March 1991 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 102 Rejected: 74 Approved: 28 Selected: 2
The proliferation of inexpen¬sive domestic wines has been unu¬sually high so far this year. We are trying to capitalize on it for you. Based on the high amount of re¬orders for the inexpensive Granite Springs Chenin Blanc, we went after a repeat performance with this month's domestic white wine. Only we did even better!
We set out to find a Sauvignon Blanc that rated high on the "bang for the buck" criteria. After tasting close to over 50 Sauvignon Blancs alone, the hands down favorite was the Cask One, 1989, Sauvig¬non Blanc. A full flavored wine with a light price!
As for the import red wine this month we had virtually "tasted 'round the world" to find this interesting example of the represent-ed region. This Spanish Rioja from Bodegas Montecillo is atypi¬cal of what we have had in the past from this part of the world. Very complex and much richer than the lighter wines we have seen from Rioja.
Sauvignon Blanc, '89. Cask One Pg. 2
Rioja, '86. Bodegas Montecillo Pg. 3
This Matter of Wine Glasses 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
SAUVIGNON BLANC, 1989. CASK ONE
American Wine Merchants' Cask One Sauvignon Blanc is yet another one of those "negociant" wines which we happily wind up with every now and then. The closest way to describe a negociant wine accurately is to call it a "brand", as it is not a winery. Some of the most famous wine-makers in France are negociants. A successful negociant (i.e., "one who negociates") must be a mar¬ket-savvy individual who com¬bines a good palate with a good business sense and a solid grasp of market conditions. Put two such fellows together and you can create quite a team. The producers of this selection thoroughly fulfill the above qualifications. Bruce Ship¬man, importer of "old and rare" wines with offices in Northern California and London, England, has been serving West Coast con¬noisseurs for around a decade. His first Cask One offering was released about six years ago: a Chardonnay of classic proportions which he sold for less than half the price of another better known label produced from grapes harvested out of the very same vineyard!
Shipman's co-venturer on cur¬rent Cask One projects, Kurt Lo¬renzi, has racked up a list of cred¬its as long as your wine rack. These include nothing less than a Masters Degree in Enology from U.C. Davis as well as winemaking
stints at Chappellet Winery in the Napa Valley and Estrella River Winery in Paso Robles, amongst others. In all, he has produced wines which have received over 64 awards in major competitions.
Originally from France, exten¬sively planted in both Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, the distinc¬tive Sauvignon Blanc grape con¬tains a natural aromatic chemical compound with a rather long and somewhat unpronounceable name. This substance is recognizable in concentrations of as little as three parts per million as the familiar "grassy" aroma with which the va¬riety is so closely associated. Some consumers find such "herba-ceousness" appealing and some don't....very subjective. Some winemakers therefore try to accen¬tuate this characteristic while oth¬ers seek to keep it toned down.
This month's example has a clear yellow hue and green plum, grape and pine aromas, not grassy. With a hint of oak flavor, fresh light acidity, a medium-full body, it is balanced, dry and very smooth on the palate, finishing soft. Serve chilled with chicken or shrimp stir-fried with Oriental vegetables.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now and through 1992.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#391A Regular Price: $5.99/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $3.69/ea.
38.40% disc. $44.28/case
RIOJA, 1986. BODEGAS MONTECILLO
In 1874 the Navajas family founded the Bodegas Montecillo winery in the Alavesa district near the Rio Oja ("Oja River"), name-sake of what has become Spain's most acclaimed wine producing re¬gion. Montecillo was one of the pi¬oneering wineries which adapted French (Bordeaux) wine-making techniques to Spanish grapes last century and in so doing created a world-class wine, "Rioja".
One hundred years later, Spain's giant brandy and sherry producer, Osborne, purchased Bodegas Montecillo and, vowing to maintain the standard of excel¬lence, built a state-of-the-art new winery there. The old facility stands as a continuing reminder of Rioja's great heritage and is used for ageing the 225,000 cases pro¬duced annually.
In 1977 Montecillo's new di¬rectors took a dramatic plunge: they sold off all their vineyards. This system affords Montecillo a distinct advantage over bodegas ("storehouses") which grow their own grapes. Honoring their quali¬ty-first philosophy, they now vin¬ify grapes purchased solely from the supeior Rioja Alta zone. Deali¬ng with more than 200 small farmers in the district, the bodega can cherry-pick in average years, and buy as much as possible in great years.
Rioja red wines are the mainstay of the industry and the basis for its fame. Produced principally from a local variety of grape (the"Tempranillo") which thrives in this high, cold, upland country, these wines are on the whole light¬er, lower in alcohol and dryer than those of Bordeaux, to which they nevertheless bear a notable resem¬blance. Traditionally aged from one to five years in oak and then given additional bottle age before release, red Riojas often represent some of the very best values to be found in nicely aged, serious red wine.
The 1986 "Cumbrero" offers through and through an attractive medium-deep garnet color. A nose markedly scented with cherry/ raspberry fruit of almost incense-like intensity is set off by pleasant vanilla (oak) accents. With typi¬cally high acidity, it is medium-bodied yet mouth-filling, fairly smooth and very dry. There's a pleasant woody, cedary taste with a hint of raisin. Fruity / woody fla-vors linger in a clean, dry finish. Serve at room temperature with chicken livers and mushrooms in a port or madeira sauce or with a N.Y. steak, sauce Bordelaise.
Cellaring Notes: It should mel¬low for 3 to 5 more years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#391B Regular Price: $8.49/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.99/ea.
