The Sarah Jane English Newsletter: 18th Edition
September 17, 1998
    
This edition's highlights...
Peak Wines International Bruschetta Parker
Recipe from Marcy Parker, Fess Parker
Health Publications
Reasonably-Priced French Wines
Wine NEWS
JEAN-MICHEL VALETTE has been named president and CEO of Franciscan Estates. The news was announced by Agustin Huneeus, Franciscan’s president since 1985 when he became a partner. Mr. Huneeus will become chairman and continue to be actively involved as the winery’s visionary and strategist.

SILVERADO VINEYARDS broke ground on a 30,000 square-foot expansion, nearly doubling winery space to allow more barrel storage and a new visitor center.

DRY CREEK VINEYARDS wine auction lot "Treasures of the Titanic"—America’s largest bottle of wine at 27 liters-- earned the high bid of $20,000 at the 18th Annual Sonoma County Wine Showcase. Also included in were a 1913 steamer trunk display case, antique Titanic postcard, blueprint of the ill-fated ship and authenticated movie memorabilia. Top bidder for the lot was Barry Larvin, master sommelier for the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and a first time attendee, inspired by the Dry Creek lot. Never in the 18-year history of the Showcase have bids been so big, totaling $361, 810 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma County.

AMBERHILL Vineyards has been taken to "the next higher step by creating a new and excellent stand-alone winery," says Roy Raymond, Jr. in launching the new label and package. Raymond says it underscores the special winemaking techniques and different stylistic approach. The Chardonnay is still only $8 and the Sauvignon Blanc $6 and Raymond says "we hope Amberhill Chardonnay is simply the best bottle of wine available at anywhere near this price."

PEAK WINES INTERNATIONAL WIN BIG AND OFTEN
GEYSER PEAK Winery, VENEZIA Winery and CANYON ROAD Winery, collected 31 medals at the California State Fair Wine Competition. More than 2000 wines were entered, including all the PEAK WINES INTERNATIONAL which enjoyed an award average of 82%. Gold medals went to GEYSER PEAK’s Late Harvest Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, and Malbec and to VENEZIA’s Chardonnay, Beaterra Vineyard and Sangiovese, Alegria Vineyard.

PEAK WINE INTERNATIONAL announced that 14 medals were awarded to its wines at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, including three golds, four silvers and seven bronzes for GEYSER PEAK, VENEZIA and CANYON ROAD.

Also, GEYSER PEAK received two significant awards at the International Wine & Spirit Competition: "Best Blended Red Wine Worldwide" and the "Robert Mondavi Winemaker of the Year" award for the best overall results in the oldest wine competition on the planet.

1995 GEYSER PEAK Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon won "American Airlines Best of Show" at the Indy International Wine Competition and "Best of Show Red" in the Tennessee International Wine Competition and in that some competition the 1997 GEYSER PEAK Gewurztraminer won "Best of Show White." Gold medals also went to 1996 GEYSER PEAK Chardonnay, 1997 GEYSER PEAK Sauvignon Blanc, 1995 GEYSER PEAK Merlot, 1995 GEYSER PEAK Reserve Shiraz, 1995 VENEZIA Beaterra Vineyard Chardonnay and 1995 VENEZIA Meola Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

TIM MCDONALD was named V.P. of Public Relations and Marketing for Geyser Peak Winery, which includes Canyon Road, Venezia, and Fox Ridge wines as well as the Geyser Peak portfolio.

FORTUNE BRANDS, Inc. the consumer products company, announced in July that its distilled spirits business has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the Geyser Peak wine business for $59 million plus funds to retire approximately $35 million in debt. In a related transaction, adjacent vineyard property will be purchased for $6 million.

ROBERT ROUX has been appointed director of the Southern Wine & Spirits Educational Institute, based in Napa Valley. His role is to develop and manage the newly formed institute which will train and develop the sales staff and management teams in the area of fine wine—viticultural science, winemaking and wine appreciation.

GRAYSON COUNTY COLLEGE, Denison, TX, has announced its Viticulture & Enology Fall Schedule of Classes. For information: (903) 463-8653

SILVER OAKS was inundated with enthusiastic fans August 11 wanting to buy the newly released 1994 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Lines formed hours before opening and nearly 1000 bottles were poured for tasting throughout the day to the 3,500 imbibers who traveled from Texas, Mississippi, New York, Georgia and other states to purchase Silver Oaks latest release. "I am continuously dumbfounded by the extraordinary efforts of our fans to get out wines," said President Justin Meyer. "The number who visited us today was twice that of last year. And it’s humbling to see that many people line up to buy our Cabernet."

