May 1984 Newsletter
Cellarmaster Comments- May 1984
The red wine this month will have fans in many areas.
If you are a follower of Masterpiece Theatre on Public Television, you will recognise the name Lillie Langtree. Well... this is the wine from the onetime vine¬yards of hers. If you recall, she came to the United States as an entertainer in 1888, and purchased a vineyard in California and made wine.
If you are more serious about your wine associations! and happen to track winemakers and their achievements; then you will be familiar with the Raymond brothers. Last month's white wine selection was from their vineyard and winery. It so happens that they also consult for the Guenoc owners. So in essence I have another of their wines for you!
And… if you are a Petite Sirah enthusiast, here is one I picked some time back, that will impress you. In fact it went on to win a Silver Medal at the prestig¬ious Orange County Fair Wine Competition. The medals seem to follow our selections!... However, it really deserves a Gold.
For the white selection this month I have a white wine made from a red grape, from the Loire region of France. Now, some will call this a rose, and it looks like it could be called a rose from the color. But it tastes more like a bold white wine than a fragile, delicate rose. You be the judge. No rose would be caught with this age under its belt and still be sound, assertive, and alive.
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION- PETITE SYRAH. 1980. GUENOC WINERY
The Guenoc Valley, in Lake County, California is unique in more than one way. The vineyards in Guenoc Valley have received the first single vineyard/single owner "appellation of origin" in America. It is a small valley, about 300 to 700 yards wide, and two miles long just southeast of Middletown, CA. Somewhat unusual for California, it is planted in predominately Bordeaux varietals.
The valley is owned by the Magoon family. Orville, a world authority on coastal engineering, and his brother Eaton (Bob), a noted writer of musical comedies, have delegated the viticulture and wine-making to the Raymond brothers. Yes... the same two whose wine we had last month, from their own winery. I compliment the Magoons. They have selected from the best. The wines testify to this.
They built one of California's "state of the art" wine producing facilities. 54,000 sq. ft. of com¬pletely insulated premises, design¬ed to accommodate virtually every foreseeable requirement to produce premium wine.
The most notable twist to Guenoc is the resurrection of the Lillie Langtry label. The romance of the label goes back to 1888, when Lillie Langtry, famed British beauty and actress, acquired the same property. She hired a wine-maker from Bordeaux to oversee the vineyards and produce wine. She marketed it with her portrait on the bottle label.
The Magoons reproduced the painting of Lillie Langtree by the famous British artist G.F.Watts on their winery label, and after extensive historical research, restored the Langtree house on the property. Charming!
This Petite Sirah just stood out among the crowd. It is a good example of a California style Petite Sirah. Two strains of this grape exist in California. One is called the California strain, and the other the French strain. (The June and May 1983 selections were examples of the French strain of grape, made into wine in Napa and in Australia.) There is more of the California strain planted here. It can be burly, big, acid, tannic, and bursting with fruit. Prior to the early 1970s. most all of the Petite Sirah grown and vinified in California was used as a blending wine. Since then, the number of winemakers adding a varietal Petite Sirah to their offerings has steadily increased. The interest has produced a noteworthy new varietal at a reasonable price. The home of the variety is the Rhone Valley in France, where wines of comparable quality are seen with higher price tags on wine shop shelves.
Our wine is dark, nearly inky, purplish red in color. It has an intense fruity aroma, with light peppery overtones, and some alcohol coming through. The three elements, together with the varietal character of the grape, just make it a great "sniff". (am I getting carried away?) The taste is rich. It is full bodied. It is dry. It is loaded with varietal fruit. It builds into a pepperiness in the middle, and then finishes with tannin. Serve at room temperature with hearty meat dishes. Roasts, steaks. Make a stew with it, and serve it along.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and improve for 5 years.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION- CABERNET D'ANJOU. 1978. CHATEAU DE CHEMAN
Anjou is a province of the Loire region of France. The most popular wine exported to the United States from this region is Anjou Rose. Sometimes it is very good, at other times it is just ho-hum. (Usually because it is too old and has lost its fruitiness). There are better wines that are not too well known, and importers hesitate to commit, consequently we do not see them in this country.
