May 1987 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 325 Rejected: 257 Approved: 68 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS MAY 1987
It is a rare instance, when one has the opportunity to taste 13 different vintages of a specific wine. I was particularly anxious to attend the trade tasting that featured these older wines, because the prices seemed sensible, and I was reassured that enough wine existed in case one of the older ones struck my fancy. On November 18, 1986, I tasted the 1958, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, and the 1982 versions of our red im¬port wine this month. My favorite was the 1969. I am very pleased to bring you this example of a classic mature Chianti Classico Riserva. It is not often that I can find aged wine to feature as a club selection at an ac¬ceptable price.
The white this month had to be
searched for from among California wines at the low end of the price spectrum. It is a real challenge to do this. I love coming up with a value, that surprises even those in the trade. The white this month is obviously a table wine, but not a "jug". See page 2 for more about the difference.
Sonoma Vintage White,'85.Gysr.Pk pg. 2
Chianti Classico Riscrva,'69.Fossi pg. 3
A winery in Vermont? pg. 4
Tasting Notes & Cellar Notes pg. 5
Adventures in Eating pg. 6
Wine & Gift order forms pg. 7&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) 534-1980
SONOMA VINTAGE WHITE , 1985. GEYSER PEAK.
There is redeeming value in table wines, at times... and only in certain ones. This California white is one of them. To enable me to feature the glorious mature Chianti Classico Ri¬serva described on the opposite page, my search for a California white led me to the "table" category of wines.
Now I did not say "jug". They are different. My definition of jug is the regular or oversize bottles with screw caps, which generally contain pasteurized wine. (Some of those are ok too! they just have that antiseptic texture to them!)
California table wines (with cork finished bottles), are usually blended wines from wineries that choose to have a low end wine in their price list, for exactly that purpose... "to keep on the table" for anybody that drops in (where you do not want to crack that special bottle) or for eve¬ryday consumption with regular meals!
This Geyser Peak Sonoma Vintage White stood head and shoulders above the crowd. It is a blend of Sau¬vignon Blanc, Semillon, Johannis¬berg Riesling and Chenin Blanc.
New ownership at Geyser Peak created a forward posture for this winery. (The previous owners of the winery, the Schlitz Brewing Co. had concentrated on jug wine pro¬duction). When the Trione family purchased the winery in 1982, they set out to establish it as a premium winery specializing in wines from
Sonoma.. Even their table wine has a Sonoma appellation... and vintage dated at that! (not common with table wines). They also have an im¬pressive line of varietals and some new trademarked wines that are making a mark in the wine world
The winery was originally started in 1880 by Augustus Quitzow of Germany who was lured by the gey¬sers and mineral springs in the area. Several owners since, each adding something to improve the winery and vineyards, have brought it forth to where it is today. He would be proud to see what happened to his creation. (despite the fact that the mad rush in the 70's by distillers, brewers, and soft drink giants to get into the premium wine act, had its toll on making Geyser Peak a jug house! This trend has reversed itself and most have backed off.) Here is a result of the rejuvenation.
The wine is lemon yellow in color. It has a fruity, fragrant aroma that is very clean and lasting. It has a medi¬um body, full of flavor, with lots of fruit. The finish is long, with depth. No specific varietal character comes through, but the blend is very pleas¬ing. Serve well chilled as an aperitif wine. Would be great with chicken or turkey sandwiches.
Cellaring Notes: For current con¬sumption. Use in 1987.
#587A Regular Price: $3.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $2.40/each
22.00% disc. $28.80/case
CHIANTI CLASSICO, RISERVA, 1969. FOSSI.
Kee-ant-ee Class-ee-ko Ree-zer-vah
Andrea Fossi was in town late last November. He went far in reviving the reputation of Italian wines in California. (As wine merchants, we were all recovering from the ban most of us placed on Italian wines. The scandal in early 1986 had taken its toll. None of the bad wine came to our shores, but one cannot ignore public opinion after the press it re¬ceived!) The 13 vintages of his Chi-anti Classico Riserva which he pre¬sented dazzled the trade tasting. One was better than the other.
Grandson of the founder, Andrea, continues the tradition of his family in this small but prestigious winery in Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy. In its 62 years, the Fossi firm has built a re¬putation on Chianti. He grows none of his grapes. He buys grapes from reputable growers, blends the wines, ages, bottles, and ships. He has real¬ly become a specialist in "mature" Chianti.