SEBASTIANI Vineyards has announced a sweeping internal restructuring with the goal of providing the firm’s various sectors with clear roles and identities. Sebastiani Vineyards, Inc. will be partitioned in three divisions: Sebastiani Sonoma Cask Cellars will produce top quality varietal wines; Turner Road Vintners, in Woodbridge, will produce Vendange Wine Cellars and the soon-to-be-opened Nathanson Creek Cellars—which will be the fifth largest wine producer in the U.S. Among its brands are Heritage, La Terre, Nathanson Creek, Talus and Vendange; Humphrey & Brown International Wine Marketers will handle sales, marketing and distribution for Sebastiani Sonoma Cask Cellars and Turner Road Vineyards.

FREE THE GRAPES is a grass roots campaign to energize consumers to help stop distributor middlemen from telling consumers which wines they can and cannot enjoy. Only 14 states allow direct shipment of wine to consumers. Free The Grapes hopes consumers will change that figure by supporting free trade. For information contact: BENSON@JBWINE.COM, or (707) 254-9292

RECENTLY TASTED
Many good values; please look for current releases

BONVERRE Viognier Vin de Pays d’Oc $10, fresh, lively, peaches, light and clean

PRESTON Marsanne Dry Creek $20, complex, mineral, slight floral-lime, unctuous texture, smooth finish

J. LOHR Syrah $14, rich, nutty, toasty oak and gardenia, full-flavors and expansive

JOSEPH PHELPS Vin du Mistral Syrah $25, ripe dark fruits, vanilla, coffee and tabac hints, dry long finish

PRESTON Le Petit Faux, $10, smoky, fruity, nice clean and dry palate

BARON HERZOG White Zinfandel $6, fruity, blanched almonds, green apple, dry finish

BANDIERA Sauvignon Blanc $6, clean, sweet fruits, lightly crisp and dry finish, good value

BANDIERA Chardonnay $7, fresh, pear, light and clean, good value

HOGUE CELLARS—Winemaker David Forsyth was named one of this decades best winemakers and justly so (www.hogue-cellars.com). Washington State grows beautiful Rieslings and other white wines especially and David puts his magic touch to helping the grapes express themselves in the best possible light. Try HOGUE CELLARS Chenin Blanc $7 (crisp, green apple, pear), Fumé Blanc $8 (dried peach, mineral, clean and tart, nicely textured), Chardonnay (medley of tropical fruits, pineapple, crispy and fresh), Johannisberg Riesling (light, peaches, refreshing), Late Harvest White Riesling $7(sweet, honeyed, nice weight, smooth and luxurious). Add these wines to your regular list.

TRIVIA
SHAFER once again has compiled wine trivia for the Shafer Line on Wine. Here are some of the "Do You Knows?"

  • The percentage of French citizens between the ages of 20 and 24 who say they never drink wine: 53%.
  • Percentage of legal-aged Americans contacted in a Nielsen phone survey who said they drink wine: 58%.
  • Red wine’s share of restaurant wine sales, according to a recent survey of U.S. restaurants: 54.6%.
  • Average cost of the grapes used to produce a $20 bottle of wine: $2.64.
  • Amount of wood in a French oak tree that’s suitable for producing high-grade wine barrels: 5%.

PUBLICATIONS
GARDENS of the WINE COUNTRY by Molly Chappellet with Richard Tracy, photographer, Chronicle Books, $40, takes readers on a tour through 40 exclusive and spectacular gardens of Napa Valley, California. Both vineyards and residences are featured, including Francis and Eleanor Coppola’s Victorian paradise.

Peter Newton designed his garden to gain intimacy through enclosed spaces and to contain the view to avoid distraction.

South African Stella Wilson, co-owner of Chimney Rock Winery, says "South Africa has more native flora than any other country in the world, calla lilies, birds of paradise, gerbera daisies, pelargoniums, lilies-of-the-Nile and summer bulbs bloom by the score—as well as fruits and vegetables."

