- Q & A
December 1993 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 324 Rejected: 273 Approved: 51 Selected: 2
From our family to yours, the Wine of the Month Club wishes you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. We hope 1994 brings world peace and prosperity for everyone.
A note for new members: Each December we feature two wines that will complement the holidays. One is a sparkling wine to bring in the New Year, the other a fortified or late harvest wine to enjoy after dinner (with dessert). Both styles are important in the wine industry and we know you will find these selections in the Holiday spirit.
This month's dessert wine is a find. Hidden Cellars has been pro¬ducing these late harvest wines for many years, but this is the first of theirs I have tasted made from the Johannisberg Riesling grape. It is true to form and a perfect match for the holidays. This month's sparkling wine selection is quite amazing. It is ex¬pensive enough to make methode champenoise sparkling wine let alone bring it all the way from France. The folks at Grandin have been wanting to show the Club members their wines for a few years now; they finally saw things our way! Here is the sparkling wine selection for 1993, Grandin Brut.
Salud! PK Jr.
Joberg. Riesling LH, '92 . Hidden C Pg. 2
Brut, NV. Grandin Pg. 3
Gifts, Gifts, Gifts 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 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.
JOHANNISBERG RIESLING LATE HARVEST, 1992. HIDDEN CELLARS Joe-hahn-is-burg Reese-ling
Hidden Cellars is the inspiration of owner Dennis Patton. While signing up for an enology class at U.C. Davis, he found out that one of the prerequisites was to be working at a bonded winery. When asked, he just blurted out, "Hidden Cellars". Soon afterwards in 1981, he started the mythical winery in Mendocino County, in the "hidden" fern groves of Mill Creek Canyon. Two years later the winery moved into expanded, more visible facilities on the Hil¬dreth Ranch, one of the oldest ranches in the heart of the Ukiah Valley. Here, surrounded by beau¬tiful orchards and vineyards, this small winery proved itself to be a consistently excellent producer.
"Late Harvest" dessert type wines are a specialty for Hidden Cellars. Theirs rank amongst the finest in California. They do not produce them every year, only in years when the "omens" and mete¬orological conditions are favora¬ble.
Grapes for late harvest wines are, literally, harvested late, that is, weeks after the normal crop has been brought in. Certain grape va¬rieties, notably the Johannisberg Riesling, can benefit tremendously from the additional time on the vine, ripening beyond what would make a dry table wine. There is an inherent risk, however, as sugar levels rise, acidity in the grapes declines. At this point, only insipid, dull-tasting sweet wines would re¬sult. Wonderfully, Mother Nature steps in.
Under just the right weather conditions, a mold called Botrytis ("the noble mold") infects the grapes. Instead of destroying them, it acts to improve their con-dition by concentrating the sugars, while maintaining the acid levels. Wines from grapes so fortunately affected are ambrosial nectars, sweet, yet balanced and delicious.
Our selection has a pale golden chartreuse color. The apricot/peach/pear nose is accented with spring flowers, plus a hint of hon¬ey, totally characteristic of the bot¬rytis style. In the mouth the wine is medium bodied, moderately sweet, very soft and light in tex¬ture, with balanced acidity. Apricot and dried nectarine dominate the flavor mix, and carry on into the finish to keep you wanting another little sip. Serve chilled. A ripe pear would provide a classic accompa¬niment. Fresh fruit tarts would go nicely, provided they were not too sweet. This wine may show its best side when taken all by itself.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now and through 1995.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper#1293A Regular Price: $12.00/ea. Special Member Price: $6.99/ea. Member Reorder Price: $5.59/ea. 53.41% disc. $67.08/cs.
BRUT, NV. GRANDIN Broot, Grahn-dohn
It was in the French province of Champagne in the 1850's that the famous monk Dom Perignon per¬fected the method of producing sparkling wine. Soon afterwards, families from the Champagne re¬gion moved to the Loire Valley and began producing sparkling wines there. In 1886, Henri Grandin married Pouillet de Limesle. Her family had owned a large ''do¬maine" and wine cellars in the Loire since 1580. Henri construct¬ed a chateau and set about in ear¬nest to produce sparkling wines.
He and his cellarmaster created a "Methode Champenoise H. Grandin" blend, using the white wines of the region. Its quality and reputation rapidly became recog¬nized throughout France.
After Henri's passing, Grandin kept growing. In 1979 the Berger Group took control of the brand. They modernized the operation, in¬stalling sophisticated equipment and a performance quality control system. Production capacity was increased threefold.
The words "Methode Champe¬noise" on their bottles denote a la¬borious series of processes span¬ning at least twelve months. These include grape selection, blending, first fermentation (producing alco¬hol) and second fermentation (making the bubbles). Then fol-lows the periodic hand-turning (called riddling) of each bottle to bring all the spent yeast cells into the neck of the bottle. The dead yeasts are expelled by a tricky ma¬neuver (called disgorging) prior to final packaging. French law re¬serves the word "Champagne" ex¬clusively for sparkling wines pro¬duced within that province. And the term "Methode Champenoise" may only be applied to wines made from this time honored process.
The blend for this selection con¬sists of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc grapes, sourced from the Loire Valley, Charentes (the Cog¬nac district) and Bordeaux.
