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1993-10 October 1993 Newsletter

October 1993 Newsletter


Wines evaluated last month: 123 Rejected: 105 Approved: 18 Selected: 2

How would you like to taste a wine from a wine-maker who has made the "Best Cabernet Sauvig¬non in the World?" How can this be? The best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world? Well, the maker of our import selection for this month won an award in 1989 at VinExpo (a very prestigious wine-tasting) that is bestowed on what is to be considered the best Cabernet Sau¬vignon in the world. He is the wine-maker for our La Playa Vine¬yards 1990 Merlot from Chile. When you taste this wine I think you'll see why he was able to win such a distinction.

Our domestic white wine selec¬tion this month is one of great op¬portunity. Small wineries such as Sylvester Vineyards dot our land¬- scape, many of which make medi¬ocre to average wine. This limited production Chardonnay (only 2000 cases), however, is different. I tasted this wine while it was in the barrel and was impressed with its fruit and flavor. But, it is hard to know what will happen when it is filtered and bottled so I waited. And waited. Now I can say, taste this 1992 Sylvester Vineyards Chardonnay and see what a small winery can really do!

Salud! PK Jr.


Chardonnay, 1992. Sylvester Pg. 2
Merlot, 1990. La Playa Vineyards Pg. 3
If You Are Going to the Wine 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.


For as long as I can remember, the Wine of the Month Club has not done a wine from the Paso Robles region. Not by design, maybe just an over¬sight. The district is fast becoming a recognized viticultural area and wines from this district are taking more and more honors away from the more traditional wine areas in the state. The aspect I like about the area, besides the great wine, is the lack of tourist commercialism. Much like Sonoma, the Paso Robles district is still rustic and original.

In 1952 a Sylvester Feichtinger immigrated to the United States from Austria. Known there as a juice maker, he also was involved with the production of wine. In 1962, Sylvester bought 160 acres of prime vineyard land in Paso Robles, adding 240 acres in 1972 to become Sylvester Vineyards.

Since 1988, the crush has increased from 4,000 cases of wine to 36,000 in 1992. Interestingly, though, the 1992 vintage shows only 2,000 cases of Chardonnay being produced and 1,500 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon under the Sylvester label. So, where do the rest of the grapes go? Well, a neighboring winery, Castoro Cellars buys the remainder of the harvest and makes their wines under the Castoro label. Tom Meyer, the winemaker at Castoro, has been making wine with Paso Robles fruit for over 14 years. A venerable expert of the Paso style, he is the wine-maker for both Sylvester and Castoro wines. The main difference is that Sylvester's wines are under Sylvester's direction and the Castoro wines are under Tom Meyer's direction.

Chardonnay is the noble white grape of Burgundy, France. There it makes wines of incredible complexity and depth. Chardonnay from regions in France like Chassagne Montrachet are some of the most expensive white wines in the world. In California, the fruit does very well and produces wonderful wines at much less expense. This is a great example of Paso Robles Chardonnay.

The color of this wine is straw/gold with brilliant highlights. The nose is rich with Chardonnay fruit; green apples, pineapple and pears. A hint of vanilla shows through. The body is firm and full. The flavors are consistent with the nose; green apples, pineapple with a touch of vanilla. The finish is long and clean with the vanilla prevailing. Serve at room temperature with flame broiled salmon with lemon or a baked chicken marinated in citrus juices.

Cellaring notes: Fresh and lively now, will hold for 2 years.

#1093A Regular Price: $8.99/ea. Member Reorder Price: $6.99/ea. 22.25% disc. $83.88/cs.

MERLOT, 1990. LA PLAYA VINEYARDS Mare-low, La Ply-ya

Chile has the unique distinction of being one of the few wine growing regions in the world where grapes still grow on their natural rootstock. You see, Euro¬pean vineyards were wiped out by the plant louse phylloxera in the early 1800's, forcing Europe to re¬plant using American rootstock (which, naturally, came from Eu¬rope in the first place). Then, in the late 1800's, American vine¬yards were all but devoured by the same plant louse and the Ameri¬cans were forced to replant using European rootstock.

