1988-08 August 1988 Newsletter

August 1988 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 147 Rejected: 119 Approved: 28 Selected: 2

Yep... the white wine hails from New Mexico! At last count, there were some twenty odd wineries in that state. They have some pockets of soil and climate that seem to be just right for wine grape growing. The Sauvignon Blanc from An¬derson Valley Vineyards is testimony. Of course it takes a winemaker who knows what he is doing. This one does... not only how to grow grapes and make good wine, but he knows how to fly a balloon too! Notice the hot air balloon on the la¬bel.

For the red, we go to France again, and look at a Rhone wine. The lighter ver¬sions of these wines make delightful summer luncheon wines. Easy and fla¬vorful, they do not overwhelm the organ¬oleptic senses. The 1985 vintage of Otis wine was imported specially for us. Local distributors are still shipping the 1982 vintage. They must run out of that before receiving the 19x5. Now... the 1982 was not bad, mind you; but it was not as good as the 1985. The last Cotes du Rhone I featured was in June, 1984; but, if you remember, it was a departure from the traditional style.

Summer cheers!


Sauvignon Blanc,'86.Anderson Valley Pg. 2
Cotes du Rhone,'85.Armand Roux Pg. 3
Member Inquiry - Sulfites 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


Albuquerque... Bernalillo County... New Mexico... all are foreign names to the wine world! But believe it or not, some pretty fancy wines are appearing on the wine scene, hailing from the Rio Grande!

Historically though, this should not be too much of a surprise. New Mexico has been producing wine since the arrival of the missionaries in the 1600's. The cli¬mate was considered well suited to wine grapes because of the plentiful sunshine, and cool nights. New Mexico's dryness prevents mildew, mold and other prob¬lems which hinder grapes in more humid climates.

Anderson Valley Vineyards is nestled among the cottonwoods in the rio Grande Valley, just north of Albuquerque. It was founded by balloonist Maxie Anderson and his wife Patty. At first, it was a hob¬by effort, since both of them were wine enthusiasts. In 1973, they planted a small vineyard near their home, and start¬ed making wine. Things got serious when the wines they made were well re¬ceived. One thing led to another, and fi¬nally, they hit the bullet, and established the winery as a commercial business in 1984. Following the tragic death of Max¬ie, their son, Kristian took over the du¬ties of winery manager and winemaker. His pioneering efforts in the state's new¬est agri-business earned him state recog¬nition as the Jaycees "Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year". Other than his grapegrowing and winemaking fame in New Mexico, Kris is a champion bal¬loonist. He has held seven world records, in that arena, including making this country's first transcontinental balloon flight.

Back to grapes and wine! I really liked his New Mexico appellation Sauvignon Blanc, 1986. Since the time I gave it the nod, it has gone on and won a gold, a sil¬ver and a premium award. I'm telling you... we pick 'em ok.

Sauvignon Blanc is a powerful grape. In unskilled hands, it can produce too ag-gressive, indiscriminate, and coarse wine. The soil the vines are grown in, and the style of vinification contribute heavily to the quality of the final wine. Many winemakers prefer grapes from the light¬est possible sand and gravel soils, with fermentation conditions to maintain a breath of fruitiness and ever so little re¬sidual sugar (not discernible).

Our wine is light golden yellow. It has a fresh fruity aroma with a hint of the varietal grassiness that is characteristic of dry Sauvignon Blanc wine. It is starting to develop a bouquet of maturity, with a hint of oak showing. The taste is rich with flavor, with the varietal character evident. Fruity, with crisp acid balance. The flavor of the grape explodes in your mouth in the middle taste. Overtones of melon. Closes with a lemoniness. Serve chilled with poultry dishes or with Jarls¬berg cheese.

Cellaring notes: Will mellow and complex for 2 - 3 years.

#888A Regular Price: $7.69/ea Member Reorder Price: $5.90/ea 23.78% disc $70.80/cs

COTES DU RHONE, 1985. ARMAND ROUX Coat dew rone

I have been routinely trying this wine every time I run by the Armand Roux table at trade tastings. Each time, for several vintages now, the wines have been ok, but not exceptional. Then... last fall, in the tasting room of Chateau Bellegrave, (Jan 1988 selection), Phillipe Boisredon, president of Maison Tarride Ledroit & Cie, tasted me on the 1985 version of Cotes du Rhone, Armand Roux. Wow... what a difference. For a lowly Cotes du Rhone to be this good was a revelation!

