November 1984 Newsletter
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS NOVEMBER 1984
At this time of Thanksgiving, my sincere Thanks for your continued membership and business. I raise my glass and wish you and yours the best.
One of the objectives I set out for myself when developing the Wine of The Month Club was to include the element of discovery in the program. One form of discovery is the finding of exceptional examples of quality and value from well known varietal wines. Another form of discovery is the finding of unusual varietals and blended wines, particularly from other countries, that are values and that would appeal to the American palate.
This month's red wine is an example of a native varietal that you hardly see on store shelves.For one reason or another, I predict it will become extinct eventually! About eight years ago, I tasted a great Pinot St. Georges which Brother Timothy and his associates had made. At that time I vowed to find another. Here it is... It has taken this long to find it. Believe it or not, it is made by the premium arm of Almaden!
Hold it… hold it… don't walk
away! There is good in bigness!! Try it and see.
As for the white wine this month, I have a Chardonnay from Italy. This varietal has not been a common offering among the Italian wines in the past. I think it is a new effort on the part of the Italian wine industry to read the marketplace and adapt to it. The Italians have done this so well. Italian wines are now the leading import wines, over the French, into the United States. This they accomplished recently, to the chagrin of the French, but to the delight of American consuming public. The Italian wines seem to be better buys.
TIME IS CREEPING UP
THE HOLIDAYS WILL BE HERE
IN NO TIME
MAKE YOUR GIFT PLANS EARLY...
ENCLOSED IS YOUR CLUB
THEY MAKE EXCELLENT GIFTS
PLEASE REVIEW IT
AND SEND IN YOUR NEEDS EARLY
Membership in the Wine of the Month Club is open to anyone with an interest in and an appreciation for fine wines...and excellent wine values. Membership is FREE. For info, write: The Cellarmaster Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde, CA 90274.
PINOT ST. GEORGES. 1978. SAN BENITO. CHARLES LEFRANC
Charles LeFranc was a Frenchmen who in the early 1800's relinquished the security of his native France and plunged into the uncertainty of California. He joined his friend and older countryman, Etienne Thee, on his farm in Santa Clara County. Thee, a farmer from Bordeaux, had planted Spanish Mission grapes on his land along the Guadalupe River.
Energetic, enterprising, and forward looking, Charles LeFranc convinced Thee to send for grape cuttings from their native France, and to replace the Spanish Mission Grapes. The gamble paid off. The grapes were superior. Ironically, the original harvests were not pressed into wine, but sold as table grapes to meet an existing high demand for fruit. A quick¬silver mine called "Almaden", (a Moorish word meaning "the mine") was near their property, so they called their winery and vineyards New Almaden.
Charles LeFranc married Thee's daughter Adele, and inherited the 130 acres of vineyards. Growth of the winery was remarkable. By the end of the decade, he was producing 100,000 gallons of wine a year.
Tragedy struck on October 9, 1887. Still in his early sixties, and still active in the daily operations of the winery, he was crushed to death trying to halt a team of stampeding horses.
Almaden today is a California wine giant. It was acquired by National Distillers and Chemical Corp. It has become a household name for jug wines. For their premium wines, they have selected the Charles LeFranc label as their banner. They also have an import division with buyers whose palates seem to guide them well. I do not pass up the Almaden booth at trade tastings. There are some surprises from time to time.
This was the case with our red wine this month. Pinot St. Georges is a rare grape. In fact it might well become extinct soon. It was less than 196of the California red wine grape crop in 1983. The grape has also been called Red Pinot. It is said that it is not really a member of the Pinot family, but a native California grape. Maybe the Pinot designation is a result of the fact that wine made from it has overtones of a "burgundy" style. Looking at some elder California wine books, little praise exists for this poor grape. It is possible that is has suffered the effects of a poor name and a lackluster track record. I congratulate the winemakers at Almaden in not giving it up. They have a few acres of this grape in two different vineyard regions, and have persevered work¬ing with the grape to come up with a significant wine. Notice that my choice is the San Benito County grown grapes. (they also produce a Monterey County wine. I felt it was not as outstanding.)
The wine is deep garnet red. It has a peppery aroma and a fragrant bouquet that shows the beginning of complexities. This very attractive nose is penetrating and lingers. The taste is full of fruit, with a maturing overtone. It has a crispness that follows which complements the fruit. The balance is perfect. It is full bodied. A velvetlike robe exists, but the higher alcohol prevents it from full recognition. Serve at room temperature with meats and game. Great with Stilton cheese.
