1987-01 January Classic Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 97 Rejected: 82 Approved: 15 Selected: 2


I must say it... I cannot resist the temptation to be an "I told you so-er"!

Just in the last four months, we had two club selections that were subsequently discovered by the wine judges and gold medals bestowed on them. The Jaeger Merlot 1981, and this month's Alderbrook Semillon 1985. Says something about the credibility of our club selection process! Stick around… there are more in the hopper.

The white wine this month, in my opinion, has more holding power than Ed is giving it. I think it will age very gracefully for 4 or more years. No question though, it is just beautiful now. Looking back at some of the miserable examples of this grape that I had to taste, this Alderbrook was rare find.

For you Shiraz fans, here is an another from Australia. I have not had an outstanding one since the Taltarni I featured about 4 years ago. The Australians like to blend it with cabernet, giving the final wine an interesting composite flavor. Notice they even refer to it as a claret! (which is the traditional English term for wines from Bordeaux, with basically a cabernet base). Curious that they do not call it a Rhone? Maybe because it does not taste like a rhone. Any-whoo… enjoy!!… that's what counts!

Any of you who reordered South Coast Cellars Claret or Chateau Chevalier Pinot Noir, and were disappointed because we ran out, please look at the Earlier Selections sheet. The winery discovered a few cases that had been set aside mixed with other cases. We took all they had. You may reorder as the supply lasts.

======================== = INSIDE… = = Semillon,'85.Alderbrook pg.2 = = Shiraz/Cabernet,'84.Pnfld pg.3 = = Tasting Notes pg.4 = = 1986 in Retrospect 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



•••CORRECTION: I reported in the November, 1986 newsletter that the two grapes in white Bordeaux were semillon and sauvignon blanc. I erroneously noted that the sauvignon blanc adds the flavor and body while the semillon contributes the acid. OOPS! It's the other way around.. . Oh well, you're never too old to learn or too young to admit it.•••

I still think Paul subconsciously picked this semillon so I'd never forget that point again. Most-likely not. It is a wonderful wine and a great way to start off the new year.

In 1981, Mark Rafanelli purchased a 63 acre ranch in Dry Creek Valley and went into partnership with John Grace and Philip Staley to form Alderbrook Winery. The 70-year-old redwood barn located on the property was rebuilt as a bonded winery. John directed the replanting of 55 acres to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and now overseas all vineyard operations. Phil, who serves as winemaker, is in charge of all winery operations.

The vineyards are located in the southernmost sector of Dry Creek Valley, an area influenced by the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean. Cool afternoon breezes frequently accompanied by coastal fog, alleviate the long, hot summer days. The slow maturation of the grapes helps in producing the richest and most flavorful wines.

Until recently, semillon was largely ignored by California vintners despite its wide and successful use in Europe. Its ability to handle heat endeared it to the hot climate areas because it could also produce large quantities of fairly good and inexpensive wines. However, by treating semillon with the respect it deserves, and planting it in cooler areas, one can be rewarded with a spectacular wine.

And, so you are with this selection. While we can't claim to have tasted that many semillons because there just aren't that many out there, this is by far the best.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, undergoing a long, cold fermentation to bring out as much flavor and character as possible. It was then aged in French oak before being bottled.

The color is golden. Not on the orange side like older wines, but a true yellow gold color seldom seen. As you swirl it around, thick legs slowly envelop the glass and glide back down.

The nose is very forward. Rich, full aromas of figs and melons are surrounded by spicy, vanilla extracts. The taste continues the fig and melon components mixed with spice and vanilla, but also adds some peachy, appley components. It has a long finish, very clean and surprisingly tart with nice, mouth cleansing acids.

The big flavors and pleasant acids will go extremely well with shellfish like shrimp scampi or a scallop mousse with tomato coulis. Serve chilled.

Late Bulletin: This Alderbrook Semillon went or to win a gold medal at the prestigious Los Angeles County Fair Wine Competition. We seem to do this often...pick our Wine of the Month Club selection early on…then the medals start happening.

Cellaring Notes: Although the wine has a lot of flavor and good acids, it may not hold up for more than a couple of years or so. Besides, it's so good right now, why wait? #187A Regular Price: $6.50/each Member Reorder Price: 20%disc. $5.20/each $62.40/case



Terms like Koonunga Hill, Coonawarra and Pokolbin most-likely don't roll off the tongues of wine aficionados like Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, but someday they will.

Our import selection, if you haven't already guessed, comes from "down under". . .Australia. With all the hoopla over the Australian tourist ads here it was time to find a pod wine from there.

