1981-02 February Classic Newsletter


since 1972

February 1981


This month's red wine from the Rhone is a numbered bottle. The significance of this is very questionable in today's wine market. Unless the producer says how many bottles he pro­duced totally, the number really has no value. The numbering is meant to imply that the wine is special, and that maybe there are a limited number of bottles — but how many? I have seen some ridiculously high numbers of bottles. Some numbered bottles of wine show for example "No. 3219 of 10,218." Well, if that is going to make it a better bottle of wine, I'll chew the cork! It will only indicate how many bottles were made, and possibly imply that the wine could be rare. For this Celliers des Dauphins, I was impressed with the wine IN the bottle, and not the numbering ON the label. In fact I was surprised to find this ploy being used on a regional wine.

For the white wine this month, the winemaker describes some accompanying food. Try the Senate Bean Soup that the chef in our kitchen writes about on the back page.


Another home winemaker that has turned pro is Brian Pendleton. He decided to do so because he had the hope of "making wines better than those I could buy." His awards at the county fairs is a testament to his conviction. Starting in 1977 as Arroyo Wines in leased space from other wineries, he moved to permanent quarters in San Jose for the 1979 crush. A native of Salt Lake City, with a PhD in physiology of the brain, he is a continuous experimenter. "Trying to understand how far we can go with the grape." The Pendleton wine label is rather unique. It was designed by San Francisco artist Joan Johnson, and depicts an age old procedure still practiced by vintners to determine the brilliance of wines by using the light of a single taper.

The Sauvignon Blanc grape has its roots in Graves, France. A powerful flavored grape, it can produce rather austere, harsh wine when made poorly. With proper planning and careful fermenting, very distinctive and full flavored wines are produced, both in the Graves region of Bordeaux and the adapted regions of the Loire Valley. Introduced in California in the 1880's, it did not attract much attention until the 1960's, when some most distinctive full flavored dry wines started appearing; better even than French wines of similar style. This Pendleton Sauvignon Blanc is one of them. The grape however has another famous personality, when made as a sweet wine after late harvesting. The famous sauternes from France, and the upcoming California dessert wines from the same grape are a credit to this neglected grape. We will save that subject for another month and another selection.

The wine is straw colored, with a soft fragrant, and distinct varietal nose of the grape. The taste follows this varietal character with its distinct flavor. It has a full body, very dominant, yet soft and velvety. Winemaker comments: "The wine delicately augments, but never overpowers such divers fare as cold cracked crab or fresh fruit and mild cheese. It complements fresh strawberries, winter pears, and Teleme Jack cheese — and once, memorably, we enjoyed it with cold, curried chicken soup, accompanied with slices of mango and prosciotto." Well! lets uncork the bottle!

Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 3 years.

$6.50/fifth Member reorder price $5.30/fifth


The Rhone Valley of France lies south of one of the famous gastronomic centers of the world — Lyons. From this region of "Cotes du Rhone" come sturdy red wines that have unmistakable characteristics. An infinite variety of locations and an infinite variety of wines are produced along this 125 mile stretch of the Rhone river. The Celliers des Dauphins is a cooperative of nine grower-owned wineries who have banded together to market a series of local wines that have proven their worth. The Grande Reserve Cuvee de L'Abbeye is their best value this year in my opinion. This humble regional Cotes du Rhone with limited bottling of this cuvee (specific batch) is a good example of this type of wine from the area around the town of Tulete and the Aygues valley. With no supposition of greatness, the wine is a good introduction to the famous wines of the Rhone Valley. (At times, some of these at much higher cost, have not been as good as our regional example this month).

The Rhone wines are made from a large variety of grapes, and the difference between the wines is a result of the blending of several of the twelve or more grapes growing in the area. The predominant grape varieties in the Rhone are Carignane, Grenache and Syrah. They generally have a dark color, robust flavor that tells you its a "Rhone", and a sturdy constitution that can be rough at the edges when young. Our wine from the Aygues Valley is a blend of wine from the Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault grapes.

This Cuvee de l'Abbeye is purplish red, with a berry nose that says "Rhone" and "Syrah". The aroma has oak, with some fruit coming through. The taste is fruity and lasting. It has a medium body, with the identifiable flavor of Syrah and Grenache grapes. A hint of wood is present at the finish which adds to the overall good taste. Serve at room temperature with any beef or ham casserole, or with country sandwiches for lunch.

Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 3 to 5 years.

$5.49/fifth Member reorder price $4.20/fifth



By Rosemarie

Soups are still the best buy for the money, especially a nutritious bean soup. This recipe has a touch of nostalgia for me as we took the train ride in the basement from the capitol to the senate building cafeteria just to taste the Senate Bean Soup. To me, the anticipation of tasting this famous soup was part of the romance and excitement of visiting Washington D.C. I had heard about this dish from numerous friends for many years and couldn't wait to be a part of its history. I was not disappointed one bit when I took the first spoonful of this thick, rich soup. Delicious.


1 pound dried marrow, navy or great northern beans
5 quarts water
1 large smoked ham hock
3 potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 onions, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Wash beans, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour. Bring again to a boil, and simmer, covered, 2 hours or until beans begin to mush. Make sure the beans are thoroughly cooked by tasting one. Add everything but salt and pepper and simmer 1 hour longer. Remove the bone, cut up the meat, and return the meat to the soup. (The meaty part of the butt end of ham or shank end with your leftover ham works very well, too). Season to taste. I like to add a dash of red pepper to give it zing. For added glamour, sprinkle a few pieces of chopped parsley on the soup after you have ladled it into your bowls. Yum.

I like to serve this soup with an Armenian style sandwich made with pocket bread. Cut the bread in half and stuff it with a mixture of grated Jack Cheese (not too fine) and finely chopped parsley with a little black pepper added to it. Place it on a foil lined tray, and bake at 400° until the cheese melts (about 5-8 minutes). Celery and carrot sticks help complete the meal. If you want a little desert, peel some oranges, cut away the white part, and slice in rounds. Place on an attractive platter and sprinkle with coconut. My family loved getting their oranges sliced and cleaned ready to eat. It was a treat for everyone and nutritious at the same time.

"In all cookery it is the combination of good and wholesome ingredients which constitutes the best of broths and diets." . . . Alexis Soyer

The CELLARMASTER Wine of the Month Club (Dept. N)

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