1993-08 August 1993 Newsletter

August 1993 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 268 Rejected: 222 Approved: 46 Selected: 2

I have to admit that when panic is going to set in and time becomes a precious resource, the lucky get luckier (or shall I say the good get better). I was focusing on a deci¬sion for this month's imported red wine when a friend/importer called and asked me to taste a wine that he had access to. Each day for a week he would call and say he needed one more day and finally I couldn't wait any longer, my staff was in a panic. That day his bottle of 1985 Aglianico from fratelli D'Angelo showed up at my doorstep. It floored me. It was so impressive a wine that the representa¬tive of another importer who tasted the wine with me that morning or¬dered two cases. I think that is the fastest reorder I have ever had. I ¬invite you to enjoy an aged Italian red wine of infinite pedigree (see page 3).

Our domestic selection is a cul¬mination of a flurry of tastings. Sauvignon Blanc has been hard to come by in these times of abundant Chardonnay. As I put the word out that the "Club" needed a Sauvig¬non Blanc, I was deluged with tastings. This Winterbrook 1991 stuck out of the bunch with great character.

Salud! PK Jr.

Imported Selection

Saw-veen-yawn Blonk

How do you successfully intro¬duce a new line of wines in a super competitive environment in the middle of a recession? That was the challenge facing the new Win¬terbrook partnership in early 1992.

Though the winery was esta¬blished in 1983, early 1992 marked a new era for the fledging facility. John Sullivan, Gregory Popovich and Joe Briggs teamed up to restructure the entity and have come into the market place with a fresh attitude and direction.

The financial partner, John Sul¬livan, brings 14 years of business and agricultural experience. Greg Popovich, the marketing director, has 12 years experience marketing for La Crema and Lost Hills win¬eries. Joe Briggs, partner and winemaker, has a degree in enolo¬gy from Fresno State and has "one of the top 100 Chardonnays of all time" as a credit to his name. This motivated group of individuals has set out with a list of objectives to re-establish the Winterbrook winery.

The main objectives of this res¬urrection are these:

1.) Produce premium varietal wines from the finest regions of the Napa and Sonoma Counties that would retail for half the com¬petitions.
2.) Implement a quality control program that would not only meet but surpass the quality of every competing wine in their class.

So far this basic strategy is working and exceeding the initial expectations. I, for one, am a be¬liever in the concept and if this wine is indicative of what is to come, we're in for some very nice wines.

Sauvignon Blanc is native to the Bordeaux region of France. There it produces exquisite dry wines of complexity and finesse. But don't let the grape fool you, it is also re¬sponsible for 20% of what is coined "liquid gold" from Chateau Y'quem (a winery dedicated to late-harvest dessert wines). In Cal¬ifornia, the grape carries a stigma of a grassy character but produces elegant wines of many flavors.

Our selection shows a light straw color, brilliant and clear. The 100% Sonoma County fruit shows through the nose with ripe melon and pears. The oak is obvious but not overdone. Grassy does not show here. The body is full and the flavors consistent with the nose. I really enjoy the finish, crisp with lingering melon and va¬nilla flavors. Serve chilled with mild fishes sauteed in garlic and butter sauce or a chicken pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Cellaring notes:Delicious now; drink through 1994.

Imported Selection

Aye-yawn-iko day-la Vul-too-ray

As the French have their noble grapes of the respective regions, so do the Italians. In Bordeaux France, for instance, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot are the noble grapes. In Italy, the three noble vines are Nebbiolo (respon¬sible for Barolo and Barberesco etc.), Sangiovese (responsible for Chianti and Brunello di Montelcino etc.) and Aglianico. The wines of Aglianico are lesser known and lesser appreciated but no less pedi¬greed. In fact, the right vintage from the right producer can be a wine of incredible structure and complexity. Our import selection this month is one of these great combinations.

The fratelli (brothers) D'Angelo have been producing wine in the Rionero (in) Vulture region (at the instep of the boot) of Italy since 1920. Now owned and operated by Rocco D'Angelo and his sons, Donato and Lucio, they are consid¬ered the finest wine producers in the area. The D'Angelo family was the first to export wine from the Basilicata region to the U.S. back in 1926. If someone was to won¬der what the Aglianico wines are all about, they would be well-advised to taste a D'Angelo Agli¬anico del Vulture (a 1985, I might add).

The Vulture area is in a larger region called the Basilicata. It is re- ¬puted that Aglianico was the first grape to be brought to Italy by the Greeks in pre-Roman times. Agli¬anico del Vulture is produced from grapes planted in volcanic soil at altitudes of 650 to 2500 feet. The best location for the vines are on the southeastern slope of the now extinct volcano, Mount Vulturino. The soil is rocky and poor. The best years for wines from this re¬gion, as rated by local authorities, are: 1988, 1985 (some single this out as the best year), and 1977.

