October 1994 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 109 Rejected: 85 Approved: 24 Selected: 2
Well, I tried. Up until August 25th, 1994 I had two girls. Sara, 41/2 years old and Lisa, 3 years old, were my pride and joy. Life was fairly simple and things were under control. Then, it happened. A Lena.
I was standing by the Cappuci¬no cart, having just ordered a dou¬ble, when a nurse came bursting into the courtyard..."Sir...sir...I think you are going to have a baby..." I ran into the labor room, having left only ten minutes earli¬er, and within moments a 6 lb., 9 oz. baby girl was born; Lena. That's right, three girls. I never did get to finish my Cappucino, probably never will.
This months domestic selection is a great example of a Mendocino
¬ Chardonnay. I found the story quite intriguing and fell in love with the wine. Try this 1993 Char¬donnay from Souzao Cellars.
Our second wine this month is another domestic selection. I have been tracking this wine for many vintages waiting to strike when the iron was hot. Now was the time! I introduce you to the 1991 Sierra Vista Zinfandel. I know you will flip for it like I did.
Salud! PK Jr.
SOUZAO CELLARS, 1993, CHARDONNAY
We thought seriously about not using this wine as our selection this month. Not that it wasn't an exemplary wine. Not that the story wouldn't warm the cockles of your heart. Our concern was that after reading this saga, one of our loyal members might mistakenly go out and actually start their own win¬ery!!! And, we wouldn't want to be a party to such folly.
Souzao Cellars is the dream come true of Frank Souzao, a fifth generation Portuguese winemaker who comes from a long heritage of winemaking in Portugal.
Frank's saga begins as a stu¬dent in the 1970's at the University of San Francisco. As an excersize, he penned a drawing of how the city may have looked when the In¬dians and Franciscan Fathers tend¬ed their vineyards. Taking that drawing, as seen on the current la-bel, and mixing it with his family history of making Port wine is what started Frank on his wine quest in Marin county, just north of San Francisco.
It is fortunate for both Frank, and the rest of us who love his wines, that his winemaking heri¬tage and great love of the grape co¬incides with his background. Frank's occupation as a lab techni¬cian at Mt. Zion Hospital meshed perfectly with his heritage and in¬terest to form a perfect amalgam of art and science: the two most im-
¬portant features of making great wine.
Frank has been "accused" on countless occasions of having a winery so clean that "you could eat off the floors." One wonders if this has ever been attempted, how¬ever after looking at the floors, it's easy to see that he takes this job as seriously as any hospital lab tech¬nician, if not more so.
Souzao Cellars wines are mod¬els of elegance and class. It is ob¬vious from the first sip that the main concerns in the winemaking pattern are integrity of flavors, bal¬ance, nuance and complexity. This Chardonnay may be the most stunning example to date.
One is almost driven to short¬ness of breath at the magnitude of pineapple and tropical fruit nectars which permeate the senses. All this magic is held in check by the per¬fect acidity levels and heady struc¬ture which separates a good wine from a great one. Try with warm smoked turkey breast, thinly sliced on a bed of garlic infused spinach, olive oil and fresh basil. Serve chilled (about two hours of refrig¬erator time).
Cellaring Notes: Enjoy now and through 1996.
Reviewed by Ed Alasciana
ZINFANDEL, 1991. SIERRA VISTA
Zin-fun-dell, See-air-a Vis-ta
Another domestic selection I had to show you!
When one is to think of Zinfan¬del, one must think of the 'The Mother Lode country. This part of our California includes cities such as Plymouth, Placerville and Fiddletown and is fast becoming the Zinfandel capital of the world.
Sierra Vista is aptly named. Owners John and Barbara Mac¬Cready can see the Crystal Range of the high Sierra whenever they look up from winery work. 'The long driveway, part paved and part gravel, is a bona-fide county road called Cabernet Lane.
