August 1992 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 189 Rejected: 149 Approved: 40 Selected: 2
It is time to do a summer wine. When the mercury starts to boil at the 100° mark, I start to crave a light-hearted summer-time white wine. Long known as such, but fallen out of popularity in the last few years, the Gewurztraminer grape is possibly having a revival. When well made, in its various styles, the grape is really wonder¬ful. It can produce lovely spicey-dry dinner wine as well as spicey-sweet aperitif wine. From a re¬gional stand-point, as recent vint¬ages have proven, one must con¬sider the Gewurztraminers from Washington state when out for evaluation. As I have stated be¬fore, Washington is fast becoming known for their Merlot, on the red wine side, and their Gewurztra¬miner on the white wine side. This one is from our old friend and Master of Wine, David Lake at the Columbia Winery.
For the red wine this month, I have a charming Côtes du Rhône. A good opportunity to see what quality Côtes du Rhône has to of¬fer, now that many California win¬eries have turned to the grape va¬rieties used in this wine.
To your health!
Gewurztraminer, 1991. Columbia Pg. 2
Côtes du Rhône, 1990. Moillard 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 (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.
GEWURZTRAMINER,1991. COLUMBIA WINERY
In opening, Columbia Winery practically represents ancient histo¬ry, as far as domestic wines go. Founded in 1962, it is Washington State's oldest premium winery. Home winemaking buff Professor Lloyd Woodbourne of the Univer¬sity of Washington, in concert with a few similarly inclined col-leagues, set up a "cooperative" winery in his garage. They called it "Associated Vintners". This name was changed to Columbia Winery eight years ago. As Washington's fifth largest winery, it produces more than 100,000 cases per year. Over the years people were added, and various refinements were made, including selling off all of its own vineyards. But the greatest impact on overall quality was achieved in 1979 when Columbia engaged oenologist David Lake to be its winemaker.
Mr. Lake, a Canadian by birth, had worked for ten years as a wholesale wine merchant in Eng¬land. There he had refined his pa¬late to such a degree that in 1975 he earned the coveted and rare Master of Wine Certificate. He fol¬lowed this with an intensive wine-making course at U.C. Davis in 1977. He worked for three Oregon wineries before taking over for Dr. Woodbourne who was about to re¬tire.
Lake's main thrust is to capital¬ize upon Washington's unique viti-
cultural conditions. West of the Cascade Mountain chain (Seattle) it rains. To the East is arid. Without attempting to imitate France or Cal¬ifornia, Lake produces unique, polished wines which exhibit crisp acidity and refined flavors.
The big G (Gewürztraminer, not Gallo) came west originally from France's Alsace district, which borders Germany. There this pink-skinned grape produces the very finest white wines of the district — both dry and sweet — distinguished by their distinctively "spicy" aroma. (Gewürz is Ger¬man for "spice".) Transplants of¬ten successfully follow suit.
This outstanding edition has a pale green/gold color. The citrus/grapefruit/spice nose fairly leaps out of the glass in warm, friendly salutation. Round, full, smooth, tangy and fruity in the mouth, this "Gewurz" shows no sign of the bitterness which so often mars ex¬amples of this varietal. The fruity, citrusy aftertaste lingers on. Both seasoned wine buffs as well as ne¬ophytes will want to gulp this one with reckless abandon: moderation advised. Serve chilled with fresh fruit or as a spa-time sipper.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now through 1993.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#892A Regular Price: $7.29/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $5.79/ea.
20.57% disc. $69.48/cs.
CÔTES DU RHÔNE, 1990. MOILLARD
The venerable French wine producing firm Moillard was founded in 1850 by Symphorien Moillard. It is now managed by the fourth and fifth generations, and remains a family owned and oper¬ated concern. While 60% of Moil-lard's turnover is achieved in France, its wines are sold interna¬tionally in over 30 countries.
The elite part of the operation is sixty acres that they own in France's illustrious Côtes d'Or re¬gion, the best section of Bour-gogne ("Burgundy" — the real thing). Moillard ferments and vinifies all the precious grapes produced within its domaines, but they also purchase grapes from many different growers and vinify them, too. Additionally, the firm purchases already made wines from other growers. They then "finish" these wines (the French term is eleveur, "one who ele-vates") by fining them.
Fining consists of removing particles which might cloud the wine by techniques other than fil¬tering (floating egg-whites through them, for instance). Moillard also filters the wines before bottling and aging them in their 3 million bottle cellar. With modern equipment for labeling and packing, the firm is able to produce over 5000 cases a day with all the necessary care any good wine deserves.
Our selection represents Moillard's product line mainstay . This is good, inexpensive, appealing wine from due south of the exalted Bourgogne region, the sunny southern Rhône Valley. Here is where California's "Rhône Rang¬ers" got their inspiration. The four grape blend features Syrah, for el¬egant texture and bouquet; Gren-ache for fruitiness in both the nose and flavor; Mourvèdre for acidity, depth and complexity; and Cinsault for backbone.
The wine has a brilliantly clear raspberry/red medium dark color. The nose offers exotic passion-fruit and multiple berry aromas, with a hint of the violet flowers al-luded to in its proprietary name ("Les Violettes"). Though high in acid, the wine is quite smooth on the palate, medium to light in body, with fairly intense "jammy" clean fruit flavors following through. It finishes with moderate tannins drying the tongue and the aroma of violets lingering on. Serve at room temperature with broiled steak, oriental beef dishes with sweet fruit sauces, soy sauce chicken or a roast beef sandwich.