As you can see, our selection has it all. A noble grape variety of Italy, from the pre-eminent pro¬ducer of the region and grapes from the finest vintage in 60 years. I would say that this bottle of wine is $19.00 on most shelves. The color is rich with age. The rust edges that reveal its time in the bottle turn to brick red in the mid¬dle. It is clear an bright. The nose is rich in leather and cedar with a hint of dried cherry. The wine is full bodied and full flavored with the cedar and cherry coming through. A hint of tobacco interlac¬es the finish. Serve at room temp with lamb stew (pg.6) or red sauce pastas.

Cellaring notes: At its peak now, will hold for another year.


When looking for a subject for this column, it seemed natural to do an article on the color of wine since our import this month is of noticeable age. Here is a reprint of my father's article on the sub¬ject from the November 1986 newsletter.

Your first introduction to a wine is through the sense of sight.

The appearance and color of a wine tells you, or warns you, about what's coming. The first question we ask: "Is it clear?" Cloudy wines are undesirable. These wines could have several different problems; leftover sugar combining with yeast for a secondary fermentation, protien particles, or lees (the pulverized stems, seeds and skins) which can form very fine deposits. These types of intru¬sions should not be confused with the sediment formed by an ageing wine. This type of sediment can be decanted away during service.

If the wine is clear, the next question becomes: "Is the color correct?" Unless we're familiar with what "correct color" is for each type of wine, it is difficult to judge, this comes from experience.

With lighter red wines like Gamay or Pinot Noir, the color should be lighter. The color of fuller red wines like, Caber¬net Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Merlot, should be darker.

So far, so good. Now comes the im¬portant part. The shade or hues of the color can tell you quite a bit about the wine and it's condition.

The most significant factor in color change is oxidation. It can occur in two ways; 1) The wine was mishandled. This causes a young wine to look older than it is 2) The wine ha3 aged gracefully in the bottle. Young red wines should be bright, purplish, ruby red. As they age, they take on a rust brick color, almost brown (this month's import is a classic example of a gracefully aged red wine).

Some 15 or 20 year old wines that still show a deep garnet color signal us that they have been properly stored and that there is still ageing potential. Con¬versely, a young 14 years or less) Caber¬net Sauvignon that shows a brick color has aged too fast (improper conditions or mishandling).

A wine, properly stored, uses only the small amount of air in the bottle to develop and age. If too much air is in¬troduced by aeration at the winery, cork failure or too much sunlight, the wine will prematurely age. White wines suffer from the same problems. Oxidized white wines get dark¬er with age (as opposed to reds that get lighter) turning amber and then brown.

Again, a fuller white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Char¬donnay should last at least 2 years past its release. If the color is turning on a young wine, most likely it was exposed to too much air in its beginnings.

This months led wine is a prime ex¬ample of what the ageing process can do to the color and flavors of a wine. A true test of the "See, Swirl, Sniff, and Savor" tasting decree!

Salud! PK. Jr.

Adventures in Eating

I am excited about this month's recipe, you see I never get to write them, I just test them before I show them to you. This month, however, I gave our two food edi¬tors the month off and set out to complement our imported red wine of the month with an appropriate meal.

The wine is so complex and has such wonderful flavors I felt that a dish equally as complex and fla¬vorful would do the wine justice. So, I took the easy way out and called the retired food editor of Ad¬ventures in Eating, my mother, and got her thoughts. After tasting the wine again we both felt that a nice stew would go well and one that both lamb and beef eaters could relish would be appropriate.

Here is a version of the country favorite, that I might add, would go great with any aged red wine you might have; Rioja, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Barolo.

Lamb or (Beef) Stew with Dill
6 servings:
2 1/2 lb's boneless lamb (or beef), cubed
2 Tbls. Butter
2 tsps. Salt
1/2 tsps. dill weed
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 lb carrots, peeled in 1 1/2" pieces
3 medium potatoes, quartered
3 stalks of celery cut to 2" lengths
2 cups fresh peas or (1) 10 oz. package frozen peas
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbls. Flour
1 cup sour cream (optional)
1 Tbls. chopped parsley

In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven, brown lamb evenly in but¬ter. Reduce heat and sprinkle salt, dill weed, and pepper over meat and add 1 cup of water. Cover and cook for 1 1/4 hours, or until meat is almost tender. Add remaining 1/2 cup water, carrots, potatoes, and celery. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Add peas and heat through. Blend milk and flour until smooth, add to stew, and cook until gravy is thickened, stirring frequently. Fold in sour cream (if you like creamier sauces), heat and sprinkle with parsley.

Enjoy with D'Angelo Aglianico 1985. Salud! P.K. Jr.

Order Form

Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total 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
793A Cabernet Sauvignon, '89. Sunridge Reg. Price $7.69 20.00% disc. $73.80/case $6.15/each
793B Chardonnay, '90. Hanwood Reg. Price $6.29 20.00% disc. $69.96/case $5.83/each
693A Chenin Blanc, '92. R.H. Phillips Reg. Price $6.79 33.72% disc. $54.00/case $4.50/each
693B Cabernet Sauvignon, '90. Santiago Reg Price $7.99 37.54% disc. $59.88/case $4.99/each
MMT Maximum/Minimum Thermometer Taylor-Tells variance in temp. zones. $19.95/ea. $2.50 shpng.
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Wine Gift Order Form

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