- Q & A
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS APRIL 1986
I AM WISHING MYSELF A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY THIS MONTH. THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE FOURTEENTH YEAR KR THE WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB. I HAVE NOT MISSED A MONTH, AND USING A TERM MY SON #2 USES... I HAVE NOT "MISSED" ON ANY WINES. EVERY WINE FEATURED HAS HAD REORDERS (The acid test).
THANK YOU... THANK YOU...
Another scoop by the Wine of The Month Club! Only 570 cases were made of our featured white wine, and we were able to secure a good portion of it for the members. It is primarily available only in Southern California at select restaurants and wine shops. I know Don from the days he was president of the local chapter of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association. (by the way... that is a fun thing to do sometime... attend the Napa Valley Wine Library Seminar, held over a weekend in St. Helena. Good wine instruction and tasting with leading Napa wine personalities. Inquire by writing to the public library in St. Helena. CA) This is Don McGrath's first release, and it is a whopper!
For the red import, we travel to the southern hemisphere. If you plot the wine producing regions of the world on a globe, you will find they form a belt circling the globe at about the same latitudes south and north of the equator. Obviously a function of the climate. Chilean wines have not been discovered by the rest of the world like other wines. They deserve attention. There are some superb ones, and the price is right. See for yourself...======================== = = INSIDE… = = Chardonnay,'84.Lt2.VlaHln pg.2 = = Vintage Red,'83.Chat.Andrw pg.3 = = Which is the best wine? pg.4 = = This liquid gold,50yr.wine pg.5 = = WOMC Cellar Notes pg.5 = = Previous selections avlble 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
CHARDONNAY,1984. LOT 2. VILLA HELENA
Donald W. McGrath is owner, winemaker, chief bottle washer, and maybe even janitor at Villa Helena Winery. In real life though, he is a metallurgist. He spends his weekdays as a chief scientist at Ai Research Manufacturing in Torrance, California. Most weekends, however, he spends at his winery in St.Helena. (the capital of Napa Valley!).
It all started in 1968 when Don made his first batch of home made wine. He used some Zinfandel grapes, and in his words the final product was "horrible – awful stuff". Over the years while his wife Lidia kept busy with her profession of surgical nursing and raising two children, he went on to become a rather proficient home winemaker. Several awards and judging assignments convinced him he should do this thing for real… the outcome - Villa Helena Winery. If this first release is a sign of his expertise in the commercial arena of wine making… you better keep an eye out for his wines!
Don tells of Villa Helena Winery: "We purchased a five acre ranch in Napa Valley in 1977, which included an eighty-year old victorian farmhouse, a guest cabin, and two old barns, one of which fell down two years ago in the wind. The property also had four acres in vineyards, principally Green Hungarian and mixed reds (every other vine was a different variety). Although the red grapes made delicious prize-winning wine, the yield was low and prices poor, so we pulled the entire vineyard and replanted to chardonnay." Don says that it will be a few years before his new vines will produce the quality of grapes he looks for.
In the meantime, Don purchased 7 tons of grapes from Mike Robbins' Wildwood Vineyard on the Silverado Trail. He crushed and fermented two lots of Chardonnay. His first release is Lot 2, which is a blend of Lot 1 (totally barrel fermented) and tank fermented chardonnay. The grapes for the latter are from central Napa Valley and Carneros.
The chardonnay grape has contributed untold hours of pleasure, study, argument, and admiration to the wine enthusiast! I often refer to it as the premier white wine grape of Burgundy, France. The quantity of truly fine chardonnay wine originating from Burgundy is being outdistanced by the better California Chardonnays. I can now safely say that California is a premier producer of fine chardonnays. Both the quality and quantity from California has a "world class" reputation. The variations in style of tank vs. barrel fermented, oak aged or no wood ageing, all add to the mystique of this wine. Always a meal wine, it can have appley overtones, which when barrel fermented and oak aged can develop age complexities which humble wine freaks to a kneeling posture!
