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1988-03 March 1988 Newsletter

March 1988 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 187 Rejected: 156 Approved: 31 Selected: 2

We have the classic pair this month. A Cabernet Sauvignon for the red wine, and a Chardonnay for the white wine.

I was starting to hear the grum¬bles by ESP... "Let's have some meat and potatoes! These other grapes and their wines are fine... but I want to sink my teeth into the glass and feel secure and familiar!" O.K... O.K... I hear you.

My selection process is very def¬inite, yet non regimented by neces¬sity. The objective is to show you the best examples I can find in the wide world of wines. The spec¬trum is very broad (thank good¬ness... that is the fabric of why wine is so interesting... allowing wonderful opportunities for marri¬age of foods and wines) and the odds of discovering the good ones and securing them as our featured selections is evident in our tally of numbers that appear in the opening sentence of every newsletter.

I have to strike while the iron is hot... If a particular wine is show¬ing good this vintage, then the ex¬isting schedule is bumped, and a new one implemented. It plays a little havoc with our stability... but it sure brings you... the better, the unique, the interesting, and the ed¬ucational opportunities in this mar-velous world of wines. P.K.


Chardonnay, '84.Stone Creek Pg. 2
Cabernet Sauvignon,'85.Black Opal Pg. 3
Wine Terminology IV - Descriptives Pg. 4
Tasting Notes & Cellar Notes Pg. 5
Adventures in Eating Pg. 6
Wine & Gift order forms Pgs. 7/8

Membership in the Wine of the Month Club is open to anyone with an interest in and an appreciation for superb wines...and excellent wine values. Membership is FREE. For info, write: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde, CA 90274. (213) 534-1980


If you look in the national directory of wineries, you will not find Stone Creek listed! The name is part of the figment of the imagination of a mar¬keter. The fancy illustration on the la¬bel is another dream... that of the graphic artist! There is an old country term my grandfather used to use... "these advertising people are playing "mashatz" with our perceptions!" (Granps was a craftsman in Cilician Armenia, and always complained about slick advertising)

That reminds me... have I ever told you about my relative Noah? I don't think I have... We all have a mutual ancestor... a guy named Noah... who had a big boat. After the great flood, Noah opens the hatch and sees that things are looking up, and turns to his wife and says..."the waters have receded, my bones are weary, and our wine is all gone! Let us get out ." so Noah ex¬its his boat, and finds himself on Mount Ararat.... land of my forefa-thers! ... and one of the first things Noah does when he disembarks... is to plant the vine! The great book says so! Well.... the point of the story is that here is a descendant of his from the lowlands at the foot of Ararat, 247 generations removed, pursuing the vine! The pursuit, in my case, is the screening and selection of the best wines made at a fair price.

That is also the pursuit of the Stone Creek folks. They have no acreage of vines. They have no winery. They just have a good palate, and a market¬ing vehicle. They go around tasting lots of wine made by others, selecting the ones they like, offering to purchase them in bulk, and then bottling the wine under their own label.

What matters is how the wine tastes! Yes, the romance and pedigree of the source does add a lot to the enjoy¬ment, but the acid test, is the taste and the price asked for it.

So the Stone Creek people found a few thousand gallons of this Chardon-nay from Sonoma, and put their label on it. And... I found them several years ago, and pursue their selections to find the ones I like! The Stone Creek pedigree is their palate, like the Wine of the Month Club pedigree is my palate, but one step beyond.

So what is this Chardonnay like?

The wine is golden yellow. It has classic Chardonnay nose, with bouquet first of that complexity that has developed due to bottle age, then an aroma of the fruit at its heels. More bouquet than aroma though! The taste is intense, with even some butteriness at the start. Your expectations from the nose follow through on the palate precisely. Full bodied, the fruit comes in at the middle and leaves as the finish develops into a dry, rich, lingering, classical varietal taste of this noble grape. Serve lightly chilled with shellfish, or poached white fish, to enjoy the max of this flavor.

Cellaring Notes: Will complex for 2 or 3 years. Worth laying down for that long. Track it though!

#388A Regular Price: $7.75/each Member Reorder Price: $6.00/each 22.58% disc. $72.00/case.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1985. BLACK OPAL Cab-ber-nay Saw-veen-yon

The Hunter River Valley has a wine history that dates back to 1824, when a Scot by the name of James Busby immigrated to Australia. He sort of dabbled in viticulture, among other things, and ended up writing a couple of books about grape growing.

This region of Australia has gone on to establish a rather significant repu¬tation for making premium wines. It is situated about 100 miles north of Sydney, and is the northernmost pre¬mium wine growing area in Australia.

The Richmond Grove Wine Proper¬ty Ltd., makers of this cabernet, is sit¬uated in the upper Hunter River Val¬ley, west of Muswellbrook, on the-banks of the Goulburn River at Den¬man, and south of Sandy Hollow. (in case you are visiting down under!) Mark Cashmore is winemaker. His notes to me describe some very so¬phisticated technics. For example... harvesting is done at night, and dry ice is added to the grapes in the field to reduce the risk of spoilage and oxi¬dation; juice extraction takes place under a blanket of inert gas, with gentle pressing conditions.

