1997-12 December 1997 Newsletter

December 1997 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 206 Rejected: 194 Approved: 12 Selected: 2
A Holiday Kick-Off
If you're a new member to the Wine of the Month Club, you'll notice something a little different about these two selections. At this time of year we always offer a sparkling and fortified wine as they are traditionally consumed during the holiday festivities. We are also shipping these a little earlier than usual to allow you to get a jump on your holiday gift ordering. These selections make terrific gifts and are sure to please even the most disciminating wine lovers.
Here are two great starters to kick off the holidays. Both are meant to be consumed before the meal as an aperitif. The Bodegas Leon Sherry is one of the finest we've ever tasted from California. It has a lot of the charm and excitement of the Spanish original and is a tremendous value. Try it with traditional tapas of nuts, olives and smoked fish. It's a one-in-a-million taste experience.
"Brothers come quick, I am tasting the stars," exclaimed the blind Monk, Dom Perignon, when he tasted the first champagne. Great start, don't you think? And so is the Peacock Hill a great start to your holiday season. This is an amazing buy and one I'm sure won't hang around very long at all.

Domestic Selection

Sherry is an amber-colored wine which originated in the town of Jerez, at the southwestern tip of Spain. Great Britain, the largest importer of Sherry in the world, couldn't pronounce Jerez (hare-EZZ) so they called it Jare-ezz and finally Sherry. It ranges from very dry to very sweet. The driest, lightest and finest Sherry is called Fino. Most sherries are produced by the solera method, a pyramid of barrels stacked on top of each other and interconnected. Each year 10`)/0 of the wine is drawn off the bottom row. The top row is replenished with 10% new wine so that the average age remains basically the same every year. One of the most unique components of sherry is the Flor yeast. Flor means "flower" in Spanish and this bacteria is named after a very special yeast culture which attacks the wine in the barrel and actually looks like little white flowers on top of the wine. It occurs naturally in Spain without any help and does two things to the wines; protects it from oxidation by not allowing any air to come into contact with it and adds it's own nut-like flavor and aroma. Neutral grape brandy is added to bring the total alcohol up to 16% which is enough to slow down the yeast, but not destroy it. During this time the rooms where the sherry is kept are not cooled and the temperature reaches over 100 degrees. This basically bakes the wine which intensifies the nuttiness. After about 6-8 months, brandy is added to bring the total alcohol up to 18-20%. It then goes into the solera. In California, the flor must be introduced into the wine with a prepared culture. The wine is kept in stainless steel tanks which are outfitted with coils of hot water running through them to simulate the same conditions in Spain. The same grape is used here, Palomino, which accounts for the incredible likeness to the real thing our selection bears. The solera for Bodegas de Leon was started over 20 years ago and accounts for the complexity of flavors you'll find here. It is without a doubt one of the most exotic and versatile wines made. Reviewed by Ed Masciana
Fine Sherry, Bodegas Leon
Bow-Daygas Lee-own
Forward nose of hazelnuts and sandalwood with pure vanilla overtones and a touch of clove. The mouth is crisp and dry with a lilting finish of dried grape and caramel. A must with smoked meats and cheeses, olives and nuts.
These wines live forever. Serve slightly chilled.

Imported Selection

Great sparkling wine, especially one from Champagne, is one the most expensive wines to make in the world. This is because of the tremendous amount of time and labor involved. As a matter of fact, there is more labor needed in the production of fine sparkling wine than any other. Sparkling wines are made by allowing a still wine to go through a second fermentation in a closed container. The container, whether a tank or a bottle, holds the carbon dioxide generated by the second fermentation in suspension, as opposed to letting it escape into the air. That is how the bubbles are introduced into the wine. The grapes for sparkling wine are picked much earlier than grapes for table wine. They would not make very good table wine as they are quite tart and acidic. They are fermented until totally dry. This is where normal table wine would be finished. Sparkling wine still has a way to go. The wine is re-bottled in the traditional sparkling wine bottle to which a tiny amount of sugar solution and yeast is added and the bottle sealed with a crown cap. The yeast converts the sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide can't escape the bottle because it is sealed. It has no place to go but back into the wine, thus making those wonderful little bubbles which separate Champagne from all other wines. Our Peacock Hill is made in Sonoma in a modern facility which once housed the Chateau St. Jean Sparkling Wine Company. As with most sparkling wines, it is a blend of red and white grapes. The juice of the red grape is white. When crushed quickly, and with minimum skin contact, they retain their blanc color. The white here is Chenin Blanc, the principle grape in those enticing sparkling wines from Vouvray. The red adds body and character, the white finesse, crispness and aroma. Most sparkling wines in this category are close to twice the price of Peacock Hill. It ranks as one of the best deals we've seen in California in over 10 years. Sure to make your holiday very happy!!! Reviewed by Ed Masciana
Brut, 1994. Peacock Hill
A plethora of tiny bubbles await you as you pour this lovely, straw-colored liquid into the glass. The nose is slightly tropical as is the mouth with bubbles smashing into each other all over the place. Great finish to match smoked salmon recipe on page 6.
Quite good now but will hold for a year or two. Serve quite chilled.

