April 1993 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 169 Rejected: 145 Approved: 23 Selected: 2
For years the representatives of one of the largest wine concerns in America has been bringing me samples to taste; for years I have been telling them: "These wines are too widely available. My mem¬bers don't need me to find wines they can buy anywhere!" But they still continued to come. I tried to keep an open mind.
Then, unknowing to me where the wine had come from, I tasted a Chardonnay that I really thought was a contender; very nice wine, great value. The representative of the above mentioned concern stopped by and asked how I liked it. I said, "This is yours?" "Yes," he replied, grinning, "It is our pre¬mium brand..." "Done deal," I re¬plied. Here is the 1989 Joshua Hill
Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Our import this month is anoth¬er find. It has been two years since I have featured a Merlot and the last two have been Chilean. No ex¬ception here except that I think this is the best of the bunch so far. Though inexpensive, Chilean wines can represent great value; but be warned, most aren't worth what they are asking! This Villa del Mar 1990 Merlot, I believe, is under-priced!
Check our new guarantee! Page 4.
Salud! P.K. Jr.
CHARDONNAY, 1989. JOSHUA HILL
The Joshua Hill Winery label is a proud premium brand offered by what is, actually, the ninth largest winery in the U.S., Delicato Vine¬yards. A vintner's vintner, Delica¬to is a family owned Central Valley winery, now in its 56th successful year. It operates the second largest single-plant winery in the nation, with a storage capacity of over 40 million gallons. It also owns the San Bernabe vineyard which yields a phenomenal 30% of all the wine grapes grown in Monterey County. It is the largest single vineyard in the world! Additional¬ly, Delicato owns another major vineyard in the Sierra Foothills and also sources grapes from all princi¬pal growing areas in the state.
The majority of Delicato's pro¬duction, not surprisingly, is of the jug and bag-in-box genre, with sales amounting to about two mil¬lion cases annually.
Joshua Hill, on the other hand, is operated as a "negociant" brand, and is produced on a much smaller scale. (The word "negociant" is French, and comes from the Latin negotium which means "busi¬ness".) The idea of a negociant is to produce the best wine he/she can by taking control of all steps of the process. Negociants can sub¬contract for special grapes, winemakers, winery facilities, and, in fact, everything necessary to achieve whatever quality level they
desire. The desire in this case was a superb, vintage Napa Chardonnay.
The fruit (80%) came from a prestigious estate in St. Helena; the rest (20%) from various Napa growers. The wine matured in Limousin Forest oak casks; the most sought-after medium for this purpose.
Oak mellows Chardonnay's le¬mony, citrusy character with toas¬ty, buttery, vanilla-like top-notes. Such treatment is traditional in Chardonnay's homeland, Bour¬gogne (Burgundy, France). Cali¬fornia vintners love to treat this grape to a "kiss of the oak", too.
Our selection has a lovely gold¬en-green hue and a complex bou¬quet of green plum, peach, toast and vanilla. It is medium-full in the mouth, somewhat viscous, mellow and yet offers refreshingly good, crisp acidity. The wine finishes dry and clean with the green plum flavors lingering on. Serve moder¬ately chilled to accompany sautéed spiced (nutmeg and white pepper) chicken breast fillets topped with a rich cream sauce, or broiled swordfish or halibut steaks with lemon and butter, or lobster ravioli in a butter and garlic sauce.
Cellaring Notes: Nearing its peak. Drink now through 1994.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
MERLOT, 1990. VIÑA DEL MAR
Mare-low Veen-yah Del Mahr
In 1987, with their eyes fo¬cused north on the U.S.A., an al¬ready very successful Chilean wine company created the Villa del Mar brand. The Mitjans family had been producing wine from French grape varieties transplanted to Chile's fertile farmlands for over seventy years. Their Viña Valdi¬vieso line, besides including excel¬lent table wines, featured Chile's largest sparkling wine brand. They maintained a classic Chilean style that ensured a secure market posi¬tion at home.
