Wines evaluated last month: 119 Rejected: 93 Approved: 26 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS FEBRUARY 1986
This month, we have a study in wine made from grapes that are primarily grown in the Bordeaux region of France.
The grape for the white wine this month is a native of Bordeaux. California Sauvignon Blanc wines have become very popular in the last few years. One can theorize that the escalating price of California Chardonnays has been partially responsible for this. The improvement of quality of the Sauvignon Blanc wines have added to the impetus. The less bold nature of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal versus that of a good Chardonnay has helped add it to the "wine instead of a cocktail" syndrome. That's enough for the rationale! You will be surprised with the quality and the price of Rutherford Ranch Brand Sauvignon Blanc, 1983.
For the red wine, we go to the heartland of the wine world! I have for you a Bordeaux. As I have mentioned on more than one occasion in the past, I turn down more Bordeaux than any other wine.
There are just too many mediocre ones around. Here is a good one! It is very good drinking now, and it has a lot going for it as far a ageing potential. This wine can be a good lesson in tracking Bordeaux ageing. Lay down 12 bottles and try one every 6 months. Good exercise!
= INSIDE.… =
= Sauvignon Blanc,'83 Rth.R pg.2 =
= Chat.Laffitte Laujac,'82 pg.3 =
= This matter of "Reserve" pg.4 =
= Earlier Selections Availbl pg.5 =
= WOMC Cellar Notes pg.5 =
= Adventures in Eating by R pg.6 =
= Wine order form pg.7 =
= Gift order form pg.8 =
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. (213) 318-6666
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION
SAUVIGNON BLANC, 1983. RUTHERFORD RANCH BRAND
Rutherford Ranch brand of wines are the "special" wines produced by Round Hill Vineyards. It is their "Reserve" line.
In the early 70's, two well known home winemakers aspired to starting their own winery. Charlie Abela and Ernie Van Asperan had more than just a fantasy, they had other talents. Charlie with his expertise in construction and engineering and Ernie with his expertise in putting businesses together, pooled their complimentary talents and Round Hill Vineyards was born.
The proof of this expertise is in the growth curve. Starting in 1977, this enterprise has grown in 9 years to an 85,000 case winery. The have a product line of generic, "house", varietal, and a "reserve" line marketed under the Rutherford Ranch label. Some achievement!
Success in the wine industry first takes a good winemaker. Both principals were pleased to find a winemaker of the caliber of Jim Yerkes. The second thing needed is a good business plan, and this seems to be available through the efforts of Charlie as president of the operation.
Their reserve Rutherford Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, 1983, attracted my attention some time back at a trade tasting. Two more passes at it confirmed my decision to select it.
The Sauvignon Blanc grape has two ancestral homes. First, the Bordeaux region of France, with dry wine representation in the Graves district, and sweet wine renditions in the Sauternes district. Second, the Loire region, with appellations of Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre as the important ones. I had my fill of the latter wines, while traveling the Loire canals in a barge last May. The fresh, young Sauvignon Blanc "in situ" at the local bars was a true education.
First root cuttings of this grape were brought to California from Bordeaux in the 1880's. The attempt was to try and produce an American Chateau d'Yquem. Instead, the dry versions of Sauvignon Blanc were received best by the American wine consuming public.
The California version of the wine also had another first. Wine industry pioneer Herman Wente was the first to label American wine by a varietal name. His "1932 Dry Sauvignon Blanc" was a hit, and an exclusive at the fashionable Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
Traditionally, terms like herbaceous, green grass, olives, smoky, have been used as descriptives of the varietal character of taste and aroma of this grape. For the beginner, these are bewildering terms. The initiated and experienced have learned that these are only personal correlations, much depending on the style and vinification conditions of the particular wine. More important is to learn the general varietal character and leaning of the grape, and then start selecting your personal preferences.
Our wine is straw colored. It has a fruity, clean aroma with a mature varietal character of the grape. The nose is penetrating, with no grassiness. The taste is bursting with flavor of ripe apples! It has medium to full body, dry and well balanced. A rich smoothness is in the middle. Long finish, lingers with apple taste. Serve chilled with chicken or turkey dishes.
Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 2 years.
