- Q & A
Wines evaluated last month: 157 Rejected: 126 Approved: 29 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS JULY 1983
For over a year I have been working very hard at finding a red Bordeaux to feature. None of the wines in the price range of the program showed value, and many were just downright poor. There is an awful lot of mediocre wine 'pie the market. I was looking at wines from "great" years, (according to the charts), of less known estates. Nothing came forward as outstanding. Since the "great" years of the classified growths were beyond the budget, I started looking at vintages only considered "good" rather than "great" from these better chateaus. After many disappointments, up cropped this 1977, which nor¬mally one would pass over on a wine list. It was surprisingly good, and the price was right.
The lesson to be learnt was: do not overlook "medium" years for bargains in good drinking wines. You just have to be more selective. I bring you a classified Third Growth From Margaux, 1977 vintage, that is remarkably good for the discount price it was offered at.
The white wine this month is an exercise in label seman¬tics. If you look at the label carefully, you will notice it shows a phrase not commonly seen on labels. "selected and bottled by" is used to desig¬nate the source of the wine. The usual designation is "pro-duced and bottled by" which expressly states that the wine was made by the owner of the label. The designation on our wine implies that the wine was not made by Coastal Wines Ltd. The side label then identifies it as a negociant wine, which then confirms this point, and does not conceal it by omis¬sion. I am not trying to say that negociant wines are not as good. On the contrary, they can be better for the price, sometimes. But it is good to know the derivation of the wine one is drinking. More about negociants in the text on page 2. In the meantime, where can you find such a chardonnay for $4.80? (member reorder price). Savor the flavor.
Membership in the Wine of the Month Club is open to anyone with an interest in and an appreciation for fine wines...and excellent wine values. Membership is FREE. For info, write: The Cellarmaster Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde, CA 90274.
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION
CHARDONNAY, 1982. COASTAL WINES LTD.
The negociant concept is not common to the United States wine market. It is very widespread in Europe. In fact, the growth of the wine industry in countries like France and Germany can be credited in many respects to the marketing skill of the negociants rather than the producers.
J. Patrick Dore is a California negociant. He does not grow any grapes! He does not make any wine! He just goes around and tastes bulk samples of wine. When he finds one that pleases him and his two associates, he negotiates for it. If a deal is made, he has the wine bottled under his label, and he markets it through wholesalers and brokers.
The concept fills a need that exists with small produc¬ers who do not have the exper¬tise or capital to market their own wine. Larger produc¬ers find an outlet for excess bulk wine by offering it to negociants. From the consum¬er's point of view, the discriminating palate of the negociant is his important skill. From what I have seen so far, Pat has a good palate. He should...he has been doing this for 17 years in one form or another.
Coastal Wines, Ltd. is a marketing company in which Pat Dore is a partner. The wines he offers under the negociant label are designated Signature Selections. The price of these wines can be from half to two-thirds less than wines of like vintage, appellation and grape variety.
Chardonnay is one of the four noble grapes!...(the others are Johannisberg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir). Why noble? Because their vines are shy producers, and their wines have ageing capabilities of developing complexities. That is my interpretation of the word noble pertaining to wine. Chardonnay's pedigree is French. It is immortal for its fame as the white grape of the Burgundy and Champagne regions.
California winemakers have excelled in their wine making with the chardonnay grape. They have equaled and bettered the classical French wines at wine judgings in Europe and the U.S.A.
Chardonnay is basically meal wine, dry and assertive, with an apple character. It is very receptive to oak ageing, and will develop complexities and nuances of flavors that are truly remarkable. It makes excellent accompaniment for all fare from the sea.
Our chardonnay is golden yellow in color. It has a fruity, deep, characteristic aroma of the variety. The bouquet is penetrating and lingering. The taste is fruity, yet reserved. It has a full body, with good acid balance. It has a textbook flavor of chardonnay. The style is towards the mature grape type, rather than the crisp type. Serve chilled with cream sauce seafood dishes, roast birds.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop some complexities for 2 years at the most. Not for ageing longer.
