May 1992 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 324 Rejected: 275 Approved: 49 Selected: 2
Sometimes I even amaze my¬self. One year ago April, we fea¬tured the Jekel 1985 Cabernet Sau¬vignon. The response was tremendous and it just this month became unavailable, mainly be¬cause the Wine of the Month Club bought it all! Actually, a few mem¬bers of the club who own restau¬rants made it their lead Cabernet at their establishments. Anyway, just as the inventory was dwindling, one of the premier Cabernet Sau¬vignon producers of Monterey County (besides Jekel) came to me with this 1988 Lone Oak. I got so excited when we struck the deal that I took samples to the restau¬rants and now they're pouring the wine.
The import this month is from
an old friend who my father has done considerable business with. The good French wines from Bor¬deaux and Burgundy are becoming so expensive that only the elite can afford them, unless of course, you have a friend in the business, i.e., The Wine of the Month Club. This is the 1990 Verdillac White Bor¬deaux.
Salud! P.K. Jr.
Cabernet Sauvignon, 1988 Lone Oak Pg. 2
Verdillac, 1990. Armand Roux Pg. 3
Member Inquiry-Grapes 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 (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1988. LONE OAK
In 1974, the Smith horse ranch and the Hook cattle ranch were converted into vineyards. A good 250 acres of vines were planted there, split between Cabernet Sau-vignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Thus was the Smith and Hook Estate created as a Cabernet Sauvignon "chateau".
Our selection comes from the Lone Oak Estate, a separate entity, owned and operated by these same people, the Nicholaus Hahn fami¬ly. Located on the Santa Lucia Highlands, overlooking Monterey County's fertile Salinas Valley, cooled by off-shore bay breezes, these sun-drenched vineyards en¬joy a microclimate ideal for wine.
Once, returning south from a Monterey Bay weekend, I drove through this area with my wife and daughter. We took the back road, Route G-17, to try a short cut (as well as to relieve ourselves from the touristy hustle and bustle of Cannery Row). Driving through some of the most soothing agricul¬tural countryside imaginable, we passed acre upon acre of this firm's plush, beautiful vineyards. Our discovery was, however, that viticulture was not new to this area. A few miles down the road we stopped at "the old Soledad Mission", a landmark of early Cal¬ifornia history (we had passed it and just had to go back). Next to the crumbling old buildings, remained just a few of what had to be the oldest grape vine stocks I have ever seen, big and thick around, almost like tree trunks! (These were, more than likely, of the so-called "Mission" variety.) When it came to matters of the vine, the mission padres obviously had their priorities straight.
This wine, on the other hand, was produced from 100% Caber¬net Sauvignon grapes. Originally from France's Bordeaux region, Cabernet Sauvignon is the pre-dominant grape in most chateau bottled reds produced there. When transplanted to other districts, the variety maintains its ability to yield full-bodied, long-lived wines, dis-tinguished in flavor and elegance.
This fine example sports an inky-dark red color. The nose has lots of fruit, with hints of pear, strawberry and a touch of hay, typical of the Monterey style. It is very smooth on the palate; dry, but with pleasing fruit flavors and just a hint of tannin. The finish is clean with the fruit flavors linger¬ing on. Serve at room temperature with roast leg of lamb, or fowl roasted in a cherry or berry sauce.
Cellaring Notes: Ready now, but will complex through 1994.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#592A Regular Price: $7.75/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.89/ea.
24.00% disc. $70.68/cs.
VERDILLAC WHITE BORDEAUX, 1990. A. ROUX
Vare-Dee-Yak White Bore-Dough Are-Mahn Roo
The story of Verdillac is really the story of the French "negociant" firm, Maison Armand Roux. This highly reputable company dates back to 1842. Its founder, Ar¬mand Roux, traveled extensively to Belgium and Holland, where he developed a clientele of well-to-do wine lovers. Visiting each of them once a year, he would conduct two simple transactions. First, he would take an order for the current year's wine requisites and, sec¬ond, he would pick up a check for the previous year's delivery. Oh, for the good old days of honesty, integrity and trust in business!
A negociant (i.e., "one who ne-gociates") is a respected wine mer¬chant who buys grapes and/or wines and sees to it that they are vinified and/or blended into excel¬lent wine values. Bringing them to maturity, packaging them attrac¬tively, and shipping them to an ap¬preciative, and very often quite loyal, following of customers, are part and parcel of the profession.
Today, a distinguished Selec¬tion Committee collaborates to as¬semble Maison Armand Roux's Bordeaux "brand", Verdillac. Committee members include both the directors of Roux's French and U.S. marketing organizations, plus Professor Pascal Ribereau-Gayon (Chairman of the Depart¬ment of Oenology at the University of Bordeaux), as well as several winery executives and winemak¬ers. The Committee prohibits the production of Verdillac in poor vintages. They did not make any in '77, '80, '84, or '87. In good years the members evaluate up to fifty lots of wine, some straight varietals and some already mixed, to create the master assemblage.
White Bordeaux wine is, usual¬ly, a blend of two main grapes, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, both indigenous to the region, with several other lesser local varieties thrown in to stretch it. Verdillac, however, contains only the noble Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, approximately 50/50. The former lends herbaceous aromas, plus full body. The latter contributes fruiti¬ness and elegant texture.
This example shows a clear green/gold color. The nose is fra¬grant with ripe green grapes, green plums and figs. Medium-bodied, delightfully round in the mouth, dry, yet seductively mellow, it fin¬ishes completely smooth, with a little tongue-drying tannin and a re¬freshing green grape aftertaste. Serve chilled with light fish cours¬es or sauteed chicken breast fillets.