Meanwhile, back in Chile, local wineries were enjoying perfect cli¬mate and soil conditions to grow wine grapes, unaffected by the menacing phylloxera. In 1917, Pe¬dro Pavone Voglino emigrated to Chile from Piemonte, Italy. As a descendant of a wine-making fami¬ly, he settled in the "Valle de Mai-po", a region already known for its gorgeous red and white wines. By 1921, Pedro had planted his first vineyard and by 1925, he and his son Felix had founded the now prestigious winery Villa Santa Ema. In 1977, Pedro Pavone handed the presidency of the win¬ery over to Felix. Felix in turn pur¬chased his brothers' shares of the company and became sole owner.

Felix hired Sergio Correa Un¬deragga as his wine-maker. With eighteen years experience and con¬sidered a top international judge, Sergio has many world-wide gold and silver medals under his belt. In fact, in 1989 one of Sergio's wines won best Cabernet Sauvig¬non in the World. Today, Pedro and Sergio team up to control all aspects of wine-making and distri¬bution for Villa Santa Ema. This 1990 La Playa Vineyards Merlot is their "kickoff' vintage for the Eu¬ropean and North American mar¬kets.

Merlot is a noble grape of Bor¬deaux, France and is responsible for some of the most elegant wines in the world. Generally used to blend with and soften Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, as the primary grape, can produce fully rounded approachable young wines. This month's red wine is a classic ex¬ample of the soft texture and full flavor of a Merlot.

The color is garnet red, clear and brilliant. The nose is packed with cherry, berry and earth tones. The body is full, supple and soft. The flavors follow the nose with explosive berry and cherry. The finish is soft, not drying with light tannins. Serve at room temperature with marinated steak or the French Beef Casserole on page 6.

Cellaring notes: Soft and sup¬ple now, drink through 1994.

#1093B Regular Price: $5.99/ea. Member Reorder Price: $4.79/ea. 20.03% disc. $57.48/cs.


Nestled into its own environment off the main road through Sonoma (all two lanes of it), the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa is a welcome destination for the person in need of self indulgence. Encompassed by eight acres of eucalyptus shaded grounds, the Spa is situated right on top of sparkling mineral water springs (bottled at the source). The grounds are lush green and quiet.

As you drive up for the first time, you are taken aback to find guests roaming the grounds in white terry cloth robes. These are issued when you check into the Spa. It is important to witness this because you too will soon be don¬ning this garb. The architecture is 1920's when the original hotel was built. Refurbished in 1981, the spa was added and the hotel has be¬come a world class facility.

From the doorman to the recep¬tionists, the concierge to the maids, the employees welcome you with enthusiasm and warmth. It seems everyone is sincerely happy to see you.

There are basically four types of rooms. Historic Inn rooms are the least expensive but in no way less appointed or less comfortable than the larger Wine Country rooms. Wine Country rooms are available with or without fireplaces. Suites are the largest and most expensive. Non-smoking rooms are also avail¬able. Some of the best chocolate cookies we've ever had were left on our pillow as part of the turn-down service. From November 1st, 1993 to April 25, 1994 the Historic Inn rooms are $135-$200/night. Wine' of the Month Club members have been offered these rooms for $105 night (Sunday-Thursday).

The food is unsurpassed. Each morning you would take in a light work out at the Spa; Lifecycle or low-impact aerobics, then a jacuzzi and sauna. Now, ready for breakfast at the Big Three Cafe. Start with a Bloody Mary made with Absolut Peppar vodka then to a fabulous Eggs Benedict with Applewood smoked ham. You must have a side of their homemade-Italian sausage. Another favorite is the frittatas; open faced omelets that look like masterpieces and taste the same' Skip lunch, do some wine-tasting, maybe a massage or an herbal wrap. Now, ready for dinner (tough schedule!).

