- Q & A
June 1991 newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 289 Rejected: 232 Approved: 57 Selected: 2
Our recent trip to the Santa Barbara wine region was not only relaxing but very successful in un¬covering solid wine value. Some¬times we have to turn over every barrel to find the wines we present, this is one of those times.
Anthony Austin, of Austin Cellars, with the excitement of a boy showing us his baseball card collection took us back to the warehouse to taste this 1988 Pinot Noir. Santa Barbara has always been our favorite Pinot Noir dis¬trict, but this was unbelievable for the price! After we counted the number cases available, we shook hands and called the trip success¬ful.
Our import this month is an el¬egant, mature Chardonnay that was so impressive that we bought every drop that was in the country. First, taste the wine. Second, think about what California wine it re¬minds you of. Third, read the arti¬cle to find out where it is from. You will be pleasantly surprised by the price and totally surprised from the origin!
Note: The cellaring notes for the 1985 Jekel should read: Enjoy now through 1994.
INSIDEPinot Noir,'88.Austin Cellars Pg. 2
Chardonnay,'89. Marcus James Pg. 3
This Matter of Phylloxera 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
PINOT NOIR, 1988. AUSTIN CELLARS Pee-no No-wah
Anthony Austin's roots go back to the very early days of Cali¬fornia wine... literally. His ances¬tors were granted a homestead in 1881 in Sonoma County, and are said to have planted the first Ca¬bernet Sauvignon vines in the Rus¬sian River Valley.
After attending U.C. Davis' viticultural school, Austin became a protege of the country's most highly regarded winemaking mas¬ter, Andre Tchelistcheff. In 1975 Tchelistcheff recommended that Brooks Firestone hire Austin as winemaker at his newly formed Santa Ynez Valley estate. Austin overcame an admitted Northern California prejudice to accept the Santa Barbara County position. The advice paid off. Brooks and Anthony made winemaking history when Austin's 1978 Firestone Chardonnay took the first "world-class" award ever earned by a cen¬tral coast winery: the coveted Lon¬don Double Gold Medal.
In 1981 Tony left Firestone (where he had been vice-president) to do his own thing: he formed Austin Cellars. Preferring to use fruit from several growers, he pro¬ceeded to produce wines from carefully selected vineyards in Santa Barbara County. He be-lieved that with this freedom of choice came a greater latitude for the winemaker to create great wine. He further held that a small winery can succeed only by producing "artistic" wines. So, he focused his aesthetic flair on bring¬ing out the best in each varietal he vinted.
Many authorities consider the aristocratically elegant, velvety red wines produced from Pinot Noir, the best in the world. Austin does not make a Pinot Noir every year. "I only make it in years when I really like the grapes," explains the free-spirited winemaker. Truly a challenge, this grape seldom realiz¬es its glorious potential outside its native soil, France's renowned Burgundy district. A fickle mis¬tress, responding dramatically to soil and weather conditions, this thoroughbred vine's fruit and fla¬vor differ with each new harvest.
This example has a brilliant light-garnet color and an unmistak¬able "Pinot" nose. If you would like to know what Pinot Noir smells like, this is it. The texture is remarkably rich and smooth in the mouth: full, but not heavy. Clas¬sic plum and raspberry flavors per-vade all. The finish is nice and clean, dry, with just a touch of tan¬nin. Serve at room temperature with roast fowl or Cantonese-style pepper steak.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now thru 1992.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper#691A Regular Price: $9.00/ea. Member Reorder Price: $6.50/ea. 27.78% disc. $78.00/case
CHARDONNAY, 1989. MARCUS JAMES Shar-dough-naye
Brazilian wine? Just consider this: Vinecola Aurora Ltd. is, sur¬prisingly, the largest grape grow¬ers' cooperative in the world. The Marcus James brand, from Vale ("Valley") Aurora, vanguards their U.S.A. marketing campaign.
A wine co-operative is an asso¬ciation of grape growers who pool their crops to make wine under one roof, rather than independently. Such operations offer many eco¬nomic benefits to the participants. Too often, however, quality gets lost in the shuffle for profit.
Not so in this case. Aurora's members brought with them, when they settled in Brazil in the late 1800s, their European vineyard experience and their old world pride.
"At Aurora, we go further to make quality wines. It is much more than a commitment; it's an obsession," explains Maria Regina Ferretto Flores, Director of Wine-making for all Marcus James Au¬rora Valley wines. Flores' educa¬tion features a degree in Oenology with honors from the Technologi¬cal University of Oenology in Mendoza, Argentina. She was a professor of Oenology at the Viticulture and Oenology School of Bento Goncalves/Brazil, as well. Her "right stuff" means access to the most advanced winemaking technologies available.
In Brazil grapes are harvested and crushed in January. Aged six months longer than 1989 Califor¬nia or French counterparts, this se¬lection is a fully matured wine.
Chardonnay is responsible for the great white Burgundies of France: aristocratically crisp, au¬thoritative, at times austere, dry white wines. Unexpected sources (Italy and Australia, for instance) are occasionally successful in turn¬ing out Chardonnays which bear an uncanny resemblance to these forebears. Elsewhere (as in this Brazilian example and in Califor¬nia), the grape yields wines which have distinctly different regional characteristics: fruity, soft, laid-back and mellow.
This wine has a yellow-green, medium-deep, appetizing color. The bouquet offers pear, peach, mango and more, plus a hint of va¬nilla (oak). Soft, rich and mellow in the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied and irresistibly laden with delicious fruit flavors. It finishes completely clean and dry with a hint of the matrix of fruit flavors lingering. Serve chilled with glazed poultry, pork or ham, or with a selection of summer fruits.
