1997-07 July 1997 Newsletter

July 1997 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 222 Rejected: 203 Approved: 19 Selected: 2
Diversity Hails
I don't think of July as a particularly exciting month, but we have certainly put together an exciting program for you. We pulled quite a coup in offering the Cartlidge & Brown Zinfandel. This wine not only won a Gold Medal at the prestigious California State Fair, it was also honored with a Best of Region award and finally the Best Zinfandel in California. Boy, was our phone ringing off the hook. No, it wasn't from our members since you didn't know about it yet. It was from the winery wanting to buy it back! Bad news for them. Great news for us!
We have always enjoyed the great wines from the Gascogne region. The forward fruit flavors are totally ingratiating and match with so many dishes. The Domaine du Rey is easily the best one we've ever encountered. After tasting it I almost tripped over the cord while racing to the phone to order it.
And finally, in order to keep us on our toes, we asked Ed Masciana to come with a very unique recipe. Having Zinfandel with salmon certainly fills the bill. And what better Zinfandel than that luscious Cartlidge & Browne?

Domestic Selection

In 1980, a young Englishman, Tony Cartlidge, and retired American financier Glenn Browne made their first wine together and the Cartlidge & Browne label was created. Those 1,200 cases of Napa Valley Chardonnay sold in less than a month and this success encouraged the partners to continue working together, with winemakers Paul Moser and Don Spirlock. A reputation for consistent quality and value was soon established. In 1982 a second label called Stratford was introduced and the choice of such an English name proved auspicious. The 1990 Stratford Zinfandel made by this award winning team was chosen as "Red Wine of the Year" from among 5,300 entrants at London's 1992 Wine Competition, a prestigious event sponsored by the British magazine "Wine." In the Spring of 1993, the company found a new home in the historic Bernard Ehlers building built in 1886. Six months of careful and extensive restoration have brought this classic structure back to life. Zinfandel is the only grape grown in California which is truly "Californian." Except for possibly the Primitivo, grown at the heel of the boot in Italy's Apulia region, there doesn't seem to be any grape like it in the the world. We have no way of knowing, but it could actually be indigenous to California. It grows so well here and exhibits so many personalities that it's hard to imagine it growing better anywhere else. Zinfandel was made light, heavy, Port-like, rosé and even white. It lost its unique identity as an enjoyable, food-friendly alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon. Fortunately that situation has changed dramatically. With the price of Merlot and Pinot Noir soaring, many of us are rediscovering the pleasures of this extremely flavorful wine. The grapes primarily come from one of the oldest Zin areas in California, Lodi, near Sacramento. I Rich, ripe strawberry elements with soft vanilla components from the American and French oak aging is what accounts for this being one of the top wines around.
Zinfandel, 1995 Cartlidge & Browne
Big, ripe and rich flavors featuring deep strawberry jam and vanilla components with a whopping finish. At first taste it seems like it's going to be a mouthfull, but it mellows out beautifully. Try with salmon dish on page 6.
While wonderful now, will certainly improve. Serve cool.

Imported Selection

Domaine du Rey is in the heart of Gascogne in the Southwest part of France. This 89 acre property has been in the family of vintner Guy Arrouy since 1780. The region boasts a warm climate for guaranteeing grape maturation and fine soils which extract flavor-enhancing nutrients to the grapes. Vin de Pay de Cites de Gascogne is a relatively new appellation in France. The term "Vin de Pay" translates into "Country Wine" and is far superior to the designation "Vin de Table." The Vin de Pay designation was first introduced in 1964 and refined several times until 1979. That's when they finally came up with the law as it stands today. Basically, the idea was to encourage growers in areas like Gascogne to plant better varietals and handle them more carefully. France's wine consumption was declining. It was feared that the producers at the bottom of the chain would cease to exist unless they made less quantity and higher quality wine. The Vin de Pay appellation created a higher quality designation giving growers a higher, but attainable, standard to shoot for. The law did exactly what it set out to do. By cutting down the yields and practicing better techniques, like cold fermentation to accentuate fruit, this area is turning out wines to rival most of the more expensive regions. Wines like this, while still quite reasonable, are better than ever. Gascogne is in the region of Armagnac where one of the finest brandies is made. Still wine was always produced here, but never attained the reputation of Armagnac. Thanks to the new designation the wines of Gascogne are coming into their own. The grape make-up here is 70% Colombard and 20% Ugni Blanc (also known as Trebbiano in Italy) and 10% Gros Manseng. The Colombard accounts for the floral fruit which is apparent from the very beginning. The Ugni Blanc provides a touch of acid for the snappy finish and the Gros Manseng accounts for the perfume and an extra dash of structure. All-in-all a fine blend.
Cotes de Gascgogne, 1995 Domaine du Reu
Coat deli Gas GHONE-yeh Doe-MAIN doo Ray
Lively, piquant flavors of kiwi and melon with touches of citrus. Wonderfully crisp finish to handle shell fish or sandabs lightly floured and sauteed in butter and served with capers and lime juice.
Terrific right now. Will hold another year. Serve chilled.

