1982-12 December Classic Newsletter
For the eleventh Holiday Season of The Cellarmaster Wine-of-the-Month Club, I repeat our custom of featuring a fortified wine for the festive season, and a sparkling wine for New Years eve. (If you can keep from opening it before then. If you cannot, just drop me a line and I will replenish your supply).
It was the turn for an imported sparkling wine, and the one that won out was again a pink one this year. Pink in a sense. It is a Blanc de Noir type from Spain. (Last year our winner was Korbel Rose, and your reorders proved how well it was received) Which shows to go! Go for the taste, and not the color. (Throw in the bouquet for good measure).
Every time I have tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon Port by Beringer, I have told myself " I must show this wine sometime " It has always impressed me. Well…that time has come. Pour a glass and join me in a toast to you and yours this Holiday Season. May your 1983 be a healthy and prosperous one.
Wines evaluated last month: 97
Rejected: 80, Approved: 15, Selected:2
CABERNET SAUVIGNON PORT. BERINGER.
The Beringer story starts in 1870 when German immigrant Jakob Beringer arrived in Napa Valley. He had some training in the French vineyards, so he applied to Charles Krug for a job, and was put to work in the winery. In 1876, with extra investment from his older brother Frederick, who still was in New York, he started the Beringer winery. It remained a family operation for 94 years through three genera¬tions. In 1970, the Swiss corporation of Nestle chose to purchase and upgrade the winery.
In these 12 years, Beringer wines have seen a renaissance under the direction of winemaker Myron Nightingale and vineyard manager Robert Steinhauer. Award winning wines have been coming forth.
When you are in St. Helena, a winery tour of Beringer is a must. The caves are temperature perfect and date to the original days. The charming Rhine House built in 1886 is a replica of the old family home in Germany, resplendent with stained glass and fine woodwork.
"Traditional" port comes from the Douro region of Portugal. It is world famous; or better yet, it is "Anglo famous". The English are ceremonious about their port. Several countries have made port-style wines and labeled them as port; to the chagrin of the originators. The international problem of wine nomenclature is moot to the enjoyment of good wine. Let's leave that to the politicians and enjoy the product.
Port is made by fermenting red grapes, with maximum extraction of pigment, to a 4 to 6 % alcohol level, then adding grape spirits to stop the fermen¬tation and bring up the alcohol content to about 19%. This preserves the youthful fruity flavor of the grape in a somewhat sweet fortified wine. Grapes used in Portugal are not commonly found elsewhere. Beringer has chosen to make a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon port. An interesting varietal dimension. If you are a Portuguese "vintage" port enthusiast, please do not compare. It's like comparing oranges and tangerines!
The wine is amber red, with great "legs". The aroma is fruity with a cabernet overtone. It tastes a mouthful!...velvety, sweet, slight alcoholic bite, and obvious cabernet character. Serve with unsalted nuts, cheddar cheese, or pears, after dinner.
Cellaring Notes: Ready to drink.
Regular Price: $6.50/750m1
Member Reorder Price: $62.40/case: $5.20/750m1
Wine Gifts for the Holidays
Gifts from $15 to $180
Gift No. 1
The two current Cellarmaster Wine of
the Month Club selections.
$15.00 + 0.90 tax + shipping
($2 Bakersfield & So. - $2.75 No. of Bakersfield)
Four2-bottle Cellannaster Wine of
the Month Club selections. Month-
ly for 4 months - Gift No. 4. Quar-
terly for a year - Gift No. 4Q.
$60.00 + 3.60 tax + $8 shipping
Gift No. 2
A six-bottle assortment—recent Wine
of the Month Club selections.
$42.00 + 2.52 tax + shipping
($4.40 Bakersfield & So. - $7 No. of Bakersfield)
Six two-bottle. Cellarmaster Wine
of the Month Club selections —
Gift No. S - 6 monthly gifts or
Gift No. 5B - every other month.
$90.00 +5.40 tax +$12 shipping
Gift No. 3
A 12-bottle assortment of recent
Cellarmaster Wine of the Month
$85.00 + 5.10 tax + shipping
($7 Bakersfield & South
$9.50 North of Bakersfield)
12-PART GIFT NO. 6
A one-year Cellarmaster Wine of
the Month Club membership...
twelve two-bottle wine selections.
+ 10.80 tax + $24 shipping
WINE WITH FOOD
If you have chosen to end your meal with something sweet for dessert, rather than cheese, the world of dessert wines awaits you!...And what a wonderful array they are. I have a hard time deciding whether they are my favorite group of wines. There are so many more of them that are consistently good. You can rely on them to perform for your dessert without having to prescreen them. (Don't ask me if I prefer cheese or sweet for dessert, because I have a hard time deciding that too! The fact that I devoted three issues to wine with cheese says something! However, I think I am in the minority, at least in our country. Europe is another matter.)
By definition, dessert wine is sweet, and therefore goes well with sweet desserts and some, because of their sweetness, may be used alone for dessert
An important underlying principle in the service of wine with dessert is to balance the sweetness levels of the wine and the dessert. You should know the sweetness level of your dessert, as well as your wine, and match them. You cannot serve a medium sweet wine with a very sweet dessert. The dessert will overpower the wine and it will taste very poor. A very sweet wine will overshadow a light delicate dessert Balance is the key.
How do you determine a wine is a dessert wine? Usually the label has indications of this. When you are at your wine shop, and you do not have the expertise of a know-ledgeable wine merchant or enlightened sales person at hand, (which seems to be the rule rather than the exception these days) you should be familiar with some of the names or terms that signal "dessert wine". For two reasons. First, if you are looking for dessert wine, you should be able to spot the labels that indicate that it is a dessert wine. Second, when you are shopping for dry or aperitif wines, you can steer away from the same labels, since they will be sweet and disappoint you if you were in the exploring mood and wanted to try a new label. Here is a partial list of the more common dessert wines by their generic, varietal, regional, or designation of style, which usually appears somewhere on the label.
