February 1990 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 144 Rejected: 122 Approved: 22 Selected: 2
It seems the good wines come in bunches. Some months we can taste hundreds and have to work very hard to find the two we want to bring to you. Other months, such as this, the difficulty comes from having to narrow down the field from so many good candi¬dates.
Stop the presses! A late entry for a California white wine has stopped us in our tracks. This Monte Verde Chardonnay had us saying "WOW" to the quality and the price.
Our imported red this month comes from Italy. The response we had for the Chianti featured in February, 1989, showed us that good solid Italian wines are of de¬mand. This one regenerated our in-
terest. Made from grapes known mainly to Italy, Salice Salenti is not commonly seen in the U.S.A.. Here is a big red from a region of Italy that alone produces almost as much wine as all of California!
Chardonnay '88, Monte Verde Pg. 2
Salice Salentino, '83 Dr. Taurino Pg. 3
This Matter Letting Bottle Breathe 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
CHARDONNAY, 1988, MONTE VERDE
Widely known for their suc¬cesses in motor racing, brothers Frank and Phil Arciero, along with their sons, operate one of Califor-nia's largest construction and de¬velopment companies. The mes¬sage: Success is an attitude.
With 700 acres of estate owned vineyard land, a 78,000 sq. ft. production and bottling facility and a complete self-contained water reclamation system Arciero (pro¬nounced Ar-chi-ero) is capable of producing 500,000 cases per an¬num. While operating at only 20% capacity so far, this is staggering growth potential; considering that the winery only officially opened to the public in 1986. Located in San Luis Obispo County, Arciero is currently the largest estate win¬ery in Paso Robles (with the land values in Napa valley "going through the roof' the Central Coast is fast becoming an appellation of recognition). Arciero offers nearly 20 different wines under several labels (including a "Race Car" la¬bel). Their Monte Verde Chardonnay emerges the front runner in this months search for outstanding wine value.
Chardonnay, though bold, is a very versatile wine. For those who like a dry white aperitif, it can be perfection. More restrained in fla¬vors than some other varietals, it complements fish courses with fi¬nesse, yet certainly has enough
complexity for poultry , veal, and a wide variety of pasta dishes. Some people would not consider anything else but a Chardonnay with a fruit and cheese platter.
Our selection this month offers a youthfully clear medium green color. It smells fresh and clean with a straight forward pleasant fragrance bearing light oak tones. Fairly broad on the palate, the wine fills the mouth with assertive fruit flavors. The winemaker Mike Loykasek opted to blend 12% of the wine with other varietals to in-crease the complexity of its charac¬ter. Excellent acidity keeps the pa¬late enlivened. The smooth finish ends with a nice aftertaste reminis¬cent of green plums.
Serve chilled at dinner time to accompany grilled turkey or chick¬en breast fillets. Use it to brighten a buffet lunch spread.
(a late Editor's note: the winery has informed us that a 5 star re¬staurant here in the southland re¬cently chose the Monte Verde as it's varietal-by-the-glass Chardon-nay. Just another feather!)
Cellaring Notes: Requires no further age¬ing...crafted to drink best in 1990, but will hold through 1991.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#290A Regular Price: $7.29/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.49/ea.
22.2% disc. $68.04/case
SALICE SALENTINO, 1983 Dr. Taurino
The only good thing about in¬flated California wine prices is that importers will search far and wide into territories they normally would not have, to discover good bargains.
Salice Salentino lies almost at the very tip of Italy's "high heel"; in the region of Apuglia (or just Puglia), known mainly for vast quantities of mediocre wine. The Pugliese, in fact, produce almost as much wine as there is made in the whole state of California! The very warm climate so far south yields generally dull wine of high alcohol content.
A few dedicated growers have taken it upon themselves to dem¬onstrate that Puglia can produce fine wines if enough time and en-ergy are expended. Exemplary among them is Dr. Cosimo Tauri¬no who strictly employs meticu¬lous viticultural practices in his 225 acre estate. Vines are kept low to the ground to produce reduced yeilds of higher quality grapes. Dr. Taurino avoids an overage of sug¬ar at harvest by having the grapes picked at their most desirable point of maturity. Abundance of harvest sugar would result in unusually "big" wines that are common to this region. The final analysis shows a nice balance between sug¬ar and acid; a balance that is crucial to all superior wines.
Salice Salentino is named after
its geographic region, Puglia's Sa¬lento peninsula (the region that is presumed to be responsible for the ancestor of the California Zinfan¬del). It is made from grapes virtu¬ally unknown on our shores: Ne¬gro Amaro 80%, and Malvasia Nera di Brindisi 20% (sometimes called Malvasia Rossa). These give a deeply colored full-bodied wine which can keep well for 10 years or more becoming more velvety the while. The term "Reserva" in-dicates that the wine has been giv¬en at least two years of additional ageing.
Our selection exhibits a brilliant purplish color. The explosively rich nose, which has lots of grape aroma and a noticeable degree of bouquet garnered from the ageing process, precedes an equally ex¬plosive taste - cherry and raspberry flavors dominate. The body is mel¬low with great depth. It finishes nicely, crisp with just a hint of tan¬nin and lingering flavors. Serve at room temperature with a hearty marinara sauce made with fresh to¬matoes over wide noodles and/or a good lamb roast.
Cellaring Notes: Possible at its peak now or two years this side of it. A fun one to track.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#290B Regular Price: $7.69/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.85/ea.
23.90% disc. $70.20/case
THIS MATTER OF LETTING THE BOTTLE "BREATHE"
(For the benefit of new members, this is a reprint from the April 1985 W.O.M.C. Newsletter.)
