1993-09 September 1993 Newsletter

September 1993 Newsletter

Wines evaluated last month: 141 Rejected: 119 Approved: 22 Selected: 2

The Zinfandel grape is a bone of contention. Some purist feel it has no place in the cellars of col¬lectors. Others collect only Zinfan¬dels. Maybe, because of the bad "rap" that accompanies such con¬sumables as White Zinfandel, the grape has become associated with "the wine public". I, for one, be¬lieve in its inherent character, the character that allows the grape to produce such wonderful wines as this month's domestic selection. I have tasted many vintages of the Story Vineyards Zinfandel, this 1990 was one that I thought was Truly Zinfandel, spicey and flavor¬ful. Taste what this grape can do when given a chance.

Our import white wine this month is one of a long time com- ¬ing. White Rioja is tough to find in this country, particularly one that has any character. I am constantly getting my hopes up as they are presented to me only to be disap¬pointed again. This time my expec¬tations were met. In fact, I wouldn't let the representative from Spain leave my office until we had a deal! All the way direct from Spain, the 1992 Campo Viejo Albor Rioja is here.

Salud! PK Jr.

Domestic Selection


As in the rest of the wine mak¬ing world, it seems each region in California takes on its own person¬ality. Certain grapes tend to fair better in certain regions. The May¬acamas mountains for its big Ca¬bernets, the central coast for its rich Pinot noir, the Carneros dis¬trict for its luscious Chardonnay and Amador County for its big (red) Zinfandel. This month's do¬mestic red is one of the best I have had from the Amador district.

In 1969, Ann Story realized a dream and opened the Story Vine¬yards overlooking the Consumnes River. She married John Ousley in 1982 and in 1990 the couple need¬ed their freedom and set out to sell the winery. Enter Bruce and Jan Tichenor; both pharmacists (good background for winemaking) from the San Francisco Bay area. You see, Bruce and Jan had been mak¬ing wine at home and decided that retail pharmacy wasn't nearly as much fun as winemaking and they, at the same time as the Ousleys, re¬alized they needed a change. In March of 1992, a perfect match was made, the Ousleys sold to the Tichenors (our vintage was made under the Ousleys reign).

The Story vineyard sits on a plateau in the Sierra Nevadas at about 1,500' of elevation over¬looking the river. Black, Blue and Live oak trees surround the picnic area from where visitors can eat lunch and relax while watching the river flow.

The vineyards are a story (no pun intended) themselves. Rang¬ing from 5-75 years in age, they are planted on their own rootstock (ie. phyloxerra has not visited there).

Zinfandel has unknown origins. Some say it is an indigenous Ital¬ian grape, others suggest that it is of Hungarian roots. No doubt, however, that it grows best in Cal¬ifornia. And its versatility is its own. This grape makes light fruity blush wines (white Zinfandel), hedonistic desert wines (port), and luscious red wines (as in our selec¬tion).

This Zinfandel starts with a clear garnet red color deceivingly light. The nose is full of berries and spice (cinnamon, pepper and vanilla). The age of the vines shows off in the mouth. Full bod¬ied with rich concentrated fruit (berries and cherries) and spice (cinnamon and vanilla). The finish is smooth with vanilla and cherry lingering. Serve at room tempera¬ture with chicken in cherry sauce, (see pg.6) or a pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, Romano cheese and artichoke hearts.

Cellaring notes: Already three years old, will hold for 2 more.
< p class="news_heading"> Imported Selection

Al-bore Ree-oh-ha, Kamp-oh Vee-ay-ho

The history and legacy of the Rioja district in Spain is rich in tales and stories. I would suggest, if your are interested, a book by Jan Read "Wines of the Rioja". I was captivated by the accounts of not only Rioja, but of the capital of Rioja, Logrofio.

The Rioja district of Spain is broken into three sub-regions: The Rioja Alta, the Rioja Alaveas and the Rioja Baja. Each with its own characteristics they are subdivided into the municipalities, zona de produccion Rioja Alta is the larg¬est of the three districts and is home of the capital of the Rioja, Logroño.

During the Roman times, Log¬roño was an active city (then named Vera). There are still wine fermentation chambers in the ground where once stood Roman wineries. During the 1850's, when there was an era of experimenta¬tion to get Rioja wines to the rest of the world, it was the custom to pour the wine through the streets in rivers to make room for the coming vintage (now that must have been a sight).

The harvest in Rioja is a good excuse to travel to Spain. Though the harvesting actually starts on October 10th in Rioja, the week¬long Fiesta de San Mateo begins September 21st in Logroño. Parades, bands, costumes and even bull-running highlight the fiesta throughout the week. In the center of town lies our featured winery, Campo Viejo. Since 1959, the bo¬degas has been making wine in Ri¬oja and has become the largest pro¬ducer in the district. Focusing mainly on red wines, wines that range from light and fruity to big and tannic, the bodega has ven¬tured into a new realm of white wines made from 100% Viura. Viura is responsible for about 90% of the white wine from Rioja and mainly produces a lighter fruitier white than its predecessor, Malva¬sia. The Albor line of the Campo Viejo is new to the United Sates. Our selection this month is a won¬derful example of what can be done with this grape. Taste, you will agree!

