February 1989 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 142 Rejected: 111 Approved: 31 Selected: 2
Now... I don't want to receive a letter that says "If we want Miras¬sou wines, we can find it our¬selves in the grocery store. Your job is to find the small rare winer¬ies". This happened some years back when I featured a Bolla Val¬policella. A particular vintage had shown exceptional quality, and I opted to feature it despite the fact that it was on grocery store shelves. It was an exceptional wine and deserved our atten¬tion. The same with "White Bur¬gundy" by Mirassou. Granted they are mass marketed... but they have a gem in their Pinot Blanc 1987. I am showing it to you because it is superb, where otherwise, you might pass it up.
For our import, we go to the
mainstay of popular Italian wines... Chianti. This Classico grade stood out head and shoul¬ders above all the ones I tasted. (Many at much higher prices). Any wine enthusiast should know Chianti well... and should know good Chianti from average Chian¬ti. (forget the poor ones!)
Chiante Classico,'86.D'Albola Pg. 2
White Burgundy,'87.Mirassou Pg. 3
Member Inquiry 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
WHITE BURGUNDY (PINOT BLANC),1987
MIRASSOU (Pea-no Blonk)
A comfortable and familiar name on the wine scene, Mirassou Vineyards dates back to the very beginnings of the California wine industry itself. The great-great grandfather of the present Miras¬sou leadership first cultivated grapes in the Santa Clara Valley 135 years ago. In the early 1960's the winery began pioneering the establishment of vineyards in the Monterey County benchlands. By the early 1970's they had over 1000 acres under vine.
Two factors, that of sound quality products, naturally, and that of the rare image of an Ameri¬can vineyard in continuous opera-tion since 1854 (the old grape ranches were maintained through prohibition) led to broad public ac¬ceptance of Mirassous vast product line - which leads us to this month's "white burgundy" selec¬tion.
For reasons known only to Bacchus and university graduated marketing hot-shots, few Califor¬nia wineries offer pinot blanc as a varietal and then call it White Bur¬gundy. Sure, it's grown in Bur¬gundy... but where? It is well known that the great French Bur¬gundy vineyards use chardonnay exclusively to produce their elegant white wines. Pinot Blanc is rele¬gated to lesser vineyards there. An image problem!
In California the crisp clean
wine from Pinot Blanc grapes with it's attractive citrus and melon overtones too often gets blended into generic chablis and cham-pagne cuvees much to their gain, but entirely to the loss of the grape's visibility as a varietal unto itself.
Thankfully a few brave (or should I say brazen?) wine makers still allow pinot blanc to fly solo. And... these few producers know that their wine just had better be real good or else they will very quickly lose what little audience they have for it.
A near pale golden yellow col¬or hints of this wine's lightness. The aroma is a mild melange of cit¬rus nuances with a detectable trace of oak. Medium to full-bodied and soft in the mouth, the pinot blanc varietal character comes through with rather interesting lemon, or¬ange and melon elements. A nice crispness steps in at the finish. This is as easy-going and gentle a treatment of pinot blanc as you are likely to find.
Serve chilled with barbequed chicken breast and scalloped pota¬toes.
Cellaring Notes: Ready to drink now and through 1990.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#289A Regular Price: $6.85/ea
Member Reorder Price: $5.40/ea
21.17% disc $64.80/case
CHIANTI CLASSICO, 1986. D'ALBOLA
The 400 year old villa, Castello D'Albola in Tuscany's famed Chi¬anti Classico district has been resi¬dence not only to numerous noble families, counts and countesses, etc., but also to a certain Saint Maddelena de' Pazzi in the 16th century. She performed a remarka¬ble vineyard miracle there.
As the legend has it, during one severe winter, Saint Maddele¬na was taken quite ill. She asked her family if they would get her some fresh grapes which were of course entirely out of season. She insisted. How her family members were amazed indeed to discover bunches of perfectly ripe grapes on the vines nearest to their home. The saint is reported to have con¬sumed these with a beatific smile. Thus our selection comes from vineyards most uniquely blessed!
