1992-06 June 1992 Newsletter

June 1992 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 267 Rejected: 231 Approved: 36 Selected: 2

Can you believe the Olympics are just around the corner? Four years have flown past and along the way some pretty nice wines. The last time we were in Spain we stumbled across some very inter¬esting wines of varying character and quality. One particular region that we liked seems very appropri¬ate this year: the region of Penedés (see page 3). Our imported red se¬lection for this month is made from the indigenous Spanish grape, Tempranillo. Our winery, Jaume Serra, produced a light-hearted dry red wine that made us say "Wow!".

Our domestic selection this month also made us say "Wow!". We have always been believers in the Temecula viticulture district but problems of inconsistency and turnover have plagued the area, Mount Palomar was one of the first wineries and one of the main¬stays of the region. This Chardon-nay is a true credit to what can be done down there, as we think you will agree!

Don't forget, the Wine of the Month now accepts the Discover card!


Chardonnay, 1990. Mt. Palomar Pg. 2
Tempranillo, 1988. Jaume Serra Pg. 3
This Matter of Phylloxera II 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 (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.


In 1969 radio station KBIG founder, John Poole, sold the sta¬tion in pursuit of a more relaxed life style: farming. He acquired a 173 acre property and planted 100 acres of grape vines. Mount Palo¬mar was one of the very first vine¬yards to be established in the now burgeoning Temecula wine grow¬ing district of Southern California.

Temecula lies on a plateau, 1400 feet above sea level, sur¬rounded by mountains. This sun-drenched "mountain valley" is a unique viticultural district in many ways. At this elevation, night-time temperatures range colder than in most of Northern California's vineyard districts. Cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean, just 25 miles west, flow through gaps and passes in the coastal mountain range. The region's underlying ge-ology forms a huge basin which stores water runoff from well-drained, decomposed granite sur¬face soils. All of these elements have a positive effect on the devel¬opment of flavor and balance in the wines. Furthermore, Temecula's granitic soils do not harbor the dreaded plant louse, phylloxera. Grape vines thrive there on their own, ungrafted rootstocks.

Vineyard manager Mario Mor¬amarco helped Poole set up the op¬eration. Winemaker Joe Cherpin joined them in 1976. With their guidance, Palomar blazed a trail of innovation. It was one of the first California wineries to harvest frui¬ty varieties like Riesling early, for fresher, crisper flavors. It was the first Temecula grape grower to em¬ploy leaf removal, allowing more sunlight and air circulation into the grape bunches, for better flavor. Moreover, Palomar was the first Temecula winery to employ barrel fermentation in Chardonnay.

Barrel fermentation has been the technique of choice for French winemakers in Chardonnay's an¬cestral home, Bourgogne.The method imparts a wonderful, but¬tery, toasty character to their Char¬donnays, the great "White Burgundies". Ours follows suit.

This benchmark Chardonnay comes from the last vintage worked by Mr. Cherpin before he retired from Mount Palomar Win¬ery. The label contains an error. This wine is 100% barrel ferment¬ed Chardonnay. It has a clear gold/green color and a fragrant nose of vanilla and green plum. In the mouth it is mellow, yet crisp, with flavors of plum, nectarine and oak. The clean, dry finish holds hints of cinnamon/apple. Serve chilled with veal, grilled fish or shrimp scampi.

Cellaring Notes: Delicious now through 1994. Larry Tepper

#692A Regular Price: $10.00/ea. Special Member Price: $8.75/ea. Member Reorder Price: $6.79/ea. 32.10% disc. $81.48/cs.


In the year 1647, on top of a hill that slopes down to the Medi¬terranean, in what is now the prov¬ince of Cataluna (Catalonia) in Spain, someone constructed a farmhouse in the likeness of a mediaeval fortress. Two hundred years later, this imposing property became a winery, Las Cavas Jaume Serra.

Surrounding the cavas (caves = cellars) is the "El Padruell" estate, about 300 acres of prime vineyards. This estate is located in one of Spain's most important wine producing regions, Penedés. The vineyards lie perched above Villanova i la Geltrú, the capital city of one of Penedés' three ad¬ministrative subdivisions.

Anyone who visits the Olym¬pics this summer will no doubt run into many wines from Penedés. It lies only about 30 miles southeast from Barcelona.

Notice that this wine's back la¬bel reads: "The 1988 vintage was awarded a classification of VERY GOOD". Spain has had its own version of France's Appellation Controleé (laws governing mini¬mum standards of quality for wines) since 1933. In 1970 a new, comprehensive set of statutes con¬trolling quality, origin and aging requirements was passed in Spain. The Instituto Nacional de Deno¬minaciones de Origen was formed to administer the laws of each region. Each Denominacion de Ori¬gen (DO) has its own Regulatory Council. It was the DO of Penedés that determined the aforementioned classification. That year they gave their local grapes "thumbs up".

Regarding this month's grapes; some historians are of the opinion that French pilgrims originally brought Tempranillo vines to Spain from monasteries in north¬ern France. Other experts say the grape is probably northern Spanish in origin. Be that as it may, Tem¬pranillo is the fourth-most-planted red-grape variety in Spain. Its character has often been compared to Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, giving lighter-bodied, early-maturing, pleasant, dry reds.

This example has a clear, light raspberry-reddish color which por¬tends a delightful, intense, rasp¬berry/strawberry nose. This is a lighter-bodied red with nice fruit flavors to match the nose, balanced by good acidity. Refined, yet live¬ly. A prolonged aftertaste features a proper measure of drying tan¬nins. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with grilled tuna, roasted chicken, or afternoon fruit and cheese platters.

