January 1988 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 279 Rejected: 221 Approved: 58 Selected: 2
CELLARMASTER COMMENTS January 1988
My crowning glory of finds dur¬ing 1987 is the red import this month. To find a good Bordeaux is hard. There are so many mediocre ones. When I found this one, the price was out of the question. It took a lot of pencil sharpening on the sup¬pliers part for us to land it. Just take a look at the price on page 3, and you will see. (If they had known what was going to happen to the dollar, we would have never been able to make the deal.) It is absolutely a classic Pauillac. If you are a "cellarer", do not let this one go.
For the white California, we have a lesson in tasting... It is a tricky les¬son. Aged, complexing, White Riesl¬ing is a bouquet and taste that needs introduction. Otherwise it is often mistaken for a sulfur nose. I selected a well made, well aged, California
riesling, that was available for a fa¬vorable price. The fruitiness has complexed, and that nose is classical of aged white riesling. What Ed de¬scribes as sandalwood and pinecones on page 2, is the sensation I am talk¬ing about. When young it was flow¬ery and fruity. Some love this, oth¬ers are not moved by it, and some mistakenly call is sulfur. It is not. (Sulfur has a bite and sting).
In vino veritas!
Johannisberg Riesling,'84.Ch.Julien pg. 2
Ch. Bellegrave,'82 pg. 3
1987 in Retrospect 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
JOHANNISBERG RIESLING, 1984, CHATEAU JULIEN
A relative newcomer to the Cali¬fornia wine industry, Chateau Julien was established in 1983 by a small investor group. Situated in what is considered one of the most scenic ar-eas in California, Carmel; Chateau Julien enjoys an excellent, though short, reputation for making excep¬tional wines in a beautiful place. The winery itself is extremely attractive, sporting a Normandy-styled archi¬tecture, clean lines, turrets, and of course, French windows.
The founders of Chateau Julien had the good sense to hire Davis graduate and former apprentice at Mt. Eden vineyards, Bill Anderson. His style of softer, accessible food wines has shown through in all the wines he has crafted.
Our selection is unique in that the style of the winery and the wines is exclusively French, yet this offering is classically German.
First of all, let's set the record straight. With apologies to Chateau Julien, the "real" name of the grape is White Riesling. The term Johan¬nisberg Riesling became fashionable because the White Riesling grape grown in the Rheingau near the town of Johannisberg (Germany, not South Africa!), produces what many consider to be one of the great wines of the world.
The Rheingau is perfect for the riesling grape because of the long cool growing season it enjoys on the banks of the Rhine river. This con-
dition is incredibly similar to the climate at the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Barbara County where the grapes for this selection were grown.
Most California riesling were made to be consumed young. This is be¬cause they normally cannot attain the high acid levels of their German counterparts accounting for the in¬credible aging potential. It is not un¬common to taste a 20 year old Ger¬man Spatlese that is still crisp and of¬fering tremendous fruit and com¬plexity. Because of the tremendous¬ly cool growing region that the St. Julien grapes came from, they have approximated those wines, yet leav¬ing that unmistakable California her¬itage firmly intact.
Our selection shows a golden am¬ber color signaling an aged wine. The nose is a delightful blend of sandlewood and pinecones mixed with a peachy, nectarine aroma. The flavors are almost identical with a fleshy feel and the nectarine taking on the predominant taste. It finishes crisp and clean with a slightly linger¬ing mature fruit aftertaste. Serve with fruit, cream cheese and crack¬ers lunch or as a first course with spinach souffle'.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now, but could complex for another 2 years.
Reviewed by Ed Masciana
#188A Regular Price: $6.24/each
Special member price: $3.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $2.70/each
56.73% disc. $32.40/case
CHATEAU BELLEGRAVE, 1982
One of the greatest joys of the wine business is the discovery of a wine so exciting that you can't wait to tell everybody about it! It's an ex¬citement that still happens even after fifteen years! This month's import selection is such a discovery.
