2003-09 September 2003 Newsletter

September 2030 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 198 Rejected: 178 Approved: 20 Selected: 4

History plays an important role in each of our selections this month. It also helps in crafting fascinating stories of each wine and the people who make them.

Regular Series
Roshambo Sauvignon Blanc
has a story that is almost as enticing as the wine. We were sold on the wine before we heard the story. Now we're sold on both!
The melding of Japanese and American cultures and people is what brought this winery together and we think it's a very promising venture.
Our other selection is the Albertoni Merlot. It also has a history worthy of note, not to mention classic flavors that we're sure will be a big favorite and a quick sell out.
Limited Series
Our first Limited Series Selection comes from vines planted in South Australia a mere 157 years ago! How's that for history? We were very excited to get our hands (and palates) on this gem. If you've never tasted wines from vines this old, you're in for a treat. The flavors and intensity of the Langmeil Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre is simply awesome.
And finally, Domaine Magellan, Les Murelles, is made by one of the most famous winemakers in the world, Bruno Lafon. We've been able to taste (and afford) his luscious Burgundies on rare occasions, but when we have, they have been unforgettable.
He is now making wine in the newer (and more reasonably priced) Provence where his blend of Grenache with touches of Syrah turn out incredible and uncompromising wines that show breed and finesse similar to his powerful Burgundies. A treat indeed.

Domestic Selection 1

Three generations of grape growing expertise in the Rossini Family has culminated in a line of finely crafted wines under the Albertoni Vineyards label. The name pays trib¬ute to Severino Albertoni, great grandfather to the general manager of Albertoni, Dino Rossini. The name Severino means "servant of the vine" in Albertoni's native Italy, a fitting name indeed since growing grapes has been in the family for nearly 100 years. In France, Merlot is primarily grown in Bordeaux to make lighter-styled, earlier maturing wines, espe¬cially in the outlying areas like Moulis and Listrac. In the right bank of Bordeaux, especially in Pomerol, it is transformed into a huge, age worthy, powerhouse with few threats to its world domination of the grape. Very dark and dense with heady aro¬mas and flavors. A lesser role is played in St. Emilion where Cabernet Franc takes the lead, but the best are blends of the two. Almost unknown in the late 70s in California, Merlot has become one of the hottest grapes in the state. While it still trails Cabernet Sauvignon in acreage, its growth in the 90s far outweighed the growth of Cabernet. As in France, it can run the gamut between producing light and easy drink¬ing wines to deep, dark and foreboding offerings with years needed to satisfy. Our selection strad¬dles the line between the two. It is definitely a fruit forward offer¬ing with lots of rasp-berry jam flavors and color. Yet, it also exhibits some strength and structure in the middle and finish. This is an unusual bargain, offering high priced flavors at a fraction of the cost.
Merlot, 2000
(Mare-low Al-bare-tony)
Dark and rich with fla-vors of cassis and cocoa. Tremendous finish makes it a natural with the fla¬vorful pot roast recipe on pg. 13.

Domestic Selection 2

Frank Johnson was one of the pioneers in the Sonoma County wine scene beginning in the early 1960s. His vine-yard is still considered one of the best in the U.S. His son, Tom, an anthropologist, was studying children's games in Japan in the late 1960s, when a chance meeting with the older sister of one of the children he was studying, lead to romance, marriage and a continuation of the family heritage of grape growing. Naomi Brilliant, Tom's 27-year-old daughter is the force behind Roshambo, which is Japanese for the ancient paper, rock, scissors game, which is represented prominently on the label. Naomi began build¬ing the winery in 1999 with the help of some of the finest architects and designers in the state. The result is a stun¬ning edifice that has been featured in count¬less magazine articles. But it's the wine that shines here. Of course, what better place to get grapes to make world class wine than Naomi's vineyard, founded by her grand¬father, Frank Johnson? There aren't too many wineries with that kind of firepower under their belts. Sonoma County is one of the finest grape growing districts in the country. It is far more diverse in its climates and soils than Napa, yet not as well known or recognized. We think this is a good thing. One thing you won't find here is atti¬tude about wine. The wines of Sonoma speak for themselves and they have been heard loudly. No better varietal is made here than Sauvignon Blanc. It seems that whenever we taste a really out standing California Sauvignon Blanc, it comes from Sonoma. Theirs is a typical California style; bright fruit with wonderful acidity and just a touch of oak. We were able to score big on this wine and you will find it worth every bit of its suggested $14.00 price tag. Don't delay. It won't be around long.
Sauvignon Blanc,
(Soo-ving-yahn Blonk Roe-sham-bow)
Dry, crisp and elegant with grapefruit and white peach flavors. Great with cracked crab and drawn butter.

