1987-02 February Classic Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 136 Rejected: 99 Approved: 37 Selected: 2


We had a surprise visitor a couple months back. Louis Martini had heard that we were impressed with his Vintage Selection Zinfandel of 1978. He stopped by our warehouse to see if we had any questions about his wine.

I already knew the wine well. I just needed his assurance that there was enough inventory for the club. The availability of aged wines from the source is uncommon. Here is a classic, late harvest, big, aged Zinfandel from his premium line. A great learning opportunity, and a rare chance to put it down for a few more years. Red Zinfandel will come back. Wait and see... (After all… the first British "California Wine Club" in London is called the Zinfandel Club!)

For nearly two years now, I have resisted showing you a blush wine. First because I would be accused of being trendy... and second because I could not find one that pleased me. Most of the time their taste components were not together. This white merlot was a surprise, particularly since it is an import. Another example of the Italians understanding the market place and tailoring a wine to fill the need.

Now... now... I see a few of you raising an eyebrow, and wondering about a "rose" wine being featured in the program. I must remind you… different wines are for different occasions, and it is always nice to have some of those wines for those times! Chill it, serve it as we say... try it... you'll like it!

= Zinfandel,'78.V.S.,L.Mart pg.2 =
= White Merlot,'85.Zonin pg.3 =
= Tasting Notes pg.4 =
= Member Inquiry 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) 534-1980



One day in 1906, a nineteen-year-old enology student from the University of Genoa got a bit of advice from his college professor that would change his Life, "If you want to make wine," he said, "you'd better go back to California. . .experiment by yourself and study." His name was Louis M. Martini.

The story of the Louis M. Martini Winery is "the" story of California wine as we think it should be told. It's the youthful immigrant bringing his skills to America. It is the same immigrant's attention to detail, experimentation and foresight who made his dream come true. He became one of the patriarchs of our wine industry.

Louis Michael Martini was born on May, 27, 1887 in Petra, Italy, about 35 miles east of Genoa. He came to San Francisco at age 12 and returned seven years later to study enology.

In 1922 he was back, founding the L M. Martini Grape Products Co. in the San Joaquin Valley. Even with the harness of prohibition, Martini did a brisk business selling grape juice, concentrates and sacramental wines. In 1937 he bought a vineyard 1000 feet up in the Mayacamas mountains, near Napa, and built the first "premium" California winery.

Today, the winery controls 700 acres of grapes and is family run. Louis P. (Louis M.'s son) is in charge. His son, Michael, is the winemaker and daughters Carolyn and Patricia handle marketing and finance.

In the industry, they are often charged with pricing their wines too low. To that "charge" they respond that "others are charging too much." We couldn't agree more.

The Zinfandel grape, and the red wine made from it, was the darling of the infant California wine industry. It has since fallen on hard times. More than 80% of the zinfandel grapes harvested are made into white zinfandel! Obviously, we're not opposed to blush wines (note our import selection this month). However, red zinfandel has always been a favorite here and it's been very difficult to find one because there aren't many to choose from.

The reasons are many. Too many different styles confused the public so they naturally gravitated to other, "sexier" grapes like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and now merlot.

Our selection is a re-release from the Martini "Vineyard Selection" series. Because of their strong position, Martini can afford to release this wine at a sensible price.

The grapes come from their own Monte Rosso vineyard in Napa. The wine was made in the "late harvest" style. This means that the grapes are picked late in the season when the sugar is higher. The grapes were allowed to ferment to dryness, so the finished wine will be a big, high-alcohol offering.

The extra alcohol can sometimes give a hot, hard taste. Not with our selection. We were amazed at the balance considering the 15 1/2% alcohol level.

The color is still a deep brick with almost no hint of browning. The nose takes me back to the "good old days" of rich, aromatic zinfandels with strawberry and raspberry bouquets. The taste delivers the same only more aggressively. This is a big mouthfilling wine with lots of extracted fruit flavors which linger on the palate long after the wine is gone. Great at room temperature with a hearty beef stew, pizza with all the toppings or a meatball sandwich

Cellaring Notes. Will hold for another five years or more unless you drink it up sooner. #287A Regular Price: $10.25/each Member Reorder Price: 22%disc. $8.00/each $96.00/case



In the world of Italian wine, Zonin represents a relative newcomer. They were founded in 1921. It's interesting to note that that date is one year before the Louis Martini Winery (our domestic selection) was founded. Interesting because Martini is probably the oldest continuously producing winery in the United States!

