July 1985 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 93 Rejected: 81 Approved: 12 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS JULY 1985
It has been a little hard to get back to the routine. We just returned from a buying trip to the wine producing region of Alsace, parts of the Loire, and parts of Austria. Some very interesting wines. I will be seeking California importers of these, and try to feature any that have traveled well.
The cooking of food with wine was particularly apparent in Alsace. The final product was very pleasing with this flavor. Local wines like riesling, tokay, and gewurztraminer were apparent on every menu description of the local dish. We do not do enough of that in this country. It might be an interesting diversion to get a wine-cooking recipe book and try some. The Wine Advisory Board publishes a few California wine-cooking books. (see Newsletters 9/84, 10/85, & 11/85, page 4 for some of these. If you do not have the back issues, drop me a card).
The California selection this month is from a pedigreed winery! I am not using the term in the ancestral sense. California has not been at this game long enough to
develop that type of lineage. It will come... and anyway… that is not always a sign of quality. I am using the word pedigree for its "distinguished" meaning. The Joseph Phelps Vineyards spell class in every phase of their operation. Their wines have consistently scored higher in my "approved" column. Their label on a restaurant wine list improves the odds of a good selection!
The import this month is a lesson for beginner and advanced wine enthusiast. A mature Cabernet Franc from Italy. It has been stored well, and has 8 years of age. It is at its peak of maturity in my opinion.
= Sauvignon Blanc,'83 Phelps pg.2 =
= Cabernet Franc,'77 Vla Ronc pg.3 =
= This matter of mature wines pg.4 =
= One of a kind wines pg.5 =
= WOMC Cellar Notes pg.5 =
= Adventures in Eating by R pg.6 =
= Wine order form pg.7 =
= Gift order form pg.8 =
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
SAUVIGNON BLANC, 1983. JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS.
In ten short years, Joseph Phelps Vineyards has earned the reputation of being one of the top ten California wineries.
Joseph Phelps a Colorado builder, whose home winemaking yen led him to California, decided to go for it..! He looked around and found what he wanted. He located his winery and home vineyards in Spring Valley, a small fold in the hills east of St. Helena, long known as the Connolly Ranch.
Accustomed to managing and motivating people, Joe set out to build a team for his winery. The early successes are attributed to winemaker Walter Schug and his viticultural talents. (see Wine of The Month Club selections June '83, & Nov. '78 for his wines.) Walter was succeeded by his assistant, Craig Williams. Our wine this month is his first crush as chief winemaker and vice-president of the firm. He served his tutelage under Walter since 1976. Another important member of that team is Bruce Neyers. He has been with Joe since 1975, and is marketing vice-president. Together, they are responsible for a list of varietal wines which includes, in whites, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and several styles of Johannisberg Riesling and, in reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and their specialty, the true French Syrah.
At the home vineyards on Taplin Road, 175 of 670 acres are planted to grapes. To fulfill the need of grapes grown in different climates and soils, they own vineyards in Yountville, Ruther¬ford, and Sonoma. In addition select purchases of grapes are made when needed.
The Sauvignon Blanc grape has been finally rediscovered by the American wine enthusiast. The last few years have shown a significant
trend of popularity for the dry version of wine made from this grape. Our winemakers have learnt how to harness the power of this grape. It took advanced techniques of cold fermentation, judicious blending, and limited oak exposure to develop the new breed of these wines. It is a versatile grape. In its homeland, Bordeaux, France, it is used to produce perfectly dry wines in the Graves region, and heavenly dessert type wines in the Sauternes region. It also flourishes a few hundred miles north, in the Loire region; where it is the grape for the Sancerre and the Pouilly-sur-Loire white wines.
It was introduced into California in 1880, and planted in the Livermore area. The objective was to try and duplicate the sweet wines of Sauternes. Except for isolated examples, that objective has not yet been accomplished. The dry wines made from the grape had a short period of popularity right after prohibition. Since the late 60's, however, this variety has been constantly increasing in its appeal.