Some years back, I met the son of a wine maker from the Anjou region. He had moved here and was offering wines from the family vineyards near Blaison. Gerard Antoine has since advanced to become a true "negociant" in California. In addition to repre¬senting his family wines from the Loire, he has expanded his offer¬ings to include other wines.
Chateau de Cheman is the family estate. It has a history that spans back to the Fifteenth Century, with different ownerships. The present owners are Dr. and Mrs. Antoine, who purchased the property and completely restored the Chateau after World War II. Mrs. Antoine is winemaker, and the wine you will be tasting was made by her.
The vines growing in the vine¬yards of Chateau de Cheman were brought from Bordeaux many years ago. In particularly good vintage years, the Antoines bottle a limit¬ed quantity of unblended Cabernet and market it privately to select clientele in France. Gerard, their son, is allocated a part of this production for America.
The Cabernet of Anjou is the Cabernet Franc grape. Botanically, it is one of the close cousins of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the Bordeaux region of France, it is a secondary grape and often used for blending purposes. The Bordelais do not consider it as noble a grape. In the Loire region, various districts produce a red wine from this grape. In the Anjou district, the emphasis is more on rose wines, and the
ordinary ones are blends with some sweetness. These are usually labeled "Anjou Rose". The better wines are labeled "cabernet d'Anjou", and are available both red and rose. They even have a different appellation, which in¬cludes the name of the grape. I selected what the Antoine's market as a rose. In the true sense of the word, this wine is a rose; yet its style and taste, is more a "blanc de noir" or "white wine from black grapes". (removal of the skins immediately after crushing the red grapes, to eliminate the color from the skin of the grape remaining in the wine). The style of these wines is usually dry, with more body than the conventional rose wines.
Being a Cabernet, the wine can have good staying power, when well made. Our wine shows amazing character for its age. In fact the few years it has laid in the bottle has brought it to a perfect peak.
Our wine is light orange pink in color, with some bubbles indi¬cating possible spritziness. It has a fruity aroma, with a herbaceous bouquet. The taste shows some spritz. It has a medium body, with a flavorful varietal character. Well balanced. The depth of the taste lingers for a long time, and finishes with a hint of pleasant acid. Serve chilled as an aperitif wine, with seafood dishes, or with veal dishes.
Cellaring Notes: At its prime. Not for ageing. Will be fine for the next 12 months.
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 11 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.
# 550 A WINE TOUR OF FRANCE, Frederick S. Wildman, Jr., "A convivial guide to French Vintages & Vineyards." Updated edition, 335 pp, paperback.
Member Price $4.00
# 569 THE BIG LITTLE WINES OF FRANCE by Basil Woon. Vol. 1. The author takes the minor roads and finds some of the lesser-known wines which he considers to be of a class worthy of mention and drinking. 204pp, 222mm x 141mm
Member Price $8.85
# 569H THE BIG LITTLE WINES OF FRANCE by Basil Woon. Volume II. Includes The Rhone, Tavel, Savoy, Alsace & Corsica. Hardbound. 253pp.
Member Price $8.85
# 575 THE WINES OF THE RHONE by John Li vingstone-Learmonth & Melvin C. Master. The first detailed study on the increasingly impular Rhone Wines. From Condrieu to Tavel the lesser known districts as well as Hermitage and Chateauneuf-de-Pape are covered. A practical book of value to consumers & merchants. Hardbound, 235pp. 7 Maps. 18 Illustrations.
Member Price $20.00
# 594 ALSACE AND ITS WINE GARDENS, CELLARS AND CUISINE by Fritz Hall¬garten. A delightful book covering history, geography, language, character and viticulture of Alsatian wines. Sound advice on touring. 240 pp 8½" X 5½".
