July 1992 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 173 Rejected: 147 Approved: 26 Selected: 2
One of the interesting aspects of the wine business and a ques¬tion that many ask is, why certain regions of France only grow cer-tain grapes. One region in particu¬lar is the region of Armagnac. For centuries Armagnac has been re¬sponsible for some of the great brandies (distilled grape juice) of the world. Our import white wine this month comes from this famed region of makers but is hardly a brandy. Our featured winemaker (see details on page 3) thought it a good idea to use his brandy grapes for a white wine and "voila". When we tasted this wine our re¬sponse was, "How soon can a ship leave port?". This is a delight¬ful summer sipper that I am sure you will agree is quite unique!
This month's domestic red is equally exciting. We have been tasting and approving Cline Cellars wines now for years only to be disappointed at the lack of availa¬bility or just bad timing. This is a new release of their famed Zinfan¬del and we have it first. Approach with caution, this is a BIG wine!
Salud! P.K. Jr.
Zinfandel, 1990. Cline Cellars Pg. 2
Cotes du Gascogne, 1991. Du Mage Pg. 3
This Matter of "Reserve" Wines 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
ZINFANDEL, 1990. CLINE CELLARS
Cline Cellars is owned by a fami¬ly whose name is a household word. About a century ago, six brothers pooled their resources to put the eldest one through college, a cultural tradition in Italy. The brothers immigrated to California. They took odd jobs, in the mines, for the railroads, even as farm la¬borers picking fruit and produce in the Central Valley. Then, the col¬lege educated brother came up with an invention, the injector pump. This invention eventually evolved into the whirlpool bath, which in turn became the spa. The inventor was our winemakers' (Fred and Matt Cline) grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi.
Along with one of his siblings Valeriano went on to buy farms in Contra Costa County, 50 miles east of San Francisco. They plant¬ed grape vines there and, with their Old World viticultural know-how, made wine "the old-fashioned way". Young Fred Cline spent his summers at their ranch in Oakley, accumulating farming and viticul¬tural knowledge at his grandfa¬ther's side. Then, when Fred was 17, his grandfather passed away. Fred moved to the ranch to keep his grandmother company and to tend the crops.
To fine tune the apprentice-style training he had received, he attended UC Davis. Fred took all the fermentation science and viticulture classes he could, graduat¬ing with a major in Agri. Science.
Around this time, he stumbled upon the old Firpo Winery in Oak¬ley. The vines there had been planted in the early 1900s. Fred took it over in 1982 and created Cline Cellars. By invitation, his younger brother, Matt, who also studied Oenology at Davis, became the winemaker at Cline Cellars in 1986.
When vineyards get very old, they yield a short crop, with the fruit often exhibiting extraordinary depth of flavor and complexity. The ancient vines from which this selection comes yield less than two, tons per acre. The Clines add two other grapes to a base of 80% Zin¬fandel: Carignane (11%) for strength and Mourvedre (9%) for complexity.
This wine has a quite dark pur¬ple/red color. The nose penetrates with raspberry and blackberry aro¬mas accented with a hint of white pepper. With full-bodied, complex chocolate, coffee, spice and fruit flavors, and appropriate tannins, it finishes dry. Serve at room tem¬perature with barbequed brisket.
Cellaring Notes: Drinking well now, it can mellow and complex for 5 years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#792A Regular Price: $10.00/ea.
Special Member Price: $8.19/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $6.59/ea.
34.1% disc. $79.08/cs.
COTES DU GASCOGNE, 1991.
DOMAINE DU MAGE
Cote doo gas-cone-ya, Doe-main doo Maj
In the heart of the Armagnac countryside in the southwestern part of France known as Gascony lies the beautiful 75 acre estate of the Domaine du Mage. This part of France, which is also known for its gastronomy and general "joie de vivre" is often sadly forgotten by visitors coming to France. Not only does it have some of the pret¬tiest scenery, but the people are warm, friendly and passionate about their local products of Ar-magnac and its charming white wines.
The Domaine du Mage is locat¬ed just outside the sleepy country town of Eauze. It is the property of Maiti Grassa, who runs it day to day, and her brother, Yves, who is responsible for the vineyards and the winemaking. The Grassa fami¬ly has been making great Armag¬nacs (brandy) for many years, but only in the past 20 years, since Yves decided to explore the possi¬bility of producing white wines from their property, have they be-come famous for their outstanding white wines.
Today, Yves Grassa is looked upon as one of the foremost young white wine makers in France. He is producing stunning wines that are packed with freshness and fruit. He has installed the most modern winemaking equipment possible and has brought the wine world's attention to this hitherto
unknown wine producing region.
The grapes used in production of the Domaine du Mage are main¬ly the Ugni Blanc (used to make the famed Cognacs) and Colom¬bard. The grapes are harvested ear¬ly in September to prevent them from too much sugar content. Fer¬mentation is prolonged at low tern¬peraturesto allow the must to ab¬sorb all the fruit qualities. The Ugni Blanc and Colombard are fermented separately and the "as¬semblage" is not done until Febru¬ary. At that time, Yves and Maiti taste all the different parcels and decide upon the blend for that vint¬age of Domaine du Mage. The Ugni Blanc brings finesse, style and fragrance, whereas the Colom¬bard adds depth and fresh fruit qualities.