Cellaring Notes: At its peak now. Drink through next year.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#692B Regular Price: $6.26/ea. Member Reorder Price: $4.99/ea. 20.10% disc. $59.88/case


About one year ago, (WOMC Newsletter, June 1991), we wrote about the deadly root-burrowing louse, phylloxera vastatrix. We in¬cluded the article as a history les¬son. During the latter half of the 19th century, the parasite, which is of American origin, devastated millions of acres of vineyards around the globe. It was brought under control by the French. They saved the day by discovering that they could successfully graft Euro¬pean grapevine varieties onto phyl¬loxera-resistant American root-stocks.

Further research and cross¬breeding at the various viticultural schools, institutes and universities, led to the development of "better" rootstocks. These are widely in use today.

Now the media is chirping with alarming reports of a re-infestation of phylloxera in Napa and Sonoma Counties. How did this situation come about, just how serious is it, and can modern tech¬nology handle it to termination?

Some say that the bug is new, a mutant, Phylloxera B. Others claim that this is the same insect as before, and offer two possible rea¬sons for its re-emergence. One is that the widely-planted AXR-1 rootstock, introduced by UC Davis as phylloxera-resistant, is, in fact, susceptible. The other explanation points to the unusual weather pat-tern of the past six years.

Four successive years of drought stressed the vines severe¬ly, reducing their vigor to a state of vulnerability. The two years of flooding which followed moved a tons of soil around. This soil con¬tained phylloxera, which then through gen

erations spread like wildfire.

One thing is for certain. The bug is not go

ing away, however it arrived.

The only insecticide fatal to phylloxera, Carbofuran, is unfor¬tunately also fatal to hawks. More than just aesthetic, the hawk's en¬vironmental contribution lies in its predatory control of California's rodent population. In preservation of this noble, endangered bird, the poison's use is banned in this state. So, the only remaining op¬tion is for thewinegrowers to re¬plant.

About one-sixth of Napa County's 28,000 acres of vines are infested. So far, 1,600 acres there have been removed. Another 1,000 are scheduled for removal after the 1992 crush. Replanting costs a staggering $15,000 per acre. But, it cart be done.

It takes two to five years for the insect to kill a vine. It takes five years for new vines to pro¬duce competitive quality grapes. By replacing 20% of their vines each year, regardless of infesta¬tion, in ten years growers will have vineyards producing from ex-clusively healthy vines. By experi¬menting with new rootstocks as they replant, they may just find the right one, completely resistant to phylloxera.

P.K. Jr.


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.

June 1988 R. Pinot Noir, '83 Edna Valley. Character going. Use. W. Wiengartener Trap. Spatl., '83. Baum. Oxidized. Use.

June 1989 R. Shiraz. '85 Lindemans. Complexed. Peaked. Use. W. Johannisberg Riesl. '87. Freemark Abbey. Fruit gone. Use.

June 1990 R. Zinfandel, '87. San Martin Intl. Softened. Use. W. Chardonnay, '86. Merry Vintners. Peaked. Use.

June 1991 R. Pinot Noir. '88. Austin Cellars. Softened nicely. Use. W. Chardonnay, '89. Marcus James. Still lively. Use.


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Adventures in Eating

By Leslie Smith

I love throwing parties, and the bigger, the better. I always start with a theme of some kind, and then go from there. With summer here, I'll be entertaining a lot, and more important than anything, I need to be organized. I am a list-maker. The first thing I do when I decide to host a party is start with my "list" of things to do. "Polish silver, get candles, select wines, order balloons, rent tables, press tablecloths...". The list occasional-ly goes on and on! And I haven't even gotten to the menu yet!

The key to any successful party is advance preparation. The more you can do before, the more re¬laxed and able to enjoy your party you will be. Which brings to mind a dear friend who, pressed for time after cooking all day for a dinner party (and faced with a very dirty kitchen and guests soon to arrive) had to put all of her dirty dishes and pots and pans into the garage to clean later! When I comple¬mented her on how organized she was, she reluctantly admitted why her car wasn't parked in the garage that night!

A great summer party theme is a "Mexican Fiesta". I would like to share with you my favorite Mexican "party" dish. It can be made in advance and frozen if ne¬cessary, and can be tripled or quadrupled to serve a crowd! (My cousin served this to 150 people at her rehearsal dinner!) Add some cold and frothy Margaritas, chips and salsa and a mariachi band and you have a perfect summer party! (Don't forget the Kahlua and cof¬fee!)

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Casserole

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
12 6" corn tortillas, cut to bite size
1-4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup jack cheese, grated
1 cup bottled salsa (your favorite)

In a medium saucepan combine onion, broth, celery and cilantro. Boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together undrained on¬ion mixture, tortillas, diced chiles, chicken, soup, pepper and 1/2 cup of cheese. Pour into greased 13"x9"x2" baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and salsa. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serves 10.

For free membership information write or call Wine of the Month Club® Discovering superb wines since 1972 P.O. Box D, Arcadia, CA 91066 / (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361

Order Form

692A Chardonnay, 1990. Mt. Palomar Reg. Price $10.00 32.1% disc. $81.48/case $6.79/each
692B Tempranillo, 1988. Jaume Serra Reg. Price $6.25 20.10% disc. $59.88/case $ 4.99/each
592A Cabernet Sauvignon, '88. Lone Oak Reg. Price $7.75 24.00% disc. $70.68/case $5.89/each
592B Verdillac, '90. Armand Roux Reg. Price $7.25 20.13% disc. $69.48/case $5.79/each
492A Fume Blanc, '90. Haywood Reg. Price $9.75 40.61% disc $69.48/case $5.79/each
492B Chianti, '90. Melini Borghi D'Elsa Reg. Price $7.99 21.28% disc. $75.48/case $6.29/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/each $2.50 shpng.

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