1989-08 August 1989 Newsletter

August 1989 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 186 Rejected: 155 Approved: 31 Selected: 2

It is time to do a summer wine. Long known as such, but fallen out of popularity in the last few years, the Chenin Blanc grape is possibly having a revival. (Too many were made as pop style wines, and as the discerning wine consumer kept being dissatisfied with the mediocre wines, negative reputations started developing.) When well made, in its various styles, the grape is really wonder¬ful. I have been able to assemble two classic examples of good Chenin Blanc for you. This month you receive the California version, and next month the French version. Each quite different and unique. (this is the first time in 18 years that I have announced what the next month's wine is going to be!)

For the red wine this month I have a charming St. Emilion for you. A good opportunity to see what a Merlot grape based French Bordeaux can be like. (versus the Cabernet Sauvignon based). It has some age to it and is near its peak. The '83 was a good year. A real buy for the price.

To your health!


Chenin Blanc,'88.White Oak Pg. 2
Ch. Haut Pagaud 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

CHENIN BLANC,1988. WHITE OAK. Sheh-Nin Blonk

In 1981, after two years of ex¬tensive research; Bill Myers, a for¬mer building contractor, founded White Oak Vineyards and Winery. His research involved sampling, tasting, and vinting small lots of grapes from selected vineyards in northern Sonoma county to deter¬mine which consistently produced outstanding fruit. With his find¬ings, he designed his winery to produce small quantities of wine, and hopefully, superior wine.

Myers explains: " I feel that a small winery has the unique capa¬bility to bring out the special quali¬ties of exceptional vineyards and to hand-make the best wines... the advantage of this winery is that we have the ability to isolate small amounts of exceptional grapes and express their unique potential".

Good winemaking philosophy! We've been eyeing the wines Bill has been showing... and his Che¬nin Blanc, this time around, stopped us in our tracks. We were sure he had a winner. And would you believe... just today, the Or¬ange County Fair Wine Competi¬tion announced their results... yes you guessed it. It won a gold med¬al. We discovered it 3 months ago!

Chenin Blanc is originally from France's Central Loire Valley, where it is used to produce a spec¬trum of wine styles. From very full-bodied, very long-lived dry white wines, to light-bright (and fast-fading) summer sippers, to deep and complex (not to mention fabulously expensive) cellar treas¬ures (ranked among the world's greatest dessert wines) which some aficionados insist should not even be dreamed of being used be¬fore they are 30 to 40 years old.

A similar scale is produced in California, (albeit abounding in mediocre product) with more em¬phasis on the light-bright versions. For a while, in the late 60's and through the 70's, California Che¬nin Blanc was the beginners wine. Now that White Zinfandel has tak¬en over that duty, more serious Chenin blanc is being produced. This is one of them.

A delicate, fresh, pale green-yellow color invites the taster to a nose bursting with summer fruit aromas: grape, melon, kiwi and more. On the palate, those follow through faithfully, yet the wine is not sweet (only 0.9% residual sug¬ar). Very "clean" and smooth with excellent acidity, this is a refresh¬ing summer beverage. Serve well-chilled at Sunday brunch with fruit plates and smoked salmon gar¬nished with capers.

Cellaring Notes: Drink now through 1990.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#889A Regular Price: $7.69/ea Special Mmbr Price: $7.50/ea

CHATEAU HAUT PAGAUD,1983. Sha-Tow Oh Paw- Go

The attraction of Bordeaux nev¬er ceases for wine lovers. So many good wines have been made there for so long that it provides the mainstay of countless wine lists and cellars that include French wines in their collection. (any true wine collection cannot ignore French wines!)

Some twenty miles east of the township of Bordeaux proper lies the ancient and picturesque little town of Saint-Emilion, a wealth of history and medieval architecture. By the 4th Century A.D. it was already famous for its wines. Today with 16,000 acres under vine, this district produces more superior wine than any other Bordeaux sub-division.

Chateau Haut-Pagaud in the neighboring village of Lussac-St. Emilion has been owned by the same wine making family for two centuries. The vineyard's entire production is bottled at a nearby cooperative winery facility under the watchful eye of Bernard La Croix, who is not only proprietor of the chateau, but president of the co-op as well! (Hence the unusual label designation "mise en bouteille du chateau" = put in bottle by the chateau; as opposed to the more fa-miliar "mise en bouteille au cha¬teau" = put in bottle at the cha¬teau).

The grapes which comprise the blend should please those of you who have been clamoring for Mer¬lot; two thirds of the wine comes from this grape. Known for its soft, gentle yet authoritative char¬acter, good merlot commands at¬tention... quietly. The balance is made up of 20% Cabernet Franc with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon.

As a general rule Merlot wines are more "rounded" and supple, sooner drinkable and more easily approachable and "open" than those made from the cabernets.

This wine has a jewel-like clarity (garnet) with hints of rust in the color, demonstrating its maturity. The bouquet is "warm", fruity, ce¬dary and slightly earthy - totally in character for a St. Emilion - and a great example of what Paul means when he says "complex". It is me¬dium bodied on the palate, where the taste is velvety and softly dry, as is the finish.

Serve at room temperature with pot roast, braised short-ribs, roast pork tenderloin or duck.