Cellaring Notes: Most enjoya¬ble now and throughout 1992.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper#691B Regular Price: $6.00/ea. Member Reorder Price: $4.69/ea. 21.83% disc. $56.28/case
THIS MATTER OF PHYLLOXERA
Of the many natural enemies of the vine, one is the most destruc¬tive. It is a parasitical insect, the root-burrowing plant louse, phyl¬loxera vasatrix. Many varieties of grape vines are fatally susceptible to its attack.
Although phylloxera apparent¬ly has always lived in the eastern United States, native American vines like Concord, Catawba, and Delaware have endured the para¬sites poison saliva. Due to their heavy rootstock, it seems these vines have developed immunity to the bug.
European grape varieties be¬long to a different species, "vitis vinifera". Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and all the other famil¬iar wine-grape types (from which all the world's best wines are made), are classified as "vinifera".
During the latter half of the 1900s, phylloxera accidentally got shipped to Europe. It arrived there inadvertently on some native American vine cuttings which were being sent to English and French botanical gardens for experimental purposes. First recorded abroad in 1863 in Kew, near London, the pestilent insect soon spread to nearly every continental and island vineyard in the world.
Vinifera, with no immunity to the invader, rapidly succumbed. Within two decades phylloxera had destroyed virtually all the vine¬yards in France, about 2 1/2 mil¬lion acres. It managed to wipe out at least as many, additionally, in other countries. The destruction of these vineyards between 1870 and 1900 stands unparalleled in agri¬cultural history.
WOMC Newsletter readers may recall our discussion of Bor¬deaux winemakers who settled in' Spain's Rioja district during the late 1880s, bringing with them their French oenological tech¬niques. Their migration was spe¬cifically spurred by the advances of this intruder. Luckily for them by the time the insect had made its way across the Pyrenees into Spain (where it succeeded in dev¬astating most of the vineyards be¬fore 1910), two Frenchmen had worked out a solution to the scourge. Gaston Bazille, a land¬owner, and Jules Planchon, a bot¬anist and professor of pharmacy, found that they could successfully graft European vines onto phyllox¬era-resistant American rootstocks. Though tedious, this proved to be a feasible remedy.
Thousands of American cuttings were sent to France. The French selected the best of these and distributed them throughout the world for grafting. When the insect laid waste California's vine¬yards in the 1880s, the native U.S. rootstocks now in general use here, came to us, ironically, from France.
Today, due to local geo¬physical conditions adverse to the insect's survival, a few districts are phylloxera free. In Washing-ton State, Temecula, and Chile, grape vines currently thrive, ungrafted, on their own rootstocks.
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 1987 R.Gamay Beaujolais, '86 Fetzer. Over the hill. Use. W.Gewurztraminer, '85 A.Gaschy. Starting to oxidize. Use.
June 1988 R.Pinot Noir, '83 Edna Valley. Starting to lose it. Use. W.Wiengartener Trap. Spatl., '83. Baum. Oxidized. Use.
June 1989 R.Shiraz. '85 Lindemans. Complexed. Peaked,. Use. W.Johannisberg Riesl. '87. Freemark Abbey. Lost its fruit. Use.
June 1990 R. Zinfandel,'87. San Martin Intl. Developing very nicely. Keep. W. Chardonnay,'86. Merry Vintners. Peaked. Holding. Use.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Adventures in Eatingby Leslie Smith
It seems like everybody I know is on a diet. Now that bath¬ing suit weather is here, I've lost my "In and Out Burger Buddies". The friends who once accompa¬nied me to every juicy burger joint in town are now either at the gym, or guzzling Slim Fast like it's go¬ing out of style.
Don't get me wrong, going to the gym is a good thing. We should all exercise more. After a good work out, food simply tastes better! (Only I could make a link between eating and exercise!) It's true. Exercise cleans our minds and gets our stomachs craving something good for us. Herein lies the problem. What tastes good and is good for us, too? The min¬ute I hear the word diet I feel de-prived. I think of all the things I can't and shouldn't be eating. I daydream about fudge cake, and pocini mushrooms with cream over pasta.
There is a way out of this diet¬er's dilemma. The next time you go on a diet, create a list of deli¬cious things you can eat. Foods low in calories and fat, but high in flavor! Like a bowl of red, ripe strawberries, or a baked potato doused with salsa. Then, next time your stomach growls with hunger, you can pick whatever you want from your diet list. You won't feel so deprived, and you'll look better in that bathing suit.
Oh! One more thing. Add this recipe for "vegetarian burritos" to ¬your list of delicious low fat an low calorie foods! It was created by a friend of mine, and has be¬come quite a hit in my circle of "thin" friends! Bon Appetite and Bon Diet!
4 large 12 inch flour tortillas
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
3/4 cup red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced low calorie mayonnaise
Place tortillas over a gas or electric burner until just beginning to brown. Turn over and lightly brown on the other side, too. Spread a little mayonnaise on each tortilla. Put equal portions of the diced vegetables in the center of each burrito and sprinkle with to¬basco. Roll up like a burrito and enjoy! (Be creative and experi¬ment with different fillings! Make sure that they are low calorie and low fat!)
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 Form691A Pinot Noir, '88. Austin Cellars Reg. Price $ 9.00 27.78% disc. $ 78.00/case $ 6.50/each
691B Chardonnay, '89. Marcus James Reg. Price $ 6.00 21.83% disc. $ 56.28/case $ 4.69/each
591A 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
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*