October 1987 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 221 Rejected: 187 Approved: 34 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS October 1987
For some reason, the Petite Sirah grape has fallen out of the graces of the American wine consumer recent¬ly. This happened with Zinfandel a couple of years ago, but that grape is returning to its popularity. It must be cyclical, and the Petite Syrah will come back too. The fewer examples available of California Petite Syrah were far too inky, tannic, and some with off flavors. Despite the fact that I favor a gutsy Petite Sirah style, I am very receptive to a lighter style that has captured the essence of the grape. The Wente people have done it again in their 1983. A true distil¬late of flavors. I do not often repeat varietals and wineries, but this is an¬other classic, as was their 1976 which was our red wine selection in February, 1979.
For the white wine this month we
go to the island of Sardinia for a tru¬ly local wine. Made for accompany¬ing the seafood of the region, this de¬lightful white wine is a refreshing departure from the standard white varietals we have. It is made from a grape not cultivated on our shores, and offers a new dimension of flavor in the spectrum of lighter white wines. Just imagine a sidewalk eat¬ery on the Italian seacoast, with the Mediterranean breeze in your face.
Petite Sirah,'83.Wente Bros pg. 2
Aragosta,'85.Can.Soc.Rif.Agr.di Alg pg. 3
Annual Membership Survey Results 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
PETITE SIRAH, 1983. WENTE
At the age of 104, Wente Bros. is the oldest, continuously operated family -owned winery in California.
The Wente wine dynasty began in the 1800's when C.H.Wente, the sec¬ond son of a north German farmer, discovered that farms in Germany are traditionally inherited by the first son. With nothing to hold him in Germany, C.H. immigrated to the United States to seek his fortune. He met Barbara Trautwein, also a Ger¬man immigrant from Alsace-Lorraine, and married her. Their wine knowledge was pooled into a new family enterprise. He had worked for Charles Krug in St. Hel¬ena, and she had experience from her family's vineyards and cellars in the old country. Together they bought a small vineyard on Tesla Road in Livermore Valley. The present winery structure rests on the original 50-acre site purchased in 1883.
After 35 successful years, C.H. be¬gan to consider retiring, and remem¬bering the unfair German custom that had befallen him, decided to equally divide his estate between his seven children. As a result, two sons, Ernest and Herman, formed Wente Bros. in 1918.
Today, three descendants of the fourth generation run Wente Bros. Carolyn, Philip, and Eric, manage this 25th largest California winery, under the tutelage of their mother Jean.
Best known for white wines, Wente red wines are only 7 to 10% of their total wine production. From among their red wines, they seem to do the Petite Sirah best. (in my opinion!)
Originating in the Rhone Valley of Southern France, the Petite Sirah grape was first established as a varie¬tal offering in Livermore by one of Wente Bros.' neighbours, the Con-cannon's (with great success). The grape has a long heritage as a variety that thrives in the temperate climate and gravelly soils of Livermore Val¬ley.
Our wine is intense purplish red. It has a distinct fruity aroma, with some pepperiness. A bouquet of some complexity is hidden behind the fruit. The nose is clean, and, shows a substrate of depth and inten¬sity. Raspberries are all over the place! It has a medium body, pleas¬ant deep fruit with an exploding fla¬vor of the variety saying "I am here". Tannic shows up, but is mild and drinkable. Raspberry taste is ap¬parent and closes the taste. Serve at room temperature with London broil, or with aged Dutch Gouda cheese (the authentic stuff from Hol¬land) and fresh crusty baguette French bread.
Cellaring Notes: Will mature and complex for 5 years or more.
#1087A Regular Price: $9.50/each
Member Reorder Price: $7.25/each
23.68% disc. $87.00/case
ARAGOSTA, 1985, Can Soc. Rif. Agrar. Di Alghero
Aragosta means lobster in Sardi¬nia. The label of our import says it very clearly... graphically.
I am very suspect of labels that look like that. I guess it is a marketing technique that might work well in Europe. (I remember as a kid of 10, in Cairo; my Dad used to send me to the local wine shop. His instructions were to have the clerk fill the empty fiasco I carried with wine from the barrel that had the picture of a man with a moustache on it, not the one with the mermaid picture! I can see some kid today being sent to the store to buy a bottle of wine with the lobster on the label!).