D'Albola was acquired in 1976 by the enterprising Zonin family, pace setters in the use of modern wine making technology in Italy. Their wines bear the Black Rooster neckband, proud ensign of authen¬ticity and strictly monitored quali¬ty, the use of which is granted solely by the consortio Chianti Classico, the dominant supervisor¬y authority.
Sangiovese grapes form the basis for this wine, as they do for nearly most all Tuscan red wines. Custom has traditionally dictated blending in three other varietals to
achieve the desired style. Zonin has opted to feature an uncommon¬ly high percentage of Sangiovese (90%), entirely excluding Trebbia-no. A splash of the red grape Ca¬naiolo (8%) plus just a touch (2%) of the delicate, aromatic white grape Malvasia complete the mix. Plenty of room here for styliza¬tion.
A brilliant garnet red hue leads to a luscious bouquet remindful of violets with overtones of cherries. Nice and round in the mouth, well-balanced, big yet without any trace of heaviness, the wine offers gen¬erous fruit intensity on the palate, a trait infrequently encountered in this region. A judicious dollop of tannin in the finish dries the palate gently while hinting of long aging potential.
Serve at cool room temperature with any pasta dish that has a mari¬nara base or try it with medium-rare lamb chops well seasoned with garlic, rosemary and freshly ground black pepper.
Cellaring Notes: Although drinking quite attractively now, this wine will complex and mellow for a least three to five years and may very well last far beyond that.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#289B Regular Price: $7.99/ea
Member Reorder Price: $6.25/ea
21.78% disc $75.00/case
"Paul: I have been disappointed recent¬ly in the "sold out" situation of some of your wines. I wanted more of the Hidden Cellars Chevrignon d'Or, and the Heitz Pinot Noir, but you were sold out. Why don't you buy enough inventory!" JH
Sorry about that! I hate to disappoint anybody. They were super wines... wer¬en't they?
Judging from the date of your letter, you are reordering 14 months after the wine was featured. Have a heart... you know better than that! Good wine disap¬pears fast.
Here are the present parameters of my wine buying and availability of the se¬lected wines for reorder: Once I have closed the deal with the distributor, at the favorable prices we are able to command for the club selections; the wine is avail¬able for 4 months on a fairly certain ba¬sis, for reorders. (Only twice in 17 years has the wine disappeared in less time than that). Past the 4 months, the distrib¬utor is off the hook in assuring me avail¬ability and favorable price. However if the wine is still available, most of them continue to honor our arrangement for as long as the wine is in stock. That is why the wines continue to appear on our list of Earlier Selections Still Available.
Now... if you are inclined to lay down wine, and are not a "hand-to-mouth" wine consumer, ( no pun intended), you should not postpone trying the selections. Every so often I hear from a member who tells me that they laid down the original bottle of wine I had sent them since I raved about its ageing potential. Naturally what happens is that when you get around to consuming it, and you "flip"
over it, the chances are you have missed the opportunity to order more.
Remember also... that just as I discov-er a good wine, there are others out there who are discovering it too. So the forces of discovery and hoarding come into play, and pretty soon, the grin on the face of the supplier becomes a smile, and develops into a smug look that makes him or her tougher to deal with. Add to that phenomenon the fact that our selec¬tions practically create a market for the wine across the State. Don't forget too, that only so much was made of that vint¬age. Every vintage is another vintage, and often different. I do not substitute vintages.
To answer your direct question... I do buy an overage of inventory to take care of reorders. (based on projections). But... there is no foolproof way of predicting the demand. Naturally I am conservative... I do not want excess inventory. That is why I obtain a commitment from the supplier for a 4 month backup. Bear in mind though; the "market creation" as¬pect I mentioned earlier. We sometimes wipe-out the supplier!
Here is what you have to do:
-Try the selections I send you early.
-If you run into a "sold out" situa¬tion,
pick up the phone and call the bet¬ter retailers in the metropolitan areas of the State. The only inventory left will be on the shelves of retailers, and some offer a shipping service. Do not be disappoint¬ed in not finding it easily. Remember… there are thousands of wines out there. And remember furthermore... the Baccha¬nalian principle #5: "Good wine disap-pears fast!" P.K .
