June 1988 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 189 Rejected: 148 Approved: 41 Selected: 2
Very few California Pinot Noir wines stop me in my tracks when I am tasting. This Edna Valley one did. It is a text¬book example of a five-year aged Califor¬nia Pinot Noir. A wonderful wine to learn from and understand all the nuances that a good aged Pinot Noir should have. It comes from a prestigious conglomerate of four wineries that are making a signif¬icant mark in the California wine scene. I predict that this wine will not last in our inventory. If you like Pinot Noirs, place your reorder early!
The time has come to do a German wine again! Now, now, now... some of you are raising your eyebrows ("here comes the sweet wine again this year"). Yes... slightly sweet, but a charming summer wine. Chill it well and enjoy it for what it is. It is well crafted, and an outstanding example of a Rheinpfalz
wine. We have many fans for this style of wine. For the life of me, I can never understand why white Zinfandel appeals to the American wine beginner. Good German style wines could have been their entry level wine. Anyhow... that's just philosophizing... let's get down to the job at hand and taste the wine!
Pinot Noir, '83. Edna Valley Vineyard Pg. 2
Weingartener Trappenberg,'83.Baum Pg. 3
Wine Terminology VII - Descriptives Pg. 4
Tasting Notes & Cellar Notes Pg. 5
Adventures In Eating Pg. 6
Wine & Gift order forms Pgs. 7/8
Membership in the Wine of the Month Club is open to anyone with an interest in and an appreciation for superb wines...and excellent wine values. Membership is FREE. For info, write: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde, CA 90274. (213) 534-1980
PINOT NOIR, 1983. EDNA VALLEY VINEYARD
The Edna Valley Vineyard is part of the prestigious quartet of wineries under the Chalone umbrella. It is their example of California Central Coast wines, using the winemaking expertise of the organi¬zation. I have followed the Chalone saga for some time. I am impressed with their know-how, both for their winemak¬ing ability and their marketing savvy. Richard H. Graf started with Chalone Vineyard as his flagship in the Gavilan Mountains, east of Salinas Valley. To expand, he added Edna Valley Vineyard as his Central Coast effort, then came Car¬menet in the Mayacamas Mountains for his Sonoma interests. Finally, recently, Acacia Vineyards was added as their Napa Valley/Carneros connection. With all this, Graf engineered a public offering and the complex is now a publicly held company. Impressive wines, impressive estates and an impressive consolidated ef¬fort of marketing.
Pinot Noir is one of the two varietals Edna Valley offers. Hailing originally from Burgundy, France, this grape has small pockets of success and large pock¬ets of miserable failures in the hands of California grape growers and winemak¬ers. Undoubtedly, many of us are jaun¬diced about trying to compare California Pinot Noirs with their better French counterparts. We should be looking for an acceptable California style! However, my experience has been that any of the California Pinot Noir wines that do not emulate the French counterparts are just not pleasant and harmonious. Achieving the Burgundian style with this grape
seems to me the only route to go. A well made Pinot Noir has distinct, very characteristic, aroma/bouquet and flavor manifestations that are well demonstrated with our wine. Classically, the color, with very few exceptions, is never too dark. When young, it should have an aroma of crushed fruit, principally of strawberries or wild cherries. On ageing, it evolves towards a bouquet of faded fruit.
Our wine is light brick red in color, with a hint of orange edge. It shows a bursting bouquet of the variety. Very characteristic and textbook. It has a deep aroma, but the fruit seems to be hidden because of its age. The taste is an imme¬diate mouthful of Pinot Noir complexity. You sense a big flavor explosion the minute you take a sip. A robe of smoothness and some velvetyness fol¬lows. A mature cherry flavor in the mid¬dle is followed by the close which has a lingering herbal character. Good balance. The taste follows the nose beautifully. The wine is at its peak of development and is an excellent example of a mature Pinot Noir with Burgundian overtones. Serve at room temperature with lamb roast or with duck.
Cellaring notes: Very near its peak, could improve for three years. Track it.
#688A Regular Price: $9.00/ea
Member Reorder Price: $6.75/ea
25% disc. $81.00/cs
WEINGARTENER TRAPPENBERG SPATLESE,
1983.BAUM Wine-garr-tun-er Tra-pen-berg Shhpayt-lay-sa
I really hate to throw these complicated names at you... but when the wine is good, I guess we have to put up with it.