This should come as no surprise to those of you who have experienced Australian wines in the past. Many of their wineries are much older than our California wineries.

Penfolds was established in 1844 in South Australia by Dr. Christopher Penfold, who emigrated from England, with his wife, Mary and their daughter, Regina. Dr. Penfold settled in So. Australia, wishing to make wine as a treatment for anemia.

By 1864 he was well-known as both a doctor and vintner. He died in 1870 and Mary managed the estate until her passing in 1895.

Their daughter, Regina, and husband, Thomas Hyland, expanded the business. Their sons, Frank and Leslie took the surname Penfold-Hyland in tribute to their grandparent's pioneering efforts.

Today Penfolds is owned by Tooth & Co., a subsidiary of the Adelaide Steamship Group, with interests in the food, beverage and hospitality industries in Australia.


One thing which separates Australian wines from the U.S. or Europe is the vintage. Because they are in the Southern hemisphere their summers and winters are the opposite of ours. They harvest from January through May. It's not uncommon to drink a young white wine from Australia in June of the same year when our grapes have just barely flowered! Therefore, their wines are always roughly six months "older" than ours.

vAustralian nomenclature differs from European and American in that wines can be named for either grapes or regions. Uniform regulations in each of the six wine-producing states require that any wine which is labeled with a single variety contain a minimum of 80%, and the grapes must be 100% from the vintage year if that is stated.

Our selection would probably be labeled a red table wine if it were from California. The Australians value their shiraz more than their cabernet! This native grape of the northern Rhone area of France seems to do extremely well in Australia. It is often blended to add character and body.

Our selection is a big, rich wine in the Australian tradition. Deep garnet color and expansive nose with a touch of spiciness from the shiraz. The taste has a lot of the flavor components of both grapes. Slightly herbal, green olive flavors with meaty extracts from the cabernet coupled with that marvelous spicy, peppery quality of the shiraz.

Serve at room temperature with game, or red meats like pork tenderloin braised in stock with new potatoes. (Might even try putting a shrimp on the barbie!")

Cellaring Notes: Will age and develop complexity for five years or more. #187B Regular Price: $8.50/ea Member Reorder Price: 22% disc. $6.60/each $79.20/case


SEMILLON, 1985, ALDERBROOK Date Tasted: _______________________________________________ Color: ____________________________________________________ Nose: ____________________________________________________ Taste: ____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Tracking Notes: Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ SHIRAZ/CABERNET, 1984, PENFOLDS Date Tasted: _______________________________________________ Color: ____________________________________________________ Nose: ____________________________________________________ Taste: ____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Tracking Notes: Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________ Date: _____________ Comments: ______________________________


Wine evaluated: 2259 Rejected: 1795, Approved: 463 Selected: 32

In more ways than ever, this was quite a year. There seemed to be variety and value galore. It was the first full year of our Limited Series. We have been very pleased with the wines and your response to the Limited Series.

As I looked back to view the year, I was even amazed to see the variety of different wines from different areas. Our first Limited Series selections were a classic Napa Chardonnay and an equally classic Bordeaux from the much heralded '82 vintage (have you noticed where those prices have soared to?)

We then went on a "theme" voyage featuring (at long last) a French red Burgundy matched with an equally impressive California Pinot Noir. They were followed by two superb Napa Valley Cabernets (the Freemark '78 being the oldest wine we've offered in the series to date.) And, finally, a pair of exotic blends from France and Italy.

Variety was certainly not lost on the Regular Series. From the domestic side there were eleven California selections and one from Ohio. (Those of you reading this for the first time, take note. "Ohio" is not a misprint! Although, some of the grapes in this truly "American" wine did come from California.)

There were also 5 French, 2 each from Germany, Spain and Italy, and one from South America. There were (surprisingly) only 3 chardonnays (1 Italian) and 2 cabernet sauvignons (1 from South America.) Most of the others were blends! We like this concept of getting the best from several grapes and hope to see more of it. (Refer to the most recent Limited Series selections, both blends.)

There was the irrepressible "monster find" as our Jaeger Merlot swept the judges at the L. A. Times Merlot Judging a month after we featured it! A major wine publication touted our Baum Mainzer as a best buy on the front cover two months after it was our September Selection.

Our California selections ran the breadth of the state from the highest reaches of the North Coast down to Temecula. We also featured the first wine to be produced in Orange County in almost 100 years!

In terms of unusual finds, a German Auslese from the outstanding 1976 vintage was an incredible buy at $10.95. 'The '85 Pinot Noir in the Beaujolais style from Clarion certainly was different, and delicious.

