January 1994 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 148 Rejected: 124 Approved: 24 Selected: 2
Welcome to 1994! I trust every¬one had a wonderful holiday sea¬son and enjoyed our festive De¬cember selections with all the good times. I have but one resolution; continue to buy the best wine for the best prices and the most inter¬esting variety. This first shipment of 1994 hits all three requirements.
Our domestic selection this month breaks new ground for the 22 years the club has existed. This is the first time a Cabernet Franc has qualified for the regular series. A difficult grape to capture solo, it is generally used to add fragrance and color to Cabernet Sauvignon. Try this 1988 Emilia Cabernet Franc for a classic taste of what this grape can do.
Our import this month is a sur-
prise. I was not intending to fea¬ture a Chardonnay this month, but I was compelled to postpone the wine I had chosen and get this Ryecroft 1992 Australian Char¬donnay to you right away. This is one of the few Chardonnays I have tasted that leaves you waiting to take the next sip. Try this wine with the unorthodox recipe on page 6!
Salud! PK Jr.
Cabernet Franc, '89. Emilia Pg. 2
Chardonnay, 1992. Ryecroft 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 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.
CABERNET FRANC, 1988. EMILIA
Born to a Italian peasant family, Samuele Sebastiani had to borrow the money for his steerage to Cali¬fornia in 1895. He brought with him winemaking knowhow ac-quired from ancestors that had toiled in the vineyards of Tuscany. In 1904 he founded what was to become California winemaking history, the Sebastiani Winery.
If you visit the winery in old town Sonoma today, you can see the original hand crusher, small basket press and 501-gallon red-wood tank that Samuele used to make his first vintage of Zinfandel.
Sebastiani survived Prohibition by operating one of only a few wineries producing medicinal and sacramental wines. He also set up a fruit and vegetable cannery next door, to keep up his employment, protect his land investment, and weather the Great Depression. Af¬ter he died in 1944, there was a succession of owners, from father to son, from Samuele to August to Sam, to August's youngest son, Don, the current owner.
August was a proud visionary who began bottling wines under the family name. Prior to that, Se¬bastiani wines were sold to other bottlers and marketed under their labels. Then, the Sebastianis began indicating varietal designations (in¬dividual grape types) and vintage dating their wines, long before the sophistication of the 1970s' wine
boom. Their wines and their labels kept abreast of, and even set the pace of, current trends.
The Emilia label is reserved for small, very select batches of wine. It is named after the label artist, (the small and very select) Emilia Sebastiani, who was only three-years-old when she designed it.
Emerging hot on the heels of Merlot (speaking of trends), is the Cabernet Franc grape. Like Caber¬net Sauvignon and Merlot, Caber¬net Franc hails originally from Bordeaux, France, where it is blended with these others to create Chateau bottled reds. Like Merlot, its wines are less tannic and there¬fore earlier maturing than Cabernet Sauvignon, a plus for people who want to enjoy their wines now, without a many years' wait.
This Emilia has a clear, deep red/purple color. The nose is very fruity with raspberry and strawber¬ry notes dominant, plus a hint of oak. It is medium-bodied, dry, and mellow-tasting. The fruit impres¬sions, with a touch of tannin and herbaceousness, show through to a clean raspberry finish. Serve at room temperature with lamb chops, roast fowl or Brie cheese.
Cellaring Notes: For drinking now and through 1996.
#194A Regular Price: $9.99/ea.
Special Member Price: $7.49/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $6.59/ea.
34.03% disc. $79.08/cs.
CHARDONNAY, 1992. RYECROFT
Over 100 years ago, Frederick Wilkinson, an Englishman, esta¬blished the first vineyard and win¬ery in the now thriving McLaren Vale district just south of Adelaide in Australia. The Ryecroft story truly began with his first vintage in 1888. The English were involved in one of their frequent quarrels with the local wine producing na¬tions of the time. Wilkinson pro¬vided a source of good quality wines from outside of Europe. They rapidly found favor in the London wine trade of the era.
By the 1950s almost half a mil¬lion litres of wine were being ex¬ported annually as the English de¬veloped a strong taste for McLaren Vale wines. But the English move towards integration with their Eu¬ropean partners in the latter half of this century led to a decline in sales. This forced the Australian vintners to upgrade their vineyards and winemaking technology. Due to the advances they developed during this period, Australia is seen as a world leader in viticultu¬ral and winemaking practices.
Today, the Ryecroft vineyards consist of 80 acres devoted to pre¬mium varieties, mainly Shiraz and Chardonnay. Viticulturist Paul Buttery and winemaker Nick Holmes produce wines there which are seen as outstanding ex¬amples of the quality possible from McLaren Vale. Their Flame Tree
vineyard, from which the Char¬donnay grapes for our selection come, is distinguished by a tree that blossoms in the magnificent manner depicted on the label.
Chardonnay is unique in its adaptability to terrains and climate systems. More so than any other noble grape, it maintains its char¬acteristic flavor and elegant style when planted in any suitable envi-ronment. The grape is originally from the true Burgundy district of France (Bourgogne), where it is responsible for the world's most sought after dry white wines.
The wine is a bright, medium-lemon in color with green high¬lights. The aroma is fresh and live¬ly, typically Chardonnay, with a pleasing lemon character, softened and rounded by a back-drop of light oak. On the palate the fruit is soft and ripe with a crisp citrusy acidity to balance it. The oak char¬acter rounds the overall mouthfeel and lends a mild toasted flavor to the aftertaste. Serve moderately chilled with seafood salads, broiled halibut or shark with lem¬on/butter or roast lemon chicken.