Cellaring notes: Near its peak now, drink over next 2 years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
#892B Regular Price: $7.69/ea.
Member Reorder Price: $6.15/ea.
20.00% disc. $73.80/cs.
THIS MATTER OF VINTAGE CHARTS
We've often had people come up to us and point to the vintage chart hand-outs that we offer to the general public: They ask in wide-eyed bewilderment, "What is this?"
Basically, vintage charts score the success of the vintage, as far as the quality of the wine goes. The charts are universally tabular in form, with one axis for the region being classified and the other axis for the calendar year of the vint¬age. They are most frequently nu¬merical, usually written on a scale of 7, 10, 20 or 100. Some authors opt to use symbols like dots or stars (more stars = better quality, etc.). Our chart, prepared by Don Schliff, the president of the large California-based wine importer/ wholesaler, Wine Warehouse, uses a scale of 1-20. We especially like this one because it shows sev-eral wine regions in France, Italy, Germany, Portugal and California.
What do these charts say?...
The score for the most recent year or two is really an indication of the success of the harvest for that year. The newly made wine from that harvest is evaluated for its potential development. This is an educated guess by experts who know the life cycle and idiosyn-crasies of wine. The earlier years on a chart reflect the original pre¬mise plus how the wine has devel¬oped in its maturation process of aging. Sometimes scores are al¬tered by the authors as the wines for that year show a different posture as they age.
Bear in mind that you cannot make good wine from lousy grapes (the unhappy results of inclement weather in a particular re-gion). Some very skilled wine-makers, however, can at times make very acceptable wine from such grapes. Also remember that you can make lousy wine from good grapes, if you do not know what you are doing, or are not paying attention that day! The numbers on a vintage chart really indicate the success of the harvest with regard to the quality of the grapes.
Any attempt to rate vintages in California's diverse wine regions runs into trouble. Even if the au¬thor conscientiously rates Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino separate-ly, what about Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and. Temecula?
The key to using a vintage chart is to remember that it is at best a generalization. You have no assu¬rance that the wine you select is a good bottle because it is from a highly rated year. With a low rated year, however, you can pretty well bet the wine is mediocre. Addition¬ally, some charts indicate when wines of a particular vintage might be too old, i.e., losing it. Old and rare wines are frequently quite ex¬pensive, due solely to their rarity This doesn't mean they still taste-good! We have wallet size vintage charts available for you (to avoid these pitfalls) — on the back of our business cards! P.K.
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.
Aug. 1988 R. Côtes du Rhône, '85. Lost its character. Use.
W. Zeltinger Deutchherrenberg, '83. Brrs. Erb. Oxidized. Use.
Aug. 1989 R. Saint Emillion, '83. Haut Pagaud. Lost all its character. Use.
W. Chenin Blanc, '88. White Oak. Fruit gone. Use.
Aug. 1990 R. Chianti, '88. Gabbiano. Complexing. Keep or use.
W. Sauvignon Blanc, '88. Hacienda. Developed. Peaked. Use.
Aug. 1991 R. Charbono, '79. Inglenook. Still drinking nicely. Use.
W. Bordeaux, '89. Ch. Larroque. Developing nicely. Use.
REMINDER If you have changed your address or your credit card #… please let us know. It is hard to track the changes after the fact. Please write or call anytime.
Adventures in Eating
By Leslie Smith
The other day, while waiting for a doctors appointment, I flipped through a "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine. Nothing quite piqued my interest and I was just about to trade it in for an entic¬ing copy of "People" when I came across an ad for a refrigerator. I became transfixed. It wasn't the sleek design or persuasive adver¬tising that grabbed me, but the in¬credible assortment of edibles in¬side the fridge! A chocolate glazed bundt cake was on a platter adorned with fresh strawberries. An entire turkey, uniformly brown and with a perfect mound of stuff¬ing easing out of the cavity stood on a beautiful plate garnished with grapes. Stuffed tomatoes, a green salad, a dozen perfect eggs and a case of Coca Cola were just a few of the other items perfectly placed in this insulated household box.
"Why can't my refrigerator look like this?", I wondered. If I had my way (my impossible crazy way), my refrigerator would be stock full of things I had lovingly made, grown, hatched or baked.
Fresh preserves and fruit from my trees, bread baked in my oven, eggs from my chickens and cook¬ies and cakes from my hands. Cra¬zy?...I don't know. Impossi-ble?...yes! I don't live on or anywhere near a farm. Although I do make bread from time to time,
grow herbs in my back yard, and make the most outrageous country sausage any country folk have ever tasted.
Make this recipe the first in your new refrigerator (or just the old one neatened. up).
Country Sausage Patties
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
1/3 cup green onion, finely
2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 Tblsp. fresh rosemary, finely
1 Tblsp. basil or oregano, finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tblsp. parsley, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tblsp. oil
Mix together pork, green onion, fennel, paprika, rosemary, orega¬no, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Blend well and refrigerate overnight. Form into 3" patties. Saute until brown and crisp. Incredible!
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
892A Gewurztraminer, 1991. Columbia
Reg. Price $7.29 20.57% disc. $69.48/case
892B Côtes du Rhône, 1990. Moillard
Reg. Price $7.69 20.00% disc. $73.80/case
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
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/each
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