This sparkling wine offers a snow white "mousse" (head of foam) and petite bubbles. Both are characteristic of a true Methode Champenoise. It has a fruity nose, not yeasty, very attractive and ap¬petizing. The taste is mouthfilling, fruity, yet dry and clean. The fin¬ish contains a hint of green grapes and is very clean. Serve well chilled before, during and after holiday tables. Its glow will light up caviar, pâtés, and hors d'oeurvres, as well as elegant om¬elettes and crêpes.
Cellaring notes: At its best now and through 1994.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper#1293B Regular Price: $9.50/ea. Special Member Price: $7.99/ea. Member Reorder Price: $6.39/ea. 20.02% disc. $76.68/cs.
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FOR YOUR HOLIDAY GIVING
WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB
SEND A WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB GIFT MEMBERSHIP and you're really sending something different. Not only will December selections arrive in time for the Holidays, but exciting selections keep right on coming month after month. And...you have maximum value for the gift dollar, because the recipient is reminded each month of your generous gift by the gift card enclosed with each month's selections and newsletter.
IT'S SO EASY. You order just once, and the Wine of the Month Club will deliver a whole parade of beautiful wines.
YOU CAN BE CONFIDENT THEY'LL ENJOY THE GIFT. These are wines you know and appreciate because you receive them yourself with your own membership.
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CONVENIENCE YOU APPRECIATE. You can avoid the unpleasant aspects of shopping—traffic, parking, crowds, waiting in line. Spare yourself those inevitable little annoyances that go with packing gifts for the mail; finding cartons the right size, packing the gifts so they don't break, etc. By sending Wine of the Month Club gifts, you'll make your shopping easier, especially shopping for out of town family and friends.
THE VALUE YOU EXPECT... because you know the contents of each month's gift. And...our gift wrapping is handsome. The shiny burgundy gift box with the silver ribbon makes an impressive package. Each Wine of the Month Club gift is a representation of your thoughtfulness and your creativeness.
SEE THE GIFY BROCHURE IN THIS MONTH'S PACKAGE. HURRY... TIME TS RUNNING SHORT!
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.
Dec. 1989 R. Spinnaker Port, NV.H&M. Softened a tad, Very nice. Keep or use. W. Clair Diamant, NV. Oxidizing. Use.
Dec. 1990 R. Brut, NV. Chamdeville. Oxidizing. Use. W. Late Harvest Riesling, '87. Snoqualmie. Complexing. Keep or use.
Dec. 1991 R. Midnight Cuveé NV. Vanderkamp. Nicely rounded. Keep or use. W. Late Harvest Semillon, '87. Penfolds. Just getting better. Keep or use.
Dec. 1992. R. Blanc de Noir, NV. Sebastiani. Holding nicely. Keep or use. W. Cream Sherry, NV. Romate. Will go for years. Keep or use.-------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Adventures in EatingBy Robin Young, Exeter
Some wines are harder to pair with food than others. Particularly the over-aggressive, or the distinc¬tively different wines. The phe¬nomenon that causes us to say "...this wine has peach flavors with hints of melon..." is not so mysterious. The very same chemi¬cals that give these fruits and vege¬tables their character are also found in wines. This is why a great Ca¬bernet can smell and taste like eu-calyptis and why wines that are from areas in or about Gilroy, Cal¬ifornia can have a garlic character (Gilroy is the garlic capital of Cali-fornia). When I set out to pair one of this month's wines with a holi¬day treat, I was interested to know how Larry had paired the wines in the main article. My choice prior to reading what he had written was a fresh peach tart. One that relies on the fruit for its flavor, not a cus¬tard. I was astonished. This is what he had written "Fresh fruit tarts would go nicely, provided they were not too sweet." After talking with one of my food edi¬tors, this Peach Shortcake recipe emerged as the odds on favorite. After preparing it myself, I think you too will find it a natural for our 1992 Late Harvest Johannis¬berg Riesling by Hidden Cellars.
Peach ShortcakeServes 4-6
45 minutes plus cooling to pre¬pare.
1 cup flour
5 tbsp. butter, diced
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 large egg yolk
a few drops vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or canned peach slices
3 tbsp. red currant jelly
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
Sift the flour onto a smooth sur¬face. Make a well in the center and add the butter, confectioner's sug¬ar, egg yolk and vanilla. Work the ingredients with your fingers to form a smooth paste. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll out the pastry to a large round, to 1/4" thick. Prick all over with a fork and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Melt the red currant jelly in a small saucepan over gentle heat. Arrange the peach slices in a pat¬tern to cover the shortcake, then brush with the melted red currant jelly to glaze. Decorate with ro¬settes of whipped cream.
Let it melt in your mouth with a glass of Late Harvest!
Salud! P.K. Jr.
For free membership information write or call Wine of the Month Club® Discovering superb wines since 1972 P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 / (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361
Order Form1293A Jhnsbrg. Rsling. LH. '92. Hidden C. Reg. Price $6.99 53.41% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
1293B Brut, NV., Grandin Reg. Price $7.99 20.02% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
1193A Meritage Red, '89. Altimira Reg. Price $17.50 62.5% disc. $78.60/case $6.55/each
1193B Grand Frais, '92. Yvon Mau Reg. Price $6.79 20.00% disc. $65.16/case $5.43/each
1093A Chardonnay, '92. Sylvester Reg. Price $8.99 22.25% disc. $83.88/case $6.99/each
1093B Merlot, '90. La Playa Vineyards Reg. Price $5.99 20.02 disc. $57.48/case $4.79/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea. $2.50 shpng.
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