January 1990 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 186 Rejected: 152 Approved: 34 Selected: 2
Our last Pinot Noir selection was 18 months ago. (the Pinot Noir Blanc in September does not count; it was our annual blush wine representative) That's how rare it is to find good examples of this red wine made in California. Despite the fact that the Cameros district near Napa has been pro-claimed as one that has ideal soil and climate for this grape, I have had a few wonderful Pinot Noir wines from Santa Clara County. That is the appellation of our wine; and as Larry describes on page 2, it has pedigreed neighbors and a winemaker who is innovative.
On the heels of our Merlot from Chile, our October selection, here is another Chilean entrant with merit. Every time I taste wines
from Chile, I come away with sev¬eral approvals from their red wines, rarely any white wines. This one was different. It has the makings of what we expect from a Sauvignon Blanc, and more to the tastes we are accustomed. That is important. I am sure many of the white wines I might have rejected had local appeal.
Onward into the 1990 selections!
Pinot Noir,'87. Congress Springs Pg. 2
Sauvignon Blanc; 88. Erraz. Panq Pg. 3
1989 in Retrospect 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 D, Arcadia, CA 91066. or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361
PINOT NOIR, 1987. CONGRESS SPRINGS
The Congress Springs Winery, situated on the Santa Clara side of the rugged Santa Cruz mountain is surrounded by such illustrious neighbors as David Bruce, Martin Ray, Mount Eden and Ridge Vine¬yards. Dan Gehrs and his wife Robin rebuilt the winery (which dates from the 1890's) in 1976. Dan's winemaking philosophy... "We don't try to make the most wine, just the best," is well reflect¬ed in this month's selection.
Pinot Noir grapes, originally from France's famed Bourgogne (i.e. "Burgundy") region, present the challenge to wine-makers world wide. It is such a difficult grape to grow and vinify that each hopeful tries to second guess Mother Nature. Initiative abounds, yet, alas, too frequently the results are disappointing. The quality which our wine possesses reflects a remarkable bit of original tech¬nology.
In wrestling with Pinot Noir over the years, Dan had noted an impor¬tant factor contributing to final fla¬vors; the aroma and taste of the grapes change dramatically ("chameleon-like, says Gehrs) as they ripen on the vine. One detects at first a strawberry-raspberry complex. As the grapes ripen a bit further the strawberry disappears, the raspberry remains, and a cher¬ry fruit character emerges. With a bit more ripening the raspberry de-
parts, the cherry persists, and a purple plum note emerges. Should one wait too long before picking, all is dominated by prunes! Gehrs therefore hit upon the idea of har¬vesting the grapes "progressively"; not all at once but over a one or two week span - yielding fruit and a consequent wine which displays a complex melange of all these fla¬vors... fascinating.
His resultant 1987 vintage went on to win a gold medal at the Dal¬las Morning News Wine Competi¬tion, a silver at the El Dorado West Coast Wine Competition, and a bronze at the Farmers Fair of Riv¬erside County. 1300 cases only were bottled.
The color of this wine is a clear lightish garnet red. The nose, fair¬ly burgundian in character, exhib¬its a woody, cedary note mixed with aforementioned berry impres¬sions. On the palate it is silky-dry and tangy, finishing long, smooth and clean. Serve at cool room tem¬perature with game birds or roast pork.
Cellaring Notes: Should devel¬op with five year's ageing a "robe" of velvet - that is quite a prognosti¬cation - but it is eminently drinka¬ble now.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#190A Regular Price: $9.50/ea.
Special Member Price: $9.00/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $7.00/ea.
26.32% disc. $84.00/cs.
SAUVIGNON BLANC, 1988.
Saw-veen-yon Blonk Eh-rah-zoo-riz Pan-kay-way
(Editorial forenote: It pleases me to see how often [and unexpectedly so] Paul chooses these wonderful wines from Chile as club selections. I have been a long time fan of Chilean wines. They of¬ten represent bargain values. L.T.)
