1986-12 December Classic Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 218 Rejected: 163 Approved: 55 Selected: 2


Again this Holiday Season, I welcome a large group of members who joined the club since last December. To you... a point of information is in order.

Traditionally, for 15 years now, the club selections for December have been festive wines. Each year I have selected a sparkling wine and a fortified wine for the Holidays. The sparkling wine for New Years eve, and the fortified wine as a change of pace for a Holiday toast.

The sparkling wine this year launches the removal of my ban on Italian wines. (since the Italian wine scandal in early 1986, I have held back on their wines!). Our selection shows what versatile winemakers they are.

The fortified wine is a real treat. A truly American wine from the preference point of view!… and if we were living in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Despite the reputation of this wine in the cooking arena, it makes for a good sipping wine.

To you and yours, at this Holiday Season, my best wishes of good health and good times.

======================== = INSIDE… = = Madeira, nv. 3 Islands pg.2 = = Shiraz/Cabernet,'84.Pnfld pg.3 = = My Tasting Notes pg.4 = = Member Inquiry pg.5 = = WOMC Cellar Notes pg.5 = = Adventures in Eating by R pg.6 = = Wine order form pg.7 = = Gift order form pg.8 = =============================== Membership in the Wine of the Month Club is open to anyone with an interest in and an appreciation for fine wines...and excellent wine values. Membership is FREE. For info, write: The Cellarmaster Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde, CA 90274. (213) 534-1980



Everything about this wine is so unique, so unusual...

First of all, our selection is labeled Madeira. This is unique because Madeira is a small island off the coast of North Africa near Morocco. So, naturally it is not a "true" Madeira.

Secondly, it comes from an island. An unusual one. . .in Ohio! The Lonz winery was built in 1884 on Bass Island on Lake Erie. Bass is one of three islands which are close together, thus the name, "3 Islands."

Lonz Winery is the dream of one of the most fascinating characters in the wine industry, Bern Ramey. Author, lecturer, enologist and marketing whiz extraordinaire, Bern was, for years, the marketing director for Paul Masson. He was, coincidently, born on Bass Island just a few yards from the winery. How's that for a unique history?

He has long been a devotee of Madeira, boasting one of the largest libraries of books written solely about it. (A total of nine!) The opportunity to make his favorite wine from a winery on the same island of his birth was just too much for Bern to pass up. The history of the "real" Madeira is similarly fascinating.

According to our expert, Ramey, Madeira is one wine that is uniquely American. To the colonists, Madeira was a staple of life. John Quincy Adams confessed to drinking it "at a great rate" during the days of the continental congress. George Washington ordered it by the cask. Benjamin Franklin commented, "If it came to a choice between giving up Madeira and celibacy, I should probably be inclined to give up the ladies." And Thomas Jefferson filled his cellars with it and once claimed a barrel on an expense account! Some things never change.

Back then, however, Madeira was a coarse wine made from Portuguese grapes. It seems that the long voyage to the colonies necessitated that the wine be kept in the ships underbelly where the temperature could get up to over 100 degrees. This heating of the wine while still in the oak cask actually improved the flavor, giving Madeira its nutty, almond extract and slightly caramelized flavors.

Most likely, an enterprising ship captain added brandy to bring the alcohol level to a point where it wouldn't spoil during the journey. And so, by guess, by golly and by necessity Madeira was "Invented."

Most of the grapes for our Madeira came from the 400 acre estate or Bass Island. The rest came from California making this truly ar "American" wine. It's character results from the authentic manner in which it is produced. After the base wine is made (this is a blend of Colombard, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Blanc and flor sherry) it is stored in 92 gallon American oak casks and very gradually heated from room temperature to 105 degrees for six months.

The color is a dark amber with golden edges. It has a round bouquet, full scents of toasted almonds, caramel and a hint of orange peel. The taste is rich, enveloping all the aromas. While slightly sweet it car be served before dinner as an aperitif or after a light dessert (or try it as a lo-cal dessert all by itself.) Serve at cool temperature, not cold.

Cellaring Notes: Ready for drinking now. Will keep well after opening. #1286A Regular Price: $6.45/750ml Member Reorder Price: 23%disc. $4.95/each $59.40/case



Cavit is a consortium of wine growers representing 15 cooperatve cellars in the northern most region of Italy, the Trentino-Alto Adige. (Pronounced "Adijay.") 5,000 vinegrower members account for over 70% of the entire Trentino wine production.

The name Cavit is actually an amalgam of two words: Cantina (meaning cellar) and Viticoltori (meaning vinegrower). Cavit was established to develop and improve the quality standards of the vineyards in the Trentino area. In essence, it is the "Vinegrower's Cellars." Their oenological technicians maintain contact with the 5,000 vinegrowers throughout the growing season and at harvest time. The entire winemaking procedure is overseen by these technicians guided by their oenological institute.

