Wines evaluated last month: 126 Rejected: 98 Approved: 28 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS AUGUST 1986
Well, I'm back, at least for this page.
Our move to larger quarters was and still is a nightmare of unwarranted proportions. It has been a job and a half to license our new location with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and it is not complete yet. In the meantime we are fragmented and operating out of two locations. It looks like another 60 to 90 days of strands of red tape tangled around our ankles.
I have really appreciated the services of my old friend Ed Masciana. He knows wine well and has a broad palate, (even though we argue a lot), and he is a good writer. In fact he is changing careers, and going into free lance script writing for video and audio presentations. Anyone needing such services can contact him through our office.
The California wine this month is the work of Chris Johnson. He was the new winemaker at HMR when the Hoffmans left. I met him soon after he went with HMR and was impressed. I think this was his
best wine while he was at HMR. Ed tells you more about it on page 2.
The Import this month is my favorite summer afternoon red wine. The kind you just sit under the shade of a tree and sip this young fruity wine with some munchies like peach slices, cream cheese and triscuits, or unsalted blanched almonds! What is it? A genuine Beaujolais of course! And notice the price… it is at pre-franc inflation levels. I have been seeing prices recently that were double… for wine that was not as good.
= INSIDE… =
= Chardonnay,'84.HMR pg.2 =
= Beaujolais-Villages,'85.CR pg.3 =
= Owning a Winery! pg.4 =
= For dessert wine lovers 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
CHARDONNAY, 1984, HMR
Our selection this month may be the last wine under the HMR label you will ever see again. You might remember a few years back when we featured the 1975 Pinot Noir, a wine that still holds the record for the most re-orders we've ever seen. This was made available when the partnership which bought the winery out of bankruptcy was seeking to reduce inventory and because of our relationship with HMR, we were able to buy and sell an incredible wine at an incredible price.
As though it was never meant to be, that same partnership couldn't make a go of it, so the bank took over. Here is where the plot thickens. That bank was Crocker which was taken over by Wells Fargo. Owning a twice bankrupt winery really didn't fit into Well's plans so they shut down the entire operation and put the winery, 1002 acres, homes, etc. on the market at a fantastic price. (If you're interested, drop us a line and we'll put you in touch with the proper people.)
Anyhow, with no wine being shipped, even those who wanted to buy couldn't. This is the fastest way we know of to stop a winery from existing. And so, alas, it may end right there. But, before we get too maudlin, lets look at the bright side... we got the last, and arguably the best chardonnay this winery has ever produced.
The grapes come from a mere 11 acres planted in 1965 on the HMR estate. These chardonnay vines were the first ever planted south of Monterey!!! While many chardonnays from Soledad, Edna Valley and Santa Maria have made their mark in the world, HMR will always be remembered as the very first. Now being the first is no guarantee that you'll be the best, however, in the
Prepared by Ed Masciana
case of our selection, we have a real good case.
First we have the age of the vines. The older the vine the more nutrients it pulls out of the soil, thus more "stuffing" in the grapes. Normally, a vine has to be in the ground at least seven years to come into its own.
Next comes the soil. Chardonnay vines like very rocky, loamy soil for good drainage. When the original owners consulted with the best viticulture professors at U. C. Davis it was in this particular part of the property that chardonnay was unanimously recommended. They obviously knew something because the first three chardonnay releases in a row, '75, '76, '77 were all gold medal winners!
Winemaker, Chris Johnson, having worked the previous two vintages was able to take advantage of a truly remarkable vintage year, 1984. The grapes were barrel fermented exclusively in French Oak and not allowed to go through a malo-lactic fermentation. This is the conversion of very crisp almost biting malic acid into the softer lactic acid. When grapes go through malo-lactic, they become easy to drink sooner and can be released right away. Without it, they need at least a year in the bottle to really start showing well.
