The Sarah Jane English Newsletter: 11th Edition
May 10, 1998
This edition's highlights...
Australian Wine Update
with wine tasting notes
New Releases
Including 3 styles of Chardonnay presented by Hess
Wine Trivia
Kenwood Vineyards' Spring Recipe:
Gorgonzola Smoked Salmon on a Puff Pastry Round
wine.gif (1421 bytes) NEWS
SUTTER HOME is celebrating its 25th anniversary of producing America’s original white zinfandel by offering an opportunity to win a free trip to Napa Valley, (please, see   for details). Director of Communications Stan Hock says, "Over the past quarter-century, SUTTER HOME has sold over 400 million bottles of white zinfandel,and in the process, introduced millions of Americans to premium wine. In 1996 , the Wine Spectator named Bob Trinchero one of the 50 most influential individuals in the wine industry and described him as having ‘turned more Americans on to the pleasures of wine at the table than anyone in history.’ Today, despite perennial predictions of its demise, white zinfandel is still going strong. With shipments of 21 million cases annually, it continues to challenge Chardonnay as America’s best-selling varietal wine."

FALL CREEK introduced its new super premium red wine, MERITUS $20, at the Texas Hill Country Festival. Packaged with an award-winning label, the name MERITUS alone identifies the Texas Hill Country wine. It has forward fruit, silky tannins and an enviable structure that suits a of number of dishes. Look for it during the upcoming weeks at your favorite wine market. Additionally, FALL CREEK is recycling its old barrels into Wine Woods, wood chips that add flavor to your grilled foods. And if you haven’t discovered the FALL CREEK Chenin Blanc Mustard, deny yourself no longer. It is fat free and full of deliciousness. I buy it by the case.

CAP*ROCK Winery, located on the Texas High Plains, uses grapes from one of the state’s premier wine growing regions. Winemaker Kim McPherson will soon celebrate 20 years in the Texas wine industry. He is a Lubbock native, graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Food and Nutrition Science before studying Enology and Viticulture at U.C.Davis, and served an apprenticeship at Trefethen. Recent CAP*ROCK awards include a gold for 1996 Topaz Royale at the 1997 International Eastern Wine Competition and at the 1997 National Orange Show a silver—also silver for 1995 Garnet Royal, and gold for 1993 CAP*ROCK Sparkling; gold for 1995 Diamond Royale at 1997 Jerry Meade’s New World International Wine Competition; and silver for the 1995 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at the 1997 BTI/World Wine Championships.

MESSINA HOF announced that "recently released results of the Dallas Morning News International Wine Competition show that Messina Hof has increased its position at Texas’Most Awarded Winery—winning the only Texas gold (Late Harvest Muscat Canelli) out of 47 medals awarded, silvers for Johannisberg Riesling and Chenin Blanc and bronzes for "Angel" Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Papa Paulo Port.

SILVER OAK CELLARS General Manager David Cofran has announced that Peter Carisetti was named Marketing Director. He has held senior management positions with Seagram’s wine marketing divisions and at Franciscan Vineyards. Silver Oaks, a leading producer exclusively of premium Cabernet Sauvignon, was started by Justin Meyer and Ray Duncan in 1972. SILVER OAK cabernets have attained acclaim for their well-defined bouquet, complexity and finesse, achieved in part from an extensive five-year aging program. Silver Oak’s next release will be its 1994 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on August 1, 1998.

JAMIE DAVIES became President of Schramsberg Vineyards in February following the death of her husband and partner, Jack Davies.

ROBERT MONDAVI received the 1998 Vinitaly International Prize in Verona, awarded annually to an Italian and a non-Italian for leadership and innovative contributions to the wine industry.

LEE HODO was named National Public Relations Director for Ironstone Vineyards and DANIEL LEWIS is the executive chef at the IRONSTONE CULINARY CENTER. He’ll create recipes and menus for the year round schedule of private and public events.

WINE INSTITUTE reported a Supreme Court decision to uphold a lower ruling regarding direct shipments of wine to Florida by out-of-state retailers. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected, without comment, Florida’s contention that states should have access to federal courts in order to stop out-of-state alcohol shipments directly to consumers. It sends a signal that states should consider the offers being made by wineries and other licensees seeking to gain limited legal access to consumers who request their products.

MAISON MARQUES & DOMAINES USA has added Champagne DEUTZ and DELAS Freres to its US portfolio. One of Champagne’s smallest grand marque houses, DEUTZ was founded in 1838 and has long been run by the Lallier family, descendants of the original founders William Deutz and Pierre-Hubert Geldermann. DELAS was founded 160 years ago in the heart of the northern Côtes du Rhone. One of the largest landholders in the northern region, DELAS also purchases grapes from the southern Rhone. The wines are praised for their intensity of flavor and excellent value.

