1996-11 November Classic Newsletter

November 1996 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 232 Rejected: 212 Approved: 20 Selected: 2

Wine on the Web
This month marks another turning point in our 24 year history. When my Dad, Paul Sr., founded the Wine of the Month Club in 1972, he laboriously typed the newsletter on a typewriter in the cramped quarters of the office in his wine store in Palos Verdes. Twelve years later he had graduated to a computer with a dot matrix printer, then to a laser printer, then to scanned images, etc.

Today you can find us on the World Wide Web. With the huge interest in accessing mil¬lions of pieces of information from all over the world from the privacy of your own home, it was just a matter of time before it made sense. Now you can download the information on the Wine of the Month Club and send it to your friends via E-Mail. No envelopes, no stamps. You can also send us E-Mail (from our home page) with questions, comments or just to say "hi." We'd love to hear from you.

Our address is http: / /www.WineoftheMonthClub.com.

Our wines this month are as exciting as our web site. Finding a perfect example of a beautifully-aged Chardonnay will go down as one of the highlights of the year. The Stonegate is a gem. This Cabernet Franc from Italy is guaranteed to add a new word to your vocabulary. It's just plain yummy!

Domestic Selection

As wineries go, Stonegate is one of the oldest around. James and Barbara Spaulding planted their vineyard in 1969 in an area just west of Calistoga. Four years later they produced their first wines to rave reviews and instant success. Those early Chardonnays were a real treat. As a matter of fact, the 1975 was a Wine of the Month Club selection back in 1978.

Today, the winery is managed by their son, David. Most of the wines produced by Stonegate were, and still are, from their estate vineyard. However, since the mid-1970s, they became fascinated with a vineyard with a unique appellation. The Bella Vista Vineyard is actually in both Napa and Sonoma counties. The coun¬ty line runs right through the vineyard. David Spaulding researched the vineyard and decided that the grapes on the Sonoma side, where the rocky soil and cooler climate prevailed, were of top quality.

As a result, Stonegate's Bella Vista Chardonnay is a tight and restrained wine in its youth, but blossoms with several years in the bottle. Many California Chardonnays drink fine right after bottling and fall apart within a couple of years. Stonegate's continue to reward for many years to come.

The area of Calistoga is quite interesting to study. First of all, it is at the northern tip of Napa, cut off from the ocean to the west which could offer some relief from the punishing heat in the summer. This is where some of the richest and most tannic Cabernets come from. Yet, just a few miles west, over the mountains, you're in cool climate Sonoma where Chardonnay flourishes. This is the case with Stonegate. They grow powerful, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon at home, and classy, age-worthy Chardonnays a few miles away. Kind of the best of both worlds, we think.

Oak-infused, slightly sweet Chardonnays were the order of the day for many years. They served as a cock-tail wine and didn't match food very well. Wine has become more of a mealtime beverage. The fruit and oak is matched with acidity to complement a dish instead of compete with it. This selection has it all.

Chardonnay, 1992. Stonegate
STONE-gate Shar-doe-NAY
A lush offering with complex layers of flavor including, but not limited to, green apples, kiwi and nec-tarine. The spicy finish is liberally doused with smooth oak and vanilla. Superb with the blackened tuna on page 6. Serve slightly chilled.
Probably at its peak right now. Could hold for another year.

Imported Selection

Once again, we are very excited to present a classy wine from northern Italy. The grape may not be as familiar to you as Merlot, but in Trentino it is highly prized. It's only a matter of time before the enthusiasm catches up here.

Brione is a mid-sized producer of top quality wines at reasonable prices. The winery owns several thousand acres in 10 areas and works with 25 additional growers to meet the demand. It is owned by five people, collectively known as The Concilio Group after the Council of Trent, the town that the winery is near.

Brione boasts two separate facilities, one for white wines and the other for red. This may sound extravagant, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Whites and reds are handled quite differently. To extract the maximum flavor out of each, they need to be crushed by two different types of crushers. Whites should have very little or no skin contact, which would make the wine astringent, whereas this is a desired process with reds. They each go into different types of barrels for different amounts of time. Just having to worry about one type at a time makes life much easier.

