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1980-06 June Classic Newsletter


since 1972

JUNE 1980


The price of Chardonnay in Califor­nia has gone through the ceiling. The popularity of the wine, the excellent quality made by our winemakers, and the law of supply and demand has been respon­sible for these new prices which I have difficulty getting used to. It was great to discover this months import selection of a French Chardonnay. It's quality surprised me and its price is actually counter current to the French trend of prices, which have escalated even more ferociously in the last few years. In­cidentally, this was a Gerald Ascher sel­ection for the Mosswood wine company.

The red this month was discovered at a trade tasting. It stood head and shoulders above other Zinfandels I tried and the price was remarkable for the quality. I was particularly pleased to see and hear about Steve O'Donnell's ach­ievements at Callaway. A living proof that the style of wine maker is so impor­tant in this world of wine.


The Maconnais (an area surrounding the town of Macon in South Burgundy) pro­duces mostly white wines from the Char­donnay grapes. Wines made to more strin­gent standards have the right to higher appellation of Macon Villages. Le Grand Cheneau (Trade Mark) is produced by the cooperative at Vire, where some of the best white wines in Macon are produced. Consistent awards at the annual Concours General Agricale in Paris has earned them respect throughout France. This 1978 vintage was chosen by peer growers to re­present Maconnais at international com­petitions, and it was awarded the Per­raton Cup, as finest of the region re­gardless of appellation.

It is not customary for French wines to be labeled with the grape variety. Usually the region or estate is the main designation. Chardonnay is a noble grape that has a pedigree of the famous white wines from Burgundy with labels like Mon­trachet, Merseault and Chablis. Yet it has been transplanted in many of the wine growing regions of the world, producing outstanding wines in the hands of good wine makers. It produces a dry, full-bodied, fragrant wine, with complexities that develop with limited ageing. Most Chardonnay, from Macon is fresh, dry and fragrant, but not really made for ageing.

This 1978 Macon Villages is golden yellow in color. It has a varietal bou­quet that is reminiscent of apples. A taste of the wine surprises you. It is full bodied, flavorful and acidic lean­ing in balance. Really a mouthful. Serve chilled with seafood or poultry or as a dry aperitif wine. A real find at



Wineries in Southern California are few in number. The pioneer for this new wine growing region is Ely Callaway, for­mer president of Burlington Industries. He has made a legend of the concept that good wine grapes do not grow well in Southern California. His vineyards and winery are in Temecula, and they are well worth a visit when you are in the area. Steve O'Donnell is wine maker. He is doing some innovative wine making, with phenomenal results. Some of the early problems shown by a few of the Callaway wines have been overcome.

Zinfandel was considered a native grape, but recently, tests at the Univ­ersity of California, Davis, seem to in­dicate Italian origins in a grape called Primitivo di Gioia. Only during the last 20 years, has serious attention been given to this grapes potential. Grown in different locations and climates it yields different wines, some are light and fruity, others medium, bodied and balanced, others are dark, intensely fruity, and highly tannic wines that im­prove in the bottle for years. Steve O'Donnell has achieved a balance in this 1977 wine that is commendable.

Zinfandel Callaway, 1977 is a blend of 90% Zinfandel and 10% Cabernet Sauvig­non. The wine is deep ruby red, with a fruity nose, that has berry overtones. It is full bodied with a huge flavor that is smooth. You can detect the presence of tannin, which will allow some good ageing potential for this wine. Serve with roasts and steaks, at room temper­ature, and put some down for a few years. You will be surprised.




There are dozens of kinds of corkscrews, and some work better than others.

The traditional hollow spiral is the most eff­icient. It does not chew up the cork as the auger type of spiral. Most of the corkscrews with lever arms have auger spirals. The ease provided by the lever is very useful, but if the cork resists, it will tear the cork. You then need to use a hollow spiral corkscrew to save the situation. Another way to salvage this predicament is to use a cork puller. It is a two bladed device, that is worked by wedging the blades between the cork and the neck of the bottle, thus pinching the cork and holding it in place while you pull it out by twisting. (I find the cork puller has 99% success) Tips on using the cork puller include: a) Ins­erting the longer blade first and easing in the shorter blade on the opposite side of the cork and flexing the blades sideways as you gently push them down. This will avoid your pushing the cork into the bottle, b) to pull out the cork, twist as you pull. If you run into resistance, twist slightly in the opposite direction to loosen.

The Cellarmaster Wine of the Month Club is a unique and enjoyable way to taste and learn about many of the fine wines currently available.

When you become a member you will receive each month
one red wine selection for the month
one white wine selection for the month. (or sometimes a rosé)
an information newsletter describing the wines and their origins

One wine will be a domestic, and the other an import, and both bottles will be full fifths. This sequence will alternate the following month. The total cost for both bottles will never exceed $12.00 plus sales tax and shipping costs of $1.75.

Membership also carries the privilege of purchasing wines from previous selections (as available) at members reorder prices which show discounts from 10% to 25%

For free membership information: Write to: The CELLARMASTER Wine of the Month Club (Dept. N) Post Office Box 217 Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 Or Call: (213) 378-8998