Cabernet is an important grape in Australia, like it is in France, Califor¬nia, Chile, and South Africa. In Aus¬tralia, it is made and offered as a sin¬gle varietal, but is also popular with the Australians as a blend with Syrah, and labeled Cabernet/Syrah. Both grapes have adopted their habitat in this continent quite well. Combined with selected soils, good weather, and enlightened wine making expertise, the premium wines of Australia are challenging the big boys from France and California. Hugh Johnson, wine author extraordinaire, tells of Caber¬net Sauvignon... " the distinc¬tion to the red wines of Bordeaux, though always blended with Merlot and sometimes Malbec... is widely planted in Australia, where its wine is tough and black until a great age, in Chile where it is excellent, like a light Bordeaux, in South Africa and in Cal¬ifornia, where it is dull to very fine. All Cabernet wines gain by age in bottle as well as wood." Black and tough Cabernet wine from Australia was and still is in most cases, the tra-ditional way it was made there... the Australians like it that way. But with their ears to the ground and their eyes on exports, new Cabernet styles... lighter, fruitier, and "ready", are be¬ing made for the rest of us! Voila... Black Opal... it even says ''Export Quality" on the label.

Our wine is deep purplish red. The start of the nose is a fragrant bouquet, with some sweetness. On swirling some fruitiness aroma is released. The taste is rounded and lush. The front taste is distinct green olives... which then develops into a base of dry fruit in the middle and closes with a hint of bitterness that is complementary. A rich wine with minimal tannin appar¬ent. Serve at room temperature with a hearty beef stew, steaks, or with Ca¬nadian Black Diamond cheddar cheese and crusty French bread.

Cellaring Notes: Will complex for 5 years - track it.

#388B Regular Price: $7.25/ea. Member Reorder Price: $5.75/ea. 20.69% disc $69.00/case


One of the messages that came through repetitiously from our 1987 Membership Survey was the request for a glossary of wine terminology. So here is the continuation of series that appears regularly unless bumped by a pressing topic. When the series is complete, it will be reprinted, and appear as a perma¬nent section in the membership newslet¬ter binder.

Fortified: A type of wine whose alco¬hol content is augmented by the addition of grape brandy or grape neutral spirits, to stop the fermentation and often pre¬serve some of the natural sweetness of the wine, as in sherry and port. The alco¬hol content is increased to at least 14% and not more than 24%, usually around 20%.

Foxy: A flavor descriptive that is asso¬ciated with wines made from the native American grapes of the Vitis labrusca species. The Concord grape is a classic example. Some call this the Welch's grape juice taste!

Fresno odor: An aroma typical of high pH wines, predominantly from the California Central Valley. Bacterial spoilage becomes less inhibited in these wines. Also called "rubber boot" odor.

Fruity: A flavor or aroma that is strongly of the grape, rather than other elements. Usually characteristic of young wines.

Full-bodied: A taste feel of viscosity in the mouth, and a measure of it. A function of the alcohol content and ex¬tractives from the grape.

Fusel Oils: Some higher molecule al¬cohols that arc by-products of fermenta¬tion sometimes. Undesirable in excess, contributing off odors.

Gassy: An undesirable effervescence from due to a secondary fermentation, that occurs after bottling.

Geranium: An undesirable bouquet re¬sembling that of geraniums. A result of improper fermentation.

Grassy: A unique flavor or aroma of some wines. Not a negative, in minimal amounts... in fact sought by some.

Green: When pertains to color, the presence of the hue sometimes seen in whites wines. Also used for taste, for a flavor commonly associated with young wines made from grapes not ripe enough.

Green-Olive: An aroma associated with wines made from Cabernet Sauvig¬non grape.

Gun-Flint: A taste or smell that is of a light metallic nature.

Harsh: A condition of excessive astrin¬gency in the taste.

Hazy: similar to Cloudy.

Herbaceous: In limited amounts, an acceptable aroma reminiscent of herbs, usually present in Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignons. In excess, consid¬ered a negative, and usually due to poor winemaking technics.

Hot: A sensation in the mouth due to high alcohol. A slight burning sensation on the palate. A negative except in des¬sert-style wines.

Jammy: A fruity, berrylike aroma or taste, concentrated enough to suggest the flavor of jam..

Legs: Drops that form in the inside sur¬face of a glass, when a wine is swirled, and the effect they create when they slide down. Indicative of the body of a wine.

Long: Describes the finish of a wine.

to be continued...


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.

Mar. 1984 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'80.D.Bynum.I think it is close to peak.You try! W. Macon Lugny.'82. Has seen better days. Use.

Mar. 1985 R. Cabernet Sauvignon.'79.Terre Rosse. Fruit going, little complex.Use W. Chenin Blanc,'83.St. Chapelle. Fruit still there, but less.Use.

