hunk of geography jutting into the North Atlantic.
Starting at Riverhead, twin peninsulas stretch their fingers between three major bodies of water creating the fundamental segment of the prime elements needed to create a unique viticultural region. It supports 19 wineries with approximately 1200 acres of vines.
Receiving more sunlight than any other area in New York State, the East End has a lengthy growing season (233 days), enjoying the same amount of degree days as the Medoc in Bordeaux. The similarity between Long Island and Bordeaux is also apparent when a map of Long Island is set on end with Riverhead at its base. In this position the land shape of the North Fork bears resemblance to The Medoc.
While grapes have always grown wild on the Island, they became a cultivated crop in the Western section (now Queens County), in the pre-revolutionary period. Modern winemaking started with the planting of the first Vinifera grapes in Cutchogue on the North Fork 20 years ago.
There are two recognized appellations: The North Fork of Long Island and the The Hamptons. The former was recognized by the Federal government in 1986, the latter received its status in 1985. The bulk of the wineries are clustered on the North Fork.
Here are a few suggestions.
Bedell Cellars RR # 1 Main Rd Rt 25 Cutchogue, NY 11935 (516)-734-7537 Owners - Kip & Susan Bedell. Planted 1980 - 30 acres - Chardonnay, Johannisberg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc.
Bidwell Vineyards Route 48 Cutchogue, NY 11935 (516)¬734-5200 Owners - The Bidwell Family. Planted 1982 - 36 acres. - Chardonnay, Johannisberg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc.
Palmer Vineyards 108 Sound Ave. Aquebogue, NY 11931 (516)722-WINE Owner - Robert Palmer. Planted 1983 - 95 acres. - Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc.
Pellegrini Vineyards Main Road Cutchogue, NY 11935 (516)734-4111 Owners Bob & Joyce Pellegrini. Planted 1982 - 30 acres. - Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc.
Adventures in Food
Here are a couple of very tasty recipes to go with our tasty selections.
CITRUS INFUSED SEAFOOD
6 oz. fresh cooked crab
8 oz. fresh shrimp or prawns, cooked
1 med. head romaine
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp. toasted slivered almonds
1 cup garlic croutons
2 navel oranges, sliced and peeled
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovies, mashed
1 tsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
Cracked black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. Misty Cape Colombard
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. orange juice
Mix dressing in food processor or separate bowl. Peel oranges, cut segments into 2 pieces. Marinate oranges in dressing for 1-3 hours. Tear lettuce put in salad bowl. Add dressing and oranges. Toss and serve. Serves 8.
PORK LOIN WITH ROASTED
BELL PEPPERS AND TOMATOES
1 green and 1 yellow pepper
1 basket cherry tomatoes
14 lg. garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 (1 3/4 lb.) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed and tied
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each bell pepper into quarters; remove seeds. Combine bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic in large bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Set pork in large heavy roasting pan. Rub with remaining rosemary, lemon peel, salt and pepper. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Spoon vegetables around pork.
Turn heat down to 275 degrees F. Roast 20 minutes. Turn pork and gently stir vegetables. Cook pork 20 minutes more or until meat reaches 130 degrees F. Sprinkle lemon juice over pork and vegetables. Wrap roast in heavy aluminum foil and hold for 30 minutes.
Cut pork into 1/2 inch thick slices. Spoon vegetables and juices around pork. Serve with toasted French bread slices. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. If you like garlic, mash the cooked cloves and spread on bread slices. Makes 6 main dish servings.
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