(The Errazuriz Panquehue Winery (their slogan is "once you have tasted our wines... you'll want to learn to say our name", (see pho¬netic pronunciation above) dates back to the 1870's and has been a family operation since its incep¬tion. Rafael Errazuriz Urmenta, in his determination to follow well in the footsteps of his father, winery founder Don Maximiano Errazuriz Valdivieso, planted so many vines that Panquehue held the distinction at that time of being the largest vineyard in the world in the hands of a single owner. His father used to say "Grapevines should be tend¬ed and treated like works of art, since their life span runs parallel to that of man." The present Chair¬man Don Alfonso Chadwick Er¬razuriz contends that "having been born in a wine press" is his claim to the family tradition.
(Although first class cabernets are grown at the northerly ancestral Panquehue estate, the firm turned to the Mataquito Valley about 125 miles south of Santiago, the na¬tion's capital, for white grape pro¬duction. There is a bit more rain¬fall, which is desirable, in this
district - yet it is virtually rain free during the critical summer growing season - also desirable. It is slight¬ly cooler there as well. These con¬ditions are considered more ideal for producing lively and delicate white wines.
(Sauvignon Blanc is probably the most versatile and adaptable of white wine grapes. Like its red rel¬ative, cabernet sauvignon, it re¬tains its flavor and personality wherever planted. Vinified proper¬ly, it gives a nice "round" (mouth filling) savory wine, characterized by an easily recognized green leaf or "grassy" aroma. In its ancestral home, France, it supplies the basis for the many white wines of Bor¬deaux as well as the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines of the Loire Valley region.
(This wine exhibits a brilliant pale green gold hue. The classic sau¬vignon nose contains green leaf, with a hint of mintiness plus a touch of melon (honeydew)... clean. It is medium bodied, round and pleasantly tart. It finishes with a hint of caramel in the after taste.
(Serve chilled with poultry or shellfish. Would be great with gar¬licky charbroiled jumbo prawns.
Cellaring Notes: Enjoy through 1990.
(Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#190B Regular Price: $6.00/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $4.80/ea.
20.00% disc. $57.60/case
1989 IN RETROSPECT
WINES EVALUATED: 2662
What a year! We moved our offices and warehouse, we added a new CEO, (bump¬ing yours truly to COB), we trained new office and warehouse staff; and still man-aged to chalk up the numbers above!
For our Regular Series we had:
•2 Cabernet Sauvignons, both were of the block buster type.
•1 Cabernet blend; a claret from Bor¬deaux that showed the lighter side of the grape. .
•1 Merlot vinified in Chile, bottled by a California winery, and a bargain for the quality. .
•1 Merlot blend, a St. Emilion style Bordeaux that had already started com¬plexing nicely. .
•2 Petite Sirahs, from two extremes of styles... a big bold inky style wine, (we are still receiving reorders after 12 months, as members try their bottles "later on" and find that wine like this dis¬appears fast. We sold out in 30 days.) and a unique "nouveau" style that was a fun summer wine. .
•1 Syrah, a charming Australian version. .
•1 Zinfandel, a rich a big wine like they used to make in the 70's. .
•2 Chardonnays, a California version in the medium price-range with exemplary attributes, and a low price-range French version worth much more. .
•3 Sauvignon Blancs, all three of the Fume type from 3 different countries. Similarities naturally... but enough dif¬ferences to make it interesting. .
•2 Chenin Blanes, a classic pedigreed Vouvray of exceptional vintage and a
California version to compare. .
•1 Johannisberg Riesling, lush and rich example of what that grape can do in California. .
•1 Pinot Blanc, again an achievement of a grape rarely marketed solo in Califor¬nia. .
•1 blush wine made from Pinot Noir, a fine example of how blush wines do not have to be as sweet as customarily seen. .
•3 regional blends: Chianti classico that demonstrated the true essence of Tuscany, Orvietto classico showing off the white wines of Italy, and a seldom seen Cotes de Duras from France. .
For the Limited Series we had:
•2 California Chardonnays, each big in its own way. Fine wines... I can still taste them! .
•1 French Chardonnay from Chablis, a beautiful example of a ler Cru. .
•1 California Cabernet Sauvignon, from the dean of our vintners and one of his designated vineyards. .
•2 classified growth Bordeaux red wines, a Graves and an Haut Médoc, both truly representative of their pedigree and sensi¬bly priced. .
•1 California Pinot Noir of great dis¬tinction. (rare). .
•1 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from an impor¬tant domaine with one of their better vintage releases. .