WINE INSTITUTE NEWSFLASH reports a new study from Harvard University researchers who find that an increase in total fluid intake as well as beverage choice can significantly reduce the risk for kidney stones. "In a multivariate model that adjusted simultaneously for the 17 beverages and other possible risk factors, risk for stone formation decreased by the following amount for each 240-ml serving consumed daily: 10% for caffeinated coffee, 9% for decaffeinated coffee, 8% for tea and 59% for wine." Curhan et al., Annals of Internal Medicine.

Another issue of NEWSFLASH reports "Alcohol and Vitamin C May Reduce Gallstone Risk." The Journal of Clinical Epidemiology reports a finding for gallstones to be lowest in women (2,744 postmenopausal women) who both drink alcohol and take vitamin C supplements.

Also, "It appears that the combination of the antioxidant effect of wine and its effect on platelet aggregation may be associated with reducing the odds of developing AMD (age-related macular degeneration)," quotes NEWSFLASH from a study of 3000 older adults published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

CASTELLO di BROLIO, located in the rolling hills of Tuscany, has been the home of the Ricasoli family for more than 850 years, through medieval battles, the Renaissance and modern times. It is also the home of the world’s oldest family-owned winery, Brolio Vineyards, where Baron Bettino Ricasoli, known as the "The Iron Baron," developed the formula for Chianti Classico in 1874. Today, Brolio is famous for its award-winning Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Reserva and the Super-Tuscan Casalferro wines. The newest are the 1994 Casalferro $26 and the 1994 Chianti Classico Riserva. Have a glass of history!

NAPA RIDGE 1996 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon comes from well drained, gravelly or sandy soils that direct most of the vine’s energy to developing leaves and grapes. Leaves are pulled to balance the output so the sun can help development of the fruit flavors in grapes. Winemaker David Scholottman says 1996 was ideal in the Central Coast. Well-ripened grapes provide a complex range of flavors from dark berries to spices. And, it’s only $10.

KING ESTATE is offering a couple of good surprises: 1994 KING Zinfandel $20 and 1994 KING Cabernet Sauvignon $30. Owner Ed King says, "The bottles are unusual because zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon are not commonly associated with Oregon. While pinot noir is well established in reputation, Oregon is a young viticultural region and we will be many decades sorting out all its possibilities. " These two seem destined for the long haul.

1995 SHAFER Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District $30, Winemaker Elias Fernandez says, "The long hang time and slow maturation of grapes in 1995, along with a low crop, produced a SHAFER Cabernet with lots of intensity—very dark in color, with rich, sweet fruit, blackberry aromas and supple, ripe tannins."

1995 CHATEAU ST. JEAN Pinot Blanc Robert Young Vineyard $14, has "notes of vanilla, butter and floral aromas, and a rich, creamy mouth feel with melon and apples and a long buttery finish."

1996 DRY CREEK VINEYARDS Chardonnay $14.75, has "aromatic notes of pineapple, citrus and pear. Tropical fruit flavors and crisp apple integrate with vanillan oak. Well-balanced with soft textures, the Chardonnay finishes lush and creamy" (winemaker comments)."

1995 DRY CREEK Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $27, "intense black cherry and apricot aromas with bouquet of warm spices. Concentrated dark cherry, spicy berry flavors and soft mint notes with restrained oak and a full-mouth-feel add dimension to long, smooth finish (winemaker comments)."

1997 HOGUE Cellars Dry Chenin Blanc $7, Winemaker David Forsyth says "Minimalistic is the word to describe the winemaking process for this wine: take fresh grape flavors, convert to wine with cool fermentation to maintain freshness, bottle and drink when the wine is young."

1997 HOGUE Cellars Late Harvest White Riesling $8, "To preserve the lovely fruit qualities of this wine, juice was fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks at 50-54° F. Drink young to enjoy the fruit flavors and crispiness at their peak."

1997 BERINGER limited Vineyard Selection (LVS) White Zinfandel $8, according to Tim Hanni, M.W. and manager of Beringer Wine and Food Dynamics Program, "People love choice and Beringer Winemaker Ed Sbragia’s addition to our portfolio gives a choice of its rich aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries and citrus and its solid continuum of flavor, showcasing both the varietal character and the versatility of this classic California grape. A menu selection calling for a light fruity wine could offer suggestions among this White Zinfandel, a Riesling, a Chenin Blanc or a Gewürztraminer—all with their own flavor nuances. And I say, the more choices the better!"