Katie Trefethen’s garden tastes are broad and eclectic "with a sense of adventure," writes Chappellet, "whimsy is found in every path."

Blanche and Peter Mondavi moved back into the family home in 1978 after Peter’s mother, Rose Mondavi, died. Blanche has revitalized the old garden with Chinese magnolias, flowering plum and peach trees, two-story camillia bushes, giant azaleas and clusters of lavender wisteria.

The book offers page after page of lush photographs revealing beautiful verandahs and solariums, ponds and boxwood hedges, wild vines and tailored flower beds. There is abundant evidence of the joyful dedication that such a fertile region can inspire in those who love gardens.

ZAGAT Survey 1998/99 PARIS RESTAURANTS is a welcomed small dining resource to one of the world’s great cities. $11.95 U.S.A., 69,00 F France, 7.99 U.K. e-mail: zagat@zagatsurvey.com

THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY BOOK, A Complete Guide including Austin and San Antonio, by Eleannor S. Morris, published by Berkshire House Publishers, Inc. It includes history, lodging, culture, restaurants, recreation, shopping, maps, and photos and prices. Berkshire House Publishers, $17.95 paperback at bookstores or e-mail: Info@Berkshirehouse.com

THE SEASONS of PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO Cookbook has 24 recipes and tips to celebrate old and new ways to use the world’s unique parmesan cheese. Organized according to seasons, the book is free, the only cost is postage and handling. Please contact: 315/454-2014 or e-mail: nradke@dreamscape.com.

THE NEW ZEALAND TOURISM BOARD has released its 1998 Simply Remarkable Destination Book and Directory, two magazine-style brochures designed to be practical and informative. The 12-page Destination Book offers handy hints, travel tips, general information on money, taxes, tipping, time differences, customs and lists tourism web sites. The 40-page Directory offers product highlights and information on 80 contacts to assist in planning a New Zealand vacation. Both are free by calling 800/388-5494. www.nztb.govt.nz

HEALTH
WINE INSTITUTE Monitor : "Most of us suffer from an occasional headache.

Unfortunately, science has had a difficult time identifying direct causes, and while red wine is sometimes singled out as a culprit, evidence of a connection is minimal.

Mark Daeschel, PhD., professor of Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University says red wine does not contain enough key headache-producing compounds (histamine and tyramine) to be of significance in causing headaches. Some people may be deficient in the enzymes naturally produced in the body that neutralize the headache-causing compounds found in all fermented foods. Also, more research is needed to see if alcohol or other compounds might amplify the effects of different amines.

Most people consume amine compounds (by-products of amino acid components that include histamine and tyramine) without problems. Our enzymes break them down. Nonetheless, because these two amines are vasoactive (cause blood vessels to expand and contract), throbbing headaches can occur in susceptible individuals.

According to the American Council for Headache Education, the factors that may be responsible for headaches are many: emotional stress, hormonal changes, medications, sleep patterns, exertion, atmospheric conditions, and light and motion. About 20% of sufferers are sensitive to specific foods that bring on attacks.

Cheese, chocolate and red wine sensitivity appear to have closely related mechanisms in some way related more to migraine than to simple chronic tension headache, while separate mechanisms play a major role in sensitivity to alcoholic drinks in general.

Other likely diet-related causes of migraines include hot dogs (nitrite-nitrate ingestion), Chinese restaurant food (monosodium glutamate—MGS) and hunger headache (hypoglycemia) and caffeine withdrawal. More research is needed on headaches, alcohol and other dietary factors; however, many scientists agree that most people can enjoy a moderate amount of red or white wine without side effects.

OTHER ALLERGIES

  • Gluten: a mixture of proteins found in grains (mostly wheat and corn) is not found I wine.
  • Sugar: Diabetics are concerned about sugar, and generally, no refined sugar is added to American wines (which is not true in France). If you can drink fruit juices, you should be able to enjoy wine. Consult your doctor.
  • Sodium: People with high blood pressure worry about sodium in their diet. A 4-oz. glass of wine has 6 to 7 milligrams of sodium.
  • Yeast: Yeast allergies are various and personal and it could be the yeast cells or some of the enzymes inside the cell. Yeasts cells are often filtered out of wine, but enzymes pose another problem.

Take two aspirin about 30 minutes before you imbibe moderately.