#0286A Regular Price: $6.69/750ml.
Member Reorder Price : 20.00%discount
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION
CHATEAU LAFFITTE LAUJAC, 1982. MEDOC
Bordeaux is considered by many as the wine capital of the world. It claims this distinction because of its size, the hundreds of years it has been producing wine, the variety of wines it produces, and the quality of its better wines.
The volume of wine produced and marketed from this pocket of land in southwestern France is mind boggling. The figure is in excess of 100 million gallons a year. What is produced is an awful lot of ordinary wine, some good ones, and a very small quantity of exceptional wines.
Over the years, the Bordelais have tried to establish a hierarchy of classifications to designate quality levels. Some have stuck, others have been abandoned, and most are confusing to the casual wine student.
Tiptoing through a myriad of Bordeaux wines, this Chateau Laffitte Laujac, 1982, stopped me in my tracks. (no connection with the famous Lafite). It is one of the 3 wines Chateau Laujac markets. The property has been in the wine-famous Cruse family since 1852. It was their first wine estate. Of the 798 acres, about 100 are devoted to grapes on the higher gravelly parts. The remainder is used for breeding show jumpers, (horses that is!), cattle, and growing wheat and corn. The Chateau is located near the town of Begadan in the Medoc appellation of Bordeaux. It has been classified as a Cru Grand Bourgeois in the universe of Medoc wines.
Red Bordeaux wines are blends of a variety of permitted grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon being the important one. Each Chateau and winemaker will have his blend. Wines from Laujac are generally
blends of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2936 Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. With Cabernet Sauvignon being the mainstay of the wine, the Merlot adds color and suppleness, the Cabernet Franc adds perfume, and the Petit Verdot adds acidity.
The four vital and interlocking elements involved in the production of good wine are: climate, soil, vine, and the skill of man. 1982 was a banner year for Bordeaux from the harvest point of view. The weather was very favorable and the quality of grapes in general was outstanding. The soil and vines of Chateau Laujac have performed well in the past. The skill of man did bring these elements together rather well in this vintage. Remember... every year is another year! Never forget that in the world of wine. The four elements create untold variables in the quality spectrum.
Our wine is deep purplish red in color. It has a fruity, peppery, aroma, with distinct cabernet character. Develops into a rather intense nose as you swirl. The taste is dry, with a significant softness of merlot showing. It is rich and has a perfect balance of acid. The flavor is deep, and the finish is laced with a hint of tannic. It has wonderful fruit intensity to the flavor. Serve at room temperature with aged cheddar cheese and crusty French bread at the end of a meal, or during the meal accompanying a beef main course.
Cellaring Notes: Good drinking now, but will complex and soften for 5 to 10 years.
#0286B Regular Price: $7.99/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 20.00% discount
THIS MATTER OF "RESERVE" WINES....
Imagine that you are a winemaker or you own a winery, and you are tasting some of the wines that are maturing in the barrels. You are an experienced taster, and are able to read into wine. You can detect characteristics that tell you this wine will improve and become a superb wine. From among the various batches you taste, one or two barrels stand out as better than the others.
"Reserve those for me" would be my natural reaction.
Wouldn't you be inclined to do that too?
Well… that is how the "reserve" concept is said to have started.
The next evolutionary step naturally had to be...
...the selecting of the better barrels or batches of wine, from the same vinification, and offering them for sale as a better wine. You use the same label, but print the words "Reserve", or "Private Reserve, or "Chairman's Reserve", or "Special Selection", or any other set of words that imply the concept, on the label to identify the better wine.
This is all well and good, and your reserve wines become very popular and are sought after.
Yet… it is possible that you do not have "reserve" wines every year. You find that, some years, there are no exceptional barrels. You have a problem. You have developed a market for your reserve wines, and you have none. You have whet the appetite of your fans, and you cannot deliver.
You ponder the question!
You work the problem!
You learn how to make a better wine by improving your grape and your methodology. Now you are consistently able to make a better wine. What do you do?... You develop another line of wine, called your "reserve line", and market two lines of wines. A regular line and a reserve line.
Then... what happens?