The color is light straw, brilliant to the eye. The nose is loaded with fruit; green apples and kiwi. The wine is light on the palate with the green apples and kiwi coming through. A hint of almond shows here. The finish is crisp with the apples and kiwi showing through. Serve slightly chilled with light fish dishes or an orange-glazed roasted chicken. Would also go with summer fruits as a "sittin' on the porch" sipper.

Cellaring notes: Vinted for drinking now; can hold for 1 year.


(to be or not to be)

I have had many inquiries lately as to the availability of cellaring equipment and or building one. Building one is not as hard as it might seem, and you just might have the equipment required at your home.

I found a room in the house (closet, pantry etc.) that I could spare (a friend cut a hole under his stair case and utilized what was dead space). I went to my local builders supply house (not at Home De¬pot etc.) and bought enough 2" foam in¬sulation in 4'x8' sheets to cover the walls and ceiling. At this point, if you are wor¬ried about aesthetics, you can cover the insulation with plywood or paneling. Us¬ing an old air conditioner from my previ¬ous office, I installed it in the window frame (some A/C's require an updated thermostat, see a local A/C dealer). If you don't have a window frame, see if you can duct the exhaust to your house heater ducts. Turn on the A/C for 12 hours and use a maximum/minimum thermometer (available from WOMC) to check the variance in the temperature. If you like gadgets, as I do, Radio Shack has a $29.00 digital thermometer with a humidity read out. If you need more de¬tails, give me a call at the office 1-800¬949-WINE. Otherwise, here is a discus¬sion on cellaring wines for maturation.

1. Objective:
There must be interest and desire to age wine. The objective is to enjoy the sublime final product of the different styles and varietals that have ageing abil¬ity.

2. Conditions:
As close as possible to the ideal. Age¬ing temperature is best at 55° F. Absence of direct light, vibration, humidity, and, chemicals in the area is important. Posi¬tion the bottles such that wine touches the cork. This keeps the cork wet and ex¬panded.

3. Content:
Certainly, it should be what you like to drink. And... these should be from wines that have maturing potential. The wines you prefer that do not have ageing potential should be in your "Ready to Drink" cellar. Generally, there should not be any Chenin Blanc, Gamay Beaujolais, Muscadet, Sancerre, Valpolicella, Bardo¬lino, Rose and others in this cellar. Wines that belong in a "Cellar of Maturing Wines" could include Cabernei, Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Petit Sirah, MerS, lot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Late Harvest wines and Sauvignon/ Semillon and their import equivalents.

4. Quantity:
I prefer to have more bottles of the same wine and less variety than 1 or two bottles of different wines. This allows me to track more systematically and have ample supply for a special occasion.

5. Term:
The cellar itself, forever! The wines; their potential is important but as a general rule of thumb: Dry whites..up to 8 years. Sweet whites and dry reds...up to 15 years+

6. Requirements:

Salud! PK. Jr.

Adventures in Eating

We have had some really fun wines the past few months, wines that lend themselves well to food. Many sales personnel use the term "this is a food wine" when trying to cover-up some unusual charac¬teristic. Most of them probably don't understand what a "food wine" really is. It is much more than a sales pitch when discussing the right wine.

When I tasted this month's red wine for my tasting notes, I was struck by the rich flavors and berry character that was prominent. I, because of the forthright nature of the wine, would try and match the flavors in a food. Other wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc being crisp and acidic, cry for foods that are almost the opposite in nature, in other words, heavier and thick¬er.

This recipe not only uses the wine to be served in the recipe, the other ingredients are complimen¬tary and in harmony with the fla¬vors of the wine. This is where a wine becomes a "food wine" when it can be successfully integrated into a recipe or it can successfully compliment a recipe. Try it and see!

Chicken with Zinfandel and Black Cherry Sauce
(serves 4)
(1) 2.5lb. to 3.5lb. frying chicken (or the equivalent weight of chicken breasts.
(1) (20-oz.) can dark, sweet, pit ted cherries (reserve juice)
1 cup 1990 Story Zinfandel
3 Tblsp. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 cup shortening or oil
1/3 cup cornstarch

Wash and pat dry chicken. Drain cherries and save liquid. Into large kettle, combine cherry juice, wine, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, oregano, salt, pepper and bouillon cube. Add chicken and simmer un¬til tender (about one hour). Re¬move chicken, drain, and brown in oil. Mix cornstarch with cold water to make paste. Add to sauce and stir until thickened. Add chicken and cherries to sauce and heat until cherries are hot throughout. To serve, place chicken on platter, top with cherries and sauce. Garnish with lots of parsley. Serve extra sauce on the side.

Order Form

Item # Description Qty. Member Reorder Prices Total 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
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
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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CHOOSE FROM 6 POPULAR WINE GIFTS GIFT # DESCRIPTION QTY. COST TOTAL 1 2 Bottles: the 2 current club selections $17*
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