1990-07 July 1990 Newsletter

July 1990 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 304 Rejected: 225 Approved: 79 Selected: 2

Over the past 19 years we have featured many Cabernet Sauvig¬nons from all over the world. This months selection, Vanino 1986, is a unique blend of Cabernet from California's two most famous wine growing regions. 60% of the blend is from Napa Valley and the remaining 40% is from Sonoma. The contributions of each of the two regions is what we found to make this wine a special vintage (not to mention the price!). Details on page 2.

Our import this month is a fa¬vorite of summertime wine that has hot weather appeal. When the weather starts hovering around the 100 degree mark, I find myself craving a chilled glass of Chenin Blanc. So here, from the Loire valley in France an excellent example of Vouvray comes to us at a real value.

This is "FAIR" season. Don't forget to come by our booth at your favorite fair, we love to chat wine with you!


Cabernet Sauvignon,'86 Vanino Pg. 2
Vouvray,'88.Georges Meurgey Pg. 3
Portugal Report (Part I) 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 D, Arcadia, CA 91066. or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361

CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1986. VANINO Cab-ber-nay Saw-veen-yawn

What do you get when you cross an entrepreneur and a nego¬ciant? Vanino Wine Cellars.

Steve Vagnino (drop the g for pronunciation) decided while in a hospital bed in 1985 that he was going into the wine business. What is interesting is that Steve is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and when he found out how much vineyard land costs in California he figured "he might as well try and buy the St Louis Cardinals baseball team I got more realistic and said if I am going to do this (go into the wine business) then I'd better work backwards using my advertising background to de¬velop the label, promote it, and sell it " Vagnino says. So what the St. Louis based TV commercial pro¬ducer did was to become a nego¬ciant: One who buys grapes and juice from growers and finishes the wine to his specifications. Now...we have a Missouri based negociant buying California juice for the mid-west market. Current¬ly, the wines are marketed in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Kan¬sas City, and St. Louis.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the no¬ble grape from Bourdeaux. A va¬riety that grows successfully all over the world. Europe, North America, South America and Aus¬tralia are all regions of the world where the grape can grow and make exceptional wine. Being high in acid and tannin, wines made of Cabernet mature slowly, but retain their quality for many years, com¬plexing all the while.

Our selection is an interesting blend of hillside grapes grown in both the Napa and Sonoma coun¬ties. The Napa grapes (60%) from 4 different vineyards contribute the depth and the fruit to the wine. The Sonoma Alexander Valley grapes (40%) contribute the spice and eu¬calyptus nuances. There is also 3% Cabernet Franc (part of the Napa 60%) to add a nice long finish.

This wine starts with a deep purplish red color then to an in¬tense peppery bouquet, with a hint of fruit aroma still coming through, good varietal representa¬tion. A rich Cabernet flavor taste with lots of fruit. A berry accent. The middle is laced with tannin but well balanced. Serve at room tem¬perature with a joint of beef or Stil¬ton cheese after the meal. Would compliment a rack of Lamb nicely.

Cellaring Notes: Will continue to smooth 3-4 years. Track the tan¬nin and fruit.

#790A Regular Price: $11.99/ea. Special Member Price: $7.39/ea. Member Reorder Price: $4.99/ea. 58.41% disc. $59.88/cs.


Vouvray is situated on the north bank of the Loire river just 6 miles north of the town Tours (If you ever find yourself in Tours, be sure to lunch at the Hotel de Bor¬deaux. The food is exquisite). Vouvray is considered the best ap¬pellation in the Loire Valley. The 3,950 acres that constitute the re¬gion are planted exclusively with Chenin Blanc. Evident from the slightly sweet flavor of classic Vouvray, the harvest is late, tradi¬tionally between October 10 and November 10. This procedure produces a slightly overripe grape hence the slightly sweet finish.

The first vines of Vouvray date back to the 4th century AD after Saint Martin had become abbot of ¬Marmoutier. A story has been told about the donkey who nibbled the leaves of vines, accidentally teaching the value of pruning to yield better fruit.

Jean Claude Boisset, a relative newcomer to the wine business (started in 1961 at the age of 19), has made a name for himself by producing, through ultra-modern methods, highly respectable French Burgundy and Cote Du Rhone. Known for his energy and enthusiasm Boisset has blended modern technology and old time wine making values to produce top quality and consistent wines. Our selection, Georges Meurgey, is the companies Loire Valley label.