Zonin is Italy's largest family owned and operated winemaking concern. Although the winery was established 66 years ago, the family has been in the wine industry for seven generations. Today, the family tradition is carried on by the four Zonin brothers whose dedication to the wines and the land account for the tremendous success of this 4.5 million case winery.

There is another side to the Zonin story which makes it truly unique in the wine industry. Many Europeans are finding California a fertile area for making wine, viz. the recent Franco/American ventures. Zonin, however, has ventured far beyond California's borders to Barbourville, Virginia, for their jump into American wine production. They purchased 700 acres there 10 years ago and were one of the first to plant vinifera wine grapes (as opposed to-table grapes) in that state. Some 300 acres are now planted to cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir and white riesling. (Maybe someday the Wine of the Month Club will feature a Virginia wine!)

Our selection comes from an area couched in Italy's northeast corner at the foot of the Alps and about an hour's drive from Venice. The Fruili-Venezia Guilia area is renowned for it's production of the more "Frenchified" grapes, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and merlot.

This Zonin White Merlot is comprised of 100% Merlot grapes grown on their Ca'Bolani Estate. By using the cool fermentation process and very little grape skin contact, the winemaker has melded centuries of old wine making techniques with new technology and innovation.

Making white wines from red grapes has been done for quite some time in Europe. Certainly further back than when the first California "white zinfandel" was introduced 15 years ago. While white zinfandels have given this genre almost a "pop wine" position, the truth is that many of these blush wines should be taken seriously. This selection certainly qualifies as a first rate wine, regardless of the association.

The color is that slightly salmonish pink that seems to be the restaurant designer's rage today. It reflects light with an almost jewel like iridescence. The hue almost begs to be matched with similarly colored foods like crab, salmon or shrimp.

The wine enters the palate with a sensation of sweetness on the very tip of your tongue. This gives way to some very appealing pear and melon flavors and finishes with a tingling crispness.

While the wine is not totally dry (meaning that it does have a bit of sugar in it) the crisp acidity in the finish does not leave you with a "sweet" taste. That's why it will marry so well with food. Serve slightly chilled but not cold with cracked crab or a scallop mousse flavored with dill. Great as an aperitif

Cellaring Notes: These wines are best drunk young to preserve the light and refreshing fruit tastes. #287B Regular Price: $4.69/each Member Reorder Price: 24.5% disc. $3.55/each $42.60/case



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"I have seen some of the same grapes used to make 'blush,' 'blanc,' and 'rose' wines In some cases they are produced by the same winery! Could you tell me what the difference is?" Dr. T. R. E.; Bakersfield

I'm not sure I can because there is no code, law or regulation which governs the terminology regarding wine color. Each producer can use the terms interchangeably even though the consumer may be left in the dark as to which is which. Lets first explain the process.

A wine grape, whether white or red, is composed of skin, pulp and seeds. While the skin is red in merlot, zinfandel and cabernet, the pulp is actually white. The natural pigment in the grape resides in the skin cells. When red grapes are crushed, they are left to ferment on the skins. During fermentation, the skins impart the color to the juice.

If you lightly crush the grapes and draw the unfermented grape juice to another the tank, that juice will ferment without the skin contact. This method will make a white wine, or at least as white as the pulp will allow.

Obviously, you have to be fast. Some skins are so dark that even the slightest contact with the juice (say even half an hour) will give the barest "blush" of color. The skin also adds tannins and structure to the wine. Removing them produces a lighter, fruitier product. The seeds acid harsh, sometimes bitter elements, and are also removed.

Blanc wines receive little or no skin contact. With very fast and rather expensive equipment, it is possible to make a totally white wine from red grapes.

If one wants a "blush" of color, leaving the grapes on the skins for two or three hours should do it.

Rose' wines are left on the skins overnight to give them that pinkish color. They are sometimes referred to as "First Night" wines because the skins are left on during the first night of fermentation.

