|The Sarah Jane
English Newsletter: 13th Edition
June 11, 1998
The Society of Medical Friends of Wine Bulletin sadly reported the death of its longtime distinguished member Maynard A. Amerine, M.D., a giant in the California wine industry.
Fourth Annual Livermore Valley Winegrowers Foundation Wine Auction, Il Maschero, takes place the weekend of July 17 and 18, 1998. It is a non-profit charity event benefiting the ValleyCare Foundations health Library and the Ryan Comer Cancer Research Resource Center. The organizer reports that "this is the only charity auction offering bidders the unique opportunity to purchase wine lots from all of Californias wine regions." In addition the auction provides two days of wine and food tasting, entertainment, and a chance to visit the historic Livermore Valley, one of the fastest growing premium wine regions. Contact Brown-Miller Communications: 800/710-9333
World Vinifera Conference takes place in Seattle, Washington, July 15 and 16, 1998. Its an information packed two-day symposium, focusing on the future of the wine industry. Space is limited to 300. Contact 1-800-481-6704.
Acacia founding winemaker Michael Richmond returns to his roots. Chalone Wine Estates President Tom Selfridge announced that Mike, former general manager of Carmenet in Sonoma, will be general manager and winemaker where he started his career at Acacia in 1979 replacing Dave Lattin. "Were are saddened by Daves decision to leave," said Selfridge, "but he wants to spend quality time with his children while they are young, and Mike wants to return home." Welcome back, Mike! Carmenet Winemaker Jeffery Baker will also be the general manager.
Kimberly Charles, formerly with Kobrand, has accepted a position with Gallo Sonoma as director of communications.
Australian Wine Bureau has moved: 150 E. 42nd St., 34th Floor, NY, NY 10017, Marketing Director Jan Stuebing, 212/351-6586.
Cork Supply USA has a toll free number: 800/961-2000. The Cork Supply News reports the new upgraded production facility increases production from 600,000 corks in eight hours to 850,000, improves overall material handling and that state-of-the-art equipment enables the company to improve every aspect of the production process.
Ficklin Vineyards has some innovative answers for fans of port wine who arent sure just how to serve this classic beverage in a summer setting. For the handy brochure with cool and refreshing summer drinks and dessertsfrom Port-Vanilla Ice Cream Punch to Strawberry Port Zabaglione, please send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to: Cool Summer Port, Ficklin Vineyards, 30246 Avenue 7 ½, Madera, CA 93637.
Howell Mountain Education Foundation is having "Taste of Howell Mountain" June 26, 1998, at 6 P.M. at Clos Pegase, $45 per person. Contact 707/9653642.
Sandra Timpson has joined Edwin J. Swartz, Public Relations, Inc., as account supervisor.
Sterling Vineyards hosted an international Merlot conference for growers and winemakers from Merlot-producing regions around the world. Transcripts from the conference are available on the Sterling Vineyards website: http://www.sterlingvineyards.com.
Larry Levin has been named senior winemaker at Franciscan Estate Selections with primary responsibility for Quintesa and Franciscan Oakville Estate wines. He will have advisory responsibility for Estancia, Mount Veeder and Veramonte/Chile wines. Levin previously served 15 years as winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyards.
Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Jack & Dolores were high school sweethearts. They wed and in 1959 and Jack bought Cakebreads Garage from his Dad while he studied photography with Ansel Adams. It was during a photographic assignment (1972) in Napa Valley that the Cakebreads made an offer to buy a ranch.
At the ranch they worked evenings and weekends for two years to establish the vineyards and the initial winery was built in 1974. The first release was a Chardonnay in 1975 and the first Cabernet Sauvignon followed in 1976. Bruce became winemaker in 1978 and a new winery building was added in 1980. A three-phase expansion occurred in 1997. You must see this property. Jack gave me a tour last year (97) and its extraordinary.
Over the years, acres of Cakebread vineyards have been added and new technology incorporated. The 100-year-old winery home was remodeled with a state-of-the-art kitchen that ushered in the annual American Harvest Workshops (87). The Cakebreads completed replanting all 75 acres of vineyards damaged by phylloxera in 1994, and looking ahead, everything appears to be just great.
El Niño is "El Nothing" to California
"El Niño has been much ado about nothing," says Justin Baldwin of Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles. "It was really El Nothing."
"Im surprised theres been very little El Niño damage," says Bernard Portet of Clos du Val in Napa. "A series of alternating cool and warm weather delayed budbreak a few weeks, but now the early vine vegetation is abundant. . . . our regular control programs should keep the botryris in check."
California has seen 150 to 220 percent of normal rainfall for the season so far, making it the wettest winter this century for many areas around the state.
California winegrape acreage for 1997 was 403,800 acres (75,334 nonbearing) and for 1996 it was 378,600 acres (76,300 nonbearing).
MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon was grown on the estates benchlands, enjoying the unusual combination of warm, well-drained soils and cool air. Jacques Schlumberger became senior partner of this 19-year-old winery in 1993. A relative of the Alsatian Schlumbergers, he grew grapes in Sonoma before investing in this winery. Influenced by his familys 400-year grape growing experience, hes dedicated to the production of small lots of rare quality, estate wines which express the distinct flavors of benchland fruit. Benchland (unusual land forms, smoothly sloping, terraced or benched hills--remnants of geological benches that are uplifts of earth weathered and eroded by the sun, wind .and rain) refers to a type of vineyard that is planted on such land forms. It seems Mother Nature contoured the land for grape growing. In Dry Creek Valley, where Californias Coastal Range separates the land from the ocean, MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGERs benchland vineyards are located 17 miles east of the Pacific--between the valleys floor and the forested ridges to the west.
"The 1994 grapes matured with full berry flavors, ample acid and refined tannins." Winemaker Fred Payne blended cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and cabernet franc to display the best attributes of the vintage. The 1994 MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER is classic: "balanced, with ripe fruit, complexity and a finish with layers of flavors."
TALTARNI 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon: "The outstanding 1994 vintage produced a small crop of fruit with great concentration of flavor. The Taltarni cabernet shows rich, vibrant aromas of currant, plum and coffee, and a palate balanced with a fleshy texture, complex layers of fruit, spice and cedary oak. This wine has immediate appeal, but will age gracefully for 8 to 10 years. Named "Best Cabernet" in the 1996 Penguin Guide."
TALTARNI 1997 Sauvignon Blanc: "This wine exhibits aromatic gooseberry, passionfruit and citrus characters. As always, it is recommended that you enjoy this fine Sauvignon Blanc within 18 months of vintage."
SIMIs new releases are wearing a new label (see 12th Newsletter) which exemplifies its long tradition (established 1876) and continued commitment to innovation and quality. Simi now produces three tiers of Chardonnay: Classic (broad Sonoma appellation), Limited (more specific Carneros appellation) and Reserve (single vineyard estate bottling from Russian River).
THE HESS COLLECTIONs import partners MONTGRAS and BODEGA NORTON, have new releases.
WINE ALLIANCE WINES
Wine Classic Update July 5-12, 1998
Today the Wetzel Family Estate is home to Alexander Valley Vineyards, a winery with 150 acres of vines reaching from the banks of the Russian River up into the foothills. Hank made wines from 1975 until 1996 when he hired a bright young Australian, Peter Burford, which allowed Hank to return to his major interests of vineyard management and winery operations.
One paramount accomplishment is the new cave. Hank says they needed more barrel space for growing production, the cave is aesthetically pleasing and it has a beneficial aging environment.
"In a standard winery building you can lose 5% of the wine to evaporation due to fluctuating humidity and temperature," Hank says. "The cave varies only 5 degrees F. from summer to winter (63° to 58° ). And expansion is unlimited. Well use the cave for barrel fermenting and aging."
The greater portion of the production is Chardonnay, Merlot and cabernet sauvignon and Winemaker Peter loves it. The wines show his dedication, and very well.
With a nicely prepared luncheon at Mezzaluna Gateway, (my baked halibut was fresh and succulent) we sampled several AVV wines.
Look for a new Meritage* AVV wine in 2000.
Excellence in the Loire Valley of France is represented by Gratien et Meyer, de Ladoucette, Marc Brédif and La Poussie. The largest and most famous Pouilly-Fumé vineyards have been in the hands of Comte Lafond and Ladoucette families since 1787 when the Comte Lafond purchased the regions largest wine-growing estate from the illegitimate daughter of the French King, Louis XV.
These families were bankers, and some members were governors of the Banque de Francethe major French bank at the time. Like many aristocratic families, winemaking was a hobby.
At the end of the 19th century, the vineyards were virtually destroyed by phylloxeralice that invade the roots. Two world wars prevented full restoration of all the acreage, but many vineyards were replanted with phylloxera-resistant rootstock (probably T.V.Munsons of Texas) and they still thrive.
In 1972 Baron Patrick de Ladoucette took over the vineyard. He was the first member of the family to concentrate exclusively on wine production and began a series of investments in vineyards. He extended his interests to Sancerre, and later, in 1980, bought vineyards in Vouvray. In 1985 he acquired one of the best known Chablis houses, Albert Pic. His one rule behind all these investments was to be able to produce the best white wines from each of these grape varieties: sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc and Chardonnay.
Marc Brédif grows Chenin blanc in Vouvray. The history of the wines of Vouvray is directly linked to the religious history of the Touraine
Perrier Outstanding Restaurant: Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert, New York
Farberware Cookware Outstanding Chef: TIE: Wolfgang Puck, Spago, Beverly Hills and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean Georges, New York
Perrier-Jouët Rising Star Chef of the Year: Keith Luce, Spruce, Chicago
Café de Colombia Outstanding Pastry Chef: Stephen Durfee, The French Laundry, Yountville
Hudson Valley Fois Gras Outstanding Wine Service: The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA
Best New Restaurant: Jean Georges, Chef Didier Virot, New York
Outstanding Service: Four Seasons, New York
American Express Best Chefs in America:
Humanitarian of the Year: Rick Bayless, Founding member & Chairman of Chefs Collaborative 2000
Lifetime Achievement Award: Madeleine Kamman, Author, Educator, Chef
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional: Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate