1994-09 September Classic Newsletter

September 1994 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 156 Rejected: 131 Approved: 25 Selected: 2

The answer is: Paso Robles vineyard, whose distinction is not only fine wines, but whose invest¬ment partner is famous TV person¬ality Alex Trebek. What is the Creston Vineyards? Correct!

The Creston Vineyards, previ¬ously Creston Manor, has long been a favorite winery of mine. The proprietors, Larry and Stepha¬nie Rosenbloom, seem to be tire¬less when it comes to promoting their wines and working hard. You have probably seem them at just about every food or charity event held in Southern California. Larry and I have negotiated probably four or five times to show you one of their wines, but something al¬ways got in the way. I am proud to announce this month's domestic ¬selection, the 1991 Creston Vine¬yards Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our import selection this month is a long overdue German wine. This is a wonderful example of a wine made from a grape called Scheurebe. And for those of you who need a short lesson on read¬ing a German wine label, you will read about the pedigree behind this wine on page 3. Enjoy this 1989 Emil Hammel Scheurebe Auslese.

Salud! PK Jr.

Domestic Selection

Kab-air-naye Saw-veen-yawn

One of California's best-kept se¬crets is the Paso Robles region for vineyards and winemaking. Steph¬anie and Larry Rosenbloom knew this was the case 14 years ago when they bought the old Indian Creek Ranch, a 596-acre property of mud and ramshackle buildings. Today, it is home to Creston Vine-yards producing some of the re¬gions most noticed and awarded wines. Famous television person¬ality, Alex Trebek isn't fooled ei¬ther; he is the financial partner in the venture.

The winery and vineyards have grown out of the love and tender care of the Rosenblooms. They call themselves "...winelovers first, and then producers." Though Stephanie and Larry are the pro-prietors, each and every employee is treated like family. The objective of quality is felt throughout.

Winemaker Victor Hugo Rob¬erts (U.C. Davis oenology gradu¬ate) has been with the winery since its inception and is largely respon¬sible for the continued success and quality of the wines. He believes "...because the vines are planted on their own roots, rather than rootstock....this accounts for the intense varietal fruit character of the wines..." Credit must also go to vineyard manager Robert Vick¬ery for providing the consistent grape quality required to make wines of this calibre. (You can't ¬ make good wine from bad grapes!)

Cabernet Sauvignon is the no¬blest of grapes from the Bordeaux region of France. There, it is large¬ly responsible for the best wines France has to offer. The mainstay of wines from famous Chateaux such as Lafitte Rothschild, Mar¬gaux, La Tour and Haut Brion. Cabernet Sauvignon has a great knack for maintaining its robust characters (cedar, blackcurrant, to¬bacco, etc.) while taking on the nuances of the region where it grows. Wine from this grape bene¬fits wonderfully from oak ageing and can produce wines of great ageing potential. (The oldest Ca¬bernet Sauvignon this author has tasted is 49 years.)

Our selection this month is a classic example of the Paso Robles character. The color is dark brick. The nose is cinnamon, black cur¬rant, and vanilla. The flavors are fresh, following the nose: Cinna¬mon, blackcurrant and vanilla. The wine finishes dry with a hint of tannin. Serve with your favorite cut of beef, lamb or barbecued pork ribs. Try with an assorted cheese platter after dinner.

Cellaring notes: Great now, but should hold well through 1997.

Imported Selection

Sure-rah-bee Ous-lay-sa, A-meal

Many members of the club have been exposed to or have pur¬chased wine through a home wine-tasting party that features German wines. The wines are generally $10.00-$12.00/bottle and have such confusing labels that is hard to know what you are buying. Let's take a look at this month's import selection.

For the consumer, German wines and wine labels are hard to understand, at best. And while the American public is trying to figure what the label is saying, the Ger¬man government is changing the rules. Let me see if I can shed some light on the subject by exam¬ining the label on this month's im¬port selection.

First, the maker of the wine is Emil Hammel and Company. Founded in 1723, it is still run by direct descendants, Rudolf and Martin Hammel. Second, the wine is estate bottled, meaning the grapes were grown and the wine produced by the owner of the estate. Third, the vintage is 1989. Fourth, now the tricky parts; the larger geographic region from which this wine hails is called the Rhienpfalz (like saying Napa County), the town (like saying St. Helena, in Napa) is Besserheim, and the vineyard name is Gold¬berg. Got it so far...Let's skip down to the part that says Qualitätswein mit Prädikat;; this means ¬"Quality wine with special conditions." This is the highest order of wine designation in Germany. Within this designation is a se-quence of harvest conditions that must be identified to the consumer. Auslese tells us that the grapes must be harvest at the peak of ripe¬ness and that each bunch of grapes shall be inspected and the dead, diseased or otherwise unhealthy berries must be removed. Alterna-tively to that, if this were a Spätlese, it would only suggest that if the hunch on a whole looks good, individual berries are not re¬quired to be removed. Let me quote the book German Wines: "...their body is elegant, their flowery bouquet is unique. Scheu¬rebe wine is a specialty, and even more is the Auslese."

As you can see, this is a very pedigreed wine, one whose desig¬nations you might see at $13.00-$16.00/bottle. Let's taste it!

