2004-12 December 2004 Newsletter

December 2004 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 252 Rejected: 224 Approved: 20 Selected: 8

All of us here at the Wine of the Month Club wish you a blessed Holiday Season full of family fun and good cheer!
December is the month that we offer a bubbly wine and a sweet wine. This Holiday season we are pleased to offer you these most incomparable and delectable selections. These wines are unique and will bring that extra-special touch to your table. We are sure that you will enjoy them.

French Sauternes or German dessert wines generally set the standards of great dessert wine. We found the Renaissance Late Harvest Riesling to be a strong contender. Elegant, complex, honey, and apricot flavors make this nectar of the gods. Serve with mini caramelized onion tarts before dinner and again after dinner with baked pears. Yummy and unforgettable!
The choice of sparkling wine for the holidays or anytime is always the right choice. Chase¬-Limogere from Madera, California is fresh, full of pear and peach flavors and matches perfectly with most foods, especially appetizers, roast turkey and meats.
Champagne is one of France's many gifts to civilization. Toast your next gathering with the Henri Abele' non-vintage Brut. It is perfectly balanced, with toasty yeast, clean, fresh, and delicate. It is a staple before dinner and then throughout the meal as well.
Shakespeare mentions the magical wine from the island of Madeira. Broadbent 3-year Fine Rich Rainwater Madeira is an intriguing mouthful of candied raisins, maple, and toffee. It is adult candy without the crunch. Hard to resist with cream soup or strong cheese with dried fruit.
This is a special time of year and it seems to go by so quickly so make the most of this holiday's memory by serving these truly memorable wines.
We present these wines for your enjoyment and joyful moments.
Please enjoy!

Domestic Selection

North Yuba is a small Californian AVA located in the larger Terra Foothills AVA, northwest of the towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City. It was within this small American Viticultural Area that gold was first discovered in California in the 1850's. North Yuba is unusual because it contains only one vineyard and one winery, Renaissance. The 365-acre estate has multiple microclimates and soils. Current winemaker, Gideon Beinstock points out that working with so many terroirs is challenging. "Each wine has its own idiosyncrasies." Beinstock describes his winemaking art: "Just as a painter combines different colors to make other colors, I work with a palette of different vines to achieve compositions of character and style." Renaissance 'Da Vinci' Late Harvest Riesling is grown in cool 2,000-foot elevated and terraced vineyards. The sweetness comes naturally from the grapes themselves, which are allowed to hang on the vines until almost overripe. The wine is, in short, miraculous! It has won gold medals in worldwide competitions and at the Annual Bordeaux Wine Olympiad, the 11 finalists for late harvest dessert wines included only one American wine, Renaissance Winery. It has been poured for the Prince of Wales and Former President George Bush. Carefully designed for long-term aging, you will find the wine perfect for drinking now or you could easily store it for five to ten years in proper cellar conditions. As with any older vintage, pay special attention when opening, as the cork should be soft and wet. Avoid putting too much pressure on the cork. In the glass, the smells of honey and apricots will fill your nose. A sipping delight, it tastes of candied oranges, grapefruit, and roasted almonds. It is complex, elegant with a super long baked pear finish. Drink before or after a meal (preferably fireside), alone or with fresh fruit, biscotti, blue cheese, foi Bras, or chocolate bread pudding. (see recipe pg. 13)
Late Harvest Riesling

Renaissance 'Da Vinci' North Yuba California
Color: 14K Gold
Nose of apricots and honey. Lush and full bodied.
Taste: Nectar, complex flavors of toasted almonds, baked pear and apple, candied orange.
Elegant long finish.

Imported Selection

In the exact center of California, in the heart of the Central Valley is the American Viticultural Area of Madera. It is large and obscure, southeast of Merced and northwest of Fresno. The climate tends to be warm but there are valleys of cool micro-climates which are planted with vast quantities of Chenin Blanc, French Columbard, and Chardonnay. Chase-Limogere' Brut is produced from this special place and its unique characteristics are perfect for all your holiday toasts. We invite you to share the uniqueness of this sparkling wine. The fermentation is based on the Charmat system. The grapes are harvested with ripe fruit and healthy acid. The careful craftsmenship of using French production methods and the outstanding grapes from California create a bottle of bubbly which is clean, crisp and refreshing. The blend is Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. The grapes are processed with the second fermentation taking place in large tanks rather than in the bottle as in the Methode Champenoise. This process makes for a very fresh fruit forward style and gives Chase-Limogere' its own personality. It is pale in color, slightly golden with a hint of green. The glass maintains a bursting of tiny, persistent bubbles. It has a soft smell of floral perfume and light apple fruit. The taste is clean, dry and medium bodied. The palate boasts refreshing acidity, flavors of pear, granny smith apples and little bit of nuts. Overall, the wine is light and fruity with its own personality. Serve very chilled and always open a sparkling wine or Champagne bottle with caution. Chase-Limogere' is a perfect partner with young Gouda cheese. Try it with fresh goat's milk cheese marinated in olive oil and herbs for an amazing taste sensation. So open a bottle of Chase-Limogere' and begin the celebration of the senses!
Sparkling Wine NV. Madera California

Pale light golden with a hint of green.
Nose: Delicate floral perfume.
Fresh green apples, lemon. Taste: Dry, light, fresh and fruity.
Persistent tiny bubbles. Dry finish.