LOU PRESTON says "It looks like another darn good year for Rhône varietals at PRESTON VINEYARDS here in Dry Creek Valley and we’re excited to be kicking off the year Viognier and Le Petit Faux.

1997 PRESTON Viognier, Estate grown and Barrel-Fermented $20, "aromas of peach, pear, spring flowers and ginger and a palate impression that’s full and rich with a firm structure carrying fruit to a clean finish," says Winemaker Kevin Hamel.

1997 PRESTON "Le Petit Faux" Estate grown, Cincault 42%, Grenache 31%, Mourèdre 27%, $10, "The delicate but complex wines shows notes of white peaches, strawberries, clove and pepper. The wine is full and ripe, refreshing and completely dry," says Winemaker Kevin Hamel.

The HESS COLLECTION has released three Chardonnays that illustrate regional and climatic differences as well as the winemaking interpretations based on the inherent fruit quality and characteristics: THE HESS COLLECTION 1996 Napa Valley Chardonnay $17.50, is 81% barrel fermented (42% new French oak,) 56% malolactic, and aged sur lie for 9 to 10 months. Winemaker Stephanie Putnam and V.P. and Director of Winemaking Randle Johnson say "While this indicates a ‘full blown’ Chardonnay, we’re in pursuit of balance. The fruit sources from cooler areas can stand up to the effects of barrel contact while retaining acidity in good equilibrium with hints of oak."

The 1997 GLEN CARLOU Chardonnay $15, from estate vineyards in Paarl, South Africa, has a 100% barrel fermentation with seven months aging in small French oak, partial malolactic and "lees" agitation (accomplished by physically rolling the barrels instead of stirring) to create a rich, full and ripe wine. MONTGRAS proprietor and winemaker, Hernan Gras, treats his fruit with restraint, harvesting in layers (20% on Feb. 10 remainder of Feb. 18) which keeps the natural acidity. Carefully selected grapes are whole cluster pressed, 75% cold fermented in stainless steel and 25% in American oak barrels. The wine is aged 6 months sur lie for the 1997 MontGras Reserva Chardonnay $11 from Chile. The results: three continents, three growing regions, three very different styles of Chardonnay.

At London’s INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE, 6,500 wines competed and only 148 gold medals were awarded—42 went to the 864 Australian wines entered.

dot.gif (854 bytes) A, B, C: Adelaide, Barossa, Coonawarra
dot.gif (854 bytes) Australia has 44 different wine-producing regions. A few Australian viticultural areas (also called Geographic Indicators--GIs) are already known and appreciated. All of Australia’s six states and one of its two territories now grow wine grapes. South Australia (S.A.) produces about 57 percent of the wine. Two regions best known to Americans are located in S.A.—Barossa and Coonawarra. Australia’s capital is Adelaide (Austin’s sister city).
dot.gif (854 bytes) (Excerpted from the Australian Wine Bureau c/o Austrade) Australia has some of the oldest vines in the world. It’s not uncommon to find 100-year-old Shiraz vines, many on original rootstock. Australian vines, it seems, were not crippled by the phylloxera epidemic that struck Europe and other places. Nonetheless, since America has seen such amazing growth in the popularity of Australian wines, many think the industry is new. History shows that vineyards began with the arrival of the First Fleet.
dot.gif (854 bytes) In 1788, the first European settlers—yes, convicts and their keepers—arrived in Sydney. Captain Arthur Phillip led the fleet of 11 ships and he became Australia’s first grape grower. His vineyard was planted in what is now part of the National Botanical Garden.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Later, more plantings occurred in cooler regions. An article in the Sydney Gazette, March 1803, spurred winemaking, and throughout the 19th century, winemaking was actually encouraged by the Prohibitionists who considered rum the demon drink and wine healthful in moderation.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Captain John MacArthur sailed for Europe in 1815 to collect vines and study viticulture. His vineyard near the Blue Mountains produced 10,000 cases in 1830.
dot.gif (854 bytes) About that time (1820) plantings occurred in Hunter Valley, when roads were built along the river. According to records, 260 acres of vines produced 8,000 cases of wine in 1843.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Soon after the founding of Melbourne in 1834, settlers rushed in and vines proliferated. Within 20 years, Victoria was the top wine producing state with thousands of acres of vineyards.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Barossa’s wine history is tied to German immigrants who tended vines in 1842.
dot.gif (854 bytes) People are surprised to learn that grape growing began in 1840 in Western Australia. The first commercial wine was from Houghton in 1859, now part of BRL Hardy near Perth.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Touring all of Australia’s wine regions is possible October 23 to 27 by attending WINE AUSTRALIA ’98 in Melbourne when 300 wineries present special tastings with food. Contact Australian Travel headquarters, 800-546-2155.

