August 1987 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 188 Rejected: 145 Approved: 43 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS August 1987
I have kept my eye on Joe Heitz's Pinot Noir for several years now. It has been a consistent quality and style. The right slot never came along to feature it.. For a California Pinot Noir in the middle price range, it is a remarkable wine which I correlate with some of the generic wines from the Cote de Beaune re¬gion of Burgundy, France. The only missing element is that "French cel¬lar" characteristic that shows up in so many French wines... a sort of natural mustiness, which we can well do without! The acidity, the body, and the flavor of this wine rings a bell in my wine-memory data bank!
I bring you a wine from a highly respected member of the California winemaker fraternity. You will like his seal on the Pinot Noir grape.
The white wine this month is a classical Mosel, in the general sense of the region. It has all the attributes the textbooks write about the Riesl-ing grape as it is grown in this fa¬mous German wine growing region. Fruity, crisp, light and playful! It is a good thing we had that "Member Inquiry" last month. See page 4 of July '87 newsletter. German wine la¬bels are a little hard to understand. No grumbles please... Try it first!
Pinot Noir,'83. Heitz Cellar pg. 2
Zeltinger Deutchherrenberg,'83.Br.Erbn pg. 3
Member Inquiry 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
PINOT NOIR, 1983, HEITZ WINE CELLARS
Joe Heitz just celebrated the 26th. anniversary of Heitz Wine Cellars.
As a graduate of Davis, a professor at Fresno State in winemaking, a stint at Gallo, another at Beaulieu under the dean of California wine-makers, Andre' Tchelistcheff, he felt he was qualified to do it for him¬self.
Heitz Wine Cellars began in 1961 in a small 20ft. x 50ft. building on Highway 29, just south of St. Helena. Joe and Alice Heitz purchased their present location on Taplin Rd. in 1964. It was an old wine property first developed in the 1880's by An¬ton Rossi.
It wasn't easy... First the bank wouldn't loan him any money be¬cause... "after all, there were 18 wineries in Napa." How would he handle all that competition? (There are over 700 wineries in California today.) So they borrowed $5,000 from friends, who obviously had more foresight than the bank. They planted their first crop. It was lost to a severe frost! They started to won¬der if maybe the bank was right!
Fortunately, they didn't wonder too long. Meticulous winemaking and conservative management craft¬ed their present enviable reputation.
Our selection is not what Joe's fame is all about. Since his first cabernet from the now fabled Martha's Vine¬yard in 1966, he and that grape have been almost synonymous. (We fea-tured a Heitz Fay Vineyard Cabernet
in the Limited series last year.) Most "wine people" never associate Heitz with Pinot Noir. We think they will now!
It is said that the pinot noir grape is difficult to grow and the wine even more difficult to make. However, when it comes together, the results are spectacular.
We were not only amazed at how good this wine is, but at the price as well. It seems, in economic terms, it actually costs more to make pinot noir than cabernet. To find one at this price is rare. How many "great" cabernets have you had for $7.50? Okay, enough of the sales pitch, my prejudice is showing.
The color is a bright, brilliant red. Excellent legs. Classic rose petal, violet-perfumed nose with a hint of truffles, but not musty. Full fruit flavors with hints of blackberries and spice. Clean finish with some tannin. Serve at room temperature. Try with lamb leg seasoned with rosemary and garlic, marinated in red wine overnight and seared on the BBQ.
Cellaring Notes: While drinking well now, it will definitely improve with 2-5 years of age and hold for another five at least.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
#887A Regular Price: $7.50/each
Member Reorder Price: $6.00/each
20.00% disc. $72.00/case
ZELTINGER DEUTCHHERRENBERG, 1983, BERRES ERBEN
Both the wine and the name are a real mouthful! Our import selection qualifies as a "real" find.
Where did I find it? In a ware¬house in Los Angeles! Did not have to go far. Would have been more fun if I had to travel to Urzig, on the Mosel, to find it. That is where the Peter Nicolay firm is headquartered. They are a distinguished source for German wines. In addition to their own estates, they purchase and mar¬ket wine from other estates. The Berres Erben label is part of the Nic¬olay collection of wines.
Peter Nicolay was a "famous" inn-keeper of the 19th Century who lived from 1820 to 1896. It was ac¬tually his wife who was the wine connoisseur and was well-known for her wine cellar as well as her beauty. Nicolay's niece and only heiress, Margarethe, married Carl Berres, a vineyard owner, and carried on her aunts interest in wines.
