April 1989 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 173 Rejected: 139 Approved: 34 Selected: 2
We go to Monterey county for our Domestic Selection this month. A chardonnay from a winery we have featured before. It is not often that I repeat wineries. I like to in-troduce you to different ones. However, in my search for a medi¬um priced chardonnay, the Cha¬teau Julien came out on top. (shades of their JR '84 featured as a club selection in January 1988.)
For the import, I thought we would have an exercise in learning about "claret". When I am work¬ing at trade tastings, many a table will hesitate in pouring me a sample of an inexpensive wine, think¬ing that I might be prejudiced against the label or the lowly ap-pellation. I insist on tasting every¬thing on the table. You never
know what is in that bottle till you taste it! That is exactly what hap¬pened with the import this month. The rep. said "I don't know whether you want to bother with this one, Paul." Well... I sure did... it is my impression of what a claret is supposed to be like! More on page 3.
Chardonnay,'87.Ch.Julien. Pg. 2
Fonset-Lacour,'85 B&G 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. FAX (213) 534 8482 (213) 534-1980
CHARDONNAY, 1987. CHATEAU JULIEN
Shar-Don-Aye, Shaa-Toe Julie-Yen
In the short span of 6 years that this winery has been in exis¬tence, it has made a name for itself internationally. The awards and medals list is impressive from competitions in San Francisco to London. But, that is not why I se¬lect a wine. It has to win our award!... by its taste and value.
Why such success in such a short time? After all there are over 700 wineries in California now, and that, is not easy competition! There are at least 2 answers to the question.
One... the fact that Chateau Ju¬lien does not have an active vine¬yard of its own. It buys grapes from only the best local vineyards, such as Cobblestone Vineyard in Monterey, The Paraiso Springs Vineyard in Monterey county, and from actor Wayne Roger's Ran-chero Tierra Rejada Vineyard in San Luis. This allows them to con¬centrate on wine making, leaving the grape growing to others.
Two... they have a talented winemaker in Bill Anderson. A Stanford and U.C.Davis graduate, he has stints at Mt. Eden Winery, and Kathryn Kennedy Winery to his credit. His emphasis is making wine for food accompaniment.
The winery is a French Coun¬try Chateau type structure on the Carmel river in Monterey county, ten minutes from Carmel by-the-Sea. It is five miles east of High-
way One on Carmel Valley Road. If you are in the area, it is well worth your while to visit. Call ahead to find out about their wine tastings and tour hours (408-624¬2600).
Their Monterey appellation chardonnay made high marks in my log book. For the price, it is a find. They also make some indi¬vidual vineyard designation char¬donnays that are quite good, but for more money, of course!
This noble grape of Burgundy fame does well in Monterey coun¬ty. At times, it could have a "Mon¬terey grassiness" character, in ad¬dition to its basic nature. This is curiously absent in this wine, and a plus in my opinion.
This chardonnay has a light golden yellow color. It is bursting with the aroma of the variety, with a distinct apple element. Deep pen¬etrating bouquet. Very clean and pleasant. The taste has restrained fruit, with a dominant, rich varietal flavor, leaning on some oak. Dis¬tinct succulent green apples flavor that lasts in your mouth. Full body, with perfect acid balance. Serve chilled with sautéed white fish or red snapper.
Cellaring Notes: Will complex, for 2 years.
#489A Regular Price: $8.49/ea
Member Reorder Price: $6.50/ea
23.44% disc $78.00/cs
FONSET-LACOUR, 1985. BARTON & GUSTIER
Fon-Say La-Coor, Bar-Ton Eh Goose-Tea-Yare
The firm of Barton & Gustier has been blending and shipping fine French wines since 1725. They are "negociants-éleveurs", as well as growers themselves. (their flagship is Chateau Magnol in Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France.) Even though they are based in Bordeaux, they offer an extensive variety of wines from different re¬gions of France.
