October 1991 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 221 Rejected: 178 Approved: 43 Selected: 2
A Glenn Ellen wine, Paul? Ab¬solutely. Here is a boutique wine from one of the largest wine pro¬ducers in California. Indeed, we were concerned when we were tasted on this wine primarily be¬cause of the general availability of Glenn Ellen wines. But this partic¬ular wine has a very interesting background, and just as interesting is the brief history of the winery. When we tasted this 1988 Zinfan¬del, we looked at each other and said "How much do you have?" We expected to hear "hundreds of thousands of cases...", after all, Glenn Ellen produces 3.4 million cases of wine a year. Read page 2 and you will hear their response.
In the south of Burgundy, France, near Macon, lies a sleepy
little hamlet, Clesse. Last time we were there, we spent time in Mac¬on searching out small wineries and restaurants. We fell in love with the wine style down there and when we stumbled upon this gem we waited for the right vintage and 1990 was it! This is Macon-Clesse from the Cave de Vire.
Zinfandel, '88. Glenn Ellen Pg. 2
Macon-Clesse, '90. Cave de Vire 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
ZINFANDEL, 1988. GLENN ELLEN
The Benziger family moved to Glen Ellen California in 1980 from White Plains, New York to set up a boutique winery. The rest is truly California wine making history.
The 1981 crush came before construction of the winery was fin¬ished. There was no electricity. There were no wine storage tanks. The crush went on through the night with the help of a wine mak¬ing manual, car headlights and a rented milk truck for wine storage. That year, out of 478 wines, the sauvignon blanc and the chardon¬nay they made were judged one and two at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Enter Glenn Ellen to the wine making limelight.
Eyeing a market niche, Bruno Benziger, the wineries founder, turned to the surplus wine market to expand the winery's production capacity. He felt there was a latent opportunity between the jug wine market and the premium ($10.00-¬$25.00/bottle) varietal wine mar¬ket. Glenn Ellen now produces 3.4 million cases of wine a year (did I mention that the 1981 crush pro¬duced 4200 cases!). So much for the boutique winery, Bruno!
You might now ask, "Why is Paul sending us a wine from a winery we see everyday at the markets?". The winery you may see every day but the wine you will not! Only 1200 cases of this wine were produced and there are
only two places it can be purchased; the winery, and The Club. Actually, Bruno and his family have maintained their original ob¬jective by introducing Benziger of Glenn Ellen premium wines. Our wine was made from the grapes for the Benziger line, estate grown by the Benziger family. Do not be fooled by the California appellation on the label: this is 100% Sonoma County Zinfandel.
Zinfandel is said to have ori¬gins from Yugoslavia, Hungary and around Bari, Italy. The Zinfandel that thrives in California is closest to the latter. It is a very ver¬satile grape, producing light red wines, bold red wines, sweet late harvest wines and, of course, since 1972, white wines. All of these from the same grape, just different vinification techniques.
Our selection is brilliant garnet red throughout. The body is light to medium, yet full flavored. Very approachable. Flavors of raspber¬ry, bing cherry and bosenberry come through in the middle. The wine finishes with a hint of black pepper. The tannins are soft and pleasant.
Serve with BBQ chicken pizza, red pasta dishes or beef.
Cellaring Notes: Delicious now through mid 1992.
#1091A Regular Price: $6.74/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.38/ea.
20.17% disc. $64.56/case
MACON-CLESSE, 1990. CAVE DE VIRE
The southern part of Bur¬gundy, France plays host to many famous communes and townships: Notably Pouilly Fuisse, Macon, and St. Veran. The town of Clesse is a sleepy french commune, its only real attraction, aside from the wine of course, being an 11th cen¬tury church with an octagonal tow¬er. The basic red grape of the re¬gion is Gamay, producing wines somewhat inferior to the regions southerly neighbor, Beaujalais. The white grape is Chardonnay.
Macon-Clesse is produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes. This special cuvee, designated "La Vigne Blanche" comes from one vineyard site famous for its ston¬ey, limestone soil and steep, undu¬lating topography. Due to these characteristics, the vineyard re¬ceives lots of sun, and remains well drained and dry. The grapes are hand picked and carted in small lug boxes to the winery. The name of the winery is Cave de Vire, and is considered one of the best in the region.
The grapes are fermented in small lots designated by specific locations within the vineyard itself. There are between 12 and 15 different lots. Now comes the blend¬ing process which, for this particu¬lar vintage, only employed 3 of the fifteen lots. Oenologist, Mr. Em-manual Bene and Peter Mahan (from whom I purchased the wine)
describe the blend like this: "Lot #4 makes up 40% of the wine be¬cause of the rich fruit and apple-like aroma. Lot #9 makes up 40% of the wine for the firm acidity and freshness it provided. And finally, lot #13 at 20% for its balance and texture." Only 3000 cases were available for the entire United States and I am very excited to bring the 1990 vintage (a great year for Burgundy!) to you.
Chardonnay is not considered a versatile grape, though it can produce wines of varying styles. A good example would be to com¬pare last month's White Oak (#991A) with our selection this month. Both Chardonnays, each made by skilled wine makers, one from the Old World (Macon-Clesse), one from the New World (White Oak).
Our selection shows a brilliant yellow with light hints of char¬treuse. The nose has apples and lemon. The body is medium but full flavored with apples and cit¬rus. The finish is long and clean with enough acid for good bal¬ance. Serve slightly chilled with river fish; salmon, trout or perch. Try herb roasted chicken.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now through 1993.
