- Q & A
May 1991 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 205 Rejected: 176 Approved: 39 Selected: 2
A hearty "Thank You" goes out to our customers! We are cele¬brating our 20th year of selecting fine wines for all of us to enjoy. We look forward to another 20 as we pursue the mighty grape.
It has been our experience in the wine business that A.) patience is a virtue and B.) when you taste something you like, keep an eye on it. Over eight months ago we were treated to a Sauvignon Blanc from Concannon vineyards that absolutely stopped us and made us say "WOW"! Naturally, it was priced to that same response. So we just kept an eye on it subtly reminding the winery that we were interested in the wine. Then it hap¬pened! The winery agreed to our terms! Another "stellar cellar" find offered through the club! This 1986 Concannon Sauvignon Blanc is so elegant and rich we know you will find it extraordinary.
Our import selection this month was equally as fun to un¬cover. The Minervois region of the Languedoc dates back 2000 years and the Chateau Gourgazaud is one of the oldest Chateaux in the district. When you taste this wine you will see why the Chateau en¬joys such longevity.
INSIDESauvignon Blanc,'86. Concannon Pg. 2
Minervois, '88. Ch. Gourgazaud 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 D, Arcadia, CA 91066. or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361
RSV. SAUVIGNON BLANC, 1986. CONCANNON Saw-veen-yawn Blonk
The Concannon Vineyard is factually a piece of California his¬tory, California Historical Land¬mark No. 641, to be exact. Over 100 years ago James Concannon founded this venerable operation 50 miles east of San Francisco in the Livermore Valley. This area distinguishes itself from other wine regions of California by its striking similarities to the great wine districts of Graves and Sau-ternes in Bordeaux, France.
"Graves" means "gravelly" in French. Concannon's planted acreage lies exclusively on soil composed of fine gravel, creek boulders and sandy loam, the re¬mains of an ancient riverbed 60 to 70 feet deep. Such terrain is very rare in California and in the world. While yielding low quantities of crop, it is more than generous with the quality of the grapes it produc¬es. Additionally, unlike the com¬mon north-south alignment of most valleys in California, Liver¬more's unusual east-west orienta¬tion provides a natural corridor for tempering maritime breezes which flow in from San Francisco Bay. The result is an ideal microclimate, a long growing season and grapes which mature gradually, develop fully and yield wines of moderate alcohols and delicate flavors.
As in Bordeaux the best white grapes grown here are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. For this "Reserve" bottling Concannon blended 75% of the former with 25% of the latter after barrel-ageing each in French oak for four months.
In cold climates, the Sauvig¬non Blanc vine will yield fruit with herbaceous flavors and aromas. In warmer climates, like those of Graves and Livermore Valley, it produces grapes that give a wine of refined, floral character. Semil¬lon is even more sensitive to weather: it will only ripen fully in an ideal microclimate. When blended together these varieties marvelously complement each other. Semillon lends grace to the Sauvignon Blanc while increasing the resultant wine's longevity.
This wine has a clear yellow gold color. A delicate floral bou¬quet precedes a smooth, round me¬dium-full body, a nice fruitiness, a firm, balanced acidity and ripe, fig-like flavors. This distinctive fig taste (typical of Semillon) lin¬gers in an uncommonly delicate finish. Serve chilled with raw oys¬ters, grilled tuna, a well-seasoned pheasant or fresh pasta tossed with a little olive oil, grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now to 1992.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper#591A Regular Price: $9.00/ea Special Member Price: $7.25/ea Member Reorder Price: $5.89/ea 34.55% disc. $70.68/case
CHATEAU DE GOURGAZAUD, 1988. Sha-Tow Duh Gore-Ga-Zow
It is always pleasure to find a worthy selection from a time-honored winery. This wine originates from a chateau which was, according to the importer's notes, "restored to its present condition in 1832." The ancient domaine of Chateau de Gourgazaud is noted, in fact, on maps dating from the seventeenth century. What is more important, they have learned some¬thing over the years and they care about quality. De Gourgazaud is currently the highest ranked wine growing estate in the Minervois.
Having first been planted by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago, Minervois is one of the oldest vineyard districts in France. It vies with its neighbor, Cor¬bieres, for top honors as the best vineyard district in Languedoc, the vast plain wherein virtually half of France's wines are produced.
In 1986 about 45,000 acres of Minervois were promoted from V.D.Q.S. (Vins Delimite de Qual¬ite Superieur) rank to "Appellation Controllee". Only the most scru-pulously produced French wines, adhering to strictly defined produc¬tion guidelines, merit this status.
