September 1984 Newsletter
Cellarmaster Comments- September 1984
I have been interested in the California winery featured this month because of another wine of theirs. The Jekel Pinot Blanc has been consistently exceptional every time I have tasted it, including the last two or three vintages. It has been a wine I have been trying to schedule for some time now. For one reason or another it has had to wait on the sidelines.
And… then came their 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was impressed enough with it to preempt the Pinot Blanc. So here is the red this month by Jekel Vineyard. My problem is going to be the decision of when to feature the Pinot Blanc. I do not repeat wineries in close succession as a general rule. I will have to make an exception when the right opportunity presents itself.
Talking about repeating wineries in close succession; it has been highly unlikely for this to happen with our imported selections. This month it happened! The slot was just right for our import white wine to feature a white Rioja. Every one I tried from other wineries were poor to fair. They were generally too old. Now... this might be a Spaniard's preference. But the end product does no generally appeal to the American wine drinking palate. The slightly oxidized overtone in white wines common to Spanish white wines must be a remnant of the "sherry syndrome" for which Spain is the ancestral origin. After all, as glorious as sherry is, it is after all, oxidized wine. Controlled, desirable, oxidation, I must quickly add; lest you get the idea I do not approve of sherry. I am a fan of all styles of sherry!
I will be remiss, if I do not express my appreciation for the overwhelming response to my anonymous marketing survey sent out with last month's selections. Thank you for the interest. The responses are being tabulated, and a very interesting profile is developing. There still is time to send yours in if you have not so far.
To your health!
THIS MONTH'S DOMESTIC SELECTION- CABERNET SAUVIGNON. 1979. JEKEL VINEYARD
Monterey county is one of the important California wine growing regions. It is still developing and has not made its mark in the premium wine arena as other regions have. The area does have a few champions however, and Jekel is one of them.
Bill and Gus Jekel are owners of Jekel vineyard. Rick Jekel is the winemaker. Their wine estate has been developed with the philosophy that only family control from planting to bottling can assure the desired premium wine quality. They claim that "The Estate wine concept recognizes that growing one's own grapes permits the achievement of quality not otherwise attainable". I think this truth is better said when the words "consistent and continuous" are inserted before the word quality.
The Jekels have, in fact, achieved the premium wine quality goal. The five varietals they produce received at least twenty-one awards at no less than nine wine competitions in 1983.
They planted 140 acres of vineyard in 1972, just west of the town of Greenfield in the Arroyo Seco District of Monterey County. In 1978 they built a modern winery.
Their wine style derives from the uniquely cool, dry, growing season of Monterey county, and a deliberate policy of stress-culti¬vation that results in wines of intense fruit and a fine balance of acids and tannins.
The Jekel Cabernet dominated my notes at two recent trade tastings. It consistently showed well, and had an interesting departure from the usual Monterey county Cabernets. The intense herbaceousness was not there, and the flavor was more to the traditional California cabernet. Notice that I say "California cabernet" if such a generalization
can be made! The original home of the Cabernet grape is Bordeaux, France. The great and small clarets from Bordeaux are a result of the masterful handling of this grape and its relatives in winemaking technics where blending is an important element. The California effort seems to have evolved in a purist fashion, using minimal blending.
This premier red wine of California is sought after world wide for what it is, and not for what it is thought to imitate. If one dares to sketch a typical picture... California Cabernet is intense, bold, usually tannic, with varietal character of nose and taste bordering on green olives and bell peppers. Ageing ability usual¬ly parallel to its counterparts from around the world, but with less contribution from the blending relatives.
Our Jekel Cabernet is dark garnet red in color. It is nearly opaque. The bouquet comes to you first, a fragrance of the blend of oak and wine aromatics. The ele¬ments of the varietal identification of the grape then follows which has at its end a hint of Monterey herbaceousness. (Ever so slight and actually pleasant and complementary here). The taste fol¬lows the nose exactly. It is full bodied, intense with dry flavor, and unmistakably cabernet. Some tannin comes in at the middle, but is not overwhelming. It has a slight spiciness to it, and complex flavors are developing. Good round¬ness. Serve at room temperature with roasts, steaks, prime rib, or with cheddar cheese after the meal.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop and soften for 4 to 8 years.