You must have realized that for the im¬port wine, we have a German wine this month. Basically, the label tells us that the wine is from the area around the town of Weingarten, from the district of Southern Wine Route (Bereich Of Sud¬liche Weinstrasse). Germany has eleven wine growing regions, and our wine comes from the Rheinpfalz region. It is a continuous girdle of vineyards, 6-8 ki¬lometers wide and 80 kilometers long, running along the crest of the Haardt Mountain Range and the Pfalzer Wald (forest region). It extends south of Worms and ends at the French border of Alsace. The Rheinpfalz is one of the largest, compact vine-growing areas in Germany.
Our wine was selected by the Philipp and Heinrich Baum Company as their ex¬ample of a good Weingartener Trappen¬berg. It is of the Spatlese quality, which literally translates "late harvest". (Made from grapes harvested at least seven days after the normal harvest. This develops a more intense flavor concentration in the wine, but not necessarily sweeter, unless it is the desire of the winemaker to pro¬duce that style.) In the spectrum of Ger¬man wine designations, Spatlese falls midway in the scale. (See article on page 4 in the July 1987 newsletter. If you would like a reprint of the article, please drop me a note.)
The grape varieties that grow in the Rheinpfalz include Muller-Thurgau, Sil-
vaner, Riesling, Morio-Muskat, and Kerner. Since the label does not mention the grape, our wine is a blend of three or more of these. (Single varietals or blends of two varietals are permitted to be identified on the label, according to German Wine Laws.)
Weingarten wines from the Trappen-berg "grosslage" (group of specific vine¬yard sites) are said to be aromatic, round, mild, and full bodied. See if you find all these attributes in our wine!
This Weingartener wine is lemon yel-low in color. It has a fruity aroma, with a bouquet of aromatic fragrance inter¬spersed. The taste starts with a delicate flavor of the grapes, followed by a bal¬anced sweetness. The middle taste shows distinctive body to the feel, when the grape components take over and linger in the taste. Minimal nuances of age com¬plexity have developed, but are not in full bloom yet. Delicate flavors. The sweetness and the extractive of the grape is in balance and shows the Spatlese grade. Serve chilled with cream cheese ca¬napes. For mealtime, would go well with a Waldorf or fruit salad luncheon. I like these wines best as a summer afternoon sipping wine.
Cellaring Notes: Will complex for 2 years, but I think it is at its best now.
#688B Regular Price: $6.00/ea
Member Reorder Price: $4.80/ea
20% disc $57.60/cs
WINE TERMINOLOGY VII – 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 continuation of series that appears regularly unless bumped by a pressing topic. When the series is complete, it will be reprinted, and appear as a perma¬nent section in the membership newslet¬ter binder.
Vegetal: Taste and smell sensations of a vegetable nature. They add to the over¬all complexity of a wine in small amounts, but undesirable when exces¬sive.
Velvety: The feel of a wine, when it is thick, soft and smooth on the palate. Vinegary: The presence of acetic acid in wine, detected by odor and taste. A def¬inite fault.
Volatile Acidity: A vinegary quality in a wine, due to the presence of acetic acid along with ethyl acetate in the wine.
Watery: See Thin.
Woody: Has been used interchangeably with "oaky", where, in moderation is de¬sirable in some wines. Can also imply other non-oak wood qualities derived from defective barrel ageing, and would be considered to be faults in the wine.
Yeasty: The smell of yeast in wine. Can be interesting in young wines, when present in minimal amounts. Any domi¬nant odor of yeast is a negative and usu¬ally a sign of incomplete fermentation. An aged yeasty bouquet is desirable in certain sparkling wines like Champagne.
* * * * * * *
VERY SPECIAL WINE
Do you remember the September 1987 California selection we featured? It was a dessert wine called Chevrig¬non D'Or, 1985, by Hidden Cellars (a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon). It was a spectacular wine. Witness to that fact was the way it was reordered. We had to show a "sold out" sign on the "Earlier Selec¬tions Still Available" order form.