Michel Fouchaux has been their director of enology since 1976. He is responsible for this gem of an unceremonious claret! It is the skill of the enologist in these firms that is responsible for the quality of wine in the final prod¬uct. They primarily purchase wine from various small growers, blend and age them in their own cellars, and market them as brand wines.
Fonset-Lacour is a brand name for B & G's low-end Bordeaux. In fact, because the wine is a blend of several sources and appellation re¬quirements, it carries the simple "Bordeaux" appellation. (not even Bordeaux Superior") But wait till you taste it!
Claret is a term mostly used in England. (It has a nice ring to it!) Basically it identifies a wine to be a red wine from Bordeaux. All red wines from Bordeaux are clarets... and thus, it really implies a type of wine... a specific taste of wine... and by the same reason could im¬ply that any wines made from the
Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec family of grapes are clarets! (naturally to the chagrin of the French, who would like to reserve the name for wines originating in France.) By usage, the term has developed into a designation for non-pedigreed Bordeaux wines. (the famous cha-teau bottlings prefer to be identi¬fied and remembered by their proper names!)
If there was such a thing as a claret standard... it would be one that describes the wine as a dry, light, flavorful red wine, with the typical cabernet character showing. A wine that has ageing and com¬plexing capabilities.
This 1985 version of Fonset-Lacour is a classic example of a claret in my opinion.
The wine is a brilliant purplish red. It has a peppery aroma, with fruitiness following; then, a bell pepper aroma emerges, and closes somewhat smoky. The taste is a classic light claret. The first sensa¬tion is very dry, opening up into a fruity cabernet taste, then mingling with a late emerging tannin. It has a medium body, and is well bal¬anced. Serve at room temperature with hamburgers or roast beef sandwiches or a "runza".
Cellaring Notes: A couple years will soften it more.
#489B Regular Price: $6.49/ea
Member Reorder Price: $5.00/ea
22.96% disc $60.00/case
"Paul... I need your input. A friend of mine is a beer distributor. Recently he purchased a "closeout lot" of wine. A beer and wine wholesaler had gone out of business, and he had bid on their in¬ventory. Knowing about my interest in wine, he offered me the opportunity to purchase any that I wished at his cost. There are 7 wines:
1)Chenin Blanc Sec '79, HMR Vinyrds.
5 )Chateau Belair, '82.
6)Cabernet D'Anjou, '84
The price is right. They are all $1.50 a bottle. Are there any 1 should buy for keeping? W.S. Norco. CA.
Interesting, somewhat precarious, and educational, if nothing else!
Here is what you do.
Give your friend $10.50 and ask him to bring you a bottle of each. Try them all at room temperature, and make your deci¬sion on taste, taking into consideration my comments on each wine below.
No.1 - A winery that went belly up about 4 years ago. Their Chenin Blanc was not much, most of the time. I pre¬dict this bottle will not be sound. Must be on its way to oxidation.
No.2 - Now this could be a different sto¬ry for an HMR wine. They did make some superb cabernet vintages. If the wine was well stored, it could have some more life to it, or it might he at its peak. Would be a steal at that price, if the wine was still ok.
No.3 - A low end, generic German wine from the Mosel region. Decent when young, somewhat sweet, and with no
ageing potential. Since you did not give a vintage date, I cannot comment further. If it is non vintaged anyway, then let your taste be your guide, and purchase it only for current consumption.
No.4 - Most dry Vouvray wines (Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France) lose their charm after 3 or 4 years. De¬pending on the maker, I suspect this wine is on its way over the hill.
No.5 - Could be one of four by the same name from different parts of Bordeaux. Since you did not give me the appella¬tion, I can only say that one is very fa¬mous, the other three only average. 1982 was a very good vintage, so if you like the wine, and find it sound, it could be worth laying some down.
No.6 - A red wine made from Cabernet Franc grape growing in the Loire Valley of France. Could be rather good, and has some ageing ability.
No.7 - This wine can be a gem. Made by a special technique in Italy of using red grapes that have been allowed to partially dry, and then fermented. If you find the wine sound, and you like its style, then it could be a find.
