November 1987 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 312 Rejected: 256 Approved: 56 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS November 1987
Sitting back and taking inventory of the twelve months since last Thanksgiving, I am ever so thankful to all of you for the opportunity you give me to do my work. I enjoy my wine-tasting work and this writing. I am blessed with a tireless partner and page 6 editor who also is the family cheer leader. As important, my loyal and efficient staff take care of the administrative chores, and preserve my energies for the most important work at hand... finding the superb wines.
A satisfying and flavorful Thanksgiving season to all of you.
For the domestic wine this month... I thought I would like to show you how wonderful a negotiant wine can be. The opinion that these wines are barely second rate is an error. For those of you who are not familiar
with the term, read more on page 2. For the import... I take you to Spain; when on my last trip there, this wine stood out among the Rioja wines I tasted. This vintage recently released here in the U.S. is even bet¬ter that the one I had before. More on page 3.
As this issue goes to press, we are off to France for some serious wine and food tasting. Will report.
Sauvignon Blanc,'86.Vandervoort pg. 2
Marques de Caceras,'83.Un.Viti-Vinicola pg. 3
Wine Terminology I - Descriptives 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
SAUVIGNON BLANC, 1986. VANDERVOORT
Our domestic wine this month is a California "negociant wine". More and more negociant wines are ap¬pearing on the domestic wine scene. The term has French wine trade origins. A wine merchant with a good customer following decides at one point in his career that his palate is pretty good, and that some of the wines coming through, are not that good. ("he" applies to "she" through¬out!) He sets out to create his own thing. He selects his own preferenc¬es, from various growers and pro¬ducers, and has them bottled under his personal brand. Quite often, these wines might be blends of wines from different winemakers, with the final product satisfying his precon-ceived requirements.
What counts here is the palate of the negociant. In contrast, it is the palate of the winemaker, in a con¬ventional winery marketed wine.
The Vandervoort family is now in its 4th generation as wine merchants in the United States. Henry Sr. came to this country from France in 1941, served in armed forces during WW II, and started in the wine business by taking a job with Peter Bercut. His assignment was to find wine to fill 1 million empty bottles Peter had accumulated. He did... and a partnership followed that has grown into a major importing firm.
Back to basics... in this case to Cali-fornia wines... is the new thrust for the Vandervoorts. To add to their
extensive offerings of imports, they have re-entered the California are¬na, offering their palate as the test.
After 100 wines, or so, and several sessions of tastings, the precise feel¬ing they wished to impart to their la¬bel, came along in a two-way blend of Napa valley sauvignon blancs. The sources are secret, the blend %'s are also. That does not mean it will be identical next vintage. Remem¬ber... every year is another year... we all have to put up with that. The numbers and sources might be dif-ferent next year, but they will to keep the taste consistent each year.
Here is their California answer to the white grape of Bordeaux and the Loire valley of France. I was im¬pressed. (for the price... always!)
Straw in color, the wine has a frui¬ty, young, candy aroma, with some classical herbaceous character. The taste has distinct varietal character, some nice acid at start, medium body, with a blend of melon, green apples, and grass! The taste works its way into a soft middle, and then de¬velops into an ever so little sweet¬ness, but closes dry. Now if that is what Peter Vandervoort had in mind, he achieved it! Serve chilled with chicken or turkey dishes. Great with sandwiches of same.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now and through 1989.
#1187A Regular Price: $7.49/each
Member Reorder Price: $5.89/each
21.36% disc. $70.68/case
MARQUES de CACERAS, 1983. Union Viti-Vinicola
Rioja wines and Sherry wines must compete, in the mind of the wine enthusiast around the world, for national representation as the wine of Spain.
When you are at a local bar in Spain, and you ask for a glass of wine; more often than not, you are poured a glass of dry sherry. (plus a tapas morsel on a dish covering your glass, to tease your appetite.) But when you are in a restaurant, the wine list is usually dominated by Ri¬oja wines. So which is the national wine of Spain? Who cares, both have redeeming value! It is said: "Rioja is to Spain as Chianti is to Italy."
The Rioja region in Spain is situat¬ed in the north, on the river Ebro. Their red wines are very much Bor¬deaux oriented. French winemakers migrated to Rioja from Bordeaux when the mid 1800's phylloxera scourge devastated French wine pro¬duction. The use of Bordeaux tech¬niques has been partially responsible for the advance of Rioja in the world of wine. Others say that red Rioja wines have a California Caber¬net stylistic resemblance. Makes sense... the two are related. But... the grape sensations are quite differ¬ent, because the grapes are different. No relationship there... try a caber¬net and see.