Limited Series Selection

The Langmeil Winery has a small plot of some of the old-est producing Shiraz vines in the world (planted in 1844). The grapes for our selec¬tion come from the 157 year old estate vines. It was aged in American oak (60% new) and not filtered. About one third of the blend for this wine came from a grower who is one of the largest holders of vineyards over 100 years of age in the Southern Barossa. This parcel was extraordinarily pow¬erful, intense and ripe coming in at 16.3 % alcohol. That makes the average age of the vines in this wine over 100 years old. It is the oldest vines, however, which really show their stuffing. The winery draws its name from the old Barossa Vignerons word for vineyard. The blend 45% Shiraz, 41% Grenache and 14% Mourvedre show good balance and integrated structure. In the 60s we would have referred to this wine as a "Super Group," three stars on their own playing together. Syrah is the star of the Northern Rhone, playing lead rolls in the likes of Cote Rotie, Hermitage and Cornas. It's deep, brooding color signals the powerful aromas and flavors to follow, and they follow! It's Syrah that brings in the color and strength to the blend. Grenache is the star of the Southern Rhone where it domi¬nates the elixirs made in Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas. There the grape adds incredible richness of spice and leather mixed with cranberry. Mourvedre hails from the Coteaux du Languedoc where it produces ripe, grapey wines that sing the high notes in the blend. These grapes are rapidly earning a rep¬utation in Australia that is almost as great as their homeland in France. Wines like our Langmeil Three Gardens are leading the pack.
Three Gardens,
Deep color with crimson edges. Complex nose of earth, blueberry, spice and grape juice. Stunning flavors of similar extraction and a whopping fin¬ish. A must with braised lamb shanks in a red wine reduc¬tion and whole garlic cloves.

Limited Series Selection

Domaine Magellan is a new winery in the Languedoc co-owned by Bruno Lafon (his family owns the famed Domaine Comte Lafon in Burgundy). In 1998, he decided to settle in the south of France. In early 1999, with sister-in law Sylvie Legros, he bought a hilly and run down 100-acre property near the village of Magalas, north of Beziers. Its vineyards contain 13 grape varieties. Lafon has worked to rehabil¬itate the site with organic methods while honoring its heritage and has taken great pains to pre¬serve the old vines on the property. Our selection, the 2000, marks the first commercial release of Domaine Magellan. All his wines use Grenache, the great red of Chateauneuf du Pape, in the blend. Lafon limits oak aging to bring out the true expression of the grape and soil. Like our accom¬panying Langmeil, this selection also fea¬tures the great grape of Chateauneuf du Pape, Grenache. Grenache comes in both red-wine and white-wine varieties. When used by itself, the word "Grenache" refers to the red ver¬sion Grenache Noir, one of the world's most widely cultivat-ed red grapes. The Grenache grape does well in hot, dry regions, and its strong stalk makes it well suited for windy con¬ditions. It ripens with very high sugar levels and can produce wines with 15 to 16 percent alcohol. Grenache wines are sweet, fruity, and very low in tannins. The vine originated in Spain where it's called Garnacha; Garnacha Tinta (or Garnacho Tinto) and is the most widely cultivated red-wine grape in Spain. It's also extensive ly grown in Algeria, Australia, Corsica, Israel, Morocco, Sardinia (where it's called Cannonau), and California. No other area, however is as closely associated with Grenache as is the Southern Rhone. In the hands of a master like Bruno Lafon and his old vines, one is excited by the future of this wine and win¬ery.
Les Murelles, 2000
Domaine Magellan
(Lay Muir-ells Domaine Ma-jellan)
Lovely magenta color with a spicy nose featuring touch¬es of licorice and leather. Rich and ripe spice and pomma¬granite flavors attack the palate and won't let go.

Member Inquiry

"Why is it that many people "swirl" their wine in the glass before tasting it?"
K. Y., Palo Alto, CA

Swirling helps aer¬ate the wine to volatilize the esters that have been trapped inside the sealed bottle.
Wine is a living thing. It is constantly changing. These changes happen faster when it comes in contact with air, thus swirling acceler¬ates the process.
Professional tasters all use the same, easily mastered technique. While the technique might seem awkward at first, it will open a new world of taste sensation.
After observing color and clarity, the taster swirls the wine in the glass to aerate it, then immediately places his /her nose into the mouth of the glass and take a quick, rather long sniff.
Remember, taste is 80% smell. So it is important to get a good sniff of the wine to eval¬uate it.
You might find that one nostril seems more sensitive than the other, in which case the sniff should favor the sensi¬tive side. If more than one sniff is needed, they should be spaced about 10 seconds apart, or more, to avoid over¬whelming the olfactory nerves.
A moderate sip is usually enough to get the full impression of the wine. Swirl the wine completely around the mouth so it comes in contact with all parts of the tongue. Part the lips slightly, draw air through them into the wine to agitate and aer¬ate it as much as possi¬ble.
This procedure, though a bit noisy, is the best way for your senses to achieve the full impact of the wine.