September 1987 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 146 Rejected: 121 Approved: 25 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS September 1987
The time has come to show you an-other dessert wine! It has been 19 months since I featured the last one. (March '86, Ockenheimer St. Ja¬kobsberg, Auslese). My calendar says I should show one a year. Here is the one for 1987. Had a little trou¬ble finding a superb one. For the first time in the 15 year history of the club, I selected a 1/2 size bottle (375m1.) to allow the budget to come together. The 750 ml size of this wine is $20 each. Considering that one does not serve the same size portions of the dessert wines as the dry wines, I felt you would not mind. My selection is a California answer to the famous French Sau¬ternes.
For the import this month, I chose to show you a French Vin de Table that impressed me. I have tasted a
myriad of terrible ones in this class. In fact the last time I was in France, I took 3 California red table wines, and with an informal panel, matched 12 French red table wines I pur-chased at random in grocery stores. The California jugs ranked 1,2,3, and head and shoulders above the French Vin de Table. Our selection is quite remarkable for the price. See pg. 3 for a reason why... maybe! Only conjecture!
Chevrignon d'Or,'85.Hidden Cellars pg. 2
Moreau Rouge, n.v..J.Moreauet Fils pg. 3
This Matter of Vintage Charts 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
CHEVRIGNON D'OR, 1985, HIDDEN CELLARS
Dennis Patton of Hidden Cellars didn't start out with a ton of money. He did the right things at the right time, and was at the right places.
He came up with the name under emergency conditions. While sign¬ing up for an enology class at Davis, he learned that one of the pre¬requisites was to be working for a bonded winery. When asked, he just blurted out "Hidden Cellars." Soon afterward he and a friend insulated a building and started this "made-up" winery.
Dennis next went to the BATF to ask what would happen if he made wine without a permit. "They told me that if we got caught, our lives would stop." So... he got a bonded!
Their first crush in 1981 was an¬other event. While planning on crushing only 800 gallons, they were besieged by growers to buy their grapes. Wanting to be helpful, they kept saying yes until they were up to 4200 gallons and "really in the wine business." Today Hidden Cellars crushes almost 25,000 gallons or 10,000 cases.
Chevrignon D'Or is French for Gold Semillon. The wine is 65% Semilion, 35% Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is fashioned after the great Sauternes of France which are among the classic dessert wines of the world.
As in Sauternes, the grapes ma¬ture beyond what would make a dry table wine. This is necessary for
making dessert wines except for one thing. As the sugar goes up in the grape, the acid goes down; thus making the resultant wine dull.
Mother Nature to the rescue... Under the right weather conditions, a wonderful mold called Botrytis can attack the grape. It improves the grapes by concentrating the sugar and, more importantly, keeping the acid level. So, you get all that glori¬ous peachy, apricoty components with the acid to finish it off.
Our selection is a rare California dessert wine. At first glance you know you have something special here. The deep golden, almost am¬ber color, is not oxidation, but botrytis. The intense apricot, honeyed nose followed by like flavors are classic giveaways to the style of wine. Late harvest and botrycized. You detect the botrytis by its nutty, truffly influence on the taste. Our wine also shows a hint of coconuts... if you will.
It may only be a half bottle, but it's twice the wine of any other. Serve after dessert, all by itself.
Cellaring Notes: The beauty of these wines is that they age nearly into infinity, developing into differ¬ent peak levels. Enjoy, now, tomor¬row, the next day. . . and into the next century.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
#987A Regular Price: $10.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $7.89/each
21.10% disc. $94.68/case of 12
prices are for the 375ml size bottle
MOREAU ROUGE, n.v., J. MOREAU ET FILS
J. Moreau et Fils has been one of the premium white wine produc¬ers in France since 1814. In fact, the Moreau family owns the larger share of vineyards in the world famous area of Chablis. Jean Jacques Mo¬reau, the present winemaker and president of the firm is a noted au¬thority on Chablis wines. (not to be mistaken with any other chablis in the world, where the term is used generically. Authentic Chablis only comes from the small village of Cha¬blis in Burgundy).
To round off the line of wines they market, Moreau has two table wines: Moreau Blanc and Moreau Rouge. The latter attracted my attention. The classification is simply "French Table Wine" which means it comes from anywhere in France. Usually, such a designation can imply aver¬age wine. Wait till you taste this one!
