- Q & A
September 1991 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 244 Rejected: 211 Approved: 33 Selected: 2
It's not always what you know it is who you know. This stands true even in the wine business. I am very high on the Sonoma Val¬ley and am particularly found of the north end, the Alexander Val¬ley and the Dry Creek area. Last time I visited Bill Meyers, owner of the White Oak Winery, I tasted his 1989 Chardonnay. I found it particularly good but the $14.00 shelf price kept us from bringing it to you. About a month ago Bill called me and reflected upon our conversation and wondered if I was still interested. I said "of course, but how can I afford it?" "Leave that to me" he responded, "you have been a friend of the winery and I had a distributor in Florida go out of business." I lis¬tened with a smile, "I have too much inventory...." he said. Need I say more... I bring you Bill Mey¬er's 1989 White Oak Chardonnay.
The strides being made in the south east of France in viniculture and wine making are taking the wine world by surprise. A recent conversation with a Master Som¬milier candidate revealed interest¬ing thoughts as to the advances in wine quality coming from the Lan¬guedoc. I found this Grand Chari¬ot to be a particularly good value.
INSIDEChardonnay,'89. White Oak Pg. 2
Chateau Chariot,'88. Corbieres 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
CHARDONNAY, 1989. WHITE OAK Shar-Don-Aye
White Oak winery is no new¬comer to the Wine of the Month Club. In fact, White Oak is the first winery to have been selected for both the Limited Series and the Regular Series with two wines from the same grape. Our ship¬ment #2 in 1990 featured the Myers Limited Reserve Chardon-nay that promptly sold out. This month's domestic selection is his "regular" Chardonnay. Wait until you taste it, it is not regular at all!
It is an old story, one that you hear every day…Bill Meyers is a professional fisherman transplant¬ed from Anchorage, Alaska, from whence he up and left to build (that is right, he is also a licensed con¬tractor) the White Oak winery. Meyers explains, "I felt there was an opportunity in the wine busi¬ness to be creative...I recognized a diversity of growing regions and a distinctiveness in the varietal character of the fruit from this area (northern Sonoma County)". Nat¬urally, he moved his family to Healdsburg and the rest is, or shall we say, will be history! Part of his success formula is wine maker Paul Brasset. Paul has over 15 years of winemaking experience from some of California's most re-spected wineries; Clos du Bois, Louis Martini, and Charles Krug. His extensive knowledge of the Sonoma County makes a nice compliment to Bill's objective of creativity.
Bill and Paul employ the most modern techniques of wine making to produce this gem. In fact, last time I visited, he produced an in¬frared aerial photograph of his fa¬vorite vineyard. This photograph identified strong and weak vines throughout the vineyard helping to identify watering and fertilization problems.
Chardonnay is the noble white grape of Burgundy, France. Though I have only known it to make dry white wine, some vint-ners (Kendall Jackson) will leave slight amounts of sugar to lighten the flavor (this is coined "Califonnia Style"). Some of the better French Burgundies can last up¬wards to 10 years but generally Chardonnay with enough acid will last 3-6 years.
Our selection this month shows a golden yellow. Bright and clear. The nose is explosive with green apples and hints of pineapple and vanilla. The flavors follow the nose very nicely; green apples, pineapple and vanilla. The is full-bodied with a nice dry finish. Serve chilled with poached salmon or light chicken dishes.
Cellaring Notes: Delicious now through mid 1992.#991A Regular Price: $14.00/ea. Special Member Price: $8.25/ea. Member Reorder Price: $6.99/ea. 50.01% disc. $83.88/case
CHATEAU CHARIOT, 1988. CORBIERES Sha-toe Share-oh
With the rising cost of the dol¬lar on the international money mar¬ket and the increase tax liability that has hit the wine industry, many people have asked how "The Club" will be able to maintain the quality of the monthly import se¬lection. Good question! One an¬swer lies between the sandy beach¬es of the Mediterranean and the southern spurs of the Massif Cen¬tral; the Languedoc grape growing region of France. As discussed in previous newsletters (see May 1991) the Languedoc is known primarily as the largest grape growing region in France. However, when competition stiffened in the early eighties and wine con-sumption in France decreased, the emphasis among growers in the Languedoc shifted from quantity to quality. Flatland vineyards were destroyed and planting was moved to the slopes where grape yield is lower but fruit quality is higher. New vinification techniques were employed to raise the overall quali¬ty of wine produced. The caliber of wine changed so dramatically that many regions of the Langue¬doc were awarded appelation con¬- Vlee status in 1985. Corbieres is one of those regions.
This month's import selection comes from the Corbieres region of the Languedoc and is bottled by the Cave de Octaviana at Ornai¬sons. The grapes are a product of many different growers' hillside vineyards where the minimum age of the vine is required to be 60 years. The wine is 100% Carig¬nan.
Carignan is only grown in any quantity in California and France but has the dubious distinction of producing more red wine than any other grape in the world. If vines are grown for high yields (of grapes) the resulting wine of those grapes can be acidic and fruitless; this is jug wine mentality. If the wines are grown to a low yield and proper vinification techniques are used the wine can be fruity and long lasting; such is the case with our selection. What gives this wine its complexity and depth is the use of carbonic maceration and 18 months of oak ageing. Carbonic maceration (whole cluster fermen-tation)by itself produces shortlived fruity red wines. The ageing in oak adds longevity and dimension.