You see, it is only a matter of degree of color. Conceivably, the "blanc" label would be the lightest color; the "blush" label would be the next level of pink; and the "rose" would be the deepest pink.

Fortunately, most wineries have standardized on using clear bottles so that the consumer can actually see the color of the wine and make their own conclusions.

Once again, since there is no regulations or standards regarding wine color, a wine could be kept on the skins overnight until it is very pink and still be called a blanc, or vice versa. If I were the winemaker, I'd blush at that!


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.

Feb.1983. Red-Barbera '80 Arnadr.Montevina Sp.Sl. Ready. Start using. White-Saint Veran '78.Alex. Lchn.Use up this year.Fruit gone.
Feb.1984. Red-Vina Monty '75.Bdgs.Mont.Near its peak. Should start using White-Chardonnay '82.Snta Ynez.At its best. Should start using
Feb.1985. Red-Pinot Noir '81. Tulocay. Still has time.Worth keeping White-Sauvignon de St. Bris '83.H.G. Still sane fruit.Start
Feb.1986. Red-Ch. Laffitte Laujac,'82.Hardly changed. Good fruit.Keep. White-Sauvignon Blanc,'83.Ruth.Rnch.Softer.Can Keep.


"You're a million miles from nowhere, when you're one little mile from home. It's the song of mothers' tears, that keeps ringing in your ears. You just leave the gates of Heaven, when you leave mothers' arms to roam. You're a million miles from nowhere, when you're one little mile from home."

This is a real tear-jerker, written in 1919. I love the lyrics to these old songs, as they do reflect the depth of emotions of an era. This came to my consciousness on a recent trip to Mendocino County and the Sonoma Valley.

We decided to be reckless, and stay one night in a Victorian Inn. One that beckoned you with old world charm, including breakfast. The Mendocino Village Inn was to tease us with vibrations of yesteryear.

As we entered this old house, built in 1882, we noticed the former living room and sitting room were converted into charming period bedrooms. Steps leading up to your bed, ruffled curtains, small printed wallpaper, and a fireplace. Ours was the Teddy Roosevelt room. Comfortable oak chairs, four poster bed, a large armoire, a sink standing guard near the fireplace, and a small room with a stall shower and toilet. The fireplace had all the necessary equipment…logs, kindling, paper and matches. It was cold and raining, and the room needed heat.

Paul opened the champagne and I prepared the fire. Teddy Roosevelt was no help, as no amount of coaxing, Positive thinking, and good thoughts sparked a crackling fire. The logs were too damp.

by Rosemarie

In desperation, we hit the mattress and decided to call it a day The next morning, a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, homemade cranberry, jalapeno corn bread, muffins, hot coffee, and a tarragon omelet awaited us. In our desire to relive yesteryear, we had not noticed an electric baseboard heater in our room.

The piano beckoned, and here was this sheet music waiting to be played. I can honestly say, that with all its charm and proprieties, I was not unhappy I was a "million miles' from that era. The recipe to follow, should bring you good feelings of warmth without having to "roam".

Eye-Opener Corn Bread

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 Tbl. sugar
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbl. corn oil
2 eggs
1 cup creamed corn
1 can (4 oz.) diced jalapenos
1 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated cheddar

Mix the cornmeal & the buttermilk & let stand for 1/2 hour. Then mix in the other ingredients. pour into a 9x12 greased pan or individual muffins and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Fun eating.


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) 534-1980

287A Zinfandel.Vn.Sel.,1978,L.Martini Reg. Price $10.25 22% disc. $ 96.00/case 8.00/each
287B White Merlot, '85. Zonin Reg. Price $4.60 24.5% disc. $ 42.60/case 3.55/each
187A Semillon, '85. Alderbrook Reg. Price $6.50 20% disc. $ 62.40/case 5.20/each
187B Shiraz/Cabernet,'84. Penfolds Reg. Price $8.50 22% disc. $ 79.20/case 6.60/case
1286A Madiera, 3 Islands, Lonz Winery Reg. Price $6.45 23% disc. $ 59.40/case 4.95/each
1286B Chardonnay Brut, Cavit Reg. Price $8.39 24% disc. $ 76.68/case 6.39/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 6.5% Sales Tax

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GIFTS 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.

1 2 BOTTLES: the 2 current club selections $17*
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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

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

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