- Q & A
February 1984 Newsletter CELLARMASTER COMMENTS FEBRUARY 1984To the American wine consumer, Rioja red wine from Spain has the same stature as Chianti from Italy. The two wines could be synonymous with the countries they represent. Because of their relative popular¬ity, a large quantity of mediocre wines are imported.
It took a little snooping around, asking questions, and making some phone calls to uncover this small importer who features this Rioja. It is a well known brand in Europe, and I was intent to try it before making my final decision for one of the major wholesaler's brands. My persistence paid off as you will see in the taste, and in the recent credentials this wine earned after I picked it for our February red wine selection.(see page 3)
The white this month is a from a dairy that got converted to a winery by the same owner! I cannot find any carry over in the expert¬ise necessary for milk farming to benefit the wine industry, except that of management. That... they have done very well. They have managed to come up with a real value for a chardonnay.
ANOTHER MEMBERSHIP BENEFIT As our program grows, more and more people are looking at us, and offering their services. This one has universal appeal to all wine enthusiasts… wine glasses.
...and if I may add…correct wine glasses.
The handsome catalog from Marjorie Lumm is enclosed with your newsletter packet this month. I consider her the leading source for wine glasses in the USA. The on going 2096 off for our members is a worthwhile discount.
You may order any of the items in her catalog and deduct 2036 from the item price. To receive this discount, you must use the order form on page 7 of any newsletter or the extra order forms in the pocket of your binder. We have 3 hole punched the catalog so you can save it in your binder for future use. The best part of Marjorie Lumm's inventory is that there is good continuity of the glassware for replacements or additions.
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION- CHARDONNAY, 1982. SANTA YNEZ VALLEY WINERYThe California wine this month has a remarkable heritage. The site of the winery is the Old College Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley. It housed the first college estab¬lished in California by Franciscan priests in 1843. In 1923, the Bettencourts purchased the property and started a dairy. They operated it for 50 years. In 1968, Boyd Bettencourt began to realize that, with the sudden wine boom in California, wine might be a better business than milk! Converting some pasture¬land to grapes, becoming a grape farmer for a while, and then exper¬imenting with home winemaking led to the establishment the Santa Ynez Valley Winery. He got together with his neighbour Bill Davidge, took in a third partner C. Fredrich Brander, (Davis enology graduate) and crushed commercially for the first time in 1976. The first fermenting tanks were milk tanks! The Santa Ynez Valley Winery is located between the towns of Solvang and Santa Ynez, one mile south of Mission Drive on Refugio Road. (a 6 mile gallop from the Western White House, Rancho del Cielo, of the Reagan's) A rustic setting, with a basic no-frills environment, the winery has a following customers. They sign up for the annual Open House in the Spring of every year, and turn up to taste the current wines, old wines from the cellar, and barrel samples of future wines. Try it some year. You will enjoy it. It was at one of the trade tastings that their 1982 Chardonnay caught my attention. It was a good buy for the quality. Cm the heels of showing you a Santa Ynez Valley Appellation Pinot Noir last month, I thought it would be interesting to feature another wine with the same appellation. In California, the chardonnay grape has found its best home in the Napa Valley. The wines made from Sonoma and Mendocino grapes have often excelled. The Central Coast chardonnays have shown a wide variation. More recently developed wine growing regions like the Santa Ynez Valley and Temecula are showing some surprises like this month's wine. Originally and still the premier white grape of Burgundy, Chardonnay or Pinot Chardonnay, (No difference. The latter was the older name for the grape. It was thought that it belonged to the Pinot family of grapes, but it does not.) has been plated in many parts of the world. It produces a dry white wine that is food oriented. With ageing in oak cooperage, a dimension of flavor is added to its varietal character that is traditionally described as apply, sun-warmed peachy, and smooth as "cream". The better char¬donnays that have seen wood will age for up to 10 years. The non oaked styles demonstrate restrained fruitiness and freshness of flavor that are quick to age. Our wine is golden yellow in color. It has a fragrant, fresh nose, with oak showing. Clean and intense. The taste is a surprise. It immediately shows a buttery smoothness, which lingers a while, then it is followed with a crisp¬ness that builds in the mouth, and finishes on the acid side. Remark¬able wine for this price! Serve chilled with seafood entrees. Great with lobster tail or prawns and drawn butter.