Our selection comes from the Deutchherrenberg vineyard, located near the Middle Mosel town of Zeltingen. Most better German wines are named after the town and the vineyard. Zeltingen is around the bend from Urzig, on the Mosel. It has vineyards on both sides of the river. Not far from Bernkastel, the Deutchherrenberg vineyards boast of being part of the elite of the Mosel.
As for the grape, the Riesling is the elite grape of Germany. It has the
inherent ability to giving wines of crisp fruity acidity, capable of very long ageing potential in the quality versions, and particularly in the dessert wine versions. Our wine is a Kabinett grade, the driest of the Qualitatswein mit Pradikat quality level. (see pg. 4 of July Newsletter.) The Kabinett designation comes from the old custom of calling the best wines from a particular vineyard worthy of being placed in a locked cabinet. The tradition was written into German law, and now means that the grapes must attain a certain natural sugar level to carry that designation.
This wine is a classic Mosel Kabinett riesling. The pale straw color gives way to a slightly deeper hue in the center of the glass. The nose is flowery and spicy (the Germans term it "racey") The taste has delicate nuances of peaches, green apples and pears. The long, crisp finish is a statement to the excellent 1983 vintage. Serve chilled with Chinese chicken salad and sesame dressing, or serve alone as an afternoon aperitif wine. I like to munch with my wine, so cream cheese canapes would be just fine.
Cellaring Notes: With the tremendous, crisp finish, this wine should continue to complex for three to five years.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
#887B Regular Price: $7.50/each
Member Reorder Price: $5.90/each
21.33% disc $70.80/case
"Paul, I have been trying some of the Gold Medal wines my local wine shop has been featuring. I am impressed with some, but disappointed with a larger number. Should they not all be good? What has been your experience?" J.Y. San Diego
Yes, they should all be good... but... there are some circumstances to consider.
Let me lay some groundwork first.
Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are awarded at wine competitions throughout the world.
Who conducts these competitions? Wine societies; trade expositions; National, State, and County Fairs; famous restaurants; pub¬lications; special interest groups; fund rais-ing charities; etc.
How do they get the wine? Usually these entities announce the competition and send out notices to the wineries and the trade. An entry fee is usually charged. In these cases, participation is naturally voluntary, and many wineries choose not to enter for one reason or another. I have even heard the reason "we are above it all!" Some organi¬zations that conduct certain competitions will purchase some wines off the store shelf and force-enter them, for complete¬ness sake or other! Special wine interest groups will collate groups of wines and judge them for personal interest reasons.
Who are the judges? In the large formal events, a variety of wine oriented people from the trade, the industry, academia, and lay wine enthusiasts are selected, split into groups of 3 or 4, and assigned a category of wines in the competition. In the smaller events, judging can be by the attendees of a particular informal tasting.
How are the wines categorized? From a very broad level of all of the same color, or variety, or type, to a very detailed break¬down of individual types and varieties, which can then be broken down to narrow price ranges. Other categories often consid-ered are also: quantity of wine produced, sweetness level of the wine determined by sugar %, region of origin of grapes, age of wine, etc.
How do they judge them? Quite univer¬sally, they are done blind, by brownbag-
ging the bottles. Some fastidious organizers will even transfer to new or different bottles to avoid possible identification of the spe¬cific wine from its bottle. A numerical sys¬tem is usually used... there exist: 5, 10, 20, and 100 point total scores, and maybe oth¬ers, with some judges becoming picky enough to use 1/4 and 1/2 fractions! All these numerical systems relate to the three organoleptic attributes of wine: Appear¬ance, smell, and taste.
Are the results consistent? No...
(sometimes they are...) It is not really fair to say that!... Depends on the event, and the judges, and the particular condition of the wine, and many other factors. A really super wine will shine through, most all of the time. Many wines that are only fair will score erratically and garner positions that are not duplicable. The company they keep each time is critical, and the whole thing is so subjective... you see!
Are the wines available? Yes, usually. The process sometimes ends up as a mar¬keting tool. (A hint... the State and larger-County Fairs in California who hold wine judgings, feature tasting bars for the competition winners, and sometimes even the entry wines. For a nominal charge they will pour 1 oz or so, from a wine list. A very good way to do some interesting judging of your own. Call the Fair in your area to see if they do this. Be sure and ask in what kind of a container they serve the wine. If it is a plastic cup, (sacrilegious!) take along a correct wine glass! Some sell souvenir wine glasses and a booklet of the results.)