Cellaring Notes: Enjoy now and through 1990.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#889B Regular Price: $7.50/ea Member Reorder Price: $6.00/ea 20.00% disc. $72.00/case

Member Inquiry

"Paul, I joined the club recently. I joined because my knowledge of import wines is zero, and I would like to learn. How do I identify a Burgundy from a Bordeaux. The label does not always say so. Friends will hand me a glass and tell me what it is. I look at their bottle, and nowhere is there a men¬tion of i. on the label." L.S. Santa Barbara

1) Thanks for joining. If you do nothing else but read the newsletter and sip the wines I send you, the learning will occur by slow osmo¬sis.

2) Imports are fun, because they are entrenched in tradition and va¬riety based on the cultures they come from. And quite a few do not have American counterparts, so you would miss out on a segment of the wine world if you did not become familiar with them.

3) I am assuming you are speaking about French wines. I do not know of a California wine with the label saying Bordeaux. There are many California wines named Burgundy, but they are all impos¬ters! They are generic wines, made to proximate the style of French Burgundy (which they do not by a far cry). Since their marketing ploy was successful when they were in¬troduced, they continue.

4) You are right, over 90% of French Bordeaux and Burgundy wines do not have those names on the label. Local custom and tradi¬tion usually label the wines by the name of the estate, chateau, town or village. Rarely, and only recent¬ly in the lower end wines, by grape name. Unfortunately, one must learn the names of the estates and chateaus, the towns and the villages in these regions, to relia¬bly classify the wine. (monumental but rewarding academic task!)

5) If you identify the varietal grape, you can tell reasonably well the difference between the two. Both regions make red and white wines. In the red wines, the Bor¬deaux wines are made from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, plus other lesser related grapes. Burgundy red wines are made from Pinot Noir exclusively and the whites are made from Pi-not Chardonnay grapes, and al-most always as dry wines. The white wines from Bordeaux are primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon; both dry and sweet ver¬sions exist.

6) A fairly reliable method that seems rather silly but valid, is the shape of the bottle the wine comes in. Bordeaux wines come in a cy¬lindrical bottle with a stubby shoulder (Most California Caber¬nets are bottled in this shape bottle), and Burgundy wines come in a wider bottle with a tapered shoulder! (Most California Char¬donnay are bottled in this shape).

7) The above is only a brief and broad stroke answer. Exceptions do exist.

8) Do not get discouraged. Enjoy the learning experiences. A votre santée!

P.K. Sr.


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.1985 R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'81.Durney. Still has time, some complexing.Keep W. Muller Thurgau,'83.Hammel. Passed its prime. Use.

Aug.1986 R. Beaujolais-Villages,'85.Claudius Rocher. Still some fruit, but losing.Use W. Chardonnay,'84.HMR. Very complexed and some oxidation.Use

Aug.1987 R. Pinot Noir,'83. Heitz Cellars. Fruit changing to bouquet.Softer.Keep. W. Zeltinger Deutchherrenberg,'83.Brrs.Erb. At peak of an aged JR. Use

Aug.1988 R. Cotes du Rhone,'85.Armand Roux. Some loss of fruit, earthy. Use. W. Sauvignon Blanc,'86.Anderson Valley. Nicely softening, can use or keep.


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Adventures in Eating

By Rosemarie

Remember the story of the King who promised his daughter in marriage to the young man who would create a dish for him that was both hot and cold at the same time? Voila, the winner created the hot fudge sundae and married the prin¬cess. So goes the tale.

Water ices were known in the Roman Empire & Marco Polo is supposed to have brought back a recipe for milk ices from the far east.

However, when the centrifugal cream separator was invented in 1867, the ice cream business took off. By 1950, 2,000,000,000 qts. of ice cream a year was sold in the U.S.

While raising a family, I have struggled with a number of ice cream recipes. Mostly very good when eaten right away, but not so good when the leftover sat in the freezer. They always crystallized.

You can purchase a decent ice cream for about $2.25 a pint, but homemade is easy, much less in cost, and no unknown chemicals.

Some years ago I did some research on ice cream makers. The Waring Ice Cream Parlor won hands down. I later discovered it won applauds from the Consumer's Magazine. With it, you can use home¬made or store bought ice cubes, and ordi¬nary table salt. The machine stops, when the ice cream is made. Let it "ripen" for 2 hours replenishing the ice and salt, and yum.

Remember, always add your fruits just before the ice cream is finished, or else they will freeze. Mash some fresh peach¬es, berries (with a little sugar). A dessert fit for a king...

Have you ever experienced asking for at recipe only to be told it was a family secret? Well, the court chefs of Europe tried to keep ice cream a secret, but lost the battle.


6 C. Half and Half
1/2 c. regular milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean

Mix Half and Half with milk in a pan. Break vanilla bean into pieces and place in blender with the sugar. Whirl until the vanilla bean is in tiny specks. Add sugar mixture to milk/cream and bring to a slow scald. Be careful it does not foam up and spill over. Meanwhile, beat the eggs until frothy and slowly add the scalded mixture. Return pot to a low heat and slowly cool while stirring with a wire whisk. Cook until it just starts to simmer. Put aside to cool. This can be made way ahead of time. Process in your ice cream maker according to its direc¬tions.

Spoon away!

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

889A Chenin Blanc,'88.White Oak Reg. Price $ 7.69 20.00% disc. $ 73.80/case $ 6.15/each
889B Ch. Haut Pagaud,'83. Reg. Price $ 7.50 20.00% disc. $ 72.00/case $ 6.00/each
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
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor $ 19.95/each $ 2.50Shpng

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