July 1994 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 249 Rejected: 211 Approved: 38 Selected: 2
If you are like me, you like to see successful ventures. You like to see someone beat the odds. You like to see the underdog win one once in a while. Our domestic se-lection is just that, a great success story; sort of a Romeo and Juliet, with a hint of Horatio Alger. This month's domestic red wine selec-tion is a result of love (both of the grape and each other), sweat, and timing. Castoro Cellars, the brain child of Niels and Bimmer Udsen, has quietly produced some of the finest and best-valued Cabernet Sauvignons from the San Luis Obispo area for many years. This month the 1991 hit me right be¬tween the eyes. Wow!
Our imported white wine this month is a first in many years.
Most of the white Burgundy that we get from France nowadays is either $75.00/bottle or so thin and flavorless you can't drink it. This 1991 Phillipe de Lancourt was so gentle, yet so complex that I al¬most fell in love (sorry honey!). Please do not mistake this wine for others on the retail shelf with simi¬lar looking labels.
Salud! PK Jr.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1991. CASTORO
Our domestic red this month is almost a fairy tale come true for the owners of Castoro, Niels and Bimmer Udsen.
Niels came to America from Denmark. He attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he majored in agriculture business. The emerging San Luis Obispo wine industry intrigued him in the late seventies to the point that he want¬ed to make a career out of it.
The only thing missing was his childhood sweetheart, Bimmer. So back to Denmark he goes, marries Bimmer and brings her to Califor¬nia to begin a career in the wine in¬dustry.
Well, not exactly. The only thing available was a "cellar rat" position at the Estrella River Win¬ery in Paso Robles. During his five-year tenure at Estrella, Niels and Bimmer began making a little wine of their own.
When time came to sell Estrella, a decision had to be made on a name. After a little searching they went with the Italian word for Niels' nickname. Castoro means "beaver," thus the beaver on the la¬bel.
Niels would make the wine in his spare time and Bimmer would sell it. This worked out okay until he was making more than she had time to sell. He then went to work full time for Castoro and trans¬formed a small, family-run opera-
¬¬tion into a 15,000 case winery, with expansion plans on the way.
Niels' timing couldn't have been better. Paso Robles was just beginning to he recognized as a premium grape growing region. One of the things that has always set the Udsens apart from their ri¬vals, is the incredible value they have offered.
Their wines tend to be budding with fruit, have body and finish, and even age well. These attributes used to come at a price. That price has always been more reasonable at Castoro than most other winer¬ies. This selection is no exception.
The color is a dense, rich ruby red. This leads one to the aromat¬ic, engaging cassis and cranberry nose and finally to the mouthfilling black cherry fruit with a touch of vanilla and marzi¬pan. Long finish with evident soft tannins. Typical of Castoro's style, you can enjoy it now or cel¬lar it for three to five years. Try it with small loin lamb chops BBQ'ed over rosemary twigs and seasoned with garlic. An assorted cheese platter after dinner would go as well with this wine.
Cellaring notes: Good now, but should hold well through 1998.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
MACON-VILLAGE, 1991. PHILIPPE LANCOURT
May-kon Vee-lawj, Fill-eep Lawn-court
We were taken aback by this wine when a local importer brought it by. To get a first-class Macon with the flavors we detect¬ed in the wine was a real treat. What we weren't prepared for, was the incredible story of this family.
Most wineries in California are "old" if they've been in business for 10 years. Some have been in business for 30 and a handful for 50. Sounds impressive? Let's see.
The Desvignes family which owns the small Philippe de Lancourt winery in Burgundy, France, has been in the wine trade for a mere 700 years! And, what's more, they have been continually in the wine business since 1290 (that's 1290, not 1920).
Philibert Desvignes was an in¬novator as far back as the early 1800s, making changes in vinifica¬tion techniques and vineyard isola-tion which were adopted by his peers in the wine trade. He was constantly in search of the finest quality grapes, selecting and choosing vineyards which were exceptional. He was one of the first to recognize and bring out the character of each vineyard instead of trying to make all wines taste the same.
A Desvignes member of the family has been in charge of the operation since its inception. To¬-
day, Baudoin Desvignes heads the firm with the same conviction and devotion that has lasted for over seven centuries.
There is little argument that white Burgundy, made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape, is one of the greatest wines in the world. Along with this reputation comes an appropriate price tag. Some would call it "inappropriate," as the big names can fetch $50 to $100/bottle and more.
Wines from the Macon region are what the French enjoy on a regular basis. While still in Bur¬gundy, Macon rarely approaches the breed of its northern sisters in Chassagne, Puligny, Meursault and the like. We feel this one can give a few of them a run for their money.
