1993-01 January 1993 Newsletter

January 1993 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 102 Rejected: 86 Approved: 16 Selected: 2

The 1992 European trade em¬bargo was a blessing in disguise. The officials of our government forced me to put on my thinking cap to find other sources for good non-european white wine. What a great exercise, what a great wine! I wound up in Hungary with a fabu¬lous Pinot Gris (grape of the more popular Pinot Grigio). Since then, the government changed its mind, but I was not about to change my mind on this wine. Please do not confuse this with another wine from the same winery you may find at a familiar retail outlet. The club has an exclusive on this wine.

For the domestic selection this month, I had it in my mind to do a another wine that had been brought to me...but then, out of no- where...a Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendocino landed on my desk. This wine was incredible! Thanks to the cooperation of the McDowell Valley Vineyards gang, I was able to secure this wine at a special member price. Taste what the best of Mendocino County has to offer.


Cabernet Sauvignon, '89. McDowell Pg. 2
Pinot Gris, '91. Dunavar Pg. 3
1992 in Retrospect 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 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 WOMC is a California Corporation.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 1989. McDOWELL Kab-air-naye Saw-veen-yawn

In 1970, Richard and Karen Keehn purchased over 500 acres in Mendocino's McDowell Valley. Although grapes for wine produc¬tion had been cultivated in this val¬ley and sold to Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino wine makers without interruption since the 1890s, no¬body had ever put a winery there.

The region boasts low fertility, gravely loam soils, ideal for pro¬ducing intensely flavored wines. Temperatures here are consistently warmer during the spring frost season and cooler during the sum¬mer growing season than most other Mendocino County areas.

In 1978, the Keehns, in a stroke of inspiration, initiated the design process for the only winery in the valley's history. Construc-tion took place in four phases, be¬tween 1979 and 1982. McDowell Valley Vineyards was uniquely created as, and continues to be, California's only comprehensive solar-energy-integrated winery.

In 1982, in recognition of this valley's unique viticultural history, climate and soils, the Federal Bu¬reau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire¬arms (BAT F) granted "appellation" status to the McDowell Valley re¬gion. An appellation is a special, legally established, viticultural and geographical designation. This winery is one of only two in the U.S. which boast their own pri¬vate appellations.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes provide the main base for this wine. This grape, originally from Bor¬deaux, France, is responsible for many of the world's finest red wines. It gives a depth of flavor al¬most unrivaled, coupled with un¬excelled ageing potential. To this the Keehn's excellent winemaker, John Buechenstein (with them now since 1985), adds Cabernet Franc (another Bordeaux expatri¬ate), which contributes an exciting wild cherry note, as well as a drop of Merlot, for its velvety smoothness.

This classic Bordeaux-style blend has an invitingly dark black currant jam color, with a nose that follows suit; intense, rich berry¬like aromas. The wine is quite mouth-filling, mellow, with lots of fruit and berry flavors, some oaki¬ness and very good acidity in bal-ance with the rest. Mild tannins are evident in the finish while the fruit flavors linger on. Serve at room temperature with standing rib roast or roast leg of lamb. Soft-ripened cheeses like Brie and Saint Andre on crusty sour dough French bread would go nicely, too.

Cellaring Notes: Drinks nicely now, yet will complex through 1996.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#193A Regular Price: $10.50/ea. Special Member Price: $8.99/ea. Member Reorder Price: $6.99/ea. 33.40% disc. $83.88/cs.

PINOT GRIS, 1991. DUNAVÁR Pea-know Gree Doon-ah-varr

This wine comes from the larg¬est mountainous wine-growing re¬gion in Hungary, Mátraalja, in the foothills of the Mátra mountains. Running from east to west, this mountain range offers ideal viticul¬tural conditions to about 30,000 acres of grape vines which thrive on its sunny, south-facing slopes.

There are three major quality strata in Hungarian wines. Vin or¬dinaire types are designated Ki¬mert Bor, good table wines Aszta¬li Bor, and better wines, such as our selection, Minosëgi Bor. Most Hungarian wines are identified principally by grape variety and the name of the place from which they have come, with a final possessive "i" added to it. Formally, this wine is called Mátraaljai Pinot Gris.