The color is a bright gold showing richness without age. The nose is just beginning to show intense pineapple, butterscotch aromas that actually develop in the glass. The mouth is a full burst of those flavors. Roll it around and feel! Serve chilled with smoked salmon, veal.
Cellaring Notes: Should last at least another five years.
#886A Regular Price: $11.50/750
Special Member Price: $10.00
Member Reorder Price: 25%Disc.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION
BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES, 1985, CLAUDIUS ROCHER
At the southern end of Burgundy and bordered to the south by the Cotes du Rhone, Beaujolais is probably the most recognized name in French wine.
The term "Beaujolais" is both an area and a style of wine. The area is clearly defined geographically. The style is also.
All red wines from the area are made from the Gamay grape by using the "carbonic maceration" technique (about 3% of the eleven million cases produced each year are white). The fermenting vat is filled with whole bunches of grapes and sealed. The weight of the upper grapes crushes the lower ones. The process is also helped out by the carbon dioxide given off when the bottom grapes are crushed and begin to ferment. Thus fermentation occurs in the absence of air (oxygen). Since the top of the cannot escape vat is closed, the CO-2 into the air as with a regular fermentation. The gas blankets the top of the vat and helps to split the skins and ferment the other grapes. It is this technique which brings out the lively fruit of Beaujolais wine, making it such a universal favorite.
This same method is used in California and quite successfully. However, we use another grape called, confusingly enough, the Napa Gamay. When gamay cuttings were brought over here at the turn of the century, they were first planted in Monterey and south. Record keeping was non-existent then, so the grape growers here didn't know which variety of Gamay they were getting or where it came from. Several years later, cuttings were sent to Napa Valley and it was found that the wine from these grapes made a slightly different wine, lighter and fruitier. Therefore, the name went along with the grape, Napa Gamay.
The other gamays planted in the state were actually closer to pinot noir and legally you can call the other gamay (sometimes called Gamay Beaujolais) pinot noir. If it sounds confusing, it's because it is!
There are four levels of quality in Beaujolais: 1) plain Beaujolais is the light, easy quaffing wine which makes up the bulk of the production. It must be at least 9% alcohol. 2) Beaujolais-Superior must be at least 10%. 3) Beaujolais-Villages is a wine which comes exclusively from one or more of 40 villages in the northern area. It too must be a minimum of 10% alcohol and must follow strict guidelines in terms of grape yield per acre so that there is some assurance of quality. 4) Crus Beaujolais must come from one of nine communes. If it simply says "Cru Beaujolais" it must be at least 10% alcohol and come from any one or several of those communes. If it has the name of the commune, i.e. Julienas, Chenas, etc. it must be 11% alcohol. Because sun is so precious in France, quality is judged by alcohol strength, sometimes incorrectly although at these levels it would be hard to imagine a really good wine being lower.
When we first tasted our selection we thought it was a Crus, which sells for about twice the price. Here is those intense, strawberry, spicey aromas and flavor which you associate with the great Beaujolais from great years. 1985 is considered to be one of the best in the last decade and from what we've tasted, we agree. Serve slightly chilled. Try with hamburgers or as a red sipping wine.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now while the fruit is still forward. Not for ageing.
Prepared by Ed Masciana
#886B Regular Price: $5.00/750
Member Reorder Price: 20% disc.
THIS MATTER OF OWNING A WINERY
Could there be anything more idealic, gratifying or challenging than owning a winery? Lets pretend that you're going to realize your lifelong dream and start one.
You will want be a 12,000 case winery, own no vineyards and make only three varieties of wine. You're conservative, so you buy 5 acres for your home and winery. In Napa or Sonoma, you'll spend about $15,000/acre or $75,000.
You can't own a winery and live in a bungalow, so you'll spend about $100,000 building your 2500 sq. ft. home. If you make two whites and one red (four thousand cases of each), you'll need storage capacity for 20,000 cases because the reds will stay in the barrel beyond the next vintage while the whites will come out before the next vintage. Since this is a quality operation, you only use French Oak barrels and casks. 500 barrels will cost you $150,000 and the casks and stainless steel fermenters another $200,000.