Pineau de la Loire (Chenin Blanc) can produce wines of a wide variety of styles. From very full bodied, very long-lived sweet white wines to light, dry, short lived summer sippers. The grape even produces cellar stars which some French would not dream of opening for 25 to 45 years. In fact, there is a story of a 1954 Food and Wine event were a celebrated Sau¬terne, Chateau Y'quem (sound Fa¬miliar) 1921 was served followed by a Vouvray Clos le Mont 1921 (both over 30 years old at the time) and after considerable discussion the Vouvray came out on top!

Our selection is of the summer sipper type and has a light golden yellow color with brilliant tones. The nose has assertive aroma of Chenin Blanc with an underlay¬ment of the one year bottle age. A hint of pears and apple. A rich taste of the variety with well bal¬anced acid to minimal sweetness. A wonderful citrus taste comes through in the middle. A classic Vouvray. This wine has a pleasur¬able lasting flavor on the palate.

Serve chilled with cream cheese canape as hors'd oeuvres. Would be wonderful with a chicken vero¬nique entree.

Cellaring Notes: Best con¬sumed in 1990/91. May develop.

#790B Regular Price: $7.61/ea. Member Reorder Price: $5.99/ea. 21.29% disc. $71.88/case


Our "in depth food and wine explora-tion" this time was to Portugal. A small country, easy to travel in, but with abso¬lutely insane automobile and truck driv¬ers. I do not understand how they do not have more accidents. I guess they are skilled aggressive drivers. Very hard on the nerves!

I logged over 250 wines from as many of the regions I could visit or purchase their wines (And as expected, the range of approvals and rejections fell into the same ratios I experience here in Califor¬nia at tastings for import wines). Most of them were not available in the USA. Some table wines were local co-op wines made only for local sale, and several of these were quite excellent for around $2.00 a bottle.

The premier region of course is the Douro, where port comes from. Many of the firms are well represented in the U.S.A., and I did not find anything spe¬cial that is not exported. Very little white port is made, and hardly any is imported into the USA. I tasted some very nice ex¬amples, and Paul Jr. is working on a possible December selection.

The island of Madeira was certainly worth the detour. Unfortunately, their wines are much less popular in the USA today than they used to be in the 1800's.

Talking about dessert style wines, I really fancied the Muscatel (de Setúbal). (what else can you expect from on old wino like me! [I hate that word!]) But this Muscatel was not 89¢ a bottle. Pric¬es started at about $8 a bottle and aged ones were as high as $60 a bottle. The taste of the wonderful flavors and nuances of the muscat grape were well coordinated here.

For table red wines I had some very fine examples in the Alentejo region with it's five subregions of Redondo, Vidigueira, Portalegre, Reguengos, and Borba. We had a formal tasting at the University of Evora, and we are working on availability of one of these for a monthly selection. Again, if you are ever in Portugal, seek the Alentejana wines.

Dao region wines were also exceptional for their red wine examples. I had tasted several of these in San Francisco, at the Portugal booth of the Food and Wine Trade Show, and liked them very much. Alas, no California importer came forth to import them (understandable... we are chauvinistic about California wines, and Portugal does not ring a loud bell!). Any¬way, Paul Jr. will be in contact with some names we were given.

For the Vinho Verde, in the far north, where the best known white wines of Portugal are made, my impression leaned towards favoring the jug and pitcher wines we were served in the restaurants, than the ones in the bottles. For some years now, I have been offered in Califor¬nia several versions of Vinho Verde im¬ported by one distributor or another. I found one that pleased me, but they did not have enough to fill our needs. Of the Vinho Verde wines I tasted in the region, I was not overwhelmed by any. The re¬gion was fascinating though. The vines are mostly trellised, and other crops and vegetables are grown in the vineyards un¬derneath the trellis. Harvesting is by overhead reach or by ladder.

All in all, there were some good finds that Paul Jr. and I are working on.

Rosemarie and I will report on the wonderful, different and interesting foods we discovered in future issues of this newsletter.