This Phelps Sauvignon Blanc is delicate pale straw color, with a faint glint of green. It has an intense fruity aroma, with a zest to the fruit. The bouquet develops on swirling to a minimum oak, with a hint of the grassy characteristic of this grape. The taste is soft, full bodied, yet supple. The middle is bold fruit, and leads to the grassiness of a sauvignon, but not green. The finish is long, with all flavor components remaining in har-mony. Serve chilled with halibut or swordfish courses.
Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 2 to 3 years.
#785A Regular Price: $9.00/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 23.33%discount
CABERNET FRANC, 1977. VILLA RONCHE.
Italy is a major wine producing country as well as a major wine consuming country. In the last few years, it has become the major wine exporting country for imports to the United States. A couple of years ago, Italian wines surpassed the French wines in their penetration of the American market. Reason... I hypothesize that: First, they set out to understand the American palate. Second, they tailored their products to that taste, departing from some tradi¬tions winemakers had. Third, they used the charm and warmth of Italy to market their wine.
Our import wine this month comes from a remote area of Italy. The country is divided into 20 administrative regions. Tucked away in the northeast is the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It is bor¬dered on the north by Austria, at the east by Yugoslavia, at the south by the Adriatic Sea, and by the Veneto region to the west. It has had a turbulent history, ser-ving many conquerors since Roman times. In our century, both World War I & II gutted its vineyards each time. Most recently, in 1976, mother nature took a toll with a very serious earthquake. Relevant¬ly, maybe, an attitude exists in the people of the area to do their utmost to drink all the wine they produce. Smallholding farmers seek permission from the authorities to convert their outbuildings into hostelries for 15 days after the release of their current mature cru. Every evening, between 5 and 9 o'clock, they serve wine, bread and salami. Then the next vintner does his stint. With this ongoing marketing technique, it is surpris¬ing that any wine is left for the rest of us!
Grave del Friuli is one of the six DOC zones in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It is situated in the
southwest area of the region. A DOC zone is a delineated zone of vine¬yards, whose product may be labeled by the Denomination of Origin Controlled. Our Cabernet Franc wine is a product of this DOC and is required to contain at least 90% of that varietal. It is a selection of the house of Villa Ronche, who are well known shippers in this area.
Cabernet Franc is a red grape important in the St. Emilion wines of Bordeaux, France, and the red wines of the Loire valley. It was introduced into Italy in the early 1800's in the hills out of Padua, and has been cultivated extensively in the northwestern provinces. When you say Cabernet in these regions, you must understand it as Cabernet Franc, and not Cabernet Sauvignon. (In the USA we would assume the latter. We use this varietal prima-rily for blending.) Many labels in fact, will show just 'Cabernet" and are expected to be Cabernet Franc when they come from Italy. Typical¬ly, it produces a wine in the order of Cabernet Sauvignon, with less intensity, shorter ageing, and crisper acid.
Our wine is brick red in color, showing its maturity. It has a complex bouquet, with fruit still coming through. A hint of cabernet grassiness is present, followed by a hint of pepper to the nose. The taste is a mature cabernet type wine. It has a medium to full body, with good acidity. The fruit is present, but modified to the complexities that have developed. It has a deep flavor that is unctuous. Tannin is gone. The finish is long. Serve at room temperature with beef or game casseroles.
Cellaring Notes: This wine is mature and ready. Use in 1985/86.
#785B Regular Price: $5.79/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 20.00% discount
THIS MATTER OF MATURE WINES
A wine enthusiast does not have to be a mature wine fancier! I say this at the risk of raised eyebrows from some of you.
The broad spectrum of aromas and flavors in the family of grapes and the wines they produce leaves room for all kinds of preferences.
Usually though, by accident, by introduction, or by design, the person that enjoys young wine, will be pleasantly surprised at the changes he finds in a mature wine. If an affinity for this type of wine develops, then a whole new world opens for the devotee.
