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2004-03 March 2004 Newsletter

March 2004 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 217 Rejected: 198 Approved: 19 Selected: 4
March is a busy month in the calendar year with so many events. St. Patrick's Day, the Ides of March, Spring Training and March Madness are but a few of these dates. We have four great wines that you will want to fit on your calendar........our very own Final Four!
Regular Series
Once you taste our red wine for March, the 2002 Story Ridge Petite Sirah, you won't be able to help but wax poetic about the charms of this rustic and satisfying grape.
The 2002 Rothbury Estate Chardonnay captures the sophisticated side and cosmopolitan appeal of Australia with this smooth and flavorful offering.
Limited Series
If you've never been to Tuscany and the beautiful, undulating hillsides of that lovely landscape, then you are in for a treat. Just close your eyes and sip the 2001 Casanova de Neri Rosso di Montalcino and save yourself the airfare!
The 1998 Gandia "Hoya de Cadenas" Tempranillo Reserva is the epitome of the Tempranillo varietal and will have you wishing you were at a Tapas Bar enjoying this elegant wine. So, unlike Caesar, you can enjoy the Ides of March by saying, "I'd like another glass of wine!"

Domestic Selection

Many people confuse Petite Sirah with the now outrageously popular Syrah. In fact, you can sometimes find Petites labeled Petite Syrah for added promotional effect, since Syrah itself has in some ways become the "new Merlot" in the fine wine marketplace. When you do find a good Petite Sirah, you find a mouthful of delicious, seductively ripe, chewy and irresistible flavors all in one sip. Our featured red wine for the month of March—the Story Ridge Petite Sirah—is just such a wine. Sirah is actually the Rhone Valley varietal used primarily for blending called Durif. The grape found its way to California sometime around the turn of the 20th century where it was interplanted in field blends of more popular grapes such as Zinfandel, Barbera and Cabernet to add substance, acid, color and backbone to the other varietals. Nowadays, Petite Sirah has hit its stride and has become something of a cult wine in its own right. Articles proclaiming the glories of this once obscure grape have been seen lately and when you taste the Story Ridge we have found for you, it will become abundantly clear why all the hoopla! Story Ridge—based in Napa Valley—sourced fruit for this brooding beauty from Vineyards in Paso Robles. Though the label says "California" for a number of proprietary reasons, the wine is 100% Petite Sirah from the renown 2002 Vintage and obtained entirely from the famous Sun View Vineyards in Paso Robles, on the "East Side" of the 101. Sun View has some of the oldest and best situated Petite Sirah vines in the area and these healthy and perfectly mature vines threw a beautiful crop in 2002. Winemakers who tasted the berries right off the vine at harvest time remarked about their exceptional flavors and striking ripeness! Remember, great wine begins in the vineyard and this years crop were standouts from the very beginning! The final product is an eye opener to say the least and bursts forth with a cornucopia of rich heady aromas, unctuous, mouth-coating flavors and an incredibly long and satisfying finish. Enjoy!
Petite Sirah, 2002
Story Ridge
Flavors of red berries, baker chocolate and exotic coffee nuances. Begs for garlic stuffed leg of lamb, and prime, grilled New York strip steak.

Imported Selection

The 2002 Rothbury Estate Chardonnay is a vibrant and youthful wine from one of the great wineries in the Hunter Valley region of Australia. Established in 1968 on Broke Road, Pokolbin, The Rothbury Estate produces fine - and popular - Verdelho, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Merlot wines. The Rothbury Estate is part of the Blass Beringer family of wines, a merger of Mildara Blass, which grew by the year 2000 to become Australia's most successful wine company, and California's Beringer Wine Estates. If you are not familiar with the Hunter Valley, it is Australia's premier winegrowing zone in the state of New South Wales, approximately 100 miles northwest of Sydney. The Hunter Region is one of Australia's oldest vitilcultural areas, with vineyard plantings originating in 1832. The Hunter Valley is a rather odd place to produce such fine Chardonnay. It has less than ideal volcanic soil for grapevines that tend to prefer more mineral soil structures. The area is also hot and almost too humid for grapes. However, overcoming these obstacles, this area produces Chardonnay grapes of outstanding quality. Much of the credit can be attributed to cooler vineyard sites at higher elevations and to great wine making techniques. Chardonnays from this region tend to be big, ripe wines with low acidity. Our Chardonnay was sourced from a range of vineyard sites in the premium wine growing regions of South Eastern Australia. The grapes were machine harvested at night to ensure optimum freshness of the fruit's characteristics. Following crushing, a portion of the wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and then enhanced with subtle American oak. A small amount of the final blend underwent malo-lactic fermentation to add complexity to the wine and to enhance the soft fruity finish. This one's not only "ripper", it's a "beaut Enjoy!
Chardonnay, 2002
Rothbury Estate
South Eastern
Classic Chardonnay with peach, melon and a hint of citrus with a sub¬tle oak influence. The palate shows rich fruit flavours with supporting oak and a refreshing crisp finish.

Adventures In Good Food

EGGPLANT TOMATO SPAGHETTI SAUCE. A member recently requested a vegetarian recipe for those members who don't do meat. Well, we decided to reprint a recipe from the early years of the Wine of the Month Club that fit the bill. This recipe is from Paul's mother, Rosemarie Kalemkiarian, a won¬derful cook according to all who have been fortunate enough to be a guest at her table.

Enjoy this blast from the past!
"I absolutely love eggplant and hope some of you share the same feelings. Arabs brought us the eggplant from India about 1,500 years ago and the purplish egg-shaped vegetable has found itself to be a versatile morsel. I thought you might enjoy the following pasta sauce, made from eggplant. They are beautiful this year, and the shiny, deep purple color, are the ones to look for at your grocer." Rosemarie
Eggplant Tomato Spaghetti Sauce
1- Medium (1 1/4 lb) eggplant Salt
Vegetable Oil for frying
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped, sauteed
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh or canned tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 lb spaghetti
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Peel eggplant and cut into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and let stand in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Heat approximately 3/4 inch of vegetable oil and fry the eggplant over high heat until gold¬en brown all over. Drain on paper towels. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in saucepan and saute onion until transparent, add garlic and saute for 1 minute (do not let it get brown). Add the tomato sauce, basil, and taste for seasoning. Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring. Fold in chunks of eggplant and con¬tinue cooking slowly for 5 minutes longer. Set aside.
Cook spaghetti according to pack¬age directions. Drain, and place on a hot platter. Pour heated sauce over it and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
So, open a bottle of the Casonova de Neri Rosso di Montalcino or the Story Ridge Petite Sirah, pass a bowl of extra parmesan cheese around the table, serve with a green salad and garlic bread and you are set!