June 1993 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 178 Rejected: 151 Approved: 27 Selected: 2
Announcement! Announce¬ment! This month we have a guest chef, a member who has traveled the world as a student of the culi¬nary arts. He offered this month's recipe, and though the preparation time is long, it is worth it. Have a try at some authentic french pro¬vincial cooking.
As the temperature rises in sum¬mer, I always find myself craving a softer, less aggressive wine. A wine that would go with all the wonderful summer fruit. After fol¬lowing this month's domestic white wine selection for three vintages, the R.H. Phillips Chenin Blanc got the nod. This 1992 ver¬sion is the perfect summer sipper.
Our import selection this month was a "must feature" wine. In fact,
it became the featured wine of this month's recipe, a new facet of the recipe column. If you do not have the time to prepare this months cu¬linary treat, try this wine with your favorite cut of beef (New York strip on the barbecue, if possible). Introducing the 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon of San José de Santia¬go.
Salud! P.K. Jr.
CHENIN BLANC, 1992. R.H. PHILLIPS
Two decades ago, two broth¬ers, John and Karl Giguiere (grandsons of Washington State wheat farmer Robert Hugh Phil¬lips), along with John's wife, Lane Giguiere, pioneered the development of vineyards in north¬western Yolo County. Their family had acquired a ranch there in 1946 and had followed the local tradi¬tions of farming dryland wheat and barley, and grazing sheep.
When the threesome came into possession of the farm in 1973, they looked into how it might best be managed. In analyzing the eco¬nomics of the traditional agricul¬ture of the area, they found that water was a major expense. The ideal crop would be one that would require little or no irrigation. What fulfilled this criterion and was also in high demand? Grapes!
In 1980, they planted their first ten acre vineyard. Then in 1984, they constructed a winery. They hired John's college friend, Clark Smith, as their enologist. Smith found himself faced with the unen¬viable task of making delicate white wines in the arid heat of the Central Valley. To accomplish this, the grapes would have to ar¬rive at the winery at no more than 70° F., undamaged by mechanical harvesting techniques. He engaged UC Davis-trained viticultural con¬sultant, David Gates, who came up with a "bright" solution: hand-
harvest the grapes at night.
Gates designed a lighting sys¬tem (using generator-driven, cool, white flourescents) that in his words, "worked so well it almost looked like daylight. It was even better than picking on an overcast day and the cooler temperatures were a boon to the pickers."
Chenin Blanc thrives in warm weather. Its original home is the Loire Valley of France, a very sun¬ny region, by european standards. This is one of the most versatile of the so-called "noble" grapes. It gives delightfully fruity, light luncheon wines; excellent, long-lived, "serious" dry white wines; legen¬dary, rich dessert wines and even some very good sparkling wines.
Our example fits into the first category. It exhibits a pale green/gold color and a suave fresh, fruity bouquet reminiscent of pineapple with mild hints of mint. It is really nice in the mouth, rich and smooth. The pineapple flavor pre¬vails. With snappy acidity, it sur¬prisingly finishes completely dry. The basic flavor lasts on and on in the aftertaste. Serve chilled with chicken in a cream sauce or with fish broiled in a fresh herb butter.
Cellaring notes: Drink young, and over the next two years.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1990. SAN JOSÉ DE
The San José de Santiago brand is a brainstorm operation based on the high quality grapes of Chile's Pacific coast. You have, no doubt, seen and/or enjoyed the excellent fruits that arrive during our winter in North America from Chile. I have been relishing these treats since childhood. The green grocers in my family used to procure very limited quantities of these (then) rarities for us to enjoy at holiday time.
But despite Chile's inherent ag¬ricultural strength, its economy found itself in a turmoil. For years, small independent wine growers there were in quite a jam. They were controlled by the coun¬try's few major producers (such as Concha y Toro). The big boys would buy wine from these small producers and pay on 13 month terms! Because of Chile's incredi¬ble inflation rate, the producers' profits were essentially being wiped out over that time period.
In response to this situation, a company called Vintwood Interna¬tional created and owns the San Jose de Santiago brand. The com¬pany's president, Frank Gentile, goes to the Chilean countyside and buys wine from independent growers (his prime supplier is the Bisquertt family, third generation grape growers in Chile's premier wine country, the Colchagua Val¬ley). He pays good money for
good quality product. The small winegrowers are grateful for the cash flow and grant him the oppor¬tunity to pick and choose amongst their best wines. Chile's top con¬sulting oenologist, Aurelio Montes, steps in and creates the fi¬nal cuvees. The results are wines which represent the very top of their class.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the pre¬mier red wine grape of the world. A native of Bordeaux, France, the grape achieves success in many terrains and climate zones. Its wine can be very long lived. When young, it shows intense fruit aro¬mas of berries and blackcurrants, and contains much tannin. As these tannins soften with age, the wine often develops a complex ce¬dar and spice bouquet.
