1991-12 December 1991 Newsletter

December 1991 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 307 Rejected: 259 Approved: 48 Selected: 2

From all of us to all of you... Happy Holidays and Best Wishes in the New Year! One thing is for certain; if the quality of what you celebrate the dawning of the New Year with has anything to do with the quality of life for the forthcom¬ing 12 months, we are all in for a great 1992. After Martin Van der Kamp left our tasting room, I looked at Martha (our Office Man¬ager) and said "Now there is a man who has a passion for his hobby!" We loved this man's sparkling wines, but they were way out of our normal range for the Club. However, he loved our Club and consented (pricewise) to his 1988 Brut Rosé becoming the December sparkling selection.

Thank you, Martin!

Isn't the wine business won¬derful? After you taste this 1987 Late Harvest Semillon from Pen-folds in Australia you will be in love, also. It's wines like this that make you feel it is all worth the anxiety and trouble. This wine was sent to us direct from Australia and only two shops in the state have it. You're looking at one. Now look at the price! The California equiv¬alent would be over $10.00/bottle!

We'll all have Happy Holidays with these selections.

E n j o y!


Midnight Cuvée, '88. Van der Kamp Pg. 2
Late Harvest Semillon, '87. Pcnfolds 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 D, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (818) 445-8281 … FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.

MIDNIGHT CUVÈE, 1988. VAN DER KAMP Mid-nite Koo-vaye Brute-rose-aye

Martin Van der Kamp, a native of the North Coast wine country, was a home winemaker there for many years. In his youth he had done a stint as an employee at Napa's famous Schramsberg Champagne Cellars. Bitten by the bug, he took several trips to some of the top Champagne houses in France. It was through these visits that he formed the conviction that complexity in sparkling wines is best achieved by combining Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from many small vineyards. In 1981, with the encouragement and guidance of master oenologist Andre Tchelist¬cheff, he founded Van der Kamp Champagne Cellars.

If you think that a Champagne maker (and you'll forgive the aw¬ful pun) ought to be a real "bub¬bly" kind of guy, the creator of this brand will not disappoint you. Martin has a very "up" personality, and an optimistic attitude. Over the years, he conducted an informal poll of wine drinkers who declined sparkling wines. He found that their unanimous reason was: "It gives me a headache!" The symp¬toms of an allergic reaction to sul¬fites were too classic to ignore. The CO2 gas in sparkling wine acts as a natural preservative, so each year Van der Kamp simply re¬duced the amount of sulfites added to each "Cuvee" (blend). Since 1985, no sulfites have been added to any Van der Kamp sparkling wines. Therefore, aside from the trace amounts naturally produced during fermentation, there are none. By laboratory report our se¬lection has a scant 16ppm.

Per the true Methode Champe¬noise of France, fermentation was made to occur in the bottle itself. This sparkler contains juice from 83% Pinot Noir and 17% Char¬donnay grapes, classic champagne ingredients, as centuries of pro¬duction in France have proven. The former gives the wine its col¬or, aromas, flavors and texture. The latter adds grace, complexity and aging potential.

The wine offers a lovely, pearl-pink color and delicate pinpoint carbonation. It has aromas and fla¬vors reminiscent of berries and peach cobbler, plus a rich, creamy texture that finishes cleanly dry. A classic Brut Rose. Serve it well-chilled with hors d'oeuvres, cavi-ar, mousse of smoked salmon, a chocolate decadence with raspber¬ry sauce, or at the stroke of mid¬night, with close friends.

Cellaring Notes: Enjoy this wine now and throughout 1992.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#1291A Regular Price: $14.75/ea. Special Member Price: $11.51/ea. Member Reorder Price: $9.96/ea. 32.47% disc. $119.52/case


About 150 years ago, Dr. Christopher Penfold left England with his wife Mary to settle in South Australia. They built a whitewashed stone cottage in Ma¬gill, four miles from Adelaide, and named it after Mary's home in England, "The Grange". The doc¬tor had brought with him some wax-sealed grape-vine cuttings. He planted these over the local substrata, limestone and iron, in the expectation that vines grown in such a terrain would provide a cure for anemia. Thus was Penfolds Wines created and thus was the en-terprising doctor's fine reputation as both medical man and vintner established.

A couple of generations later, a native Australian, Max Schubert, joined Penfolds, becoming Chief Winemaker after World War It. In 1951 he developed Australia's most famous wine, Penfolds' Grange Hermitage. Today, Pen-folds' Chief Winemaker is John R. Duval. In 1989 at the London Wine & Spirits Competition, Pen-folds received two Trophies, as well as two Gold, seven Silver and six Bronze medals. Duval walked „off with the Robert Mondavi Inter¬national Winemaker of the Year Trophy.

Australia's viticultural regions predominantly experience growing conditions comparable to Europe, but less prone to climatic extremes.

Our holiday selection is made there from the noble Semillon grape of France. Blended with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon produces the pop¬ular dry whites of Bordeaux, and the rare, expensive, late harvest dessert wines of the Sauternes and Barsac districts. Semillon can also yield similar, honeyed, ambrosial nectars when transplanted to other suitable locales where the weather allows the "Botrytis" organism to proliferate. This friendly mold de-hydrates and shrivels the grapes, concentrating the sugars while en¬riching the flavors and aromas.

Our example has a deep, gold¬en, honey-like color. The nose leaps out of the glass with rich aro¬mas of pineapple, citron, coconut and honey. In the mouth the wine is richly textured, moderately sweet, seductively smooth. Fla¬vors of preserved pineapple pre-dominate with a hint of butter¬scotch. Finishing soft, a coffee candy impression lingers in the af¬tertaste. Serve at cool room tem¬perature to accompany fruitcake, gingerbread cookies, creme brulee, or just by itself as a special treat.