Regular Price: $6.00/750ml. Member Reorder Discount Price: $57.60/case. $4.80/each
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION
CHATEAU GISCOURS. 1977. MARGAUX
The credentials of our red wine this month carries a of clout. If you know Bordeaux wines, you know about Chateau Giscours. It is situ¬ated in the parish of Margaux, near the village of Labarde. The famous classification of 1855 for Medoc wines, bestowed on Chateau Giscours a "Third Growth" honor. Only sixty one estates were, and still are, deemed deserving this recogni-tion of classification. (There are some eighteen hundred estates in Medoc).
A word about the 1855 classification of Medoc wines. Napoleon III ordered the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce to come up with a ranking of the famous wines of Bordeaux for the Paris Exposition that year. They delegated this task to the Bordeaux Brokers Assoc. who prepared a list of 61 leading wines, categorized into five groups. Each group was called a "Growth". The best were the "First Growths", and continuing through to the "Fifth Growths" for the lesser than best. The ranking was mainly done on the price the wine was fetching in Bordeaux at the time!
First records of Giscours go back to 1330. As early as 1552, it had already become a recognised vineyard. Many prop¬rietors later, the father and son team of Nicolas and Pierre ?ri now own and operate the chateau. The building is an impressive Renaissance-style building in a park setting. It has a series of underground storeys for cellars, which eliminates the need for the wine to be pumped. Gravity does the job naturally.
Sixty families live on the Giscours estate, working the land and the cellars. The vineyards are planted to 75% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot grapes. The wine produced will usually be the same blend.
Wines from the Margaux parish tend to be less powerful than the other Medoc wines. They are characterised by their perfume and delicacy, great breed and elegance, and a soft velvety texture. They are often described as the most feminine of the clarets. (generic name for red wine from Bordeaux).
The usual price for Chateau Giscours hovers around $20 when released, and better vintages with some age around $50 to 60 or more. The 15/20 rating of the 1977 vintage brought the price down to levels within the budget of this program. As I mentioned on page I, I was surprised at the quality of this wine for the price, and felt it had good characteristics of the region to show it to you.
The wine is medium red, with hints of orange age showing. It has deep cabernet aroma, that finishes with a hint of mustiness. The taste is dry and balanced. It has a softness in the middle that shows breed. Cabernet flavor is dominant, yet merlot is apparent. Finishes with tannin and some thinness.
Cellaring Notes: Ready to drink now and through 1984. Not for long term cellaring.
Regular price: $8.99/750ml. Member Reorder Discount Price: $81.00/case. $6.75/each
CEREBRATE ABOUT WINE
I have negotiated with a major book wholesaler, who specializes in wine and wine cooking books, for a member discount on all the titles available in his inventory. Most are exclusive volumes only marketed through him. Some are out of print and the remaining copies are all that exist. Through this program, you have access to the largest collection of titles on these subjects (available for sale) in the country. A wine library is second best to a wine cellar! When you have both, then with book and glass in hand, you can sip and compare! or sip and reminisce! or sip and dream!
There will be 12 pages of this catalog, appearing serially each month as space permits. You may order titles by using the order form on page 7. Order by number and title. Add $1.50 for first book, and $0.75 for each additional book for shipping and handling.