Cellaring notes: Ready now, but can be allowed to mature for 2 or 3 years for added complexity.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#194B Regular Price: $8.99/ea.
Special Member Price: $7.49/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $6.29/ea.
33.03% disc. $75.48/cs.
"Paul, I joined the club recently. I joined because my knowledge of im¬port wines is zero, and I would like to learn. How do I identify a Bur¬gundy from a Bordeaux. The label does not always say so. Friends will hand me a glass and tell me what it is. I look at their bottle, and no¬where is there a mention of it on the label."
L.S. Santa Barbara
1) Thanks for joining. If you do nothing else but read the newsletter and sip the wines I send you, the learning will occur by slow osmo¬sis.
2) Imports are fun, because they are entrenched in tradition and va¬riety based on the cultures they come from. And quite a few do not have American counterparts, so you would miss out on a segment of the wine world if you did not be¬come familiar with them.
3) I am assuming you are speak¬ing about French wines. I do not know of a California wine with the label saying Bordeaux. There are many California wines named Bur¬gundy, but they are all imposters! They are generic wines, made to proximate the style of French Bur¬gundy (which they do not by a far cry). Since their marketing ploy was successful when they were in¬troduced, they continue.
4) You are right, over 90% of French Bordeaux and Burgundy wines do not have those names on the label. Local custom and tradition usually label the wines by the name of the estate, chateau, town or village. Rarely, and only recently in the lower end wines, by grape name. Unfortunately, one must learn the names of the estates and chateaus, the towns and the villages in these regions, to reliably classify the wine. (monumental but reward¬ing academic task!)
5) If you identify the varietal grape, you can tell reasonably well the difference between the two. Both regions make red and white wines. In the red wines, the Bor¬deaux wines are made from the Ca¬bernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, plus other lesser related grapes. Burgundy red wines are, made from Pinot Noir exclusively' and the whites are made from Pinot Chardonnay grapes, and almost al¬ways as dry wines. The white wines from Bordeaux are primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon; both dry and sweet versions exist.
6) A fairly reliable method that seems rather silly but valid, is the shape of the bottle the wine comes in. Bordeaux wines come in a cy¬lindrical bottle with a stubby shoul¬der, and Burgundy wines come in a wider bottle with a tapered shoul¬der!
7) The above is only a brief and broad stroke answer. Exceptions do exist.
8) Enjoy the learning experiences. A votre santée!
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. 1990 R. Pinot Noir, '87. Congress Springs. Losing it. Use.
W. Sauvignon Blanc, '88. Errz. Pang. Oxidizing. Use.
Jan. 1991 R. Merlot, '87. Robert Allison. Still O.K. Keep or use.
W. Chenin Blanc, '89. Granite Springs. Going fast. Use.
Jan. 1992 R. Pinot Noir, '87. Peacock Hill. Still drinking nicely. Use.
W. Marsanne, '90. Res. St. Martin. Slight loss of fruit. Use.
Jan. 1993 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, '89. McDowell. Complexing. Keep.
W. Pinot Gris, '91. Dunavar. Good fruit. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
Wine and Dine
One of the most commonly asked questions and probably the most misunderstood concept about wine is pairing it with foods. I suppose the broad-stroke axiom of red with red meat is a safe and plausible approach, but I prefer to experiment.
I thought this months Australian Chardonnay was a great candidate to match with a non-traditional food. Its full body and rich flavor would add to the food matching experience.
If I was to match a wine like this with red meat, it would require a lighter dish, one that does not pronounce the red meat. One that uses the beef flavors subtly to round out the dish. What could this dish be?
Bingo! Here is an easy to pre¬pare beef dish matched with this months white wine!
Stir Fry Beef with Corn
Preparation time: 20 min.
1 tbsp. dry sherry
1 tbsp. soy sauce
11/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 lb. rump steak, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. oil
1 small onion, quartered
1/2 cup snow peas
1 tsp. salt
2 cups canned straw mushrooms,
2 cups canned miniature corn cobs,
rinsed and drained
2 tsp. sugar
Plain boiled noodles or rice to serve.
In a bowl, blend the sherry and soy sauce into the cornstarch. Add the beef and turn it so it is coated thoroughly. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry the onions for 2 minutes over a high heat. Remove the beef from the cornstarch mix¬ture with a slotted spoon, reserv¬ing the liquid. Add the beef to the frying pan and stir fry until lightly brown . Add the snow peas and the salt and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the baby corns and the straw mushrooms and sir fry for one minute. Add the sugar to the frying pan and blend. Blend the remaining cornstarch liq¬uid with 2 tsp. cold water and stir into the pan. Cook for another minute until thickened. Serve as part of a multi-course Chinese meal or atop noodles or rice as an entree. Serve with Ryecroft 1992 Chardonnay.
Salud! P.K. Jr.
For free membership information write or call
Wine of the Month Club®
Discovering superb wines since 1972
P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 / (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361
194A Cabernet Franc, 1988. Emilia
Reg. Price $9.99 34.03% disc. $79.08/case
194B Chardonnay, '92. Ryecroft
Reg. Price $8.99 30.03% disc. $75.48/case
1293A Jhnsbrg. Rsling. LH. '92. Hidden C.
Reg. Price $6.99 53.41% disc. $67.08/case
1293B Brut, NV., Grandin
Reg. Price $7.99 20.02% disc. $76.68/case
1193A Meritage Red, '89. Altimira
Reg. Price $17.50 62.5% disc. $78.60/case
1193B Grand Frais, '92. Yvon Mau
Reg. Price $6.79 20.00% disc. $65.16/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea.
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