January 1992 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 117 Rejected: 98 Approved: 19 Selected: 2
To everyone a Happy New Year and a prosperous 1992! I am very excited about the coming months and these January selec¬tions are the tip of the iceberg for what is in store for the club. These two wines are a great way to start the new year because of their tre-mendous value.
After tasting the wines for this month's selections, I had nar¬rowed the field down to two do¬mestic reds. I was a day away from making the decision for the January selection when the folks at Peacock Hill vineyards dropped by with a 1987 Pinot Noir. Reluctant¬ly, (because I felt I had two excel-lent candidates), I tasted the wine and "Oh my goodness!", I had to feature this wine! I am beside myself with enthusiasm to be show¬ing you this 1987 Pinot Noir from Peacock Hill winery.
Months ago I tasted this white Rhone wine from France in my of¬fice. The sample had been brought to me direct from France and was unlabeled and unavailable. After I flipped over it, the importer, how do you say it, "made it available". In fact, this wine was brought in just for us but has now taken hold in other parts of the country and is receiving rave reviews.
Pinot Noir, 1987, Peacock Hill Pg. 2
Marsanne, 1990, Reserve St. Martin Pg. 3
1991 In Retrospect 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 WOMC is a California Corporation.
PINOT NOIR, 1987. PEACOCK HILL
Pee know Nwah
Things certainly are looking good for us WOMC enthusiasts in 1992! I would never have imag¬ined that Paul could find two love¬ly Pinot Noirs within such a short period of time (seven months), es¬pecially considering the price class of most Pinot Noirs. The last one was Tony Austin's 1988 (#691A) sent last June. That was a beautiful wine, but wait 'til you taste this Peacock Hill!
Winemaker Norman Yost, a University of California, Davis graduate, served a four year ap¬prenticeship at Monticello Cellars in the Napa Valley, first in the cel¬lar and then as the Assistant Wine-maker. The opportunity to assume the title and responsibilities of Winemaker at Peacock Hill lured him there at its beginning in 1986.
The vineyards are located ap-proximately 60 miles north of San Francisco, within the appellation (viticultural district) officially des¬ignated by the U.S. Government as the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Lying 22 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and one mile east of the Russian River itself, the climate there is best de¬scribed as "coastal cool".
Pinot Noir seems to thrive best in cooler winegrowing districts. Perhaps "thrive" is a bad choice of words here. The vine itself seems to "perform" best in extreme, ad¬verse (colder) climates, like Burgundy, France ("Bourgogne", the grape's ancestral homeland), the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the Carneros and Russian River districts in California. A "shy-bearing" producer, the Pinot Noir vine yields a relatively short crop in these cooler regions. What it gives up in quantity it seems to gain in quality. Wines from this varietal are seldom full-bodied or dark in color. They can, however, exhibit a complexity which com¬bines gentility with a depth of fla¬vor and texture unsurpassed in any other red wines.
Our selection has the color of a mature wine: medium-dark brick-red. Its Pinot nose jumps out of the glass, like someone had heaped a bushelbasketful of raspberries and wild strawberries onto your table. Smooth, round and medi¬um-full in the mouth, with perfect¬ly balanced, dry, clean, refreshing acidity, the wine features tradition¬al plum/raspberry "Burgundian" fruit flavors. It finishes with an al¬most "candied" aftertaste. Serve at cool room temperature with roast leg of lamb marinated in red wine, garlic, parsley and black pepper.
Cellaring Notes: Enjoy this wine now and throughout 1992.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#192A Regular Price: $7.50/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.25/ea.
30.00% disc. $63.00/case
MARSANNE, 1990. RESERVE ST. MARTIN
Les Vignerons du Val d'Orbieu is an association of shareholders formed in 1967. The Group's members are all wine producers in the French Languedoc region. This vast wine growing area in the south of France, known as the Midi, is to French wine what the American Midwest wheat belt is to grain: it produces virtually half the wines of France.
