December 1987 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 367 Rejected: 297 Approved: 70 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS December 1987
Attention all new members who have been with us less than a year: Your December club selections are always festive wines. A sparkling wine, so you have something, for sure, for New Years eve, and a forti¬fied wine, so you have something different for your holiday toasts! Both picked by the same stringent criteria, and for 15 years now, both well received each year. Their re¬orders are testimony.
For the sparkling, we go to the re¬gion around Barcelona, Spain. A re¬markable wine at a sensible price. More on page 3.
The fortified wine this month is another "I told you so" wine. I love it when this happens. I picked this port as a potential candidate for a Decem¬ber selection in March of 1986. Since then, it went on to win no less
than 6 medals, (gold, silver and bronze), at six different State and County wine competitions! We are fortunate to have secured the re¬maining inventory of this wine. I toast Andrew Quady for such an ac-complishment. I told you so... Andy.
To you and yours at this Holiday Season, I raise my glass and with you good times and good health.
Port of the Vintage,'83. Quady pg. 2
Brut Zero, '82. Castellblanch pg. 3
Wine Terminology II - 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
PORT OF THE VINTAGE, 1983, QUADY
There is probably no winemaker in California easier to like than Andy Quady. His relaxed manner, coupled with a whimsical and pixyish sense of humor makes him one of our fa¬vorites. Yet behind his casualness and humor, he is very serious about his wines. He specializes in, and only makes, port style wines.
Andy made his first port in 1975 in Lodi. While the term Port refers to the Portuguese fortified wine made of a variety of grapes indigenous to that country, Andy used Amador County zinfandel. Zinfandel was a lot more available than Tinta Cao and Tinta Madera!
Port is a blend of several grapes which would normally make a rough, harsh table wine. At a certain point during fermentation, when the yeast is converting the sugar to alco-hol, grain spirits or neutral brandy is added. This kills the yeast cells and stops fermentation. Fermentation is usually stopped before all the grape sugar is convereted to alcohol. About 8 - 10% sugar is left in the wine.
Leaving port in the barrel softens it. The barrel ageing coupled with the sugar content cuts down on the harshness of the grape varieties.
A "vintage" port can only he in the barrel for two years before it must be bottled. This is so the wine ma¬tures in the bottle not the barrel. Otherwise they soften too quickly and lose the power we associate with
great "vintage" ports. "Vintage" ports can age as long as 100 years, or more, in the bottle. When the wine is left to soften in the barrel instead of the bottle, it is referred to as "port of the vintage", as long as all the wines came from the same year. Our wine is of this type. Port wine with no vintage date is referred to as "wood ports", of which there are 3 kinds, ruby or tawny (based on length of ageing), and white port.
Many people shy away from port wines because they are thought to he too sweet or too harsh. Andy's use of zinfandel grapes softens the resul¬tant wine considerably. A good port should only taste sweet in the very beginning of your mouth. After you've swallowed, your mouth should feel clean and fresh without a lingering sweetness.
The color is a rich deep ruby. Con-centrated, ripe black cherry and earthy nose with copious amounts of plum, and a touch of spice.
The taste is intense with a myriad of other flavors including black cherry, cranberry and cassis. A rich, but not overpowering wine that finishes almost totally dry and very clean. Serve alone or with sharp cheese and fruit.
Cellaring Notes: Drinking well. Will improve for another 3-5 years.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
1287A Regular Price: $8.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $6.40/each
20.00% disc. $76.80/case
BRUT ZERO, 1982, CASTELLBLANCH
Brute Zeyro, Kastel Blonk
Brut Zero is a trade name for a sparkling wine from Spain, made by the traditional "method Champenois" of Champagne, France. It is made by Bodegas Castellblanch, founded in 1908 in the Spanish wine producing area of the Penedes, just 35 miles southwest of Barcelona. It is said that the Penedes region now produces the largest amount of "method champenois" sparkling wine in the world. (To the chagrin of the French! I am sure!) The wine is quite good, and the price is even bet¬ter... so how can you argue!