Member Price $9.65
# 599 THE WINES OF THE COTES DU RHONE by Sheldon & Pauline Wasserman. A new, reference guide to a frequently overlooked region of fine wines. Includes the history, producers, vintages and complimentary foods. 214pp, hardbound.
Member Price $8.85
# 600 COGNAC by Cyril Ray. A witty historian's loving view of the great brandy of Charentais. Includes practical section on serving and glassware. hardbound.
Member Price $8.85
# 604 THE WINES OF BURGUNDY, Revised Edition by H.W. Yoxall. An International Wine & Food Society Guide, 1978 edition. An accurate, candid treasurehouse of informa6on for the serious student of Burgundy. 192pp, hardbound.
Member Price $8.00
# 605 GUIDE TO THE WINES AND VINEYARDS OF FRANC E by Alexis Lichine, 1982 edition. The most authoritative and readable reference, all new material, including full vintage charts, the 1978 great vintage, 24 new maps. 480 pp, 7"x91/4" paperback.
Member Price $8.00
# 635 SAUTERNES: A study of the great sweet wines, of Bordeaux by Jeffrey Benson and Alastair MacKenzie. An increasing demand for these wines justifies the work devoted to this book. Every chateau producing sweet wine is included with historical information, proportion of grape varieties and yield and different methods of production. Also tasting notes on vintages from 1890-1978. 184 pp/19 illustrations/4 maps/hardbound. 1981
Member Price $21.00
# 689 GUIDE TO THE WINES OF CHAMPAGNE by Pamela Vandyke Price. A comprehen¬sive and authoritative guide to the Champagne region its wines and gastronomic routes. Excellent value in a basic beginning guide. Paperbound, 120pp.
Member Price $2.40
Food with Wine...with Alsatian Gewurztraminer
by Paul Kalemkiarian
You will not find a wine labeled exactly "Alsatian Gewurztraminer". You will have to look for a bottle that reads Gewurz¬traminer and then see if it was imported from Alsace. And, when you locate a bottle, you will be rewarded with a wine experience uni¬que in the world of wines. (Assuming other factors of age and storage conditions have been favorable.)
There is something about Gewurztraminer wine grown in Alsace and vinified in Alsace that is not equaled anywhere else in the world. It has a charm all its own which wine makers around the world have not been able to duplicate. (Even in the neighboring Ger¬man vineyards, where the same varietal grape is grown.) We have some very good Gewurz¬traminer in California, but there is enough of a difference to declare those made in Alsace unique.
Well... what is Gewurztraminer? It is the name of a grape, and wine made from it has a unique spicy, flowery, aromatic character that is unmistakable. Gewurz in German means "spice", and the wine demonstrates this char-acter very well. In fact, if you have not had a Gewurztraminer before, you might consider the taste a little strange at first, but it is so good, that it is easy to get used to. It is a white wine with these charming attributes when young and which fade rather fast with ageing.
The better wines come from the southern portion of the French wine growing region known as Alsace. Mainly around the town of Colmar. Yet some of the northern vintners around Strasbourg have some excellent ex¬amples too. The vines grow on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains, down to the western banks of the Rhine river (the "winiest" river in the world.)
What to serve with Alsatian Gewurztra-miner?
I think it is a wine to enjoy for itself, though . . . not by itself! It is so dominant and bold that it should be savored for its own characteris¬tics. This then says that it should really be ser¬ved as a napertif wine. The social hour wine. (Instead of "cocktail" hour.) it makes for great conversation because it is so different and any that have not had it will certainly com¬ment on it.
To match hors d'oeuvres with it is a little dif¬ficult. They must not clash, and they must not distract
First we must be somewhat familiar with the sweetness level of the particular wine we are serving.
Gewurztraminer will be made in a dry style, with usually just a hint of sweetness to take the edge off the aromatic character. This is the most common style. The label will not say this. You will have to know the wine or try it ahead of time. With this style, any fruit flavored cream cheese canapes or unsalted nuts will be fine. No meats. Now spicy dips or chips. Celery and cream cheese boats are fine. Warm quiche puffs are very suitable.