This chardonnay is straw yellow in color. The aroma is apply, but soon moves into a bouquet of oak vanillin due to its wood ageing. Swirling it brings out wonderful fruit esters. The taste is dry. It has intense varietal fruit, with a toasty oak foundation. The wine is nicely acid which gives good backbone to the other components. It has a full body. Serve chilled with poultry main courses, or with seafood newburg, courses.
Cellaring Notes: Will soften and complex for 5 years. #0486A Regular Price: $11.25/750ml. Member Reorder Price : 20.00%discount $9.00/ea. $108.00/case.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION
VINTAGE RED, 1983. CABERNET SAUVIGNON, CHATEAU ANDREW
You never know what you will stumble across, when you go on a fact finding trip! Unfortunately I was not on that trip. Paul Ryan and Carl Wilson were the ones who were stomping through the vineyards of Chile, looking for facts! They are wine enthusiasts from San Diego. Paul is president of a division of an established international petroleum trading firm, and Carl is vice-president. Their primary product is guzzled by engines, and their secondary product is guzzled by humans!
You see... Paul and Carl discovered the wines of the Peralillo vineyard. It is located on the original Echenique estate, in the Santa Cruz viticultural region of Chile. Maria Ignacia Echenique and her husband Jorge Eyzaguirre operate the vineyards and winery. Her ancestors left Spain in 1760 and settled in this region. They quickly became agricultural leaders. In 1800, they planted grapes from cuttings imported from France, and most remarkably, closely escaped the world epidemic scourge, of phylloxera (a root eating louse that attacks grape vines) of the later 1800's. These healthy prephylloxera vineyards produce Some of the finer wines of Chile. Other than in Chile, Echenique wines were only available in limited quantities in London under the Don Gabriel label.
Well... Paul and Carl felt these wines would appeal to the American palate, so they proceeded to establish an American label and market it in the United States. Chateau Andrew sounded like a good name, since Andrew was the middle name of Paul!
I was impressed with the quality, for the price, of their generic Vintage Red which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. What can you get for $3.49 these days?
A little about the vineyard... It is located 33 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, 54 miles west of the Andes Mountains foothills, and 200 miles south of Santiago. Altitude about 1200 feet above sea level. The latitude is 34.5, which puts it on a parallel with California wine country. Twenty-four inches of rain fall annually. All vines and rootstocks are original noble French plants, and all prephylloxera.
Winemaker is Philippe De Solminihac, doctoral graduate of Bordeaux's Institute of Oenology, and president of the Oenologist's Association of Chile.
Cabernet from Chile has been quite good on most occasions that I have tasted it. The variety does well there. The locals say that it is Bordeaux style! I do not agree... it has more of a resemblance to California Cabernets than to the French wines.
Our wine is bright red in color. It has a fruity varietal aroma that is very clean and fresh. A hint of grassiness just teases you, but does not attempt to dominate. The taste is fruity and flavorful. Medium body, with lots of depth to the feel. A very nice light pepperiness meets you in the middle, moves into a little herbaceousness, then finishes with a pleasant acidity. Just charming. Serve at room temperature with luncheon sandwiches, pizza, pasta, or just snack with cheese.
Cellaring Notes: Will keep for 3 to 5 years, and develop some light complexities. Really for enjoying now! #0486B Regular Price: $3.49/750ml. Member Reorder Price: 21.20% discount $2.75ea. $33.00/case.
WHICH IS THE BEST WINES?.…
"Which is the best wine?" is a question I sometimes seem to have to answer. With tongue in cheek, my reply invariably is: "The best wine is the one you like!"
A stupid question like that, deserves a stupid answer! Sorry about being so blunt, but I am confident no member of the Wine of the Month Club would ask such an unqualified question.
Maybe my answer is not that bad after all. It's the question that is bad. The answer "says it all", in the framework of what wine is, and the pleasures it offers to discerning humans.