Adventures in Food

This is one of the most popular dishes in my cooking classes at the South Bay Academy of Food & Wine. A great appetizer you can whip up in a hurry during the frenzied holiday season.
NOTE: You can skip the brining to save time. Just follow the directions for smoking in the wok.
4 qt. or larger non-reactive (glass or stainless) casserole pan
15" or larger Wok
circular rack or splatter screen
(will fit inside the wok between the bottom and the rim)
3 lbs. of salmon either fillets or steaks (Remove bones with needle nose pliers. Make sure that fillets are at least one inch at its thickest part.)
1/4 cup non-iodized salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 Tbsp. herbs (Tarragon, herbs de Provence, fennel, pick one.)
2 qts. cold water
2 Tbsp. pecan shells (You can substitute hickory or mesquite chips or even black tea, but pecan shells are the best. You can also add other flavors like fennel seeds, cumin, coriander, etc.)
To make brine heat 1 cup water to approximately 120°. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and add rest of ingredients. Add rest of water. Pour into non-reactive pan and submerge salmon. Let cure for 6 to 8 hours. You can either keep at room temperature or refrigerate. Remove from brine and let stand for 1-2 hours at room temperature. A slight haze will develop which is okay.
Line wok with tin foil so that edges extend over the top of the wok. If necessary crimp two pieces together so that there is at least an inch of foil coming over the top. Place pecan shells at bottom of lined wok Place rack (or splatter screen) in the wok midway to 3/4 between the bottom and rim of the wok. Heat on medium until shells just begin to smoke. Place salmon on rack and cover. Crimp remaining foil around cover to form a seal. Turn heat to high for 7 minutes then turn off for 5 minutes. Remove salmon. At this point salmon should be cooked through, if not bake for 2-4 minutes at 375°. Serve with dill or tarragon sauce, as is, or chop and combine with sour cream and/or cream cheese for a dip.
Cooking time: 10 min., Prep time: 15 min. Serves 8. Adjust time accordingly depending on thickness of fish, but always turn flame off for 5 minutes at the end. This helps the smoking process without overcooking. Serve with Peakcock Hill Brut.

Earlier Selections

Guaranteed Available DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER REORDER PRICES TOTAL #1297A Fine Sherry, Bodegas Leon "Dried fig and caramel." Reg. Price $6.99 22.9% disc. $64.68/case $5.39/each
#1297B Brut, '94. Pealccock Hill "Tangy crisp apple flavors." Reg. Price $11.99 41.7 % disc. $83.88/case $6.99/each
#1197A Zincetto, '96. Bargetto "Flesh cherry aromas and flavors." Reg. Price $8.99 22.22% disc. $83.88/case $6.99/each
#1197B Punico. '96. Cantina Michele "Piquant kiwi and melon." Reg. Price $6.99 28.6% disc. $59.88/case $4.99/each
#1097A Fumé Blanc, '96. Powers "Fine tuned, nectarine and citrus." Reg. Price $7.39 32.47% disc. $59.88/case $4.99/each
#1097B Cab. Sauv., '95. Los Boldos "Ripe cherries and spice." Reg. Price $8.59 30.26% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
#997A Carignane, '96. Galleano "Rich, spicy and full-flavored." Reg. Price $8.99 22.24% disc. $83.88/case $6.99/each
#997B Sauvignon, '95. L'Eparié "Green apple, pear and herbs." Reg. Price $5.99 20% disc. $57.48/case $4.79/each
Please call for shipping prices outside CA in states where Sub-Total permissible. Recipients must be 21 years or older. 8.25% CA Sales Tax Shipping for CA: 1-2: $4.50; 3-4: $4.65; 5-6: $7.65; 7-8: $10.50; 9-10: $11.25; 11-12: $11.50 S&H Check enclosed for $ _____________. TOTAL
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Mail to: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 Phone (800) 949-WINE  Phone (626) 303-1690 FAX (626) 303-2597 Visit our home page: http://www.WineoftheMonthClub.com

Gift Order Form

It's the Perfect Gift for a... Thank You, Housewarming, Wedding, Anniversary, Congratulations, Holiday, Father's & Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas & New Year's. Business Thank You, Bon Voyage... or just to say "I Love You!"
GIFT # DESCRIPTION QTY. COST TOTAL 10G 2 Bottles The 2 current club selections $19.00*
20G 6 Bottles Assortment of recent selections $51.50*
30G 12 Bottles (1 Case) Assortment of recent selections $99.50*
4GP 4 Months Subscription: 2 Bottles (the Club Selections) a month for 4 months or every quarter for 1 year (specify gift #4Q). (8 bottles total). $67.00*
5GP 6 Months Subscription: 2 Bottles (the Club Selections) a month for 6 months or every other month for 1 year (specify gift #5B). (12 bottles total). $99.00*
6GP 1 Year Subscription: 2 Bottles (the Club Selections) every month for the next 12 months (24 bottles total). $195.00*
LOG 2 Bottles The 2 current Limited Series selections. $43.00*
LGP 1 Year Subscription: 2 Bottles every month (Limited Series) for the next 12 months (24 bottles total). $243.00*
*Gift wrapping included. Recipients must be 21 or older. Sub-Total CA Shipping Charges: Avg. Out-of-State Shipping Costs: 8.25% CA Sales Tax Gift #10G & LOG $4.50 Gift #10G & LOG $6.25 Gift #20G $8.15 Gift #20G $14.65 S&H Gift #30G $12.35 Gift #30G $21.65 Gift #4GP $18.00 Gift #4GP $26.00 TOTAL
Gift #5GP $27.00 Gift #5GP $37.50 Gift #6GP & LGP $54.00 Gift #6GP & LGP $76.00 Call for out of state shipping info. Check enclosed for $ _____________. Charge my:  VISA  MasterCard  AmEx  Discover Card # Exp. Date ___/___/___ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Name (Please Print) Signature ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip (_______ )__________________(________)_______________________________________________________ Phone (Day) Phone (Evening) Please ship Gift# _________ to: _________________________________________________________________ Name (Please Print) ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Special note on gift card or verse #: ______________________Attach another sheet of paper to list other recipients
All Wine of The Month Club gifts are guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition... gift boxed... and with a gift card.
Mail to: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (800) 949-WINE, Phone (626) 303-1690 or FAX (626) 303-2597 Visit our home page: http://www.WineoftheMonthClub.com

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