Now think about it. It makes some sense. The Mediterranean islands have heavenly seafood. Lobster abounds. The fishing villages all have local seafood restaurants with fresh specialties. The only way to eat when in Malta, Cyprus, Greek isles, Corsica, Sicily, or Sardinia.
Aragosta is from Sardinia. (part of Italy). The village of Alghero in the northwest is known for its light white wines. With seafood being a staple, naturally wines had to be in¬vented... if you to match the seafood. I suspect that is how Ara¬gosta got started. They fiddled with the grape growing and winemaking, till they came up with something that matched the food of the region.
As a side note, I think this conjec¬ture applies to all "wines of the re¬gion". The food for a region is pretty well set by locale, supply, and taste over the years. You cannot change the basic items available, you can only flavor them differently. Most probably the wines followed the food constriction. New grapes were cultivated, others were dropped, to match the wines with the food. As it is always said: "when out in the country, try the wines of the region with the foods of the region".
Back to Aragosta. It is made from the Vermentino grape. I find no record of it in the U.S. It is original¬ly from Spain, and has been domesti¬cated in a couple of other regions of Italy. The Sardinian version even varies from maker to maker, and from district to district. Aragosto is a Vermentino di Alghero vs. Ver-mentino di "somewherelse"! A lead¬ing coop in Alghero is the Cantina Sociale Riforma Agraria di Alghero (sounds very political). Aragosta is their brand. Superb for its type.
Our wine is faintly yellow in col¬or, with a greenish tint. It has a light fruity aroma with slightly spicy overtones. The taste is fruity, with good acid balance. Has some melon attributes. Serve chilled with sea food hors d'oeuvres. (In Sardinia with lobster! I prefer chardonnay with California or Maine lobster.) Charming wine.
Cellaring Notes: Not for ageing.
#1087B Regular Price: $5.49/each
Member Reorder Price: $4.30/each
21.68% disc $51.60/case
OUR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP SURVEY RESULTS
Thank you, one and all, for your prompt replies and very useful interesting com¬ments.
We had an overwhelming % of replies. Many of you asked for the results to be published, so here they are: (I am not a sta-tistician, but I am sure the summaries that follow are statistically valid.)
What motivated you to join?
Learning about wine-70%, Preescreening of wines-65%, Automatic shipment-50%, Newsletter-44%
How many purchased per month for current consumption?
4 bottles-20%, 2 bottles-17%, 6 bottles-11%, 5 bottles-9%, 3 bottles-8%, 12 bottles-6%, 8 bottles-6%.
0 bottles-48%, 2 bottles-20%, 1 bottle-11% 4 bottles-5%, 12 bottles-5%, 3 bottles-4%, 6 bottles-3%, 24 bottles 1.2%.
White-35%, Red-25%, Rose-2%, A mix-38%.
What wines do you currently buy at least 2 times a month?
California-98.5%, French-18.5%, Italian-10%, German-8%, Pacific N.W.-6.5% Chardonnay-62%, Sauvignon Blanc-34%, Joh.Riesling-19%, Chenin Blanc-19%, Gewurztram.-17%, White Zinfandel-9.5% Cabernet Sauv.-59%, Zinfandel-33%, Merlot-26%, Gamay Beauj.-15%, Burgundy-13%, Petite Sirah-12%, Chianti-8%. Pinot Noir-4% (not valid #)
Do you read the newsletter?
Always-84%, Sometimes-15%, Never-1%
Info. on selected wines-84%
WOMC Cellar Notes-56%
Adventures in Eating-49%
Do you save the newsletter?
Yes 95%, No-5%
In the binder we provide?
Do you belong to the limited series?
Do you have a wine rack or cellar?
If Yes approx. how many bottles?
1 - 12 bottles - 18%
13 - 24 bottles - 22%
25 - 36 bottles - 13%
37 - 48 bottles - 7%
49 - 100 bottles - 23%
101 - 300 bottles - 10%
301 - 1000 bottles - 5.56%
1001 to 10,000 bottles - 1.45%
Do you store wine for ageing?
Do you read wine column regularly?
Do you buy or subscribe to a wine magazine?
Do you subscribe to a wine news-letter?
Do you buy or subscribe to a food magazine?
Have you taken a wine class?
Do you belong to other wine socie¬ties or groups?
