- Q & A
June 1997 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 236 Rejected: 221 Approved: 15 Selected: 2
New Beginnings for Old Traditions
Our country was founded primarily by immigrants. They came to America to escape what they considered to be intolerable conditions at home and brought with them centuries-old traditions that survive even today. This month's selections come from wineries founded by immigrants. Ivan Feuzy had to navigate a mine field to leave his revolution-torn Hungary. Not as dramatic, but also leaving a country in the throes of a war (World War I), was Pedro Voglino, founder of Santa Ema in Chile.
Most people don't know anything about the wine areas of the former Soviet Union, particularly Hungary and Romania. Yet, there are areas in these countries which are home to some of the greatest wines in the world. Ivan Feuzy was familiar with these wines from his native homeland, but unfortunately couldn't participate in the making of them. He has been able to realize his dream in California where Ivan Tamas has become a household word meaning "great value."
Pedro Pavone took a different route. His voyage to Chile from Italy allowed him to become one of the founders of Chile's thriving wine industry. Great people, great stories and, more importantly, great wines.
Domestic SelectionForty years ago, during the Hungarian revolution, three young boys decided to flee their country. When they reached the border of the Iron Curtain, only a few yards to freedom, they had a difficult decision to make. The passage was mined. They decided that each boy would lead the other two a third of the way through the minefield so they could share the risk equally. They made it. One of those boys was Ivan Tamas Feuzy. His interest in wine brought him to California where began importing his favorites from Europe. In 1984, he formed a partnership with Steve Mirassou, formerly of the Mirassou winery in San Jose. Together they have been crafting some of the best wine values we've seen in years. Remember that incredible '89 Reserve Cabernet of theirs we featured last year? Ivan obviously learned from his experience it Hungary. He certainly didn't get caught in the mine field of the wine industry. Instead of being seduced by the romance and grandiose trappings of mock success, Steve and Ivan rented space in wineries, purchased used equipment and conserved as much as possible. That philosophy paid off as they now own a beautiful winery and tasting room in Livermore complete with a hospitality center and catering facilities. Those traveling in that area are encouraged to visit Ivan Tamas at 5443 Testa Rd. Their phone is (510) 455-7753. Livermore may be the last great wine area to be discovered in California. Most of the state's finest Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends come from here. The rocky soils and warm climate are perfect for varietals from similar homes in Europe. Two of those homes are Abruzzi and Tuscany, where the ubiquitous Trebbiano grape resides. If not properly handled, it makes a rather dull wine which wouldn't turn too many heads. When allowed to grow on suitable soils and yields are controlled, it can produce an exotically scented peach/pear offering with touches of perfume, slate and citrus. There's not much of it around, so don't wait too long.
Trebbiano, 1994. Ivan Tamas
Treb-ee-AHNO Evahn Tuh-MAS
Soft, yet crisp earth tones combine with melon and Asian pear to create a lovely amalgam of flavors which finish with a wallop. Perfect with fish a course, particularly the spinach and fish soup on page 6.
Perfect right now. Enjoy. Serve chilled
Imported SelectionEighty years ago, Pedro Pavone Voglino, the founder of Santa Ema, emigrated from his native Piedmont, Italy. He brought with him a family history of wine making years had begun thousands of years earlier. After several 'years of working in Chile's wine industry, he set out to produce his own wine using the knowledge he had gained there coupled with his experience in Italy. Pavone planted his first vines in 1931 on a small parcel he had purchased in the Maipo Valley, Chile's most celebrated wine area. His intention was to produce his own wine, but that goal was to be postponed for nearly 25 years. The first grapes he harvested in 1935 were of such exceptional quality, they were quickly sold to local wineries. As he continued to grow, add acreage and produce more grapes, he also created a demand for his grapes that was considerably higher than his supply. Finally, at the urging of his sons who wanted to put the family name on these high quality grapes instead of seeing them grace some other producers bottle, Santa Ema was born. It was an immediate success both in Chile and the United States as well as Europe. Santa Ema is now run by second and third generation Voglinos who have carried Pedro's operations to new heights. It was pioneers like Voglino who really got Chile's wine industry jump-started. European winemakers found virgin territory here, untouched by urban sprawl, smog or the dreaded disease, phyloxera. The perfect soils and climate excited them beyond belief. They brought history, experience and their native grapes. The Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc seemed to thrive the best here, which is why they are the most planted varietals in Chile. Merlot was a much sought-after wine in Chile before the craze began in America. It's soft, rich flavors are unhampered by the harsh tannins which delineate it from kit's tougher cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet, it is by no 'means a poor cousin. Merlot has proven to be just as aristocratic and noble a grape as Cabernet. One taste of this offering and you will see why.