Mar. 1986 R. Claret, Brokers Rescrve.So.Cst Cllrs.As good as ever. Use W. Ockenheimer St. Jakobs.'76. Close to peak.S tart using.

Mar. 1987 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,Lontue,'83.Gato Negro.No change.Can keep. W. Sauvignon Blanc,'85.S.J.Sebastiani.Hardly changed. Big.OK to keep.


REMINDER If you have changed your address or your credit card #.… please let us know. It is hard to track the changes after the fact. Please write or call anytime.

Imagine waking up each morning on 70 acres of fertile vineyard, bordered by the Napa River, one mile south of Oak¬ville in Napa Valley. That is where Rob¬ert and Aurora Pepi call home. Their "home" is chateau like, built in stone and oak to match their all stone winery next door. The Pepi's purchased this paradise in 1966, and are devoting themselves to the art of wine, food, and good living.

Paul and I were thrilled when an invita¬tion came for us to visit them and tour the winery.

Robert and Aurora are the kind of peo¬ple you meet and instantly feel you have known them many years. They extend their warmth and hospitality through their love of preparing glorious Northern Italian foods for friends and family.

The Pepi family accents the importance of food side by side with their wines, and are enthusiastic about wine complement¬ing food. Their Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet wines merge in a fi¬nesse of dining pleasure.

Aurora is a petite, slender, dynamic woman, energizing her kitchen with a genuine understanding of handling food¬stuffs. We started our wine toast with a delicious brie stuffed with pesto (recipe to follow). The first course of superb home made veal ravioli was followed by a barbecued roast of beef accompanied with oven fried potatoes with fresh rose¬mary and garlic, and an assortment of garden vegetables. Have you ever eaten oven roasted garlic? Wow! Fabulous.

The garden provides much of what is placed on the table, as Aurora cans and

Adventures in Eating

By Rosemarie
freezes all summer long. She is an avid gardener as well as an accomplished chef. Robert prepared his version of french toast for breakfast...made from sliced Panettone from Italy, and topped with homemade blackberry jam.

It was time to hit the road, so we hugged, shook hands, and made promises that they visit Palos Verdes for a round of shish-kebab. We waddled to our car and sadly departed for San Francisco.

A unique, delicious, showy, and sur-prise taste sensation was Aurora's Brie cheese with pesto. It is easy to prepare, and a good do ahead.


1 lb of Brie cheese
2/3 cup, packed, fresh destemmed Basil
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 Tb. pine nuts (optional)
2 Tb. Olive oil (first-cold pressed is best. Use more if you prefer.)

In a blender puree basil, garlic, nuts and 1 Tb. oil. Add the other tablespoon of oil slowly while motor is running to emulsify the pesto. Place pesto in con¬tainer to use later. Slice the wedge of Brie in half the long way, spread the pes¬to on the bottom half, and place the top half on the pesto. Wrap in plastic and re¬frigerate. Bring to room temperature be¬fore serving with crackers. Ciao!

For free membership information write or call Wine of the Month Club® Discovering superb wines since 1972. P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (213) 534-1980

Order Form

388A Chardonnay,'84,Stone Creek Reg. Price $7.75 22.58%disc $72.00/case $ 6.00/each
388B Cabernet Sauvignon,'85.Black Opal Reg. Price $7.25 20.69%disc $69.00/case $ 5.75/each
288A Nebbiolo,'86.Martin Bros Reg. Price $8.00 20.00%disc $76.80/case $ 6.40/each
288B Pinot Grigio,'86.Bollini Reg. Price $7.00 20.00%disc $67.20/case $ 5.60/each
188A Johannisberg Riesling,'84.Cht.Jul. Reg. Price $6.24 56.73%disc $32.40/case $ 2.70/each
188B Chateau Bellegrave,'82 Reg. Price $15.88 31.9%disc $129.60/case $ 10.80/each

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 _______________________________________________________ Card # Expiration Date PLEASE FILL OUT COMPLETELY _______________________________________________________________________________ Name (Print) Signature _______________________________________________ We are unable to ship out of California Address due to Alcoholic Beverage laws. _______________________________________________ Recipients must be 21 or older. City State Zip If shipping address is different please (_____)__________________________(_____)________ write below. Phone (eve.) (day) MAIL TO: Wine of the Month Club, P.O. Box 217, Palos Verde Estates, CA 90274 (See reverse side to order wine gifts.)

Wine Gift Order Form


● 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 Wine Of The Month Club gifts are guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition... gift wrapped... and with a gift card.


2 Bottles: the 2 current club selections $17*
6 Bottles: assortment of recent selections $47*
12 Bottles (1 case): assortment of recent selections $92*
4 Months subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selections) a month for 4 months $62*
or every quarter for 1 year-specify gift #4Q) (8 bottles total). 6 Months subscription: 2 bottles (the Club Selections) a month for 6 months $92*
or every other month for 1 year-specify gift #5B) (12 bottles total). 1 Year subscription: 2 bottles every month for the next 12 months (24 bottles total). $182*