May 1989 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 313 Rejected: 241 Approved: 72 Selected: 2
I have always wanted to feature a "Nouveau" wine, but have never been able to because of the tight timing. They are young Beaujolais wines that do not have a shelf life. They are released every November 15, and are best consumed young, during the 3 to 4 months follow¬ing. They are delicious when fresh, but go downhill very fast. The innovative efforts of a Califor¬nia winemaker permits me to show you a "Nouveau" made from a sturdier grape, which seems to have better holding power. This month's domestic selection tastes just as good in May as it did in November. More on page 2.
It took some hunting to find this superb Orvieto Classico. When in Italy, Orvieto was the second most
important wine on most wine lists, after Chianti. I tasted some won¬derful examples there, but the im¬ported versions here in the US never were the same, until this vintage and this brand surfaced. Maybe it does not travel well, or maybe they keep the better ones for themselves, but this one slipped out!
Petite Sirah Nouveau,'88.Cilurzo. Pg. 2
Orvieto Classico.'87.Bligi Pg. 3
Member Inquiry - Wine country touring 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
PETITE SIRAH NOUVEAU, 1988. CILURZO
Pe-Teet See-Rah New-Vo
In 1968, Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo planted the first premium varietal wine grapes in Temecula. Ca. Then, in 1978, they started their winery. They were among the pioneers for this appellation that is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the better wine grape regions in the world. (with all due respect to the high priests in Napa!)
As of last month, I had said "Wow" twice to Vince's wines since 1978. They were his Gamay Beaujolais,'80. (WOMC selection 5/81) and his Fume Blanc '81 (WOMC selection 8/82). The other day, this Petite Sirah Nouveau '88 produced another "Wow" from my lips. It was loud enough that by¬standers at his tasting room won¬dered who was this guy making such noises, but not even swal¬lowing the wine!
Vince is an experimenter. Must be the influence of his real life work. You see, professionally he is a Lighting Director for television shows, notably the Merv Griffin show. Well... he experimented for this wine... who ever heard of a Nouveau Petite Sirah? Traditional¬ly only a Beaujolais is made as a nouveau wine... and mainly in France. (A handful of California wineries make a Gamay Beaujolais Nouveau, and if you recall we had a Pinot Noir Nouveau as a selec¬tion a few years back.)
Well... it turned out great. He
used Petite Sirah grapes from his ten year old vineyard, picked on September 17, 1988.(that is why he calls it Full Moon Nouveau! As if the moon had anything to do with this quality? Who knows?) He then fermented in the true car¬bonic maceration technique. Whole bunches were carefully placed in a stainless steel tank without crush¬ing. Yeast was added, and CO2 purged air from the tank. Ten days later, fermentation almost com¬plete, the whole bunches were pressed. After filtering, the wine was bottled and released on Nov 15, 1988. (the traditional release, day of nouveau wines.)
The wine is distinctly purplish red in color. It has a massive fruity aroma with that characteristic young wine overtone. Raspberry dominates. The taste is fresh, fresh, fresh... a welcome change in a red wine. The taste is also rich... not often seen in a nouveau wine; the sirah grape must be re¬sponsible for this. Perfectly bal¬anced. A refreshing red wine, and rather long on the finish. Serve slightly chilled with a ham entrée, or with ham sandwiches. Great red aperitif wine too.
Cellaring Notes: Not for ageing. Use in 1989.
#589A Regular Price: $6.95/ea
Member Reorder Price: $5.00/ea
28.06% disc $60.00/cs
ORVIETO CLASSICO, 1987. BIGI
Orvieto is a white wine from Italy that is named after a town. (Southeast of Florence and north of Rome). All wine called Orvieto must originate from grapes grown in a zone of vineyards of sixteen communes around the town, by specific area limitation according to the DOC regulations. (Denominaz¬ione di Origine Controllata). Orvie¬to wine is a style, and a blend of wine from native grapes grown within this zone. "Orvieto Classi¬co" is a further delimitation of source. Within this zone, the core of the best vineyards are located ground the Orvieto commune, and they are designated "Orvieto Clas¬sico". (Classic Orvieto).
The ancient town of Orvieto, perched atop a mass of volcanic rock rising from the vineyards be¬low, is home to Bigi of Orvieto. This firm was established in 1880, and is the only major producer based in the designated region. The winery is a former Franciscan monastery named "La Trinita". Most other producers must trans¬port their grapes from the vine¬yards of the area to wineries many miles away, making it difficult to retain the freshness and quality of the newly-picked perishable and fragile grapes. This latter fact, plus the skill of winemaker Marco Monchiero (who incidentally is Managing Director of the Consor¬tium of Orvieto wine Producers)
has earned the reputation for this brand to be called "L'Orvieto di Orvieto" in Italy. (The Orvieto of Orvieto).
Five vinifera grapes are used for this Orvieto. The primary va¬rietal is Trebbiano Toscano which gives the wine its fresh, lightly fruited quality, and the blends of lesser amounts of Verdello, Gre¬chettto, Drupeggio, and Malvasia Toscano, contribute to the wine's body and delicate balance.
Our wine is light yellow, with a hint of green. It has a fruity aro¬ma mixed with a somewhat com¬plex bouquet. The aroma reminds me of cheremoya fruit, and the bouquet has a hint of chalkiness. The taste is rich in fruit that has mellowed and blended with the other components in the grape to produce a lush middle to the taste. A pipin apple flavor emerges in this full bodied wine. A pleasant crispness follows that balances the wine. The flavor is long on the fin¬ish. Serve chilled with poached or baked salmon, or as your white aperitif wine.
