- Q & A
Wines evaluated last month: 83 Rejected: 64 Approved: 17 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS AUGUST 1983
I had this months red wine tucked away in my notes and plans for 5 months, wait¬ing for the right slot to feature it. Fortunately there still was some of it availa¬ble at the winery for our needs. The local distributor was out, but Michael Topolos obliged, and is holding addi¬tional wine for any reorders.
For the white, I pur¬chased all that was available at the importer. It had that just right stage of maturity and ageing.
Do you like my new for¬mat for the newsletter? Size is the same, but there is just a little bit more copy space because of the 2 column arrangement. I do get wordy!
I hope you did not throw away the surprise that was included in last months ship-ment! A binder for filing your newsletters was included in every shipment. A message indicating such was on the outside label. If you missed this, please let me know, and I will send you another. It is my intention to furnish a binder every 24 months of your membership.(the binder holds 24 newsletters).
Now for some more good news! Twice a year, The Cel¬larmaster Wine of The Month Club will offer a premium to its members. For every 5 names of family or friends submitted by a member, he or she will receive an official Cellarmaster Wine of The Month Club Tasting Glass. I will send membership litera¬ture to the names sent in. For every person that joins, the referring member will re¬ceive another glass and the new member will also receive a glass. For details see the new referral card enclosed.
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
CABERNET SAUVIGNON. 1980. TOPOLOS AT RUSSIAN RIVER VINEYARDS
This winemaker has flair. He does things in a different way. His label is sideways on the bottle!.. He puts his name on the label preceding the name of the winery, with the preposition "at" possibly implying that he comes first over the winery!.. He expounds that his wines are hand made!..
Michael Topolos and his brother Jerry took over The Russian River Vineyards in 1978. It was previously operated by the Riebli family who made wine exclusively for their restaurant located on the winery property.
As winemaker, Michael's philosophy is basic. " The process starts in the vine¬yards. Great wine is grown, not made" he says. The grapes he uses come from 25 acres adjacent to the winery and 100 acres on Sonoma Moun-tain. "We are most proud of these vines, because they are mountain grown, non-irri-gated and display all the concentration and character possible."
His winemaking is meti¬culous. He is a stickler for housekeeping, and baby-sits his wine through the fermen¬tation and ageing. His wine shows it.
When he has time, he teaches a course in wine appreciation at Santa Rosa JC. He has authored 3 books on the wine industries of Napa and Sonoma county. If you are ever in the area, call ahead and stop by and see ...him, ...his winery, They all have flair!Cabernet, the traditio nal premier red grape of Bordeaux, has earned a repu¬tation in California that threatens overshadowing its French counterparts. At its best in California, it demon¬strates varietal character that is powerful both when young and when aged. Typical¬ly it has a bold aroma that is intense, richly herbal, and points to a dry taste when young. On ageing the bouquet develops to woodsy, cedar scents, less assertive but penetrating. In taste, tannic usually overides the varietal flavor when young, but ageing mellows the taste to new sensations that were not present earlier.
A word about "unfined" wine! It is considered by some winemakers as the way to go. The final step of prepa¬ring a wine for bottling involves adding natural fining agents to remove some particulate matter and clari¬fy the wine. Most wines are fined, but the proponents of not doing it claim you keep important elements that con¬tribute to better ageing.
Our wine is purplish red, and nearly opaque. It has a penetrating, spicy cabernet nose, with some berry overtones. It is full bodied, with a glycerinny texture. The flavor explodes with fruit. It is dry but not austere. Chewy. Tannin is apparent, but the fruit extends into the finish over the tannin. Serve at room temperature with main entree of beef, steaks, or roasts.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and develop for 10 years.
Regular Price: $9.50/750ml. Member Reorder Discount Price: $90.00/case. $7.50/each (21.1%)
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION
CHATEAU DES TOURTES. 1979. COTES DE BLAYE
The wines of Cotes de Blaye are among the lesser wines of Bordeaux, France. The region is across the Gironde river from the famous areas of Medoc and some ways downstream from others like Pomerol, and St. Emilion. Its reputation has waned in the last 200 years. At one time, in the fifteenh century, the wines from this region were the most sought after and coveted of the entire Bor-deaux district. It is said that growers who had proper¬ties on both sides of the river would only agree to sell their left bank wine, if the buyer agreed to buy some of the right bank wine along with it.
The wines from Cotes de Blaye and regions surrounding it are used primarily as blending wines, and usually sold with a regional designa¬tion. Some growers and vint-ners still produce estate bottled wines and market them individually as their private brand for distribution under the appellation they are proud of. And...every so of¬ten, an interesting one comes along that shows attributes worth stopping and looking at. Usually their price will be reasonable and a real value. I found Chateau de Tourtes, 1979, white, to be one of these. The property is owned by Philippe Rague¬not, near the village of St. Caprais de Blaye. (pop. under 500).Only white wine is pro¬duced in this immediate area.