To build and outfit a first class winery, even conservatively, will cost you about a nice round one million dollars!
Before we even have a bottle to sell, you've got $1,250,000 on the line. If you put a third down and borrowed the rest at 10% for 15 years your payments will be about $12,500 a month or $150,000 a year. That means that each case costs you $12.50 or $1.04/bottle just to pay back the loan (not to mention the $400,000 you've put down already.
Now we buy grapes. For A-1 Sonoma County or Napa chardonnay and cabernet you'll pay $1500 a ton which translates to 60 cases of finished wine or about $25.00/case, $2.08/ bottle. Pinot Noir or sauvignon blanc will go for about $1200/ton. Corks, bottles, labels and foils are running around $12.00/case or another $1 00/bottle.
Rough figures come to $4.00 a bottle, counting the loan. To that we add, taxes, insurance, labor and utilities. You'll need two people plus yourself year 'round except during crush and bottling when you'll use contract labor. Add $6,000 for utilities, $4,000 for insurance, $6,000 for taxes and around $75,000 for labor. Maintenance, dues and fees, etc., could probably add at least another $1.00/bottle.
We now have a direct, out-of-pocket cost of over $5.00 a bottle and we haven't added a thing for marketing, profit and mistakes like: 1) You buy grapes, but still must hire the pickers. Half of them got a better offer and didn't show up and the guys you got at the last minute piled too many grapes in the box and the bottom 12% were destroyed, but you get to pay for them anyway. Add 12% to your grape cost this year. 2) Your cellarman used the wrong formula to clean out the new barrels and the wine in them was so horribly over sulphured it had to be dumped. Fortunately, it was only 15%, but you get to pay for them anyway. 3) One of the trucks hit a power pole and the electricity was out while you were cold fermenting your pinot noir, so it fermented so fast that there was hardly any color extraction. Rose anyone? You have to sell It for a 1/3 the price of your regular pinot, probably less than $5.00 a bottle.
But, it's all worth it when you go on a promotional trip and the tasters in L. A., N.Y, Chicago and Denver say your chardonnay is the best around even though some wine writer thinks your cabernet smells like dirty sock and tastes like clean grease.
I know what your saying. "Where do I sign!"
FOR DESSERT WINE LOVERS...
If you are a dessert wine enthusiast, and have not tried ELYSIUM… please let me introduce you to it.
I literally flipped over it when I sampled it at a trade tasting. Since we have featured our annual desert wine for 1986 (March - the Auslese from Ockenheimer St. Jakobsberg) I thought I would offer it, for those of you who are dessert wines fans.
In one word… it is HEAVENLY!
It is not similar to the late harvest type wines.
It is a red dessert wine.
It is made from the 13lack Muscat grape. After selecting suitable grapes by taste, Andrew Quady, the winemaker, ferments the juice, but stops the fermentation at a particular point by adding neutral brandy. Thus some of the natural sweetness from the grape is saved for the wine, and the alcohol content is raised to 15%. This process is somewhat similar to the making of port, which is Andrew's specialty.
The unique thing about Elysium is that this fermentation process develops a most unusual bouquet and taste… one of roses!
Unmistakably pure rose aroma emanates from the glass when you swirl it. (This is really a bouquet, rather than an aroma, because it is not present in raw fruit in such a fashion, and must develop due to the interaction of
fermentation and ageing, thus correctly termed a bouquet). This is then followed by a distinct rose flavor in the taste. A unique phenomenon indeed, I would say, with my pharmacognosy background.
So… if you are fond of dessert wines, do not miss this experience.
Serve it with any fresh berry pie or tart. And believe it or not... it can handle chocolate desserts quite well. Not too many dessert wines can do that. Or serve it alone instead of dessert. (After opening the bottle, it will retain its flavor for 3 to 4 weeks. Keep bottle corked.)