The color is deep red to ma¬genta showing nice and clear. The nose is rich with plums and cher¬ries. The body is medium with fruit infusion in the middle. It fin¬ishes dry with a touch of tanin but still soft. Serve at room tempera¬ture with red pasta dishes or beef.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now through 1992.#991B Regular Price: $6.75/ea. Member Reorder Price: $5.25/ea. 22.22% disc. $63.00/case
"I have seen some of the same grapes used to make 'blush', 'blanc', and 'rose' wines. In some cases from the same winery! Could you tell me the difference?" Dr. T.R.E. Bakersfield
I'm not sure that I can because there is no code, law, or regulation which governs the terminology re¬garding the color of wine. Each producer can use the terms inter¬changeably even though it may be confusing for the consumer. All three of those terms can be used for blush wines but they do not tell whether one is dry, medium or sweet! Let's explain the process.
A wine grape whether white or red, is composed of skin, pulp and seeds. While the skin is red in Merlot, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon the pulp is actually white. The natural pigment in the grape resides in the skin cells. When red grapes are crushed, they are left to ferment on the skins. During this fermentation the skins impart their color to the resulting wine.
If you lightly crush the red grapes and draw the unfermented juice on the skins into another tank, that juice will ferment with¬out skin contact. This method will make white wine out of red grapes or at least as white as the skins will allow.
Obviously, you have to be fast. Some skins are so dark that even the slightest contact (1/2 an hour) will give the barest "blush" some color. The skin also adds tannins and structure to the wine. Removing them produces a lighter fruitier product, The seeds add harsh, sometimes bitter elements and are also removed.
"Blanc" wines receive little or no skin contact. With very fast and rather expensive equipment, it is possible to make a totally white wine from red grapes.
If one wants a "blush" of color leaving the grapes on the skins for 2-3 hours should do it "Rose" wines are left on the skins overnight to give them that pinkish color. They are sometimes referred to as "First Night" wines because they spend the first night of fermentation on the skins.
Pink wines can also be made by blending red and white wine to¬gether. This can add complexity and depth to a blush wine. And what is interesting is that either of the two methods of producing these pink wines can produce wines that are bone dry to wines that are overly sweet.
As you can see, it is a matter of degree of color and it seems logical that "blanc" should be the lightest, "blush" should be the next level up, and "rose" the deepest pink.
Fortunately, for us, most win¬eries use a clear bottle for these wines so that we can make our own conclusions.
The bottom line is, experiment and find the ones you like!
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.
Sept. 1987 R. Moreau Rouge,nv. Freshness gone. Use. W.Chevrignon D'Or.'85. Hidden Cellars. Needs more time. Hold.
Sept. 1988 R. Runway Red, nv. No holding power. Oxidizing. W. St. Veran,'85. Ch. De Beauregard. Austere. Use
Sept. 1989 R. Pinot Noir Blnc.,'89.Geyser Pk. Oxidizing. use. W. Vouvray,'86.Cht.Moncontour. Holding. Use
Sept. 1990 R. Old Vine #9,NV. Doing nicely, nice melding of flavors. Use. W. Black Marlin,'89. Blk. Opl. Flavors holding. Use.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Adventures in EatingBy Leslie Smith
Where has summer gone? Be¬ing a busy mom of two means no time off. My days were full of swimming lessons and lemonade stands; summer school and pool parties; beach trips and barbeques. Not to mention a week long trip to Lake Arrowhead squeezed in. My son and daughters summer social calendar kept me very busy. And even though I never had the time to lounge on a chaise in the sun, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and helping my children grow and learn this summer. They each ac¬complished something great. My daughter learned how to walk, and my son learned how to swim.
Witnessing my children's pride and joy in their achievements was definitely worth the hustle and bustle of the summer of 1991!
September brings a different type of hustle and bustle as vaca¬tion time ends and school begins. To help ease your way into this busy month, treat yourself to a batch of chocolate chip cookies (better than Toll House or Mrs. Fields!). This recipe was given to me from a dear friend, Carrie Hill, who is famous by everyone who knows her for these cookies! When she's not in the kitchen, she's at Universal Studios doing all the window displays for the shops. Thanks Carrie!
The Very Best Chocolate Chip Cookies2 cups brown sugar, lightly Packed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 lb. sweet butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 large packages chocolate chips
Cream together sugars and but¬ter until light. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and beat until well com¬bined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop batter by heaping table¬spoons onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Bake at 375 de¬grees for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to brown (do not over¬cook! Cookies will look under¬done at first but will harden as they cool).
Makes about 4 dozen large cookies.
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 Form991A Chardonnay, '89. White Oak Reg. Price $14.00 50.01% disc. $ 83.88/case $ 6.99/each
991B Chateau Chariot, '88. Corbieres Reg. Price $ 6.75 22.22% disc. $ 63.00/case $ 5.25/each
891A Charbono,'79. Inglenook-Napa Reg. Price $10.00 35.00% disc $ 78.00/case $ 6.50/each
891B Chateau Larroque,'89. Bordeaux Reg. Price $ 6.75 22.22% disc. $ 63.00/case $ 5.25/each
791A Muscat Canelli,'90. Santino Reg. Price $ 8.39 25.00% disc. $ 75.48/case $ 6.29/each
791B Cabernet Sauvignon,'88. Los Vascos Reg. Price $6.59 20.00% disc. $ 63.24/case $ 5.27/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
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CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS2 Bottles: the 2 current club selections $17*
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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*