1985-10 October 1985 Newsletter

October 1985 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 257 Rejected: 217 Approved: 40 Selected: 2


There seems to be more interest developing among California winemakers for the French Syrah grape. I keep seeing more offerings of wines made with this grape. Whatever the reason, I think it is a good development. The grape has redeeming qualities that are worth learning about. The unusual thing about this new interest is that a higher percentage of the wines I have tasted have been very good. Why? I do not know! Let it be… is my reaction. Just enjoy and do not worry about the percentages! The red wine this month is McDowell Syrah, 1981. An exceptional example.

For the white wine this month, I take you back to my Spain trip last year. I tried this wine there, liked it very much, but was unable to find a California source. Just last month, a wine was shown to me by an importer who had just taken on the line. I liked the wine again. Out came my old notes... "caramba", it was the same wine. Here it is… the first California distribution of Brigadier Miranda.





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= Syrah,'81.McDowell pg.2 =
= Brigadier Miranda,'82 pg.3 =
= pg.4 =
= One of a kind wines 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) 318-6666


In January of 1982, the Federal Government approved a petition submitted by Karen and Richard Keehn, which identifies McDowell Valley as one of the few distinct viticultural areas in the United States. The approval of this appellation came after extensive research by the Keehns which established McDowell Valley as a unique grape-growing region.

The valley covers 700 acres of vineyards, nestled in the Chaparal Mountains in the southeast corner of Mendocino County, California. Deep canyons draw Pacific Ocean air inward, and alluvial soil of gravelly/loam formations contribute to the desired slow ripening of grapes.

The Keehns own 400 acres in the valley, and have built a state-of-the-art winery facility for their winemaker George Bursick to practice the technology and art of winemaking. He is a UC Davis Masters Graduate in Enology, with an undergraduate degree in Plant Physiology. He tells me his primary focus is to preserve the quality of the fruit and enhance its complexities through subtle fermentation and cellar techniques.

The winery is a showcase of conservation and environmental concern. It is the world's first comprehensive solar winery. 600 sq.ft of solar collectors, earth berms, and other active and passive good things all add to the exploitation of solar energy by the winery.

Winegrapes have continued to flourish in this area for a 100 years. The vines from which this superb 1981 Syrah is made are 60 years old! This is the French Syrah, not the Petite Syrah. It is the famous grape of the Rhone region of France, and the notable example of Hermitage Red wine would be the "old country standard" for this wine. I must say that George Bursick has far outdistanced any of the Hermitage's I have tasted recently. In a rather different style, he has produced California's answer to a Hermitage, at a much more sensible price.

Traditionally, this type of red wine is deep purple, peppery, and tannic, with maturing ability to a kind of vegetal splendor that is magnificent. It used to be referred to, by some, as a "manly" wine. Does one dare to address it that way in today's society? Dare or not, it shows brawn and depth, throws a sediment on ageing, and develops into an assertive complexity rather than a gentle one!

Our 1981 Syrah from McDowell Vineyards has made its mark in the wine world. A gold medal at the Atlanta Wine Competition, silver at Los Angeles County Fair, silver at Orange County Fair, and bronze at Mendocino County Fair.

The wine is big, big, big. Deep purplish red in color and nearly opaque . It has a penetrating fragrant bouquet of the variety. It has berry, smoky, and unctuous nose! The taste shows a full body, soft at first, with intense fruit in the middle, then finishing tannic. It is a mouthful of pure varietal flavor that is textbook quality. It becomes austere in the mouth due to the dryness and the tannin. Serve with game, rich stews, and better still lay some away for better days!

Cellaring Notes: Will mellow with 5 to 10 years or more of ageing.

#1085A Regular Price: $9.75/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 23.08%discount $7.50/ea. $90.00/case.


Brigadier Miranda is an unconventional name for a wine. Like some other trademarked wines, it is a marketing effort by a substantial wine family to enter a related arena of wine. The ultimate goal generally being to create a label that becomes well known and easy to order.

Brigadier Miranda is the brand name for a Rioja wine from Spain. The grapes are grown and the wine is produced and bottled in the famous region of Rioja by the Campania Internacional de Vinos. The parent company is Cuff Gordon & Co., a famous sherry label of Spain. (and furthermore, they… are owned by the Osborne family, which have their own extensive sherry empire).

Now it seems that the Duff Gordon people wanted to expand their offerings in the wine world to include the premier table wines of Spain... the Rioja wines. They established a separate entity, purchased vineyards in the better section of Rioja... Rioja Alta, and built a winery. It is located in the small town of Cenicero.

Then came the need for a name! Tradition with Duff Gordon is to use historical names for their sherries. ("Nina", "Pinta", and "Santa Maria" brands, after the 3 famous ships). So they picked the name of a famous Brigadier General of the Spanish Army by the name of Jose Miranda to launch their Rioja wines. Jose had settled in town of Logrono, right in the heart of Rioja. What better association with a name than that of a national hero!

Winemaker of this 620 acre estate is Gonzalo Causape. I was impressed with his white Brigadier Miranda. He also makes a red Rioja and a red Reserva with the same brand name. Production of these modern Rioja wines is in their tenth year.

Traditional white Rioja wines have not appealed to the American palate. They are made with extensive oak ageing (up to 5 years) and develop a flat, oxidized flavor that we do not enjoy generally. That character of flavor seems to be popular in Spain. The new wave of effort in Rioja seems to be to modify the vinification and ageing process to produce fresher, crisper tasting wines. I suspect this is being done mainly to cater to the European and American palates. They are interested in exports, and they have their ears to the ground, listening to the market.

The grapes used in white Rioja are traditionally a blend of Viura and Malvasia. The winemaker will vary the proportions to please his style, and will age the wine in oak to his taste.

Our Rioja white is of the new generation. It is different in a couple of ways. It is 100% Viura grape. It has had very minimal oak ageing. (Any additional ageing has been bottle ageing).

The wine is light golden yellow in color. It has an intensely fruity aroma and some bottle bouquet has developed. The taste is crisp and lemony. Refreshing, with a full flavor. It tastes as you expect it to from the nose. Medium body. Some greenness of flavor that is complementary. Dominating element is the crispness. Serve well chilled with cream sauced poultry dishes, roast turkey with dressing, seafood prepared Newburg style.

Cellaring Notes: Mature and ready to drink. Use in '85/86.

#1085B Regular Price: $4.75/750ml.
Member Reorder Price: 24.21% discount $3.60ea. $43.20/case.


A random offering of wines that have a special reputation of being among the top wines of the world. These wines obviously have no relationship to our program directly. They are rare and costly wines for the collector, special gift shopper, etc. As our wholesalers and importers offer these on their lists, we in turn offer them to Wine of the Month Club members for that special occasion purchase, or that special gift. The member price is a deep discounted price from the regular price as a membership benefit. Use order form on page 7.


GU642 1964 750 Guimaraens Vintage Port $ 37.25 32.00
MA552 1955 750 Martinez Vintage Port $ 87.75 72.50
RE632 1963 750 Rebello Valente $ 60.50 51.50
WA802 1980 750 Warre $ 23.00 19.50
WA801 1980 375 Warre $ 10.85 9.25
WA804 1980 1.5L Warre $ 48.00 41.00
WA702 1970 750 Warre $ 42.50 35.25
WA632 1963 750 Warre $ 70.50 59.50
CA772 1977 750 Celan $ 22.50 19.25
SA802 1980 750 Sandeman $ 26.50 22.00
SA804 1980 1.5L Sandeman $ 47.95 41.00
SA772 1977 750 Sandeman $ 41.00 35.00
SA752 1975 750 Sandeman $ 27.75 24.00
SA704 1970 1.5L Sandeman $109.50 92.50
SM702 1970 750 Smith Woodhouse $ 26.30 22.95
TA802 1980 750 Taylor $ 24.95 20.95
TA772 1977 750 Taylor $ 41.00 34.00
TA774 1977 1.5L Taylor $ 84.00 70.00
TA702 1970 750 Taylor $ 61.00 52.00
TA662 1966 750 Taylor $ 67.50 56.50
TA552 1955 750 Taylor $183.50 155.00
TA482 1948 750 Taylor $278.00 232.00

Prices subject to change without notice. Acceptance of order subject to availability of wine. The status of your order will be acknowledged as soon as we receive it.


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

Oct.1981 R. Szekszardi Voros,'78. You should have finished this by now. W. Johannisberg Riesling.'80/St.Chapelle.Use up.Some Complexity.

