- Q & A
November 1998 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 218 Rejected: 193 Approved: 25 Selected: 2
Something Old, Something New
This month we feature a wine which is part of a special program. The Wine of the Month Club is VERY committed to the Young Artist Series and once you understand what it's all about, we look forward to you joining us in that commitment. It's one of the few instances when the label competes for attention with the wine. Try the wine while contemplating the label and make up your own mind.
Our import is a real find. We don't often get a chance to offer selections with any age on them, (remember those two blockbuster selections from Creston Manor a few years back?) but when they come along, we can't wait to grab them. This one's a real beauty. Soft and smooth with most of the edges rounded out to enjoy with a particularly great meal. Don't miss it.
For those of you who live close by, please stop in and visit our new Wine Shoppe at The Wine of the Month Club. We've stocked it with lots of hard-to-find treasures from around the world. Of course you'll still be able to pick up any of the earlier selections currently available as well as all the sale wines we feature. Look forward to seeing you soon.
Domestic SelectionThis month's domestic selection has so much going for it, we don't know where to start! First of all, it represents the first in a series of wines which we will feature at least once a year. Part of the proceeds from each bottle of The Young Artists Series Chenin Blanc will go toward a scholarship fund to help underprivileged children with artistic talent become enrolled in art school. Having grown up with an appreciation of fine art, it is our way of hopefully jump-starting an art career for someone who might otherwise never get one. Our first offering is an oil on canvas by 8-year old Sara, an obviously talented girl whose future may be limitless. The original is little more than 8x10, but the image and depth is quite startling, especially for one so young. We think this is a superb first offering in the series and look forward to bringing you the next one. Martingale Vineyards is the name of the Wine of the Month's own vineyard site in Paso Robles. It's a relatively small property off Highway 101, about 100 miles north of Santa Barbara. The cool, easterly winds which begin at the ocean, less than 10 miles away, help tone down the warm climate found more inland, thus providing us with conditions for making superb wines. This 1997 Chenin Blanc is the type of wine we have been enthralled with for many years. Its roots are held in one of the most beautiful wine areas in the entire world, the Loire Valley. The Loire River runs east to west, beginning at almost the center of France, and continuing into the Atlantic Ocean. The myriad of flavors here with respect to the wines offered is unmatched in the world of wine. It's shining star is Vouvray, made from Chenin Blanc. When carefully grown and harvested, there are flavors in this grape that are so spectacular, one wonders why it isn't at the top of everyone's "best" list. One reason is that Chenin does not take well to the use of oak barrels. This treatment obscures the finesse and engaging flavors. That's certainly not a concern here. Like Sara's painting, all the components are in perfect harmony and a joy to behold.
Chenin Blanc, 1997 Martingale Vineyards
Luscious melon and peach flavors with a soft earthiness. As the wine is swirled in the glass the aromas develop and complex. The full impact is reached on the nose and continues through to the palate. Sweet/tart extracts and a gripping finish make it an easy mate! for the seafood pasta recipe on page 6.
Best right now. Great with holiday fare. Serve slightly chilled.
Imported SelectionOur import selection this month represents the best of both worlds, the old and the new. Argentina is considered new world as far as wine production goes because it hasn't been around as a major producer for that long a period of time. Its methods and practices, however, are strictly old world. Argentina is one of the best kept secrets in the world of wine. It is the sixth largest producer in the world, yet most of us have hardly ever seen a bottle from them. That's because the Argentineans are one of the largest per capita consumers of wine in the world. They consume most of their own product. Over 90% of the production is in one area, Mendoza which runs along the eastern side of the Andes. There are several factors which account for this region being unique. Even though it is closer to the equator than most areas, it is high enough in elevation (some vineyards are at a staggering 6,000 feet!) to boast a more temperate climate. There is almost no rain here. An average year features 320 days of sunshine, almost unheard of in most other areas. The saving grace is s the Andes Mountains. Over 2,000 years ago, the Indians built a web of canals which carried water from the top of the mountains to the areas below. Many are in use today and provide enough water to irrigate the entire region. One of the major deterrents to Argentina becoming a world quality leader is the lack of a strong economy to drive the wine industry. This is the biggest stumbling block in creating world class wines from here. Songmeadow is a collaboration between the finest vineyard owners in Mendoza and an American importer to deliver the best of both worlds. The best lots of wine are fermented in Argentina and shipped to Napa Valley where they are blended and aged to perfection under the most perfect conditions in the world. Our selection is a full five years old and is now showing the subtle nuances and layers of flavor that only perfectly aged wine is capable of. The Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Malbec, the best red grape in Mendoza, and is what accounts for the forward flavors and long finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon, 1993 Songmeadow
Kabernay Soe ving yohn
Soft and mellow on the palate throwing off hints of cassis, blackberry and cedar. Perfectly aged, yet still flavorful, to match authoritative dishes like the heavenly pot roast recipe on Page 6.
