2004-07 July 2004 Newsletter

July 2004 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 216 Rejected: 207 Approved: 9 Selected: 4

We have selected an exciting lineup of wines that will make you look forward to the second half of the year! And just a reminder, our biggest sale of the year is here! Check out the enclosed flyer and take advantage of these incredible prices. Don't delay, this sale always sells out!

Regular Series
Svelte, supple, velvety and alluring! Hey! I'm talking about this month's domestic red selection, the 2002 Montonico Merlot. Merlot value doesn't get any better than this, especially at this price!
What do you call a wine from a region where German and Italian is spoken and where grapes are grown in the Alps yet the weather is warm enough to make a tremendous wine? We call it the 2003 Mezzacomna Chanlonnay.
Limited Series
Frank + Rombauer = a wine rich in the tradition and quality you expect from Napa Valley legends. Our 2001 Napa Cellars Merlot adds up to one fantastic wine!
We think we have found a diamond in the rough! A gem of a wine! A wine that will dazzle you! Although you might be tempted to stash this one away in a vault, we suggest you drink our 2003 Jewel Viognier before it is gone!

Domestic Selection

In the past twenty or so years, Merlot has firmly established itself as the "sweetheart" red varietal wine in America. It's the wine word on everyone's lips and for good reason. Not only svelte and velvety, Merlot is supple with alluring cherry and cinnamon flavors. Likewise, it's very easy to drink, unlike its more tannic cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. And it's nice to ask for in a restaurant setting with a pretty name that flows off the tongue like Merlot... For many years, Napa Valley and the Sonoma area reigned supreme as the regions for fine Merlot fruit. But lately, Monterey County where Montonico originates and is produced has emerged as an important Merlot region. Vintners have come to recognize the pronounced maritime climate, utterly predictable wind patterns and perfect soil types of the Salinas Valley as holding great promise for the present and future of this grape. Montonico's Merlot vines are planted exclusively on boulder and rock strewn alluvial and riverbed soil. Exceptionally well drained with near perfect exposure from dawn light to sunset these estate vineyards have the added benefit of being among the oldest vineyards in this bustling viticultural area. Winemaster Phil Franscioni of Montonico has worked with fruit from this same plot of land for 22 consecutive vintages and his knowledge of trellis management, fermentation technique, crop handling and oak maturation is second to none in the region. As a result, this lovely 2002 Merlot is a fashionably crafted wine, tasting like a bottle worth 2 or 3 times more than its asking price. It certainly helps that 2002 was a superb vintage throughout Monterey County, as good or better than the now legendary 2001 vintage! Ageing in a combination of small, used American cooperage and a percentage of brand new French oak barrels as well as time spent in 5 thousand gallon uprights has given Montonico Merlot an oak, fruit and spice profile that promises not only immediate charm and enjoyment but significant improvement with age when cellared. Enjoy and have fun with this wine!
Merlot, 2002 Montonico California
Hints of cherry, oak and cinnamon. Subtle spice at finish.
Try with veal osso bucco, pastas in spicy tomato sauce and roast leg of lamb with whole garlic cloves.

Imported Selection

Trentino-Alto Adige. Just saying the name inspires thoughts of sublime, sensuous wine. In fact, the wines of this Alpine region are indeed amazing and the area is considered one of the most beautiful wine regions in all of Europe. The 2003 Mezzacorona Chardonnay is from this region and is a perfect "food wine", elegant, crisp and refreshing. Our white wine selection is labeled as "Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT." This area is located within the region called Trentino-Alto Adige which is located in Northeastern Italy and is surrounded by Austria and Switzerland to the north and Lombardy to the south and west and Veneto to the south and east. It consists of two regions - Alto Adige in the north and Trentino in the south which, although linked together into one region, are quite different. It is a place where cultures collide and at the same time co-exist. Alto-Adige, also known as Südtirol, is primarily German speaking while Trentino is primarily Italian speaking. Trento is the capital of the Trentino-Alto Adige Region. The name Alto Adige identifies the northern territory of the region that includes the higher (alto) part of the Adige River. As we stated before, our wine is designated as an IGT wine. This is an acronym for Indicazione Geografica Tipica. This is a category of wines that allowed winemakers in Italy new avenues to explore producing wines outside the strict confines of the DOC and DOCG framework. At the same time, winemakers were able to produce new wines without giving up the high standards of quality expected. The soil in this area is primarily alluvial deposits of gravel, sand and clay. The vineyards are generally south-facing allowing for the ripening of grapes during the summer. All of the vineyards of Cantine Mezzacorona are cultivated in accordance with the Integrated Farm Management, an accord for more environmentally friendly growing methods. This wine speaks to the soul. Pour yourself a glass and have an enchanting conversation! Ciao!
Chardonnay, 2003
Vigneti Delle Dolomiti
[Veeg nyet eee Del leh Dolo mee tee]
Delicate bouquet of crisp apples. Dry and refreshing with firm structure. Excellent as an aperitif, this wine pairs well with hors d'oeuvres, soups, poultry and vegetables.