Cultivated by the Romans some 2000 years ago, the region had enjoyed a reputation for quite decent wines, until the phylloxera parasite devastated the vineyards late last century (see WOMC Newsletter June '91). In the after¬math, the high-yield flatland vine-yards got replanted, while the hill¬side vineyards were, for the most part, ignored. For nearly a centu¬ry production there amounted to nothing much more than vast quantities of vin ordinaire.
The founder-members of the Val d'Orbieu association sought to establish amongst themselves an efficient, modern, joint operation. Their prime objective was a coher-ent strategy of product definition and quality control. With admira¬ble foresight, they encouraged their vintners to concentrate efforts on planting "noble" grape varieties in the well-drained hilly areas.
Today, Les Vignerons du Val d'Orbieu is the leading cooperative wine producing group in France,
offering finely-crafted, premium varietal wines at very attractive prices.
About five years ago, with re¬gard to these progressive efforts, the French government awarded Appellation Controlee status to thousands of acres of Languedoc vineyards. This official recogni¬tion of their now superior quality has placed much of the Midi's Corbieres and Minervois sub-districts on a competitive par with Bordeaux and Rhone.
The noble Marsanne grape, from which our selection comes, is the predominant white varietal of the Rhone Valley. It produces a full-bodied dry white wine, and is responsible (with its sister grape, Roussanne) for that district's greatest dry white wine, the rare Hermitage Blanc.
With a brilliant pale gold color this selection offers a complex, ap¬petizing, tropical fruit nose. It is very full-bodied in the mouth with¬out being too heavy, dry, but not astringent, smooth, and finishes clean, with nice fruit flavors lin¬gering. Serve chilled with baked fish, roast Cornish Hen, or a mild¬ly spiced veal chop.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now and through early 1993.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#192B Regular Price: $7.50/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.90/ea.
21.30% disc. $70.80/case
1991 IN RETROSPECTIVE
Wines Evaluated: 2,578
Wines Rejected: 2,143
Wines Approved: 435
An interesting year for tasting because of the wide spectrum of quality and styles of wines that we uncovered. 1992 looks very prom¬ising for some extraordinary value.
Last year's Regular Series taught us about:
1-Pinot Noir: '88 Austin Cellars. Very Central Coast in style.
3-Sauvignon Blanes: '86 Concan¬non, very Bordeaux-ish; an '89 Chateau Larroque, classic French; and an '89 Cask One, excellent value.
3-Chardonnays: '89 Marcus James, good value, easy drinking; '89 Macon-Clesse, a fruitful wine from France; and '89 White Oak, wonderful Sonoma County Char¬donnay.
2-Cabernet Sauvignons: '85 Jekel Vineyards, a marvelous Monterey Cabernet; and an '88 Los Vascos, a French made Chilean Cabernet.
1-Merlot: '89 Robert Allison, from Chile, excellent value.
2-Zinfandels: '90 Winterbrook, a nouveau from Amador County; and an exclusive from Glenn El¬len.
1-Italian: '89 Montepulciano, light¬hearted but full-flavored.
1-Spanish: '86 Bodegas Monticel¬lo, classic Spanish red.
3-French: '89 Muscadet, white wine from Muscadet; a red '88 Corbieres from the South of France; and a red Minervois from Gourgazaud.
2-Australian: '90 Semillon/Chardonnay, a delightful blend; and an '87 Penfolds Late Harvest Semillon, unbelievable value.
1-Chenin Blanc: '89 Granite Springs from El Dorado County, a great example.
1-Muscat Canelli: '90 Santino, one of our best movers.
1-Charbono: '79 Inglenook, a great opportunity to taste 12-year¬old wine.
1-Colombard: '89 Carmenet, a classic example of what Colom¬bard can be.
1-Sparkling Wine: '88 Brut Rose, Van der Kamp, Methode Champe¬noise from Sonoma.
1-Chardonnay: '89 Bonny Doon, a classic Californian.