Nature has blessed Chateau de Gourgazaud, which is situated on about 100 acres of some of the fin¬est vineyards in Minervois, with two major quality-contributing fac¬tors: a) The vines grow on hill-sides bearing a southern exposure. Thus they receive maximum sun¬light, which ensures complete ripe¬ness; b) The soil at the domaine has a high manganese content, which imparts to the wines a par¬ticular, distinctive bouquet.
Rhone Valley wine fanciers will find the grapes in this month's import familiar. Complex Mour¬vedre anchors the fruity Grenache, while the firm Carignan and ele¬gant Syrah balance each other in nice harmony.
In the glass the wine exhibits a majestic deep red/purple color. In¬tense aromas of berries, earth and oak engulf the senses. Then, a rich, "plummy" fruitiness drapes the palate. The wine is full, round, smooth and fruity. It finishes dry. Clean, classic blackcurrant and black pepper flavors linger in the aftertaste. This wine is easy on the palate, yet very interesting and complex. Serve at room temperature with grilled porterhouse steak, coq au yin or a fruit and cheese platter.
Cellaring Notes: While this is a wine that can certainly be held for several more years, it is so good now, why wait?Reviewed by Larry Tepper #591B Regular Price: $7.75/ea Member Reorder Price: $5.79/ea 25.29% disc. $69.48/case
"Paul, I joined the club to learn about wines and enjoy thoroughly the wines you have sent. The in¬formation is great and educational and I like the way it leans toward the humanist side rather than the technical side. Some of the bottles you have sent to me, however, list interesting information of which I don't understand, Please explain. Residual sugar, Brix, Total acidi¬ty, pH, Alcohol"
Thank-you very much for your supportive comments and enthu¬siasm! Yes, we do tend to stay away from technical jargon, as it can be quite confusing at times. But in the interest of clearing up these matters for you, we'll define some of the terms commonly found on wine labels.
Residual Sugar (often ab-breviated "R.S.") is the amount of natural grape sugar remaining in the wine at the end of fermentation (the process, which is conducted by yeast, of converting sugar into alcohol). 1% R.S. is barely per¬ceptible to most people, while 2.5% to 4% tastes fairly fruity. A wine containing 6% R.S. and above is a sweet wine.
Brix (pronounced "bricks") is a term describing the percentage of sugar in the grape juice at the time of harvest. A high Brix (well above 20 degrees) yields a wine, depending upon when fermenta¬tion ceases, which will be either high in alcohol content or high in residual sugar. If fermentation is stopped before all the grape sugar has been converted into alcohol, there will be a certain degree of re¬sidual sugar, as above, with low to moderate alcohol content in the fin¬ished wine. If the wine ferments out dry, the alcohol will be higher, with but a trace of residual sugar.
Total Acidity describes the amount of fruit acids remaining in the wine after the vinification (the wine-making process). A wine with low acidity will taste "flat" whereas one with too high an acid level will be unpleasantly tart. Ac¬ceptable levels are generally from about .6% to just over 1%. Prop¬er acid content not only gives the wine its "zing", but also figures majorly in its ageing potential.
pH also refers to the wine's acidity. Some acids are simply more acidic than others. Water with a completely neutral acidity rates a 7 on the pH scale. The low¬er the pH rating, the higher the ac¬idic character of the substance in question. Wines generally run in the 3.20 to 3.70 range. Wines with a high pH (low acid) are more subject to spoilage and generally will not age as well as those with a low pH (high acid). A wine lack¬ing in acid will taste dull.
Alcohol (stated as a percent-age of the wine's volume) spans from 7% - 10% (German wines), to 11% - 13.5% (table wines), to 17% - 20% (fortified wines).
Sound wines contain the above elements in proper balance with each other. That can easily be dis¬covered in the lab, but the bottom line is, "Hey, how does it taste?"
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.
May 1987 R. Chianti Clasico, Rsrva. '69. Fossi. Doing fine here. Use. W. Sonoma Vintage White '85. Geyser Pk. Oxidized Use.
May 1988 R. Zinfandel,'84. Hallmark Cellars. Peaked but holding. Use W. Chardonnay,'86. La Jolie. Austere. Use.
May 1989 R. Petit Sirah,'88. Cilurzo. Fruit is gone. Use. W. Orvieto Classico,'87. Bigi. Losing its fruit. Oxidizing. Use.