Our example has a deep ruby color and a rich, leathery, red trop¬ical fruits aroma. In the mouth, it is medium to full-bodied with nice, berry and wood flavors and bal¬anced acidity. Mellow and dry, it finishes with moderate tannin and a hint of currant in the aftertaste. Serve at room temperature with grilled steaks or, better yet, grilled lamb (see recipe pg. 6).
Cellaring Notes: Smooth now, but should complex through 1996.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper
"Paul, I noticed that you often mention 'tannins' in your newslet¬ter. Are tannins what makes a wine taste dry?" E.N., Portland, OR
This is a good question and al¬though the answer is yes, there's much more here than meets the eye (or the palate, in our case).
In looking at a wine's overall quality profile, one will find that tannin content is just one of several factors which contribute to a wine's dryness. One will also find that the function of tannin goes way beyond adding to the dry taste. But let's back this up for a moment. What exactly are tannins?
Tannins are a group of organic compounds existing in the bark, wood, roots and stems of many plants, and in the skins of grapes. They are important commercially as they are used in the tanning of leather. Although tannins are per¬haps the most important compo¬nent of fine red wines, they have a bitter and astringent taste. When tasting an extremely dry wine, astringency is evident as a coarse or rough feeling and/or a "puck¬ery" sensation on the walls of the mouth.
This is only part of the percep¬tion of dryness, since sugar and acid content also have a lot to do with the overall characteristic that we refer to as "dry". A vintage port, for example, might contain a heap of tannin, but also a lot of re-
¬sidual (unfermented) grape sugar The consequent sweetness would tend to "mask" any astringency. The port would taste sweet. By the same token, a wine could contain very little tannin and still taste dry. Grapeskins, the major source of a wine's tannin content, are general¬ly not used in the vinification of white wines. Dryness in white wines reflects their high fruit acid content and low residual sugar, no their tannin content.
The bitter taste which tannins can impart (especially noticeable in young red wines) is not normally savored by new wine drinkers. As a wine ages, it casts off a sedi¬ment. Tannin forms part of this sediment. A mature red wine has less tannin than a young one. With experience, many consumers do develop an appreciation for the slight bitterness which can be en¬countered even in a well-aged red. One gauge of the maturity of a wine is its tannin content. A wine, though ten years old, might con¬tain a lot of tannin. Relative to its life cycle, it would still be young (some wines don't peak until they are 20 or 30 years old!). Tannins act as antioxidants in wines, pro¬tecting them against overoxidation during the aging process. Moreo¬ver, when tannins themselves oxidize, they can produce desirable flavors. This is why some very old wines are so wonderful. P.K.
Adventures in Eating
Here's a recipe that is a perfect mate to this month's red wine se¬lection: grilled leg-of-lamb served with a robust, though not piquant, sauce. But please read it all, before starting. Prepare the sauce ahead, reheating before serving. Allow 4 hours for preparation. The sauce is adapted for lamb using leftover bones and a technique learned at a Provence cooking school. It infus¬es the sauce with lamb and wine flavor. Have your butcher reserve the leg bones, separate them at the joint and cut each bone in half for you—the French waste nothing!
1 7 lb. leg of lamb,
boned and butterflied
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 5" stems fresh rosemary
(or 2 T. dry)
3 5" stems fresh thyme
(or 2 tsp. dry)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
Mix ingredients. Marinate lamb in mixture 18 to 24 hours. Turn occa¬sionally. Grill the meat, placing over coals, cooking 40 minutes for medium. Turn 2 or 3 times. Re¬move to serving platter.
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
3 stems thyme
3 stems parsley
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 dash pepper
Mix ingredients, adding reserved bones and simmer in a saucepan. Replenish water as needed to keep bones covered. After 3 hours, turn heat to high. Reduce liquid to 1/4 cup. Pour this stock through a sieve, removing herbs and bones.
1/4 cup "bone-herb stock"
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup + 2 T. Madeira wine
1 1/2 T. arrowroot
2 T. Dijon mustard
Mix stock, broth and 1/4 cup Ma¬deira in a saucepan. Boil 5 min¬utes. Mix the remaining Madeira, arrowroot and mustard in a bowl, and add to the boiling stock, whisking all the time. Boil 1 min¬ute while sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. When meat is done, reheat sauce adding meat juices from the platter. Pass sauce in a separate bowl or pitcher.
Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total
693A Chenin Blanc, '92. R.H. Phillips
Reg. Price $6.79 33.72% disc. $54.00/case
693B Cabernet Sauvignon, '90. Santiago
Reg Price $4.99 37.54% disc. $59.88/case
593A Zinfandel, '91. Bogle Vineyards
Reg. Price $6.75 20.00% disc. $64.80/case
593B Sem./Chardonnay, '92. Mitchelton
Reg. Price $8.25 20.00% disc. $79.20/ease
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
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer
Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea.
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