Limited Series Selection

Maison Henri Abelé was founded in 1757 and is one of the oldest Champagne houses in France along with Gosset and Ruinart. In the region of Reims, the place where the caves of Henri Abele are located, Champagne bubbles were first discovered by the monks of Hautvillers Abbey around 1680. The Champagne region is a magical and special place located 100 miles northeast of Paris. It is a garden of 80,000 acres of vines in 300 quaint villages. The mountains of Reims in Champagne grow vines in thick chalk with lime underneath. The weather is cold and wet and the lime preserves moisture and heat around the vine roots. The only permissible grapes in Champagne wine are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The grapes are ranked by quality, the highest being the Grand Cru vineyards. Henri Abele grapes are only from Cru vineyards. The non-vintage Brut that we offer is made with equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir. Henri Abele was acquired by Freixenet in 1985 and continues to pro¬duce Champagne that is one of the most sought-after wines from the region. It was the official Champagne of the Barcelona Olympic Games and has been served to Royalty. We invite you to experience this wonderful bottle of Champagne. The color is clear pale straw. The nose is aggressive with fresh¬ness and notes of apple and pear with a hint of warm toast. The palate is dry, tex¬tured, and elegant. There are layers of flavor here and the wine finishes with a slight caramel flavor. This Champagne is perfect for your holiday and New Year celebrations. Enjoy it as an aperitif, watching the fireworks on New Years Eve and with all of your Holiday meals.
Henri Abele'
Reims France

Color: Pale Straw.
Nose of apple, pear, citrus.
Textured and elegant.
Warm toast, baked apple.
Vigorous, lively, small bubbles.
Slight caramel finish.

Limited Series Selection

The legend of Madeira goes back centuries and is steeped in folklore and fantastic stories of sailing and politics. A Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean, 400 miles north off the coast of Morocco, Madeira has been producing wines since the fifteenth centu¬ry. Madeira was the wine of choice in the late eigh¬teenth early nineteenth centuries in America. Madeira was used to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence and, in 1789, the inauguration of George Washington. Now we have a great opportunity to share this historic wine with you. Unique in its production as well as its flavors, Madeira also has the rep¬utation of being the longest-lived of all wines. The style was created by accident. Sailors added distilled spirits to the wines for the sea voyage to America. The sun and jostling of the ship improved the wines. Today the process is sim¬ulated by baking the wines in estufas, or hot rooms. After baking, the wine is fortified with neutral grain spirit and aged in casks for at least three years. Madeira has several styles from dry to very sweet. Broadbent Fine Rich is aged three years in casks and is considered medi¬um sweet. The color is a beautiful light auburn with olive highlights. The nose is deep, complex and rich in smells of burnt sugar, custard, pumpkin pie spices, baking bread and dark fruits. On the palate the acidity of the wine masks its sweetness and makes it an excellent pairing with heavy meats and stews. We suggest you try it before dinner (British style) or a small glass with the meat course at your holiday table. (see Recipe) This is a special and unique wine; enjoy!
Madeira Fine Rich
Tinta Negra Mole

Light auburn with golden, copper and olive highlights.
Nose: Concentrated, deep, intense pumpkin pie spices, roses, burnt sugar, toast with blackberry jam.
Taste: Rich, soft caramel, Butterscotch, green olives, pecan pie.
Smooth. Balanced.
Sensuous fine rich finish.

Member Inquiry

"We love drinking bubbly wine and wonder how do they make Champagne?"
B.E.- San Diego, CA<./p>

There is nothing more delicious than a glass of bubbly at any occasion. Methode Champenoise (meh¬-toh'd shahm-peh-n wahz) is the French term for making sparkling wines in the Champagne region of France. It refers to bottling still wines with a certain amount of sugar and yeast, which introduces a second fer¬mentation in the bottle. The process of making Champagne is long, tedious, and precise. This explains the sometimes-costly price tags. The grapes are harvested at the precise moment of ripeness and high acid levels. The juice is fermented and then blended to the rigorous house standards. Sugar is added to the bot¬tles to induce the second fermenta¬tion. This 'liqueur de tirage' is a solution of cane sugar dissolved in wine with a bit of citric acid some times added. One result of the sec-ond fermentation is carbon-dioxide gas that is trapped inside the bottle and dissolved into the wine which in turn creates sparkle. Another result is sediment, which must be removed from the bottle. The bottles have been stored almost upside down in a special rack called a pupitre. Pressure has built up inside the bottles and when the caps are taken off, the sediment shoots out with some of the wine as well. This is called 'degorgement'. This is the final and very important step in the process. This step deter-mines the final dry or sweetness of the wine. A small amount of sugar, the fermented wine, and brandy are added to refill the bottle before its final corking. This mixture is called 'liqueur d'expedition'. The bot¬tles are then corked and labeled. The cork must say Champagne on it.The corks go into the bottles exactly like a still wine cork; the pressure in the bottle creates the mushroom shape. Be careful when removing the cork! The pressure in a bottle of Champagne is the same as a bus tire. Keep your thumb on the cork at all times and point the bottle away from people and windows. Twist the bottle until the cork loosens and slowly remove it. Make a toast and enjoy!