The importer was very non¬committal about it except to say that it is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Sounded like a Chateau¬neuf du Pape to us with some Pinot Noir thrown in instead of Cinsault. We persisted.
We asked if this could be one of those wines that was an overproduc¬tion of a classified area. And, maybe a very similar wine was out on the market at a much higher price. The importer said it sounded possible. But, he was not sure!
You see, the French have these rather odd ways of controlling quail-
ty. One of the ways is the restriction of the amount of wine you can label as from that source (per acre of land you own). For instance, if you're a producer in a well known region; in order to call your wine by that ap-pellation you cannot label more than say 600 gallons of wine per acre. This does not control the amount of grapes, just the amount of wine! So, you could grow a lot more grapes, to make, say... 1000 gallons of wine. Label 600 gallons by the appellation, and the rest "French Table Wine." The two are only separated by price.
This is only conjecture on our part... We think this is probably what happened with this wine. It is too good to be "just" a table wine. Maybe not? Next time I see Jean Jacques, I will ask him!
Here are the tasting notes on this blended wine. The deep, ruby color signaled something was up. The aro¬ma is wonderfully fruited, sporting a spicy, almost cinnamon compo¬nent. The taste is richly fruited with similar spicy, cinnamon and raspber¬ry flavors. It finishes clean with a hint of those same flavors. This is one of the most amazing values we've encountered in years. Serve at cellar temperature with roast pork or stuffed goose.
Cellaring Notes: Tastes great now. Will hold for 2-3 more years.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
#987B Regular Price: $4.39/each
Member Reorder Price: $3.35/each
23.69% disc $40.20/case
THIS MATTER OF VINTAGE CHARTS
Enclosed with your newsletter this month is a vintage chart that I have found to be one of the most versatile and useful. I chose to send one to every member. It is punched for inclusion in you newsletter binder. If you wish an extra copy for fram¬ing and hanging in your cellar, let me know, I have some that have not been punched, and will be pleased to send you as many as you wish. I am also enclosing a wallet size version of the chart. It is on the back of the business card.
A little about vintage charts...
They are generally published by wine trade associations, public relation depart¬ments of wine growing regions, wine im¬porters or wholesalers, and wine writers who feel they have covered the entire field well enough every year to venture such a general opinion. Our chart is prepared by Don Schliff, president of a large California wine wholesaler. He has a cutting edge pa¬late, and a world view of the wine trade. I appreciate Wine Warehouse allowing us to use their chart.
Vintage charts are universally numerical, with a top figure of usually 20 for the best score. I have seen some on a scale of 7, or a scale of 10. Just an option the author takes to show his scoring method. Our chart uses a scale of 20.
They are universally in tabular form, with one axis for the region being classified and the other axis for the calendar year of the vintage. I specially like our chart because it shows several wine regions of France, Ita¬ly, Germany, Portugal, and California. The latter does not appear on too many charts.
What do they say?...
Basically a vintage chart scores the suc¬cess of the vintage, as far as the quality of the wine goes. The score for the most re¬cent vintage or two is really an indication of the success of the harvest, for that year. The wine just made from that harvest is evaluated for its potential development as it matures by ageing. An educated guess, by wine makers who know the life cycle and idiosyncrasies of wine. Important to re¬member that you cannot make good wine from lousy grapes that did not grow well on the vine because of weather, etc. Some
skilled winemakers can, at times, make very acceptable wine from such grapes. Also remember that you can make lousy wine from good grapes, if you do not know what you are doing, or are not pay¬ing attention that day!... Given good wine making... the numbers really indicate the success of the harvest as far as the quality of the grapes. For the earlier years on a chart, they can reflect the original premise plus how the wine is developing in its mat¬uration process of ageing. It is possible that scores are altered by the authors as the wines for that year show a different posture as they age.
Now the key to using a vintage chart is to remember that it is a generalization. I like to recommend its use for avoiding the poor years, rather than for selecting a wine be¬cause the chart says it is a good year. You still have to know the individual wine and winemaker to ensure success of buying a good bottle. To say it another way: you have no assurance that the particular wine you are selecting is a good bottle of wine because it is from a highly rated year. Many factors like the specific wine, winery, mood of the winemaker when the wine was made, the ageing conditions that the wine was exposed to, the original potential of that specific wine etc., all enter into the picture. But... with a low rated year, you can pretty well bet the wine is mediocre.