Native opinion regards Chianti as a nice, fresh wine to drink after two years. Better Chiantis however, can with age, be full of delicate flavors, hints of earthiness, and spice. They can be immensely fragrant. These better ones must overcome the straw covered "fiasco" bottle reputation. (Nothing wrong with the "straw-covered-bottle" version; they are just fine for that casual glass of wine with pasta!)
Classico indicates that the grapes are grown and the wine is made in a
very specific region of Tuscany de¬lineated as the Chianti Classico dis¬trict. The Riserva designation says that that the wine has been aged in casks for at least 3 years.
Chianti is a blend. Mostly red grapes - Sangiovese, Canaiola, Col¬orino , and some white grapes - Trebbiano, Malvasia. Based on what the goals of the winemaker are, he will manipulate his style to produce the young, fresh, fruity fiasco wines, or the more sophisticated wines with ageing potential.
This aged Chianti Classico Riserva of 18 years, is brick red in color, with a hint of amber. It has a com¬plex, somewhat fruity bouquet, with the distinct Chianti character of the Sangiovese grape. It has a sweetish depth to the bouquet as you inhale deep! The taste is intense, with depth to the flavor. It has a medium to full body, with a glycerinny oiliness. It has developed some subtle complex¬ities. Tannin is apparent, but mini¬mal. The acid balance is perfect. A classic aged Chianti Riserva. Serve with marinara sauced Italian dishes, veal parmigiana, or aged Fontina cheese (not the Swedish variety).
Cellaring Notes: Will complex further for 5 years or more.
#587B Regular Price: $13.25/each
Special Member Regular Price: $12.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $9.00/each
32.08% disc. $108.00/case
A WINERY IN VERMONT?.... YOU'RE KIDDING ME!
No I am not.... I saw it with my own eyes.... and tasted the wine!
It really should not be that strange. New York State is just over the border from Ver¬mont, and they make wine in New York! But it was sort of odd though; the national listing of wineries showed no wineries in Vermont, and the fellow in the seat next to me on the plane insisted that there was one, 15 miles from his home in Springfield. I was returning from the Food and Wine show in San Francisco and he was on his way to visit a relative in San Diego.
He said that it was a new structure, on highway 131, near Cavendish, between Ludlow and Downers. He said the winery had an Italian name.
Rosemarie and I were headed for Vermont in April to see the maple sap flow and wit¬ness the sugaring. It was something we had read about, and wanted to know more about. A marvelous product of nature. We now had a quest for a winery too! (Throw in another objective for the trip... to visit the factory of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Have you had any? Time magazine rated it the best in America!)
Well... here we were in Vermont for sev¬eral days now, and no restaurant or inn knew of a Vermont winery. When I told them what I did, and where I was from, they sort of looked funny at me, like I should know better. The map showed that Cavendish was not very far. To avoid any more quizzical looks, we decided to search for it ourselves. The drive through the vil¬lage was non productive. The little service store, however, told us that in fact, there was a winery in Cavendish, and that we could not miss it, it was on the left, down the road ahead.
By George... there it was, all of a sud-den... A big sign, and beautiful new build¬ing, with a big wood paneled door. The sign said Joseph Cerniglia Winery, and the building looked like it could be a transplant from Napa. We had to go over a bridge to get to it, and their road was washed out from the rain and flooding the night before. A man came out the door, with a case over his shoulder, and walked to his car with it. A familiar sight that confirmed the find!
We went in, and immediately confirmed the fact. The aroma was somewhat familiar. The showroom was beautiful. Just like the touristy Napa showrooms. We punched the bell on the counter. Out came a robust win¬ery type, who introduced himself a Joe Cerniglia.
Well... with the owner greeting you per¬sonally, I thought I better start with a posi-tive note! "You have a beautiful showroom here" I said. "Thankyou," he said, "John Parducci was here recently and gave us some good ideas." No wonder it had a Cal¬ifornia wine country feeling! One of our monarchs had been by to check him out!
When I told Joe what I did, and why I was there, he led us to his tasting room. While we were walking over, he told me he was the only winery in the United States, and maybe the world, that made varietal wine!
My mind had to stop a second and rescan that statement. I had to be polite, but I was not going to let that pronouncement go un¬contested for very long. I thought I better wait a minute and see what he had...
Well... Joe reached under the counter and started lining up his bottles. Seven in all. "These are the varietals I produce" he said.