You will notice that nowhere on the label do you see the term "Champagne.", which refers to a specific area in France where Cham¬pagne sparkling wine is made. Spain was one of the first countries to yield to the French pressure of not calling sparkling wines "champagne" since they did not come from that specific region. It was thought that the term champagne would be needed in or¬der to market the product. Obvious¬ly they were wrong. Spanish spark¬lers far out sell their French "Champagne" counterparts. U.S. winemakers have chosen to disa¬gree!
The term brut signifies a wine on the dry side of the sparkling spec¬trum. This normally means between .5% and 1.5% residual sugar. Spark¬ling wines have relatively high acids, so one is not normally aware of the presence of sugar.
Brut Zero, however, actually con¬tains no sugar at all! What they have done is to pick the grapes at lower acids so that the result is a livelier, fruitier wine without the high acid. They figured that would appeal to consumers who thought that spark¬ling wines were to acidic. We agree... it is softer.
The grapes used are not exactly household words in the U. S. Xarel¬lo, Macabeo and Parellada are exclu¬sively Spanish varieties not known to be planted in any other country. The Parellada is the grape of the most no¬ble distinction of the three, being li¬kened occasionally to chardonnay. It is what adds the body and fruit taste to the wine.
The pale straw color shows through the fine beads created from the top to the bottom of the glass. The nose is of fresh tropical fruit with hints pears and a fresh yeasti¬ness. The taste is similar with pear and peach flavors. Crisp finish, hut not too tart. Rather good yeast.
Serve with lightly seasoned appetiz¬ers like a vegetable pate' or shrimp in dill sauce.
Cellaring Notes: This 1982 vintage is at it's peak. Not for ageing.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
1287B Regular Price: $7.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $5.40/each
22.86% disc $64.80/case
WINE TERMINOLOGY II – 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 continua¬tion of series that appears regularly unless bumped by a pressing topic. When the ser¬ies is complete, it will be reprinted, and ap¬pear as a permanent section in the member¬ship newsletter hinder.
Bone Dry: The absence of sugar. In some cases the term "dry" is used when a wine actually contains a small amount of sugar. But, the term is not consistent from one winery to the other.
Botrytis Cinera: A mold which can occur normally, though sometimes it is induced, which pierces the skin of the grape causing dehydration and concentrates the sugar. This is done without leaving any "moldy" side effects and adding a richness with hints of apricots and peaches. Very desira¬ble for making dessert wines from White Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Bouquet: The smell of a wine which has had enough bottle ageing so that the pro¬cessing and unique properties begin to show. As opposed to just the smell of grapes in a young wine. That is referred to as aroma.
Briary: Used to describe a slightly woody or stemmy character.
Bright: A clear wine.
Brilliant: A wine without any particles or cloudiness in it.
Browning: A sign of ageing in a wine which most likely indicates that the wine is oxidized and will not be good. Dessert wines are an exception as they can be al¬most completely brown and still he splen¬did.
Brut: A term for sparkling wines which has no specific guidelines other than it means quite dry. However, the range can be anywhere from 1% to 2% sugar content, depending on the producer.
Burnt: An odor characteristic signaling that a wine may have reached a damaging tem¬perature during storage and has cooked.
Buttery: Most often used in describing Chardonnay which exhibits a smell and taste of butter. It is derived from oak aging.
Butyric: An off or spoiled smell emanating from a bacterial problem.
Caramel: The slightly cooked but pleasant odor usually found in sweet sherries or si¬milar wines which are actually baked in the barrel.
Casse: An undesirable or cloudy wine.
Chewy: A big, heavy and full-bodied wine.
Citrusy: Having an odor and taste similar to citrus fruits.
Clear: A wine of good clarity but not quite brilliant.
Closed in: Showing good structure and possibilities of becoming great, though not releasing it's potential. Needing further bottle aging.
Cloudy: A slightly hazy appearance indi¬cating the presence of unwanted solids. Usually the result of poor winemaking, though sometimes can be the result of bot¬tling without fining or filtering.
Cloying: Having an exaggerated sweetness without the needed acid balance.
Coarse: Without finesse or breeding.
Color: The appearance of a wine derived principally from the grape but influenced by bottle and barrel ageing and processing. White wines can vary from a pale straw to a golden amber, reds from light magenta to a dark ruby or purple.
Complexity: The resulting sensation of bouquet and taste brought together from processing, barrel ageing, and certain grape varieties after proper bottle age.
