1976-08 August Classic Newsletter

August 1976 Selection of California Wine


A few years ago interest in California wines began to grow quite rapidly. This interest, of course, was accompanied by a rather sharp increase in the demand for the finer wines of the state. Most of us can re -member the scarcity of the finer varietals, such as cabernet sauvignon, during this period.

The reaction of the industry was to plant addit­ional acreage to the finer varietals, which fetched top dollar at this time. The years that followed how­ever, saw a leveling off of demand, just as many of these new vines began to mature and produce. The problem of a surplus now faced the industry. This surplus was handled in a number of different ways. Some wineries began to market fairly inexpensive jug wines while others produced wines under secondary lab­els. This Idlewood Red Wine is a result of the latter approach to marketing surplus wine. It is actually produced by Dry Creek Vineyards, and is a blended wines.

Idlewood Sonoma County Red Wine is light and fruity. It is a wine which is certainly adequate for everyday use and at this price its lightness makes it most versatile. Allow some time for the wine to breathe and serve at room temperature.

$2.00/fifth $22.60/case

August 1976 Selection of Imported Wine


Pouilly-Fuisse comes from southern Burgundy from four small townships just west of Macon. The wine takes its name from two of the villages. Pouilly and Fuisse. Production is small and much of it is con­sumed in Lyon and Paris while still young. Chalky soils dominate this area, and harvest occurs later than any other section of Burgundy. These two fact­ors impart a particular uniqueness to the wines. The Chardonnay grape dominates the entire area and is re­sponsible for consistently excellent dry wines.

This Pouilly-Fuisse is a pale golden yellow with a slight greenish tinge. It has a deep fruity nose, a full body, with a crisp flavor. Serve chilled; it is wonderful with seafood and white meats, even those of a spicy nature.

$5.90/fifth $63.72/case


To two of our California Vintners. We reproduce the TIME MAGAZINE article that hurtled them to fame.

Judgment of Paris

Americans abroad have been boast­ing for years about California wines, only to be greeted in most cases by po­lite disbelief—or worse. Among the few fervent and respected admirers of le yin de Californie in France is a transplanted Englishman, Steven Spurrier, 34, who owns the Cave de la Madeleine wine shop, one of the best in Paris, and the Academie du Vin, a wine school whose six-week courses are attended by the French Restaurant Association's chefs and sommeliers. Last week in Paris, at a formal wine tasting organized by Spur­rier, the unthinkable happened: Califor­nia defeated all Gaul.

The contest was as strictly con­trolled as the production of a Chateau Lafite. The nine French judges, drawn from an oenophile's Who's Who. includ­ed such high priests as Pierre Taxi, sec­retary-general of the Association des Grands Crus Classés, and Raymond Ol­iver, owner of Le Grand Vefour restau­rant and doyen of French culinary writ­ers. The wines tasted were transatlantic cousins—four white Burgundies against six California Pinot Chardonnays and four Grands Crus Chateaux reds from Bordeaux against six California Caber­net Sauvignons.

Gallic Gems.

As they swirled, sniffed, sipped and spat, some judges were instantly able to separate an im­ported upstart from an aristocrat. More often, the panels as confused. "Ah, back to France!" exclaimed Oliver after sip­ping a 1972 Chardonnay from the Napa Valley. "That is definitely California. It has no nose," said another judge—after downing a Fatani Montrachet '73. Oth­er comments included such Gallic gems as "this is nervous and agreeable," "a good nose but not too much in the mouth," and "this soars out of the ordinary."

When the ballots were cast, the top-soaring red was Stag's Leap Wine Cel­lars '73 from the Napa Valley, followed by Mouton-Rothschild '70, Haut-Brion '70 and Montrose '70. The four winning whites were, in order, Château Mont­helena '73 from Napa, French Meursault-Charmes '73 and two other Cali­fornians, Chalone '74 from Monterey County and Napa's Spring Mountain '73. The U.S. winners are little known to wine lovers, since they are in short sup­ply even in California and rather expen­sive ($6 plus). Jim Barrett, Monthelena's general manager and part owner, said: "Not bad for kids from the sticks."

TIME, JUNE 7, 1976

We received the official results from Mr. Spur­rier's L'ACADEMIE DU VIN, 25 Rue Royale, 75008 Paris and reproduce them for you. The twenty point system was used, and the results are shown as total points. The tastings were held blind.