Lowly, because wines labeled "Cotes du Rhone" are at the bottom of the scale of classifications of wines from the Rhone wine growing region of France. The term "generic" is used for these wines, since they can come from anywhere in the Rhone valley. Next up the scale is "Cotes du Rhone Villages", with a source limitation of certain villages. Then the sixteen individual appellations of the Rhone, each usually hearing the locale name dominate the scene.

Rhone wines have come to the fore-front of French wine imports. Americans and Europeans have discovered that they can be an interesting change from the Ca¬bernet/Pinot Noir syndrome one can he swept up in! Rhone wines are based on different grapes. Syrah, Grenachc, Cin¬sault, Mourvedre, and Carignan are the grapes used for the red wine. Winemakers blend some or all of these grapes, to pro¬duce their personal version of wine. Our wine is a negotiant wine, which adds an¬other dimension of blending. Negociants ("negotiator", a combination of wine broker and wine marketer) will have their own standards of taste, and will select ac¬cordingly to maintain the brand.

Armand Roux was a Bordeaux wine merchant in Pauillac. He started his busi¬ness in 1842, and provided the services of his palate to the gentry of the Benelux countries and Great Britain. His tradition is continued by the present owners of the brand in Bordeaux by Maison Tarridc Ledroit and in San Francisco by Bercut Vandervoort & Co.

Let's get to the wine... All Cotes du Rhones are not alike... naturally! (isn't this the case with all types of wine!) Yet there is an underlying base of flavor that is not difficult to identify the wine as a Rhone wine. The spiciness of the Syrah, and the unique candy-apple fruitiness of the Grenache are responsible.

Our wine is purplish ruby red in color. The aroma is bursting with grenache grape varietal character, with a substrate of the syrah following. (Catch that candy apple? Textbook example!). The taste is light, dry and luscious with fruit. It has rather good body to it for a Cotes du Rhone, showing some firmness. The grenache comes first with its lighter na¬ture, then leading into a bold and dry middle of the Syrah, closing with a hint of tannin. Serve slightly chilled as a summer afternoon red aperitif, or... how about with a luncheon of taco salad!

Cellaring notes: At its best now.

#888B Regular Price: $7.25/ea Member Reorder Price: $5.60/ea 22.76% disc $67.20/cs

Member Inquiry

"Dear Paul, I have heard that sulfites are used as preservatives in wine. I am inclined to be a natural food enthusiast and avoid preservatives. I receive conflict¬ing answers to the sulfite story. Some say it is a natural product in wine, and others say it is added. Which is it?" W.O.Bakersfield

The answer is dual. Yes it is a natural by-product of wine. Yes it is added also. From the time we started using wood barrels for storing or ageing wine, we discovered that we had to keep these bar¬rels clean. When a barrel was empty, it had to be sterilized before the next use. 1 o do this, the process of burning sulfur in the barrel was invented. The sulfur fumes sterilized the wood surface, and prepared the barrel for the next batch of wine. By trial and error, chances are we discovered that barrels which had been sulfured more thoroughly, preserved the wine better. Any traces of the sulfuring process must have been responsible. The by-products of the sulfur during burning, created certain chemical entities that pre¬vented the spoiling of the wine.

One of the ways wine spoils is oxida-tion. Air, which contains oxygen, attacks some of the natural organic components of wine, and oxidizes them. The flavor of the wine starts developing a "burnt" taste, as in sherry. (Sherry is made be controlled, desirable, form of oxidation!) In our table wines, this is an undesirable characteristic. The presence of the by¬products of sulfur, in the form of sul¬fites, or sulfur dioxide gas prevents this oxidation. These compounds are anti¬oxidants.

So... we use bisulfites or sulfur dioxide gas to prevent the oxidation of wine. We have for hundreds of years and it is a part of the winemakers tools.

Now... there are traces of sulfites in wine naturally. Sulfur is a common ele¬ment, and exists in organic combination in some protein and other molecules in nature. The interplay of chemical reac¬tions that occur in fermentation and mat¬uration include the sulfur element as a natural product, but certainly not enough to act as an antioxidant.

We consume minimal amounts of sul-fur compounds and sulfites in our daily diet. For the normal person, it seems that there is no problem with the ingestion of limited amounts of sulfites.

The problem lies in the quantity. If you are allergic to sulfites, or if you have asthma, sulfites in any quantity would be something you want to stay away from Sulfites are used in food products too; particularly to avoid the browning of vegetables and fruits. People who have these conditions should be very careful with restaurant food.

