1996-12 December Classic Newsletter

December 1996 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 224 Rejected: 200 Approved: 24 Selected: 2

Great Beginning. Smashing Finish
It may seem like we get excited every month about our selections. Well, why not? After all, it took 200+ tries to get there! This month is no different. The La Quinta Port is a tremendous, but unfortunately sad, find. Tasting this perfect rendition and finding out that it will never be produced again is quite disheartening. On the half full glass side, at least we have what's left and it's a sure bet it won't be around for long.

Port is a terrific way to end a meal. It's been one of my favorites for as along as I can remember. The mark of a great dessert wine is that its sweetness is present for only as long as the wine is in your mouth. Once it's swallowed, there shouldn't be any lingering sugar or it's out of balance. This one is per¬fect. Have it with dessert, after dessert or as dessert.

Many of the sparkling wines from Spain are beginning to taste alike. They use the same grapes from the same area and vinify them in the same manner. Cava Dubor's use of Chardonnay in the blend is what makes them stand out above the rest. Here's a classy way to begin a meal as the Port is a great way to end it. Not a bad way to end the year, too.

To you and yours, a happy and healthy holiday. See you next year.

Domestic Selection

Port wine is one of the oldest and most revered wines in the world. It is actually a British invention by accident. As the story goes, Great Britain was a fancier of Sherries from Spain in the 1600s. When war broke out between the two counties, they had to search other countries for wine to satisfy their sweet cravings.

They chose Portugal because it was a source of inex¬pensive wine and to get back at the Spanish since Portugal borders Spain. The Portuguese wines were very rough and unappealing to the British. So unap¬pealing, that they would purchase the wine while it was still fermenting and add brandy to it.

This procedure would stop the fermenting process because the yeast cells would die off in the higher alco¬hol environment created by the brandy. The result was that the grape's sugar remained in the wine thus soften¬ing the hard edge.

The British made a science of making this new wine, called Port after its country of origin, and today it is one of the most sought-after wines in the world. They bought acres of land in the Douro Valley and contracted with the best growers to purchase suitable grapes. That's why most of the names you see on bot¬tles of Port are of British origin.

Port from Portugal is made from five or six different grapes. The most prized of the group is the rare Souzao. This is the grape that gives a perfume, lively fruit flavor and delicate balance to the finished wine. It was the main grape that was exported to California when our fancy for this wine began to rival the British.

Our selection comes from one of the oldest and most renowned vineyards in the state. As a matter of fact, a famous wine from this vineyard was packaged in a distinctive, heart-shaped bottle. Alas, the winery and vineyard are no longer with us. This bottling is the last to be produced. As with with all non-vintage Ports, this one is a blend of as many as eight individual vin¬tages. Each adds its own distinctiveness to the wine. We suggest you try it soon as we only have a limited amount for re-orders and it is sure to be a big favorite.

Port, NV. La Quinta
La KEEN-tah
Firm, ripe and expansive black cher-ry and plums wrapped around a solid core of vanilla and oak overtones. Spectacular finish and a great ending to a meal. Try with the cookies on pg. 6
Perfect now, but will easily hold for another 5-10 years. Serve cool.

Imported Selection

As it has been our custom for almost 25 years, our second selection for this holiday season is a sparkling wine. This beauty is from Spain's Catalonia district in the Northeast near Barcelona. Spain is the largest producer of sparkling wine made in the Method Champions in the world. With Champagne prices climbing out of sight, consumers are looking to Spain for beautifully-craft¬ed, flavorful and affordable sparklers.

The sloping hills and temperate climate provide ideal growing conditions here. The principle grape used here is Macabeo. It may not be a household word to most of us, but the fact is, it is one of the most ubiquitous grapes in the world. When grown in its homeland, here in the Northeast corner of Spain, it produces an aromatic wine with stinging acidity. In other words, the perfect stuff for sparkling wine.

Cava Dubor is a prestigious producer here which was founded over 100 years ago and was, until recently, owned by the giant Italian Vermouth and Spumante producer, Martini and Rossi. When M&R was purchased by a French firm, they sold their interest in Dubor to Bodegas Berberana, an excellent producer of wines from the Rioja region of Spain. And so, our selection is back in the hands of its countrymen. Bodegas Berberana has had a long and successful history of producing regal and elegant wines from the Rioja. It is considered Spain's most important wine region.

One of the things which separate Dubor from many of its peers, is the addition of Chardonnay in the sparkling wine cuvee. Highly prized in Champagne and California, Chardonnay is almost unheard of in Spain. Yet it is the Chardonnay in the blend which gives the dis¬tinctive grapy aroma and flavor. It is also the Chardonnay which adds body and complexity to the mix.

The distinctive aroma of pear and apple are expanded upon by the crispness and tang in the finish. Perfect with oysters on the half shell with a squeeze lime.

Brut, NV. Cava Dubor
Kava Doo-BORE
Clean and lively flavors of pear and apple with a citrus twist. Very dry, yet flavorful offering a snappy tart finish to match with any authoritative appe¬tizer.
Perfect now. Should hold for another year or two. Serve chilled.

Adventures in Eating

Some foods match with certain wines and vice versa. For me there are only a few matches truly made in heaven. Port and chocolate is one of them, but almost any cookie will do. Dipping cookies into port while sitting in front of a fire during the holidays is one of those little pleasures that is hard to beat.

There is no better time for cookie baking than during the holiday season. They're quick and easy to make and are our favorite accompaniment to a great glass of Port. Here are two of our favorites.

1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brandy (you can use Scotch if you have no brandy)
1 whole egg
1 6 oz. pkg. mini-chocolate chips (you may use large chips or other flavors if you like)
2 cups sifted flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar with brandy until light. Beat in egg , salt and flour and mix well. Add chips and drop by teaspoonful on ungreased cookie sheets and bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. These cookies disappear very quickly so I would advise you to make 2 batches.

The best time to make these is at night since you need to leave them in the oven for about 8 hours to get crisp.
2 large egg Whites
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup pecans
1 cup mini-chocolate chips

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Using a teaspoon, scoop up mix¬ture and drop on parchment or foil lined cookie sheet. Place in preheated 350 oven and turn off heat. The next morning, remove sheet from oven, and peel cookies off the paper. You can store them in an air-tight container or tightly-wrapped cellophane bag for two weeks. Makes about 3 dozen. Both cookies will freeze well although the Egg White Cookies will have a shorter life span in the freezer than the chocolate cookies.

Earlier Selections

Guaranteed Available DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER REORDER PRICES TOTAL #1296A Port, NV. LaQuinta "Lush black cherry and plums." Reg. Price $11.99 45.87% disc. $77.88/case $6.49/each
#1296B Brut, NV. Cava Dubor "Tangy, crisp apple flavors." Reg. Price $9.99 36.00% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
#1196A Chard., '92. Stonegate "Green apple, oak and kiwi." Reg. Price $12.99 47.78% disc. $81.48/case $6.79/each
#1196B Cabernet Franc, '95. Brione "Ripe cherries, vanilla and spice." Reg. Price $7.49 20.00% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
#1096A Merlot, '95. Grand Cru "Ripe plums, black cherry and spice." Reg. Price $7.99 20.00% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
#1096B Sem. Chard., '94. Lindemans "Green apple, oak and figs." Reg. Price $6.99 22.9% disc. $64.68/case $5.39/each
#996A Gew., '95. Coastal Cellars "Spicy melon and peaches." Reg. Price $6.99 28.57% disc. $59.88/case $4.99/each
#996B Merlot, '94. Kinderwood "Soft blueberry flavors." Rcg. Price, $7.99 20.00% disc. $76.68/case $6.39/each
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