Wines evaluated last month: 312 Rejected: 252 Approved: 60 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS NOVEMBER 1986
A big THANK YOU to all of you for allowing me to continue bringing you my discoveries. I like to pause and reflect every November....And count my blessings. (Even though I grumbled last month about the trials and tribulations of our licensing problems because of our move. It all comes out in the wash!)
My blessings included another grandson in San Diego... Samuel Levon Ottinger (Sam for his paternal great grandfather who is a young. robust 94 and lives in PA, and Levon in honor of his maternal great grand uncle) Have to put away another bottle of Eiswein with which to indoctrinate him when he is 21.
I raise my glass and wish you and yours the best Thanksgiving.
Our red wine is the third California pinot noir in 1986. This frequency would not have occurred in previous years. California winemakers are experimenting more, and succeeding, with this grape. The wine is a most interesting example
of a style difference that was an experiment. If anybody has captured the true essence of the raw grape, this winemaker has.
For the white wine we go to Bordeaux again, to enjoy a white wine whose California counterpart has been a most popular domestic white variety during the last two years. Sauvignon Blanc is the "in" white wine now! Try an excellent example of the French variety! After all, the original grape cuttings came from there. Enjoy
= INSIDE =
= Pinot Noir, '85.Clarion pg.2 =
= Ch. D'Ardennes,'85 pg.3 =
= This matter of color of wine pg.4 =
= The Limited Series pg.5 =
= WOMC Cellar Notes pg.5 =
= Adventures in Eating 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) 534-1980
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION
CLARION, 1985, PINOT NOIR
Attention, there is nothing wrong with your newsletter or your vision. Yes, we really are offering a red wine which is barely a year old and is not a Beaujolais! Probably, neither you nor I have ever tasted a wine from pinot noir grapes made in this style before!
We've featured Beaujolais-styled wines made from the gamay grape, fermented on the skins for five days or so and finished in stainless steel. This technique reduces the stem and seed contact, accounting for the wine's extreme fruitiness with hints of strawberries. What makes our selection so unique is that it was made in this style using pinot noir!
Pinot noir is normally picked at an average sugar of 23%, crushed with the seeds and some stems, fermented at low temperatures for a week to ten days and barrel aged for one to two years. It has a thin skin and large seeds. All the color is extracted from the skin during fermentation, so you want it to ferment as long as possible to gain color, thus the lower temperatures. The bigger seeds account for the higher tannin levels.
Our selection is considered an experiment. But, what an experiment! Because it was picked at a lower sugar level, winemaker, Rick Longoria, decided to ferment it at moderate temperatures on the skins for only five days. That accounts for the lighter style and color.
"We often describe this wine as 'early harvest' to distinguish it from traditional mot noirs released much later; comments Rick. "After fermentation the wine was treated as a white wine (no skin/seed/stem contact) in order to preserve its fruity qualities, and was bottled without the usual time in oak barrels. It would seem that without
the oak aging the wine has a youthfulness not found in pinot noir."
The result of this experiment produced the absolute, barest essence of the pinot noir grape in its naked form.
The color is a bright, ruby red in the center giving way to an even brighter and slightly magenta coloring at the edge. The nose is the aroma of youthful pinot noir grapes; blueberries and spice with a hint of eucalyptus. It is unique in that you expect those aromas to be followed (or even preceded) by the vanilla scents from oak aging. In this case there isn't any...just the grape.
The flavor is a carbon copy of the aroma with the addition of tannins. This component is what separates it from a Beaujolais-style wine which has very little if any tannin.
Serve chilled with smoked salmon appetizers or cream of potato soup. Should be excellent with your Thanksgiving ham.
Cellaring Notes: Drinks beautifully now, however we are real curious to see what it will do with two to four years of bottle age. Rick further comments, "I believe that with extended bottle aging these natural tannins will be resolved to yield a fuller bodied wine unadulterated by oak tannins which may otherwise interfere with the natural grape flavors. Due to the uniqueness it will be most interesting to try the wine after five years or more. As with all experiments, one can only make a prediction for the final result. In winemaking, the time lapse can be a bit long, but in this case perhaps worth the wait." We agree.
Only 300 cases were produced and we purchased most of it. Don't wait.
#1186A Regular Price: $6.49/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 23.7%disc.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION
CHATEAU D' ARDENNES, 1985, GRAVES
I don't think we could remove ourselves any further from our domestic selection, (the "experimental" pivot noir) than by featuring this absolutely classic white wine from Graves in the Bordeaux region of France.
Graves is one of the few areas in Bordeaux which produces more white table wine than red, almost 85%. This is in stark contrast to the whole of Bordeaux which averages 75% red. The reason for this difference is the soil.
In the Graves the vine is much less in view than in other parts of Bordeaux, principally the Medoc. Wine-growing is confined to a 9 mile strip with the north producing the best wines. This is due to the high gravel, or gravier, content of the subsoil. The area derives its name from this. Further south the gravel content declines thus the wines are often lighter, less pungent and lacking the breed and elegance of the north.