It really is a total surprise to anybody who has not had it before.
To order some, use order form on page 7.
$20.00/ 2 bottles
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.
Aug.1982 R. Barolo '77 Scanavino. Still has time. Drinking well.Keep.
W. Fume Blanc '81. Ready and good for 2 years.Start to use.
Aug.1983 R. Cabernet Sauv. '80 Topolos R.R. Hold. Started to develop.
W. Ch. des Tourtes '79 Cts de Blaye. Lost its charm.Use.
Aug.1984 R. Malbec '79. Bdgs Santa Ana. Developing nicely.Keep some.
W. Sauvignon Blanc '82. Whitehall Lane. Just right.Use.
Aug.1985 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'81.Curney.Hardly changed. Keep/
W. Muller Thurgau,'83.Flararel. Just a fresh.Remarkable.Use.
ADVENTURES IN EATING
Our contingency to the south in San Diego, daughter Sharon, is expecting her first child the end of September. I'm beginning to feel like the "Old Woman in the Shoe." This makes grandchild # 3.
We cleared more remnants of children past from the attic, loaded the old car, to where even the visibility .through the rear window was impossible. The trunk gasped its last breath, as we mercilessly slammed the lid to keep it from expelling its contents, and the 405 freeway bid us welcome.
Kensington is a quaint, old housing development near Balboa Park. It must have known our smogfilled vehicle was approaching from the North and had carefully laid a booby trap. We hit a bump, heard a "blonk" from underneath the car and without loosing faith, bellied up the driveway.
The next day, el auto was taken to the local "I can't say how much, but I can fix it, man".
I want to share a recipe that happened my way as I spent time waiting for el auto to get back in shape. It is perfect for picnics and I did not wish any of you to miss the chance to whip it up for a picnic. No cake is as good as homemade!
Del Mar Marble Cake
3 cups unbleached flour
3 tsp. baking powder
sprinkle of salt
1/2 pound butter (no substitutes)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk (room temp.)
4 large eggs (room temp)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. cocoa (sifted)
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan. Line with wax paper. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl, set aside. You won't nave to sift, just stir well with a spoon.
Cream butter and sugar and add 2 eggs one at a time, mix well. Add 2 tbsp. of the dry ingredients, and add the last 2 eggs one at a time. Combine milk and vanilla and add alternately with the flour mix.
End with flour-ALWAYS.
Remove half the batter, about 2 1/2 cups into another bowl. Sift cocoa over batter remaining in mixing bowl. Fold cocoa carefully. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Divide white batter into thirds and the chocolate in half. Starting and ending with the white, spoon batters into pan, alternating layers. Run knife, zigzag thru the batter twice.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Place on rack to cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on cake rack.
If you wish to add another dimension, add 1 tsp. freshly grated orange peel to the chocolate batter. This cake freezes well and is just like its New York version. Enjoy.
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 Chardonnay, '85.HMR
Regular Price: $11.50 $103.56/case
discount Cabernet Sauvignon,1982.Miramonte
Regular Price: $11.25 $105.48/case
discount Amador Blanc,nv. D'Agostini
Regular Price: $3.25 $ 31.20/case
discount Beaujolais Villages,'85.Cl.Rchr.
Regular Price: $5.00 $ 48.00/case
Regular Price: $3.69 $ 35.40/case
discount Chatneuf. du Pape,'84.Jaboulet
Regular Price: $11.89 $111.24/case
S0886C Elysium, Quady. 750ml.
$115.00/case $ 11.00/each
$ 20.00/2 bottles
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217,
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CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS FROM THE CELLARMASTER:
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recent selections $92*
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tions) a month for 4 months (or every $62*
quarter for 1 year - specify gift #4Q) (8 bottles total).
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other month for 1 year - specify gift #5B) (12 bottles total).
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(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
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