NEW RELEASES
(Quotes are winemaker’s notes.  Prices are California suggested retail.)

  • 1997 BUENA VISTA Sauvignon Blanc, California $8.75, "classic example of the varietal without too-intense flavors, melon, grapefruit and herbal notes with white flower nose, nicely balanced acidity, creamy and full middle, long, refreshing fruit."
  • 1996 BUENA VISTA Chardonnay, Carneros, $14, "traditional Carneros profile, clean aromas of green apples plus hints of oak and light butter, the mouth is big and rich with creamy, long flavors and well-balanced acid and tannin."
  • 1995 BUENA VISTA Merlot, Carneros, $19, "100% varietal, rich and full-bodied, aromas and flavors of fresh plums and blueberries, bittersweet chocolate tannins, notes of black olive and berries, layered and complex."
  • 1995 BUENA VISTA Cabernet Sauvignon, Carneros, $16, "complex aromas and flavors of red and black-berry fruits, some herbs, hint of mint, fresh tobacco, earthy, good tannins, long flavors."

  • 1996 FETZER Reserve Dry Gewurztraminer Beckstoffer’s Vineyard, $18, "sweeping floral, honeysuckle character, flavors of fresh peaches—try with smoked seafood, poached salmon and chicken dishes."
  • 1995 FETZER Reserve Merlot, North Coast, $22, "ripe cherry with hints of blueberry, mint and toasty vanilla, varietal character and oak, elegant depth and complexity—try grilled lamb and beef, hearty stews."
  • 1994 FETZER Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, $25, "rich, ripe black cherry, cocoa, oak flavors, cassis and black pepper and cherry spice, supple tannins—try roast leg of lamb, tenderloin beef.
  • 1995 FETZER Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, $14, "bright cherry and cassis, sweet oak, complexities of licorice, cedar and vanilla, mouth-filling and soft tannins."
  • 1996 FETZER Barrel Select Merlot, North Coast, $14, "ripe blueberry-cherry flavors, mint and toasty vanilla, elegant style."
  • 1996 FETZER Barrel Select Pinot Noir, California, $14, "bing cherry and raspberry with mint and vanilla complexities."
  • 1996 FETZER Barrel Select Chardonnay, North Cost, $12, "enticing tropical lemon fruit with hints of creamy vanilla and light butterscotch."

  • 1996 BONVERRE Viognier, Vin de Pays d’Oc, $10, "ripe apricot, zesty spiciness, hints of orange, clean and crisp."
  • 1996 BONVERRE Syrah, Vin de Pays d’Oc, $10, "sweet berry aromas, robust earthy and black pepper tones, medium weight, elegant and good length."
  • 1996 BONVERRE Merlot, Vin de Pays d’Oc, $10, "blackberry and licorice with smoky oak, briary berries and black pepper and cherry."

  • 1997 CHATEAU SOUVERAIN Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $8.50, "yellow melon and floral aromas, grapefruit with a hint of sage-like herb, crisp, fresh and lively."

FRENCH WINES
REASONABLY PRICED

In the not too distant past, many of the inexpensive, French "vin de pays" or country wines were course and excessively dry with little flavor. Several French wine producers, however, have upgraded these reasonably priced wines considerably. Varietal names have been added to the labels for the convenience of American wine drinkers. Perhaps competition from well-priced, fruitier American wines has encouraged these new and better products.

Fortant de France is the leading producer of 100% varietal wines, in itself a new idea. Until recent times, only the wines of Alsace put the grape name on the label. Again responding to an expanding American market, other regions have adopted the idea. Founded by Robert Skalli, Fortant de France has made revolutionary changes in the products from southern France’s Vin de Pays D’Oc. They represent some of the best buys in this category and can be found in super markets and wine shops. Fortant de France costs $8.65 a bottle for the Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, and $7.65 for the Sauvignon blanc and White Merlot, and preserve a purity of fruit flavors across the line.

Since the 1980s Fortant has forged a world-wide reputation for quality pure varietal wines. In September, Fortant de France President Skalli introduced three ultra-premium varietal wines from the Languedoc region—Fortant Reserve F, another innovative creation. Working with enologist Michel Rolland, the Fortant winemakers crisscrossed Languedoc to select a limited number of promising terroirs and joined with growers to produce the best grapes. That teamwork has resulted in the Fortant Reserve F wines, limited to 2000 cases per varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve F (highly aromatic nose, well-balanced structure and dimension on the palate of integrated tannins and extracts, $25), Chardonnay Reserve F (fragrant nose of gingerbread, pear and almonds and roundness on the palate, $20) and Merlot Reserve F (nose of wild berries and fresh greenery, mint and strawberries with toffee notes, well-balanced with soft tannin finish, $25).