Limited Series Selection

Under the steward¬ship of the Richard Frank and Koerner Rombauer families, who both embody great wine-making traditions, Napa Cellars produces wines that best epitomize the quality of Napa Valley. With ripe flavors and aromas of blackberries, soft round tannins and a lusciousness that can't be beat, you will know that the 2001 Napa Cellars Merlot is indeed a product of great wine-making tradition. Northern California is known for its wine coun¬try and Southern California is always associated with Hollywood. It is fitting that Richard Frank has a common thread with both industries. As Chairman of Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications (1994-1995), he con¬tributed to the compa¬ny's broadening global presence. In 1993 he partnered with Koerner Rombauer of Rombauer Vineyards and pur chased Kornell Champagne Cellars at the historic Larkmead Winery. In 2001 it debut¬ed as Frank Family Vineyards, which pro¬duces premium still wines and sparkling wines in the traditional methode champenoise style. If the name Rombauer sounds familiar, it's probably for two rea¬sons: First, Koerner Rombauer's winery Rombauer Vineyards produces some of Napa Valley's most highly regarded wines, and sec¬ond, his great aunt, Irma Rombauer, was the author of the interna-tionally renowned cook¬book The Joy of Cooking. Not surprising¬ly, Koerner developed a great appreciation for fine dining, and later the accompaniment of equally fine wine. This small 10,000 case winery produces Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and a late-harvest dessert wine. The Merlot, rich in flavors of berries and spice, has a long, seduc¬tive, velvety finish and pairs perfectly with rose¬mary and garlic-crusted lamb. It is a wine of great quality from a stellar vintage.
Merlot, 2001. Napa Cellars Napa Valley
Ripe flavors and aromas of blackberries, nutmeg, dark chocolate and vanilla. Balanced with soft round tannins and a luscious aroma.

Limited Series Selection

Our Jewel Viognier is a perfect exam¬ple that you do not have to own vineyards to make an exceptional wine. It is a well balanced, delightful, handcrafted boutique style wine made from grapes grown by 12 grow¬ers that produce grapes for Jewel wines. This is a vari¬ation of the French term "negiociant," which refers to those who bought, maybe blended, bottled and shipped wines. These negiociants usually were able to choose the best grapes available. This is a role that the Jewel Winery is currently performing. Most of Jewel's grapes come from Lodi, which is 40 miles south of Sacramento and 50 miles east of Napa. The Lodi region is the largest wine grape production area in California - it is much larg¬er than Napa and Sonoma combined. The Lodi region is blessed with some of the richest and most fertile soil in all of California, which actually creates a challenge for pro¬ducing great quality grapes. Grape vines, from a quality standpoint, thrive in poor quality soil, like what is found in Napa and Sonoma. Lodi pro¬vides a growing area with nearly all the same attributes as Napa and Sonoma with the excep-tion of the soil, which is far more fertile. Climatically, the high and low tempera¬tures during the summer are nearly identical - Napa and Sonoma are cooled every evening by the fog that comes from the San Francisco Bay, while Lodi is cooled by the breezes that come from the mas¬sive river Delta system that feeds into the San Francisco Bay. The chal¬lenge for the Lodi grower is to artificially stress the grape vines, to force the vine to put its energy into producing a smaller crop of more intense grapes than the vine would nor¬mally produce. The typical vineyard in the Lodi region can easily produce over ten tons of grapes per acre, while the Napa and Sonoma grow¬ers might be lucky to achieve yields of up to five tons per acre. The key to achieving the highest quality grape in the Lodi area is to limit the produc tion per acre. The wine-making team works with the grower on various pruning, irrigation and crop thinning techniques in an effort to expose the grapes to the best growing conditions possible. These strategies help to decrease the per acre yield while creating the most intense, deeply flavored, and per¬fectly colored grapes pos-sible.
Viognier, 2003.
Jewel California
Aromas of peach and honeysuckle, cornple- ¬mented by citrus fla vors. Bright fruit crispness leads to delightful finish.

Member Inquiry

"Why have you selected so many Syrahs and Petite Sirahs for the Wine of the Month Club lately?"
Various Members

The National Organic Foods Act was passed in 1990 by Congress and put the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in charge of establishing regulations for organic foods and food prod-ucts. As part of this process, the National Organic Program (NOP), was established to set guidelines for the processing and labeling of organic prod-ucts. There are four categories that organic wines can claim: 100% Organic, Organic, Made With Organic Ingredients, and Some Organic Ingredients. Due to space limitations, we shall limit our discussion to the first two categories.
For a wine to be labeled "100% Organic" and bear the USDA organic seal, it must be made from 100% organically produced grapes and show an ingredient statement. A wine in this category cannot have any added sulfites. It may have naturally occurring sulfites, but the total sulfite level must be less than 100 parts per mil¬lion.
To be labeled "Organic" and bear the USDA organic seal, the wine must be made from at least 95% organic ingre¬dients and have an ingredient statement on the label where organic ingredients are identi- ¬fied as being organic. A wine in this category cannot have any added sulfites, but it is allowed to have naturally occurring sulfites below 100 parts per million. The nonor-ganic 5% must either be a nonorganically produced agri-cultural ingredient that is not organically available or anoth-er substance like added yeast. Both categories of wine must show below the name and address of the producer, bot-tler, importer, etc., the state-ment: "Certified organic by ______" or similar phrase, followed by the name of the Certifying Agent.
For further information, go to the NOP website at www.ams.usda.gov/nop/index IE.htm