You will soon discover that from among the varieties that can be aged, you will not find too many of them on the shelves in the average bottle shop. If the estab¬lishment is not temperature controlled, you should even be suspect of the ones you find that look like they have been there all that time! Chances are they have not matured at ideal storage conditions. The same applies to a restaurant. If you have no know¬ledge of the interest the restaurant has to age their wines, and the environment they provide for this, be hesitant in ordering an expensive mature wine.
Yes… there are wine mer¬chants and restaurants, few at that, who do a serious job of purchasing for maturing, and releasing the wine to their special offerings wine list. You must get to know who these are if you are to play in that ballpark. Do not hesitate to ask to see their wine storage for their maturing wines. Any wine merchant or sommelier restaurateur will be pleased to show his "cellar" to the interested customer.
The alternative is to mature the wine yourself.
Simple… just set the wine aside, and forget about it for the period of time you estimate it
needs to mature. If you are unable to make that educated guess regarding the time needed, then you must track the wine. In fact wine enthusiasts who age wine, will purchase several bottles and track the wine, however experienced they are. When you track, each time you try one of the bottles, you must keep some brief notes in your cellar book. Be sure and observe the optimum conditions you can provide for that wine. See Wine of The Month Club Newsletter, Feb. '85, page 4.
In my wine classes, I encourage those who want to start ageing wines to follow The Kalemkiarian Five Year Plan" (with all due disrespect to the Russians). First, estimate the number of bottles you consume a year. Multiply that by five to obtain the approximate 5 year storage space needed. Second, budget for about that much wine during the next five years. Third, every time you purchase wine during the next five years, buy twice as much as you normally would. Consume the one set and store the other set. Fourth, keep tasting notes of the wines you are consuming. Fifth, keep this up for five years, and along the way, monitor your cellar, and track the wines selectively. In five years stop buying double, return to normal quantities. Put these away and continue consuming and tracking the wines you have been ageing.
In a very simplistic yet disciplinary way, you have had the experience of tracking a wine and observing its maturation. You become familiar with the taste sensations along the way, with the time different wines need, (some need much more than 5 years), and with some knowledge of the process.
If you have a yen for mature wines, you are better off ageing than yourself!
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.
GEW12 1978 750 Gevrey Chambertin Estournelles
ler Cru.Antonin Rodet $ 32.70 27.00
GEWK2 1978 750 Gevrey Chambertin Lauaux St.
Jacques.ler Cru.Ant.Rodet $ 32.70 27.00
CHB92 1979 750 Chambertin Clos de Beze,Grand
Cru.Pierre Gelin $ 52.00 43.00
CH292 1979 750 Chambertin. Grand Cru,
Domaine Marcilly $ 57.50 49.50
MAZ92 1979 750 Mazis Chambertin. Grand Cru,
Pierre Gelin $ 37.50 32.00
CCH84 1978 1.5L Chames Chambertin. Grand Cru,
Laboure Roi $ 77.50 63.00
CCD12 1981 750 Chames Chambertin. Grand Cru,
Dupont-Tisserandot $ 35.85 31.00
CHD92 1979 750 Dupont-Tisserandot $ 35.85 31.00
CHL82 1978 750 Chames Chambertin. Grand Cru, $ 32.70 27.00
RIR12 1981 750 Richebourg. Grand Cru,
Antonin Rodet $ 39.50 33.00
RIL82 1981 750 Laboure Roi $ 40.95 34.50
RIL84 1981 1.5L Laboure Roi $ 82.35 68.00
RO762 1976 750 Romanee St. Vivant. Grand Cru,
Noellat $ 71.50 60.00
ECJR2 1978 750 Grand Echezeaux. Grand Cru,
Antonin Rodet $ 42.50 36.50
MR792 1979 750 Musigny. Grand Cru,
Antonin Rodet $ 47.95 41.00
BCN82 1979 750 Bonnes Mares. Grand Cru,
Antonin Rodet $ 44.95 38.00
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 NOTE
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
July 1981 R. Merlot,'78.Firestone.Still some time to keep.Beautiful.