But the Mitjans also felt that, given the proper treatment, their grapes could be coaxed into pro¬ducing Bordeaux-style wines with the distinct flavor elements that would appeal to the thirsty crav¬ings of the American palate. Due mainly to the extraordinarily high quality of the fruit available, it was not such a difficult project.
The grapes for Viña del Mar Merlot come from Lontue in Chile's renowned wine producing "Central Region". Here, due to natural geographical barriers (in¬cluding the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west), the vineyards are free from infectious diseases in general, the phylloxera louse, in particular. This parasite is once again having a heyday chomping into some of Napa Valley's finest vines, even though they are grafted onto supposedly disease-resistant root¬stocks. Phylloxera is totally non¬existent in Chile. Vines introduced here from Bordeaux in the 1850s grow ungrafted and unmolested on their own rootstocks, and produce magnificent fruit.
The Merlot vine is one of these. Merlot's popularity is growing in leaps and bounds, and no wonder! It is the second most important red variety to come out of Bordeaux, ranking only after Cabernet Sau¬vignon (in some vineyard districts there, Merlot is actually the main grape!). The flavors of both these varietals are rather similar, but Merlot wines tend to be softer, and are therefore ready to drink sooner than most Cabernets.
This Merlot has a medium-intensity garnet color. The nose opens up after about 10 minutes; intense raspberries with a hint of vanilla from ageing in American oak. Soft and supple on the palate, with medium body, it offers agree¬able cherry and berry flavors, a balanced, refreshing acidity, and a remarkably smooth, mildly tannic finish. Serve at room temperature with Thai BBQ'd beef and pork, or grilled lamb and duck sausages.
Cellaring notes: Drink now and for 3 or 4 more years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
A New Guarantee
I wanted to take this space this month to share with you a few "goings-on" at the club this year and a new guarantee.
One of the more exciting hap¬penings is the installation of our new membership computer pro¬gram. After two years of research and one year of development and testing we are ready to cut over to our new system. Up until now, it has been difficult to track new member referrals, reorder activity and other data that will allow us to reward members who take interest in expanding the club's services. But, as you know, a cut-over like this can be error-prone, so please bear with us as we may make a mistake or two.
Wine-tasting dinners are in this years calendar after two very suc¬cessful previous dinners our next will be in San Diego.
Our first was in Century City featuring Fetzer wines compli¬menting a vegetarian meal. The second was a Champagne Celebra¬tion in Anaheim featuring Califor¬nia Sparkling wines around a meal fashioned by the Chef of the Year in Orange County.
I want to thank all of you who have participated and enjoyed these romantic dinners. We look for¬ward to seeing more of you at our next efforts.
¬ A New Guarantee
The business of selling wine can be a frustrating one. It seems there are new tariffs everyday be¬ing contemplated by our politi¬cians. The last quarter of 1992 saw legislation pass that could have ef¬fectively tripled the cost of import¬ed white wines. The current pow¬ers that be are looking at another luxury tax that would affect the price of wine in this country. Who knows what is next. The lobby groups for the industry can only do so much.
These issues coupled with the opening of new states that club, members can reside and still re¬ceive their monthly shipments makes is hard to keep up with what retailers and wine shops are charging for the same wines. For this I make the following guaran¬tee:
The Wine of the Month Club member reorder prices are the lowest available or the difference will be refunded to you (shipping & tax not included)
If you see the same wine with the same vintage sold elsewhere for less, the Wine of the Month Club will refund the difference. The offer is good for all currently available wines. Salud! P.K. Jr.
Adventures in Eating
Memories of childhood are al¬ways the grandest. Children look at life so differently than adults. Everything is new, fresh and excit¬ing. One of my grandest memo¬ries as a child was visiting Her¬shey, Pennsylvania, home of the all-american Hershey bar. The mo¬ment I entered this town I knew I had never been and would never again be in such a magical place. The streets were lined with Her¬shey Kisses lamposts and the sweet smell of chocolate seeped through every crack and crevice of our car. Cobblestone roads led the way to the famous chocolate facto¬ry, a simple building that belied the magic within.
