1981-03 March Classic Newsletter


since 1972

March 1981


In my attempt to seek out the two best wines available, at the times that I shop for them, month in and month out, I find that ! must book them several months ahead. For this month, I had run into two styles of wine I had not shown for some time, and they were exceptional examples for the price. When the time came for me to purchase these wines, price increases threw our $12.00 limit out of whack. Rather than scrap one of them, and reschedule, I chose to keep them and absorb the price increase. So this month's selection is a buy at the "make the budget fit price," and consequently, the member reorder price is not as deep a discount.

As to the wines — I chose the Pinot Noir after a long futile search for one, at the Simi Winery dinner. It was held at the Ritz Restaurant in Newport Beach, and the trade was invited to meet Zelma Long, their new winemaker. (Try this restaurant sometime. It is a charming hideaway with ambiance and superb cuisine. Ask for Hans, the owner.) Regarding the Vouvrey; my comment about French Chenin Blancs not tasting like California Chenin Blancs still stands. However, I will report to you next month whether they do taste different at their origin, before the effects of their 6,000 mile journey to California. I will just have returned from an inspection tour of Loire and hopefully Bordeaux.


Pietro and Giuseppe Simi left Tuscany, Italy in 1848 and became vegetable farmers in San Francisco. They also started producing wine in their home, from grapes bought in Sonoma. Because their wine started developing a reputation in the restaurant trade, they searched for, and found a vineyard to buy, so that they would have a steady source of grapes. On the property acquired, they built a stone and redwood winery in 1876, and named it Montepulciano, after the grape growing district of their ancestry. Daughter Isabelle continued the business with her husband Fred Haigh. During prohibition, production was switched to sacramental wines. The family interest moved into corporate ownership in 1969. A continuing desire to excel in premium wine making, was and is the objective of the new owners. The present winemaker (since July 1979) is Zelma Long of U.C. Davis background and an apprenticeship under a string of famous California winemakers. She, however, did not make our wine this month. It was produced by her predecessor, Mary Ann Graf, who worked under the tutelage of consulting enologist Andre Tchelistcheff.

The "elusive California Pinot Noir" is what I like to call this grape. I taste so many of them, and classify most all of them as "missed." We just seem to have a hard time with this grape in California. Originally and still importantly from the French province of Burgundy, this grape has a noble heritage and powerful capabilities. As a red wine it can have a distinct smooth penetrating taste, a silky texture that shows breed and power.

Simi Pinot Noir 1977 has a light plum color The nose is fruity, with a varietally correct aroma; clean, with a penetrating fragrance of the bouquet. The taste is dry, with medium body. It has full varietal flavor that expands on your palate. The wine is spicy and pleasantly acid, showing traces of wood that I predict will age away and develop into a very smooth wine. Enjoy with fine red meat dishes at room temperature. Lay some away and track its development. Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 5 to 8 years.

Regular Price $7.85 Member "make the budget fit price" $7.00 Member reorder price $6.50


From the second largest wine producing area in France comes this months white wine. The Loire Valley extends some 350 miles and produces a variety of mainly white wines. One of the best known wines from the Loire is Vouvrey, named after the village it is produced around. On the river, and upstream from the city of Tours, the vineyards in these communes are planted with Pineau de La Loire (Chenin Blanc) and some Menu-Pineau grapes. Most all of Vouvrey wine is handled by Negociants (translated literally "wholesale wine negotiators") who traditionally in France, buy, blend, and bottle wine from a region and offer it under their own label. Consequently most Vouvrey is marketed as "regional" wine, and the expertise of the negociants is an important factor in the quality of the wine. Our negociant is the firm of Henri Verdier of Montreuil-Bellay, a reputable shipper who seems to have a good blending palate.

Pineau de la Loire, better known in the U.S.A. as Chenin Blanc is a prolific grape which has evolved into many styles of wines. In the Loire, it is made into five styles: dry, semi-sweet, sweet, petillant (slightly sparkly) and fully sparkling. Vouvrey wines differ dramatically from vintage to vintage, depending on the weather conditions during maturation of the grape. It has a natural tendency to re-ferment in the bottle and become a petillant version. Less successful vintages are converted into good sparkling wines.

For some reason, Vouvrey does not usually show the dominant varietal character we are used to in California Chenin Blancs. Maybe it is the travel that causes this. Our wine is an example of this. It is light yellow in color. The aroma is of medium intensity with a "French wine" character that is lightly fruity with a hint of earthiness. The taste is first slightly sweet, followed by good lemony acidity that is congruous. It can be summed as refreshing, light, and delicious. The latter adjective would make the high priests of wine cringe if used academically, but it is so appropriate here, I am compelled. Take a taste and see for yourself. Serve well chilled with winter fruit, as a luncheon aperitif, and with Waldorf salad.

Cellaring Notes: Drink this young. Not for ageing.

Regular price $5.49 Member "make the budget fit price" $5.00 Member reorder price $4.50


By Rosemarie

In our lifetime we meet so many people and we know we will lever remember a good number of them. However, a recipe bearing the name of the chef, given to us because we liked the particular dish, is a constant reminder of that person each time we use that recipe. There couldn't be a better way to help us remember some of those dear people that briefly brushed by us.

March is the month for the "Wearing of the Green," or the time we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Our oldest child, a son, is 28 years old. When he was three years old, we participated in a co-op nursery that met once a week. All the mothers had to be present, and were a part of the learning and teaching process.

At Christmas, each of us were asked to bring an ethnic dessert to share with one another. One of the mothers was a recent immigrant from Ireland. Her name was Mrs. Berry. Her dessert was an Irish Shortcake, as she caked it. She had adapted the recipe to grains she found here that were similar to what she used in Ireland. The only ingredient missing, is her wonderful, fetching, Irish brogue.


1½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
⅔ cup cream of wheat
10 oz. butter (a little over a cube)

Cream sugar and butter. Add flour and cream of wheat. Mix well. Knead on a lightly floured board. Dough should not stick to your hands. Divide dough into four balls. Roll each ball into rounds ¼" thick. Place on a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Lightly prick the top of the rounds with a fork forming a pattern. Score each round into pieces that are pie shaped. Bake in a 350° oven until lightly browned. Check underneath the cookie to make sure it is lust right.

I make this each March, and never fail to remember that sweet lady who was so kind to share a bit of her heritage.

"Bless the food that comes to me With those who share and serve it; And if there be a good dessert Oh grace me to deserve it." A.F. Brown

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