If it sounds like a big operation, it is. Besides being the biggest operation in Trentino, the co-op boasts the largest automated bottling line in the country, capable of bottling over 2,000 cases per hour! They have to. With a production of over 7 million cases it takes 11 months to bottle all the wines working an average of 80 hours a week! The co-op bottles for many producers. However, the best lots go under their own Cavit name.

Fortunately, Cavit belies the notion that "big is bad" The heart of the system is still 5,000 small growers (with less than 2.5 acres each ) who have been given a guaranteed sale of their grapes as long as they do not sacrifice quality for quantity. This has greatly improved the chaos that was once rampant in the area. Trentino-Alto Adige now commands a level of respectability worldwide which it didn't have in the past.

Trentino-Alto Adige is known for its beautiful Dolomite mountains and characteristic vineyards. The average temperatures and soil here are similar to those of Burgundy, making it a natural for the Burgundian grapes to flourish, particularly chardonnay. It is this chardonnay which forms the base wine for our selection.

Sparkling wines are made by any one of several methods. There is the "methode Champenoise" which is literally the "Champagne method" of fermenting the base wine in the bottle in which it will eventually be sold. This is a very expensive, labor-intensive procedure.

Another very effective method, yet considerably less in cost, involves conducting the second fermentation (which produces the bubbles) in a large container and transferring the sparkling wine to smaller bottles. When this method is conducted under pressure none of the bubbles escape and resultant sparkler is lively and effervescent.

This Chardonnay Brut certainly was made in this manner and certainly qualifies as lively! The color is a pale yellow with gobs of small bubbles all over the place. The nose is very clean with the barest hints of some toasty, yeasty aromas and fresh green apples. The taste is clean and crisp with those round, toasty flavors coming through to the end and beyond. Try with smoked oysters, caviar or pate. Serve chilled.

Cellaring Notes: Sparkling wines do improve with age and this one should hold for at least two or three years. #1286B Regular Price: $8.39/each Member Reorder Price: 24% disc. $6.39/each $76.68/case


MADEIRA, 3 ISLANDS, LONZ WINERY Date Tasted: _______________________________________________ Color: ____________________________________________________ Nose: ____________________________________________________ Taste: ____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Tracking Notes: Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ CHARDONNAY BRUT, CAVIT Date Tasted: _______________________________________________ Color: ____________________________________________________ Nose: ____________________________________________________ Taste: ____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Tracking Notes: Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________


"I was considering making posters from the labels on the bottles of my favorite wines. The only trouble is, I haven't been able to remove the labels from the bottles without destroying them. Do you know a sure fire way to accomplish this: I could really use some tips." L. K, La Mesa, CA

This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Unfortunately, there are no "sure-fire" ways of removing labels from wine bottles so that they can be re-used as art work.

First of all, you should be aware that there are two different kinds of glue which most wineries use. There is a water-base which goes on easily and, since it is water soluble, comes off easily as well. This works great for label collectors, bad for restaurateurs. If a restaurant still practices the mediaeval custom of taking an already chilled bottle of white wine and plunging it into an ice bucket, the bottle will a) numb what ever taste it had due to the icy temperatures and b) lose its label in the process because of the glue.

So, the wine label chemistry department came up with another water-based glue which stays on even if the wine is plunged into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. This was great for the restaurateur, bad for the label collector, and not too hot for the winery, either. Using that glue at the winery is a very troublesome procedure and makes it hard on the workers.

For both these types of labels adding a tablespoon of ammonia to a bucket of luke-warm water and soaking for at least an hour should do the trick. The label has to get soaked completely through in order to be removed. But, it s not a guarantee. If you meet resistance, after this soaking, then the single-edged razor blade has to come into play! Keep some fresh single-edged blades on hand for this purpose. Lay the bottle with the soaked label on a towel so it does not slip while you are performing the surgery. Work the blade under the label, from the side, along the straight edge of the bottle, and lift gently as you penetrate the blade between the label and the bottle. Keep progressing until you've scraped the label off.

A small percentage of labels are fixed to the bottle with rubber based adhesives. If you suspect this, even the razor blade technique can become futile sometimes.

If all else fails, write the winery and ask for some sample labels. Most are very accommodating. Happy bathing!

W O M C CELLAR NOTES================================

A report on how previous Wine of the Month Club Selections are faring with age. Obtained from actual tastings of wines under cellar conditions and/or vintner, importer or wholesaler surveys.