Cellaring Notes: Will develop more for 3 to 5 years. Not enough known.
#1184A Regular Price: $8.50/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 20.59%discount
CHARDONNAY. 1983. VALENTI
The first time I had an Italian Chardonnay was about three years ago. It was at the Food and Wine show in San Francisco. A huge delegation of Italian vintners were showing their wines to the trade. Offering a wine labeled Chardonnay was a departure from traditional Italian nomenclature. The few that showed me a Chardonnay, quickly added that it was 10096 from the Chardonnay grape and not a blend. (This 100% phenomenon has become an American fetish it seems. It has had an impact on vintners world¬wide.) Well... those few wines at the time, were strange. They did have a semblance of the varietal character, but other elements of taste were objectionable.
I have had several Italian Chardonnay offerings since, and they have progressively improved. They have come closer to the styles we are accustomed to, or prepared to accept. This Valenti Chardonnay was the first one I could get excited about. It is a negociant type wine for the American market. The Valenti label is a trademark brand owned by the Verchesi family of Lombardy. They are an old line wine making family in a 200 year old estate and castle they pur¬chased from Napoleon! A nephew of the family, Philip Thompson, is the U.S. importer and marketer of their wines. His uncle Gianmaria, wine-maker at the family estate, select¬ed this chardonnay. It was grown in the Langhe district of Piedmont region, and vinified locally. What happened here is the standard nego¬ciant procedure of purchasing the wine in bulk, having it bottled, and labeling it under their brand Hale.
I think Gianmaria's interpre¬tation of how a chardonnay could taste like is on target. There are no presumptions here to greatness or pedigree. (as James Thurber would say!) This grape of French origin has adapted itself well to the Italian vineyards. It is being slowly incorporated in experiments of 100% varietal or blended wines The models used might be the Macon or Pouiliy chardonnays of France, or some of the California central coast types. Typically these are dry, fruity and vigorous, with very recognizable varietal character. The chardonnay grape is starting to play an even more significant part in Italy. The plantings have been used extensively for sparkling wine production. New, very good, dry sparkling wines from Italy are appearing on the market. The tradi¬tional French "methode Champenoise" production technics and the same grapes are being utilized. Inter¬esting things are happening in the wine world!
Our wine is light golden yellow in color. It has a fruity, fresh aroma. Green apples come through sharp and clear. Very clean nose. The taste is dry and crisp with acid. It has medium body, with very good varietal flavor of the grape. Hardly any wood is apparent. Lots of depth to the flavor. Some trace of greenness but rather complementary to the overall. Serve chilled with seafood or poultry. Use with white sauces.
Cellaring Notes: Best for drinking now and through the next 12 months.
#1184B Regular Price: $6.50/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 23.08% discount
Please help us keep your shipping address and credit card information current. Whenever there is a change of either, kindly drop us a note. It is hard on the package to follow you, and hard on our books to receive invalid card notices! Thank you.
CEREBRATE 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.
# 765 THE WINE AND FOOD OF EUROPE AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, by Marc and Kim Million. A gastronomic adventure through Europe's wine country traversing eighteen major wine regions, discovering characteristic wines and the native foods created to accompany them. Intended for anyone who believes that food and wine are one of life's greatest pleasures, this book "brings to life" the wines, lands, and people of Europe. Color photographs, country recipes, and gastronomic maps. 224pp.
Member Price $12.25
# 769 FAVORITE RECIPES OF EASTERN WINEMAKERS, by Ruth A. Church. New cookbook detailing preferred recipes of the winemakers of the east. Expected Publishing
Date: 10/83. 6.95
Member Price $5.75
# 554 THE WINE CELLAR RECORD, For the serious wine collector, a professionally planned cellar book. Organized by the wine growing regions of the world. Helpful for keeping perpetual inventories and keeping track of the aging of each wine in your cellar. Durable, padded leatherette cover, imprinted in gold, six ring hinder. Individually Boxed. 12"x 10½".
