September 1995 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 216 Rejected: 198 Approved: 16 Selected: 2
Once in a while I even amaze myself. We were able to score a coup with our domestic selection this month I could barely contain myself. I've followed the property since its very first release over 10 years ago. Unfor¬tunately, their prices prevented us from offering Domaine Michel in the Regu¬lar Series. With the change in owner¬ship, we were able to make a deal on just enough cases to ship our members plus a little extra for re-orders. Don't wait too long on this one. There's not a whole lot around (after all, it's already nine years old) and there's no doubt that demand will outstrip supply.
Although we wish we had more, we are really excited about this selection. Being able to offer a perfectly aged wine which has been stored in the temperature-controlled cellars of the winery since bottling is a treat which we, unfortunately, don't get to do very of¬ten. The aroma alone of this wine is
worth the price. It is truly extraordinary.
All this praise in no way is meant to slight our import selection. As a matter of fact, from a rarity standpoint, our white selection may be more unique than the red selection. When the salesperson told me what was in the bottle, my first comment was, "It can't be!" In 23 years, I have never seen a white Bordeaux made from 100% Muscadelle. As a mat¬ter of fact, I've never heard of one made anywhere on Earth. Only a few winer¬ies in California grow the grape and, af¬ter tasting this one, you'll wonder why. Needless to say, these are fun offerings which I'm sure you'll enjoy.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1986. DOMAINE MICHEL
Cab-ayre-Nay. Soov-ing-Yohn. Doe-Maine Mee-Shell
In the 1970's, when few Europeans considered California a viable alternative to France, an adventurous Swiss attorney named Jean-Jacques Michel came to Sonoma and fell in love. He recognized the cli¬mate and soil as being similar to the prime vineyards in France, and pur¬chased a 100-acre property in 1979 which became Domaine Michel.
In 1993, Jacques Schlumberger, a minority partner, purchased a major¬ity of the property and is now renam¬ing it Michel-Schlumberger. With the necessary capital as well as the drive to produce the best wine from these perfectly situated, terraced, benchland vineyards, Michel-Schlumberger is poised and ready to make its mark.
Since 1989, Domaine Michel's winemaker has been Fred Payne. His winemaking career began in 1971 when, as a young chemist, he joined wine tasting groups and began to ob¬serve the subtle differences between the various wines. He completed a year of graduate study at UC Davis where he studied food science, enol¬ogy and viticulture. Fred's career took him to William Hill and then to the well-known Girard Winery where he became winemaker. During his illus¬trious career, he has been able to work with such luminaries as Mike Grgich.
Cabernet Sauvignon is by far the most sought-after red wine in America. It is very closely associated with California because of this state's perfect climate and soils. Dry Creek boasts one of the most desirable sites for this grape. Domaine Michel adds Merlot and Cab-
ernet Franc for mellowness and complexity.
As an added bonus, we are able to offer this Library Release at a fraction of its worth due to the owner¬ship changes at the winery. Mr. Schlumberger wanted to expose this wine to a group like the Wine of the Month Club members so that the word would spread about his commitment to quality. We're glad he did.
1986 was one of the best vintages for Cabernet in the last 50 years! I re¬member tasting this wine when it was released in 1989 and thinking how beautifully endowed and concentrated it was. I was excited about its potential and what it could possibly taste like in a few years. I was not disappointed.
In complicated, wine connoisseur terms I can only say, "WOW!" Here is all the nuance and complexity one hopes to see when tasting a great wine nine years after the harvest. The color is a deep, dark red and showing the barest hint of age. The nose is an amal¬gam of chocolate, leather, spice and to¬bacco enveloped in a robe of vanilla. Full and rich in the mouth, but show¬ing elegance in the finish, this offering still has a way to go, but the promise is now a fact. Here is a first class wine with some maturity, but showing the potential for a long life. Try with cajun sausage stuffed pork roast.
Cellaring Suggestions: Perfect now. Will improve with another year or two.
ANGELICO, 1994. CALVET
Calvet is a unique operation in the international wine scene. First of all, it is quite large. This may not be Earth-shattering but, when speaking of French wines, it is not that common. Secondly, they have holdings in all of the major wine growing regions; Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and the Loire. There are a few large wine corpo¬rations in France, but most of them stick to one area and vinify all the wines in the same place. Kind of scary to think that barrels of Bordeaux wine from Cha-teau X and Burgundy wine from Domaine Y are right next to each other in the cellar! What if somebody got confused? Not so with the wines of Calvet. Each area has its own facility.
