July 1984 Newsletter
Cellarmaster Comments- July 1984
I bring you a wine by the "Bandit of Romanee". He tweaked the nose of the high priests of Burgundy!
Ed Masciana became marketing director of HMR Ltd. sometime in 1982. He inherited a horrendous quantity of unsold wine inventory. To move some wine, he departed HMR tradition, and blended a charming "burgundy" style wine, and offered it as generic burgundy @ $2.95 a bottle. But… his graphics exper¬tise got the better of him. He used the sacrosanct Domaine de la Romanee-Conti label as his model. (If you do not know about Romanee Conti wines... your pocket book will appreciate the oversight. (At least $170 a bottle at release)
He launched a secondary label for HVR as Santa Lucia Cellars, and released the infamous burgundy. The fan splattered all over!... One lawsuit, injunction, and restrain-ing order later, he was ordered to modify the label.
The press corps was fasci¬nated. I have a file of clippings. If you are interested, drop me a note. I will send you copies.
Masciana's second release was our red wine selection this month. The funny statements on the label are because of the gun shy reaction to the judgements. Things like "wholly owned by California residents" and "legal release" are not commonplace statements on a wine label! It is wonderful wine for the price. Read more on page 2.
Warning: our white wine selection this month is slightly sweet. Please... all you dry wine enthusiasts; do not walk away! Give it a chance. It is a splendid Mosel riesling spatlese. Just. serve it at the right time, with the right accompaniments. The world of wine is tall and wide. Enjoy!
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION- PINOT NOIR. 1982. SANTA LUCIA CELLARS
Santa Lucia Cellars is the secondary label for HMR Ltd. for¬merly known as Hoffman Mountain Ranch Winery and Hoffman Vineyards.
"What is a secondary label?" is a question I am asked occasionally. Well… it is exactly that. It is a second label, under a different name and trademark, used by a winery who already has an estab¬lished tradestyle. The reason for this can vary. The most common is that when a winemaker finds that the wine he has made does not meet his standards, he will market it under a different label so that his primary label reputation is not jeopardised.
Another reason is that if a particular vintage of a wine he made under his primary label is still available in considerable quantity, and his new vintage is ready for release, he might opt to release the more recent vintage under a secondary label so that his sales on the previous vintage are not affected. A marketing tool.
Yet another reason is the desire to introduce a line of generic wines or jug wines, and not have the new products mistaken for the original.
HMR Ltd introduced the Santa Lucia label to accomplish the third reason given above, when they released their infamous Burgundy early this year. (see Cellarmaster Comments. page 1).
Our red wine this month was released under the Santa Lucia Cellars label because of the second reason listed above. They had too much of their previous vintage HMR Pinot Noir to allow this one inter¬fere with its sales.
HMR Ltd. and Santa Lucia cellars, named after the range of mountains their property is near, is now owned by a group of same 60
limited partner investors, who came forth and salvaged the financially ailing original ownership. They are selling off some of the vineyard acreage. The countryside is abso-lutely beautiful. If any of you are looking for an 80 acre ranch parcel with grapes on it, you should look at one of the 12 being offered. I can put you in touch. Drop me a card.
For a secondary wine, this is quite a Pinot Noir for five dollars a bottle. Not in the league of a few of its ancestors from HMR (remember the glorious 1975 which was the Nov.'82 selection) but rather nice! Hardly striving to be a great, it is showing enough varietal character to be identified and good balance to make it pleasing now. Yet, there is improvement potential. I picked this wine as a club selection a few months back, and last month, it went on to win a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair. No wonder!
The wine is ruby red in color, with a brilliance in the glass due to its medium color intensity. At the first whiff it has a cherry aroma, followed by a fragrance of bouquet. It develops a deep varietal character on aerating by swirling in the glass. The nose finishes with a "sweetness". The taste shows a medium body, well balanced, with textbook flavor of the Pinot Noir grape variety. A little hot near the finish, along with some tannin. Will smooth out. Serve at room temperature with pork roasts, hams, veal scaloppine, or beef dip sandwiches.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and improve for 5 years.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION- BERNKASTELER BADSTUBE. 1983. RIESLING SPATLESE. H. THAPRICH
Bernkastel is a jewel of a town on a sharp bend of the Mosel river. The area is known as the Mittelmosel or middle mosel, and is part of the greater Mosel-Saar-Ruhr wine producing region.
