April 1984 Newsletter
Cellarmaster Comments- April 1984
This month's white wine is sweet. It is the annual club selection of dessert wine. (Members traditionally receive in any twelve month period: 21 dry or semi-dry wines, 1 dessert wine, and in December 1 sparkling wine for New Years Eve use plus 1 fortified wine for the festive Holidays. All selected by the same criteria of quality, variety, and value.) If you are going to set it aside, please label it, to remind you not serve it as a dry wine.
The makers of the wine are true masters of the art. I have tracked them since they started. Co at least 4 occasions, I have tried to feature a wine I selected, and each time the logistics did not mesh. More of their wines have ended up on my approved list, than any other winery… and I'm tough!
The red wine this month is a refreshing taste of the new image of Italian wines. (If such a generalization can be made.) It is a good buy for the quality, and the wine is very interesting. And… if you are a sports car enthusiast, it adds another dimension.
Our wine and food research trip to Southern Spain was very productive. A detailed study of Jerez and its sherries, a fortunate introduction to the author of a seven language lexicon of gastro¬nomy, and his introduction of Rosemarie to the author of a book on cooking with sherry, a study of the wines of Malaga, and a survey of the wines of Valdapenas "in situ" all have been added to our files for future columns.
STILL ANOTHER MEMBERSHIP BENEFIT
My good friend Bob Ackerman has become an important supplier of wine accessories. This is his third catalog of exquisite items worth your perusal. As a wine enthusiast, you will find an item here and there that you have been looking for. As a membership benefit of the Wine of The Month Club, over 95% of the items are available to you at 15% discount. See catalog enclosed.
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION- JOHANNISBERG RIESLING. 1982 LATE HARVEST. RAYMOND
There is no substitute for experience. The kind of experience that is handed down from generation to generation. It is evident in the Raymond Vineyard and Cellar story. The quality of wines that leave the cellars of this young enterprise shows this experience backlog.
Fifty one years ago, Roy Raymond Sr. went to work for Beringer. He served as winemaker until 1970. His sons, Roy Jr. and Walt, also worked at the winery: Roy as vineyard manager and Walt as assistant winemaker. When, in 1970, the Beringer family was forced to sell the winery, the Raymonds sold their small interest (Roy, Sr.'s wife is the granddaughter of Jacob Beringer, the founder) and pur¬chased 90 acres of land south of St. Helena.
In addition to planting a vineyard, the Raymonds decided to start a winery of their own. Since 1974, they have been producing outstanding wines. Roy Jr. continues his vineyard management expertise, while Walt makes the wines. Roy Sr. who is technically retired, still does a little of everything. He is a wonderfully energetic man in his late 60s. He takes great delight in what his boys are doing. When asked how he likes working for his sons, rather than the other way around, a gleam forms in his eyes as he replies, "Oh, yeah. They treat me good."
At their last trade tasting, I was particularly impressed with their 1982 Johannisberg Riesling Late Harvest. Of all the dessert type wines I had tasted since last years featured dessert wine, this was the best. So here is our annual dessert wine selection for 1984.
The Johannisberg Riesling grape is a versatile one. One of the four traditionally known "noble grapes", it earns that distinction by having desirable ageing poten¬tial. The versatility emanates from its ability to become a good dry wine, as well as a good sweet wine. It is the traditional and premier grape of Germany. We adopted it many years ago, and it has adapted itself well to us. However, here in California, it produces wines sig¬nificantly different than its Germanic counterparts. The late harvest examples will usually be botrytised, (infected by the Noble Mold while on the vine, thus con¬centrating the juice and imparting a characteristic flavor). A flowery fragrance, with a ripe apricoty sweetness can characterise the wine. I think this Raymond Johan¬nisberg Riesling Late Harvest cap¬tures the quintessential character of the California grown grape made into wine in the dessert style.
Our wine is deep golden in color. It has a flowery, fresh, young aroma, with a "sweet" honey bouquet. The taste is luscious, sweet, and intense. Shades of apricot. The sweetness is followed by the botrytis flavor, which tends to imitate a dry sensation, and this, moves on to an acid finish that leaves the palate clean and crisp. But… the glorious composite lingers on for minutes. An English wine critic says: "these wines serve best with light fingerfoods in the morning elevenses, or with a bit of plain cake or some nuts (unsalted) in the evening elevenses." I concur wholeheartedly.