You might find that the two lines of wines you are marketing become confusing, to the public. One line is mistaken for the other... Or more catastrophically, you are judged sometimes by your lesser wines... your regular wines; rather than your reserve wines.
What do you do?... You choose a new brand name, and label your reserve wines by that brand, rather than the brand you started with. Now you have two labels and two brands in your operation. One for your better wines and one for your regular wines.
The original idea of "reserve" has gone through several transformations. Each step of these transformations is still around in the wine industry at one stage or another. You, the wine enthusiast, will find that you have to become familiar with the individual wineries, to recognize their better wines. Or, you can relegate that function to a knowledgeable wine merchant.
Genuine reserve wines can be special! You just have to find out about them.
EARLIER CLUB SELECTIONS STILL AVAILABLE.
To order, use order form on any page 7, or from pocket of binder.
#1185A Chardonnay, '82.Frmrk Abbey
23.5%disc. Regular Price: $12.75
Reorder Price: $9.75/ea. $117.00/case
#1185B Cotes du Ventoux,'83Dm.St.Svr.
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $3.00
Reorder Price: $2.40/ea. $28.80/case.
#1085A Syrah,'81.McDowell Vlly.Vin.
23.1%disc. Regular Price: $9.75
Reorder Price: $7.50/ea. $90.00/case
#1085B Brigadier Miranda, '82.
24.2%disc . Regular Price: $4.75
Reorder Price: $3.60/ea. $43.20/case
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $7.50
Reorder Price: $6.00ea. $72.00/case
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $7.50
Reorder Price: $6.00ea. $54.00/cs
#885A Cabernet Sauvignon,'81.Durney
25.0%disc. Regular Price: $12.50
Reorder Price: $9.38/ea. $112.56/case
#885B Muller-Thurgau '83.E.Hammel
24.0%disc. Regular Price: $3.75
Reorder Price: $2.85ea. $34.20/cs
#785B Cabernet Franc,'77.V.Ronchi
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $5.79
Reorder Price: $4.63ea. $55.56/cs
25.0%disc. Regular Price: $6.00/75m1
Reorder Price: $4.50/ea. $54.00/case
#585A Johannisberg Riesling,'84.AVV
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $6.00/750m1
Reorder Price: $4.80/ea. $57.60/case
#585B Chateau La Cardonne. '82.
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $9.00
Reorder Price: $7.20ea. $86.40/cs
¬#285A Pinot Noir, '81.Tulocay Winery
20.0%disc. Regular Price: $8.50/750m1
Reorder Price: $6.80/ea. $81.60/case
#485B Rully Blanc, '83. Jaffelin
21.1%disc. Regular Price: $9.50
Reorder Price: $7 50ea. $91.20/cs
WOMC CELLAR NOTES================================
A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing. Obtained from actual tastings of wines aged under cellar conditions and/or vintner, importer, or wholesaler surveys
Feb.1982. Red-Malbec '77.Cnto.Rod.Flich.Nice complexity.May keep.
White-Chardonnay '80. Danfld Cr.Starting to fade. Use.
Feb.1983. Red-Barbera '80 Amadr.Montevina Sp.Sl. Just starting to dev.
White-Saint Veran '78.Alex. Lchn.Pretty much faded.Finish up
Feb.1984. Red-Vina Monty '75.Bdgs.Mont.Good complexity.Will hold more.
White-Chardonnay '82.Snta Ynez.Nice fragrance. Start using.
Feb.1985. Red-Pinot Noir '81. Tulocay. Still quite young.Fruity.Keep.
White-Sauvignon de St. Bris '83.H.G. Mellowed.Fruity.May use
ADVENTURES IN EATING
THE GRAVITY OF THE APPLE...
Crisp, tart, and juicy - Arbor Day, Sterling Morton, and the grand state of Nebraska have much in common. The J. Sterling Orchard and Tree Farm boasts some of the best apples grown anywhere. In fact, the founder of Arbor Day, was J. Morton Sterling. One can still enjoy the 220 acres of hundreds of apple trees that were first planted in 1868. Today, the National Arbor Day Foundation operates the tree farm, on a non-profit basis, for the pleasure of anyone who cares to visit the vision of one man.