It is a jewel in many ways.
First, it is picture-book old German town, historical, quaint, and charming. I was taken by its intimate market square surrounded by timber-framed houses and a Renaissance town hall. If you ever visit, be sure and stop at the charming wine shop around the cor¬ner from the square.
Second, it is the home of Germany's most famous wine: Bernkastel Coktor. Barely twelve and a half acres now, and much smaller previously, the wines from this hillside vineyard in Bernkastel have became famous because of "the amusing and easy to remember name" according to Peter Sichel. The vineyards are protected like the Crown Jewels. A high wall and big padlocked gates was the reception our class from the German Wine Academy received in the summer of 1975. We were late and everybody had gone home I guess!
Third, it is considered by many as the most celebrated single name on the Mosel. Its wines vie for top honors with those of Piesport, Wehlen, and Zeltingen. I vote for Bernkastel after having this month's import white wine. I discovered it at a special trade tasting held in San Francisco.
Hermann Thaprich is one of the main and reputable growers in Bernkastel. He is viticulturist, winemaker, cellarmaster, and his wife Johanna is president and marketing director it seems. She delivered a charming, home spun speech at the gathering. Later, at an interview, she reassured me that the title of president was truly titular. She was worried if all the chores at home were getting done, while she was out selling wine!
The Thaprich estate only grows Johannisberg riesling grapes, and has several key vineyards in the Bernkastel area. Members of the Thaprich family have been active in viticulture since 1758.
The 1983 vintage has been touted as a great year for German wines. The harvest produced high quantities of "mit pradikat" wines. (quality wine with special designa¬tion, according to the German wine quality classifications). This was particularly so in the Mosel region. Our wine is a "Riesling-Spatlese". This says that the wine is made from the riesling grape exclusively, and that it has a certain amount of sweetness and grape extractive. These standards are by the German wine laws.
The riesling grape is the premier grape of Germany. As a general rule, the best riesling wines come from Germany. They have mastered the grape, and make a variety of styles. A Mosel riesling wine can have a honeyed fragrance, like a bunch of spring flowers. It will have lightness (low alcohol) and fruity acidity that makes it unique.
Our wine is faintly yellow in color, with a tint of green. It has a honey nose, with a dominant ries¬ling aroma of the fruit. Exquisite. The taste is slightly sweet, fol¬lowed by a very varietal young character of the grape. It finishes with a crisp acidity that balances the sweetness. Medium body. Serve well chilled as an aperitif wine; goes great with smoked salmon. Serve with entrees of smoked trout, or various seafood mousse dishes.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop for 3 to 4 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 12 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.
# 519 ITALIAN WINES, Phillip Dallas, 336 pp, 19 maps, hardbound. (See also #598 & 698)
Member Price $20.00
# 598 THE WINES OF ITALY, by Sheldon Wasserman. A consumer's Guide. Helpful informa¬tion, including prices, names of producers and best vintages. A no-nonsense and accurate guide. 212pp, 6"x9", hardbound.
Member Price $8.00
# 657 WINES OF ITALY by Charles G. Bode. An introduction to the better wines of Italy with an informal tour of the Italian countryside. Revised repro of the 1950 Edition, Index, 122pp, color cover.
Member Price $1.75
# 658 CHIANTI, The Land, the People and the Wine by Raymond Flower. An up to date and authoritative work on Chianti by a 20 year resident and winegrower of the area. Appen¬dices on places of interest, a list of the major producers and valuable historical notes from local archives. Hardbound, 1979 edition, bibliography, index, 305pp.
