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2001-04 April 2001 Newsletter

April 2001 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 241 Rejected: 220 Approved: 21 Selected: 2
Our import selection couldn't be guaranteed to arrive in time by the importer so we're shipping two domestic wines this month. Don't be concerned. We didn't make any sacrifices. The Pinot Blanc from Talon was on the slate for the future, we just took it early. We really love this wine. It has the presence and body of Chardonnay, but a unique flavor profile that comes alive in the glass. Pinot Blanc isn't as popular here as it is in Europe. We often wonder why and think you'll agree that it is one of the best white wines in California.
Our "take no prisoners" red is the Pepperwood Grove Syrah. This grape is not for the faint hearted. It is a big, brawny wine with lots of flavors and extract. A perfect accompaniment to hearty dishes of roasted meats and slow cooked game. It tastes like it should cost twice the price. We'll just let that be out little secret.

Domestic Selection

Talon is one of the properties owned by the Riboli Family of San Antonio. The grapes come from their vast holdings in Monterey, one of the leading grape growing areas in the state. Monterey's cool climate is rivaled only by Germany and Switzerland. Here the grapes mature slowly and deliberately, extracting the earth's elements in a slow and steady fashion without the added heat of the"' warmer regions. This accounts for the concentration of flavors that can develop in good years. Unfortunately, it can also account for less flavor in cooler years. Fortunately, this is not the concern of the Ribolis. Their vineyards are planted on the upper slopes of Monterey where the sun's rays gently ripen the grapes to the optimum every year. Pinot Blanc wine has a clear, yeasty, appley taste. The best ones age to a delicious, honeyed fullness. It achieves greatness in a few areas around the world, primarily Alsace and northern Italy where it is known as Pinot Bianco. It produces outstanding wine in Germany and Austria as Weissburgunder and is successful in Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic as well as the cooler parts of California and Canada. Pinot Blanc often has flavors similar to Chardonnay, though the wine is generally lighter in body and more delicate. In 1917, Santo Cambianica left his home in the Northern Italian province of Lombardy to settle in the midst of a bustling Italian-American community in Los Angeles. Here, on Lamar Street, he founded the San Antonio Winery. In hope of good fortune in this new country, Santo dedicated the winery to Saint Anthony, his patron saint. In 1920, Prohibition jolted the wine industry. The majority of Los Angeles wineries closed forever, but Santo requested permission from the Catholic Church to make sacramental wines. The church granted his request and San Antonio Winery was able to survive. Over 65 years after the repeal of Prohibition, his descendants continue to produce altar wines for religious services.
Pinot Blanc 2000 Talon
Pee-noe Blonk
Delicate, yet full flavors of pineapple and banana. Lengthy finish to match the Angle hair seafood recipe on page 6.
CELLARING SUGGESTIONS: Great now. Drink within the next year. Serve chilled (approx. 1 hr. in refrigerator).

Domestic Selection 2

Back in 1985, before Don Sebastiani took leadership of Sebastiani Vineyards, Don and his brother-in-law, Roy Cecchetti, established Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar. Although Don's nine-to-five job is Chairman of Sebastiani Vineyards, Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar is independent of Sebastiani in every way. Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar's flagship brand is Pepperwood Grove. The wines of Pepperwood Grove have become everyday favorites with wine insiders for their sophisticated flavors and easygoing prices. Five releases of Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir and this Syrah have been selected "Best Buys" by the Wine Spectator Magazine. Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellar also produces small lots of ultra-premium wines under the Cecchetti Sebastiani and Quatro labels. Pepperwood Grove Winery searches for the finest grapes and wines from cool coastal vineyards to make some the best varietal wines on the market. Winemaker Bob Broman's experience at wineries like Concannon, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Guenoc and St. Supery, gives him a rare perspective on blending for consistency and quality. Bob has the ability to put components together in such a way that no one element dominates, blending all the flavors of the spice rack into one finished meal. There's no better flavor value for the money on the shelf today, and the reviews and accolades prove it. Syrah is the famous red wine grape grown in the northern Rhone Valley. Hermitage, Comas and Côte Rôtie are three of the great wines produced with this long-lived, spicy, aromatic grape. In Australia and South Africa it is called Shiraz, its ancient name. Syrah is one of the oldest grapes known to man with a history that goes back nearly 8,000 years when it was first turned to wine in Mesopotamia. This grape has survived many millenniums because of the powerful and enticing flavors it offers. If this is your first fling with Syrah, we recommend you fasten your safety belt!
Syrah, 1999 Pepperwood Grove
Big, luscious and ripe flavors of earth and spice with hints of cassis and pomegranate. Perfect with the spare ribs recipe on page 6.
Perfect now. Will improve over the next year. Serve cool (approx 30 min. in fridge).

Adventures in Good Food

A quick midweek entrée when you want something a little special.
8 ounces angel hair pasta or capellini
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), each cut lengthwise in half, then thinly sliced crosswise
12 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 sea scallops, each cut horizontally in half
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Talon Pinot Blanc
1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1. Heat large saucepot of salted water to boiling over high heat; add angel hair and cook as label directs (usually about 5 min).
2. Meanwhile, in nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add zucchini and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer zucchini to large serving bowl; set aside.
3. In same skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add shrimp, scallops, lemon peel, pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook 2 minutes or just until seafood turns opaque throughout, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring. Transfer mixture to bowl with zucchini.
4. Add wine and clam juices to skillet; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium; cook 2 minutes, stirring. Pour liquid over seafood mixture.
5. Drain angel hair. Add angel hair and parsley to bowl with seafood mixture and toss well to coat. Serves 4.
Succulent and juicy, the recipe is a winner.
4 large, thick Pork Country spareribs
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, sliced
1 cup catsup
1 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1. Heat oil in skillet until it starts to smoke. Brown ribs quickly in skillet, but be careful not to burn them. Remove, season with salt and pepper. Place in 13" by 9" glass baking dish, reserving pan drippings in skillet.
2. Sauté onion in pan drippings in skillet until tender. Add catsup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic salt; mix well. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Pour sauce over ribs. Bake (uncovered) in preheated 350° F. oven 45 minutes or until done. Serves: 4