•Let's start right at the bottom… in the gutter! If you drink wine for the alcohol content, then the best wine is fortified wine... the one that has the highest percentage among them… and if you have no concern about the taste, the sweeter the better, it goes down smoother; and the less expensive the better, because you can buy more for your dollar. The empty bottles of Virginia Dare Port in the sidewalk gutter of many a main street is testimony! I know that is very gauche, but maybe to the point.
•If you drink wine for the impression you are going to make on others as to your pocket book, then the best wine is the most expensive wine. Chances are it will be your pocket book that will be making the impression and not you.
•If you drink wine for the impression you are going to make on others as to your wine knowledge, then the best wine is an obscure one. Pick one that has a difficult name, (like some of those German wine labels), and where you know something about it or pretend to know!
•If you drink wine because you enjoy the taste, then the best wine is the one which you find appeals to your palate the best. If you are unilateral in your taste preference, then you will settle on one and be a devoted fan of it. (as long as your winemaker is consistent in producing that taste for you year after year or cuvee after cuvee).
•If you drink wine because you prefer it as your beverage with a meal, then the best wine is the one you favor for each type of food. I must say, if you are at this stage of wine enjoyment, you are pretty well advanced. You would not ask the question point blank… you would qualify it by asking: "which is the best type of wine with so and so food, in your opinion". And… do not forget the last part of that qualified question. In the world of wine, opinions vary significantly. All are right, because the best wine is the one you like!
• If you drink wine because you enjoy the variety it allows you, then the best wine becomes the one you like best from each: type, varietal, style, vineyard, winery, winemaker, area of origin, food matching group.Therin lies the answer to the best wine.
I must confess, that the popularity of the Wine of The Month Club is characterized by the last set of criteria.
THIS LIQUID GOLD.... THIS 50 YEAR WINE....
It is not often I rave about a dessert wine. My reverence has only extended to three so far. I am talking about serious enamorment!
The first was in May 1975 at the German Wine Academy. On graduation night, we were served a Trockenbeerenauslese of the late 30's (I have the name in my notes, but cannot place my hand to them!) that was liquid gold.
The second was in May 1983, at the Heublein Premiere National Auction of Rare Wines pretasting. I stood in line for the scant tasting of 1928 Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes. It was liquid gold.
The third was last week, at a trade tasting on April 2, 1986. An Eiswein from the Franken wine growing region or Germany. Made from Sylvaner grapes, this Eiswein was another liquid gold experience. It is a Castel ler Schlossberg, 1983. made by Fuerstlich Castell'Sches Domaenenamt. They are a family operated winery with a 25 generation history dating back to the 11th. Century.
Eiswein is an official style of German wine which interprets as "Ice-Wine", and is paraphrased as "the wine that came out of the cold". It is a rarity produced only by occasional vintages. A wine can be given that designation only if at the picking of fully ripe grapes temperatures were at least between 14° and 18° degrees below zero. The berries are then coated with a film of ice and are as hard as glass globules. They must be taken to the press in this frozen condition, where only the highly concentrated aromatic sugar juice is pressed out, the frozen water remaining in the press. By necessity, this style of wine is made from grapes that have been left hanging on the vine into mid-winter (sometimes January) and are gathered and pressed early in the morning while frozen solid. The result is a dessert wine that is piquant with acid, with limitless ageing capacity.
If you are a dessert wine enthusiast, and can handle this price tag, it is a treat of treats. It is truly a 50 year wine. It will age and complex for as long as you want to keep it, yet it is absolutely gorgeous now. I am putting away one bottle for each grandchild to taste with me, I hope, when they reach the wine expertise graduation level. God willing! (a couple extra bottles for me too!) I can order the wine for you. Member Discount Price $115 ea. (750m1) Regular Price $132 ea.