Cellaring Notes: Wait till you see what this wine will develop into! Give it 5 to 10 years. Gold nectar of the Gods!
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION- COLLI DEL TRASIMENO ROSSO. 1982. LAMBORGHINI
Another industrial tycoon was bitten by the wine grape bug! This one is an Italian whose empire included tractors, furnaces, and sleek sports cars. The Ferruccio Lamborghini story reminds me of Ely Callaway and his venture in creating Callaway vineyards in Southern California, at Temecula. (see June/July 1980 newsletters) There are some remarkable corollar¬ies. In 1969, at the peak of his industrial career, Ferruccio decided he needed some fresh air. He sold his various manufacturing enterprises and purchased about 450 acres in the Umbria wine grape growing region. He cleared and leveled 150 acres of it, planted it with wine grapes. lie directed his friend, the eminent oenologist Giorgio Gray to build a modern winery. All this, with a flair not seen in that part of the country.
His property is on Lake Trasimeno, Italy's next largest body of inland water after the Alpine lakes. The maturing vines are helped by the sunshine reflect¬ed from the lake. The 150 acres of vines are on an estate named La Fiorita. It is due west of Perugia, within the boundaries of the DOC Colli del Trasimeno appellation.
He is an innovator. His second 150 acres were cleared for planting and then treated with special fertilizers to accelerate the new vines potential of full production. His neighbour farmers stood wonder¬ing at the unorthodox methods.
Ferruccio actively promotes his vineyard and wines at the important wine fairs and expos. His booth usually has one of his Lamborghini Miura sports cars on
display too. His motto which appears on the back label " I have always tried to do my best in every field... this is my wine" shows in the wine. My tasting of his "Rosso" or "Red" 1982 vintaged Colli del Trasimeno told me there was a departure from the ordinary. A new wine style from Italy was being presented. A fruitier wine, none of the slightly acescent nature, (many Italian wines can have this) and a fresher character was being demonstrated.
The grapes used to make this wine are Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, Montepulciano and Gamay. Only the last one is known to us in California. More important is the fact that it is a blend to his winemakers style. That is what counts. The consistency of the final product year after year is the skill and creativity of that individual. (as long as there is a standard he is dedicated to.) I welcome this change of pace from a wine making region in Italy that has an old tradition.
Our wine is dark purplish red and brilliant. It has a deep alcoholic aroma at the start, with the fruit opening up and becoming dominant in the finish. It has an concentrated young bouquet. The taste is obviously dry and intensely fruity. The middle taste has a softness, bordering on some velvetiness. It closes with apparent acid and tannin. Serve at room temperature with meat ravioli and a hearty marinara sauce. If you do not feel like that, then go the American barbecued hamburger route, and you will have a good marriage of flavors.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow during the next 5 years.
The Book Shelf- Celebrate About Wine
Wine 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 10 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.
Selection & Wine Buying Guides Retail
# 678 GUIDE TO 161 JUG WINES by California Wine List. The latest in this popular and very useful "consumer's guide" Series. David Holzgang, editor, has included prices, vintage dates, composite scores, rankings and notes making this guide one of the most valuable money-saving tools yet. Color cover, paperback, 60pp. (See also #530, 531 & 532)
Member Price $4.00
# 687 JOYOUS ANARCHY, The Search for Great American Wines by William E. Massee. An essential book for anyone wanting to be informed on the wines now available in America. Presented in the format of a nationwide tour providing a detailed account of the wineries and grapes of every wine-growing district in the country. A treasure trove of information and an exhilarating search for the very best in the changing contemporary wine scene in America. Hardbound, 311pp.
Member Price $8.85
# 733 WINETASTER'S SECRETS, by Andrew Sharp. A consumer's guide to winetasting and its art. A step-by-step guide to the tools of the trade. A useful manual for the novice. 140 pp
Member Price $5.60
# 563 GERMAN WINE ATLAS AND VINEYARD REGISTER by Edmund Pennig-Roswell, complete full-color guide to all the wine producing areas and vineyards of Germany, giving precise information on which wines are produced where, the climate, soil and acreage. 99pp, 8½" x 12", 66 color coded maps, 101 color photos, paperback.