You want to be particularly wary of these off years in a restaurant where the owner is not a wine enthusiast. His wine list is often steered by salesmen who take advantage of his lack of interest and load him up with wines they have a hard time selling else¬where. Be specially alert to wine lists that do not show the vintages of the wines on the list. The wallet version of the vintage chart serves as a handy tool to sneak into the pages of the wine list and look very in¬telligent in ones perusal through the wines.
And then... there is your personal opinion that matters the most. You might not agree with the authorities!... Do not be afraid.
Wine is made for enjoying... for consum¬ing with food to enhance it.
Enjoy... Heck with the charts!
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.
Sep.1983 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'78.Casa Rojas.Some oxidation detected. Finish.
W. Gewurztraminer,L.H.'81. Nice honey character developing, can keep.
Sep.1984 R. Cabernet Sauvignon.'79.Jekel. Plenty of time.Keep.
W. Cumbrero,'82.Monticello. Fading fruit.Use
Sep.1985 R. Carrascal,'77. Quite mellow, can start using.
W. Gewurztraminer,'84.Gndl.Bnd.Still plenty of fruit and depth.Use.
Sep.1986 R. Merlot,'81.Jaeger. Hardly changed. Keep and treasure!
W. Mainzer Domherr,'85.Baum.Remarkably fresh. At its best.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
It all began in 1919, when a hollow named Daisy Dell was purchased for religious plays. The owners lost faith and Daisy Dell was deeded to Los Angeles in 1924. Daisy Dell was revamped, given a thorough face lift, and a seating capacity of 17,619 people. Starlit concerts were started, and the Holly¬wood Bowl emerged.
Lloyd Wright designed the best sounding cell, a Mayan pyramid, in 1924; but it was thought ugly. In 1929 Allied Architects de¬signed the present building. Numerous modifications for better sound followed.
Under the guidance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the now popular "picnic" dinners, the Bowl is thriving. Honestly... to purchase a box today, means a 5-10 year wait. Our friends, Jim and Joan Cox, are one of the fortunate ones, as they have had a box for many years. Each sum¬mer, they share their good fortune with us, plus we get to enjoy one of Joan's creative and tasty "picnic" dinners.
JOAN'S 1987 BOWL DINNER
Starter: Cheese Mousse
2 Tbl. gelatin,
1 1/2 cup diluted beef broth (canned ok)
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 tsp. curry powder
12 oz cream cheese(room temp).
Sprinkle gelatin on broth in a pot and let stand a few minutes to soften. Bring almost to a boil, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Cool. Put broth, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper in blender. Blend 1/2 min. add cream cheese 1/3 at a time. Pour into 8 ramekins or 3 cup loaf pan. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Unmold garnish with lettuce and olives. Serve with crackers.
Steeped chicken: (Chinese method of cook¬ing in hot water without direct heat.)
4 half chicken breasts (approx. 2 lbs.)
2 thin slices onion
2 thin slices lemon
1 thin slice, quarter size, fresh ginger.
Wash and pat dry chicken parts. Place in large 4-6 qt. pan. Pour in enough water to cover chicken by 1 1/2 - 2 inches. Remove chicken. Add lemon, onion, and ginger. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, immerse chicken in water. Cov¬er tightly and let stand approx. 20 min. Re¬move lid and check for doneness by cutting to center in thickest part. Meat should not be pink. If meat is not done, return to pot for 10 more min. Drain chicken, place in ice cold water to stop cooking. When cool, peel off skin and remove from bone care¬fully, keeping chicken pieces whole.
Make your favorite pasta salad plus the fol¬lowing:
Sliced tomatoes with Basil Dressing.
Also, cherry tomatoes, capers, and hearts of palm with the same dressing.
1 c. lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. olive or salad oil
2 tsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. pepper.
Combine in a blender. Whirl until pureed. Makes 1 cup.
Sit on your patio, turn up the hi-fi, and pretend. If you must, place cardboard box¬es around you and use canvas captain's chairs. Mellow eating!
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
987A Chevrignon D'Or,'85.Hidden Cllrs.
Reg. Price $10.00 21.1% disc. $94.68/case
987B Moreau Rouge,n.v. J. Moreau Fils
Reg. Price $4.39 23.7% disc. $40.20/case
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
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