WOMC CELLAR NOTES================================
A report on how previous Wine of the Month Club Selections are faring with age. Obtained from actual tastings of wines under cellar conditions and/or vintner, importer or wholesaler surveys.
Apr.1982. R. Badia a Coltibuono'77 Chianti Classico. Developing nice.Keep
W. Healdsberger '80.Balverne. Not much any more. Finish up.
Apr.1983. R. Zinfandel '80 Napa. Burgess. Start to use. Mellow. W. Muscadet '81. B&G. On its way out. Use it up.
Apr.1984. R. Colli del Trasimeno Rosso.1982.Lamb.Softness starting.Keep W. Johannisberg Riesling '82.Raymond.Hint of ageing.Keep.
Apr.1985. R. Pinot Noir Nouveau,'84.Amity.Amazingingly good.Use up. W. Rully Blanc'83.Jaffelin.As good as last year.Keep.
EARLIER CLUB SELECTIONS STILL AVAILABLE.#0186A Pinot Noir, '81. Res. Zaca Mesa 24.7%disc. Regular Price: $12.75 Reorder Price: $9.60ea. $115.20/case
#0186B Chardon. Del Veneto, '84.Alv. 25.0%disc. Regular Price: $4.00 Reorder Price: $3.00/ea. $36.00/case
#1285A Armagan, Brut. 24.6%disc. Regular Price: $6.50 Reorder Price: $4.90ea. $58.80/case
#1285B No.28 Sherry, Duff Gordon 24.4%disc. Regular Price: $11.25 Reorder Price: $8.50/ea. $102.00/case
#1185A Chardonnay, '82.Frmrk Abbey 23.5%disc. Regular Price: $12.75 Reorder Price: $9.75/ea. $117.00/case
#685A Zinfandel,'81.Boeger 25.0%disc. Regular Price: $6.00/75m1 Reorder Price: $4.50/ea. $54.00/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
#985A Gewurztraminer,'84.Gndl.Bnd. 20.0%disc. Regular Price: $7.50 Reorder Price: $6.00ea. $72.00/case
#985B Carrascal,'77.Bdg.Weinert 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
#585B Chateau La Cardonne. '82. 20.0%disc. Regular Price: $9.00 Reorder Price: $7.20ea. $86.40/cs
#385B Cabernet Sauvignon,'79.TR-Rs. 21.1%disc. Regular Price: $9.50 Reorder Price: $7.50ea. $91.20/cs.
To order, use order form on any page 7, or from pocket binder. 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 0486A 20.00% discount Chardonnay, '84. Villa Helena Regular Price: $11.25 $108.00/case $ 9.00/each
0386A 25.00% discount Claret, Brkr's Res. nv.So.Cst. Regular Price: $5.00 $ 45.00/case $ 3.75/each
0286A 20.00% discount Sauvignon Blanc,'83Ruth.Rnch Regular Price: $6.69 $ 64.20/case $ 5.35/each
0486B 21.20% discount Vintage Red, '83.Chat.Andrew.Chile Regular Price: $3.49 $ 33.00/case $ 2.75/each
0386B 20.00% discount Ockenheimer St. Jakbsrg'76Ausles Regular Price: $10.95 $102.12/case $ 8.76/each
0286B 20.00% discount Chateau Laffitte Laujac,'82 Regular Price: $7.99 $ 76.68/case $ 6.39/each
S0486C 12.88% discount Castle. Schlossb.'83 Eiswein* Regular Price: $132.00 $115.00/each
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 ____________________________________________________ TOTAL Card # Expiration Date _______________________________________________________________________________ Name (Print) Signature _______________________________________________ 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 FORMGIFTS 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 selections $17*
2 6 BOTTLES: assortment of recent selections $47*
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 SHIPPING CHARGES: 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 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_______________________________________________________ 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: ___________________________________________________________________________ Name _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Special note on gift card: ___________________________________________________________________________________ (Attach another sheet of paper to list other recipients)