Our red Rioja, Marques de Ca¬ceres, is made by a firm that Henry (Enrique) Forner established. He was a native wine merchant who fled
the Spanish political scene, ending up plying his trade in France. He bought two Bordeaux chateaus: La Rose Trintaudon and Camensac.(again, a French connection!) Returning to Spain, he established Union Viti-Vinicola in Cenicero, a township in the Rioja Alta. (the better sub-region of Rioja.)
Rioja wines are made from a blend of grapes. Four red grapes are per¬mitted: Tempranillo, Garnacho, Ma¬zuelo, and Graciano for their red wines; and three white grapes: Viu¬ra, Malvasia, and Garnacho blanco for their white wines. None of these are commonly grown in the U.S.
Our rioja is a blend of 94% Tem-pranillo, 4% Graciano, and 2% Ma¬zuelo.
The wine is purplish red, rather deep in color. It has a spicey bou¬quet, with a back drop of complexity that hints at the maturing process having started. On tasting, the first sensation is the full body. A soft fruit follows that has some velvetiness to it. A nice crispness of fruit acids steps in and carries you through to a long finish. Serve at room tempera¬ture with lamb chops, specially char-coal grilled, as they do in Rioja. Great with a hamburger too!
Cellaring Notes: Will complex and mellow for up to 5 years.
#1187B Regular Price: $7.39/each
Member Reorder Price: $5.90/each
20.16% disc $70.80/case
WINE TERMINOLOGY I – Descriptives
One of the messages that came through repetitiously from our 1987 Membership Survey was the request for a glossary of wine terminology. So here is the beginning of a series that will appear regularly unless bumped by a pressing topic. When the ser¬ies is complete, it is my intention to reprint the pages and include them in our member¬ship binder as a permanent section.
Acetic: A vinegary taste or smell, due to excessive acetic acid or ethyl acetate, in no¬ticeable amounts. Also referred to as Vola¬tile
acids. Undesirable. (except it seems some styles of Italian wines tolerate and de¬sire a touch.)
Acid: A natural ingredient in most fruits. Therefore a component of grape juice and wines. The most common fruit acids are malic, tartaric, succinic, lactic, and citric.
Acidic: A taste that is tart or acidic, often causing a sharp sensation in the mouth. De¬sirable in limited amounts, and in fact com¬plementary in certain varietals, to balance any sweetness. Undersirable in excessive quantities that makes it very noticeable; a sign of underripe grapes.
Acidity: The sensation or actual measure of the total amount of natural acids con¬tained in wine. When the acidity in wine is low, it tastes flat; when high, it tastes sharp. "Crisp" is sometimes used to de¬scribe any desirable acidity that is present.
Aftertaste: The taste that lingers in the mouth as a flavor, after tasting the wine.
Alcohol: One of the major components of wine, mainly ethyl alcohol. A result of fer¬mentation of the grape juice.
Alcoholic: Excess alcohol taste, causing a slightly burning sensation in the mouth. Sometimes described as "hot".
Aldehydes: Compounds produced natural¬ly during fermentation of sugar to alcohol. They contribute to the flavor of the wine. Desirable in balanced quantities, undesira¬ble in excess.
Aperitif: A beverage; which can be vari¬ous wines, generally drunk before a meal. Sometimes referred to as appetizer wine. Appearance: One of the aspects of a wine by which it is judged using sensory evalua¬tion. Evaluated for clarity, cloudiness, deposits, dullness, etc.
Appley: Used for describing smell or fla¬vor, generally with white wines of the bur¬gundy types. Derived primarily from malic acid, a natural fruit acid.
Aroma: The smell of the wine that origi¬nates from the grapes. (in contradistinction to the smell derived from the winemaking process and ageing, which is termed the bouquet).
Aromatic: An adjective implying spicy and/or abundant, and pertaining to smell more than taste.
Ascescence: Presence of acetic acid or ethyl acetate, producing a vinegary smell. Another way of saying "Acetic".
Astringent: A taste that is harsh and puckery, usually produced by excessive tannin.
Austere: A taste that is lacking modulation and softness.
Baked: An acceptable, if not desirable, odor characteristic of sherry type wines, but a negative quality in table wines or sweet wines. Usually a result of exposure to higher temperatures.
Balance: A harmonious blending of the taste and odor elements of a wine.
Berrylike: Usually used for red wines that have an aroma or taste recalling berry fruits.
Big: Robust wines, with a full body, and possibly of higher alcohol content.
Bitter: A taste, if present in moderation, may be an acceptable complexity and bal¬ance to wines that are strong in their fruity flavors. Any degree of dominance is a neg¬ative. A result of stem and seed maceration during fermentation.