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop for 4 to 6 years with complexities. Worth laying down.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION- VIÑA MONTY. 1975. BODEGAS MONTECILLOThere were vineyards in Rioja when the Romans colonized this area of Spain. It was one of the first regions to be recaptured during the Reconquest, and it supplied wine in large quantity to the thirsty Conquistadors. By 1770 a " Royal Society of Harvesters" had been formed. The present style of wines from Rioja are due to a recent occurrence. Recent in the relative sense…taking into consideration the span of years since pre-Roman days. Settlement in this region by knowledgeable French "vignerons" from Bordeaux during the phylloxera epidemic of the late nineteenth century contributed to the style. Wine from Rioja was increasingly being exported to France to make up for the shortage due to that insect scourge. The French vineyardists came to Rioja to supervise and improve the production. The relationship of Rioja and Bordeaux wines struck a note when I selected our wine this month. I had been screening for some time, and had made my mind up that this 1975 Vina Monty was the best example and value of a Rioja. As I was placing my order with the importer, he said: "You will be interested in knowing that I received a letter today from our home office. Vina Monty 1975 was one of 20 Rioja wines that were tasted blind, along with 20 pedigreed Bordeaux wines, at the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam on September 17, 1983. Twenty-seven panel members and a computer decided Vina Monty 1975 the best of the lot. There were 5 Riojas in the top 10 wines". Undoubtedly I felt good about my selection!... More important was the idea of a head-on contest that had been planned and executed by a non wine producing, but a wine consuming country... Holland. An interesting contest! The ancestral background of the wine grape growers and wine makers is the only common factor. The grapes are different. (If any of you are interested in reprints of the results and the press on this contest, I can send you a photo¬copy. Just drop me a card. They are in Dutch and Spanish!) The better Rioja wines come from the Alta sub-region. Located south of the Ebro River, in Northern spain. Bodegas Montecillo (the makers of our wine) is in this region, at Fuenmayor. Established in 1874, they continue to produce quality wines, and from time to time come up with a winner! We have one here in their Vina Monty, which is the trade name for their Gran Reserva grade of Rioja red. The composition of red Rioja wines varies. They are all blends from several grapes which are blended before crushing in the proportions each Bodega and winemaker prefers. The main grapes are Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano,and Mazuelo. When they are aged for up to 10 years or more in oak casks, they are designated "Reserva". Our wine is medium garnet red in color. It has a fruity aroma, with an age bouquet that is clean and vibrant. The taste is simply delicious! Lots of fruit with some development of complexities. Medium body with light bouyant flavor. Balanced. Tannin apparent. Serve at room temperature with meat casseroles, hamburgers!... New England boiled beef entrees.
Cellaring Notes: Will age and mellow for 5 to 8 years, and develop more complexities. Worth tracking.
Celebrate About WineWine 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 8 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.
Wine Appreciation & Education Retail
# 747 POCKET GUIDE TO WINETASTING, by Michael Broadbent. The undisputed authority on winetasting takes you step-by-step through the basic of how, when, and why to taste, in addition to explaining the importance of color, bouquet, and flavor, and the elements that give rise to them. Sixteen pages of color photographs showing wines at their immature, mature, fine mature, and over-mature stages of development. Tasting terms in 4 languages. Invaluable. 6.95 Member Price $5.60
# 623 THE NAKED GRAPE by Gary Brenner. The joys of wine stripped of pretense and mystique. Quick & easy reading for the wine novice. 155pp hardbound. 3.95 Member Price $3.20
# 626 HOW TO TEST AND IMPROVE YOUR WINE JUDGING ABILITY by Irving H. Marcus. A concrete handbook to the subjective art of wine tasting. Includes games to develop accuracy of taster's perception. A popular wine course text suitable for novices or experienced oenophiles. 95pp, paperback. 4.95 Member Price $4.00
# 671 CORKSCREWS,An Introduction to Their Appreciation, by Manfred Heckmann. New edition of the authoritative book on corkscrews, their history, science, design and enjoy¬ment: for the connoisseur or the novice. Originally published in German. Hardbound, color plates, 124pp. 1983 Edition. 