Cellaring Notes: Enjoy now through 2000.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#1291B Regular Price: $8.00/ea. Special Member Price: $3.49/ea. Member Reorder Price: $2.89/ea. 63.88% disc. $34.68/case

Member Inquiry

"Paul, I read now and then about wines that sell at auctions for wild prices, like $25 ,000 . a) What kind of wines are worth that much; and b) can I start a collection for investment purpos¬es using WOMC wines, and sell them later for a big return?" A.R., El Cajon

Thanks for asking about this. I've been meaning to comment on it. Wine as an investment is a broad topic and a loaded powder keg these days! Overall, fine wines traditionally have been, and will continue to be, excellent in¬vestment instruments, but with two main provisions.

First off, you've got to select the right wines! At around $100 a bottle (for recent vintages), a great Bordeaux like Chateau Margaux or Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, when it gets old, can fetch a very high price. This is especially true when there are only a few precious bottles left of the wine in question. Like a rare postage stamp, the price will shoot up directly in pro¬portion to the scarcity of the item. Yet, while no one in his right mind would mail a letter with a rare mint stamp, it certainly wouldn't be an insane act to drink one of these wines. Expensive, yes; crazy, no. It would be great! But wines that go for $25,000 are usually 100 to 150 years old. Are your heirs prepared to wait?

We're often dismayed at what people buy as "investment wines". At the Napa Valley Wine Auction last June, a twenty-five bottle "vertical" (one bottle each of the 1966 to 1990 vintages) of Robert Mon¬davi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons went for $40,000, a treasure-trove. (These wines originally sold in the range of $12 to $45 each.)

Conversely, Wines & Spirits Magazine (August 1991 issue) re¬ported about unscrupulous wine "brokers" who sold their clients 1982 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay a few years ago. They gave these clients the mistaken impression that they would be able to turn around a year or two later, and sell the Chardonnay for a handsome profit. This didn't occur. Many of the clients are now stuck with hundreds of cases of nine-year-old Chardonnay which most people consider too old to drink!

So, the second big point in amassing wines for investment purposes is: do you have a viable means of liquidating your invest¬ment? If you are not legally li¬censed to sell alcoholic beverages, most likely you do not.

Two better reasons for collect¬ing wines are: 1) You find a wine you really love and put some away. You can enjoy a bottle whenever the mood hits; and 2) Some excellent wines will show dramatic improvement with aging. Many of our Regular Series and all of our Limited Series selections, for instance, qualify. Buy them now while they're less expensive and enjoy them all the more in a few years when they're aged, and possibly more valuable.



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.

Dec. 1987 R. Port of the Vintage, '83. Quady. No change. OK to keep. W. Brut Zero, '82. Castellblanch. Oxidized. Use.

Dec. 1988 R. Cream Sherry, NV. Osborne. No change. Does not improve on age. W. Napa Valley Brut, '86. Barons. Lost its fruit and complexity. Use.

Dec. 1989 R. Spinnaker Port, NV. H&M. Will not improve but will hold. W. Clair Diamant, NV. Softened slightly. Use.

Dec. 1990 R. Late Harvest Reisling, '89. Snolqualmie. Has developed fruit flavors. W. Chamdeville Brut. NV. No real change. Use.


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Adventures in Eating

By Leslie Smith

Let's face it. The month of De¬cember is certainly a busy one. Even the most organized people find themselves wanting to turn back the clock... just a little, to give them some extra time to "make Christmas cookies, find that special gift or go to the Nutcracker ballet". We all have lists of things we'd like to accomplish this hectic month. I can't let December go by without my tradition of making an elaborate gingerbread house. It is a project that takes four days to complete, but after it is done, it fills my house with the wonderful holiday smell of gingerbread, and makes an incredible centerpiece for my table.

It is special to have traditions during the holidays, especially with holiday dinners. Every year I look forward to my grandmother's turkey, chestnut stuffing, breaded pearl onions, sweet and sour cab¬bage, and, of course, pumpkin pie! Even though the menu is al¬ways the same, I never tire of it. It is tradition.

Cranberry relish is usually on everyone's holiday menu. I have found a recipe for the best cranber¬ry relish I've ever had. Even if you don't have time, make time to make this! I guarantee that it will become a tradition in your home for the holidays!

Carolyn Thacker's Cranberry Relish

1 lb. fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon butter

Simmer cranberries, apples, sugar, raisins, spices and, water, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauté onions and celery in butter until soft. Combine cranberries and onion mixture together and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring oc¬casionally, until thickened. Keeps refrigerated for four weeks.

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

1291A Midnight Cuvee, '88. Van der Kamp Reg. Price $14.75 32.47% disc. $119.52/case $9.96/each
1291B Late Harvest Semillon, '87. Penfolds Reg. Price $8.00 63.88% disc. $34.68/case $2.89/each
1191A Colombard, '89. Carmenet Reg. Price $6.83 20.05% disc. $65.52/case $5.46/each
1191B Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, '89. Reg. Price $8.13 24.11% disc. $74.04/case $6.17/each
1091A Zinfandel, '88. Glenn Ellen Reg. Price $6.74 20.17% disc. $62.28/case $5.38/each
1091B Macon-Clesse, '90. Cave de Vire Reg. Price $8.24 20.14% disc. $78.96/case $6.58/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/each $2.50 shpng.

SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $3.00; 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 _______________________________________________ Recipients must be 21 or older. Address _______________________________________________ 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


● 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*