# 520 GORMAN ON CALIFORNIA PREMIUM WINES, Robert Gorman, 289 pp, ppb. New Edition Recommended by Julia Child. 5.95 Member Price $4.76
# 588 WINES OF CALIFORNIA, by Robert Balzar. A magnificent personal essay on Califor¬nia Wines from 40 years of wine tasting and writing. Covers the four regions and the 128 most important wineries. 9½"x11", 271 pp, 350 photos. Sept. '81. 32.50 Member Price $26.00
# 627 THE FATHER OF CALIFORNIA WINE, AGOSTON HARASZTHY edited by Theodore Schoenman and forward by Robert Balzer. A reprint of the 1862 edition of GRAPE CULTURE, WINES AND WINE MAKING by Agoston Harazthy himself. An essential book for both wine and history buffs with essential information on the origins of the California wine industry and grape varieties. 192pp/6x9/illustrations/bibliography/hardbound 10.00 Member Price $8.00
# 686 GHOST WINERIES OF NAPA VALLEY, A Photographic Tour of the 19th Century, by Irene W. Haynes. This romantic tour of one of California's oldest wine-producing areas unravels historical mysteries of Napa valley winemaking as it was a century ago. Many rare historical photographs. 78pp. 4.00 Member Price $3.40
# 722 CALIFORNIA WINE LABEL ALBUM: 250 Recommended Wines to Taste and Enjoy, by Terry Robards. This syndicated New York Times, critic has expertly chosen wines in all price ranges. Tasting notes and rankings are included along with other information on general wine tasting. Space allowed for your own tasting notes for comparison as well as space for wines of your own choice. Padded cover three ring hinder, 8½"x11", 196pp. 14.95 Member Price $11.96
# 759 WINEMAKING IN CALIFORNIA by R. Teiser and C. Harroun. A comprehensive and well researched history of wine in the "Golden State." Packed with 220 historic photo¬graphs and many historical gems. From the Mission Fathers, through prohibition to the current table wine boom, this book gives the most complete account of the 200 years of wine production in California. 239pp, color cover, hardbound. 24.95 Member Price $19.96
# 768 CALIFORNIA WINERIES: SONOMA AND MENDOCINO COUNTIES, by Latimer and Titus. Explores both the history of these regions and the present status of the Sonoma-Mendocino wine industry. Beautifully illustrated with 54 Sebastian Titus plates. A must for collectors. Large format, 191 pp. 35.95 Member Price $28.50
FOOD WITH WINE ... With Georges de Latour
What do you serve with a bottle of Georges de Latour? This wine has become so legendary that the name is "dropped'• by wine collectors to establish the credibility of their wine cellars, by begin¬ners as a standard in awe, and by persons not into wine to impress. The popularity of the name for this California wine is akin to the use of Chateau Lafite for designating the best of Bordeaux.
It is my educated guess that more bottles of Georges de Latour are sought, bought, and given as gifts than any specified California wine. And...since the recipient, many a time, may not have a grasp of the value of the treasure he or she holds, I thought it would be worthwhile reviewing the wine.
The full name for Georges de Latour wine is: "Beaulieu Vineyard. Napa Valley Caber¬net Sauvignon. Georges de Latour Private Reserve", followed by the vintage year. It was first designated as such in 1939. by the founder of Beaulieu Vineyard. for his excep¬tional 1936 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, for most vintage years, Beaulieu has offered a Georges de Latour, named after the founder, as their best Cabernet wine. (They do make two other levels of Cabernet wine). It has become so world renowned, that Gault & Millau, the noted international guide to wine and food, from Europe, selected B.V. Private Reserve Caber¬net as one of the 12 best wines of the world. It was the only American wine named.
Say you came by a bottle of this wine with such a great reputation. (or in fact any fine California Cabernet that has comparable credentials) what do you serve it with? If the bottle you have is young, (anything under seven years would be considered young for such a cabernet), my first recom¬mendation is to age it more. Most all of the vintages of B. V. Private Reserve have 10 to 15 or 20 years of ageing potential depend¬ing on the vintage and the cellar tempera¬ture of ageing. (optimum 55 F.)
The occasion might dictate that you have to serve a wine given to you, and the wine is young. Or you might not want to wait for ageing, and want to enjoy the young wine, for what it k. and maybe use the experience for comparison. If this is the case, then serve it, by all means. Wine is made for enjoyment and every phase of it can be enjoyable. My personal preference for a young cabernet of breed is to serve it with a suitable main course of a meal. It is not usually satisfactory as a sipping wine since it is likely to be too tannicy and hard.