Member Price $27.00
# 582 WINE REGISTER BINDER Three ring hinder, burgundy leatherette, gold embossed on spine and front: "WINE REGISTER". You add the pages as you wish. Perfect for your own wine diary, notes, or restaurant wine lists. 7"x9". (Binder Only—No pages included)
Member Price $2.50
# 679 IN THE CELLAR by Gene Dekovic. A handy cellar book for wine tasting notes and your cellar inventory. Excellent for the collector beginning an inventory and developing a noteworkbook technique. Photographic cover, 6"x 6", 120pp, spiral bound. Gift boxed. (See also #553, 554, 680 & 681.)
Member Price $6.25
# 680 CELLAR MASTER'S RECORD by Buena Vista Vinicultural Society. Handsome red leatherette covered rivet binder for the serious wine collector. Five sections divide wine types with two additional sections for notes on Great Occasions and Sample Tastings. Full sized 11"x 14". Gold stamped cover, 43pp with cover, Refill pages available. (See also #553, 554, 582, 679 & 681)
Member Price $21.00
# 681 WINE LOG by Irene J. Kleinsinger, with design by Reid Morrow. Very popular and handy little notebook for wine. Durable vinyl cover holds insert book and slips into pocket fir tasting notes anytime any place. Includes information on wine labels, vintage charts and do it yourself index of your personal ,favorites. Cover is gold stamped. Refills are available. 3½" x 6", 94pp. Excellent little executive gift.
Member Price $4.85
Starting January 1985, the shipping and handling charges for wine shipments have to be increased. The new rates will be $2.50 for 2 bottles, $5.00 for 6 bottles, and $7.50 for 12 bottles. I regret having to do this. The cost of boxes and materials have gone up beyond the absorption point!
Food With Wine With California Gamay Beaujolais by Paul Kalemkiarian
If you are presently a white wine enthusiast, yet wish to develop a red wine palate; this is the wine to start with. Many people who say they like white wines only, do so because they have usually been turned off by the boldness and intensity of many red wines.
If you are one of these people, you are miss¬ing out on half the world of wine, and half the glorious taste sensations that red wines pro-vide. Now...I admit that there is a physiologi¬cal reason for this with some people. A few individuals develop headaches immediately on consuming red wine. They are usually sen¬sitive to ingredients in red grape juice. For them, I have no solution except desensitiza¬tion by an allergist (assuming you can find one to do it for you, and you are that anxious to do so!).
However, for the "white wine only" advo¬cate who may have room for a change of heart..let me plead the case for the reds.
You should look at red wines as meal wines essentially. And...you should try to serve them with the meals that they complement In addi¬tion, you should start with the lighter ones, and slowly move into the bigger ones.
By all means, start with a Gamay Beau-jolais. A young California Gamay Beaujolais will be just fine. Be sure it is young. Anything over two years is usually losing its charm and freshness. Old Beaujolais is a most unin-teresting wine, and enough reason for a turn¬off by itself. Never age any Gamay Beaujolais wine after it has been released by the wine maker. Usually he/she selects the optimum time for release from the original harvest time. His/her winemaking style dictates ad¬ditional constraints. Once released, it most often must be consumed within a year.
So what is so special about a Gamay Beau¬jolais for such an exercise? I consider it a rather unique grape, and an extraordinary wine style, in the realm of red wines.
As a grape, it generally produces wines of light character with lots of fruit aroma and flavor, minimum of astringency due to tannin, and a tendency to crispness.
As a wine style, it follows that the winemakers have taken the attributes of the grape variety and exploited it to the maximum, by produc¬ing a wine that best shows those qualities. Every so often, you see the term "Beaujolais style" used for a wine made from another grape that has been produced in that style!
Now...this column is about Food with Wine, so lets see what we have in that department.
My favorite meal for a Gamay Beaujolais is lunch. It makes a wonderful summer lunch¬eon accompaniment, as long as the fare is compatible. Meat sandwiches of most varieties are excellent companions. Ham salads are my particular favorite. I think chef salads, even with the turkey, do go very well. (not French dressing though!... thousand island would be the most suitable. Blue cheese dressing would be too overpowering.) Cold assorted meat and cheese plates with French bread are just fine to serve with Gamay Beaujolais.
For dinner time, you can serve it with main courses of baked ham or saute veal. And... with the traditional American quickie: grilled hamburgers! (not barbecue . . . that requires a wine with more depth and strength).