As with most French wines, white Graves is primarily a blend of grapes. They are semillon and sauvignon blanc with an occasional touch of muscadelle. The sauvignon blanc has the herbal, ripe and luscious fruit flavors associated with it's counterpart in California. However, the semillon's bold, crisp acidity accounts for the wines clean structure and makes it a perfect wine with food. Muscadelle usually accounts for only 5% or less and adds a little roundness to the blend.
There was a time when all wines shipped as "Bordeaux" came from Graves. The city of Bordeaux is bordered to the south by the area of Graves. Since it was part of the
English crown from 1152 to 1453 and a few short miles from the Garonne River, ships would travel back and forth, bringing this wonderful wine to England.
As the years passed and grapes were planted elsewhere in Bordeaux, it became apparent that the white blend in Graves produced a better wine than the traditional red blends which flourished in the other areas.
Our selection comes from a very small, family-owned winery.
The color is very pale, bordering on white. But, don't let that fool you! The nose is very typical. Rich, ripe, melony fruit aromas with extracts of figs and peaches. The surprising thing is that you get the fruit before you get the varietal herbal, grassiness one associates with these wines. The more you swirl it in your glass the more it develops. The substantial body leaves a stream of "legs" around the glass after swirling.
The taste is pure Graves from an exceptional year. Mountains of fruit enhanced by the slight grassiness, but finishing with a mouth-gripping, green apple acidity which leaves you asking for more. You might even swear you can taste the gravelly soil from which it came. We Tike it.
Serve with simply prepared fish dishes like sole almondine or as an aperitif with appetizers like brie with sourdough toast rounds or caviar.
Cellaring Notes: While drinking wonderfully now, should last and continue to improve for 2 - 4 more years.
#1186B Regular Price: $8.39/750ml
Member Reorder Price: 22.5%
THIS MATTER OF THE COLOR OF WINE
Your first Introduction to a wine is through the sense of sight.
The appearance and color of a wine tells you, or warns you, about what's coming.
The first question we ask: "Is it clear?" Cloudy wines, or wines with sediment in them, are undesirable. In the case of cloudiness, the wine could have several problems associated with it; leftover sugar and yeast combining for a secondary fermentation, protein particles or lees (the pulverized stems, seeds and skins) which can form a very fine deposit. Larger particles may form in a wine with aging. This sediment can be removed before serving by decanting.
If our wine is clear, the next question becomes: "Is the color correct?" Unless we're familiar with what "correct color" is, we obviously can't judge. That comes with experience.
With light red wines, like gamay and pinot noir, the color should be lighter. The color of the fuller red wines like cabernet, zinfandel and syrah will, in most cases, be darker.
So far, so good. Now comes the important part. The shade and hues of the color can tell you quite a bit about the wine and it's condition.
The most significant factor in color change is oxidation. It can occur in two ways; 1) The wine was mishandled (either at the winery or after it was bottled). This causes a young wine to look older than it really is. 2) The wine has aged gracefully in the bottle. Young red wines should be a bright, purplish or ruby red. They tend to take on a slightly brickish color as they age, turning almost brown in the final stages. Most lighter reds were made to be consumed early, (like Beaujolais) so oxidation can occur in just a year or so.
Some 15 and 20 year old wines still have deep garnet color signaling good potential and previous storage.
A four year old cabernet or zinfandel that is already turning brick or brown was probably mishandled at the winery or kept in someone's living room near the heater for a year or two.
A wine, properly stored, uses only the small amount of air in the bottle to develop and keeps its ruby/garnet color. If too much air is introduced either by aeration at the winery, fluctuating temperatures (causing cork failure), or exposure to light, the wine will turn brown and age before it's time.
White wines are subject to the same problems, but not as often since most are consumed before their red counterparts. Oxidized white wines get darker (as opposed to reds which get lighter) yet still tending toward the amber and eventually turning brown.
Again, a fuller white wine such as sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc and chardonnay should hold for at least a year or two past it's release. If not it was probably mishandled at the winery or by the purchaser. Most' rieslings, gewurztraminers or chenin blancs are best when first released. If the color is turning on a young wine, most likely the winery exposed to air before it was even bottled!
So, a few hints about judging a wine through its color:
1) Red wines tend to get lighter as they age, taking on a brickish color. They will begin showing the change at the edge of the glass.
2) White wines get darker as they age, exhibiting a caramel color as they age.
All of this is really just a matter of taste (what isn't?). The English like older, caramelized tastes from wines which are oxidized beyond what most of us enjoy. So, if you're, in England and someone mentions that this wine isn't ready to drink, you may like it more than you think!
To Those Who Have Not Been Informed of The Limited Series
Dear Wine of the Month Regular Series Members,
I am pleased and excited to introduce you to THE LIMITED SERIES and I think you'll be as excited about it as I am.