Chateau Bellegrave was construct¬ed around 1850 by Madame Desse who was upset that her sister inherit¬ed the family chateau and she was given a sum of money. So, ala Andy Hardy, she built one herself!
How she did and what she did is not clearly known. Toward the end of the 19th Century, the Chateau was purchased by and elderly bachelor named Armand Roux. He enlarged the winery and acreage and began selling his wines to a select trade, principally in Belgium. One of his best customers there was a Mr. Hen¬ry J. van der Voort. As Mr. Roux was getting on in years and had no family to leave his chateau to, and Mr. van der Voort was young, and retired, with a son, they struck a deal. Since 1897 Chateau Bellegrave has been managed by the van der Voort family.
Rosemarie and I had the pleasure of staying at Ch. Bellegrave last No¬vember. Philippe de Boisredon, managing director of the family firm held two extensive private trade tastings for us. I found some good candidates for our program. The chateau is exactly as on the label. Our room was the two windowed
one next to the tower. Charming.
Even if the barely knowledgeable wine consumer is asked about fa¬mous wine areas in the world, Bor¬deaux is mentioned. A most revered area in Bordeaux is the Medoc, and the district of Pauillac is sacrosanct! Our selection is a classic example of a great wine from Pauillac. The soil at Chateau Bellegrave is among the richest in the area. While you may not have heard of Bellegrave, you have certainly heard of its neigh¬bors: Chateau Latour is a mere half mile away, Ch. Pichon Longeuville a neighbor. Not shabby neighbors! Our selection is a blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Malbec. The wine is aged 18 to 24 months in one year old casks.
The color is a deep, dark purple, bordering on black. The nose exhib¬its an intense bramble, blackberry component with hints of truffles. There is also the dead giveaway Pauillac smell of cedar and earth. The taste is a mirror of the nose. A big expansive wine with a tremen¬dous finish. After you've swallowed, you can still taste the blackberry and truffles. Enjoy with rich red meats or game like venison or pork tender¬loin cooked with porcini.
Cellaring Notes: Incredibly drinkable now, but should be even better with two to five more years.
#188B Regular Price: $15.88/each
Special member Price: $12.00/each
Member Reorder Price: $10.80/each
31.99% disc $129.60/case
1987 IN RETROSPECT
WINES EVALUATED: 2555
Here is how it all fell into place this last year.
In the Regular Series, on the do¬mestic side, we had a broad repre¬sentation of varietals. A Semillon that that went on to win more honors in competition, an aged Zinfandel, a premier Sauvignon Blanc, a Caber¬net Sauvignon that had an interesting twist to it, a White Table wine of character, a sweepstakes winner Ga¬may Beaujolais which the winery tried to reverse their allocation to us, a Washington State Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir of Burgundian character, a sauternes style dessert wine that we ran out of immediately, and to top it a medal winning port.
On the import side, an Australian Shiraz/Cabernet that surprised many, a Cabernet from Chile that surprised me as to its reorder vol¬ume, a German classic Mosel riesl-ing, two Spanish representatives that proved to be real good values, three French wines, a classic Vouvray, a rich Gewurztraminer, and a Red Table Wine that still is logging re¬orders, four Italian selections all fea¬tured for their uniqueness, a white Merlot to please the blush wine fans, a Sardinian wine that showed well with seafood, a red Montepulciano which exhausted the importer of his inventory, and the absolute super find... a 17 year old Chianti Classico, silken and at its peak of maturity.
As for the Limited Series, would you believe I could only find 6 wines this year, within the budget, and worthy of the asking price! So we only had three sets. The first four wines were from California. An im¬portant Chardonnay, a very spectac¬ular Cabernet, followed by an aged Cabernet, and a classic Pinot Noir. The other two were an Italian pair that showed a unique white from Gavi, and a 100% Sangiovese grape that delighted any that tried it.
At least 8 of our selections were important winners at various wine contests, after we had selected them.
At least 6 of the 1987 selections were depleted in short order from our inventory and that of the winery or the importer.