Member Price $16.60
# 698 VINO, The Wines & Winemakers of Italy, by Burton Anderson. Must recent publication on the wines and wine laws of Italy. The entire country is covered region by region complete with maps and photographs. Valuable reference work for wines which are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. 460pp.
Member Price $18.??
# 746 POCKET GUIDE TO ITALIAN WINES, by Burton Anderson. Author of Vino, Burton
Anderson lends his vast knowledge of Italian wines to this convenient, comprehensive guide detailing grape varieties, trademarks, wineries, and more. Covering 20 separate regions, this book gives clear and concise descriptions of Italian wines, ratings, vintages, and reliable producers. Includes travel information. 144pp
Member Price $4.75
# 755 ABC'S OF ITALIAN WINES, by John Sarles. An up-to-date encyclopedia of factual and understandable information on over 800 wines laid out in an easy-to-use format. Includes maps and labels. A must for lovers of wine, Italian wine, and those who wish to learn more.
Member Price $10.50
# 782 ITALIAN WINE by Victor Hazan. Focusing on the taste and grape variety of the wine rather than geographic origin, Hazan cuts through the confusing array of unfamiliar labels and provides valuable information about Italian wine. Includes a section on wine tasting, an explanation of the D.O.C. law, a glossary of terms encountered on labels, illustrated maps and a guide to food and wine affinities.
Member Price $14.50
# 574 PORT by George Robertson. First book on Port written by an expert who has spent his lifetime in the trade. Includes history, the land, soil, climate and the most detailed account of the production. Sound advice on selecting, serving and drinking the world's great dessert wines. Paperback, New '82 Edition. (See also #634).
Member Price $7.??
# 634 PORT: an Introduction to its History & Delights by Wyndham Fletcher. Forty years of experience in the Port trade brings us accurate information on the Port shippers, systems in registering vineyards, allocations and other insider's data on the Port business. Vintages since 1820. hardbound/illustrations/bibliography/124pp., 1981 Ed.
Member Price $18.00
Food With Wine...With Rioja
by Paul Kalemkiarian
I am writing this on the eve of departing for Spain. I was motivated to the topic by my expectations of the culinary surprises I am looking for, and maybe some discoveries of wines.
Spain is best known for It's sherry wine. They are in a class by themselves. They are fortified wines which the British seem to have adopted from time immemorial. Nearly as famous Is Rioja wine from Spain. Well known in England and on the continent, it has also been well established in the United States. Most importers of Spanish wines feature the Rioja wines as their leading Item. In the pre¬mium table wine arena, Rioja to Spain is the same as Chianti to Italy – the banner table wine for each country.
What is Rioja? It is a wine growing region In Spain which Is situated just south of the northern Atlantic coast, and toward the cen-ter, with the Pyrenees to the northeast of it. Like many important wine growing regions of the world, a river traverses through it called the Ebro. Another river, the Rio Oja joins the Rio Ebro nearby, thus the name of the region Rioja. By official designation, all wine from the region can bear the name Rioja, but it must comply with certain standards set by the government.
Most Rioja wine is red. Some white wine is produced in the region, but not commonly found on our market I will be referring to red Rioja in this column.
So if somebody gave you a bottle of Rioja wine, what can you expect It to be like, and with what would you serve it?
First: what can you expect it to be like? It is a dry red wine, with some resemblance to French Bordeaux wines. It is usually of medium red color with some possibility of amber tones due to ageing. The aroma of the fruit has
usually developed into a bouquet of fragrant vanillins from the extensive barrel ageing all the red Rioja wines undergo. Interesting com-plexities can have developed with this ageing. Some of the red Rioja wines are aged as long as 10 to 15 years in oak before bottling.
It is not a heavy wine usually, but it can have dominant flavors of the blend of grapes of which it is composed. They are usually blends of grapes that are not common to the United States, except for one...the Grenache, or Gar¬nacha in Spanish. Other grapes include the Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo.