Apples are a wondrous fruit. Their texture allows one to enjoy a crunchy bite, and yet not worry about dribbles and inconveniences to one's posture. The varieties available give us many taste sensations to please us. (along with a compatible chunk of aged cheese). Doesn't it come back to something like the "simple things in life?"
Let's take a repast from cooking this month, and acquaint ourselves with a technique of preserving what is "early America."
We learn that it is not difficult to keep apples crisp and fresh for many weeks. When the apple rests, it prefers conditions opposite to what humans like! When we sleep… we like to be warm and dry. Not so the apple… an apple wants to be very cold and very moist. Properly stored apples should be about 34 degrees and the atmosphere should be humid. Place the apples in a big plastic bag and put water in with them... as much as a cup or two, depending the size of the bag, and tie the bag tightly. You can even soak the
apples overnight; they'll pump in some water through their pores. Then put them wet into the plastic bag, and put the bag in the refrigerator. If they're sound and fairly fresh apples, they'll keep on and on.
I love Jonathan apples, and their season is a very short one. I cannot wait until next September to try this. They are not as dense an apple as pippin, granny smith, and delicious, but you can bet I am going to give it a try.
Apples! a great way to help you keep your health and help you loose weight. Whatever happened to that old cliche "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". Must look into that one.
p.s. don't ever eat one in the movies!
THE BINDERS HAVE ARRIVED...
If you need another binder to file your newsletters, drop me a note and I will send you one at no charge. A binder is available to you free, for every year of member¬ship in the Wine of The Month Club.
For free membership information write or call
Wine of the Month Club®
Adventures in Wine Since 1972 by The Cellarmaster
P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 318-6666
Please send me the following:
# Description Qty. Member
Reorder Price Total
discount Sauvignon Blanc,'83Ruth.Rnch
Regular Price: $6.69 $ 64.20/case
discount Pinot Noir,'81.Res.Zaca Mesa
Regular Price: $12.75 $115.20/case
discount Armagan, Brut.
Regular Price: $6.50 $ 58.80/case
discount Chateau Laffitte Laujac,'82
Regular Price: $7.99 $ 76.68/case
discount Chardonnay del Veneto,'84.Alvina
Regular Price: $4.00 $ 36.00/case
discount No.28 Sherry, Duff Gordon
Regular Price: $11.25 $102.00/case
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217,
Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 Subtotal
SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.50; 6 bottles $5.00; 12 bottles $7.50 6½% Sales Tax
□ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. Shipping
□ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express
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_______________________________________________ We are unable to ship out of California due to Alcoholic Address Beverage laws. Recipients must be 21 or older.
City State Zip
Phone (Home) (office)
(See reverse side to order wine gifts)
WINE GIFT ORDER FORM
GIFTS OF WINE ARE PERFECT FOR:
● Thank you gifts ● Housewarming gifts ●
Hospitality gifts ● Wedding gifts ● Anniversary
gifts ● Congratulations gifts ● I Love You
gifts ● Christmas gifts ● Business gifts
● Mother's Day gifts ● Father's Day gifts
● Forget-me-not gifts ● Bon Voyage gifts
● And Anytime gifts!
All Cellarmaster gifts are guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition...
gift wrapped... and with a gift card.
CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS FROM THE CELLARMASTER:
GIFT # DESCRIPTION QTY. COST TOTAL
1 2 BOTTLES: the 2 current club
2 6 BOTTLES: assortment of recent
3 12 BOTTLES: (1 case): assortment of
recent selections $92*
4 4 MONTHS subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selec-
tions) a month for 4 months (or every $62*
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 $92*
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 $182*
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217,
Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 SUBTOTAL
Gift#1: $2.50; Gift#2: $5.00; Gift#3: $7. 50 Gift#4: $10.00; Gift#5: $15.00; Gift#6: $30.00 6½% sales tax
(*$2 gift wrapping charge included). 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
City State Zip
Phone (Home) (office) We are unable to ship out of California due to Alcoholic
Beverage laws. Recipients must be 21 or older.
Please ship Gift # _________ To: ___________________________________________________________________________
Address City State Zip
Special note on gift card: ___________________________________________________________________________________
(Attach another sheet of paper to list other recipients)