THIS MONTH'S IMPORT SELECTION- CUMBRERO. 1982. WHITE RIOJA. BODEGAS MONTECILLO
Rioja is best known for its red wines. It competes with sherry as the premier wine of Spain. Not really a fair comparison because of their totally different style and usage.
White wine from Rioja is another matter. It is not as well known, and often has not been found to be to our tastes. Time after time, at a trade tasting, I would turn away from a white Rioja and blame the importer or wholesaler for showing old wine. The wines seemed like they had traveled poorly, and were not holding up to the warehousing. I would chalk up the poor showing to inability of the wine to take the rigors of vibration and temperatures of shipping.
In March of this year, I decided to find out for myself. My main objective was to study Sherry in Jerez, Spain. While doing that, I decided to review the Rioja drinking habits of the Spaniard. I inspected and tasted all the white Rioja wines I could at restaurants and wine shops in southern Spain and Madrid. Amazing... they were somewhat similar to what I had experienced here. Austere, somewhat oxidized, and sometimes even maderized. Not really much of a style that we Americans like in white wine.
Two months ago, I was shown the white wine that the people at Bodegas Montecillo are making. Significantly different. A depar-ture from the norm. Maybe an attempt to modify and to appeal to the export market and its demands.
You will recall that we had a glorious red, aged, Rioja Gran Reserva, by Bodegas Montecillo in February. They are an old line winery in Fuenmayor, in the heart of the Rioja region, directly north of Madrid. They are owned by the well known Osborne firm who are famous for their sherry and brandy. It seems management has chosen to introduce a new generation of Rioja white wines. Using modern temperature controlled fermentation technics, they have achieved lighter, fresher, fruitier wines, for their Cumbrero line.
The two grapes used in this white Rioja are Malvasia and Viura. The first imparts "fresh grace" according to the winemaker, and the second contributes to flavor and acidity. This is one example of the new wave of white Riojas. There are other white grapes, mainly native ones, growing in the Rioja region, and other Bodegas are making their new contributions.
Our wine is golden yellow in color. The aroma has a freshness to it, yet with character. It is not identifiable with our malvasias. On the crisp side. The taste is medium bodied, dry but mellow, with green apples as an overtone. It finishes with a pleasant tart acidity. Serve chilled as an aperitif wine, with seafood tapas (Spanish hors d'oeuvres), smoked salmon; or with a fish course. It went just outstanding with a thrasher shark filet I had recently. Will go well with halibut.
Cellaring Notes: I think this wine is at its peak. Drink during 1984/85.
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.
Wine Touring Guides
# 639 THE TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO THE VINEYARDS OF NORTH AMERICA by William I Kaufman. A unique and current guidebook to wineries throughout U.S. & Canada. Includes names of persons to contact, phone numbers, visiting hours, schedules of tours and Listings along with recommendations for local restaurants, hotels and points of interest. Index, paperback, 203pp.
Member Price $4.75
# 734 THE ODYSSEY COOKBOOK A Culinary Cruise by Malcolm Hebert. This unique cookbook enables you to capture the magic of cruise ship cuisine and entertaining in your own home. Recipes are from the famous chefs of the Royal Cruise Lines, adopted for home use by master chef Hebert. Chapters range from Soups & Salads, Desserts and Party Time to "How to talk like an Old Salt" and how to pack and prepare for a cruise. If you have always wanted to take a cruise or have fond memories of one, this book enables you to enjoy the fine cuisine & atmosphere of Ocean cruising. Extensively illustrated, color cover, 128pp., 8½"x 11"
Member Price $7.25
# 767 TOURING THE WINE COUNTRY OF OREGON, by Ronald and Glenda Holden. The definitive guide to Oregon's wineries, their histories, tours, and winemakers' own stories. Also includes information on berry and fruit wines. Practical touring: maps, scenic, picnic areas, wine shops, restaurants, campgrounds and resorts. A necessity for visitors. 207pp.
Member Price $5.65
# 500 EPICUREAN RECIPES OF CALIFORNIA WINEMAKERS by Wine Advisory Board, New 1978 edition. Exceptional recipes contributed by California Winemakers and their wives all selected for their unforgettable taste experiences. This volume includes a comprehensive index of 2,800 different cooking with wine recipes in the series of six Wine Advisory Board cookbooks. 128pp, 8½"x10½", illustrated.
