June 1990 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 278 Rejected: 221 Approved: 57 Selected: 2
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! This time we have really done it. We have stumbled across the value of the century. Many times we have tasted the Merry Vintners collection of Chardonnays and have only been able to dream about featuring one. You see, all of them really are classic Chardonnays but have always been just over our budget. A very candid conversa¬tion with one of the owners changed all that. Now, we bring you a 1986 Sonoma Reserve Char¬donnay from Merry Vintners. Please open it early, this wine will 'be bought up and I want everyone to have the opportunity to reorder.
A new appellation for the Wine of the Month Club members; Baja California! Our first trip south of
the border and what do we find? A Zinfandel that would sell for twice the price if the appellation was simply "California".
Chardonnay,'86 Merry Vintners Pg. 2
Petite Sirah,'87 San Martin Intl. Pg. 3
Portugal Has More Than Port 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, 1986. MERRY VINTNERS
The Merry Vintners is a small, 7,000 cases per annum, family winery in the rural outskirts of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. The winery was founded in 1984 by four partners; Charles Edwards and his wife D.J., their daughter Meredith and her husband Bill (Miller). Sounds quite ordinary so far... the catch is, Meredith (Mer¬ry) "Edwards" had already esta¬blished a major league record as one of the very first full-charge woman winemakers in America. Having graduated from U.C. Da¬vis with a Master's Degree in Enology (wine science), Merry was determined to start at the top: Not to spend years first as a lab technician and then working her way up. A slight case of discrimi¬nation slowed progress and eight interviews later during 1972 and 1973 nothing had presented itself. Finally, on the high recommenda¬tion of Dr. Maynard Amerine (she had been one of his best pupils), then professor in the Department of Viticulture, Merry secured the winemaker's position at Mount Edan Vineyards. Not long after that, Merry became famous in wine making circles. Wines she produced at Mount Edan in the mid-70's are legendary. Her next assignment took her to Matanza Creek Winery. There, in 1981, her 1979 Chardonnay won the Harvest Fair Sweepstakes Award...and
then, in 1983, her 1981 Chardonnay took the sweepstakes award and the San Francisco Wine Judging. People were impressed.
The world's premier grape for dry white wine, Chardonnay can be fermented with "no oak", "a little oak" (e.g. six weeks), or "Reserve" style with six to eight months oak. Generally, the more oak, the more depth and complexi¬ty. Merry Vintners Reserve Char-donnay spends approximately sev¬en months fermenting and ageing in expensive French oak barrels.
This wine offers a rich golden color. Its sumptuous, complex bouquet is laced with toasty wood herbs and citrus peel. Smooth and rich in the mouth (reminiscent of honey), it is completely dry. With perfectly balanced acidity, a mel¬low finish, and a nice lingering fruit impression this is a mature Chardonnay at its best.
Serve chilled with veal piccata, steamed mussels, broiled Maine Lobster (also jumbo prawns!), or mixed seafood kebobs.
Cellaring Notes: At its prime now, can keep one or two more years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#690A Regular Price: $14.75/ea.
Special Price: $10.81/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $7.99/ea.
45.83% disc. $95.88/cs.
ZINFANDEL, 1987. SAN MARTIN
A mission Padre was the first to plant grapevines in Baja California; on the site of the first lower Cali¬fornia mission circa 1697. But viti¬culture was known to Mexico far earlier than that. In 1524 the Mexi¬can conqueror Cortez decreed that all Spaniards holding land grants in Mexico had to plant annually, for five years, a thousand grape¬vines for each one hundred indians located on their ranchos. That's one way to start a industry!
The San Martin Winery has long been an industry leader in the Santa Clara/Monterey district. Originally founded in 1906 as a lo¬cal growers cooperative, the win¬ery has changed hands many times and has now settled down with its current owners, New World Wines Inc.. This multi-national corporation of marketing profes¬sionals acquired the winery in 1988. Over the past few years over 4.5 million dollars has been spent on upgrading the facilities and the winery now boasts capacity of over 3 million gallons. The winery owns no vineyards of their own, so, the new owners sent winemak¬er/consultant Greg Bruni to Chile and Baja California in search of high quality varietal wines.
Greg Bruni found a winner down south and dispatched a team of technicians to ensure the highest level of quality control be main¬tained at the respective winery.
This Baja California Zinfandel is one of the first wines San Martin has to offer with their new Interna¬tional Series.
Zinfandel grows abundantly in California (including Baja). The origin of Zinfandel is a question. The most popular belief is that it is a descendant of an Italian grape, Primitivo di Manduria, found in the southern regions of Italy. Here, on the Pacific Coast, Zinfan¬del yields a full-bodied, deep-colored and long-lived "Bour¬deaux" type mellow red wine. At its best, the wine is generous and refined.
This wine scores maximum points with color. Beautifully pink at the edge darkening to an intense magenta; gorgeous. The nose is opulent with fruit; blueberries, blackberries and a strong wood toastiness. Rich, deep and smooth in the mouth the wine has moder¬ate acids and good tannins which gives a nice, clean dry finish. No¬tice the peppery spice nuance. Serve at room temperature with hearty meat dishes, fruit glazed foul or spaghetti and meatballs.
Cellaring Notes: Probably at its peak now but may develop 1-2 more years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#690B Regular Price: $4.19/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $3.35/ea.
20.00% disc. $40.20/case
PORTUGAL HAS MORE THAN PORT!