Most important in its name is the word Pinot, which designates a whole family of grapes of French origin. Siblings within this illustri¬ous clan include Pinot Blanc (the "White Pinot") as well as the very famous Pinot Noir (the "Black Pinot"). This latter variety is referred to in one rather scholarly work as a "notoriously degenerate vine varie¬ty, prone to mutate at the drop of a gene." Mutate? Sounds like we could enter a grey area here.

Quite so! For Pinot Gris (the "Grey Pinot") stands, in fact, as one of this vine's most fortuitous mutations! Understandably, it suf¬fers from a bit of an identity crisis.

It hardly knows whether it is a dark or light grape. Sometimes its skins looks closer to black, some¬times white, ranging from greyish blue to brownish pink.

Widely grown in Italy (where it is known as Pinot Grigio) it pro¬duces one of the most popular dry white wines exported from there to the U.S. But it is in Hungary that this grey brother of a grape is most revered (Szürkebárdt, the Hungari¬an name for this variety, actually translates as "Grey Monk", "Grey Friar" or "Grey Brother"!). When left on the vine late-harvest-style, it produces deep colored wines that have a slightly coppery tinge and a somewhat sweet finish. Harvested at the regular time, and then cold fermented, as in our selection, it yields appealing, dry white wines.

Our example has a pale char¬treuse color with a fragrance of fresh grapes and green plums. It is very smooth on the palate, light, but with some richness of texture, fruity in flavor, yet nice and tangy/dry. The aftertaste is clean; the fruit flavors linger. Serve chilled with light fish courses, fruit and cheese platters, or just for sipping.

Cellaring notes: At its peak now, enjoy over next 2 years.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

#193B Regular Price: $5.99/ea. Member Reorder Price: $4.29/ea. 28.38% disc. $51.48/cs.


Wines Evaluated: 2,615
Wines Rejected: 2,207
Wines Approved: 408
Selected: 32

Checking back on the stats from 1991, I noticed that although we tasted more in '92 (2,578 in '91), we approved fewer (435 were approved in '91) this past year. Could I possibly be becom¬ing more critical?

1992's Regular Series unearthed:

2-Pinot Noirs: '87 Peacock Hill, a lovely "sleeper" from Sonoma and '88 Paraiso Springs, an excellent Monterey County example.
1-Sauvignon Blanc: '90 Hay¬wood, a tasty example of the "Fumé" style of this grape.
3-Chardonnays: '89 Plume Ridge, a classic from Napa Valley grapes; '90 Mt. Palomar, a 100% barrel-fermented jewel from Temecula; and '90 Maddalena, a super value made from Central Coast grapes vinted in downtown L.A.!
3-Cabernet Sauvignons: '89 Villa Montes, excellent value from Chile; '88 Lone Oak, a classic in the Monterey style and '86 "Emi¬lia" label, a well-aged find from Sebastiani.
1-Mourvèdre: '88 FranCal, a com¬plex, hefty red from this up and coming grape.
1-Zinfandel: '90 Cline, a collec¬tor's item at a modest price.
1-Italian: '90 Chianti from Melini, "Borghi D'Elsa", just superb.
2-Spanish: '88 Tempranillo, Jaume Serra, a light, complex red from the Barcelona region and Sanchez Romate's Solera Cream Sherry, a luscious holiday treat.
1-German: '89 Riesling, Rœmishe Weinstrasse, light-hearted Mosel.
7-French: '90 Côtes du Ventoux from Paul Jaboulet and "Les Vio¬lettes" Côtes du Rhône from Moillard, both memorable Rhône Val¬ley reds from this great vintage; '90 Verdillac Blanc, Maison Ar¬mand Roux and '91 "Fondation 1725" from B&G, both excellent White Bordeaux; '90 Marsanne, Réserve St. Martin, '91 Domaine du Mage and '90 Domaine de Fe¬lines, three interesting and flavor¬ful whites from less famous dis¬tricts, our "end-run" around unfavorable exchange rates.