Member Price $5.65
# 501 GOURMET WINE COOKING THE EASY WAY, By Wine Advisory Board. More than 500 recipes and food ideas, most featuring convenience foods as well as wines. Colorfully hand-illustrated, durable hard coated cover, 8½"x 10½", 128 pp, new 1980 edition.
Member Price $4.75
# 502 NEW ADVENTURES IN WINE COOKERY BY CALIFORNIA WINEMAKERS, Wine Advisory Board best selling cookbook, (over 300,000 sold), 8½"x 10½", 128 pps with more than 500 exciting recipes and food ideas from the winemakers themselves. New 1981 edition with recipes from many New California Winemakers.
Member Price $4.75
# 503 FAVORITE RECIPES OF CALIFORNIA WINEMAKERS. The original Wine Advi¬sory Board cookbook, Best Seller, (over 400,000 copies), 8½"x 10½", durable cover, over 500 authoritative recipes from the winemakers & families.
Member Price $4.75
# 504 WINE COOKBOOK OF DINNER MENUS, Wine Advisory Board with Emily Chase, noted home economist. Contains 100 different, delightful dinners with over 500 recipes and food ideas with wine. Hand illustrated, New 1983 ed.128 pp.
Member Price $?.?5
# 505 EASY RECIPES OF CALIFORNIA WINEMAKERS, Wine Advisory Board. Over 500 recipes and food ideas from the winemakers and their families on cooking with wine. No duplication of recipes with other cookbooks, Hard, spiral bound.
Member Price $4.?5
Food With Wine...With California Dry Chenin Blanc
by Paul Kalemkiarian
The chances of your receiving a gift bottle of California wine labeled "Dry Chenin Blanc" is higher than it used to be. There are several reasons for this, but the most impor¬tant one is that more and more of our wineries are opting to add the word 'dry' to their label, when the style of Chenin Blanc wine they have produced is such. Otherwise, it is still true that, when you have a bottle of wine labeled "Chenin Blanc" it can be dry or it can be sweet You have to know the style that the winemaker is dedicated to.
Chenin Blanc has earned the reputation of being considered a wine that tends to be on the sweet side. Justifiably so. It used to be made that way fairly exclusively. It is a delight-ful wine at the right time, and even better with the right accompaniments. On a hot summer afternoon, a glass of chilled medium sweet Chenin with some fruit to go along with it is most refreshing.
But what about the "Dry" style. It has to have evolved because the serious wine en-thusiasts were turning up their noses at this variety. It was generally too sweet for them.
Well... some very interesting wines have been appearing at the trade tastings I have been attending. Examples that are quite dry. quite different in taste, yet with the wonderful basic varietal character of this grape coming through. No question, the wine is fruity, or at least it should be, and assertive in its young character. But.. curiously dry. That wonder¬ful Chenin flavor is there, and it says..."I'm dif-ferent I will be o.k. with your meal. I will continue to be fine with your apperitif as well, but I will shine with your poultry course."
There's the food to serve with Dry Chenin Blanc Chicken and turkey dishes. The casse¬roles would be just great. Roasted fowl will be very good. Even fried chicken will be very appropriate. However for chicken or turkey
salad sandwiches, I prefer a slightly sweet ver-sion of the wine. It tends to go along with the lightness of the sandwich.
Now here is a curve ball. Having a wine fit Chinese food has been a tricky game. The most recent proposition by a wine writer extolled the use of champagne with Chinese food. Be that as it may... I would like to pro-pose the use of a Dry Chenin Blanc. I am referring to Cantonese style Chinese food, and I am suggesting the wine with the poultry, fish, or pork combinations. It should be quite good with the vegetable and noodle dishes. The floweryness of the varietal character of this grape just seems to blend well. Even the slightly sweet versions would be very satis¬factory.
Some examples of Dry Chenin Blanc that have impressed me recently include: Hacienda, Guenoc Cassayre-Fomi, Kenwood, and Piconi. All these were the most recent vintage releases.
