June 1985 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 184 Rejected: 150 Approved: 22 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS JUNE 1985
Often, when I am speaking to a potential member for my Wine of the Month Club, the comment is made: "How do I apply for your job?" This always follows when I am describing the fact that I taste about 3000 wines a year, to make my selections. A member is really not just buying wine from the club, but buying the services of my palate as well (At the regular store price of the wines.) My answer always is: " It is not as glamorous as it sounds."
This search for better wines is a grueling task! Most trade tastings will show from 20 to 200 wines. They have the maximum of a 3 to 4 hour time limit. So you turn up with a clipboard in one hand, and a glass in the other. Off to work... Look, swirl, sniff, taste, spit, write, ask a question, rinse, chew on a small piece of bread, and repeat... On and on and on... Not much swallowing so you protect your liver. Plus, you want to be able to drive home. Not much conversation with the person across the counter lest you make him feel bad about his/her wine. You might get a flowery sales pitch that just
delays you; since you have made your mind up already! (Looking a little cross helps avoid the lengthy recitation of the anxious attendant!) Just about 80 to 100 wines later, the old palate starts to fade, the toes start hurting, and I call it quits. If it is a major event, and I am only half way down the row of counters I check out and check in again the next day, if the particular wholesaler or importer is holding a repeat second tasting in another part of the State.
That is the life of a wine evaluator!
Once in a while, a really nice trade affair is put on. Usually a sit-down, with a glass for each wine, and a seminar type presentation. It was at one of these that I found our white wine this month.
The red wine this month was discovered in the second way I am exposed to wines. Many representatives of wholesalers, wineries, or importers, come by our offices with wines to show. The Boeger people scored on one of these.
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. (213) 318-6666
ZINFANDEL, 1981. BOEGER WINERY.
Boeger winery is named after its principals, Greg and Susan Boeger. They established the winery in 1972, in partnership with Susan's parents, Dr. & Mrs. George Babbin. Greg has a Masters degree in agricultural economics, with a minor in viticulture. Susan is also a U.C. Davis graduate, and has been pursuing an MBA along with the administrative and marketing duties of the winery.
Greg is the grandson of Anton Nichelini, a Swiss-Italian who founded a winery and vineyard in Chiles Valley, Napa County, in 1890. It continues as a family operation today. This heritage of working with the land, the vine, the grape and its product, pointed him to the 70 acre ranch near Placerville. (In the heart of the "California Gold Rush" country.) It had been the site of a winery and vineyards in the late 1800's. (Interestingly, wine... part of the "good life ", follows gold! By 1860, during the California Gold Rush, the region around Placerville had more acres planted to vines than Napa or Sonoma County. More than a 100 wineries were in operation in the county by 1890. Prohibition, phylloxera, and a declining population put an end to that wine boom.)
The Boegers use an old winery building (Perretti Winery, 1860) as their tasting room today. They built a new 6000 sq. ft. winery in 1973. It has a 25,000 gallons per year fermentation capacity. Their vineyards are planted on gentle rolling hillsides and high ridges which range in elevations of 2,300 to 3,000 feet.
Greg's modern vineyard management practices of irrigation only when the vines need it, timely
harvesting, and careful handling of the grapes, have paid off. These, coupled with, his winemaking philosophy of fermenting without extreme skin contact, careful temperature controls, and judicious fining, produce the kind of wine you are about to taste.
The Zinfandel grape "was" a unique grape in that it was considered a native California grape. Tracings in Italy and Yugoslavia took away this distinction. Zinfandel is a versatile grape. It has been used by winemakers to successfully produce wines of different styles. From the "nouveau", to the "claret" to the "rhone", to the "late harvest", to the "port", to the "blanc". The variety is characterized by it's distinct fruity taste. Here is a superb, reasonably priced example, from an appellation that is trying to make its mark.
What style is it?
Our wine is brilliant garnet red. It has a fragrant, complex, penetrating, bouquet. This if fol¬lowed with a berry, fruity, over¬tone. Very aromatic and pleasing. The taste is bursting with the flavor of the proceeding sensation of the nose. It has a full body. It follows through with a soft middle that has a some berry flavor. Even though the alcohol is 14.696, you do not seem to notice it. Well balanced, and laced with some tan¬nin. Serve at room temperature with pasta and marinara sauces or with Sicilian pizza.