Oct.1982 R. Babic.'79.Vinoplod. Use up fast. W. Chardonney.'81.Snma.Gundlach-Bundschu.Ready to use.

Oct.1983 R. Zinfandel.'80.Amdr.D.Bruce. Just starting to complex.Keep. W. Wormser Lbfrnstft-Krknstk.'81.Langenbach.Ready to use.

Oct.1984 R. Beaujolais-Villages,'83.Jaffelin. Use up, losing its charm. W. Gewurztraminer,'82.Austin. Just right. Start using up.

Adventures in Eating

By Rosemarie

The Los Angeles County Fair at Pomona should receive a Blue Ribbon 1st Prize for excellence. To have exhibited and been a part of the 1.4 million people who attended the Fair, and do it for 18 days, was an experience.

The Wine of the Month Club booth was located directly across from the Wine Pavillion.

A kaleidoscope of America? Indeed! All shapes, young and old, all kinds of dress, but all with the same warm feeling as they came strolling by our booth; smiling, eating, holding hands, pointing at exhibits, listening, cradling babies, and diligently having a wonderful time.

To our right, the Society of California Rare Fruit Growers had fruits to make one's mouth water. Varieties of bananas, guavas, cheremoyas, apples, etc. to entice amateur farmers to grow exotic fruits. In my garden grows a wonderful Gordon apple tree, and each day I would pick an apple and take it for our afternoon treat. Several of the apples weighed close to a pound each. Members of the exhibit were astounded and each time insisted I join the society, as they had never seen home grown apples that size. Flattery almost nudged me into signing up.

Our favorite food booth was a taco stand down the way. Yummy carnitas and fresh fruit milk shakes were pleasantly served. They also had trays of apple cobbler. Being an apple freak, I had to treat myself to the cobbler. One dollar for a generous plateful of calories. Disappointment!... it was a concoction of institutionally prepared apples, topped with a commercial biscuit-mix topping. It is apple season, and I just expected more… and you can guess the rest.

Soooo-here is my version of a quick, easy, delicious apple crisp (crumb topping versus a cobbler that has a pastry topping). Just to smell it baking fills one's desire for life!


2/3 to 3/4 c packed brown sugar
½ c unsifted, unbleached flour
½ c old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ t cinnamon
1/3 c butter (no substitutes!)
dash of salt
2 T finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Blend until crumbley
4 c apples sliced(about 4 medium) into a large bowl
3 T granulated sugar
½ t cinnaron
¼ t nutmeg
Grated rind of ½ lemon
1 t lemon juice
3 T currants or raisins soaked in brandy 30 minutes, drain
1 T flour

Butter an 8" square pan. Blend apples in the bowl with sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind, spices, flour and drained currants. Spread evenly in the pan. Crumble topping over apples. Bake 375° for 30 - 35 minutes or until a golden brown.

6-8 servings. Serve warm or room temperature with sweetened whipped cream with a tad of Gran Marnier added as it is being whipped.

Died and gone to heaven!

bon appetit

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) 318-6666

Order Form

Please send me the following:

1085A 23.08% discount Syrah,'81.McDowell Vlly.Vin. Regular Price: $9.75 $ 90.00/case $ 7.50/each
985A 20.00% discount Gewurztraminer,'84.Gndl.Bnd. Regular Price: $7.50 $ 72.00/case $ 6.00/each
885A 25.00% discount Cabernet Sauvignon,'81.Durney Regular Price: $12.50 $112.56/case $ 9.38/each
1085B 24.21% discount Brigadier Miranda,'82. Regular Price: $4.75 $ 43.20/case $ 3.60/each 985B 20.00% discount Carrascal,'77.Bdg.Weinert Regular Price: $7.50 $ 54.00/case $ 6.00/each
885B 24.00% discount Muller-Thurgau '83.E.Hammel Regular Price: $3.75 $ 34.20/case $ 2.85/each

MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.50; 6 bottles $5.00; 12 bottles $7.50 □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. □ 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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2 BOTTLES: the 2 current club selections $17*
6 BOTTLES: assortment of recent selections $47*
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other month for 1 year - specify gift #5B) (12 bottles total). 1 YEAR (24 bottles total) subscription: 2 bottles every month for the next 12 months $182*