1976-08 August Classic Newsletter
August 1976 Selection of California Wine
IDLEWOOD VINEYARDS RED WINE - N.V.
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.
August 1976 Selection of Imported Wine
POUILLY - FUISSE BICHOT - 1974
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.
OUR HATS OFF
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.
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:
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
Johannisberg Riesling 1974 Late Harvest @$5.50
Johannsiberg Riesling 1973 Auslese @$5.50
Silverado Cellars (secondary label for Chateau Montelena)
Johannisberg Riesling 1974 @$3.25
PALOS VERDES LES AMIS DU VIN FEATURES PINOT NOIR
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.)