Since I disappointed so many mem¬bers on their reorders, I went back to the winery, searching for more. None was to be had. We had wiped them out of the 375 ml bottles, which we had featured (over 250m1 cases). They admitted that they had a small amount of the 750 ml (full size bottles) in their library. They would be willing to release 20 cases... and that would be the absolute end... for the whole world!
So if you want some... this is your last chance. They are $15.78/each, at the member reorder price.
Fabulous dessert wine. One of the best I have had. See the September 1988 newsletter, page 3.
Use the order form on page 7 of this newsletter if you wish to order some. We will allocate the 20 cases with a June 30 cut-off date. If any remain, they will be sold, first come, first served.
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.
June 1984. R. Cotes du Rhone.'82.Dom La Renj.Should use up. The best it will be.
W. Chardonnay,'81.Son.Cutr.Seq.Grve.At its peak. Use. Nicely complex
June 1985. R. Zinfandel'81.Boeger.Still complexing. Can keep. I like it now.
W. Gewurztraminer'83.Trmbch.Start using. Some loss of fruit.
June 1986. R. Chateauneuf du Pape,'84.P.Jablt Aine.Lots of tannin still. Keep.
W. Amador Blanc,nv.D'Agostini.On the way down. Use.
June 1987. Gamay Beaujolais,'86.Fetzer.Still fresh. Should not keep.
Gewurztraminer,'85.A.Gaschy.Remarkable wine every time I try it.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
For several years in a row, usually dur¬ing July the 4th. weekend, Paul and I held an annual garden party for 70-80 friends.
We did not indulge in fancy waitresses preparing appetizers and walking around, tray in hand, while you balanced a glass of wine with one hand and tried to grace¬fully pop a morsel into your mouth, in the middle of a stimulating conversation. Instead, a large table was set on the lawn, with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop. I would prepare up to 15 varieties of appe¬tizers, pile the paper plates and napkins close by, and let the guests help them¬selves to eat to their hearts' delight.
Our friends always came prepared to eat "dinner", although the invitations listed the event as cocktails, et al.
Oftentimes, I've wondered whence the practice of hors d'oeuvres started. A bit of research unearthed that the Athenians, by the third century B.C., had developed the original hors d'oeuvre trolley. It was an innovation which other Greeks thought of as a miserly disposition of food.
Lynceus complained that an Athenian dinner was short, "For the cook sets be¬fore you a large tray on which are five small plates. One of these holds garlic, another a pair of sea urchins, another a sweet wine sop, another ten cockles, the last a piece of sturgeon. While I am eat¬ing this, another is eating that, and I have done away with this. Such a layout as that seems to offer variety, but is nothing at all to satisfy the belly." So much for Lynceus. He would have been
unhappy at my parties!
A good friend, Margaret Biles, who happens to be a test chef for one of the cooking magazines, recently served us a marvelous appetizer made with arti¬chokes. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
1 8 1/2 oz can artichoke hearts (packed
in water), drained and finely chopped
1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke
hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilis
6 Tbl. mayonnaise
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
Tortilla chips, homemade is best
Spread chopped artichokes in a 2 quart' shallow baking dish (au gratin dishes are best). Sprinkle with chilis and cover with mayonnaise. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and heat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes (30 minutes if it is chilled). When the dip is heated, serve with a dol¬lop of salsa. Serve with chips.
Homemade chips: cut tortillas into 6 sections and fry in 2" of corn oil. The best!
Love easy dishes that are impressive! Cheers!
For free membership information write or call
Wine of the Month Club®
Discovering superb wines since 1972.
P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 534-1980
688A Pinot Noir,'83.Edna Valley Vineyard
Reg. Price $9.00 25.00%disc $81.00/case
688B Weingartener Trappenberg,'83.Baum
Reg. Price $6.00 20.00%disc $57.60/case
588A Semillon,'84.Robert Pepi
Reg. Price $8.89 22.38%disc $82.80/case
Reg. Price $5.69 25.31%disc $51.00/case
488A Zinfandel,'84.Hallmark Cellars
Reg. Price $8.00 25.00%disc $72.00/case
Reg. Price $6.80 20.00%disc $65.40/case
SPECIAL Chevrignon d'Or,'85.Hidden Cellars
Reg. Price $20.00 21.10%disc $189.36/case
SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.50; 6 bottles $5.00; 12 bottles $7.50
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