Once inside this special place we were led by a guide through the entire factory. Large glass win¬dows separated us from all the Hershey employees hard at work. I pressed my face up to the warm window and watched an apron clad woman mix an enormous vat of chocolate with the world's larg¬est spoon. I will never forget this precious memory.
The enchanted tour ended with some free samples which tasted better that any Hershey bar I can remember.
Recently, I was told that Her¬shey no longer opens its doors to the public. What a shame! So many children will lose out on one
of the most magical experiences ever to approach the mythical Wil¬ly Wonka.
Try this magical cookie of Her¬sheys latest candy bar.
Leslies Cookies ala Hershey
1 lb. sweet butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
24 ounces Hersheys "Cookies and
Mint": candy bar, coarsely
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix together four, baking soda and salt and add to mixture. Beat well until combined. Batter will be very thick. Stir in chopped Her¬shey bar. Drop batter balls (over¬size golfballs) onto wax paper lined baking sheets. Bake in a 350° oven for 10 minute or until just browning. Transfer to cooling racks. Let cool. Makes 48 cook¬ies.
Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total
493A Chardonnay, '89. Joshua Hill
Reg. Price $8.99 22.22% disc. $83.88/case
493B Merlot, '90. Villa del Mar
Reg. Price $5.99 20.00% disc. $57.48/case
393A R. S. Reserve 1989. William Wheeler
Reg. Price $8.29 20.59% disc. $79.08/case
393B Trebbiano d'Ahruzzo, 1991. Citra
Reg. Price $6.69 20.93% disc. $63.48/case
293A Meritage, '89. Konocti
Reg. Price $7.99 20.02% disc. $76.68/case
293B Shiraz/Cabernet, '91. Hardys
Reg. Price $6.99 21.46% disc. $65.88/case
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea.
SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $3.00; 6 bottles $6.25; 12 bottles $8.50
Shipping charges slightly higher out or California. SUB-TOTAL
□ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. 8.25% Sales Tax
□ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express SHIPPING
Card # Expiration Date
PLEASE FILL OUT COMPLETELY
Name (Print) Signature
_______________________________________________ Recipients must be 21 or older.
City State Zip If shipping address is different please
(_____)__________________________(_____)________ write below.
Phone (eve.) (day)
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 660220, 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
WINE GIFT ORDER FORM
GIFTS OF WINE ARE PERFECT FOR:
● Thank you gifts ● Housewarming Gifts
● Hospitality gifts ● Wedding gifts ● Anniversary
gifts ● Congratulations gifts ● I Love You gifts
● Christmas gifts ● Business gifts ● Mother's Day
gifts ● Father's Day gifts ● Forget-me-not gifts
● Bon Voyage gifts ● And Anytime gifts!
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
GIFT # DESCRIPTION QTY. COST TOTAL
1 2 Bottles: the 2 current club selections $17*
2 6 Bottles: assortment of recent selections $47*
3 12 Bottles (1 case): assortment of recent
4 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).
5 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).
6 1 Year subscription: 2 bottles every month for
the next 12 months (24 bottles total). $182*
SHIPPING CHARGES: Gift-1: $3.00; Gift-2: $6.25; Gift-3: $8. 50
Gift-4: $12.00; Gift-5: $18.00; Gift-6: $36.00 SUB-TOTAL
(*$2 gift wrapping charge included).
Shipping charges slightly higher out of California. SHIPPING
□ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. 8.25% Sales Tax
□ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express
Card # Expiration Date THANK YOU FOR YOUR ORDER
Name (Please Print) Signature
City State Zip Phone (eve.) Phone (day)
Please ship Gift # _________ To: _______________________________________________________________________________
Address City State Zip
Recipients must be 21 or older.
Special note on gift card: __________________________________________________________
(Attach another sheet of paper to list other recipients)
MAIL TO: WOMC, P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361