W. Laski Rizling,'79.Lost most of fruit. Should use up.
July 1982 R. Zinfandel,'79.Paso Robles.Ridge.Some complexity.Keep.
W. Graves.Ch.du Mayne.'80.Starting to loose its charm.Use.
July 1983 R. Ch. Giscours.'77. Starting down. Use up this year.
W. Chardonnay,'82.Coastal Wines.Quite good yet.Finish up.
July 1983 R. Pinot Noir,'82.Santa Lucia.Some complexity. Keep
W. Bernkasteler Badstb.'83.Thaprich.Some complexty.Will keep.
Adventures in Eating
This is my second draft for this column. All I wanted to discuss was ice-cream! My boss thought the first attempt was too choppy, fragmented, and meandered from subject to subject, trying to complete a circle, with no results. After reading the computer print¬out, I agreed… back to the drawing board.
I lost my IBM selectric typewriter to our secretary. The other electric monster, our Adler, and I are not on speaking terms. It refuses to cooperate in reproducing what I punch in! Consequently, I'm back to long-hand copy, which is more difficult to edit. How fast we get spoiled. At least there is no act of aggression by my pen.
Ice cream is not a novel food, but how good it is. Certainly there seems to be endless flavors that keep popping up. Plus now we have Italian Gelato. Well, I was sur¬prised in our trip to France this time, to see so much ice cream being featured. A few years back, I did not notice so much of it being served in restaurants. I love pastries and looked forward to the fantastic array of French pastries, only to see the French guzzling ice cream sundaes. Even milk shakes have made their entry.
The ice-cream sundaes did look delicious, but I refrained from ordering them. I went for the good French pastries, which are not around in L.A. (good ice cream is). Strawberries were in season, so fresh strawberries were piled in vanilla ice cream, squiggly authen¬tic whipped cream, and then some nuts. The French do have a flair, though; they would put their ice cream in fun glasses and always
serve it with the fan cookie. What I did not see, was a fresh fruit tart (which the French are so good at) a-la-mode! That strikes me as a harmonious combination. But who knows? That may be next!
To the cellarmaster's sur¬prise, not going to give you a recipe for ice cream. Here is a simple and easy Fresh Fruit Ice Cream Sundae Topping. A real summer treat.
Take any fruit or berry of your choice, except melons, and place 1 cup in a saucepan. (if peaches, plums or nectarines etc., cut them up). Add 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit and how sweet you like it. Remember, you can always add more sugar, so start with less.
Let come to a boil, stirring gently, so sugar does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Lower heat, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes (until fruit is a little cooked), skimping the foam. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, or more if you like it a little tart. Take off stove. Mix 1 slightly heaping teaspoon corn¬starch with 2 tablespoons water. Dribble cornstarch mixture slowly into fruit while stirring rapidly. Be careful, it can lump at this point. Return to stove, gently stir and cook until the liquid is transparent and cornstarch is absorbed. Cool.
If too thick for you, add a little water, or Grand Marnier Liqueur. Store in a jar in refrig¬erator or freeze in freezer zip-loc bags. Should serve 2 to 4.
Go for it! Bon Appetit!
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:
discount Sauvignon Blanc,'83.J.Phelps
Regular Price: $9.00 $82.80/case
Regular Price: $6.00 $54.00/case
discount Johannisberg Riesling,'84.AVV
Regular Price: $6.00 $57.60/case
discount Cabernet Franc,'77.V.Ronchi
Regular Price: $5.79 $55.56/case
Regular Price: $8.75 $82.80/case
discount Chateau La Cardonne.'82
Regular Price: $9.00 $86.40/case
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