California Pinot Chardonnay and French White Burgundies

Chateau Montelena 1973 Pinot Chardonnay - 132
Mersault-Charmes (Roulot, prop) 1973 - 126.5
Chalone Vineyards 1974 Pinot Chardonnay - 121
Spring Mountain 1973 Pinot Chardonnay - 104
Beaune-Clos des Mouches (Drouhin) 1973 - 101
Freemark Abbey 1972 Pinot Chardonnay - 100
Batard Montrachet (Ramon-Prudhon) 1973 - 94
Puligny-Montrachet ler cru "Les Pucelles" '72 - 89
Veedercrest 1972 Pinot. Chardonnay - 88
David Bruce 1973 Pinot. Chardonnay - 42

California Cabernet Sauvignon and French Bordeaux

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cab. Sauvignon - 127.5
Ch. Mouton-Rothschild 1970 - 126
Ch. Haut-Brion 1970 - 125.5
Ch. Montrose 1970 - 122
Ridge Cabernet-Sauvignon "Mt. Range" 1971 - 103.5
Ch. Leoville-Las-Cases 1971 - 97
Mayacamas 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon - 89.5
Clos du Val 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon - 87.5
Heitz Cellar "Martha's Vineyard" 1970 Cab. Sau. - 84.5
Freemark Abbey 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon - 78

A remarkable accomplishment for Jim Barret of Chateau Montelena and for Warren Winiarski of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. Jim is a local Palos Verdes resident and a practising attorney in Torrance, but his weekends are spent commuting to St. Helena, over­seeing the wine operation. Warren has been a friend of Palos Verdes Wines & Spirits as Jim has, and gives us a visit whenever he is in town. He was down rec­ently for the Palos Verdes Les Amis du Vin Tasting of Beaujolais. He lives at the vineyard and winery with his family.

We have at the shop a detailed "Fact Sheet" on each of these two wineries. If you wish to learn more about these wineries, just drop us a line or stop by and ask for them.

Other fine wines currently available are:

Stag's Leap

Johannisberg Riesling Mendocino 1973 @$4.75
Johannisberg Riesling Birkmyer 1973 @$5.00
Johannisberg Riesling Napa 1974 @$4.25
Johannisberg Riesling Birkmyer 1974 @$4.75
Gamay Beaujolais 1974 @$3.00
Gamay Beaujolais 1975 @$3.25
Cabernet Sauvignon 1975 @$7.50

Chateau Montelena

Johannisberg Riesling 1974 Late Harvest @$5.50
Johannsiberg Riesling 1973 Auslese @$5.50

Silverado Cellars (secondary label for Chateau Montelena)

Zinfandel @$2.80
Johannisberg Riesling 1974 @$3.25


by Ed Masciana

May 10th was the date of the Palos Verdes Les Amis du Vin tasting of California Pinot Noirs at Gigi's Restaurant in Palos Verdes Estates. Our very entertaining speaker was Dick Elwood, pres­ident of Llords & Elwood Winery. We selected seven well-known California Pinots and one French Bur­gundy which was kept secret. The following is the results, average score against an arbitrary 20 pt. scale (4 pts. for appearance, 6 pts. for nose, 10 pts. for taste) and a composite of the comments made by the group:

KORBEL N.V. 13.9. A consistent winner at an amazing price. ($3.75) Deep color, musty, yeasty nose, good balance with oak flavor which opens up in the glass after half-hour or so.

MT. EDEN 13.6. Received the most first place ratings but, many rated low because of it's un­characteristic flavor. Very dark color, slight alcohol nose and very young, tannic taste. Hint of berries, a question of how well this will develop with age. $15.00.

LLORDS & ELWOOD N.V. 12.5. Light, European color, very close to good French Burgundy but lack­ing in strength. A sound buy. $4.75.

FIXIN LA MAZIERE, BOUCHARD 1972. 12.4. Best color of the lot, slight sulphur in the nose and taste which disappears with breathing, fuller body than most. A good representation. $3.99

MARTINI SPECIAL SELECTION 1969. 11.9. Light nose and color. Some varietal character but not "special." $6.50.

HANZEL 1971 10.6. I preferred this very much but was in the minority. Very deep color, slight alcohol nose, full body but still quite young. Most thought it was not of a varietal character at all. $9.00.

DAVID BRUCE 1972. 10.5. Cloudy, typical of Bruce's non-filtering. However, a very strange and almost overpowering odor and taste of what was des­cribed as "burnt rubber." Received the most last places.

CHARLES KRUG SIGNATURE 1967. 10.1. Good color but closed nose and more acid than one would wish for. Very little varietal character.

Palos Verdes Wines & Spirits provided the wine and most of the help. We concluded that California has a long way to go to match the great Burgundies but, we do have some sound, and much more reason­ably priced Pinot Noirs to choose from.

(Prices shown are California fair trade.)