If your wine is made in a bone dry style, which I consider too austere for this grape, it will usually be too stark for aperitif use. Serve it with bouillabaise. It will hold up to it and be an interesting accompaniment. You might serve it with sauerkraut casseroles. It will go very well with it. A native dish called Chouc¬route garnie a l'alsacienne is that type. I like to have bone dry Gewurztraminer with curry dishes. It really adds an interesting dimension and stands up to the curry.
If your wine is on the sweet side, then still use it as an aperitif, but use fruit slices, or more compatible hors d'oeuvres that have blander tastes to them, to accompany the wine.
If the wine is a late harvest style, which is usually very sweet, then serve it with dessert at the end of your meal. Would be great with "flake pastries, napoleons, or poached pears with caramel sauce. You will not run into too many of the late harvest examples of this wine from Alsace. They are not that common.
You should drink Gewurztraminer as young as possible. Preferably the current vintage. It fades as it ages. This does not apply to the late harvest style wines. They can be aged, and sometimes for many years. (They must be tracked though.)
If you are a Gewurztraminer fan, then you should also try some from other sources. It is a most interesting grape, and the variation in it from country to country, and from winemaker to winemaker could be study in itself. What an assignment!
WOMC CELLAR NOTES: A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing.
May 1980. R. Colcetto D'Alba, '77.Pio Cesare. At its best. Use up.
W. Johannisberg Riesling, '78. J.Lohr. Fading. Hurry.
May 1981. R. Gamay Beaujolais '80. Cilurzo. Remarkably sound. Use up.
W. Dhron Hofberger Spatlese '79.Spatls.Kettern.Complex. Use.
May 1982. R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'78.Zellerbach. Hardly changed.Keep.
W. Ruster Auslese '76.Morandel. As good as ever.Can keep.
May 1983. R. Shiraz '79. Taltarni. Still young.Drinks well.Keep.
W. Pinot Noir Blanc '82. HMR Ltd. Still fresh.Corink up in '84
Adventures in Eating
It is the month of May and it's supposed to be spring. Is it, where you are? As I sit down to write this column, mother nature has discovered she can blow a cold wind in May, and she is. Maybe I can't fool Mother Nature but she sure is fooling me. It feels more like February about now. I can't wait to light the fireplace in the evenings, even though the calendar says Spring is here. And… what about a glass of wine as you watch the falters glow?
Now, if you have that wine, you must have some munchies; at least Paul always looks for something to eat while sipping. Crunchy bits of goodies are important to completing the entertaining, mellow mood. You've probably guessed it. Up and coming is a munchy recipe from our second hare, Lincoln. Ne.
Our first grandchild was christened on April 8. Following the ceremony, our son and wife planned a brunch for the family at their home. As we sat around laughing and scratching, drinking and toasting Justin with wine, a bowl of these delicious homemade tid-bits made the rounds. (This war followed by Lynn's Cheese Stratta recipe, and in the month's to come I will share that with you.) These munchies are easy, and keep well it a Tupperware type container for weeks (if it lasts that long). Any time is a good time for :
AUNT AILEEN'S MUNCHIES
2 12oz, small oyster crackers
1 cup vegetable oil
1 package original Hidden Valley
salad dressing-herbs (used dry)
1 1/2 t dill weed
1/2 t garlic powder (or to taste)
Put oyster crackers in a bowl. Pour oil over crackers and mix well with light hands. Add the salad dressing herbs, dill, garlic powder. Lightly toss to cover all the crackers. That's it!
Aunt Aileen is a lovely 80 year old neighbor who is our grandson Justin's babysitter. She has endeared herself to all of us. When one shares a recipe, a part of them is never lost or forgotten.
"A wise man always eats well" a Chinese proverb.
# Description Qty. Member
Reorder Price Total
discount Petite Syrah,1980.Guenoc
Regular price: $6.50 $62.40/case
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 Cabernet D'Anjou,'78.Ch.Cheman
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
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