Cellaring Notes: Ready now. Enjoy through 1993.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#592B Regular Price: $7.25/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.79/ea.
20.13% disc. $69.48/case
Paul, Are any of the domestic wines that we are accustomed to made from native grapes, or do they all have their origins else-where?" M.M., Temple City, CA
Any grape, really, can be made into wine, but few indigenous grapes have achieved any degree of success as raw wine materials. Native grapes, botanically of the vitis labrusca species, have a kind of wild taste (termed "foxy" in the trade).
The grapes of Europe (mainly France, Italy and Germany) of the vitis vinifera strain, are far more suitable to the production of super¬ior, elegant tasting wines. Vinifera (the word is Latin for "wine bear¬ing") varietals have been grown in the U.S. since the mission padres began planting them with enthu¬siasm, over 200 years ago. Today, nearly all grapes grown in the U.S. for commercial winemaking purposes are vinifera, with the ex¬ception of a few labrusca strag¬glers and a proliferation of labrus¬ca x vinifera hybrids planted along the East Coast and in the Great Lakes regions. These hybrids in¬herited labrusca's resistance to the harsh eastern winters (which can kill viniferas), and that is the basis of rationale for their popularity there, not quality!
Here's the breakdown, then, by region of origin, of what we generally see here:
FRANCE: Bordeaux red grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Ca¬bernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Whites are made predominantly from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle de Bordelaise and Colombard.
In Burgundy (the province of Bourgogne) red wines come from Pinot Noir and Gamay, while the whites are made mostly from Chardonnay, and, infrequently, Pinot Blanc.
The Loire Valley grows Sau¬vignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Muscadet (a.k.a. "Melon") for the whites, and Cabernet Franc for the reds. The Rhone valley is our source of Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache Carignane and Petit Sirah (a.k.a. Durif) in red, and Viognier, Rousanne and Marsanne in white.
GERMANY: Riesling, Sylvaner and Gewürztrarniner are the big winners here, with an occasional vinifera x vinifera hybrid (exam¬ple: Scheurebe) yielding good fruit; basically all white wines .
ITALY: Sangiovese rules for Tuscan reds, Nebbiolo in Pied¬monte (also probable home to Charbono). Moscato ("Muscat") is the Piedmont's sweet white. The dry white, Trebbiano is cultivated almost everywhere from tip to toe of the boot. Zinfandel is known in Puglia (in the heel) as the Primitivo di Gioia, although many authori-ties believe the grape originally came from Hungary.
Each of the above varietals is grown here, to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon the accep¬tance of the wines they produce.
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 1988 R. Periquita, '83. Jose Maria. Peaked. Use.
W. Semillon, '84. Oxidized. Use.
May 1989 R. Petit Sirah Nvo., '88. Cilurzo. Lost all its fruit. Use.
W. Orvieto Classico, '87. Bigi. Peaked. On its way out. Use.
May 1990 R. Merlot, '88. Columbia. Developing nicely. Keep.
W. Lee Poo Yee, NV. Armand Roux. Fruit subsiding. Use.
May 1991 R. Minervois, '88. Cht. Gourgazaud. Has softened and complexed. Use.
W. Sauvignon Blanc Rsv., '86. Concannon. Has developed. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
By Leslie Smith
May is one of my favorite months. My wedding anniversary is in May, my daughter's birthday and Mother's Day (a new favorite holiday of mine).
For many years Mother's Day meant flowers picked from the next door neighbor's garden, tied together with a battered hair ribbon and tenderly given to my very ap-preciative mother. As the years went by, I became older and wiser and realized the neighbors weren't too keen on my flower picking. I ventured on (with the help of my younger brother) to concoct elabo¬rate breakfasts-in-bed for my sleepy mom. The incredibly messy kitchen left after my endeavor al¬ways seemed to put my mom into such a tizzy, that I came to the con¬clusion that breakfast-in-bed was a nice gesture but not worth the mess. I finally settled on the clichéd but sensible gifts of pink bath robes, plush slippers, boxes of chocolates and flowers from somewhere other than my neigh¬bor's garden.
Now that I'm a mom, Moth¬er's Day means even more. Last year my family surprised me with a very delicious "Mother's Day cake", made by my husband and children. The recipe belonged to my mother-in-law, and now I'd like to share it with you! Bake it for someone you love this May!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
1 box lemon cake mix (without
1 small package vanilla pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup hot water
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all above ingredients for 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Cool.
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Water (if needed)
Mix together glaze ingredients and drizzle over cooled cake.
Enjoy with a dessert wine such as the Penfolds 1989 Late Harvest Semillon (#1291B).
For free membership information write or call
Wine of the Month Club®
Discovering superb wines since 1972
P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066 / (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361
592A Cabernet Sauvignon, '88. Lone Oak
Reg. Price $7.75 24.00% disc. $70.68/case
592B Verdillac, '90. Armand Roux
Reg. Price $7.25 20.13% disc. $69.48/case
492A Fume Blanc, '90. Haywood
Reg. Price $9.75 40.61% disc $69.48/case
492B Chianti, '90. Melini Borghi D'Elsa
Reg. Price $7.99 21.28% disc. $75.48/case
392A Mourvedre, '88. Francal
Reg. Price $10.00 43.1% disc. $68.28/case
392B Riesling, '89. Roemische Wnstrss.
Reg. Price $8.00 20.12% disc. $76.68/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
Shipping charges slightly higher out or California.
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MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066
or call (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361
(See reverse side to order wine gifts.)
Wine Gift Order Form
GIFTS OF WINE ARE PERFECT FOR:
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*