My answer... Yes... I find many that I do not like, and sometimes wonder whether the judges had had too much wine! ( I am sure an occasional member has thought that about me too!...) Medal winners have mer¬it. It is a partial weeding out process. You must give your own medals!... As I have always said... "It is what you like that counts". Do not allow "the high priests have proclaimed it" syndrome to enter your wine life.
(Excuse me, I have to go and put on my Bacchanal vestments to attend the next tast¬ing!) P.K.
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.
Aug.1983 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'80.Topolos R.R.Nice complexity, can use /hold.
W. Ch. des Tourtes,'79.Cts de Blaye. Fading fast. Use up. .
Aug.1984 R. Malbec,'79.Bdgs Santa Ana.Could be at its peak.Use and/or keep to test.
W. Sauvignon Blanc,'82 Whitehall Lane. Has peaked further. Use. .
Aug.1985 R. Cabemet Sauvignon,'81.Durney.Lots of time yet. Keep
W. Muller Thurgau,'83.Hammel.Still rather good. Use. .
Aug.1986 R. Beaujolais-Villages,'85.Claudius Rocher.Quite fresh. Use.
W. Chardonnay,'84.HMR. Complexity has started. Keep or use. .
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
She was a bit of a tomboy with her dark hair, cut short in a dutch-boy bob, and with a smile and gaze that was bewitching. Slen¬der as a young girl, she is now a grand-mother, beautiful, and still slender and be-witching.
This is my cousin, Melina. We grew up living next door to each other. Her father was my father's brother, and her mother was my mother's sister. Super glue could not have bonded the families any closer.
Mother and aunt threw great parties. Tables were laden with stuffed grape leaves, homemade baklava (the dough too!), open-faced meat pies (like a pizza), shish-kebabs, flaky pastry and more.
Being the eldest, I was required to pitch in and help prepare the good stuff. But not my cousin... she always managed to get lost or have something better to do. Our interests were very different, yet our love could not be disputed. In maturity, I loved to cook; she would rather play a winning hand of bridge. She is a tournament bridge player; I hardly know a spade from a heart.
Through all this, her style of entertaining remains simple, hospitable but hearty. She is always looking for a quick dish that is tasty, yet easy to make and serve. Anything over two steps is considered "too much work".
Consequently, when I need to look for a great dish that takes a minimum of effort, I call Melina. This is her version of a tasty, quick dish that she made one day and brought to her beach house in Malibu. We all agreed it was perfect for serving friends during the busy summer months.
BEEF FIESTA CASSEROLE
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (35 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (4 oz) drained chopped green chilies
1 can (15 1/4 or 16 oz) kidney beans,
drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 (8 oz) pkg elbow macaroni, cooked and
2 cups (about 8 oz) shredded Monterey
2 jalapeno peppers. sliced and seeded, for
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 3-quart casserole. In large skillet cook ground beef over medium-high heat until browned. Drain off fat. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chilies, beans, salt, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer 10 minutes. Pour into prepared casserole. Add macaroni; stir to mix. Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with jalapenos. Cover and bake 30 min¬utes. Uncover and continue baking 10 minutes. Makes 16 to 20 servings.
If your casserole is deep, it will take long¬er to cook. This can be made ahead and freezes well. Thaw before baking.
Great with garlic bread, tossed salad and a fruit tart. The Montepulciano wine from last month is great with it.
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
887A Pinot Noir,'83.Heitz Wine Cllrs.
Reg. Price $7.50 20.0% disc. $72.00/case
887B Zeltinger Deutchrnbrg,'83.Brs.Erb.
Reg. Price $7.50 21.3% disc. $70.80/case
787A Chardonnay,'85.Covey Run Vntnrs
Reg. Price $9.49 20.0%disc. $91.20/case
787B Montepulciano d'Abruzzo,'85.BrCn.
Reg. Price $6.50 20.0%disc. $62.40/case
687A Gamay Beaujolais,'86.Fetzer
Reg. Price $5.39 25.8%disc. $48.00/case
Reg. Price $9.39 25.5%disc. $84.00/case
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