The wine has a golden straw color, brilliant and clear. The nose radiates apricots with a hint of flint and gravel. Nicely balanced with a flowery middle showing through. Clean and crisp on the finish. Serve with steamed fish or the honeyed chicken dish on page 6.

Cellaring Notes: Enjoy now and through 1996.

Member Inquiry

"Paul, I have been trying some of the Gold Medal wines my local wine shop has been featuring. I am impressed with some, but disappointed with a large num¬ber. Should they not all be good? What has been your experience?"
J.Y., Pueblo

Yes, they should all be good...but... there are some circumstances to consider.

Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded at wine competitions throughout the world.

Who conducts these competitions? Wine societies, trade expositions, nation-al, state and county fairs, famous restau¬rants, publications, special interest groups and fund-raising charities, etc.

How do they get the wine? Usually these entities announce the competition and send out notices to the wineries and the trade. An entry fee is usually charged. In these cases, participation is voluntary, and many wineries choose not to enter for one reason or another. Some organizations will go out and purchase some wines off the shelf and force-enter them in the competition. Special interest groups will accumulate groups of wines and judge them for personal interest reasons.

Who are the judges? In the large for¬mal events, a variety of wine-oriented people from the trade, the industry, acade¬mia, and lay wine enthusiasts are selected, split into groups of 3 or 4, and assigned a category of wines for the competition. In the smaller events, judging can he by the attendees of a particular informal tasting.

How are the wines categorized? From a very broad level of all the same color, or variety, or type, to a very clear delineation ¬of variety versus price versus sugar con¬tent. Other categories that can be judged are region of origin and age.

How do they judge them? Quite uni¬versally, they are tasted blind, by brown-bagging the bottles. There are a number of standard scoring systems that use a 5-, 10-, 20- or 100- point scale. Regardless of the scale, the judges rate the color, nose, taste, body and finish.

Are the results consistent? Emphati¬cally, No! It never ceases to amaze me how a wine can win the sweepstakes award at one judging and not even a medal at another. There are so many variables that play into judging wine that only the real cellar stars can be assured of any regu-larity with awards.

Are the wines available? Yes, usually. The process sometimes ends up as a marketing tool. So, it is not unusual for a wine to sell out after receiving multiple medals. Many of the county fairs, L.A., Orange, San Diego, etc., have wine tast¬ing pavilions where you can taste the gold medalers for a nominal charge. This is a great opportunity to taste these wines without having to buy a full bottle.

My answer... Yes...I find many wines that I do not feel are worthy of the medals they boast. However, these judgings do help weed out the bad from the average and hopefully the average from the good. It is not a foolproof system, and once the undrinkables have been eliminated, it is nice to have someone point you in the direction of something that has the poten¬tial of becoming your new favorite.

Adventures in Eating

From German Foods

When I was a film student in college, I spent 6 weeks if Germa¬ny studying German films. And on a students budget, I spent many meals in small pensions where the food was home-cooked and very reasonable. One meal the I particu¬larly remember was in Weisbaden on the Rhine river. A wonderful cook, the owners wife made a chicken dish that I have subse¬quently craved. Though as a col¬lege student, I didn't ask her for the recipe, I still remember the fla¬vors. My research has brought me to this recipe found in a German cook book. We enjoyed this meal while watching the 1978 World Cup.

Honeyed Chicken
Serves: 4
Preparation time: 2 hrs.
3-4 lb. chicken
2 tbsp. butter
I small onion, finely chopped
1/4 lb. bacon, in one piece
2 tbsp. oil
2 firm bananas
1/4 cup rice, cooked and cooled
freshly ground pepper pinch of cinnamon

2-3 tbsp. Honey
watercress garnish
Preheat oven to 375° F. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Re¬move from pan with a slotted spoon. Dice the bacon and add it to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan and leave to cool. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the oil until very hot. Split the bananas lengthwise and fry them in the hot oil, turning them once with the spatula, until golden brown. (The oil must be very hot to seal the bananas, otherwise they will absorb the oil and become soggy.) Remove from the pan. Mix the onion and bacon with the cooked rice, chop the bananas and add them to the rice mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of cinnamon. Leave to cool. Wipe the chicken inside and out with a damp cloth. Spoon the cold rice mixture into the cavity; do not pack it tightly. Truss the chicken. Spoon the honey over the chicken using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly. Cook the chicken for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced. Cover the chicken with foil if it browns to quickly. Remove the chicken and serve with garnish on a heated dish. Enjoy with a glass of 1989 Scheurebe Auslese.

Earlier Selections

Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total 994A Cabernet Sauvignon, '91. Creston Reg. Price $9.99 35.03% disc. $77.88/case $6.49/each
994B Scheurebe Auslese, '89. Emil Hammel Reg. Price $7.49 20.02% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
894A Sauvignon Blanc, '91. Korbel Reg. Price $6.49 26.19% disc. $57.48/case $4.79/each
894B Saint-Chinian, '91. Cht. Campredon Reg. Price $8.49 23.56 disc. $77.88/case $6.49/each
794A Cabernet Sauvignon, '91. Castoro Reg. Price $9.75 32.41% disc. $79.08/case $6.59/each
794B Macon-Village, '91. Phil. de Lancourt Reg. Price $8.59 26.77 disc. $75.48/case $6.29/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea. $2.50 shpng.
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