#1091B Regular Price: $8.24/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $6.58/ea.
20.14% disc. $78.96/case
This letter came in recently. "A friend asked my husband and my¬self to a wine tasting at their home. We went to find a salesman from a German wine company showing his wines. They were medium to good but very expensive! We find the Wine of the Month Club has better value. It was not very infor¬mative because the wines were from the same country and regions I have never heard of. There was one I liked very much and have been searching for it since but have been unable to find it!. Can you get it?"
To answer the question direct¬ly, no, I cannot get it. In fact, the only place you can get the wine is from the company that was repre¬sented at the tasting. Let me ex¬plain.
There have been a number of "Tupperware party" type wine companies that have come and gone (I will not name names), all specializing in various wines. The most common specialty is Ger¬man. Why?
German wines are easy to drink. They generally have higher sugar content and are light in acids and make a good first impression. Please understand that we also en-joy German wines and there is a prominent place in the wine world for them, but they do not have to command such a high price. Many of the wines these companies sell range from $12.00-$20.00 a bottle, and the minimum order is one case ($144.00-$240.00). An¬other reason is the inability of the
wine consumer to price compare. There are so many regional delin¬eations in Germany that to even find a wine with the same name that these companies sell (I do not mean Liebfraumilch or Piesporter), would be a feat, let alone finding the same maker and vintage. In fact, many of these wines are pri¬vate labeled just for the company who is selling them to you. They cannot be found in the stores. This is why you will riot find California wines sold this way. They are to easy to price compare and to easy to validate.
Many members have come to me and asked about the wine in the "blue bottle". This is a merchan¬dising trick that has impulse appeal and connotes uniqueness. The reality is that any winery can order blue bottles if they so desire. The color of the bottle is unrelated to the quality of the wine. What does the blue bottle really connote. Ex¬pensive packaging that is passed on to us as consumers of these wines.
Why are they so expensive? Excessive shipping and handling costs, expensive bottles, 50% commissions for the salesman, payment for the wine that was poured at the tasting (you did not think it was free), and the winer-ies' and marketing companies' profit margin. Basically, there are, too many fingers in the pie.
Next time you are invited to a "wine tasting party" with a profes¬sional salesman, remember what I have said and enjoy the ride!
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.
Oct. 1987 R. Petite Sirah,'83. Wente. Tannin soft now. Good bouquet. Peaked.
W. Aragosta,'85. CSFADA. Oxidized. Use up.
Oct. 1988 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'84. Csno Mcl. Fruit gone. Use.
W. Gewurztraminer,'86. Clbrn & Chrchl. Should use up. Austere.
Oct. 1989 R. Merlot,'87. Garland Ranch. Has developed nicely. Keep.
W. Fumé Blanc,'87. No.Cst.Konocti. Still flavorful. Use.
Oct. 1990 R. Wintervine,'88. Nicely complexed. Fruit going. Use.
W. Pinot Blanc,'88., Paraiso Spgs. Complesed, balanced. Good fruit. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
By Leslie Smith
As summer closes and fall be¬gins, the cooks of the southland welcome the new season with open arms. Harvest season is upon us and it beckons us back to our kitchens, tempting us with thoughts of pumpkin pies and suc¬culent stuffed turkeys.
Fall marks the beginning of the holidays. It is a time for families and friends to gather indoors to en¬joy each other, and of course, feast on the bounties the season has to offer.
As for myself, I can't wait to visit the local pumpkin patch with my children. After picking out our favorite jack-o-lantern to be, I find a few extra for cooking and deco¬ration (I adore pumpkins all over the house). In our house, we love to hollow them out and use them as punch bowls or dip holders! (And naturally, for carving into jack-o-lanterns.) After we carve the pumpkins, we wash the seeds and toss them with salt and then roast them in the oven at 350 for 40 minutes. A tasty treat for the holidays.
This month I have an incredi¬ble pumpkin bread to share with you! The addition of chocolate chips seems to make the children and adults happy.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip
1 2/3 cups sifted flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/3 cup butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup sherry
3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Take a tablespoon of the flour and reserve for later use. Sift together flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cream butter with sugar until light, beat in eggs one at a time, add pumpkin. Mix flour and butter mixture together alternating as you go. Take the reserved flour and mix and coat chocolate chips. Then mix into batter. Pour batter into a greased, floured, and wax paper lined 9x5 in. pan. Bake at 350 deg. for 50 minutes or until done. Let cool five minutes. Enjoy!
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
1091A Zinfandel, '88. Glenn Ellen
Reg. Price $ 6.74 20.17% disc. $ 62.28/case
1091B Macon-Clesse, '90. Cave de Vire
Reg. Price $ 8.24 20.14% disc. $ 78.96/case
991A Chardonnay, '89. White Oak
Reg. Price $14.00 50.01% disc. $ 83.88/case
991B Chateau Chariot, '88. Corbieres
Reg. Price $ 6.75 22.22% disc. $ 63.00/case
891A Charbono,'79. Inglenook-Napa
Reg. Price $10.00 35.00% disc $ 78.00/case
891B Chateau Larroque,'89. Bordeaux
Reg. Price $ 6.75 22.22% disc. $ 63.00/case
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
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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
(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
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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 GIFTS
2 Bottles: the 2 current club selections $17*
6 Bottles: assortment of recent selections $47*
12 Bottles (1 case): assortment of recent
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*