1989-07 July 1989 Newsletter

July 1989 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 219 Rejected: 179 Approved: 40 Selected: 2

How small is a small winery? Short of home winemaking, the wineries that are commercial enter¬prises must make and sell at least 3 to 4 thousand cases to come out OK financially, and at that, their wines must command a good price. Well, our California selec¬tion, is a commercial enterprise with love of "labor" thrown in! T.K.C. only makes 1500 cases a year, of one kind of wine, and... what a wine! The owner does have a primary job... owning and oper¬ating a winery is his second job. I hope he continues this dedication. This wine is one of those discover¬ies... and, notice the gold medal.

For the white wine, I take you to France; and, right in the heart of Burgundy, would you believe, we uncover a wonderful wine that was made near Bordeaux! Despite the rivalry of these two regions, they seem to get along pretty well. What matters is: how good is the wine? For the price, it is a super buy, and it is an exercise in learn¬ing what a good white Côtes de Duras is supposed to be like.

A votre santée!


Zinfandel,'84.T.K.C. Pg. 2
Côtes de Duras,'87.Bichot Pg. 3
Member Inquiry 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. FAX (213) 534 8482 (213) 534-1980


This zinfandel comes from a zinfandel specialist. He is one of very few California winemakers who prefer to produce only one kind of wine. In the case of Harold Duffer, his love is zinfandel. But he has more loves than that... he loves his winery in Plymouth, Cal-ifornia, enough to commute 487 miles, about twice monthly, or more often, from his home in Chi¬na Lake, in Southern California... and he loves his three daughters, after whose initials he named the winery: T.K.C. for Tierre, Karina, and Courtnay.

His profession is that of an aerospace engineer, but his secon¬dary profession has become that of an enologist. You see... he was puttering with home winemaking for a while, and decided to go at it seriously, so he wrote to the Uni¬versity of California, Davis, ask¬ing for a copy of the curriculum for a degree in enology. What they sent him included a copy of the textbook list. He ordered the books and started reading.

Why specialize in red Zinfan¬del? (after all, that is not the grape that is setting the red wine world on fire!... despite the fact that White Zinfandel has creamed all other wines in popularity). Simple: Harold loves red Zinfandel.

So what is this grape?

It is a one that grows very well in California, and particularly so in Amador County. It is said to have origins from Yugoslavia, Hunga¬ry, and around Bari, Italy. The vines from the latter location have been proven to be identical to our vines. However, only in Califor¬nia, to my knowledge, is the wine offered as a varietal. It is a versa¬tile grape, with the ability to pro¬duce light red wines, bold red wines, late harvest wines, and of course since 1972, white (or blush) wines that have captivated the beginner wine-enthusiasts! All these from the same grape, but dif¬ferent wine growing regions and different bent in winemakers!

Our wine is a big red!

It is garnet red in color. The nose is rich with sensations. An aroma of fruit is still present, but has started to be intertwined by a bouquet of complexities. The bri¬ary, spicy, varietal character of the grape is classic in this nose. The taste is rich, with a full soft body, and flavors coming forth as you savor. All forms of ripe berries emerge, and close with some tan¬nin. Serve at room temperature with your favorite pizza, or with Dutch Edam cheese and French bread.

Cellaring Notes: Will complex and mellow further for 2-4 years.

#789A Regular Price: $8.69/ea Member Reorder Price: $6.25/ea 28.08% disc $75.00/cs

COTES DE DURAS, 1987. BICHOT Coat De Dure-Ah

The firm of A.Bichot & Cie is well known in France and in Eu¬rope as a leading wine purveyor. They are "négociants-éleveur" which implies that they do not grow any grapes or vinify wine. They negotiate and purchase wine from different vintners, bring in the wine to their cellars, age them, blend them, and bottle them under their own label by region or by estate designation, as the case may be. The firm is run by 5th genera¬tion offspring (four brothers) of the founder.