Calvet was originally founded in the Rhone in 1818 and moved to Bor¬deaux in 1870. As large and diverse as this company is, I was impressed with the attention to detail and their commit¬ment to quality. Calvet's winemaker is Yves Barry. He is a busy man, travers¬ing the hemispheres on a regular basis. Besides overseeing the winemaking chores in Bordeaux, he flies to Austra¬lia, New Zealand and South America and makes the wines at the Calvet prop¬erties there. The normal harvest in the northern hemisphere takes place in Sep-tember and October. Harvest in the southern hemisphere takes place in March and April so Barry can actually handle two crushes in the same year! How's that for diversity?
Bordeaux is the most well-known wine region in the world. It was the first area to be classified for quality by its government. Seventy-five percent of Bordeaux's produc-
tion is red. However, white pro¬duction has steadily increased in the last two decades, probably due to the increased demand for white wines around the globe. And, more im-portantly, the new whites from Bordeaux have been gaining favor at a rapid rate. This is due to offerings like this month's selection.
Angelico is one of the most unique wines we have ever offered. One rea¬son is, when one thinks of white Bor¬deaux, the two grapes which come to mind are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Most wine connoisseurs don't know that there is a third grape which is also in the blend called Muscadelle. Angelico is another name for Muscadelle. To our knowledge, this is the only wine made completely from the Muscadelle grape. One wonders why it didn't happen sooner. If there was ever a wine which could be called "user friendly" this is it.
The color is a pale straw. The nose is a plethora of ripe melon and nectar¬ine fruit aromas matched with an engag¬ing spiciness and a touch of mineral. The flavors are perfectly integrated with each fruit and spice nuance held in equal bal¬ance. The finish is clean and crisp with flecks of flavor penetrating the tongue long after swallowing. A must with shellfish like grilled jumbo sea scallops served with a carrot/curry sauce on a bed of fried leeks.
Cellaring Suggestions: Drinking well now. Should hold for another year.
"Paul, corks seem to be getting a lot of attention lately. We've seen a few synthetic corks and I've often wondered about the invention of the corkscrew. Could you tell me some¬thing about it and corks in general"
For wine lovers, the bottle screw, or corkscrew, as it is called today, ranks as one of the world's greatest inventions. The first corks were tapered, thus easily withdrawn and meant only as tempo¬rary closures. However, concurrent with the development and widespread use of bottles for wine in the 17th century, it was discovered that wine would age to its advantage if sealed tightly with a cork as long as the cork could be kept moist by the wine. This led to the cylindrical straight-necked bottle we know today. But this type of bottle required some means to get out the cork, and it had to be a more substantial device than finely wrought silver corkscrews invented for the removal of perfume bottle corks.
The first patent for a corkscrew was issued for the Henshall screw in 1795. This simple device remains today and basically is an inclined plane wrapped around a post. An improvement was made in 1802 with the Thomason screw, a double-acting corkscrew still popular today. The so-called "waiter's cork screw ", generally considered the best to¬day, was designed in 1883. Yet another type of corkscrew commonly used is the "ah-so" type which rather than us¬ing an auger or helix to penetrate the cork, grasps the cork by its sides and works on the ancient Chinese finger torture principle in that the harder one pulls, the tighter the parallel prongs grasp the cork.
Corks are made from the outer bark of the
cork oak tree. The best cork comes from Spain and Portu¬gal where these trees grow very near the Mediterranean Sea. Only the finest quality cork is used for wine. From the time it is harvested, which is done every nine years during the tree's 200 year life span, the cork requires nearly two years of processing and ag-ing before it can be used. Corks are slightly larger in diameter than the stan¬dard bottle neck, and most range from 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches in length. For a cork to furnish a tight seal against the entry of air to the wine, which can ruin the wine, the cork must be kept damp. For this reason, bottles, when stored, must be on their sides, or upside down as they are shipped from the winery. This prevents the cork from drying out and shrinking, allowing the possible entry of air.