This 1991 Domaine du Mage has a wonderful fragrant bouquet of wild flowers and apricots. On the palate it is crisp with medium body and a trace of "spritz" (from its youth). The flavor is packed with melon, lichees and tropical fruits. It finishes dry and crispy-clean. Serve chilled with grilled trout, orange chicken or as a sum¬mertime sipper.
Cellaring Notes: Fresh and lively now, enjoy through 1993.
#792B Regular Price: $6.79/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.43/ea.
20.00% disc. $64.16/case
THIS MATTER OF "RESERVE" WINE
Imagine that you are a winemaker or that you own a winery, and you are tasting some of the wines that are maturing in the bar-rels. You are an experienced taster, and are able to read into wine. You can detect characteristics that tell you this wine will improve and be¬come a superb wine. From among the various batches you taste, one or two barrels stand out as better than the others.
"Reserve those for me" would be my natural reaction. Wouldn't you be inclined to do that, too? It's along the lines of trying to deter¬mine which wines you want to serve to which guests; or should you save the "good stuff" for when you're alone?
This is how the "reserve" con¬cept is said to have started.
The next step, since you can't make any money keeping all the good stuff, had to be...
...selecting the better barrels or groups of barrels of wine from the same vinification, and offering them for sale as a better wine. You use the same label but print the words "Reserve", "Private Re¬serve", "Chairman's Reserve" or, "Special Selection". Any designa-tion would work, as long as the delineation is made to the increased quality of these selections.
This is all well and good and interesting. Your reserve wines be¬come very popular and you have created your own market niche.
Yet, it is possible you do not have "reserve" wines every year. You find that some years you
don't have exceptional barrels. Now you have a problem; a market demand with no supply. So, you learn how to make better wine by improving your grapes and your methodologies. At this point you now have two lines; your regular and your "reserve".
Next, you might find that hav¬ing two lines is confusing to the public. One line is mistaken for the other...or more catastrophic, your winemaking ability is sometimes judged on you regular wines and not your "reserve" wines.
Now what do you do? Many have started another brand, a new name or label just for the "reserve" wines. Thus you have two dis¬tinctly different brands that cannot be confused. One for your regular line of wines and one for your "re¬serve" line of wines.
The original idea of "reserve" has gone through several transfor¬mations. Each step of these trans¬formations can be found in the wine industry today. You, the wine enthusiast, will find that you have to become familiar with the individual wineries to recognize which wines are part of which product line. As you taste more wines and become familiar with more wineries, you will find that the word "reserve" means different things to different makers and it is up to us to sort it out. Though the fact remains...there are still some wonderfully genuine "Reserve" wines in the market.
Good hunting! P.K. Jr.
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.
July 1988 R. Corvo Rosso, '85. Duca di Slprt. Peaked. Complexed. Use.
W. Chenin Blanc, '85. Mount Palomar. Lost its fruit. Oxidizing. Use.
July 1989 R. Zinfandel,'84. TKC. Peaked. Oxidizing. Use.
W. Cotes Duras '87. Bichot. Lost some fruit but holding nicely. Use.
July 1990 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'86. Vanino. Peaking. Keep or use.
W. Vouvray,'88.Grges. Mrg. Peaked. Use.
July 1991 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, '88. Los Vscs. Complexing and softening. Keep.
W. Muscat Canelli, '90. Santino. Lots of fruit and character. Use.
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Adventures in Eating
By Leslie Smith
The other day my cousin told me about a wonderful dinner she'd had at a friend's. "It was French Provincial," she enthusiastically exclaimed. She then ex¬citedly went into detail about what was served. "What was the occasion?", I asked curiously. (It seemed like quite a luxuri¬ous and romantic affair.) "Book club," she simply replied.
In case you haven't heard, the new craze these days is "Book clubs". Friends get together and mutually decide on a cer¬tain book. Everyone has a month to read it. After the month is over, the crowd meets at a "designated reader's" house to discuss the novel they've finished. A sumptuous meal is planned around the subject and/or theme of the book.
After I became privy to this newest form of entertainment I became obsessed with matching books with the perfect "fare". I will share with you some of my ideas.
1. Irving Stone's "Lust For Life" (the poignant story of Van Gogh's troubled life) with a meal consisting only of pota¬toes, mashed, fried, boiled and pancaked.
2. Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" with a proper English tea, both savory and sweet.
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" with Champagne and caviar.
4. Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" with nouvelle cuisine.
If you are not in the mood for a clas¬sic, that's O.K.! You could settle for Car¬rie Fisher's "Postcards From the Edge" and then have the gang over for a "pig-out-party". Serve the most decadent des¬serts and be sure to include this luscious peanut butter pie! (It tastes like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!)
Peanut Butter Pie
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups sugar
2 8 oz. pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tablespoons hot coffee
Mix together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter. Press into a 10-inch springform pan. Beat together peanut butter, sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Beat cream separately until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture, and pour on top of crust. Refrigerate for 6 hours, or until firm. Melt chocolate and mix with cof¬fee. Spread over top of pie. Return to re¬frigerator until firm. Remove from pan and place on a serving plate just before serving. Then, go crazy!
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
792A Zinfandel, 1990. Cline Cellars
Reg. Price $10.00 34.1% disc. $79.08/case
792B Côtes de Gascogne, 1991. Dm. Mage
Reg. Price $6.79 20.00% disc. $65.16/case
692A Chardonnay, 1990. Mt. Palomar
Reg. Price $10.00 32.1% disc. $81.48/case
692B Tempranillo, 1988. Jaume Serra
Reg. Price $6.25 20.10% disc. $59.88/case
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
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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