Founded in 1977 as a tiny rustic operation, Sierra Vista has evolved through several phases. The wines were intially fermented in one-time dairy tanks; now, there is a battery of temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentors. The tiny original cellar was replaced in 1980 by a 40- by 50-foot winery, which the MacCreadys built out of Pondero¬sa pines milled from the property. The impressive collection of coop¬erage inside is divided between French and American oak. The MacCreadys have an impressive roster of wines made from both estate and purchased grapes (they only purchase grapes that are grown within a 5-mile radius). They produce Cabernet Sauvig¬non, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardon-nay, and Zinfandel. They constant-
¬ly strive for new quality standards and I have witnessed this through the evolution of their Zinfandel. I think this is the 5th vintage I have tracked and "WOW!"
Zinfandel is of a cloudy origin. No one is really sure of his lineage though most believe it is from the south of Italy. There, some genetic cousins seem to proliferate. How¬ever, other cousins have shown up in California, Bulgaria and Spain. Regardless of its origins, it has to be one of the more versatile red grapes grown for wine making. It can make everything from light¬hearted white Zinfandel (sound fa¬miliar) to viscous, sweet late-harvest wines. It's most intriguing value, is in wines like our selec¬tion.
The wine starts with a deep pur¬ple, garnet red color. Clear and brilliant. The nose is full of red plum, blackberries and cedar. The wine has incredible body, testimo¬ny to the area, with all the those flavors coming through. There is a wonderful hint of allspice. The fin¬ish is dry and the flavors linger on and on. Serve at room temperature with your favorite red pasta dish or the recipe on page six.
Cellaring notes: Great now, but should hold well through 1996.
Adventures in Eating
For those of you who have not had a chance to visit Old Town Pasadena, it is worth the trip. Where in the rest of the nation, particularly California, is reeling from the recession, Old Town Pa¬sadena continues to open new re¬staurants, setting new standards in the industry.
Besides the proliferation of re-staurants, there are two multi-screen movie theaters, street musi¬cians, out-door coffee stops, varie¬ty stores, book stores, sports bars, diners, lingerie stores and you name it, there is even a restaurant that only serves french fries.
Since my wife and I have been married, our favorite haunt on New Years Eve is a trattoria called Mi Nice (Me Pee-ah-chaye). Most of our married New Years Eves have been spent here. Great food, great atmosphere and great wine.
One year they featured an Italian style steak. "Huh.., what is that ?" I requested of the waiter. Until then, I had not really associated steak with an Italian trattoria. Well, it was delicious and while tasting the 1991 Sierra Vista Zinfandel, I caught myself remembering this dish (granted the memory is a tad hazy). Please enjoy as I did.
Sliced Italian Style Steak
Preparation time: 30 min.
3 lbs. of your favorite steak
1/3 cup Sierra Vista Zinfandel
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced or
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
peeled (canned O.K.)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. fennel
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in sauce¬pan. Toss in garlic and cook till garlic aroma breaks open (45 sec¬onds). Add wine, spices, and to¬matoes. Cook over low to medium heat until thickened. Set aside.
Heat remaining oil at high until ready for frying. Brown steak on both sides for 2 minutes each. Lower heat to medium and cover steak with prepared sauce. Cover and cook until meat is to your fa¬vorite wellness. Maybe 10-15 min¬utes. Remove the steak and slice, while sauce continues to reduce it¬self (2-3 minutes). Place sliced steak on serving platter covered with sauce. Serve with Sierra Vista Zinfandel and side of pasta pri¬mavera
Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total
1094A Chardonnay, '93. Souzao
Reg. Price $10.99 41.8% disc. $76.68/case
1094B Zinfandel, '91. Sierra Vista
Reg. Price $8.99 37.82% disc. $67.08/case
994A Cabernet Sauvignon, '91. Creston
Reg. Price $9.99 35.03% disc. $77.88/case
994B Scheurebe Auslese, '89. Emil Hammel
Reg. Price $7.49 20.02% disc. $71.88/case
894A Sauvignon Blanc, '91. Korbel
Reg. Price $6.49 26.19% disc. $57.48/case
894B Saint-Chinian, '91. Cht. Campredon
Reg. Price $8.49 23.56 disc. $77.88/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea.
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