Member Price $5.60
# 564 WHERE THE GREAT GERMAN WINES GROW by Dr. Hans Ambrosi. Describes locations, visiting hours, cellars and tasting rooms as well as the history of each vineyard, its owner and castles. How to read a German wine label, wine terms, drawings, maps and glossary. 248 pp, 5½"x 8½".
Member Price $8.00
# 595 GERMAN WINES by S.F. Hallgarten. The Definitive Book on German wine by the recognized world authority. Exhaustive study of German enology and informed opinions on German wines. Untangles new German wine laws. Hdhd., 1981 Ed.
Member Price $16.85
# 596 THE WINES OF GERMANY by Dr. Heinrich Meinard. Up-to-date guide to German viticulture, details the unique characteristics of each of the eleven major German wine regions. 256pp, 6"x9", hardbound.
Member Price $8.00
# 783 THE GREAT GERMAN WINE BOOK, by Kuno F. Pieroth. With 100 color photo¬graphs, this 208-page book details the wines and wine areas of Germany, and also contains maps and updated vintage charts. Author Pieroth also writes about German wineries and types of wine.
Member Price $18.00
# 683 THE WINES OF GERMANY by Frank Schoonmaker revised and edited by Peter Sichel. This is an expert's book, but written in layman's language, giving the basic information the interested buyer of German wines needs, in an easily usable way. Hardbound, 223pp. Highly recommended.
Member Price $10.50
# 576 VINEYARDS IN ENGLAND AND WALES by George Ordish. The man who revived wine growing in England provides a practical and fascinating insight into one of the world's least known wine growing regions. Valuable viriculturally. Hardbound, 186pp.
Member Price $14.50
Food with Wine... With California Barbera
by Paul Kalemkiarian
The next time you are planning Italian fare for your meal, consider this wine. It has a place in that context for many reasons. It is a pleasant departure from the tradi¬tional Chianti that most everyone seems to reach for when Italian food is served.
It is a native grape of the famous wine grow¬ing region of Piedmont, in northern Italy. It has adapted well to California and some very interesting versions are made by a few of our vintners.
It is usually a big, full-bodied red wine, with intense color and dominant tartness (acidity), which goes well with highly seasoned Italian foods.
There is something about using the wine from the country of origin for an ethnic dish from the same country. It just seems to go bet¬ter! If you stop to think about that a minute, you wonder which came first in the develop-ment of eating and drinking habits of a cul¬ture. Did the cuisine dictate the style of wines, or did the wines dictate the style of cuisine. I get a little giddy thinking about such conjec¬tures, so I resort to accepting the axiom that "local foods go best with local wines" because in fact it seems so!
But . .with Barbera, I find California Bar¬bera goes better with Italian food. I have had many examples of Barbera from Italy (which incidentally is the lesser revered of grape varieties from Piedmont) and have found them lacking. Our California versions have been superior and less expensive. I think a market exists here for exporting our Califor¬nia Barbera to Italy!!
In California, the grape is grown prolifically in the San Joaquin Valley as a source for making blending wine for the generic type wines. Some of the vintners in that region will make and label a varietal Barbera, Examples are M. LaMont, E. & J. Gallo, Giumarra, Angelo Papagni, Setrakian.
The better California Barberas come from Coast Counties, mainly Napa and Sonoma.
Louis M. Martini and Sebastiani Vineyards Barberas are the most popular ones, and deservedly so. They are consistently good, year after year. Heitz cellars and Parducci are two others which make good examples of this wine. Some smaller wineries from the Central coast have come up with noteworthy examples. They include Gemmello, Conrad Viano, Ped¬rizzetti, Guglielmo, San Martin, Villa Arman¬do, Louis Bonesio/Uvas. Italian names seem to dominate this list! The attachment to the wines and cuisine of the ancestral lands is commendable.
My favorite recently was from Amador county. The 1980 Special Selection Barbera by Montevina was a whopper. If you can find any, try it for sure.
So what do you serve the Barbera with?