1-Cabernet Sauvignon: '86 Wynn's from Australia, what a huge wine!
1-Merlot: '88 Columbia Milestone, classic Washington state Merlot.
2-Meritage types: '88 Pickberry, Ravenswood, a red blend with ex¬traordinary complexity; and Gue¬noc's '90 Langtry white that rivals the best white Bordeaux.
1-Bordeaux: '86 Les Ormes de Pez, quality French value.
1-Petit Sirah: '86 Fetzer, first Petit to make the Limited Series.
1-Italian: '89 Gavi di Gavi, the best Italian white wine I have ever had.
Looking back, all I can say is, "WOW, these are great wines and values!". Look forward to doing it again!
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.
Jan. 1988 R. Ch. Bellegrave, '82. Complex. Peaking. Use.
W. Johannisberg Riesling, '84. Ch. Julien. Oxidation. Use.
Jan. 1989 R. Petite Sirah, nv. Da Vinci. Complexing. Keep or use.
W. Sauvignon Blanc-Fumé, '87. Yalumba. Peaked, on way down. Use.
Jan. 1990 R. Pinot Noir, '87. Congress Springs. Softening nicely. Use.
W. Sauvignon Blanc, '88. Errz. Pang. Oxidizing. Use.
Jan. 1991 R. Merlot, '87. Robert Allison. Still softening. Keep or use.
W. Chenin Blanc, '89. Granite Springs. Doing fine. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
By Leslie Smith
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were happy ones, and filled with good wines and food! Last month I had a sit down dinner for 14 people. Usually when I give dinner parties, not only do I spend days preparing the meal, I am lucky if I can get a chance to eat lunch! For some strange reason, I felt that the more time I spent cooking, the better the dinner would be. Last month I proved myself wrong. I had a sit down dinner for 14 people and spent the day of my party at the mall, not in the kitchen.
I contently sat sipping a Cap¬puccino with a friend (who was a guest that evening) at 4:30, with a party starting at 7:30! I drove home relaxed, took a leisurely shower and casually sauntered into my kitchen to prepare dinner for my guests! The menu? Chinese and very spicy, Kung Pao chicken (which I served with rice and a sal¬ad with Wolgang Puck's "Chinois Vinagrette", which is in his latest cookbook).
I must say, my guests were very happy, and as they toasted to me, I silently vowed to make all my dinner parties as easy as this one!
Kung Pao Chicken
Serves 2-4, can be doubled or
2 whole chicken breasts, cut into
1/2 inch cubes
1 egg white
1 tsp. cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
5-10 dry roasted red chiles (the
more the spicier)
1 bunch green onions, cut into
1 inch slices, (green part, too)
2 cloves garlic, minced
For chile sauce:
1 1/2 teaspoons chile paste with
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil
Combine chicken, egg white and cornstarch and mix by hand. Mix together all the ingredients for the chile sauce and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok. Add chicken and cook until done. Remove chicken. Add peanuts to wok and cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Remove. Add chiles and cook, stirring until very dark, but not scorched. Add onions and garlic, stir fry 30 sec¬onds. Add cooked chicken, pea¬nuts and chile sauce and cover wok. Cook 2-3 mins. until thick.
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
192A Pinot Noir, '87. Peacock Hill
Reg. Price $7.50 30.00% disc. $63.00/case
192B Marsanne, '90. Reserve St. Martin
Reg. Price $7.50 21.30% disc. $70.80/case
1291A Midnight Cuvee, '88. Van der Kamp
Reg. Price $14.75 32.47% disc. $119.52/case
1291B Late Harvest Semillon, '87. Penfolds
Reg. Price $8.00 63.88% disc. $34.68/case
1191A Colombard, '89. Carmenet
Reg. Price $6.83 20.05% disc. $65.52/case
1191B Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, '89.
Reg. Price $8.13 24.11% disc. $74.04/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/each
SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $3.00; 6 bottles $6.25; 12 bottles $8.50
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