So it was quite a year wine wise too...Every wine we featured was reordered in ample quantities to tell me we scored each time.
I look forward to your comments, be they endorsements or criticisms of my selections. That is how I keep my ear to the ground and my palate in tune!
Here's to a great 1990.
Paul Kalemkiarian Sr.
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. 1986 R. Pinot Noir,'81.AmRs.Zaca Mesa. Good complexity, can still keep.
W.Chardonnay del Veneto, '84.Alvina. Over the top with oxidation.
Jan. 1987 R. Shiraz/Cabernet,'84.Penfolds. Coming along, complexing, keep.
W. Semillon,'85.Alderbrook.Austere now, some oxidation. Use.
Jan. 1988 R. Ch. Bellegrave,'82. Some complexity, still fruity. Should be held.
W. Johannisberg Riesling,'84.Ch. Julien. On the way down. Use.
Jan. 1989 R. Petite Sirah,nv.Da Vinci. Hardly changed. Keep.
W. Sauvignon Blanc-Fumé,'87.Yalumba. Nicely mellow. ok to use.
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Adventures in Eating
No matter now much effort one puts into a self designated commitment volun-teering time, somehow unexpected and uncalculated good things do happen.
After moving to Julian (apple coun¬try), a serious matter presented itself to us. The U.S. Forest Service had a Master Plan to place a 37 mile road through the Cleveland National Forest for Off Road Vehicle use. We formed the proverbial committee bent on trying to persuade the Forest Service to scrap this project. It is an unsuitable activity for the area. In this pursuit, I have spoken to many people representing varieties of expertise on such scientifically oriented issues. I was amazed at how caring people can be, and how willing they are to help. Even some Off Road Vehicle owners oppose forest use.
Joan Stewart, of San Diego, is the president of the California Native Plant Society. As we spoke about native Cali¬fornia plants, I mentioned our Wine Club and this column. She disappeared into her bedroom, and produced a book titled "Cookbook of Foods from Bible Days", by Jean and Frank McKibbin, who are friends of hers.
Being surrounded by hundreds of apple trees, I turned to the chapter on apples, and found apples were mentioned by the Sumerians before 2000 B.C. The Egyp¬tians praised the apple in 13 B.C. and the Hittites fined anyone caught cutting down an apple tree.
Today the U.S. produces more apples than any other country; furthermore, eve¬ry state in the union grows some variety.
A cultivated tree is at its prime at 50 years and may bear fruit past 100.
APPLES IN ROBES
Pastry: 2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. sugar
1 cube (1/2 cup) margarine/butter
3/4 cup milk
Combine flour, salt and sugar and cut in margarine(food processor ok.) Add milk and mix. Roll out on floured board and cut into squares large enough to wrap half an apple.
Filling: 4 medium to small apples,
halved and cored
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix cinnamon and sugar. Put 1 tsp. in center of each pastry square. Place half an apple over it. Dab water along edges of pastry, wrap apple half carefully in pastry, sealing edges. Put in greased baking dish. Sprinkle remaining sugar over tops. Bake in 325 degrees oven 30 minutes.
Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon in a pan and bring to boil. Pour over pastries after they have been in oven 20 minutes. Re¬turn to oven for 10 minutes more or un¬til a fork pierces the apple filling easily. Serves 6-8.
Happy 1990 cooking!
For free membership information write or call
Wine of the Month Club®
Discovering superb wines since 1972.
P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066 (818) 445-8281 FAX (818) 445-8361
190A Pinot Noir,'87.Congress Springs
Reg. Price $9.50 26.32% disc. $ 84.00/case
190B Sauvignon Blanc,'88. Erraz. Panq.
Reg. Price $6.00 20.00% disc. $ 57.60/case
1289A Spinnaker Port, Gran Tawny. H&M
Reg. Price $7.25 20.69% disc. $ 69.00/case
1289B Clair Diamant, Blanc de Blancs, Brut
Reg. Price $7.49 20.03% disc. $ 71.88/case
1189A Cabernet Sauvignon,'86.River Run
Reg. Price $10.00 25.00% disc. $ 90.00/case
1189B Chardonnay,'87. Laroche
Reg. Price $6.50 28.00% disc. $ 62.40/case
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