Gamay Beaujolais should be served slightly chilled. (Contrary to most red wine traditions!) And again, remember...the younger it is, the better it is.
Some recent examples of better California Gamay Beaujolais' I have had are Stag's Leap Cellars, Parducci, Beringer, Fetzer, Pedron¬celli.
Interestingly, not too many California win-eries are making this varietal any more. It is a shame. We need this stepping-stone wine around for all you white wine enthusiasts!
© Reprint of a column by the Cellarmaster
Paul Kalemkiarian in the REVIEW
WOMC CELLAR NOTES: A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing.
Nov.1980. R. Cabernet Sauvignon,78.Fetzer.Well mellowed.Start using.
W. Kapellenberg-Rulander,77.F.Schmidt.Fading, use up.
Nov.1981. R. Zinfandel,'78.Dry Creek.Lots of fruit & tannin.Keep.
W. Chateau Larribotte,76.Sauternes.Lichine.Lots of life still.
Nov.1982. R. Pinot Noir,'75.HMR.Still sore tannin. Big, fragrant. Keep.
W. Halbtrocken,'80.The charm is gone. Drink up.
Nov.1983. R. Merlot,'69.Villanyi. No wine on hand to try! Should be ok.
W. French Colombard,'82.Pedroncelli.Still pretty good.Use up.
Adventures in Eating
This is way off the topic of today's column, but I could not resist sharing some good news. Two cakes from Rosemarie's Kitchen were submitted for judging in the LA County Fair. Both won ribbons! It did my ego worlds of good. I'm still in the mail order cake business and have 2 cakes available: Honey Bear (chocolate chip and date chocolate cake) $19.95 ppd & luscious California Carrot Cake $15.95 ppd. Both cakes are made from scratch and iced. I bake and ship all year long. Thank you.
Aside from prunes, no fruit is as wrinkled as a raisin, but that does not detract from its being a nutritional California snack. I had an aunt who had a small Thompson seedless vineyard in Visalia. As a child, I remember running up and down the aisles of vines, picking any amount of those juicy morsels, fresh from the vine, my stomach could hold. How sweet it was.
Sometimes I was fortunate to be there when the bunches of grapes were carefully laid out on heavy paper, and spread on the ground between the rows of vines for a royal sun-tanning. Auntie was making raisins, some of which our lucky family would receive.
It was some sort of a miracle to me that the succulent green gems, were reduced to very sweet black gems. Golden raisins we were told were bleached. I did not realize what that meant. Actually, they are not bleached at all, but are processed indoors under special conditions to retain their light color. They are a bit more tangy, and I find I like them in my carrot cake.
The Zante Currant raisins, tiny and tart, cone from Black Corinth grapes. These are especially good LI baked goods. This is not to be confused with the currant berry in the U.S.
Raisins will keep in your freezer indefinitely. They can be plumped in hot water in just 5 to 10 minutes.
Because of this years' bumber crop of these wonderful edibles, my thoughts strayed to Christmas goodies.
Here is my favorite recipe for a delicious candy that is quick and easy to make for the holidays.
CHOCOATE COVERED RAISIN CLUSTERS
(Have you priced these in candy
1 6oz pkg (1 cup) semi-sweet or
milk chocolate pieces.
3 T light corn syrup.
1 T water
1 1/2 cups raisins.
Combine first three ingredients and place over hot (not boiling) water until chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in raisins, coating well. Drop in small clusters onto waxed paper from teaspoon. Chill until firm. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen clusters.
If you asked for a newsletter binder by writing the request on the recent Membership Survey form… you must write to me again! The survey was anonymous... I do not know where to send them!
For free membership information write or call
Wine of the Month Club®
Adventures in Wine Since 1972 by The Cellarmaster
P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 318-6666
Gift Order Form
Please send me the following:
Discount Pinot St. Georges,'78.C.LeFranc
Regular price: $8.50 $81.00/case
Regular price: $8.00 $75.00/case
Discount Cabernet Sauvignon,'79.Jekel
Regular price: $10.00 $93.60/case
Discount Chardonnay, '83. Valenti
Regular price: $6.50 $60.00/case
Discount Beaujolais Villages,'83.Jaffln
Regular price: $6.50 $62.40/case
Discount Cumbrero, 1982.Bdgs Montecillo
Regular price: $4.75 $45.60/case
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