Perfect now. Will hold for another year. Serve slightly chilled
Member Inquiry"Paul, we see a lot of terms used to describe wines like "legs, "body," etc. Could you explain some of the most common ones?"
D.S.G., St. Louis, MO
Here are 13 of the most commonly used and misused words in wine talk. The definitions are brief, yet sufficient for the budding wine lover to understand and throw around at parties.
Acetic (volatile): the smell of acetic acid and ethyl acetate—vinegar—in a wine.
Acid (tart, sour): the pleasing crispness of most well-made wines. Cool climates yielding not-so-ripe grapes naturally give more tart wines than do warm climates. Dominant acids in wines are tartaric, citric and lactic.
Aroma and bouquet: aroma is the characteristic smell of the grape used to make the wine; bouquet is the combination of all other odors (from fermentation, aging or from other physical and chemical changes) of the wine.
Body: highly alcoholic wines, such as southern Rhones, Barolos and Amador Zinfandels, are full bodied; low-alcohol wines, such as most German whites, Bardolinos from Italy, and Beaujolais are light bodied.
Breathing (aerating): allowing oxygen to affect a newly opened bottle of wine; allows some of the complex nuances to come out.
Clarity: usually a sign of careful wine making and a gauge of its health. Some traditionally made wines, however, may throw a crystalline or sandy, dirt-like, sediment, which is usually harmless and only needs to be separated from the clear liquid via a decantation.
Color: the color of a wine can give definite indication as to the wine's health, age and quality. All wines turn slightly brown with age, red or white.
Dry: wines that contain no residual grape sugar after fermentation are considered dry. Wines with some residual sugar are called medium dry.
Fruity: used to indicate wines (usually young ones) giving large amounts of berry or fruit-like flavors. One says "the fruit of the wine" when referring to the dominant nonacid, non-tannic flavor of it.
Legs (or tears): rivulets of wine—thick and slow, thin and quick—which flow down the inside of the glass after swirling. They indicate relative body and/or sweetness.
Sediment: solids in a traditionally made wine that, over the years and by the action of gravity, collect at the lowest part of a bottle. Careful decantation not only separates this from the clear liquid but aerates the wine as well.
Sweet: see dry. But also, wines of higher-than-average alcohol content can give the taster a sweet impression.
Tannin (tannic): a component of the wine—derived mainly from the grapes' skins, stems, seeds, and oak. It can give the wine a bitter taste but help it's ageing.
Adventures in FoodThe imposing flavors of the pasta dish are matched with the engaging components in the Chenin Blanc. Cabernet and beef just can't be beat by anything else.
PASTA WITH CHEESE AND SHRIMP
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 cup half & half, room temperature
1/2 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 red peppers, seeded & sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
8-10 shrimp, peeled & deveined
10-20 bay scallops
1/4 cup Martingale Chenin Blanc
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. tarragon
Salt & pepper to taste
8 oz. fresh linguine
Heat 1/2 the olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté garlic, shrimp and scallops for 2-3 minutes and reserve. Add remaining oil; sauté peppers. Add wine, reduce heat to simmer. Cook 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. In another saucepan, melt butter and flour at medium heat. Whisk together to blend. Whisk in half & half until thickened. Add cheeses and spices, salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Boil 4 quarts water and cook pasta al dente, drain and return to original frying pan. Add the seafood, vegetables and white sauce. Heat to blend ingredients and serve. Serves 4.
HEAVENLY POT ROAST
1 4-5 lb. chuck roast, bone in.
1 small onion, minced
1 bunch of parsley, minced
4 leaves sage, minced
1 sprig of rosemary, minced
3 sprigs thyme, minced
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, coarsley chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup of cheap port
1 cup Songmeadow Cabernet
1-2 cups beef stock
3-5 potatoes, quartered
4-6 carrots, peeled and coarse cut
3 onions, chopped coarsely
1 8 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
Mix minced onion, spices, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub roast with olive oil, then press into the mix until the roast is well-coated. Set aside for at least a half-hour. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over high heat and sauté onion until translucent. Place the roast in the pot and add the garlic and red pepper. Brown the roast and veggies for about 15 minutes, turning once. Scrape sides and bottom. Add beef stock and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer at low heat for about 60 minutes, flipping roast over after 30 minutes, or place in oven at 325°. After 60 minutes, add remaining ingredients. Continue simmering for another hour. Remove to large platter. Serve with potatoes and carrots arranged around roast and cover with remaining liquid.