20.00 Member Price $16.00
# 694 CORKSCREWS AND BOTTLE OPENERS by Evan Perry. This corkscrew society founder, avid collector and world traveler traces the history of the corkscrew and photographically illustrates many different ones explaining their function and method of manufacture. With the growing interest in corkscrew collecting this 1980 Edition is a nice addition to the collector's library. Paperbound, 32pp, printed in Great Britain. 2.95 Member Price $2.40
# 713 WINE SECRETS by Dennis Overstreet and Ava Overstreet. "Inside" information from the view of a professional wine merchant on wines, wineries, cork-pullers, bottle codes, vintage notes, entertaining at home, grooming a wine cellar, etc. Hardbound, 9"x 11", 180pp. 25.00 Member Price $20.00
# 729 THE LITTLE WINE STEWARD, by Pierre Petel. A one-of-a-kind international guide to food and wine. Offers many suggestions harmonizing specific dishes with various wines. A Knowledge of European wines is helpful while using this guide. Paperback, 155pp. 4.95 Member Price $4.00
# 730 HEALING WINES: Celebrating Their Curative Powers, by Manfred Kohnlechner. Dr. Kohnlechner, a European advocate of natural healing, reviews historical records of the therapeutic qualities of wine and examines wines of today from the same perspective. Hardbound, 7"x 10", 1982pp. October 1981. 14.95 Member Price $12.00
# 751 HARVEY'S POCKET GUIDE TO WINE, by Christopher Fielden. One-hundred-sixty page pocket-sized instant-reference of essential information on wine production and distribution. Includes methods of manufacture, major shippers, grapes and grape hybrids. Full vintage charts and sample labels complete this handy guidebook. A recommended alternative to Hugh Johnson's POCKET ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WINE (#524). 4.95 Member Price $4.00
Food with Wine... With White ZinfandelThe other day, as I was arriving for a meeting at a hotel, a luncheon meeting of a womens club must have been letting out. I ran into an acquaintance who was carrying a bot¬tle of wine. She stopped me and said "Paul, I just won this in a raffle! Is it any good? I have never heard of it! How shall I serve it?"
Two very good questions, and two very interesting comments.
The comments first. I have seen an increase in wine being used as a door prize or raffle prize. I say ... thank goodness! How many times have I won some widget that I had no use for! In fact I suspect they are recycled. Wine seems to interest more people these days, and it evokes a genteel reaction!
As to having heard about it! There is no way we will hear about all of them. There are over 500 wineries in California alone, and most all make more than one wine. Add all the other wine producing states and countries, and you have numbers into six digits I am sure. I sus¬pect the comment was directed to not having heard about the variety. The wine was a White Zinfandel by a well known Napa Valley Winery.
Unfamiliarity with White Zinfandel is under¬standable. It has only been a few years since the practice of making white wine from red grapes has come into vogue. Many of the red wine grape varieties are being used to pro-duce light, white or pinkish wines, in addition to the traditional red wines that are usually made.
Now for her question ... is it good? Since I had not had that wine recently, I gave my standard to that question. "Of all the wines I taste professionally, day in and day out, 5% are poor and a few of them bad, 85% are average and some are good, and 10% are excep¬tional." Since there is a 95% chance that the wine will be acceptable, the question in fact is more a matter of personal preference. Chan¬ces are what she really meant was ... will I like it? ... And that is a subjective matter.
What I was pleased about was the last ques-tion she asked. "How shall I serve it?" It is an important one.
"How" raises the question of temperature.
It also can include the glasses to be used. The matter of "when" also comes into play. You must not forget "with what" as a natural sequel. (Which of course is the heart of these series of columns).
White Zinfandel and other white or pink wines made from red grapes should be served well chilled (but not iced).
I like to see them served in the bubble shaped glasses. The oversize ones are par-ticularly nice to use. One gets a good chance to swirl and sniff deep to capture the young fruit aroma.
"When" is a dual question for wine. First it has to do with the stage of maturity, and second it addresses itself to what time of day and/or meal accompaniment. Regarding the stage of maturity, most White Zinfandels are made for drinking now, and not for ageing. Same with the other white or pink wines from red grapes. The younger the vintage the bet¬ter. The fruit is the important flavor element. As to the time of day: my recommendation is to serve it with a brunch, a light lunch, or as a summer afternoon sipper. It is not meant to be a dinner wine.