The last time I was in Beaune, France, (the undeclared capital of Burgundy wine), where they are based, my schedule did not allow a visit to renew my acquaintance with them. Any of their recent wines that I have tasted has been here in the USA. This regional Côtes de Duras attracted my atten¬tion at their American distributors trade tasting. Here is an excellent version of this type of wine from a negociant who is based in a differ¬ent wine growing region.

The Côtes de Duras region is closer to Bordeaux than Bur¬gundy. It is situated about 70 miles southeast of the city of Bordeaux. Located around the town of Duras, the region is a natural extension of the Bordeaux Entre-Deux-Mers plateau. Duras wine was a favorite at the court of Francois I. It is said that, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the exiled Hu¬guenots of Gascony had wine sent from Duras to their refuge in Hol¬land, and that they marked with a tulip each row of vines that was re¬served for them!

Duras is better known for its white wines, which are usually produced from Semillon, Sauvig¬non blanc, Muscadelle, Mauzac, Ugni blanc, and Chenin grapes. Our wine is made from the first four grapes listed. The different grape varieties are often vinified separately, and then blended.

Our wine is golden yellow in col¬or. It has a sweet fruity nose, with the fruit aroma well mingled with a bottle ageing bouquet of Semillon, and a hint of the Muscadelle show-ing. The taste is rounded and rich. It has a full body, and the sugar/acid is well balanced. It is dry, but not austere. Halfway into the taste, the Sauvignon emerges, and threatens to evolve into a grassi¬ness, but it holds back and closes with a hint of green. Delightful in-terplay of flavors. Serve chilled with monkfish, mahi mahi, or oth¬er seafood of your choice. Quite good solo, as an aperitif .

Cellaring Notes: It will not get better. I think it is at the peak.

#789B Regular Price: $5.89/ea Member Reorder Price: $4.25/ea 27.84% disc $51.00/case

Member Inquiry

"Paul, you refer to varietal character in your descriptions of the wines you fea¬ture. I am having difficulty identifying what you are talking about.. I can follow the other parts of your description usual¬ly. What is varietal character, and how can I identify it?" S.O. San Diego

"Varietal character is the organoleptic "character" contributed to the wine by the specific "variety" of grape used to make a particular wine. It is usually identifiable, if the wine is not a blend.

"How can you identify it?... practice, practice, practice. (Think of the fun you will have).

"Seriously... let me go back to the first part of my answer. "Organoleptic" refers to the evaluation of a wine by using the senses of sight, smell, taste and feel. (versus an evaluation by chemical analy¬sis). It is the specific color, aroma and bouquet, taste, and feel, of a wine made from a single variety of grape. Surely by now, you have detected differences be¬tween different wines made from different grapes. Some of these differences are con¬stant within a specific variety of grape. Cabernet Sauvignon has it's own varietal character, so does Chardonnay, so does Pinot Noir, and so does Gewurztraminer. (think of the significant differences in smell and taste of the varieties of apples, or better still, melons). Now... some va¬rieties of grapes have a more dominant character than others, and some have very weak and harder to identify characteris¬tics.

"Naturally, if the wine is a blend of more than one grape variety, we have a problem. It is bad enough trying to rec- ognize a variety when it is 100% from that grape. A blend starts becoming a melange of characteristics that make for good wine, but inconsequential as far as the exercise of identification varietals.

"If you want to learn how to identify these varietal characters I write about at times... open anywhere from 4 to 12 bottles of the same variety of wine, from different wineries, and compare them. Pretty soon down the line, you will start picking up a common denominator of smell, taste, and color nuances (and even feel). Ignore the acridity, the sugar, the al¬cohol contributions to the taste, plus any mistakes you find in the wines. Just con¬centrate on the similarities. Keep doing this a few times, and the bell will ring!