The moral of the story is that you should buy based on your taste, or the taste of someone else who is knowledge¬able. If you buy by the label, you run the chance of getting some mediocre, to off, to downright bad wines that have gone over the hill.
Closeout wines are precarious, because of the "ageing principle" of wine. However, on very rare occasions, I have found wines at their peak of development in the closeout bins!
Taste before you buy!!!
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.
Apr. 1985 R. Pinot Noir Nouveau,'84.Amity. Nearly undrinkable. Toss.
W. Rully Blanc,'83. Jaffelin. Definite oxidation. Use or toss.
Apr.1986 R. Vintage Red,'83Ch.Andrew.Chile. Losing fruit. Use
W. Chardonnay,'84.Villa Helena. Approaching peak. Use or keep.
Apr. 1987 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'82.Boeger. Some nice complexing. Keep
W. Vouvray,'85.Dom. des Girardicrcs. Charm has gone. Use.
Apr. 1988 R. Zinfandel,'84.Hallmark Cellars. Good fruit, and some complexing.Keep
W. Chardonnay,'86.La Jolic.Has lost some fruit. Should use in 89
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
No matter how hard I try to stay ahead of a holiday menu through WOMC, I am always behind. Here, I thought, is an easy showy sauce for the holiday ham, and I am a month behind. Surely, you froze some of that delicious meat, so use leverage when you serve it again.
I have been reading an autobiography of Don Trump. A New York developer and entrepreneur. He never misses the op¬portunity to use what he terms "leverage."
His "deals" border on the bizarre. He started with nothing in 1973, and you know the rest. His solid advice is to use "leverage." "Leverage," he says, "is hav¬ing something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can't do without. "Now, no one can do without your leftover meat... right?
Have some friends over, and use your leverage by serving it to them with this flaming, brandy sauce. Cooking with wine or brandy can be fun.
The Britannica states "Wine is as old as civilization, and no drink except water and milk has won such commendation through the ages. It is used to perform rites in churches; to observe memorable occasions; to launch ships; to administer to the sick; to welcome guests; and to in¬spire the mind."
Foods cooked with wine contain no al¬cohol. Alcohol boils at a lower tempera¬ture than water, 172F, at the simmering point, to be exact. If you cook foods with wine at or above boiling for as little as 10 minutes, no alcohol will remain,
but the fine and delicate flavor and aroma of the wine will be left in your dish.
Here is your "leverage" to present your friends and family, and all three Don Trump requirements are met.. And, I might add, a much easier deal to execute than some of the deals he describes.
FLAMING RAISIN SAUCE
(makes 1 1/3 cups)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbl. grated orange or lemon peel
1 tsp. arrowroot
1/2 cup seedless raisins, whole or
1 cup water
1/3 cup California Brandy
In a saucepan or chafing dish combine brown sugar, orange peel, arrowroot, rai¬sins and water; cook over medium heat stirring constantly until sauce clears and thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Can he made ahead 2 hrs. up to this point.
When ready to use sauce, reheat. Warm Brandy briefly in double boiler, then light carefully and pour over raisin sauce. (make sure your container is heat-proof). Spoon sauce gently while Brandy burns. Serve at once over your ham.
Hope your holiday was a pleasant entree into spring. (Fresh rhubarb cannot be far behind).
A big "hello" smile from Julian. CA.
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
Reg. Price $8.49 23.44% disc. $ 78.00/case
Reg. Price $6.49 22.96% disc. $ 60.00/case
389A Cabernet Sauvignon,'83.Caché
Reg. Price $12.00 20.83% disc. $114.00/case
389B Sauvignon Blanc,'87.Premiat
Reg. Price $3.39 26.25% disc. $ 30.00/case
289A White Burgundy (P.B.),'87.Mirassou
Reg. Price $6.85 21.17% disc. $ 64.80/ease
289B Chianti Classico,'86.D'Albola.
Reg. Price $7.99 21.78% disc. $ 75.00/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor $ 19.95/each
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