Cellaring Notes. Will develop for 4 to 7 years. I like it now too!
#685A Regular Price: $6.00/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 25.00%discount
GEWURZTRAMINER, 1983. TRIMBACH.
Alsace is one of the important wine growing regions of France. It differs from the other regions in a few ways. White wines are primarily produced in Alsace. They use the varietal name of the grape for labeling most of its wines, and they use varieties not common to the other regions of France. In fact, as Hubert Trimbach put it, at a recent tasting of his 1983 releases which he conducted in Beverly Hills: "With Germanic varietals, we make French wines!" He wanted to be sure that we did not judge and compare Alsatian wines with German wines.
A world of difference in winemaking philosophy and practice exists on the two sides of the Rhine river. (Alsace hugs the west side of the river, at the border of the two countries.) The dominant difference: German winemakers strive for sweet wines. Alsatian winemakers make dry wines with some of the same varietal grapes.
The white varietals usually seen from Alsace are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris (Tokay D'Alsace), Pinot Blanc, and Muscat D'Alsace.
The news at the tasting was that the 1983 vintage in Alsace was a banner year. The harvested ideal grapes, and the wines had developed well. I was particularly impressed with their Gewurztraminer.
The first Trimbach started to make wine in Alsace in 1626. Quite a few generations later, and continuously handed from father to son, the house of Trimbach flourishes in the hands of brothers Bernard and Hubert. They are located in the town of Ribeauville, south of Strasbourg. They are a prestigious firm in the Alsace.
Gewurztraminer is a most distinct white grape variety. Maybe not as "distinguished" as the noble white varieties Pinot Chardonnay
and Johannisberg Riesling, but more distinct. (They are distinguished because they are so well known, and they produce great wines.) Gewurztraminer is distinct because it is so different. It is easy to recognize. It is spicy, perfumy, aromatic, and generally very pungently fruity. Usually, and often mistakenly, it is assumed to be a sweet wine. Most all Alsatian Gewurztraminer are dry wines, unless they are designated "vendange tardive" or late harvest". Many German and California Gewurztraminer wines can be sweetish because that is a style usually practiced in those places. (Late harvest styles are also made there).
The grape is a clonal development of the Traminer grape. It is considered to have come from the village of Tramin in the Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige. The bunches of grapes have a reddish hue, yet they produce a perfectly white wine.
Here is a classic Alsatian Gewurztraminer. After tasting it, tuck the sensations in your memory data bank for this style of wine. Our wine is straw yellow in color. It has a most typical, flowery, spicy, aroma of the fruit. It is intense and penetrating. The fruit is very clean and assertive. The taste is obviously dry. It is full bodied and has good extractive. The spicyness of the taste is restrained. It has a character of quality. Serve chilled with curry meals, Szechwan cooking, or with munster cheese.
Cellaring Notes: I like it young. Hubert says keep it for up to 12 years and see. Maybe I will get to taste some of his older ones when I inspect Trimbach on June 10.
#685B Regular Price: $8.75/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 21.14% discount
THIS MATTER OF CELLARING... (PART 2)
I have developed a new concept about the way one should think about wine cellaring. It really is an expansion of the present thinking, but it delineates for the beginner, the two aspects of wine cellaring.
Seasoned wine enthusiasts who have taken up the ageing of wines, find that they have to keep close track of their cellar. They watch a wine by tasting it along its path of maturing. When it has reached what they consider its peak of development, they then set to the task of consuming it in a reasonable short term of time, to catch its best state. These wines are set aside, along with any other wines that they own for consumption in the near future, in a separate section of their storage area. Thus the chance of using the maturing wines, before their time, is minimized.
I propose that the wine establishment adopt the following terminology for two types of wine cellars:
"Cellar of Ready-to-Drink Wines" and "Cellar of Maturing Wines"
I reviewed the elements of a "Cellar of Ready-to-Drink Wines" in last issue.