Limited Series:

3-Chardonnays: '89 Oakville Bench, a new contender from Napa, plus two french classics, Lavantureux's marvelous '90 Cha¬blis and Olivier Leflaive's elegant '87 Meursault.
1-Cabernet Sauvignon: '81 Burg¬ess Library Selection, a biggie.
1-Pinot Noir: '89 Bethel Heights, the first Oregon Pinot to make the Limited Series. It sold out fast.
1-Rhône: '89 Gigondas, Domaine du Cayron, one of the most full-bodied Rhône's I have ever tasted.
2-Meritage reds: '87 Mosaic, De¬Lorimier and '87 Réserve Alexan¬dre, Geyser Peak, same vintage, same region, different wines.

I must admit it was fun finding all these wonderful wines. And '93 has more fun in store for us...

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.

Jan. 1989 R. Petite Sirah, nv. Da Vinci. Complexing. Keep or use. W. Sauvignon Blanc-Fumé, '87. Yalumba. Oxidixed. Use.

Jan. 1990 R. Pinot Noir, '87. Congress Springs. Nice Pinot character. Use. W. Sauvignon Blanc, '88. Errz. Pang. Oxidizing. Use.

Jan. 1991 R. Merlot, '87. Robert Allison. Peaked. Keep or use. W. Chenin Blanc, '89. Granite Springs. Slight lose of fruit. Use.

Jan. 1992 R. Pinot Noir, '87. Peacock Hill. Softened nicely. Use. W. Marsanne, '90. Res. St. Martin. Still fruity. Use.


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Adventures in Eating

By Leslie Smith

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, visions of plush arm¬chairs, crackling fires and steam¬ing bowls of homemade soup keep "dancing in my head". Every year, just before the holiday season be¬gins, I make a silent vow: I will not become a stressed-out maniac. I will not demand perfection when baking. I will not accept every holiday invitation. And I certainly will not wait until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping. So much for the best laid plans of mice and urban women.

It seems no matter how much I want to change, I usually end up baking that perfect batch of "they look too good to eat" cookies. And rushing from party to party without so much as even a peck on the cheek under the mistletoe. And (no matter how hard I try) waiting until Santa and his reindeer are "up on the housetop" before I start wrapping presents!

As you can imagine, the day af¬ter Christmas I sigh from relief that it is all over. Call me Scrooge. Or Grinch. I know I shouldn't feel this way and, hopefully, one year it will miraculously change. For now, January beckons me with outstreched arms and I happily em¬brace this month with all its quiet simpleness.

I hope you too can take a rest after the holiday season. Put your feet up, treat yourself to a wonderful glass of wine, and simmer a pot of this easy, savory split pea soup. (A great use for any left over ham or turkey!)

Split Pea with Ham or Turkey

2 cups split peas
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup carrots, grated
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups minced ham or turkey
Parmesan cheese (freshly grated!)

Wash the split peas and soak them for one hour in warm water. Drain the water from the peas. Bring 2 1/2 quarts of water to a boil in a large kettle or stockpot. Add split peas. Simmer over low heat for two hours, stirring occa¬sionally. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and cook the carrots, on¬ion, and celery for ten minutes over low heat. Add vegetables to soup and continue to simmer 15 to 30 minutes longer. Purée the soup (optional, it just makes the soup creamier) and return soup to pot along with ham (or turkey) and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat gently. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

For free membership information write or call Wine of the Month Club® Discovering superb wines since 1972 P.O. Box 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 / (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361

Order Form

193A Cabernet Sauvignon, '89. McDowell Reg. Price $10.50 33.4% disc. $83.88/case $6.99/each
193B Pinot Gris, '91. Dunavar Reg. Price $5.99 28.38% disc. $51.48/case $4.29/each
1292A Blanc de Noirs, 5 Star. Sebastiani Reg. Price $9.99 60.06% disc. $47.88/case $3.99/each
1292B Cream Sherry, N.V. Sanchez Romate Reg. Price $7.99 21.26% disc. $75.48/case $6.29/each
1192A Pinot Noir, '88. Paraiso Spgs. Rrg. Price $7.49 20.03% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
1192B Fondation 1725, '91. B&G Reg. Price $7.49 21.36% disc. $70.68/case $5.89/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea. $2.50 shpng.

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