29.44% disc. $71.88/case
THIS MATTER OF WINE GLASSES
The maximum enjoyment of fine wines can only be accomplished by observing certain basic guidelines about how they are served
The service of wines includes the consideration of optimum tempera¬ture, the age, the uncorking of the bottle, and the pouring of the wine into the glass. The question is...which glass? Other than the clos-est drinking vessel at hand, the an¬swer may not be so obvious. Let us look at some of the elements of a glass that could affect the enjoyment of wine.
Clear glass is the best. I avoid chi¬na, ceramic, pottery, metal and plas¬tic. You cannot see through most of them, and some impart a taste. (I saw a student bring Styrofoam coffee cups to a wine class! and, recently, at a wine tasting/dinner, the tables were set with six plastic wine glasses).
The best wine glass is stemmed, so it can be held and the wine swirled inside without spilling. The bowl should curve inwards at the top, so that when you swirl the wine, you capture the aroma and bouquet vapors as they evaporate while swirling.
The glass should not be too small. It should be 1.5 times the size of the portion you like to serve. Most por¬tions for meal wines should be 5-6 ounces. About 3-4 ounces of spark¬ling wines and 2 to 3 ounces for forti¬fied or dessert wines.
A variety of shapes exist. Some have a traditional history of usage in various wine producing regions of the world. Use the shape that pleases you
most. The illustration below outlines the important shapes. Some say the correct wine in the correct glass tastes better. That's O.K. with me, it is nice to have a variety of service for correct presentation.
Please...no color to the glass or stem. It distorts the perception of the true color of the wine. Try to keep etching and designs to a minimum.
I am most fussy about this. Prior to use, wine glasses should be in¬spected for absence of "wooden cabi¬net" smell or "dirty dish rag" smell. Best to use freshly washed and rinsed glasses. Rinse several times after washing with warm water. Dry with a lint free towel.
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.
Mar. 1987 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, Lontue,'83.Gato Negro. Peaked. Use.
W. Sauvignon Blanc,'85.S.J.Sebastiani. Lost its character. Use.
Mar. 1988 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'85.Black Opal. Complexed. Keep or use.
W. Chardonnay,'84.Stone Creek. Complete oxidation.
Mar. 1989 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, '83,Cache. Complexing. Watch. Keep.
W. Sauvignon Blanc,'83.Premiat. Losed its fruit. Oxidizing. Use.
Mar. 1990 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'84. Jad Mm. Complexing very nicely. Keep or use.
W. Piesporter Mchls.,'88. Schmt. Shn. Starting loss of fruit. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
By Leslie Smith
Before we had children, my husband and I thought nothing of hopping into the car and heading out to the latest "In" dining spot. We'd sit like critics for the local newspaper and scrutinize everything from the quality of the china to the selec¬tions on the wine list. As one might ex¬pect, we quite often left our latest eatery disappointed. It seemed we frequently paid too much for something that we could easily have made at home.
Now that we have children, my hus-band and I are much more choosy about where to dine, because those times are few and far between! "Mommy" and "Daddy" have now become experts on the latest "thirty-something" spots....which are best described as inexpensive, deli¬cious, and noisy places to bring a family!
Our favorite place to go for pizza is "The California Pizza Kitchen." They have every type of pizza imaginable, and it's quick, it's easy, and they have high chairs. Our son is actually entertained as the chefs prepare the pizzas before his eyes. Our daughter on the other hand, be¬ing only eight months old, is very happy chewing on the menu and screaming at all the other babies around her. Our fa¬vorite menu item is the barbequed chick¬en pizza. I have created a variation of this recipe and I actually like it better! (do I sound like my aunt Rosemarie?). The recipe calls for making your own crust, but you could easily substitute a large Boboli if time is of the essence.
(2) 12" BBO'd Chicken Pizzas
1 pkg. active dry yeast 1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 medium chicken breasts cut into 1/2"
1 onion, chopped
3 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. pepper
2/3 cup bottled barbecue sauce
16 oz.'s mozzarella cheese, grated
2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
Dissolve yeast in warm water, mix in sugar, salt, and olive oil and let stand for five minutes. Add flour to make a fairly stiff dough. Knead on a flour board until, soft and smooth about ten minutes. Put dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled. Punch down dough and divide into 2 balls. Roll each to fit a 12 inch round pizza pan. Spread each with 1/3 cup barbecue sauce.
Saute chicken with onions, tomatoes, cilantro and seasonings; until brown and almost cooked through. Divide chicken mixture among pizzas and top with cheeses. Bake pizzas in a 450 F degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling.
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
391A Sauvignon Blanc,'89. Cask One
Reg. Price $ 5.99 38.40% disc. $ 44.28/case
391B Rioja,'86. Bodega Montecillo
Reg. Price $ 8.49 29.44% disc. $ 71.88/case
291A Zinfandel,'90. Winterbrook
Reg. Price $ 6.49 20.00% disc. $ 62.28/case
291B Semillon/Chardonnay,'90. Penfolds
Reg. Price $ 8.39 20.00% disc. $ 80.52/case
191A Chenin Blanc, '89. Granite Springs
Reg. Price $ 6.79 22.09% disc. $ 63.48/case
191B Merlot,'87. Robert Allison
Reg. Price $ 6.89 27.58% disc. $ 59.88/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $ 19.95/ea.
$ 2.50 shpng
SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.75; 6 bottles $6.25; 12 bottles $8.50
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MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066
or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361
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