By law, the various ap¬pellations in France dictate the different grapes that can be grown in a specific region within the appellation. They also specify the permissible blend of grapes, to allow a wine to be labeled as a specific appellation wine. In our case, wine from this region may be labeled Cotes de Blaye, if it has Sauvig¬non, Semillon, Muscadelle, Merlot blanc, Folle blanche, Colombard, and Pineau de la Loire. (Not necessarily all of them, but no other grapes). This allows for an identity to be developed for the wines of a region. Because of this, a very orderly system of regional identification has developed and exists in France. Good or bad, our American vintners have taken off in all directions, and have not yet settled down to doing their best thing only!
The wine is deep golden yellow in color. It has a "French" dry white Bordeaux nose. There is something about that bouquet that develops with Sauvignon and Semillon and some age, plus the French casks! It is somewhat fragrant and fruity after the initial impression. Some complexity of age. The taste starts slightly sweet, but soon shows good acid, that appears midtaste, and turns to a dry finish. It has medium body, and shows some good sauvignon varietal character that lingers. Serve well chilled with chicken or turkey casseroles, or as a dry aperitif with hors d'oeuvres of fish or poultry.
Cellaring Notes: Ready. Drink during the next 8 months.
Regular Price: $4.95/750ml. Member Reorder Discount Price: $44.40/case. $3.70/each (24.2%)
CEREBRATE ABOUT WINE
Wine and wine cooking books at discount prices available through The Wine of the Month Club. A membership benefit arranged with a major book wholesaler. (This is page 2 of 12 pages). 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.California Retail
# 530 CALIFORNIA WINE LIST, A Consumer's GUIDE TO 144 CABERNET SAUVIG-NONS, David Holzgang Editor. Comprehensive tasting report on most available Caber¬nets by an independent group of wine lovers, wine writers, retailers, restaurateurs and wine makers. All tastings were "double blind" and we believe that this is perhaps the most objective rating currently available. Includes prices, vintage dates, composite scores, rankings and notes. 45 pages, paperbound. 1981 Ed. 4.95 Member Price $4.05
# 539 NAPA VALLEY WINE BOOK, VOL I by Richard Paul Hinkle & Vintage Image. New edition with illustrations by Sebastian Titus and up to date information on all of the new wineries and their wines. See also #542 TOUR BOOK. Paperback, 200pp, color cover. 7.95 Member Price $6.45
# 540 SONOMA & MENDOCINO WINE BOOK, by Patricia Latimer Vol II New edition, up to date and inclusive coverage on this area. Profusely illustrated by Sebastian Titus with special emphasis on the colorful & enigmatic winemakers and their wines. As with the other books in this series, includes detailed maps. 200 pp, paperback. Display Racks Available. 7.95 Member Price $6.45
# 541 CENTRAL COAST WINE BOOK, by Richard Paul Hinkle. Vol III Covers the impor¬tant new areas of Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, etc. 200 pp, paperback. Display Racks Available. 7.95 Member Price $6.45
# 542 WINE TOUR BOOK, Vol I NAPA VALLEY, A complete guide book for the wine traveler with authoritative food and lodging reviews, information on picnicking, resorts and campgrounds. Many detailed maps; important addresses and points of interest. Com¬panion book to #539. 96 pp, paperback. Display Racks Available. 4.95 Member Price $4.05
# 543 WINE TOUR BOOK, VOL II, SONOMA AND MENDOCINO, by Jeffrey Caldewey. A total guide for the wine traveler containing exacting critiques of the area's most noteworthy restaurants, plus information on lodging, spas, campgrounds, and bed-and-breakfast combinations. Companion book to #540. 89 pp. Display Racks Available. 4.95 Member Price $4.05
# 544 WINE TOUR BOOK, VOL III, CENTRAL COAST, by William H. Gibbs, III. An authoritative guide to the Central Coast Wineries. Includes maps and directions, picnic and shopping information, and lodging and wine shops. Companion book to #541. 88 pp. Display Racks Available. 4.95 Member Price $4.05
# 592 THE GRAPE EXPEDITIONS-BICYCLE TOURS OF THE WINE COUNTRY Vol. II Revised, by Sally Taylor & Lena Emmery. Bicycle touring and tasting has become a healthy and acceptable weekend experience. This guide tells you all you need. 46pp. 4.00 Member Price $3.30
# 608 CALIFORNIA'S TOP 10 WINES by Alexander Mackenzie. A quick reference guide to the top ten of each of 18 categories of California table wine with top 10 Wine Country tours, tasting rooms, restaurants, recipes, wine books, wine newsletters, places to stay, things to do, wine drinks and cheeses, quotes and toasts. Fun and useful!! 128pp 5¼"x8¼", paperbound. 4.95 Member Price $4.05
# 682 THE CONNOISSEURS' HANDBOOK OF CALIFORNIA WINES, by Nor¬man Roby, Charles Olken and Earl Singer. A highly opinionated guide to the wines and wineries of California and the West Coast with information on other American wines presented with a willingness to be truly critical. 182pp. (See also #641) 5.95 Member Price $5.00
FOOD WITH WINE ... with Asti Spumante
The popularity of this sparkling Italian wine in the United States has jumped with leaps and bounds during the last few years. The festive nature of the wine lends itself to selection as a gift item, and maybe because of certain misconceptions, it is not served to show its best side. This stems from the fact that Asti Spumante is usually somewhat sweet, quite flowery and aromatic. The champagne fancier will not consider it acceptable as a sub¬stitute. The sweet wine enthusiast usually enjoys it for the sweetness aspect. Little credit is given to the other attributes of the wine that really make it special.