Do you go to wine tastings?
Here are a few of the comments:
"WOMC is great - you've exposed me to many new wines and I've bought several I never would have otherwise considered.
My friends are always impressed when I pull out one of your selections"
"Increase your Limited Series from quarter¬ly to monthly"
"Newsletter binder seems formatted back¬wards for binding newsletters in chrono-logical order"- Yes, intentional... see in¬struction sheet that came with binder!
"...These represent good value for our
"Keep up the good work" etc. etc. etc
Several of you asked me questions on the, survey. I am unable to respond because I do not know who to write to!!... the sur¬vey was anonymous. Please drop me a note with your question again... I will reply.
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.
Oct.1983 R. Zinfandel.'80.Amdr.D.Bruce. I would consider this ready.Try it.
W. Wormser Lbfrnstft-Krknstk.'81.Langenbach.Lost its chami.Use up.
Oct.1984 R. Beaujolais-Villages,'83. Jaffelin. Not what it was. Finish
W. Gewurztraminer,'82.Austin.On the way down. Use up.
Oct.1985 R. Syrah,'81. McDowell Valley Vineyards. Lots of time. Keep.
W. Brigadier Miranda,'82.Cia.Int.de Vinos.Slipping. Use up.
Oct.1986 R. Gran Coronas,'81.Torres. Hardly changed. Keep.
W. Chenin Blanc(dry),'84.San Juan Creek. Still quite fruity.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
Having been raised in Los Angeles, go¬ing to Pasadena was always a "trip". I nev¬er realized that Pasadena was a part of the San Gabriel Mission in the San Gabriel Valley established by the Spanish priests in 1771. In 1873, the land was purchased by the California Colony of Indiana. This or-ganization was headed by a man named Thomas Elliott. The Hoosiers really got around. Its original name, "Indiana Colo¬ny" was changed to Pasadena in 1875. It is an Indian word meaning "valley between the hills". It became a city in 1886 and is best known today for its New Year's Day Rose Parade. From moccasins, to keds, and now to Nike and Reeboks, who knows where and when it all started about the "lady in tennis shoes".
Our friends, Arthur and Judith Reeder live in Pasadena. Their home was built in 1924 and is decorated in English antiques. A charming, shingled house, done in eclectic taste, combining the graciousness of yester¬year with the casual yet practical comforts of today. They just finished a major kitchen remodeling and addition, and invited us for a celebration of the completion.
Large steamed shrimp on a tray, dabbed with 3 different sauces, greeted us, along with a bottle of Pomino, Il Benefizio (limited series), an Italian chardonnay blend. Tarragon aioli, garlic aioli, and a vi¬naigrette were the 3 sauces she used. Along with the shrimp, she served some "twisted" cheese sticks hot out of the oven. She said it was easy, and passed the recipe on to me. Although, I like to feature a squash recipe in October, Judith's cheese sticks won out..
JUDITH'S CHEESE STICKS
All done in a food processor.
1 cup each, all-purpose flour, and very
finely grated Parmesan cheese
7 Tb. sour cream
4 Tb. butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
paprika or hot paprika
Combine flour and cheese in container whirl until well mixed. Add sour cream, then process by turning machine quickly on and off 8 times.
Add butter and whirl until a ball of dough forms against the blade. Whirl again until dough ball forms. Turn mixture out and chill for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/2 inch wide and 5 inches long. Form twists by pinching each strip in alter-nating directions along its length. Give each patterned strip a slight twist before setting on a well-greased baking sheet. Sprinkle twists lightly with paprika and bake for 15 to 20 min. or until nicely browned. Re¬move from sheet with a spatula and cool 2 minutes on an open wire rack. Serve warm. Please use fresh parmsean when making this.
p.s. can't forget the squash. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a Kabocha squash like you would a pumpkin, clean out seeds. Place 1/3 cup Maple syrup, 1 Tb. butter and a dash of nutmeg in the cavity, replace lid, wrap in foil and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until done. Test with fork for doneness. Great with pork , especially ribs.
A Holiday Greeting
Your house to theirs
Give a WINE OF THE
MONTH CLUB gift
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
1087A Petite Sirah,'83.Wente Bros.
Reg. Price $9.50 23.68% disc. $87.00/case
Reg. Price $5.49 21.68% disc. $51.30/case
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
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274
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