I do not belong to the school that in-sists all wine must be allowed to breathe before serving. If the belief is rigid, I consider it a fetish.
To really recognize the benefit that comes from "breathing" of wine, one must look at the chemistry of wine, and the physics of the breathing pro¬cess.
What we are really talking about is basically two phenomena. 1) Expos¬ing a recently opened bottle of wine to some oxygen from the air. Very sim¬ply..a desirable chemical reaction called oxidation. 2) Allowing the wine to evaporate slightly, merely turning into vapor. A physical reac¬tion which allows the volatile ele¬ments in the wine to exert their pres¬ence.
The better term, and maybe the correct one, is "aerating" the wine (despite the aquarium overtones of the word!).
And, the better way to aerate a wine, if it needs it, is to decant it into another empty bottle or a glass de¬canter (we are not concerned about sediment decanting, its whys and hows are the subject of a future arti¬cle). The aerating occurs because of the pouring over of the wine. As it is leaving its bottle and dropping into the new container, it comes in contact with plenty of oxygen from the air, and does what it has to! Furthermore, this same process has some agitation or shaking to it, and some of the ele¬ments in the liquid wine tend to vap¬orize.
Everything that happens with a two or three hour breathing spell by
opening a bottle and letting it stand will happen with a one minute exer¬cise of decanting.
You see... with the traditionalists breathing ritual, the 3/4 inch exposure to the air in the neck of the bottle is minimal for the chemical reaction of oxidation. And with no "pouring over", you have to do a heck of alot of swirling to achieve the second re¬quirement of vaporizing.
My suggestion is to aerate, if the wines needs it, and not to tax ones pa¬tience with guessing how long does the wine need to breathe.
Now comes the question: Which wines need aerating?
Most wines will benefit from aerat¬ing. The degree of benefit is both for taste and aroma or bouquet.
Robust, big, bold, assertive red wines will benefit considerably from aerating (Cabernets, Syrahs, Pinot Noirs, Riojas, Zinfandels etc.).
Aged wines will benefit, but be careful not to over do it. Very old wines are delicate and their beauty of age is fleeting! (even while it is still in your glass).
Young and fruity red wines are low in benefitting. If they are "closed in" for aroma, a little aerating will help.
White wine likewise, will benefit little.
Certainly, no aerating of sparkling wines is advised!
If you use a glass decanter to transfer your wine to, it is best to have a stopper for it. This will prevent the volatile aromatics from dissipating fast. The surface of wine against air is now larger and this accelerates the ac-tion.
To sum up, breathing is best ac-complished by aerating. PK 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.
Feb. 1986 R. Ch. Laffitte Laujac, '82. Still complexing. Can keep. Track.
W. Sauvignon Blanc, '82 Rthfd.Rnch. Has seen better days. Use
Feb. 1987 R. Zinfandel,Vnyrd Sel.'78.L.Martini. Approaching Peak. Use.
W. White Merlot.'85.Zonin. Lost all its charm. Over the hill. Use.
Feb. 1988 R. Nebbiolo,'86.Martin Bros. Will complex more. Keep.
W. Pinot Grigio.'86.Bollini. Starting to lose its fruit. Use.
Feb. 1989 R. Chianti Classico'86 Cstllo D'Alb. Softening. Complexing. Keep.
W. White Burgundy,'87.Mirassou. Some fruit loss. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
I am of Armenian descent, and this re-cent acceleration of war in Azerbaijan dis¬turbs me for all the peoples involved. This is not a political column, but food belongs to the world, and how much fun it would be to travel freely, with no anx¬iety of impending strife, to taste engag¬ing flavors and partake it with the peo¬ples that prepare them.
One cannot help but think that leaders of nations get involved in a quest for power, and resulting fallout seems to roll off their backs. The Azerbaijan area is known for its peoples' longevity. For years their lifestyle, foods and genetics in this regard have been studied. People live longer there than anywhere else in the world. Perhaps this soup will add a few years to your life.
The food of the Soviet nation differs from state to state, and Azerbaijan food is a combination of Middle-Eastern, Mon¬golian, Persian and Arab seasonings and ingredients. The Arab influence is the use of dried fruits; the Persians, dill; and the Middle-Eastern, chick-peas. By adding curry, some powdered cumin, or a little red pepper, the soup again changes its character to something a bit more exotic. Armenian cuisine, is quite different than the rest of the state they occupy with Azerbaijanis. That in itself surprises me, when there is such proximity of cultures.
Chicken Soup With Rice,
Chick-Peas & Prunes Serves 6
1 2 1/2 lb. chicken
6 cups cold water
1 large onion, sliced
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter
1 lge. onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white
1 cup canned, drained chick-peas
2 cups dried pitted prunes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill,
less if dry, or to taste
Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off foam. Add sliced onion, salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low; simmer 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender. Transfer to a plate and remove skin. Cut meat into slivers, re¬serve.
In a heavy saucepan, melt butter, and saute chopped union until golden brown stirring not to burn it. Pour in strained stock and rice, bring to a boil; then re¬duce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add chick-peas and prunes, sim¬mer 15 minutes more. Add the reserved chicken, and cook 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning, add dill and serve.
Enjoy this hearty soup, and serve it with a robust style of bread (dense Italian or Armenian style bread from a middle-eastern grocer, if there is one near you).
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
290A Chardonnay, '88. Monte Verde
Reg. Price $7.29 24.70% disc. $ 65.88/case
290B Salice Salentino, '83.Dr. Taurino
Reg. Price $7.69 20.00% disc. $ 73.80/case
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
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