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 1986

R. Cabernet Sauvignon,'82 Miramonte. Still complexing. Keep.

W. Sauvignon Blanc,'84. Lost its fruit. Oxidized. Use.

July 1987

R. Chardonnay, '84. Covey Run. Losing fruit. Peaked. Use.

W. Mont.d'Abruzzo,'85. Cornacchia. Developed. Peaked. Use.

Ju1y 1988

R. Corvo Rosso, '85. Duca di Slprt. Softening. Can keep or use.

W. Chenin Blanc, '85. Mount Palomar. Lost fruit. Use.

July 1989

R. Zinfandel,'84.TKC. Peaked. Holding. Can keep or use.

W. Cotes Duras '87.Bichot. Starting to lose fruit. Use.


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Adventures in Eating

By Rosemarie


Dutch Oven Cooking

Here we are, with a grand built-in Thermador oven that bakes, broils, micro-waves and has convection power. There is one problem, though, when I am baking a cake, pie, etc., and need the microwave, you just wait. Such inconvenience! You are also able to bake food with the con¬vection and microwave on at the same time. The book tells you how. I tried it. My roast was tougher than a piece of leather. I guess I am not quite ready for all this technology.

In reading Shirley MacLaine and her theory of life before, now and future, perhaps I am a relic from the past re¬surrected to bypass some of this fabu¬lous cooking technology.

Dutch oven cooking, meanwhile, has been around for a long time. Liv¬ing out of doors, it was the most use¬ful and necessary "pot" one could possess. Amazingly, it is capable of cooking a vast array of foods; wheth¬er covered with coal, placed on the stove, or popped in the oven. Your choice.

The best Dutch Oven should be cast iron. Aluminum is available, but I would bypass it. It should have a tightfiting cover, that can be inverted and used as a griddle or fry pan. In a Dutch oven, you can boil, fry, saute, braise, roast and even make bread.

Typically a Dutch oven runs 10-16 inches in diameter and four to six inches deep. To season it before us¬ing, rub a good quality shortening on all inside surfaces. Place on stove un¬til shortening begins to smoke Wipe dry and its ready to use. After use, wash with hot water and avoid detergents. No rusting this way.

A good rule of thumb for outdoor use is, if you use briquets, use eight briquets evenly distributed beneath the pot, and 15-18 more on the lid for a 12 inch Dutch Oven. Dig your hole in the round to accommodate depth. Cover with heavy aluminum foil. This will give you a temperature of about 350-375 degrees.L,et's start with Ban¬nock Bread. A true basic and delight¬ful treat.

Bannock Bread

2 cups flour
2 Tbl. sugar
2 Tbl. shortening
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. dried milk
generous pinch salt

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shorten¬ing. Add water to make firm dough (no dry spots, but not sloppy wet.) Press dough 1-inch thick. Warm Dutch oven. Grease bottom and dust with flour. Lay in dough and bake un¬til firm. Top with thick jam made with fresh summer fruits. Unlike quick breads, which rely on soda as a lea¬vening agent, this is also good cold and packs well. Enjoy...!

For free membership information write or call Wine of the Month Club® Discovering superb wines since 1972. P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066 (818) 445-8281 FAX (818) 445-8361

Order Form

790A Cabernet Sauvignon,'86. Vanino Reg. Price $11.99 58.4% disc. $ 59.88/case $ 4.99/each
790B Vouvray,'88.Georges Meurgey Reg. Price $7.61 21.29% disc. $ 71.88/case $ 5.99/each
690A Chardonnay, '86. Merry Vintners Reg. Price $14.75 45.8% disc $ 95.88/case $ 7.99/each
690B Zinfandel, '87. San Martin Intl. Srs. Reg. Price $4.19 20.00% disc. $ 40.20/case $ 3.35/each
590A Merlot, '87. Columbia Reg. Price $9.00 26.33% disc. $ 79.56/case $ 6.63/each
590B Lee Poo Yee, NV. Armand Roux Reg. Price $5.99 28.38% disc. $ 51.48/case $ 4.29/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $ 19.95/ea. $ 2.50 shpng

SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $2.75; 6 bottles $6.25; 12 bottles $8.50 □ 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 D, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361 (See reverse side to order wine gifts.)

Wine Gift Order Form


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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*