1999-12 December 1999 Newsletter

December 1999 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 241 Rejected: 213 Approved: 28 Selected: 2
We couldn't finish the year, decade, century or Millennium any better than this. I'm speaking wine-wise, of course. Our sparkling Loire is a treasure. With its snazzy, Millennium 2000 package and all, it delivers amazing quality. It tastes like the expensive Champagnes, but without the price tag. Have you looked at the price of Champagne today? Talk about sticker shock! No matter, though. We pulled a real coup on this one. Stock up. Who knows how long it will be such a great secret?
Dessert wines should cost more than any other due to how much they cost to make. Our Chateau Dorléac didn't skimp on the ingredients, they just watch their pennies and put out a fantastic wine at a fantastic price.
These outstanding selections will surely complement your holiday festivities. We suggest you try them now and order for the holidays to assure delivery.
Have a safe and joyous holiday and we look forward to bringing you more wine treasures in 2000.

Domestic Selection

No other area offers as diverse a selection of wines as the Loire Valley. Ninety percent of the wine produced here is white. Dry wines are made in the east and west, dessert and sparkling wines in the middle. The Loire is most famous for the castles along its 600 mile river. Though the river is 600 miles long, it only extends 200 miles from its Western end where it spills into the Atlantic, and its Eastern beginning at Pouilly-Fumé. Only 100 miles from Paris (the closest wine district to the city) Loire's wines have been the favorite of Parisians for over three centuries. Our sparkling wine this year comes from the Loire Valley, one of the finest areas for this type of wine, yet easily the least known. Loire is one of the most picturesque regions in all of France, if not the world.. The principal grape used for the sparkling wine is Chenin Blanc, although the law also permits up to 60% red grapes in white sparkling and up to 20% Sauvignon Blanc which accounts for many differences. Sparkling wines are actually fermented twice. Once to make a still wine and again to capture the bubbles in side. It's an expensive process and taxed higher than still wines. The first sparkling wine produced here was made by a Belgian, Jean Ackerman in 1811. For 37 years he was the only producer and his company is still the largest producer. Our Carousel Millennium 2000 was produced by Le Jardin de la France which translates to "The Garden of France." Like Champagne, the Loire is a natural place for making great sparkling wine. Champagne's soils are almost totally chalk, while the Loire's is a local substance called tuffeau. Tuffeau shares many of the same properties with chalk in that it is porous, for good drainage, yet retains heat into the cool nights thus helping grape maturation while still preserving the gripping acidity needed to make those lovely, dry and crisp sparklers.
Carousel 2000
Crisp and mineral nose and flavors with lots of fresh green apple hints. Excellent bubble action and long finish makes it a perfect foil for smoked trout, sushi or crab and spinach spring rolls.
Perfectly aged for current enjoyment Serve cold.

Imported Selection

There is little argument that the mantle for producing the greatest dessert wines in the world must be shared between France and Germany Within each country, however, there are vast differences. Most of the accolades for dessert wines from France go to Sauternes, located at the southern tip of Bordeaux along the left bank of the Garonne River. These are deliciously sweet and luscious offerings with prices to match. Just across the river, however, are several other regions producing outstanding dessert wines, but without the price tag of Sauternes. One of the best is Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, home of this month's selection, Chateau Dorléac. This is one of the most expensive wines to make in the world. The grapes bloom and ripen like those destined to become table wines. In certain areas, however, a special mold called Botrytis is present in the vineyard and attacks certain grape varieties. It doesn't, unfortunately, attack the grapes uniformly. On one single vine, you may have a cluster of grapes that is completely botrytis affected, some partial and some not at all. Only the affected grapes are picked for the production of dessert wines necessitating several passes through the vineyard as the mold spreads. Instead of harvest being completed in a few days for a specific vineyard, it may take weeks. And the work can only be done by highly trained workers. Botrytis dehydrates the grape, taking 50% to 70% of its water content and leaving just the intensity of the actual pulp. The taste is incredibly intense, but also translates into a 50% to 70% reduction in the amount of wine made if the same land made table wine. The grape makeup in Dorléac is typical of the area; 60% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Muscadelle. With vines averaging 45 years of age and a rigorous selection of only the most botrytis-affected grapes, it's one of the few wines whose price actually reflects its quality and cost to produce.
Chateau Dorléac, 1998
Sha-toe Door-lay-ack
Engaging apricot and mango extracts just blast from the glass. The entry is sweet and powerful on the palate, but softens and drys out at the ending producing a fresh finish which leaves you begging for more. Irresistible with the Hazelnut Chocolate Viennese Tort. (See recipe on page 6.)
Perfect now. Will complex and improve for a year or two. Serve cool.

Adventures in Food

There are few great food and wine matches like botrytised dessert wines and chocolate. The hazelnuts complete the thrill adding not only the dryness to match the dessert wine. Kinda like heaven.
Potato starch or sugar for pan
6 lg. eggs, 5 separated
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
3 oz. very finely grated semi-sweet chocolate
8 oz. cup very finely ground hazelnuts
1/4 cup Mystery
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Approx. 1 cup ground hazelnuts
12 whole hazelnuts
1 oz. semi-sweet bar chocolate
Grease a 9 inch springform pan well and coat with potato starch (or sugar), tapping out any excess. Set aside. For the batter, in a large mixing bowl, beat the 5 egg whites with salt and lemon juice until foamy. Then very gradually add 1/4 cup of the sugar, and continue beating the whites until they form stiff, but not dry peaks. In another bowl, beat the 5 egg yolks, and the additional whole egg with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and the lemon rind until they are light and fluffy. Gently, but thoroughly, fold the beaten white into the yolk mixture. Then fold in the grated chocolate and ground hazelnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake torte in a preheated 325 degree oven, 50-55 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. Leave torte in oven, with door slightly ajar for 10 minutes. Remove torte from oven, run knife around edge to release it from the pan rim, then cool for 30 minutes longer in pan. Remove pan, and let cool completely (the center of torte will settle slightly). Cover a 9 or 10 inch cardboard circle with aluminum foil for base and invert torte. Remove bottom of pan. Pour wine evenly over entire torte. Heat jam in small saucepan until thinned, then spread over entire surface. For chocolate glaze, combine water, oil, sugar and cocoa in a small saucepan. Mix well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 10 to 14 minutes, or until glaze thickens slightly and is very smooth and shiny. It should not boil. Remove glaze from heat, stir until cooled and thickened slightly. Pour all glaze into center of torte and spread over top and sides. Let glaze stand until slightly set, but still soft. Press hazelnuts all over sides, arrange whole hazelnuts in circle around top of cake. Decorate with chocolate curls. Refrigerate overnight. Makes 12 servings.