Recent Federal laws require any wine that has more than 10 part per million of sulfites to say so on the label. Practically all the wine produced now has more than that much, and as soon as new labels are printed by the wineries, the legend "contains sulfites" will appear on the la¬bels. The average amount in wine is 200 parts per million, with the maximum al¬lowable of 350 parts per million.

A little confusing what?... the final analysis might be that if you have not had a problem with allergy, then you could ignore the subject. If you are the allergic type, then be very careful, and watch out for symptoms of problems and consult you physician. P.K.


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.

Aug.1984 R. Malbec,'79.Bdgs Santa Ana.Starting to lose. Should use up. W. Sauvignon Blanc,'82 Whitehall Lane. Very round and smooth. Use.

Aug.1985 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'81.Durney. Coming nicely, some complexing.Keep W. Muller Thurgau,'83.Hammel. Should use up. At its peak.

Aug.1986 R. Beaujolais-Villages,'85.Claudius Rocher. Some loss of fruit. Use up. W. Chardonnay,'84.HMR. Some oxidation. Use up.

Aug.1987 R. Pinot Noir,'83.Heitz Cellars.Has mellowed further. Ok to keep. W. Zeltinger Deutchherrenberg,'83.Brrs.Erb. Some J.R.complexity.Can keep


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Adventures in Eating

By Rosemarie

"We sat down at the oil cloth-covered table. Mrs. Shimerda ladled meal mush out of an iron pot and poured milk on it. After the mush we had fresh bread and sorghum molasses, and coffee with the cake that had been kept warm in the feather comforter."

Nowhere can you find the vivid, color-ful, homey description of how the immi¬grants newly arrived to America lived on the Nebraska plains than in writings of Willa Cather. Her bifocular study, love and observations of these settlers from Germany, Poland and Hungary (all re¬ferred to as Bohemians) gives us a flavor of the roots of the American Pioneer.

Willa Caller was born in the 1870's in a small town in northern Virginia. In 1883 her parents took their four children and moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska.

My good friend, Margie Vuncannon, in¬troduced me to Willa Cather's writings a few years ago, knowing that my daugh¬ter-in-law Lynn is a native of Lincoln, Nebraska.

The opening quote is from "My Anto-nia". A story centering on the Bohemi¬ans that lived near the Cather family. Many of these immigrants lived in caves, plastered with sod, and Willa Cather's love and admiration for them drives through all her writings. Land, people, foods, and customs were all strange to these settlers. Willa Cather graphically portrays their struggle to adjust and un-derstand the new ways.

The difficulty of communicating not only with English speaking people, but with each other was a challenge as each spoke a different language.

I was fortunate to visit Red Cloud (pop¬ulation 1300) and was given a royal tout by one of the ladies who helped found the Willa Cather museum. I was shown the house where she lived, the church where the Cather family worshipped, and even a tour of the local cemetery. The pilgrim¬age by Europeans to Red Cloud number over 7000 yearly to honor Willa Cather. Scrapple is an ingenious food invented by the pioneers to extend pork by using cornmeal, which was plentiful and cheap.


2 lbs. pork sausage
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
pinch of salt

Brown well then drain the sausage in a large skillet. Combine the cream and 3 cups water and add to sausage and heat to boiling. Add slowly the corn meal with the salt. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Put into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan that is lined with wax paper. Chill for one day. Slice and fry until brown (non stick skil¬let) on both sides. Serve hot with maple syrup and butter. "Father made it and we ate it all winter."

I loved it in a sandwich.


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

888A Sauvignon Blanc,'86.Anderson Vlly Reg. Price $7.69 23.28%disc $70.80/case $ 5.90/each
888B Cotes du Rhone,'85.Armand Roux Reg. Price $7.25 22.76%disc $67.20/case $ 5.60/each
788A Chenin Blanc,'85.Mount Palomar Reg. Price $6.63 25.00%disc $59.64/case $ 4.97/each
788B Corvo Rosso,'85.Duca Di Salaparuta Reg. Price $8.69 20.00%disc $83.40/case $ 6.95/each
688A Pinot Noir,'83.Edna Valley Vineyard Reg. Price $9.00 25.00%disc $81.00/case $ 6.75/each
688B Weingartener Trappenberg,'83.Baum Reg. Price $6.00 20.00%disc $57.60/case $ 4.80/each

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