Dec 1982. R. Brut De Noir, Codorniu. '79. Fruit lost. Use up. W. Cabernet Sauvignon Port. Beringer. Outstanding.
Dec 1983. R. Fino Sherry, Savory and James. No Change. Will not improve. W. Champagne Brut, Hans Kornell. Still some fruit. Use up.
Dec 1984. R. Llords & Elwood Port, No change. W. Gratien Brut, Not for ageing. Use up.
Dec1985. W. Armagan Brut.D'Agostini.Holding up well. Should use. R. No.28 Sherry.Duff Gordon. No change.Will not improve.


Few in history enjoy the luxury of immortality. Thomas Jefferson, a man of phenomenal talents, vision and interests is one of them.

Recently, a bottle of Chateau Lafite was auctioned at Christies, presumed to have come from Jefferson's cellar. After his return from France, he was said to be so "Frenchified" that he abjured his native foods.

Throughout his public career Jefferson promoted wine consumption, ordering fine wines from Paris, Bordeaux and Italy. He even helped stock the cellars of five presidents.

A group of wine lovers recently decided to host a dinner honoring Jefferson using his recipes. A chef was commissioned and the search was on to locate them. Very few adjustments had to be made in his recipes, for Thomas Jefferson seemed to have been a very modern man.

He was much more interested in vegetables than meat, and continually sought out new varieties. Lightly steamed vegetables dressed in olive oil was a favorite.

Spaghetti and macaroni were favorites of Jefferson, and his secretary brought back a spaghetti machine for him from Italy.

A few cookbooks have recently been published with recipes from Monticello and various food magazines have featured recipes from the Jefferson household.

My curiosity has now been peaked and I know the New Year will find me researching my old by Rosemarie issues of magazines to cook-up some Jeffersonian fare.

This Is a Cranberry-Bourbon relish used by the Jefferson Family during their holiday feasts. It is also good with pate, cold or smoked meats. This can be prepared several days in advance and kept refrigerated.


1 cup bourbon (use a smooth one)
1/4 cup minced shallots or onion
1 package (12 ozs) fresh cranberries
1/4 cup marmalade
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Grated zest or one orange

1) In a small, non-corrodible saucepan, combine the bourbon, shallots and orange zest. Bring to boil over moderate heat, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bourbon is reduced to a syrupy glaze on the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes. 2) Add the cranberries, sugar and marmalade. Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer, uncovered, until most of the cranberries have burst open, about 10 minutes. 3) Remove from the heat and stir in pepper. Cool and refrigerate. This is not sweet, so be prepared for a tangy flavor that lets the cranberry stand on its own.

And thanks for being such loyal, pleasant, and kind readers. Rosemarie

For free membership information write or call Wine of the Month Club® Adventures in Wine Since 1972 by The Cellarmaster P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 534-1980 Item # DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER REORDER PRICE TOTAL
1286A Madiera, 3 Islands, Lonz Winery Reg. Price $6.45 23% disc. $ 59.40/case 4.95/each
1286B Chardonnay Brut, Cavit Reg. Price $8.39 24% disc. $ 76.68/case 6.39/each
1186A Pinot Noir, 1985, Clarion Reg. Price $6.49 23.7% disc. $ 49.40/case 4.95/each
1086A Chenin Blanc (Dry) '84 Sn. Jn.Crk. Reg. Price: $5.50 20% disc. $ 52.80/case 4.40/each
1186B Chateau d'Ardennes, 1985, Graves Reg. Price $8.39 22.5% disc. $ 78.00/case 6.50/each
1086B Gran Coronas, 1981, Torres Reg. Price: $9.49 21% disc. $ 90.00/case 7.50/each
MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 SUBTOTAL SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.50; 6 bottles $5.00; 12 bottles $7.50 6.5% Sales Tax □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. SHIPPING □ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express ____________________________________________________ TOTAL Card # Expiration Date _______________________________________________________________________________ Name (Print) Signature _______________________________________________ We are unable to ship out of California due to Alcoholic Address Beverage laws. Recipients must be 21 or older. _______________________________________________________________________________ City State Zip ¬_______________________________________________________________________________ Phone (Home) (office) (See reverse side to order wine gifts)


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MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 SUBTOTAL SHIPPING CHARGES: Gift#1: $2.50; Gift#2: $5.00; Gift#3: $7. 50 Gift#4: $10.00; Gift#5: $15.00; Gift#6: $30.00 6½% sales tax (*$2 gift wrapping charge included). SHIPPING □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. □ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express TOTAL _____________________________________________ THANK YOU FOR YOUR ORDER! Card # Expiration Date _______________________________________________________¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_______________________________ My Name Signature ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_______________________________________________________ City State Zip ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone (Home) (office) We are unable to ship out of California due to Alcoholic Beverage laws. Recipients must be 21 or older. Please ship Gift # _________ To: ___________________________________________________________________________ Name _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Address City State Zip Special note on gift card: ___________________________________________________________________________________ (Attach another sheet of paper to list other recipients)