By the time you are reading this, Rosemarie and I will be sleeping off our jet lag from an extensive exploration of Portuguese wines and foods. This is our first "four week" in depth study session.... Now that Jr. is running the shop, we can afford to spend that kind of time! (He is getting pretty good.... At the last formal tasting we both attended, we decided to separate, and sit at different tables. It was a Bordeaux tasting. When we fin¬ished and were waiting for our car, we compared notes. Both us started to chuckle, as we an-nounced our score for each wine we had tasted.... we concurred on over 80%! of the wines.)
Outside of port, and to a lesser extent madeira, the availability of finer table wines from Portugal in the USA is very limited. Except for Mateus and Lancers, two pop¬ular "trade named" wines that have faded in popularity because of the White Zinfandel revolution, the shelves in wine shops and lists in restaurants hardly show any inter¬est. Occasionally a brave importer will venture into a few representa¬tions at the trade tastings we at¬tend. Now and then, I find a very pleasing Vino Verde to feature in our program, and on a couple of instances an outstanding red exam-ple from the Bairrada and the Dao came forth, but they never had enough inventory.
One of the things I have insisted on, in selecting and buying wine for our program, is the tasting of
the actual wine after it has been im¬ported into the USA and is in our importers or wholesalers cellar. The entire amount we need must be on hand, and from the same shipped lot. I have seen and tasted vast differences in subsequent shipments of the same wine. Enough to become wary of "buy¬ing on the boat", or "in our broker cellars in Marseilles" inventory commitments.
Our membership numbers are growing, and I have to start find¬ing the imports at their origin and securing their best shipment condi-tions.
So we will start with Portugal!
The Junta Nacionale do Vino has designated ten wine growing re¬gions in Portugal. I hope to visit all ten; from Algarve on the south coast, through Setubal, Bucelas, Carcavelos and Colares, around Lisbon, to Bairrada and Dao in the center, to Douro for port, to Vinho Verde in the north coast at the Spanish border, and a short flight to the island of Madeira for that wine. (I am rather fond of Madera. About 14 years ago, I attended a tasting organized by the L.A. chapter of LADV. The tab was $80 for 8 half portions of older Madeiras, among which was a 1789 version. These can be fun historical exercises....and often re¬warding wine experiences!)
I will report on my findings on this page, in future issues of this newsletter.
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.
June 1986 R. Chateauneuf du Pape ,'84 P.Jablt.Aine. Still mellowing. Keep.
W. Amador Blanc,nv. D'Agostini. Oxidized. Use.
June 1987 R. Gamay Beaujolais, '86 Fetzer. Fruit gone. Use.
W. Gewurztraminer, '85 A.Gaschy. Developed. Peaked. Use.
June 1988 R. Pinot Noir, '83 Edna Valley. Very complex. Can keep or use.
W. Wiengartener Trap. Spatl., '83. Baum. Oxidized. Use.
June 1989 R. Shiraz. '85 Lindemans. Complexing. Holding. Can keep or use.
W. Johannisberg Riesl. '87. Freemark Abbey. Still fruity. Keep or use.
NEED ANOTHER BINDER? Is your present binder bulging with newsletters?
Let us know, and we will ship you an empty one!
Adventures in Eating
Now that my father has turned his mantle over to my brother, I suppose it was inevitable that my mother should take a break from this column and see what culinary talent lies in her daughter's reper¬tory.
Cooking and eating (and later drinking good wine!) were a very essential part of my childhood. As you know by now, my mother is a very talented chef. But aside from the wonderful taste of her food, her cooking always had a mes¬sage.
Meals were presented so as to please the eye, as this added to everyone's enjoyment of the meal. They were rarely too complicated to prepare daily - for mom needed time for her community activism. And by watching her I was taught to experiment freely, as cooking was a creative outlet above all else.
The time in the kitchen with mom served me well. I am a busy working mom; the mother of two pre-schoolers, both of whom were born while I was in law school. I currently work full time as a law clerk to a Federal district judge here in San Diego. I wish my mother had not taught me so well, for even during the busiest weeks I try to fix something new for my family.
Here is my latest invention. I got the idea from some tips from James Beard on the affinity of
pork for basil and slow cooking.
Savory and Tender Pork
2 to 4 lb.'s boneless tied pork loin
(ask the butcher to tie it for you)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely
chopped or pressed
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to your liking
Light, first press olive oil
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush the bottom of a heavy covered roasting pan, just large enough to fit your roast, with olive oil. Lightly brush the roast with olive oil, as well. Rub the roast with the garlic, basil, and' salt. Grind pepper over the roast. Place in the pan, cover, and bake for 2 hours, turning it once. Use your judgement for doneness--the larger the roast, the more time. Af¬ter two hours check each half hour for firmness and color (should turn golden brown). This dish is won¬derful with applesauce, cabbage or brussels sprouts sauteed in a bit of butter. Slice it thin for left over sandwiches.
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
690A Chardonnay, '86. Merry Vintners
Reg. Price $14.75 45.8% disc $ 95.88/case
690B Zinfandel, '87. San Martin Intl. Srs.
Reg. Price $4.19 20.00% disc. $ 40.20/case
590A Merlot, '87. Columbia
Reg. Price $9.00 26.33% disc. $ 79.56/case
590B Lee Poo Yee, NV. Armand Roux
Reg. Price $5.99 28.38% disc. $ 51.48/case
490A Fume Blanc, '88. Lambert Bridge
Reg. Price $7.25 31.2% disc. $ 59.88/case
490B Rioja, Banda Azul, '85. Fdrco. Ptna.
Reg. Price $7.50 20.10%disc. $ 71.88/case
CB90 Cane River Cook Book
Use $ 1.50 for shipping. $ 11.95/each
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