Member Inquiry

"Paul, We've heard about the fine wines of France, Germany and Italy. What other countries produce fine wines?"
S. A., Costa Mesa, CA
Here are a few worth seeking out. Spain has more grapes planted than any other country. It is third behind Italy and France in terms of production because the soil and climate generally produce lower yields than the other two. Spain's superb reds from the Rioja and Catalonia can rival any country in all fields except recognition. It is best known for the unique Sherries produced in the southwest part of the country.
Australia began its forays into wine at about the same time as California. Even without the scourge of Prohibition, Australia lagged behind in the making of fine wines at the expense of inexpensive jug and bag-in-the-box offerings. Its vineyard sites, all in the Southern half of the country, are reaching their potential for producing as fine a wine as any other country. The Syrah based wines, labeled Shiraz, as well as many fine Cabernets and Chardonnays are finally getting worldwide attention.
South America has made some of the biggest strides in fine wine by far. Chile and Argentina have been legitimate producers for hundreds of years. The intense interest, especially from major French and American companies, makes one excited about what the possibilities will be in the next century.
South Africa began its wine industry when it was colonized by the Dutch in the late 1600s. Because of sanctions to the country due to its apartheid policy, South African wines ceased to be imported into the US in the mid 1970s. South Africa has one of the most temperate climates on Earth and many of its producers have been around for hundreds of years. Be prepared for superb wines from places like Stellenbosch and Paarl to sit proudly along side those from Napa, Santa Barbara, Chianti and Burgundy.

Adventures in Food

This is a dish that's all about subtle contrasts. The velvet soft salmon forms a lovely, yet complementary, contrast to the acids in the sauce. The richness of the fish combines with the exotic ginger and spicy pepper as well as adding a splash of bold red and orange colors. Note how the Zindfandel reacts to the flavors of seafood, salt, ginger, pepper, and the honey/vinegar elements in the wine sauce.
The Sauce:
3 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 cups dry red wine (like Cartlidge & Browne Zinfandel)
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp. butter
Salt to taste
Saute the onion in butter or olive oil. Add the red wine. Reduce to about one third, add chicken broth, reduce to about half. Add honey and balsamic vinegar. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of butter on the lowest heat possible, being careful not to melt the butter fully, and allowing it to incorporate into and thicken the sauce. Adjust salt to taste.
The fish:
2 lb salmon fillet, with skin, about 1-1/4 inches at the thickest part
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp. crushed whole black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Let salmon sit out for at least an hour to come up to room temperature. Place ginger and pepper on wax paper. Generously coat sides and top of salmon filet with melted butter. Roll salmon in ginger and pepper. Place skin-side down in shallow glass baking dish. Bake 10 minutes in pre¬heated 400° oven. Remove fish from oven immediately, pour sauce over it and serve.
Serve with green vegetables to bring out the bold colors of the salmon and the red sauce. A few slices of zucchini cut on the diagonal and stir fried is an easy choice. Spinach or green beans work wonderfully as well.

Earlier Selections

Guaranteed Available DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER REORDER PRICES TOTAL #797A Zin., '95. Cart. & Browne "Ripe cherries, vanilla and spice." Reg. Price $7.99 25.03% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
#797B Cot. Gasc., '95. Dom. du Rey "Clean, crisp kiwi and pear blossom." Reg. Price $6.99 20.00% disc. $59.88/case $4.99/each
#697A Trebbiano, '94. Ivan Tamas "Pear and apple scents." Reg. Price $6.99 20% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
#697B Metlot, '94. Santa Etna "Up-front fruit, great finish." Reg. Price $7.99 20% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
#597A Cab. Sauv., '93. Dave Nichol "Rich, full-bodied flavor of cassis." Reg. Price $7.99 25% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
#597B Chardonnay, '96. Arunda "Big, pineapple fruit and oak." Reg. Price $6.99 20% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
#497A Sauv. Bl., '95. Concannon "Clean, herbal scents and figs." Reg. Price $6.99 20.% disc. $67.08/case $5.59/each
#497B Minervois, '95. Gard. de Sous "Black fruits with truffles." Reg. Price $7.99 20% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
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