Reprint of a column by the Cellarmaster
Paul Kalemkiarian in the REVIEW
Sauterns from France; Barsac: Mont-
French wines labelled "demi-sec" or
Tokays from Hungary;
Auslese, Berenauslese, and Trocken-
beerenauslese wines from Germany,
Austria or elsewhere;
Vino Santo from Italy,
Italian wines labelled "amabile" or
Muscat or Moscato wines unless labeled
Malvasia wines unless labeled "dry"
American wines labeled "late harvest";
Chateau La Salle by Christian Brothers;
Edelwien by Free mark Abbey
Sweet Nancy by Callaway;
Mission del Sol bv Shenandoah;
Cream or Oloroso Sherry;
Panache by Domaine Chandon;
Champagne labeled "demi-sec" or
Cremant by Schramsberg;
Muscat of Alexandria by Hans Kornell. You will notice that the above list has fortified wines as well as sparkling wines included. They do make good dessert accompaniments. The criterion is the degree of sweetness.
Because of the variety of dessert wines, with very diverse flavor sensations, you should consider the matching of flavors. For example: the burnt sugar flavor in a cream caramel makes good sense with a sherry or madeira rather than a late harvest reisling. A peach melba however, certainly will go better with the latter.
I have run out of space, so we will review the matching process next issue, with a suggestion for a novel approach to dessert I discovered in Florence a couple of weeks ago on my Northern Italian wine survey trip.
BRUT DE NOIR. 1979. CODORNIU
Travel south from Barcelona, Spain, for 30 miles and you will arrive at San Sadurni de Noya, and the home of Codorniu. They claim to be the worlds largest single producer of sparkling wine by the "methode champenoise". (The latter is the traditional method of the French Champagne region. It is copied the world over; and I must hasten to say, rarely successfully. .. Interesting variations...Yes. True rival to fine French Champagne...No.) They are the oldest (1551) and largest casa in the central Penedes region. They own 16 miles of underground cellars, on five levels, ageing 100 million bottles of wine. Jose Maria Raventos and Manuel Raventos, descendants of the Raventos family who married into the Codorniu family, currently own and manage the firm.
Codorniu makes several grades ands styles of sparkling wines all by the classical method. After exhaustive comparisons of the Codorniu and other imported sparkling wines within our budget, I felt the Codorniu Brut de Noir was the best for the money. ...And in fact, a bargain for the characteristics it demonstrated.
The grapes used in Codorniu sparkling wines are local ones. Three white grapes, Macabeo, Xarello, and Perellada, and the red grape Morastell. Brut de Noir is made 100% from the latter. The primary fermenta¬tion is done in American oak barrels. The wine is blended, bottled with the yeast for the secondary fermentation, and aged. When ready, the yeast cells are disgorged, the bottle is corked and wired.
Our sparkling wine is orange pink in color, with small bubbles. (the fineness of the bubbles in sparkling wines is claimed to be indicative of the method of secondary fermentation. Coarse bubbles from the bulk method, fine bubbles from the "fermented in this bottle" method, and medium bubbles from the "fermented in the bottle " method). The aroma is nutty and yeasty like all good champagne should be. There is a dryness to the nose. The taste is medium to full bodied, with a dominant nutty flavor of the yeast. There is a prominent grape flavor, with some tannin bitterness that adds to the dryness sensation. Shows some complexity of the base wine due to its age. Serve with appetizers and canapes - a festive sparkling wine.
Cellaring Notes: Drink now. However, if you enjoyed the complexity dimension, it will develop further for 2 to 3 years.
Regular Price: $7.50/750m1
Member Reorder Price:$72.00/case: $6.00/750m1
Adventures in Eating
Am thoroughly enjoying reading "A Woman of Independent Means", by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey. The main character of her book states, "I don't know how children would measure time without holidays."
She hit a chord with me. In speaking with friends, I get the feeling we are all, albeit happily, sort of swept from one Holiday to another. There is not doubt, that each year it comes a little sooner.
One of my favorite gourmands and writers of sharp wit described a recipe that fits right into my holiday picture, where time is measured. I felt this would hit the spot for a glamorous, yet easy, holiday supper. In her writings, she can describe the most elegant, and elaborate entrees, yet turn around and give you something as easy, tasty, showy, and as practical as what is to follow. Yours truly made some changes to give it a little extra zip.
SHRIMP AND EGG CURRY Serves 4
2 tsp curry powder (to taste)
4 hard-boiled eggs, sl.
2/3 cup light cream
¼ tsp dry dill
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
½ chopped onion
2 Tb butter
1½ cups shrimp (cooked, canned, or frozen)
Hot fluffy rice
Curry accompaniments: Coconut, chutney, bacon, peanuts, raisins, chopped green peppers, candied ginger, etc.
Saute onions in butter, set aside. Blend the curry powder, dill, onions, and cream. Add to the soup, and mix well. Add the shrimp and egg, and heat over hot water, stirring as little as possible. Serve with hot rice and accompaniments.
This is well adapted to chafing dish cookery and is good for buffet suppers. There is no reason you could not substitute chicken, but shrimp is more festive. I recommend serving it with a sweet-sour three bean salad of your choice.
For dessert, an easy one from Mary Anne, my sister-in-law. Take 1 large package Jello Instant pistachio pudding. Follow instructions, then fold in 1-9oz can drained crushed pineapple and small cool whip. Chill and serve in individual stemmed glassware and top with a stemmed maraschino cherry. Colorful and tasty. ………A very Merry Christmas to you all and a season full of the adventures of taste.