Blend: The measured mixture of wines from different lots, varieties, or vintages, to produce the harmony, interest, or style sought by the winemaker or "negociant ele¬veur" for his/her wine.
Body: The sensation of feeling the wine in your mouth, to determine the fullness or substance of all the components in the wine from the original grape must and the pro¬cess of fermentation. The alcohol content plays a part. Usually described as light, medium, or full body.
to be continued...
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.
Nov. 1983 R. Merlot,'69.Villanyi. No wine on hand to try.Should be at its peak.
W. French Colombard,'82.Pedroncelli. Lost its character.Do not keep.
Nov. 1984 R. Pinot St. George. San Benito, '78.Chas.LeFranc.Still complex. Use
W. Chardonnay,'83.Valenti.Hint of oxidation. Use up.
Nov. 1985 R. Cotes du Ventoux,'83.Dm.St.Svr.Fruit is on way out. Use up.
W. Chardonnay,'82.Freemark Abbey. Complexity developing.Can keep.
Nov. 1986 R. Pinot Noir,'85.Clarion. Most of fruit gone. Seems to be turning. Finish
W. Chateau D'Ardennes,'85.Smoothing out. Still plenty fruit. Can keep.
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
"Madam," the ancient proverb says...
"That one rich drop of honey sweet,
As an alluring luscious treat,
Is known to tempt more flies by far,
Than a whole tun of vinegar."
St. Francis de Sales 1821
"You guessed right. Honey is our subject this month. The quote was a favorite of King Henry IV, and since then we all have heard shortened versions of the saying. When you stop to think about it, nothing in the philosophy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" has changed too much. Sweetness of the tongue in our day-to-day encounters makes its mark.
"Paul and I love County Fairs, so off we were to visit the L.A. County Fair in Po-mona. It is touted to be the world's largest county fair with an attendance of 1.4 million people in 18 days.
"In the main pavilion, the Bee Keepers Association had a fantastic display. They have swarms of bees encased in glass so one can watch the critters at work; plus, samples of the varieties of honey, honey combs, items made from beeswax, and knowledgeable people to answer questions.
"Avocados, plums, honeydew melon, can¬taloupes, alfalfa, cauliflower, celery, pep-pers, chinese cabbage, and California's newest crop, kiwi, depend on the bee for pollinating their blossoms. Wow! Next time I see a bee, I will tip my hat in respect!
"Honey is a natural sweetener which con¬tains mainly fructose and glucose with val-uable traces of minerals, vitamins, and en-zymes. No additives, preservatives or sodi¬um are found in honey. Compared to re¬fined sugar, honey is sweeter per unit of measure. One tablespoon of honey is only 60 calories, so reduce the amount of swee¬tener in cooking and lower calories. Honey mixed with a little cream, warmed up, is excellent over pancakes, waffles or french toast.
"The most popular flavors of California
honey are: Orange, Sage (Sage honey does not granulate and is sometimes used to blend with other honeys to slow granulation) Buckwheat, Alfalfa, Wildflower, or Mixed blossom. (this honey is a blend; buy according to color...the lighter, the milder the flavor.)
"Honey is graded by U.S. standards, ranging from A through D, with A the best. The grade is based on the quality of flavor, moisture content, and clarity. Color of honey is not graded.
"-if granulated, place in glass jar, and into a pan of warm water, or use micro-wave on high @ 1 - 1 1/2 minutes, uncovered. Let stand 5 minutes. Do not overheat, as it ef¬fects the delicate flavor and color of honey.
"-when measuring honey, oil or wet the measuring cup or spoon for easy pouring.
"With the holidays coming, how about an easy, yummy appetizer? One you can whip up in minutes.
"HONEY AND NUT GLAZED BRIE
3 Tb. mild flavored honey
1/3 cup walnuts or pecans coarse chopped
1 Tb. Bourbon or Brandy
1 Brie cheese, 5" round, approx. 14oz.
"In a small mixing bowl, stir together hon-ey, nuts and bourbon or brandy. Place cheese on large round ovenproof platter or 9" pie plate. Bake in preheated 500 degree oven 4-5 minutes or until cheese is soft¬ened. Drizzle honey nut mixture over top. Bake 2-3 minutes more until topping is heated. DO NOT MELT CHEESE. Serve with crackers, apple wedges brushed with lemon juice, (prevents browning) and seed¬less grapes. Makes 16-20 servings.
"Can't wait for the parties. Enjoy!
"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
1187A Sauvignon Blanc,'86.Vandervoort
Reg. Price $7.49 21.36% disc. $70.68/case
1187B Marques de Caceras,'83.Un.Vi-Vin
Reg. Price $7.39 20.16% disc. $70.80/case
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
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274
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