May 1990 R. Merlot,'87. Columbia. Doing very well. Complexing. Keep or use. W. Lee Poo Yee, NV. Armand Roux. Nice melding of flavors. Use.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Just when Angelino's thought their lush green landscapes were going to dry up into a veritable desert, heaven blessed them with rain, wonderful sweet rain! Unfor¬tunately not enough to eliminate the drought altogether, but enough to keep our "gardens growing".
After spending an arm and a leg on a new sprinkler system to water our newly landscaped home, my husband and I panicked. Like eve¬ryone else in L.A., we were in¬structed to cut back 10 percent on our monthly water usage. How could we? Our new lawn and gar¬den needed massive amounts of watering! Well, due to all the rain we recently received, we are com¬fortable for awhile.
In the kitchen, flowers are as important to me as salt and pepper. I use them not only for garnish, but in salads, soups, desserts, and ice molds. I love venturing out to my garden with my basket and shears to cut fresh unsprayed flowers. Some of my favorite edi-ble flowers are violets, roses, nas¬turtium, pansys, johnny-jump¬ups, lavender and bachelor but¬tons. As much as I love them, fresh flowers never seem to last as long as I would like them to.
There is a way to preserve them! It is easy to do and the final result is beautiful and tasty.
Adventures in EatingBy Rosemarie
The best way to preserve flow¬ers to garnish cakes or baked goods (or anything your heart fan¬cies!) is to crystalize them. Flow-. ers that have been crystalized while fresh retain their vibrant color and can be stored for up to two years (in a cool dry place). They can turn a simple frosted cake into a piece of art! You can use these flowers anyway you wish. Be creative!
To crystalize flowersItems needed: Tweezers
Small paint brushes
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites, room tempera¬ture
Assorted edible flowers:(available in some markets)
In a bowl of a food processor place the sugar and process two minutes to make powdery. In a bowl beat the egg whites until fro¬thy. Using tweezers to hold the flowers, paint both sides of the pedals with the egg whites and the paint brush. Sprinkle the fine sug¬ar onto the whole flower and set on wax paper to dry. When dry, store in an air tight container.
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
Order Form591A Sauvignon Blanc, '86. Concannon Reg. Price $ 9.00 34.56% disc. $ 70.68/case $ 5.89/each
591B Minervois, '88. Ch. Gourgazaud Reg. Price $ 7.75 25.29% disc $ 69.48/case $ 5.79/each
491A Cabernet Sauvignon,'85. Jekel Reg. Price $12.00 50.01% disc $ 71.88/case $ 5.99/each
491B Muscadet,'89. Marquis de Goulaine Reg. Price $ 8.50 23.64% disc. $ 77.88/case $ 6.49/each
391A Sauvignon Blanc,'89. Cask One Reg. Price $ 5.99 38.40% disc. $ 44.28/case $ 3.69/each
391B Rioja,'86. Bodega Montecillo Reg. Price $ 8.49 29.44% disc. $ 71.88/case $ 5.99/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $ 19.95/each $ 2.50 shpng.
SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.75; 6 bottles $6.25; 12 bottles $8.50 □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. □ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express _______________________________________________________ Card # Expiration Date PLEASE FILL OUT COMPLETELY _______________________________________________________________________________ Name (Print) Signature _______________________________________________ We are unable to ship out of California Address due to Alcoholic Beverage laws. _______________________________________________ Recipients must be 21 or older. City State Zip If shipping address is different please (_____)__________________________(_____)________ write below. Phone (eve.) (day) MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361 (See reverse side to order wine gifts.)
Wine Gift Order Form
GIFTS OF WINE ARE PERFECT FOR:
● Thank you gifts ● Housewarming Gifts ● Hospitality gifts ● Wedding gifts ● Anniversary gifts ● Congratulations gifts ● I Love You gifts ● Christmas gifts ● Business gifts ● Mother's Day gifts ● Father's Day gifts ● Forget-me-not gifts ● Bon Voyage gifts ● And Anytime gifts!
All Wine Of The Month Club gifts are guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition... gift wrapped... and with a gift card.
CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS2 Bottles: the 2 current club selections $17*
6 Bottles: assortment of recent selections $47*
12 Bottles (1 case): assortment of recent selections $92*
4 Months subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selections) a month for 4 months $62*
or every quarter for 1 year-specify gift #4Q) (8 bottles total). 6 Months subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selections) a month for 6 months $92*
or every other month for 1 year-specify gift #5B) (12 bottles total). 1 Year subscription: 2 bottles every month for the next 12 months (24 bottles total). $182*