Great Rioja wines can be intense in their ageing complexities, with a similarity to aged red Bordeaux estate wines (even though they are totally different grapes). An interesting corollary exists between these two regions in different countries. The French grapegrowers and winemakers in the late 1800's suffered the scourge of phylloxera pest in their vine¬yards. Some immigrated to Rioja, and con¬tinued their occupations, They upgraded the Rioja quality of the time, and adapted it more to their styles, thus the similarity.
What to serve It with: taking into considera¬tion our American diet, I think Rioja red wines would be best served with beef or lamb dishes. I can see it with roast lamb, or lamb chops, with stews, beef stroganoff, or roast beef. It could be a good beef Wellington ac¬companiment If you wanted to savor the wine more purely, then a New England boiled beef dinner would be good.
For the Spanish diet accompaniments, you will have to wait for my return. I will be observing very carefully, watching and asking ques¬tions, and accumulating material for future columns.
WOMC CELLAR NOTES:
A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing.
July 1980 R. Chat. de la Grave'76.Still going strong.Start drinking.
W. White Riesling,dry,'79.Callaway.Lost its charm.Use up.
July 1981 R. Merlot,'78.Firestone.Exquisite.On its way to the peak.
W. Laski Rizling,'79.Fruit on way out.Consume in '84
July 1982 R. Zinfandel,'79.Paso Robles.Ridge.Hardly changed.Keep.
W. Graves.Ch.du Mayne.'80.Come together nicely.Start using.
July 1983 R. Ch. Giscours.'77. Ready for consuming.
W. Chardonnay.'82.Coastal Wines.At its best. Start using
Adventures in Eating
The eighteen provinces that spell Spain have maintained the tradition of what is called La Buena Mesa (The Good Table). Back in the 13th Century, King Alfonso The Wise wrote: "Spain is rich in honeys, abundant with fruits, teeming with fish, well provided with milk… filled with deer and hunt, covered with cattle, merry with good wine, happy with an abundance of bread and sugar… well stocked with oil and fragrant saffron." What more can one say to describe the pleasures that awaits one in that diverse country. Each region is fiercely proud of its own history and lore almost like states within the U.S. Foods differ from province to province depending on their resources. Eating is a favorite pastime and the following schedule gives you some idea of how it works:
8 a.m. light breakfast
11 a.m. midmorning breakfast
1 p.m. tapas (variety of snacks)
2 p.m. three-course lunch
5-6 p.m. tea & pastries or snack
8-10 p.m. evening tapas
10-11 p.m. three course supper
Needless to say, this is tough on a visitor who wants to sight-see and not miss the sights of the Spanish table. We don't consider caloric intake with this kind of schedule.
Of all the provinces, though, the Basque province is most known for its cuisine, and most of the Basque food is proudly prepared throughout the country and designated as such. Reading the current newspapers, the independent character of its peoples is known. It is the most industrialized section of the country, and consistently maintains a strong economy. Being close to the French border, the Basque foods are a mixture of the Spanish down-to-earth ingredients and flavors, plus the sophistication of French food preparation. What's to follow is a simple yet delicious summer salad using California's bounty of vegetables. I'm sure it will please you.
ENSALADA DE PIPARRADA
(Cucumber, Tomato, and Pepper Salad)
1 cucumber, peeled, cut 1 inch
cubes (if you use long Japan-
ese type, no need to peel)
2 tomatoes, cut into eighths,
1 green pepper, in 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped. Purple is
6 T olive oil or vegetable oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t sugar
2 T finely chopped parsley
Fresh ground black pepper or hot red
Mix together all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
hasta la vista
# Description Qty. Member
Reorder Price Total
discount Pinot Noir,1982.Santa Lucia
Regular price: $5.19 $48.00/case
Regular price: $10.50 $100.00/case
discount Petite Syrah,1980.Guenoc
Regular price: $6.50 $62.40/case
discount Bernkasteler Badstube,'83.Spt.
Regular price: $9.05 $84.00/case
discount Cotes du Rhone,'82.Dom.Renjrd.
Regular price: $4.50 $42.00/case
discount Cabernet D'Anjou,'78.Ch.Cheman
Regular price: $7.50 $69.00/case
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