Deep straw color. Lively fresh and floral nose with a mineral edge. Expansive in the mouth with exotic kiwi and lime fruit flavors balanced with a clean, earthy com-ponent and a gripping finish. Sup¬er with challenging sauces like nantua, beurre blanc or even a spi¬cy tomato concasse. See page 6 for a recipe of lighter faire.
Cellaring Notes: Enjoy now and through 1995.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
Occasionally, I open a bottle and notice a crystalline substance on the cork. Is that okay?
CLB, Santa Clarita
Not to worry. This is actually a sign that the wine has been "untam¬pered". Let me explain.
There are no less that 300+ compounds which make up a bottle of wine. One of the many acids is tartaric. Tartaric acid differs from others in that when it is subjected to even small amounts of temperature fluctuation, not enough to harm the wine, it coagulates into small crys¬tals called "tartrates."
These tend to show up more in whites than reds because you start with the white wine at room tem¬perature, then chill it down. This process creates the crystals. They are odorless, tasteless and harm¬less. The only problem is that they feel a little gritty if you eat them.
One way in which wineries get rid of these tartrates is to heat the wine up to about 120° for a few minutes, then chill it down to about 30° for a week. The tartrate crys¬tals form, fall to the bottom and are either siphoned off or filtered out.
It's a simple, inexpensive and safe way to rid yourself of the problem. Many winemakers feel that it also rids you/us of some of the flavors in the wine.
That's not to say that every bottle which doesn't have tartrates. was treated this way. Not every wine shows the crystals without' prolonged fluctuation. It's one less step to go through in the winemak¬er's quest for making wine under the "less handling the better" wine-making philosophy.
I hear the terms tannin and acid. Are they interchangeable?
LL, Marina del Rey
In some ways yes, in others no. It's true that technically tannin is an acid, referred to as tannic acid. However, how it reacts in the„ wine and in your mouth are quite different from the other acids.
Many wine snobs try to im¬press you by being able to tell the difference. It's actually one of the easiest things to determine about a wine. All you have to do is concen-trate on what you taste where.
Tannic acid is felt in the front of the mouth on the teeth and gums. It's the gritty, almost chalky, feel¬ing you get when you've tasted a young red wine like a Cabernet or Zinfandel.
All the other acids, citric, malic and lactic are felt on the sides of the tongue, producing a sharpness and a slight curling when the acid level is particularly high.
Adventures in Eating
Our white wine this month calls for a flavorful dish that isn't too heavy but has some backbone. You do not want to overpower the wine but maintain a continuity in weight and flavor.
An often overlooked alternative to traditional fowl and fish is tur¬key. When cooked in different ways it can taste like anything from chicken to pork. Look at all the alternative deli meats that are now made with turkey: Hot dogs, burgers and even pastrami.
Here's a fantastic turkey recipe that has great flavor and is easy to prepare. I have included two sauc¬es for your review, or make up your own.
The most important part is to let the breaded meat rest for 30 min¬utes. This allows the egg or egg substitute to bind the bread crumbs to the meat so they don't fall off. This is particularly important if you are frying the meat as opposed to baking it. If the bread crumbs do fall off, they will burn in the oil and prevent full enjoyment of the meal.
Turkey Breast Cutlets
2 large turkey breasts
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs or egg substitute equivalent
2 Tblsp. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried herbs (your favorite)
Remove the skin and any bones. Butterfly cut the meat to have two pieces attached pieces from each breast, set aside. Beat eggs until frothy. Add milk and beat a few more seconds. Mix bread crumbs with salt, pepper and herbs. Sub¬merge meat in egg mixture then dredge in bread crumbs until com¬pletely covered. Let rest for 30 minutes on a rack. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake meat for 20 minutes. Slice diagonally and serve. Or fry at 350° until golden brown.
Here are a couple of sauces. Or try your own.
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. Worchester sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
Garlic cloves to taste
Fancy Tomato Sauce
1/4 chicken broth
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tblsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. dried herbs
For each recipe make a roux consisting of 1 Tblsp. each of but¬ter and flour. Heat broth on medi¬um flame until flour is dissolved. Add chicken stock until thickened, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 1 min. and serve hot.
Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total
794A Cabernet Sauvignon, '91. Castoro
Reg. Price $9.75 32.41% disc. $79.08/case
794B Macon-Village, '91. Phil. de Lancourt
Reg. Price $8.59 26.77 disc. $75.48/case
694A Chardonnay, '91. Maddalena
Reg. Price $7.99 32.04% disc. $65.16/case
694B Shiraz, '92. Ryccroft
Reg. Price $8.99 28.92% disc. $76.68/case
594A Pinot Noir, '92. Pepperwood Grv. #2
Reg. Price $7.59 27.67% disc. $65.88/case
594B Pinot Grigio, '92. Mosaico
Reg. Price $7.39 32.48% disc. $59.88/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea.
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