I reached for the first bottle... Red Deli¬cious Semi Dry, it read! The others were-Golden Delicious Limited Reserve, Gran¬ny Smith Limited Reserve, Northern Spy, Empire, Perry, and McIntosh Dry.
After the re-orientation, and shedding of the mental blocks that had fuzzed up my thinking machine, I settled down to at-tempting a serious tasting session. Preju¬dice aside, the first four from the seven in the list above were rather interesting. The residual sugar ranged from 1/2% to 4%. Alcohol was 11%. My favorite was Granny Smith (1/2% sugar). If any apple wine ap¬proaches a grape wine, this one did. It had overtones of a Vouvray (a Chenin Blanc from France).
"Tell you what, Paul..." said Joe. "If you will feature one of my wines, I will drive out the truckload myself."
Do I dare?
It was lots of fun anyway! P.K.
< b>WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB CELLAR NOTES….
A report on how previous Wine of the Month Club Selections are faring with age.
Obtained from actual tastings of wines under cellar conditions and/or vintner, importer or wholesaler surveys.
May 1983. R. Shiraz '79.Taltarni. Developing nicely.Some tannin.Keep
W. Pinot Noir Blanc '82.HMR. Most of fruit gone.Do not keep
May 1984. R. Petite Sirah '80.Guenoc.Big as ever, still needs time. Keep
W. Cabernet d'Anjou '78.Chat.Chmn. Interesting complexity.Should use
May 1985. R. Ch. La Cordonne '82. Lots of fruit and tannin. Needs time.Keep
W. Joh. Riesling '84.Alex. Vlly Vin.Distinct riesling age bouquet. Use.
May 1986. R. Pinot Noir '81.Chat.Chev.Hardly changed.Big, bold, tannic. Keep
W. Marques de Alella. '83.Alta Alella. Still fresh. Should use up.
REMINDER If you have changed your address or your credit card #.… please let us know. It is hard to track the changes after the fact. Please write or call anytime.
Adventures in Eating
There is a distinct advantage in creating a "serialized" food column. Thinking of what to present the next month, is eliminated. Writing it, though, is another matter. A writer was asked if he liked to write, it is said he answered, "Yes, except for the paperwork!"
This month, the saga of the bridal luncheon and the menu with Eggs Motul with Yucatan Sauce and Black Bean Puree continues. Don't forget both sauces can be frozen (2-3 weeks). Once your 2 sauces are made, you can relax. Here is the sec¬ond sauce. (makes 3 cups).
BLACK BEAN PUREE
(frijoles negros pure)
1/2 lb. black beans
1 dried ancho chili pepper
1/4 cup boiling water
1 small onion, minced
1 hot green chili pepper, halved,
seeds and stem removed
1 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup lard
Rinse beans in cold water. Cover beans with water in 2 qt. saucepan and heat, covered, over medium heat to boiling. Remove from heat. Let stand overnight.
Heat beans to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer covered until beans are soft, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occa¬sionally. (add water to pan if beans
become dry). Cool. Pour beans into blender/food processor container; puree until smooth. Return puree, beans to saucepan. This should not be too thick.
Meanwhile, under cold water, re¬move seeds, stems and veins of dried chili. Cut chili into 1 inch pieces; place in 1 /4 cup boiling water. Let stand 45 minutes. (Do not touch eyes) Place ancho chili and water in blender container; cover. Puree un¬til smooth.
In a skillet, saute pureed chili mixture, onion, green chili pepper, garlic, salt and cumin in lard over medium head until golden (3-5 min.). Stir into bean mixture and heat, stirring constantly. Add water if needed, to make pureed beans of sauce consistency. Remove green chili halves before serving.
Next Month.... How to assemble Eggs Motul.
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) 534-1980
587A Sonoma Vintage White,'85.Gsr.Pk.
Reg. Price $3.00 22.00%disc $ 28.80/case
587B Chianti Classico Riserva,'69.Fossi
Reg. Price $13.25 32.05%disc $108.00/case
487A Cabernet Sauvignon,1982.Boeger
Reg. Price $9.00 22.22%disc. $ 84.00/case
487B Vouvray, 1985. Dom. des Girard.
Reg. Price $7.75 22.58%disc. $ 78.00/case
387A Sauvignon Blanc,1985. Sam J.Sebst.
Reg. Price $10.50 21.43%disc. $ 99.00/case
387B Cabernet Sauvignon,Lontue,'83.
Reg. Price $4.35 25.3% disc. $ 39.00/case
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