The worldwide demand for corks has put a strain on the cork trade. As a result corks have slipped in quality and incidences of a " corky" problem have increased tenfold. "Corkiness" is pro¬duced by a very small, yet incredibly powerful, bacteria whose presence can be detected in doses as small as one part per million! If a wine is left on a defec¬tive cork for six months or longer, it picks up a damp cardboard smell and taste and is virtually ruined. It gets worse as the wine stays in the bottle and cannot be removed. Estimates run from 1% to 6% of wine produced being affected making the push for a cork sub¬stitute more vigorous than ever. Be-cause of the increase in this problem, I am sure that we will see an increase in the use of synthetic corks.
Adventures in Eating
While the ingredients and preparation are quite Southern in origin, this recipe is very reminiscent of many of the dishes my family would make for special dinners. It is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. Europeans love to stuff things. Chicken, flank steak, game and roasts. By using the sausage whole, you get a very attractive design which looks complicated and artistic. Your guests don't have to know how easy it is to make.
SAUSAGE STUFFED PORK ROAST
1-3 lb. PORK LOIN
1 lb SMOKED CAJUN SAUSAGE
1 sm. ONION (CHOPPED FINE)
1 sm. BELL PEPPER (GREEN PEPPER,
1 tsp. SALT
1 tsp. GRANULATED GARLIC
1 tsp. DRIED CHIVES
1 tsp. PARSLEY FLAKES
1 tsp. BLACK PEPPER
2 Tbsp. SOY SAUCE
1/2 Cup STOCK OR CHICKEN
2 Tbsp. CORNSTARCH
1/2 tsp. KITCHEN BOUQUET
1- Mix salt, granulated garlic, chives, parsley flakes, and black pepper.
2-Cut loin into smaller roasts, about 6 in. long. Cut a hole through the center of roasts, along the center axis to insert the sausage. Open the holes to the size of the smoked sausage, and pour about a Tbsp. of seasoning into the long holes. Slide smoked sausage through the holes in the roasts until about 1 inch of sausage protrudes from each end. Roll each roast in remaining seasoning and allow to sit and marinate at room tem¬perature about 30 minutes.
3-Place the roasts on a rack, inside a cov¬ered roaster, pour the cut-up onion and bell pepper into bottom of roaster, and place, uncovered in a 425F oven for ap¬proximately 30 minutes, or until seared lightly on the outside.
4-Cover the roaster, and continue to cook with a meat thermometer until done in¬side (about 160-165F or your choice). Will take about 15-20 minutes.
5-Remove roasts, trim end faces of ex¬cess sausage, chop fine and reserve.
6-Add cornstarch to stock and dissolve. Add to pan drippings. Heat mixture and add soy sauce. Add Kitchen Bouquet and reserved sausage.
7-While sauce is heating, cut pork into 1" medallions, ladle sauce on each piece and serve.
Item: Description Qty. Member
Reorder Prices Total
#995A Cab. Sauv. '86. Dom. Michel
"Dense, chocolate and tobacco."
Reg. Price $10.99 36.76% disc. $83.40/case
#995B Angelico, '94. Calvet
"Bright melon and nectarines."
Reg. Price $8.99 36.71% disc $68.28/case
#895A Chenin Blanc, '93. DeMoor
"Flowery, melon flavors."
Reg. Price $7.49 20.02% disc. $71.68/case
#895B Merlot, '94. Undurraga
"Cherry and plum flavors."
Reg. Price $7.49 20.02% disc. $71.68/case
#795A Bono--Sirah, '92. Parducci
"Black berry and earth tones"
Reg. Price $8.29 20.02% disc. $79.56/case
#795B Chardonnay, '94. Carmen
"Lot's of tropical fruit. Good oak"
Reg. Price $6.69 25.41% disc. $59.88/case
#695A Pinot Blanc, '94. Hamilton
"Tropical and banana flavors"
Reg. Price $6.99 22.32% disc. $65.16/case
#695B Sassella, '90. Sondro Fay
"Authoritative, black cherry."
Reg. Price $7.99 20.03% disc. $76.68/case
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(Bottles) 1-2: $3.75; 3-4: $4.65; 5-6: $7.65;
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GIFT # DESCRIPTION QTY. COST TOTAL
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