Cellaring Notes: Can handle two more years and improve in that time.
#589B Regular Price: $7.79/ea
Member Reorder Price: $6.25/ea
21.78% disc $75.00/case
"Paul, I have to go to San Fran¬cisco on business for a week. My wife will be with me. We have never been to the wine country. I intend to schedule a day off and tour. Where do your recommend I go?" D.H.Ventura.CA
For a one day trip, and for a first time trip, you are going to be at the right place to take off from!
San Francisco is close enough to the unofficial capital of California wine (in my opinion), to make a one day trip out of it. I am talking about St. Helena. It is the holy of holies. You can reach it by car in a little over an hour. (A car is the only sensible way to do it for a one day trip).
Take Highway 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge, then take 37 to 121, and 121 to 29. Even though you are going to Napa Val¬ley in Napa County, and the town of Napa seems the place to go; for¬get it this time; it is boring. The strip between Yountville and Calis¬toga on 29 is your destination. If we in California had the equivalent of what the French have in their wine regions: "Grand route du Vins", this would be our best one.
I suggest you drive through from Yountville to Calistoga to get an overview of what I am talking about, then work your way back immediately to make up to four stops I will suggest, for a first tim¬er. (If you do not heed my "imme¬diately" suggestion, you will linger and get trapped in quaint Calisto-
ga, and never finish.
Driving back from Calistoga, stop at Sterling Vineyards on the left side of the highway. A beauti¬ful winery, perched on a hill, with an aerial tram ride and a rather well done self-tour, and a pleasant tast¬ing room.
Then, just before you enter St. Helena, a worth while stop is Be¬ringer, on the right side of the highway. The have guided tours and a charming old building for their tasting room.
It should be lunch time by now, and my favorite is to pick up pro¬visions in St. Helena, and find a park bench somewhere to enjoy a country picnic with a bottle of wine.
Then on to Rutherford, just south of St. Helena, to visit Robert Mondavi Vineyards. They have a very educational guided tour, and are an important force in the Napa wine scene.
If you have any energy left, I strongly suggest a stop at Yount¬ville, to visit The Domaine Chan-don Cellars.They are makers of California sparkling wine, and a division of the famous Moet French champagne makers. A very interesting guided tour and process worth observing.
Of course you will pass, on this short trip, many names you recog¬nize, and you will want to stop. But save that for another day. You will vow to come back and stay a while. I assure you!
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.
May 1985. R. Ch. La Cordonne '82. Still going strong. OK to keep
W. Joh. Riesling '84.Alex. Vlly Vin.Starting to go downhill. Use
May 1986. R. Pinot Noir '81.Chat.Chey.Developing nicely.OK to keep
W. Marques de Alella. '83.Alta Alella. Some oxidation detected. Use
May 1987. R. Sonoma Vintage White '85.Geyser Peak. Starting to oxidise. Use.
W. Chianti Classico,Riserva,'69.Fossi.I consider it at the peak. Use
May 1988 R. Zinfandel,'84.Hallmark Cellars.Some complexity. ok to keep.
W. Chardonnay,'86.La Jolie. Still quite fruity. Should use.
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Adventures in Eating
It is rare, when I can take a recipe just as it is and think it superb. Most times I like to add, and subtract ingredients, and sort of make it my own thing, much like moving into a new home, and redoing it to make it feel like your home. This reci¬pe is an exception, and for that matter, so are the rest of the recipes found in this marvelous cookbook.
"More Taste than Time", authored by Abbey Mandel and published by Simon and Schuster, is a great collection of as¬sorted recipes. I had the privilege of get¬ting acquainted with Abbey, and she is an unassuming individual, bringing cookies or whatever is needed to a gathering, just as any homemaker would contribute. I liked that about her, as so many public figures do not have that quiet counte¬nance about them. Abbey Mandel devel¬oped recipes and cooking methods with the Cuisinart company for many years, and has written several other cookbooks.
I like her recipes, because the finished product makes you feel like you have made something very special (and you have) without toiling for hours to bring together so many textures and flavors of ingredients. To quote from the book "Each recipe focuses on delivering more taste, flavor and style than its prepara¬tion time indicates". Well said. I have made this soup many times, and it is al¬ways a success.
CURRIED EGGPLANT SOUP
(Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking
time: 35 minutes. Yield: 7 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper
1 large onion (8 oz.) peeled
1 medium red bell pepper (6 oz.)
Eggplant totaling 1 1/2 lbs.
3 Tbl. light tasting olive oil
4 teaspoons curry powder or to taste
3 1/3 cups chicken stock (canned is fine)
1 cup water
1/3 cup whipping cream
1. Mince garlic and hot pepper in a food processor or blender. Chop onion and red bell pepper in the processor or by hand. Trim eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch cubes, without peeling.
2. Heat oil in a 3 quart pan. Add garlic, hot pepper, onion, red bell pepper, and curry. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers are soft, about 6 minutes. Add eggplant and cook 3 more minutes.
3.Add stock or broth and water and heat to the boil. Cover and cook until all veg¬etables are very soft, about 20 minutes.
4. Strain solids from liquid, reserving both. Puree solids in the processor or in batches in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir the puree into the cook¬ing liquid. Strain, then add cream.
The soup can be served hot or cold. It will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and freezes well. Suggestion: serve it with croutons and finely chopped par¬sley. A meal in itself. Have Fun.
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
589A Petite Sirah Nouveau,88.Cilurzo
Reg. Price $6.95 28.06% disc. $ 60.00/case
589B Orvietto Classico,'87. Bigi
Reg. Price $7.99 21.78% disc. $ 75.00/case
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
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor $ 19.95/each
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