Asti Spumante is the premier effervescent wine of Italy. It is made in and around the town of Asti, in the Piedmont wine region. Spumante in Italian means "sparkling". Thus the popular name denotes "the sparkling wine from Asti". The more important aspect of this wine is the grape it is made from. The Muscat grape is used, and in Piedmont it is the Moscato Bianco specifically.
Therein lies the charm of this wine. The Muscat grape is a powerful, aromatic grape that has redeeming value for what it is, and for a style of wine that it produces. It is best when it is made sweet, or semisweet It loses its charm when it is fermented to dryness. With some of the sugar allowed to remain in the wine, it mysteriously imparts a balance of both aroma and taste that is harmonious (witness the limited but consistent popularity of the Calif¬ornia Muscato d'mabile, d'Angelo, and other versions of this grape made as a wine). Mak¬ing a sparkling wine out of this still wine further adds to the overall taste sensation.
Adding to the "whole" taste picture, is the limited presence of yeast flavor, rather than a dominant one. This originates when the still wine is put through its secondary fermenta¬tion to produce the effervescence. In Asti, this is popularly done by the bulk process, which is responsible for the light touch of yeast. Since this style of wine is not for ageing anyway, that is all the more reason for the shortcut proce¬dure.
So what do we have?...A delicious sparkl¬ing wine, which is slightly sweet, somewhat sweet, or good and sweet, depending on the style of the maker that produces it. Quality Asti is made by the majors. No small winery can afford the expensive equipment required by the process.
So if you are given a bottle of Asti Spuman¬te, what do you do with it? Drink it of course! Soon too!…It is not for ageing.
But when do you drink it, and what food can you serve with it?
First, you can serve it as an afternoon aperitif for sipping. I always like to have some¬thing to munch on while sipping, so any tidbits that are compatible with a sweet tasting bever¬age are in order. Crisp, light, wafer-type cook¬ies with some of the fruit embellished French cream cheeses are my favorite (peach or cherry). Great summer afternoon habit!
Second, you can serve dessert with it. Some kinds of dessert. Best would be fresh fruit, or fresh fruit salad. (Try adding a tiny bit of rose water to your fruit salad. It will add that much more harmony to the taste). Fresh fruit pies or tarts would also be great. Just imagine Marie Callender's fresh peach pie with Asti...-just heaven!
I prefer the first method of serving Asti. It gives one a chance to savor the wine, and the grape, for what it is. It is such a bold, domi¬nant, pleasing varietal character. Because of the variation of sweetness level from maker to maker, you can try the different ones and select your preference. I tend to the medium sweet level. There are no other courses in a meal with which you can properly serve Asti. It generally is too sweet for that purpose. Even if you had a sweet sauced entree such as ham, the effervescence is not compatible.
Whatever you do, do not announce it as "Italian Champagne". The wrath of the French Appellation and the Italian Denominzione Boards will descend upon you!
The only thing wrong with Asti Spumanti today is its new price level. Its popularity, I think, has raised its price in the eyes of the makers. It should not be that expensive to make. It is a super wine and has a place in the wine world.
©Paul Kalemkiarian 1983 Reprint of a column by the Cellarmaster Paul Kalemkiarian in the REVIEW PUBLICATIONS.
ADVENTURES IN EATING
The editor of this pub¬lication has requested I do a commercial! I think he has an ulterior motive! He must ex¬pect me to take out my pay for this column in space advertising! Well...if that is the only way I will get paid other than with wine, I guess I better grab it!
With some persuasion and encouragement, I have started my own Mail Order Business. Cakes by Rosemarie's Kitchen is finally launched, as we held a lengthy photography session with a commercial photographer. I could not believe how beautiful the cakes looked when placed on various complimenting cloths and photographed in color.