A most interesting one appeared last year from Alexander Valley Vineyards. Winemaker Hank Wetzel decided to make a dry Chenin Blanc in the manner of a classical Chardon-nay. Most Chenins are made with no wood ageing. They are traditionally fresh, young, crisp, fruity and flowery. Their young charm fades fast as they get older. Using the Chenin grape, but ageing it in oak, and adding some age to the bottle really developed a new dimension to this dry style Chenin that was very harmonious. I thought it was one of the best I had tasted.
So if that gift bottle of wine says Dry Chenin Blanc on the label, set it aside and use it some night when you break out the wok!,.. or call for some take-out. With five... you get sweet and
sour pork, and that goes good too!
WOMC CELLAR NOTES:
A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing.
Sep.1980 R. Reserva,'69. Rene Barbier. Lost its vigor & charm. Use up.
W. Dry Chenin Blanc, '79. Hacienda. Fruit fading. Use up.
Sep.1981 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, '77.So.Cst.Cllrs.Still big.Keep & track.
W. Marques de Riscal,'79.Starting to fade. Use up.
Sep.1982 R. Pinot Noir,'79.Hltgrn&Smprtn.Good progress.Can go more.Keep
W. Gewurztraminer,'79.Gaschy. Still some fruit, but not fresh.
Sep.1983 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, '78.Casa Rojas.Going strong.Keep.
W. Gewurztraminer UH, '81.Smothers.Hardly changed.Keep.
Adventures in Eating
Torrance Airport, deemed one of the busiest in the world because of touch and go operations, is just a skip and a hop from our home. It must be said, that this airport is smack in the center of a large city and is not exempt from controversy from time to time.
This airport is unusual how¬ever, as it has a redeeming fea¬ture. It is engulfed on its sides with a garden patch. A big one.
Each spring, around April, a rickety strawberry and vegetable stand puts out its green blackboard signaling it is open, and the area comes to life. The season starts with strawberries picked fresh from the garden patch, and magnificently exits with sweet golden corn and pumpkins. I saw my first pumpkin for 1984 last week.
Nowhere in the world, does a squash enjoy center stage as does the pumpkin in October in the U.S. It is known that the pumpkin is of the squash family, but is given a different name because it is larger than its sisters and brothers. A pumpkin can weigh up to 75 lbs. They are very commonly planted among the corn stalks, and herein probably lies the tale of our airport farmers completing their season.
I love pumpkins and always like to find a way to use them after they have served as a jack-o-lantern. The pumpkin's shape and color always gives me joy. Maybe it's a Cinderella complex. The following recipe makes a delicious soup, a change from making pie from our pumpkin. This recipe can be successfully halved.
HALLOWEEN SQUASH SOUP
1/4 cup salad oil
4 medium onions, chopped
2 t dry thyme leaves
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 lb rutabagas, peeled, diced
2 lb thin-skinned potatoes,
peeled and cubed
16 cups (about 7 lbs.) peeled,
cubed pumpkin (banana
or acorn squash ok)
14 cups regular-strength chicken
1 pumpkin shell, seeded (about 6 qt
capacity, top cut off
Salt to taste
In a 8-10 qt. kettle over medium heat, put oil and saute onion, thyme & nutmeg. Stir until onion is limp. Add rutabagas, potatoes, and squash; lower heat and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft. Pour in chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 1/2 hrs. A portion at a time, whirl vegetables in a processor or blender. Soup can be refrigerated at this point for the next day. Fill pumpkin shell with boiling water. Let sit 20 minutes to heat shell. Heat soup and ladle into shell. Serve with a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with roasted sun flower seeds. Accompany with garlic bread and cheese of your choice.
# Description Qty. Member
Reorder Price Total
discount Cabernet Sauvignon,'79.Jekel
Regular price: $10.00 $93.60/case
discount Sauvignon Blanc,'82.Whitehall Ln
Regular price: $8.00 $75.00/case
discount Pinot Noir,1982.Santa Lucia
Regular price: $5.19 $48.00/case
discount Cumbrero, 1982.Bdgs Montecillo
Regular price: $4.75 $45.60/case
discount Bernkasteler Badstube,'83.Spt.
Regular price: $9.05 $84.00/case
discount Malbec, 1979.Bodegas Santa Ana
Regular price: $5.75 $55.20/case
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