At the award-winning "Grille," food decisions are a treat. Appetiz¬ers include smoked salmon, steamed Pacific shell fish (clams, crayfish, and mussels), Sonoma fois grais, and crab cakes. Main dishes are prepared by master chef Mark Vann; the grilled swordfish was a hit and the Sonoma leg of lamb melted in your mouth. The roast duck in Pinot Noir sauce looked delectable. Don't forget a bottle of wine from their top flight list.

You must see and taste it for yourself. For reservations, call us at the "Club" and we will tell you how to make arrangements.

PK 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.

Oct. 1989 R. Merlot, '87. Garland Ranch. At its top. Use. W. Fumé Blanc, '87. No.Cst.Konocti. Peaked. Use.

Oct. 1990 R. Wintervine, '88. Nicely complexed. Separation of flavors. Use. W. Pinot Blanc, '88., Paraiso Spgs. Losing it. Use.

Oct. 1991 R. Cabernet Sauvignon, '88. Los Vscs. Complexing nicely. Keep. W. Muscat Canelli, '90. Santino. Fruit subsiding. Use.

Oct. 1992 R. Cotes du Ventoux, '90. Softened. Keep. W. Chardonnay, '90. Maddalena. Lots of youth. Use.


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Adventures in Eating

From "Wine and Dine", Exeter books

When searching for a recipe for this month's wine (I opted for the Merlot), I wanted a regional dish. Something unique to the particular varietal of the wine; a recipe that was made for the style of wine presented.

In Bordeaux, most wines are Cabernet Sauvignon based using Merlot as the blending wine. In a small district named St. Emilion, however, the base wine is Merlot and the blending wine is Cabernet Sauvignon.

While searching, I fancied this wonderful casserole from the dis¬trict of St. Emilion. It is robust but delicate and while it is easy to make, it does need to cook about 2 1/2 hours. Total preparation time 3 1/2 hours.

French Beef Casserole

2.5 lb. braising or stewing beef (not too lean) cut into 2" Cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
2 medium size onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 1/4 cups red wine (La Playa Merlot)
2 large strips orange rind
1 bouquet garni (sack of herbs)
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup black olives, pitted
1/2 cup mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 325° F


Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the meat in batches until browned on all sides. With a slot¬ted spoon, transfer the meat to an ovenproof casserole dish and sea¬son with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the onions in the remaining oil in the frying pan until golden. Add the garlic and cook for a fur¬ther minute. Transfer the contents of the frying pan to the casserole dish, then add to the casserole dish the red wine, orange rind, garni and bay leaf.

Cover the casserole dish and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the orange rind, bouquet garni and bay leaf from the casse¬role, then stir in the olives and mushrooms. Blend the flour and butter together to make a paste and stir into the casserole. Return the casserole to the oven for 15 min¬utes. Meanwhile, make the crou¬tons. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and garnished with croutons. Enjoy!

Salud! P.K. Jr.

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

1093A Chardonnay, '92. Sylvester Reg. Price $8.99 22.25% disc. $83.88/case $6.99/each
1093B Merlot, '90. La Playa Vineyards Reg. Price $5.99 20.02 disc. $57.48/case $4.79/each
993A Zinfandel, '90. Story Vineyards Reg. Price $7.99 25.03% disc. $71.88/case $5.99/each
993B Albor Rioja, '92. Campo Viejo Reg. Price $6.99 24.32% disc. $63.48/case $5.29/each
893A Sauvignon Blanc, 1991. Winterbrook Reg. Price $6.49 26.19% $57.48/case $4.79/each
893B Aglianico Del Vulture, '85. D'Angelo Reg. Price $19.00 65.8% disc. $77.88/case $6.49/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea. $2.50 shpng.

SHIPPING CHARGES: 2 bottles $3.00; 6 bottles $6.25; 12 bottles $8.50 Shipping charges slightly higher out or California. □ Check enclosed for $_____ for the total. □ Charge my: □ Visa □ MasterCard □ American Express □ Discover _______________________________________________________ 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 660220, Arcadia, CA 91066 or call (800) 949-WINE / (818) 445-8281 / FAX (818) 445-8361 (See reverse side to order wine gifts.)

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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*
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