Trentino is in the northeastern corner of Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland. When phyloxera wiped out the vineyards of Europe in the late 1800s, Trentino among them, French wines were the rage of the world. The climate of this area was more like France than the rest of Italy and more conducive to the French varietals. These facts, coupled with the worldwide popularity of the wines made the decision of what to plant quite easy.

Cabernet Franc in California is referred to as the "other" Cabernet, a reference to its more popular cousin Cabernet Sauvignon. In Italy they are equally revered, as they should be. Cabernet Franc, besides offering different flavor components than Sauvignon, ripens earlier and isn't as susceptible to fall rains which have been known to destroy the Sauvignon crop. So, besides great flavor, it offers an insurance policy as well.

Cabernet Franc, 1995. Brione
Kab-er-NAY Frahnk Bree-OH-Nay
Lively, yet delicate spice and black cur¬rant with ample cher¬ry and a touch of vanilla. Excellent fol¬low through and a soft, pleasing finish. Excellent with lighter meat and poultry dishes and especially salmon or sea bass. Serve cool.
Terrific right now. Should complex a bit with another year or so in the bottle.

Adventures in Eating

Some people may think that the idea of blackening fish is old hat. Those people should be wearing an old hat! The art of searing has been used for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. One taste and you will see that the caramelized sugars in the meat or fish take on an engaging flavor. The heat from the seasonings counterbalance that sweetness and add to the dishes' complexity.

Secondly, the blackening seals in the juices and makes the fish more succulent, assuming you don't over cook it. The most important part of the process is to take the fish off the heat BEFORE it is cooked. It will continue to cook afterwards and taking it off sooner insures that it doesn't over cook. Besides, good tuna, like good beef, tastes better rare.


2-8 oz. Tuna steaks about 1 inch thick each
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. red cayenne pepper
Or substitute 1/2 cup cajun seasoning for above
Pure olive oil (not extra virgin as it smokes too quickly)

3 medium tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped, juice squeezed and reserved)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
10 black olives, chopped
4 scallions, chopped, green only
juice and zest of 1 lemon
juice and zest of 2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
Combine all the salsa ingredients except the juice. Boil the juice until it reduces to about 2 Tbsp. Add to salsa and let meld together for at least an hour, or up to overnight. Taste for salt and pepper content.
Combine seasoning ingredients and lightly press tuna steaks in the mixture.
Put 1 tbsp. olive oil in cast iron skillet. Put flame on high until smoking.
Cook each side for about 2 minutes. The tuna will be about medium rare to rare. Remove from pan and place on the plate. Top with the salsa and serve with either of this month's selections.

Earlier Selections

Guaranteed Available DESCRIPTION QTY. MEMBER REORDER PRICES TOTAL #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 #896A Pinot Noir, '93. Mr. Chips. "Smokey, cotton candy and vanilla." Reg. Price $7.99 20.00% disc. $76.68/case
$6.39/each #896B Torrontes, '95. Santa Cecilia "Exotic kiwi and melon flavors." Reg. Price $6.99 28.57% disc. $59.88/case
$4.99/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: $3.75; 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 Charge my:  VISA  MasterCard  AmEx  Discover Exp. Date ___/___ /___ Card # ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Name (Please Print) Signature ______________________________________________________________(_______)____________________ Shipping Address Phone (Day) ___________________________________________________________________________________________ City State Zip Email Address
Mail to: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 Phone (800) 949-WINE  Phone (818) 445-8281  FAX (818) 445-8361 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 $18.00*
20G 6 Bottles Assortment of recent selections $48.50*
30G 12 Bottles (1 Case) Assortment of recent selections $93.50*
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). $63.00*
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). $93.00*
6GP 1 Year Subscription: 2 Bottles (the Club Selections) every month for the next 12 months (24 bottles total). $183.00*
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 $3.75 Gift #10G & LOG $5.50 Gift #20G $8.15 Gift #20G $14.65 S&H Gift #30G $12.35 Gift #30G $21.65 Gift #4GP $15.00 Gift #4GP $23.00 TOTAL Gift #5GP $22.50 Gift #5GP $33.00 Gift #6GP & LGP $45.00 Gift #6GP & LGP $67.00 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 (818) 445-8281 or FAX (818) 445-8361 Visit our home page: http://www.WineoftheMonthClub.com

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