And now ... for the important part. I con-sider it important because I firmly believe wine is made for food, and the joy of good food is enhanced by wine. White Zinfandel can handle a brunch with scrambled eggs and sausages quite well. It usually has enough strength to its flavor to hold up. Try it some¬time. It would be great with fruit, milder cheeses, and ham. Great finger sandwich companion. When you serve it solo, as an afternoon sipping wine, a tid-bit of crackers and fruit cream cheese would be well suited. The wine along can be assertive and usually yearns for a munchy!
A note of caution. The variety of White Zin¬fandels that have been surfacing from various vineyards during the last couple of years show from the slightly sweet to bone dry styles. Be prepared to match the food you serve to be compatible with the dryness level of the wine.
The basic varietal flavor of the Zinfandel grape is well demonstrated in these white ver-sions. A fun wine to play with.
WOMC Cellar NotesA report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing.
Feb.1980. Red-Cabernet Sauvignon '76 J.Pedroncelli. At its best. Drink now. White-Cotes Du Rhone Blanc '78 Brt.&Arm. Passed its prime.
Feb.1981. Red-Cotes Du Rhone '78.Cel.des Dauph.Near the peak,1 to 2 more yrs. White-Sauvignon Blanc '79. Pendleton. Has mellowed well.ok to '85
Feb.1982. Red-Malbec '77.Cnto.Rod.Flich.Mellowed some, 5 yrs more. White-Chardonnay '80. Danfld Cr. Delightful complex change, ok 2 yrs
Feb.1983. Red-Barbera '80 Amadr.Montevina Sp.Sl. Hardly changed.8 yrs more.
White-Saint Veran '78.Alex. Lchn.On its way out. Use in '84.
Adventures in EatingBy Rosemarie There is no question about it! Desserts will always be my favorite food. Obviously, this poses a problem of dimensions... mainly weight and weight. No matter. I enjoy observing people's eating habits, and am convinced there are more like me out there. Ever notice how crowded the dessert table is at a buffet?
You guessed it. This month's recipe is a dessert graciously given to me by our new in-law's (Dr. Betty Ann Ottinger) house¬keeper. Thanksgiving found us enjoying their hospitality in Washington, D.C. and Pili fed us royally. She served her Poached Pear with Butterscotch sauce after a delicious roast beef dinner. How smoothly it ended our meal. You'll love it, and what a convenient do ahead dessert.
POACHED PEARS WITH VANILLA BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE – PILI 12 pears D'Anjou variety
4 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean (very important)
1 cinnamon stick
juice of 1/2 lemon
Prepare a bowl filled with water and some lemon juice in it. Peel pears and place in bowl until all the fruit is peeled. This pre¬vents their browning. Place the pears in a saucepan, (reserving the lemon water) cover with water. Take pears out and save them in the lemon-water. Add sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, juice of 1/2 lemon, and cloves to the water in the saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil (about 15 minutes). Put pears back into the sugar mixture, and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 1 hour, or until pears are cooked (test one with a fork). Do not overcook and get them mushy. Let them rest in the juice to cool. Cut in half, clean out center, and put back in juice.
Sauce: In another saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter (1 cube). Scrape seeds from 1 split vanilla bean and add, along with scraped pod. Stir. Stir in 1 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 2 T. light corn syrup. Heat to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook, stirring just until sugar melts. DO NOT OVER COCK at this point. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream and return to a gentle simmer, and stir just until the mixture has blended. Not much cooking is required here either. Makes about 2 cups.
When ready to serve, place pears on a large platter, cut side up, and pass to guests. Put sauce in a separate bowl and let guests use as they please.
Finger lickin' good.
Order Form# Description Qty. Member Reorder Price Total 284A 23.3% discount Chardonnay,'82.Snta Ynez Vlly Regular price: $7.50 $69.00/case $ 5.75/each
184A 20.0% discount Pinot Noir,'79.Firestone Regular price: $8.25 $79.20/case $ 6.60/each
1283A 20.0% discount Hanns Kornell Brut Champagne Regular price: $10.75 $103.20/case $ 8.60/each
284B 20.0% discount VinaMonty,'75 Rioja.Bdgs.Montc. Regular price: $7.40 $71.40/case $ 5.95/each
184B 24.6% discount Vernaccia Di San Gimignano'81 Regular price: $6.50/750ml $58.80/case $ 4.90/each
1283B 20.0% discount Fino Sherry, Savory & James Regular price: $4.63/750ml $44.40/case $ 3.70/each
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