But first, I have a confession. Many of you have commented about how you enjoy reading the first line of your newsletter regarding how many wines I evaluated that month. That number isn't correct. I usually taste more! That number only represents the wines that potentially could be WINE OF THE MONTH selections. The others are beyond the budget.
I hope you'll forgive me. After all, I'm only human. If someone put a glass in front of you and said "This is a fantastic $22.00 Pinot Noir or an unbelievable $18.00 Gevrey-Chambertin," what would you do? Say "No thank your Of course not! Many of these expensive wines really are fantastic. But, alas, beyond the budget of the WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB.
One day, as was sipping on a stunning $22.00 1983 Cliassagne- Montracnet, I cried "Enough is enough!!! My members have to be able to experience a wine like this."
And now you can
The LIMITED SERIES is just that. Limited wines which are veritible state-of-the-art masterpieces. I can now offer you classic wines that before I could only enjoy myself. And believe me, you'll enjoy sharing them with others who will appreciate them as much as I'll enjoy sharing them with you.
The LIMITED SERIES selections are sent four times a year as opposed to the monthly REGULAR SERIES. The cost for both bottles will never exceed $40.00 plus shipping and tax. As always, you get my personal guarantee that these selections will be superb representations of the great wines of the world. And, like the REGULAR SERIES, you can cancel at any time.
If you're ready to start experiencing the wines I haven't been able to offer previously, become a LIMITED SERIES member today by filling out the space on page 7. I can't wait to send you the current selections. They are stunning!!!
Sincerely, Paul Kalemkiarian
W O M C 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.
Nov. 1982. R. Pinot Noir, 75. HMR. Drinking well. Use up.
W. Halbtrocken, '80. Pretty much lost all fruit. Over the Hill.
Nov. 1983 R. Merlot, '69. Villanyi. No wine on hand to try. Consider using.
W. French Colombard, '82. Pedroncelli. All fruit gone.
Nov. 1984 R. Pinot St. George. San Benito,'78. Chas.LeFranc. Nicely complex. Use now.
W. Chardonnay, '83. Valenti. Losing fruit. Start using.
Nov. 1985 R Cotes du Ventoux. '83. Dm. St. Svr. Going. Use up
W. Chardonnay, '82. Freemark. Abbey. Some change Keep.
ADVENTURES IN EATING
Thanksgiving . . . time for us to stop, just a mental moment, and reflect on the teaming Americans before us who paved the way for Thanksgiving, 1986...
For the sake of conserving space, I will be a quick name dropper from our times past, Thomas Jefferson. A man, tres extraordinaire, a man for all seasons. We know his place in the history of our nation, but more is now being written about his extensive gardens, his knowledge of culinary skills, and menus and recipes of exceptional variety. The turkey of Jefferson's day was far from the plump, white-breasted, genetically manipulated turkey of today. I love turkey, stuffed or unstuffed.
Do buy a fresh turkey, if you are going to bother at all. Since the turkey is not of Jefferson's generation, we will stick to a contemporary creative basting formula.
I like to bake Tom Turkey (17-25 lbs.) uncovered 5-6 hours at 325 degrees. A smaller hen turkey for 4-5 hours at 325.
A turkey is done if a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the white meat registers 160 degrees. Take your masterpiece out of the oven, let it rest 20-30 minutes, then cut away. Do not slice and reheat it, rather serve it with hot gravy if the guests are not quite ready to eat. A member who is a pen pal, sent me her recipe for basting a turkey. She raves about it and I, too, am anxious to give it a try.
GAIL'S TURKEY BASTE
(for a Tom)
1 cup melted butter
1/4 cup oil
1 cup sauternes
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
Bake turkey in preheated oven for 1 hour. Pour basting mixture all over turkey and baste 3 or 4 times during baking period.
Another Jefferson recipe next month. Have a happy one and God Bless!
P. S. May I suggest HMR or Villa Helena chardonnay with your turkey.
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Adventures in Wine Since 1972 by The Cellarmaster
P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 534-1980
Item # DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER
REORDER PRICE TOTAL
S1186E California Wine Quiz
Magnum Version - Reg. Price $34.00 $27.20/ea
S1186F California Wine Quiz
Split Version- Reg. Price $32.00 $25.60/ea
Item # DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER
REORDER PRICE TOTAL
1186A Pinot Noir, 1985, Clarion
Reg. Price $6.49 23.7% disc. $ 49.40/case
1086A Chenin Blanc (Dry) '84 Sn. Jn.Crk.
Reg. Price: $5.50 20% disc. $ 52.80/case
0986A Merlot, '81, Jaeger
Reg. Price: $12.75 22% disc. $119.40/case
1186B Chateau d'Ardennes, 1985, Graves
Reg. Price $8.39 22.5% disc. $ 78.00/case
1086B Gran Coronas, 1981, Torres
Reg. Price: $9.49 21% disc. $ 90.00/case
0986B Mainzer Domherr, '85, Baum
Reg. Price. $4.00 25% disc. $ 36.00/case
From Page 5
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