Merlot, 1994. Santa Ema
MARE-Low Santa Emma
This is a particularly ample fruited and yet well-structured offering. You are at once seduced by the large berry flavors which smack you in the mouth. The soft tannins and fruit acids hold the flavor in suspension from beginning to end. A real stunner! ! !
Will definitely improve with another year or two. Serve cool.
Member Inquiry"Paul, How important is temperature when serving wine?"
B.R.D., Jr. Pleasanton, CA
Matching the right wine with the right food is an important part of enjoying both. A great wine is unlikely to be ruined if it is poorly served, but it could lose a lot of its complexity. One of the most important things to be considered when serving wine is temperature
The easiest way to ruin a red wine is to serve it too warm. At too high a temperature red wine will lose its fruit, and the alcohol will become too volatile. Although a wine that is too cold will soon warm up in the glass, the reverse is unlikely to happen. The old adage that red wines should be served at room temperature is largely to blame. Room temperature in a stone castle is about 60 degrees, much cooler than it is in many a centrally-heated modern house. The tannins found in modern reds are also softer than those of generations ago.
There is no one ideal temperature for serving wine: different wines show their virtues at different temperatures. Generally speaking most whites should be served at about 50 degrees F. and most reds at 60 degrees F. It may take a refrigerator up to two hours to chill a wine, but an ice bucket full of ice and cold water needs only twenty minutes.
The ideal temperature will, however, vary according to the time of year; in summer the wine should be a few degrees cooler than in winter, whatever the room temperature. Older wines should be served closer to cellar temperature (55 degrees F.) than younger ones, and less tannic wines can be served cooler than more tannic ones. As a rule of thumb the best all around temperature is about 62 degrees F. A wine at this temperature in a room at 75 degrees will gain about 10 degrees in half an hour.
White wines suffer more from the opposite problem: chilling them too much dulls the aroma and flavor. A temperature of 50 degrees F, or slightly below cellar temperature is right for most white wines. Champagnes should be 5-10 degrees colder. Also remember that the colder the wine, the more people tend to drink.
Adventures in FoodA rich, hearty seafood soup is just what the chef ordered to go with our Ivan Tamas Trebbiano. Here the combination of basil and thyme blend with the earthiness of the spinach and the sweetness of the fish to bring out the identical flavors of the wine. It matches even better if you use the wine in the soup.
SEAFOOD AND SPINACH SOUP
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup Vermouth or dry white wine (such as Ivan Tamas Trebbiano)
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves or 2 Tbsp. crumbled dry basil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. crumbled dry thyme leaves
1 lb. sm. potatoes (about 3)
1 bunch spinach leaves, cleaned and stemmed
3/4 lb. sea bass, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 lb. lg., shrimp (31-35 per pound), shelled and deveined
1 lb. roma-type tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Combine the broth, lemon peel, thyme, salt, pepper and potatoes over high heat. Bring to a boil; cover tightly and simmer until potatoes are just tender when pierced, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut spinach leaves lengthwise into slivers about 1/8 inch wide; set aside. Return broth to a rolling boil over high heat and add the sea bass and wine. Cover pan tightly and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp, tomatoes, and half the spinach. Cover and continue simmering until fish and shrimp are opaque but still moist-looking in the thickest part (cut to test), 3-5 minutes more. Divide mixture among 6 wide, shallow bowls. Garnish tops with the remaining spinach and basil. Serves 6.
If you make extra for leftovers, strain the liquid from the fish and refrigerate separately. When you wish to re-heat, bring the liquid to a boil then add the fish. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until fish is just warmed. That way you won't over cook it which make the fish tough and tasteless. You can also make a day ahead and let the flavors meld. The soup will be more authoritative.
Earlier SelectionsGuaranteed Available DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER REORDER PRICES TOTAL #697A Trebbiano, '94. Ivan Tamas "Pear and apple scents." Reg. Price $6.99 20% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
#697B Metlot, '94. Santa Etna "Up-front fruit, great finish." Reg. Price $7.99 20% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
#597A Cab. Sauv., '93. Dave Nichol "Rich, full-bodied flavor of cassis." Reg. Price $7.99 25% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
#597B Chardonnay, '96. Arunda "Big, pineapple fruit and oak." Reg. Price $6.99 20% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
#497A Sauv. Bl., '95. Concannon "Clean, herbal scents and figs." Reg. Price $6.99 20.% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
#497B Minervois, '95. Gard. de Sous "Black fruits with truffles." Reg. Price $7.99 20% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
#397A Cab. Sauv., '94. Mark Ridge "Ripe cherries, vanilla and spice." Reg. Price $8.29 20.5% disc. $79.08/case $6.59/each
#397B Semillon, '96. Santa Monica "Green apple, pear and kiwi." Reg. Price $6.69 21% disc. $63.48/case $5.29/each
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