Now for the "Cellar of Maturing Wines".
O B J E C T I V E
There must be the interest and desire to age wine. The objective is to enjoy the sublime final product of the different styles and varietals that have ageing ability.
C O N D I T I O N S
As close as possible to the ideal. Temperature best at 55°F. with minimal variation. Absence of direct light, vibration, humidity, and chemicals stored in the same area. Position of bottle such that wine touches cork. Please see February 1985 issue, page 4 for details.
C O N T E N T
Certainly it should be what you like to drink. And... these should be from wines that have maturing potential. If you prefer wines that do not have ageing ability, then those wines should be purchased when young and kept in your "Cellar of Wines Ready-to-Drink". Generally, there should not be any Chenin Blanc, French Colombard, Gamay Beaujolais, Soave, Verdicchio, Muscadet, Sancerre, Valpolicella, Bardolino, Rose' and Table wines in this cellar.
The wines that belong in a "Cellar of Maturing Wines" could include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo, Chardonnay, Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling and Sauvignon/Semi I Ion, and their import equivalents. Naturally some pedigreed examples would add to the pleasure of the experience, and allow some comparisons. If your preferences are very narrow, I suggest that you consider just a few bottles of classical examples of other styles, to have around when the correct occasion arises.
Q U A N T I T Y
Controlled by your budget and space. I prefer to have less variety and more bottles of the same wine, so I can track it systematically. Another advantage of doing so, is the opportunity of having several bottles available at one time for a special occasion.
T E R M
Hopefully, the cellar itself is for ever! As far as the wines go, this depends on the potential of the wine, and ones evaluation of that. Then the job of tracking comes into the picture. Very general rules of thumb:
Dry Whites.. up to 8 years, sweet whites and reds.. up to 15 years ++
R E Q U I R E M E N T S
ONE OF A KIND WINES....
A random offering of wines that have a special reputation of being among the top wines of the world. These wines obviously have no relationship to our program directly. They are rare and costly wines for the collector, special gift shopper, etc. As our wholesalers and importers offer these on their lists, we in turn offer them to Wine of the Month Club members for that special occasion purchase, or that special gift. The member price is a deep discounted price from the regular price as a membership benefit. Use order form on page 7.
PE802 1980 750 Chateau Petrus $ 81.50 69.00
PET64 1976 1.5L Chateau Petrus $343.50 285.00
PET45 1974 3L Chateau Petrus $313.50 260.00
TRO15 1981 3L Chateau Trotanoy $167.00 140.00
TRO16 6L 6L Chateau Trotanoy $390.00 320.00
TR802 1980 750 Chateau Trotanoy $ 24.50 21.00
TRO92 1979 750 Chateau Trotanoy $ 42.95 35.00
CE802 1980 750 Chateau Certan de May $ 17.50 15.00
CER92 1979 750 Chateau Certan de May $ 36.95 29.95
CER82 1978 750 Chateau Certan de May $ 44.50 37.00
CER62 1976 750 Chateau Certan de May $ 29.95 24.95
GAZ82 1978 750 Chateau Gazin $ 24.50 21.00
GAZ42 1974 750 Chateau Gazin $ 18.75 15.95
YQU92 1979 750 Chateau D'Yquem $ 79.50 65.00
YQU94 1979 M Chateau D'Yquem $159.00 132.00
YQU62 1976 750 Chateau D'Yquem $ 94.50 79.00
YQU52 1975 750 Chateau D'Yquem $114.95 95.00
YQU51 1975 375 Chateau d'Yquem $ 57.00 48.00
RI592 1959 750 Chateau Rieussec $106.75 93.00
SUD62 1976 750 Chateau Suduiraut $ 39.95 33.00
CLI62 1976 750 Chateau Climens $ 39.99 33.00
Prices subject to change without notice. Acceptance of order subject to availability of wine. The status of your order will be acknowledged as soon as we receive it.
WOMC CELLAR NOTES
A report on how previous Wine of The Month Club selections are faring with ageing. Obtained from actual tastings of wines aged under cellar conditions and/or vintner, importer, or wholesaler surveys
June 1981 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'78 Taltarni.Good fruit & tannin.Hold.
W. Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc.'79.Blrd.Cnyn.Faded.
June 1982 R. La Petite Ruche,'79.Crz.Hermtg.Chap.At peak.Use
W. Dry Chenin Blanc,'81.Martin Bros. Fading.Use
June 1983 R. Syrah,'78.Phelps.Hardly changed. Hardly changed.Keep
W. Pinot Grigio,'81.Ponte. Lost its charm.Finish up.
June 1984 R. Cotes du Rhone,'82.Dom La Renj.Not as fruity.Use up.
W. Chardonnay,'81.Son.Cutr.Sequoia Grove.Keep.
Adventures in Eating
George Udofia was a bellboy in a Washington D.C. hotel 19 years ago. We needed a cot in our room, as our daughter was with us, and George brought one up. He had an engaging smile, and spoke beautiful English. I was curious about his accent. Cautiously, we inquired about it, and learned that he was an engineering student, from Nigeria, studying at Howard University.
Soon all three of us were tossing questions at him, and in his courteous, yet friendly manner, he answered them enthusiastically. His education was paid for by his government, but he had to provide for his living expenses. Fe felt he had a good job at the hotel to enable him to do so.
Actually, he was not the run of the mill young man. His father was a tribal chief, with 6 wives. George was second to the eldest, and one of 32 children. At this, Sharon's eyes grew quite big.
I began quizzing him about Nigerian food. He was knowledgeable about foods, as it was customary for grandmothers to teach the boys in the tribe how to cook. He insisted we come to his apartment, next to the University, for lunch the next day. We realized there was no graceful way to decline.
We arrived the next day, with Some lack of enthusiasm for the whole thing. He opened his door with a smile of appreciation. Our eyes opened wide at the piles of paperback books throughout the whole apartment. Both he and his roommate were readers. He felt there was much to learn before his return to Nigeria.
He led us into the tiny kitchen and seated us at a small square table. George stood. There was no seat for him. He served us a delightful Nigerian chicken stew, but said he was not going to eat. We finally understood why. His budget was stretched and he only had enough food for us. Quickly, plates and portions were re¬arranged, and George joined us for lunch. A wonderful culinary experience. After adaptations, here is the chicken stew recipe.
E F O E Q U S I (for 3)
1 chicken, cut up
8 oz. fresh spinach, washed
3 T flour (or as needed)
1 large onion, chopped
2 med. sz. fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 T tomato sauce
1/3 cup oil (or more if needed)
1 t curry
1 T dried ground shrimp
½ T ground pepper
Salt and cayenne to taste
Soak spinach in cold water and clean. Pat dry and chop into narrow strips. Lightly coat chicken with flour. Heat oil, and saute the chicken, removing it to a platter as it browns. Saute the onion in the remaining oil (or add a little more) until opaque. Add chicken, pepper, curry, tomato sauce, spinach and tome-toes to the onions. Add just enough water to cover the chicken. Add salt to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. Add ground shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Taste and add cayenne to your desired hotness. Serve over boiled rice. This is a thin sauce. Enjoy.
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
Please send me the following:
Regular Price: $6.00 $54.00/case
Discount Johannisberg Riesling,'84.AVV
Regular Price: $6.00 $57.60/case
Discount Nouveau Pinot Noir,'84.Amity
Regular Price: $5.50 $52.80/case
Regular Price: $8.75 $82.80/case
Discount Chateau La Cardonne.'82
Regular Price: $9.00/750ml $86.40/case
Discount Rully Blanc,'83.Jaffelin
Regular Price: $9.50/750ml $91.20/case
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217,
Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274
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(See reverse side to order wine gifts)
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WINE GIFT ORDER FORM
GIFTS OF WINE ARE PERFECT FOR:
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gifts ● Congratulations gifts ● I Love You
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CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS FROM THE CELLARMASTER:
2 BOTTLES: the 2 current club
6 BOTTLES: assortment of recent
12 BOTTLES: (1 case): assortment of
recent selections $92*
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tions) a month for 4 months (or every $62*
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(24 bottles total) subscription: 2 bottles every month
for the next 12 months $182*