"Don't get discouraged. It will happen. Be sure that you use wines that are made 100% from the varietal you are stu¬dying. California wines will be good ex¬amples for this exercise, because we tend to cherish varietally pure wines!

"Trying to verbalize these "varietal char¬acteristics" is the difference between wine writers! You will find some consensus of adjectives sometimes; and they are all in the books. They are different enough that they confuse the beginner. The key is your interpretation of the commonality, and your mental notes of it... and the lat¬ter is very important. Memory is the best tool of a wine taster.

"The story of blended wines is another chapter. There are characteristics and grouping by growing regions. One does develop a familiarity of these in a similar way.

"Better yet... forget it all,... and enjoy!

"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.

July 1985. R. Cabernet Franc.'77.VllaRonche. Not worth keeping any more.Use W. Sauv.Blanc,'83.Jos.Phelps. Very near the peak. Use

July 1986. R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'82.Miramonte. Really coming around nicely.Keep W. Sauvignon Blanc,'84.Beaufleur. Starting to lose fruit. Use.

July 1987. R. Chardonnay,'84.Covey Run. Approaching a peak. Keep or use W. Mont.d'Abruzzo,'85.B.Comacchia. Holding up well.Can keep.

July 1984. R. Corvo Rosso,'85.Duca di Slprt. Hardly changed. Keep.


NEED ANOTHER BINDER? Is your present binder bulging with newsletters? Let us know, and we will ship you an empty one!

Adventures in Eating

By Rosemarie

Rosemarie is on vacation this month!

For some time now, she has been suggesting that I publish comments by our members about our program. So she relinquished her page for that purpose.

Here are excerpts from letters from you, about us!

"Thanks for making my wine tast¬ing experience more memorable.." N.H., Long Beach

"One of the fringe benefits of be¬longing to your Wine Of The Month Club is that we are more adventuresome when ordering from a wine list in a restaurant." R.T., La Habra

"...it has allowed us to enjoy many fine wines that we would not have considered otherwise." S.B., Santa Ana

"With your help we have cellared some '74 reds to enjoy each year on our anniversary. ('74 being the year we were married)". B.M., Hermosa Beach

"We have been very pleased that we have joined and I realize my knowledge and tastes are improv¬ing, even though I am ordering the bargain of the year."(Premiat) W.P., Carmichael

"I especially like the combination of a domestic and an import selec¬tion because they broaden my hori¬zon." D.H., Long Beach

"I am a member of the Limited Series and would like to congratu¬late you on some fine selections." K.W., La Crescernta

"Hi, your December selection was great -Sparkling Wine- out of sight!" B.L., San Diego

"I'll take the opportunity to say how much 1 enjoy your wine club. It's like Christmas every month." C.L., El Cajon

"...we'll be using it to toast the Bride and Groom." (on our spark¬ling wine) A.D,. LaVerne

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who writes us. The mail order business does get lonely sometimes and the words of encouragement are greatly appre-ciated. Please keep up the corre¬spondence.

PK Jr.

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

789A Zinfandel,'84. T.K.C. Reg. Price $8.69 28.08% disc. $ 75.00/case $ 6.25/each
789B Côtes de Duras,'87.Bichot Reg. Price $5.89 27.84% disc. $ 51.00/case $ 4.25/each
689A Johansbrg Rslng.'87.Frmrk Abby Reg. Price $7.75 25.16% disc. $ 69.60/case $ 5.80/each
689B Shiraz,Bin 50,'85.Lindemans Reg. Price $6.99 20.00% disc. $ 67.20/case $ 5.60/each
589A Petite Sirah Nouveau,88.Cilurzo Reg. Price $6.95 28.06% disc. $ 60.00/case $ 5.00/each
589B Orvietto Classico,'87. Bigi Reg. Price $7.99 21.78% disc. $ 75.00/case $ 6.25/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor $ 19.95/each $ 2.50Shpng

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.) or call (213) 534 1980 … FAX (213) 534 8284

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*