1996 ROSEMONT Traminer Riesling $7, lovely nose, classic varietal, fresh and fruit-filled

1996 NORMANS LONE GUM Chardonnay $9, a light and crisp style, refreshing and excellent food wine

1996 NORMANS Chardonnay Bin C 207 $12, pineapple, and Granny Smith apple, crisp and well-structured

1996 ROSEMONT Chardonnay $7, perfumy, tropical medley of aroma, butterscotch and toasty oak

1995 ALICE WHITE Chardonnay $7, fresh and filled with fruit—an exceptional value

1995 GEOFF MERRIL Chardonnay $14,

1996 NORMANS LONE GUM Shiraz $9, nice acidity, meaty, nicely textured.

1995 TALTARNI Shiraz $16, perfumy, subtle fruit, balanced.

**1995 FOREST GLEN Shiraz, CALIFORNIA (not Australian) $9, winsome aromas, leather, nutmeg, cloves, fresh grapes, nice weight.

1995 NORMANS Cabernet Sauvignon Bin C 106 $12, mint, earthy, currants, tea, mouth-filling and dry.

1994 LINDEMANS Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection $15, jammy, chocolate, wintergreen, dry, big structure, nice fruit on finish.

1993 CHATEAU TAHBILK Cabernet Sauvignon $14, earthy, herbal hints, oak, mint, mouth-filling, wood-dominates.

1993 TALTARNI Cabernet Sauvignon $15, complex, earthy, tannic, cola, tea, bit structure.

dot.gif (854 bytes) SHAFER’S Line on Wine once again entertains with fun trivia:
"A single harvest from the world’s most productive cork tree, a 213-year-old tree in Portugal, can supply corks for 100,000 bottles of wine." (Wines & Vines).
dot.gif (854 bytes) "The cross pollination of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc that resulted in Cabernet Sauvignon occurred between 300 and 400 years ago." (New York Times).
dot.gif (854 bytes) "The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon commanded the highest average price among varietals in Napa County, $2,005 a ton." (Napa Valley Register).
dot.gif (854 bytes) In my wine symposia I have passed around plant after plant of violets for my students to smell. We have never smelled any fragrance in any of them, yet wines continue to be described as smelling of violets. The conclusion was that when someone described wine as smelling of violets, they were making it up. I asked a gardener at a nursery about this phenomenon.

The explanation was that "years ago, long before all the inbreeding of violets to get healthier and better plants, there was a species that actually had odors—Viola Odorata. For decades, however, the fragrance has disappeared. If you know someone who has protected an ancient garden of violets of this species, you can experience the flowers odor."

From all the wine references referring to violet odors, there must be a lot of them somewhere. Please contact me if you know where I can experience the odor of violets. Thank you.

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Gorgonzola Smoked Salmon on a Puff Pastry Round
by Kenwood Vineyards

KENWOOD suggests its Sauvignon Blanc for this spring recipe:

1 ¼ cups Smoked salmon or lox chopped
3 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
4 oz. Cream cheese
¼ cup Green onion, chopped
2 Tbls. Fresh dill, chopped
1 ¼ cups Reduction* (recipe at bottom)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Sheet Puff pastry (frozen pastry section at market)
1 Egg, whipped
Fresh dill sprigs

Thaw puff pastry in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured board to 1/8" thickness. Using a 1 ½" cookie cutter or sharp knife, cut 1 ½ " rounds and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush each round with egg wash, being careful not to dribble down the sides on the round. Prick once with fork and bake in a 350 degree oven for 6 minutes. Prick, again, with a fork and back 4 to 5 minutes more, until golden brown. Let cool and store in a dry place.

Add Gorgonzola, cream cheese, smoked salmon, green onion and dill to the reduction. Mix thoroughly and check for seasoning—adding salt and pepper to your taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Up to this point everyting can be made the day before serving. 20 minutes before serving, take mixture out of the refrigerator and let set at room temperataure. When rady to serve, drop mixture from a teaspoon onto pastry round. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Makes about 30.

*Reduction recipe: (Reduce ½ cup shallots finely minced; 2 Tbls. Butter; 1 cup heavy shipping cream; 1 ¾ cups Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc—Gently sauté shallots in butter until translucent. Add cream and cook, reducing by ½. Add wine and continue cooking, reducing again by ½. You should have 1 ¼ cups mixture. Cool to room temperature