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.
Feb. 1985 R. Pinot Noir,'81. Tulocay. Close to peak. Use or can keep.
W. Sauvignon de St. Bris '83.H.G. The best it will be. Use.
Feb. 1986 R. Ch. Laffitte Laujac, '82. Some complexing. ok to keep.
W. Sauvignon Blanc,'82. Rthfd.Rnch.Starting to slip. Use.
Feb. 1987 R. Zinfandel,Vnyrd Sel.'78.L.Martini. Nice nuances of complexity. Keep.
W. White Merlot,'85.Zonin. Lost its charm. Use.
Feb. 1988 R. Nebbiolo,'86.Martin Bros.Winery. Some mellowness. ok to keep.
W. Pinot Grigio,'86.Bollini. Still fresh as ever. Use.
REMINDER If you have changed your address or your credit card #… please let us know. It is so hard to track the changes after the fact. Please write or call anytime.
Adventures in Eating
To try and simplify one's life today takes effort, concentration, careful evalua¬tion, and a diagnosis of one's status. I don't mean to get too serious, but as one friend stated it, "Living is hard work!"
Perhaps a good New Years' resolution would be to cut through the layers of dai¬ly life, and selectively give simplifying certain areas "a go". The house should he cleaned, the laundry awaits, family obli¬gations beckon, the car needs servicing, gardeners need to he told how to garden, the working place has its own agenda of glitches, and the list goes on.
Before you realize it, father time march¬es through the day, and its dinnertime. Don't he tempted to go fast food. Instead, get yourself some good scraggly English muffins, open up a bottle of superb wine of your choice from WOMC, and slap to¬gether one of the following recipes. A hearty steamed veggie along with a salad, and life is already less complicated.
English muffins are a versatile item, not too short and rich, and properly fill¬ing. Put your own talents to work, and come up with your own ingenious crea¬tion. One of my favorites, is using one of the bottled Classico sauces, mozarella cheese, and any other topping you wish. Broil, and voila, good stuff.
UNCRABBY CRAB SANDWICH
12 oz. New York Cheddar (grated)
dash sugar & pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup crab meat (rinsed and drained)
1 tsp. mayonnaise
dash Worcestershire sauce
Place grated cheese in blender or food processor with milk, sugar and salt. Pro¬cess or blend until mixture is smooth. Mix crabmeat with mayonnaise and Wor¬cestershire sauce. Split and toast muffins. Spoon the crab mixture onto the muffin. Top with cheese mixture and broil until cheese is golden and bubbly or bake at 375 for 15 min. (leftover cheese mixture will keep in refrigerator for about 1 week) Try chopped leftover chicken mixed with onion, garlic, ground cumin, Jack cheese, and cheddar cheese. The combinations are endless.
[Some information I ran across: The Santa Barbara Vintner's Assoc. has a new updated map of their wine-making re¬gion. They will send you a copy: Santa Barbara Vintner's Asso., P.O. Box WINE Los Olivos, Ca 93441. There are some 22 wineries, and over eight varieties of grapes grown for making wines. Also, you will receive a brochure on recom¬mended restaurants. Two given to me were: The Hitching Post (barbequed meats) in Buellton. The other was Ballard Store Restaurant in Ballard, Ca. Both re¬staurants are in proximity to where you would he touring to taste and enjoy wines, hospitality and good times.)
Treat yourself, you deserve it.
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
289A White Burgundy (P.B.),'87.Mirassou
Reg. Price $6.85 21.17% disc $ 64.80/case
289B Chianti Classico,'86.D'Albola.
Reg. Price $7.99 21.78% disc $ 75.00/case
189A Petite Sirah,n.v.DaVinci
Reg. Price $7.95 21.38% disc $ 75.00/case
189B Sauvignon Blanc-Fumé Style,'87Ylm
Reg. Price $6.95 24.46% disc $ 63.00/case
1288A Napa Valley Brut,'86.Barons
Reg. Price $7.00 20.00% disc $ 67.20/case
1288B Cream Sherry,n.v.Osborne
Reg. Price $7.89 29.00% disc $ 67.20/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor $ 19.95/each
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