Cooked: An odor similar to baked but with a more negative connotation.
Corky: The smell and eventual taste of some wines which have defective corks. Usually a fungus or bacteria inherent in the cork which after contact with the wine gives it a damp cardboard smell and taste.
Cream: A full bodied, usually dessert sher¬ry, sometimes called Golden.
Cuvee: A specific blend of still wines, sometimes of different varieties from differ¬ent years, to produce a certain style. Nor¬mally used for making sparkling wines but can be used for still wines as well.
Delicate: A lighter, less intense wine.
Demi-Sec: Literally translates to "half dry" but actually means less dry than most.
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.
Dec. 1983. R. Fino Sherry, Savory and James. No change. Should not improve.
W. Champagne Brut,Hans Kornell, Remarkable holding power. Use.
Dec. 1984 R. Llords and Elwood Port, No change
W. Gratien Brut. Losing its fruit. Use.
Dec. 1985 R. Armagan Brut, Losing its charm. Use.
W. No. 28 Sherry. Duff Gordon. No change. Should not improve.
Dec. 1986 R. Madeira, 3 Islands Lonz Winery. No change. Should not improve.
W. Chardonnay Brut, Cavit. Some complexity has started.May 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
THE SOUL OF THE
GOOSE IS HIS
LIVER"Burgundy" said Erasmus, "is the blessed province, and should he called the mother of men, since she nurses them on such wonderful milk." He was speaking of her wines of course... Which we found out were perfect with pate's.
We just returned from our Bordeaux and Burgundy wine evaluation trip. In addition to the wine, the foie gras' and pate's from the local charcuterie's did us under!
Our friend and warehouse landlord Mi¬chael Crozier, who is a food broker, had arranged that we tour the plant of Rougie, world famous pate' and foie gras makers. They are located in the Perigord region of France, in the little town of Sarlat.
Odile, a lovely and knowledgeable young woman, from the Rougie export depart-ment, greeted us and was to be our guide. We donned plastic coats and the tour start¬ed. We were escorted into a large room where workers were seated at various tables; packing tills with foie gras, cleaning goose liver, chopping truffles, plus other cooking activities. The premises were spot¬less. Workers all wore white coats and white sabot shoes. I was told these shoes were easy to wash and sterilize.
The goose livers were delivered fresh dai¬ly by local fanners. The geese are force fed to produce livers that are large and tasty. They weigh 1 1/2 to 2 lbs each. They are graded, and then deveined by ladies sitting at long marble slab tables. Tedious and technical work. The livers are then incorpo¬rated into the various products made at Rougie. The various foie gras and pate's are cooked in hermetically sealed containers at 212 degrees. Pate's and foie gras from Rougie have a 4 year shelf-life.
Foie means liver and gras means fat. The
ratio of gooseliver to fat is important, and at Rougie, there is a minimum of 50% gooseliver in the foie gras.
Rougie is a family owned and operated business since 1912 and exports 50% of its production. About 30% is exported to the U.S. (a little less this year because of the declining dollar), 13% to Japan and even some to Saudi Arabia. None is exported to Russia!
Foie Gras dates back to Egypt, where their ancient art shows us definite evidence that geese were fattened with dried figs... for their gooselivers, which were appreciat¬ed throughout Greece and Rome. In more recent times, pate's were welcome at all banquet tables in England during the Mid¬dle Ages.
Rougie Foie Gras and Pate's are availa-ble at specialty markets in many California metropolitan areas. They are a taste treat, and well worth the price. If any foie gras deserves Chateau Y'Quem, Rougie certain¬ly qualifies. (It does not seem like a sweet dessert wine should be consumed with goose liver pate, for an appetizer course. I laving tasted this mild and exquisite foie gras by Rougie, I can visualize the match. One of these days when Paul splurges with a bottle of Y, I will serve it that way.)
Next month, you will get to make yourself a Burgundian pate'. No gooselilvers here. Easy and fun.
Enjoy the Holidays... Eat selectively!
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
1287A Port of the Vintage,'83.Quady
Reg. Price $8.00 20.0% disc. $76.80/case
1287B Brut Zero,'82 Castellblanch
Reg. Price $7.00 22.86% disc. $64.80/case
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
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CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS FROM THE CELLARMASTER:
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