Let's start with the most popular American-Italian dish . . Pizza. If you are an "everything on it" pizza fan, then Barbera is the wine for that combination, or for lesser combinations that include onions, peppers, sausage, pep¬peroni, meatballs. Possible but not the best for the plain cheese and tomatoes variety. Serve it with all versions of hearty pasta dishes which have a tomato sauce base and par¬ticularly those that are spicy. I would even dare consider serving it with pesto sauce. (no tomatoes, but fresh basil, pine nuts and lots of garlic) I think the Barbera will hold up to the garlic! Most food writers will not be so bold. Beer is considered the usual accompaniment to pesto.
A classic companion to Barbera in the San Francisco bay area is crab cioppino, a seafood stew native to that city. In fact any cioppino would be fine. You would not think so, but this style of seafood brings out qualities in the Bar¬bera that you do not detect with meat dishes.
Then, there is game, or the myriad of Italian sausage dishes and entrees that are great companions for this wine. Barbera is at its best with these bold flavors. It cuts through!
WOMC CELLAR NOTES:
A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing.
Apr.1980. R. Merlot'77.Rutherford Hill.Some complexities.Some years yet.
W. Frascati.n.v Conti Zandotti. Over the hill, pretty much gone.
Apr.1981. R. Carta de Oro,'74 Rioja.Bdgs.Barb.At its best.Drink now.
W. Chenin Blanc.L.H.'79.Fenestra. Glorious. Start using.
Apr.1982. R. Badia a Coltibuono'77 Chianti Classico. Hardly changed.Keep.
W. Healdsberger '80.Balverne. Lost its charm. Drink up.
Apr.1983. R. Zinfandel '80 Napa. Burgess. Hardly changed. Keep.
W. Muscadet '81. B&G. Still good, but use it up.
Adventures in Eating
The rain, the land and the gentle people of Spain are still in front of my eyes, and they continue to excite my thoughts as I sit down to write this column. Since our return, I find my emotions and energies prancing to the tune of that enchanting land that gave us Don Quixote.
Steeped in traditions, which are a mixture of 700 years of Moslem rule and the strict Catholic Doctrine, Spain freely offers her love to all who seek it.
Starting around 2:30 pm, a variety of delectable dishes, called "tapas", are served. You can select them in the "tapas" bars and the bartender will place them in small plates, or you may sit at a table, and they are brought to you in individual dishes. Calorie counters beware, sometimes over a dozen of these dishes are brought to you to munch on. Mind you, these are only appetizers. The "tortilla" or egg omelet that follows here, is a favorite and is served at room temperature and also sold in delicatessen shops by the slice or the whole thing.
ONION AND POTATOE TORTILLA TAPAS
6 T butter, unsalted
2 medium potatoes (about 1 lb.)
peeled and sliced into 1/8th
2 t salt, pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 T vegetable oil
10-12" omelet pan
Steam the potatoes in as little water as possible until just cooked (not mushy). Drain. Put 3 T butter into an omelet pan and saute onions until cooked but not brown. Add potatoes and 1 t salt and stir carefully until butter coats the potatoes. Place onions and potatoes in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or rotary beater. Add remaining salt, pepper, and gently stir in the potatoes and onions. Heat the remaining 3 T of butter and 1 T oil in the omelet pan (non stick is best) until good and hot. Pour in the omelet mixture, spread it out with a spatula and cook over moderate to low heat for about 2 minutes. Shake the pan periodically to keep the eggs from sticking. When the omelet is firm but not dry, cover the skillet with a flat plate, and grasping the plate and skillet firmly together, invert them and turn the omelet out onto the plate. Then carefully slide the omelet back into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes longer to brown the underside. Top and bottom should look the same - light brown. Cut into 1" squares by cutting across and down the omelet. Serve with toothpicks in each piece.
# Description Qty. Member
Reorder Price Total
discount Johan.Riesling LH'82 Raymond
Regular price: $8.50 $81.00/case
discount Cabernet Sauvig.'80 Davis Byn
Regular price: $7.88 $75.00/case
discount Chardonnay,'82.Snta Ynez Vlly
Regular price: $7.50 $69.00/case
Regular price: $6.00 $54.00/case
discount Macon-Lugny,'82.Les Charmes.
Regular price: $6.99 $67.20/case
discount VinaMonty,'75 Rioja.Bdgs.Montc.
Regular price: $7.40 $71.40/case
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