I hope you enjoyed these selections as much as we did finding them for you. It might seem difficult, but we're going to try to do even better in 1987. Cheers.

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.

Jan 1983. R. Amrone,'74.Ruffino. Still very bold and intense.Can Keep. W. Colarbard,'81. Villa Baccala. Starting down. Finish up.
Jan 1984. R. Pinot Nbir,'79.Firestone. Developing nicely. Worth holding. W. Vernaccia,'81.Ilraccianello. Losing its charm. Use.
Jan 1985. R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'77.Hill-Snith. Sole complexity.Can hold. W. Chardonnay,'82.Hamilton. Just right, at peak.Use.
Jan 1986. R. Pinot Noir,'81.AmRs.Zaca Mesa.Hardly changed.Keep. W. Chardonnay del Veneto,'84.Alvina.Less fruity. Sound.Use.


Dedicated to:

The Woman of 1987 (The cook's month off)

I was loaned "Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping" published in 1880. It was dedicated to "those plucky housewives who master their work instead of allowing it to master them."

I looked up the word plucky in the dictionary, thinking it would mean quick to act, incisive, imaginative, energetic, but not so... Plucky means a brave or courageous person.

As I quote some gems from the "Buckeye Cookery", I wonder whether all women in the 1880's were brave and courageous, or just thought themselves so?

The Woman of 1987 will chuckle when she reads the preface by the author. It clearly portrays a vision of how homemakers were regarded. The language used in this text keeps the "dainty' approach intact.

"Fortunately it is becoming fashionable to economize, and housekeepers are really finding it a pleasant pastime to search out and stop wastes in household expenses, and to exercise the thousand little economies which thoughtful and careful women understand so readily and practice with such grace. Somebody has said that a well-to-do French family would live on what an American household in the same condition of life wastes, and is in the blunders and experiments of the inexperienced. Women are slow to learn by the experience of others.

Every young housekeeper must begin at the beginning (unless her mother was wise enough to give her careful training), and blunder into a knowledge of the practical duties of by Rosemarie the household, wasting time, temper and money in mistakes, when such simple instructions as any skillful housewife might readily give would be an almost perfect guide."

The author then goes on to say that this book will solve all those problems and help the young lady become that perfect housewife. I love reading these old texts and thought it especially appropriate to share with all of you, at this, the start of 1987. One precept has not changed since 11380 and I pass the charge to all of us: "Economize time, health and means, and you will never beg."

Cheers housekeepers of 1987. We will attempt to work on recipes that incorporate nutrition, taste, ease of preparation, and ECONOMY

rosemarie P.S. From the Cellarmaster: Rosemarie, why did you assume that all the readers of your column are "housewives?" ●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●● IMPORT ANT NOTICE ●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●

Please help us keep your shipping address and credit card information current. Whenever there is a change of either, kindly drop us a note. It is hard on the package to follow you and hard on our books to receive invalid card notices! Thank you.

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
187A Semillon, '85. Alderbrook Reg. Price $6.50 20% disc. $ 62.40/case 5.20/each
187B Shiraz/Cabernet,'84. Penfolds Reg. Price $8.50 22% disc. $ 79.20/case 6.60/case
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
1186B Chateau d'Ardennes, 1985, Graves Reg. Price $8.39 22.5% disc. $ 78.00/case 6.50/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)


GIFTS OF WINE ARE PERFECT FOR: ● Thank you gifts ● Housewarming gifts ● Hospitality gifts ● Wedding gifts ● Anniversary gifts ● Congratulations gifts ● I Love You gifts ● Christmas gifts ● Business gifts ● Mother's Day gifts ● Father's Day gifts ● Forget-me-not gifts ● Bon Voyage gifts ● And Anytime gifts! All Cellarmaster gifts are guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition... gift wrapped... and with a gift card. CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS FROM THE CELLARMASTER: GIFT # DESCRIPTION QTY. COST TOTAL 1 2 BOTTLES: the 2 current club selections $17*
2 6 BOTTLES: assortment of recent selections $47*
3 12 BOTTLES: (1 case): assortment of recent selections $92*
4 4 MONTHS subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selec- tions) a month for 4 months (or every $62*
quarter for 1 year - specify gift #4Q) (8 bottles total). 5 6 MONTHS subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selec- tions) a month for 6 months (or every $92*
other month for 1 year - specify gift #5B) (12 bottles total). 6 1 YEAR (24 bottles total) subscription: 2 bottles every month for the next 12 months $182*
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)