Every featured wine was reordered by some of the members. This really is my true measure of membership acceptance. The pattern varies, natu¬rally. I have no way of knowing your palate, and your favorite style of wine. My effort is to try and keep my palate broad and sharp, so that I can continue to bring you the varie¬ty, from which you can select your favorites. I will say this... all the wines you receive will be the best in that category, available at that period of time, at the best prices, in the Cal¬ifornia marketplace.
I value your testimonials, (they abound), and your complaints. (very few). Do not get mad and walk away. Call me... let's chat! I will rectify what I can. Problems are made to be solved. Here's to a great 1988!
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.
Jan. 1984 R. Pinot Noir,'79 Firestone.Good complexity, can still be held.
W. Vernaccia,'81.Ilraccianello. On the way down. Use.
Jan. 1985 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'77.Hill-Smith. Good complexity, still some tannic
W. Chardonnay,'82. Hamilton.Starting to oxidize. Use.
Jan. 1986 R. Pinot noir,'81.AmRs.Zaca Mesa. Still needs times.Keep
W. Chardonnay del Veneto, '84.Alvina.Will not get any better. Use.
Jan. 1987 R. Shiraz/Cabernet,'84.Penfolds. Hardly changed. Keep
W. Semillon,'85.Alderbrook.Nice complexity, rounder. Use
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Adventures in Eating
Why the versatile pate' has never really caught on in the U.S. is a bit of a mystery to me. It comes in so many variations, dif¬fering from province to province, and even from village to village. Perhaps, it is be¬cause the recipes for these tasty concoctions were usually carried by the memory of vil¬lage housewives, or handed down from mother to daughter.
Fortunately, recipes are now available, and are authentic. It is a perfect way to in-troduce a dinner for two or more, and when accompanied by a salad, French bread and cornichon pickles, makes a luncheon fit for the most discriminating guests. If you wish your pate' to be an extra fancy affair, mak¬ing one "en croute" (in a crust); gives it an elegant posture.
Pate's particularly, have enjoyed a place of honor in the tradition of the "good stuff' one has with wine.
The pate' recipe to follow is from Bur-gundy where Paul and I spent a few days tasting wines and pate's from Dijon to Lyons.
For the bread crumbs, my suggestion, is to take the center part of a loaf of French bread, break it up, and lightly toast it in a moderate oven (watch carefully to not burn it). I do not favor the commercial bread crumbs in pate' s.
PATE' PETITE PRINCESS
1 1/4 pounds veal, coarsely ground
1 1/2 pounds beef, ground
1 1/4 pounds fatty shoulder of pork,
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
6 tablespoons brandy (1/2 cup)
1 thin slice back fat, large enough to line\
and top the loaf pan or terrine
1 laurel or bay leaf
Cooking time: 1 hr. 45 mins. at 350 de¬grees in two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 loaf pans. Serves 30 as an appetizer.
Have the butcher grind the various meats or do it yourself with a food processor. Chop the onion and garlic and put everyth¬ing into a bowl. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, most of the salt and pepper, and brandy, and mix thoroughly. Line your pans or terrines with the thinly sliced back fat and spoon in the pate' mixture, pressing down to compact. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper on top and decorate with the laurel leaf. Place two strips of back fat crosswise on top of each pate' (or one large one). Cover with the lids or aluminum foil (make knife hole in foil for steam). Bake in hot water in preheated 350 degrees oven for 1 3/4 hrs. Remove from oven, weigh down with a plate and a large can (20 oz.) of food until cool. Clean off fat, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving, or wrap tightly and freeze after it cools.
A glass of red or rose' wine with a pate' is a perfect marriage and a must.
p.s. good mustards and cornichons are not to be forgotten
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
188A Johannisberg Riesling,'84.Ch.Jl.
Reg. Price $6.24 56.73% disc. $32.40/case
188B Chateau Bellegrave,'82
Reg. Price $15.88 31.9% disc. $129.60/cs
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
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