With one child left at home, who is about to leave, Paul felt I should be kept busy. Being a bookkeeper for the Cellarmaster did not appeal to my creative desires. It really started with his wanting me to market an Irish Soda Cake that I have baked for him throughout the years. We had tasted this cake in Dublin, and I was able to get a recipe together that closely duplicated the one we had enjoyed.
We had it in a Dublin tearoom, one afternoon, and it was delightful with a cup of tea. It is a scone-like soda cake, full of raisins, currants, butter, and other healthy ingredients. It is delicious toasted and spread by Rosemariewith cream cheese, and has a long shelf life.
This was my first product. However, after working at it for a while, I realized that some friends would like my Chocolate Chip and Date Chocolate Cake. Cakes that are purchased today, are generally all made from com¬mercial mixes and the choco¬late is an imitation product. Mine is for real, with true chocolate chips covered with chocolate icing.
Not to stop here, I went on to my delicious Carrot Cake. Again, believe it or not, commercial cakes are made from a carrot cake mix. This shocked me a bit. My cake has freshly grated car¬rots, coconut, pineapple, and walnuts. A lemon fondant icing covers the cake.
Lastly, came spice prune, cake my mother used to make. What else but called: Mother's Spice Cake. It is lightly spiced and has tiny bits of prunes throughout.
All cakes are made from scratch, with fresh ingre¬dients. I ship anywhere in the U.S.A. via. United Parcel and guarantee delivery in perfect condition.
"Send a cake instead of flowers" and make someone happy.
As they used to say on radio: "thanks for listening".
For more information, see my literature packet.For free membership information write or call The CELLARMASTER Wine of the Month Club Adventures in Wine Since 1972 79 Malaga Cove Plaza, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 378-8998 Please send me the following: # Description Qty. Member Reorder Price Total 883A Cabernet Sauvignon1980.Topolos Regular price: $9.50/750ml $90.00/case $ 7.50/each 21.1% disc.
783A Chardonnay, 1982.Coastal Wines Regular price: $6.00/750ml. $57.60/case $ 4.80/each 20.0% disc.
683A Syrah, 1978.Joseph Phelps Vinyd. Regular price: $9.00/750ml. $84.00/case $ 7.00/each 22.2% disc.
883B Chateau des Tourtes,1979.CtBly Regular price: $4.95/750ml $44.40/case $ 3.70/each 24.2% disc.
783B Chateau Giscours, 1977.Margaux Regular price: $11.25/750ml. $81.00/case $ 6.75/each 44.4% disc.
683B Pinot Grigio, 1981.Ponte Regular price: $4.50/750ml. $42.00/case $ 3.50/each 22.2% disc.
WE CAN SHIP TO: Alabama, California, D.C., Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming only, due to Alcoholic Beverage laws. Recipients must be 21 or older. Subtotal SHIPPING CHARGES: CALIFORNIA 2 bottles $2.00; 6 bottles $4.50; 12 bottles $7.00 OTHER STATES 2 bottles $3.00; 6 bottles $9.00; 12 bottles $12.00 6½% Sales Tax □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. Shipping □ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express ____________________________________________________ TOTAL Card # Expiration Date _______________________________________________________________________________ Name Signature _______________________________________________________________________________ Address _______________________________________________________________________________ City State Zip -_______________________________________________________________________________ Phone (Home) (office) (See reverse side to order wine gifts)
WINE GIFT ORDER FORM
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2 6 BOTTLES: assortment of recent selections $42*
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4 4 MONTHS subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selec- tions) a month for 4 months (or every $60*
quarter for 1 year - specify gift #4Q) (8 bottles total). 5 6 MONTHS subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selec- tions) a month for 6 months (or every $90*
other month for 1 year - specify gift #5B) (12 bottles total). 6 1 YEAR (24 bottles total) subscription: 2 bottles every month for the next 12 months $180*
WE CAN SHIP TO: Alabama, California, D.C., Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming only, due to Alcoholic Beverage laws. Recipients must be 21 or older. SUBTOTAL SHIPPING CHARGES: CALIFORNIA: Gift#1: $2.00; Gift#2: $4.50; Gift#3: $7. 00 Gift#4: $8.00; Gift#5: $12.00; Gift#6: $24.00 OTHER STATES: Gift#1: $3.00; Gift#2: $9.00; Gift#3: $12. 00 Gift#4: $12.00; Gift#5: $18.00; Gift#6: $36.00 6½% sales tax SHIPPING □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. □ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express TOTAL _____________________________________________ THANK YOU FOR YOUR ORDER! Card # Expiration Date _______________________________________________________¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_______________________________ My Name Signature ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬-_______________________________________________________ City State Zip ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone (Home) (office) Please ship Gift # _________ To: ___________________________________________________________________________ Name _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Special note on gift card: ___________________________________________________________________________________ (Attach another sheet of paper to list other recipients)