For the young Cabernet as an accompani¬ment to the main course of a meal, my pre¬ferences are roast leg of lamb, roast rack of lamb, veal roast, filet of beef, rare roast beef, or venison and other game. Serve at room temperature, and decant the wine if needed. Opening the bottle 30 to 60 minutes before serving will help it.
For an aged cabernet of breed, which has developed in the bottle with proper cellar-ing, the food must he mild and light to do the wine justice. The years of patience exercised in ageing to produce the finer nuances and complexities that this wine can show must not be overwhelmed by dominant flavors in the food. Rich sauces, bold flavors of roast¬ing or barbecuing, or strong vegetable flavors all will take away from the wine. My favorite is a simple New England style boiled beef dinner with an aged cabernet. You can then relish the complexities of the wine.
Better yet is the serving of the aged caber¬net after the main course, along with a cheese course. A lesser red wine can be used for the meat course of your meal. For maximum enjoyment of 10 to 20 year old cabernet. give me some crusty French bread and Brie cheese. Other cheeses that go well are Camembert. aged Monterey Jack. Fondu au Marc, La Tomme du Raisin (grape seed coated French cheese), Port-du-Salut, and Pont l'Eveque.
In both instances, serve at room tempera¬ture, open the bottle soon before serving, and decant at the slightest hint of sediment. A note of caution: for aged red wines that show a sediment, be careful about jostling the bottle before decanting. You will shake up the sediment and it usually does not settle fast enough to decant it. Bottles that have seen some motion must be stored upright for 24 hours before decanting.
And...when you do all this, please give a toast to Georges de Latour for his fine con-tribution to California wine tradition.
©Paul Kalemkiarian 1983 Reprint of a column by the Cellarmaster Paul Kalemkiarian in the REVIEW PUBLICATIONS.
ADVENTURES IN EATING
Whenever we think of summer's bounty and preparing that bounty for colder days, we think of fruit. Especially because, we love the products of fruit such as jams, pre-serves, and canned fruit. It is rewarding and not too difficult to make a lovely jam. And with freezers a common household appliance these days, many of us freeze our fruit in a variety of ways.
But what about our mar¬velous bounty of vegetables? It seems to me unless it's string beans or asparagus, the freezer yawns empty for want of good, frozen veggies. What a healthy way to use our freezers.
Ratatouille is one of my favorite alltime dishes, and it freezes well. You can use plastic seal bags, containers, or if you have one of those fancy sealing machines, go to it. Serve it hot with a cheese sauce or cold as a side dish and think of summer.
¼ cup butter
2 large green peppers, pith and seeds removed and cut into strips or lg. Squares
2 medium onions, sliced
2 small eggplants, diced
2 medium size tomatoes, dice or peel and seed
4 T water
1 T lemon juice
2 zucchini squash, or any other squash, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t each oregano and basil
Salt and Pepper to taste, and cayenne if you like
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peppers r and onions. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Add the eggplants and tomatoes with the water, lemon, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, covered. Taste for additional seasoning. To freeze: cool, place in polyethylene bag, seal, label and freeze. Thaw at room temperature or in a warm oven in an oven proof dish, for about 30 minutes. This should not be over cooked.
683A Syrah, 1978.Joseph Phelps Vinyd. Regular price: $9.00/750ml $84.00/case $ 7.00/each
583A Pinot Noir Blanc, 1982.HMR Ltd. Regular price: $5.95/750ml $60.00/case $ 5.00/each
783B Chateau Giscours, 1977.Margaux Regular price: $11.25/750ml $81.00/case $ 6.75/each
683B Pinot Grigio, 1981.Ponte Regular price: $4.50/750ml $42.00/case $ 3.50/each
583B Shiraz, 1979. Taltarni Regular price: $8.40/750ml $79.20/case $ 6.60/each
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