A line of varietal wines from Baron Philippe de Rothschild called Cadet comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. The Cadet Chardonnay has apple and butter flavors and the Sauvignon Blanc is crisply refreshing with a nice tartness. Of the two red wines, the Merlot is spicy dry and the Cabernet Sauvignon shows hints of earth and olives and tannins. Each of these wines is only $7. From Bordeaux for $10 they produce the Mouton Rouge and Mouton Blanc, dry and structured.

A well-respected producer of Bordeaux wines, Jean-Michel Cazes, has new releases of 100% varietal wines. Unlike the previously mentioned wines from southern France, these wines come from Bordeaux where Jean-Michel Cazes manages a number of top properties including his own Chateau Lynch-Bages. The new line offers two wines. The Michel Lynch Merlot has a softer fruity style with resolved tannins and the Michel Lynch Sauvignon Blanc has an appealing crispness with citrus reminders, each $9.

Three other Bordeaux products are delicious and affordable, each $10. The Château de Malromé in Bordeaux was purchased by Countess Toulouse-Lautrec in 1883 and her artist-son spent many summers there painting. The Chateau Malromé wine features one of his paintings as the label.

Another one comes from the famous Prats family. Bruno Prats Signature Sauvignon Blanc has sweet fruit aromas and a crisp mineral palate. The Bruno Prats Signature Cabernet Sauvignon is briary, with licorice, tea, and a nice texture. Both are $10.

Christian Moueix’s name has been synonymous with the finest wines from Pomerol in Bordeaux for decades, producing the world-famous Château Pétrus. The Christian Moueix Merlot, the first Moueix wine to designate the varietal, is blended from several appellations. It accentuates softer tannins in a nicely textured wine with plum-like flavors, $10.

L’Orval is a deliciously inexpensive wine produced in West Texas by Cordier Estates/Ste. Genevieve. The Syrah, Chardonnay and Merlot are fresh and fruit forward wines that I think will impress you and your guests. I stay surprised by the price, $6 each.

Beringer Estates has introduced four lovely wines from the south of France called Rivefort de France. The four varietals are sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. I first tasted these wines with the winemakers David Schlottman of Napa Ridge and Jean-Louis Mandrau of France when they introduced them a couple of years ago. They have kept their delightful fruitiness with a surprising sophisticated structure and quality. Excellent values at $8 each.

Several recently tasted "petite Bordeaux" had lovely, fruit-forward fragrances with an oaky, dry finish: Château Les Moiselles, Côtes de Bourg, $10, Château de La Tour, $9, and Château La Tonnelle, Côtes de Blaye, $10. If you like structured French wines, I recommend these with steaks, venison, and other hearty red meats.

For wines to start an evening and accompany most lighter foods on your menu, try Beaujolais Villages Jadot—a classically, typical gamay wine for $10, Michel Picard Beaujolais  Villages—a dry wine with cinnamon and gamay fruit, $9, and the Château de la Chaize, Brouilly, $14, roasted and toasted odors, with a nice structure and dry finish.

The Loire produces a number of distinctive French wines. Muscadet, the name of a grape, the wine and a district, begins a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean and this proximity contributes to a microclimate that strongly influences this wine. Le Muscadet de Barré Sèvre et Maine, $9, is a dry white wine with delicate fruit that perfectly suits shellfish. It makes a nice sipping wine as well.


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Food ELLA'S RESTAURANT
Number One Jefferson Square
Austin, TX 78731
(512) 458-2148.
CLICK HERE FOR A MAP

ELLA’s is a new Austin restaurant located in Jefferson Square next to Anderson Coffee Co. owned by Sharon Gerhardt and Chef Kevin Williams. It’s attractively decorated in soft beige tones and blond Swedish-looking, maple-colored furniture.

The day was very hot and I enjoyed an array of salads. The delicious Gulf Coast Crab and Salmon Cakes had a lovely texture--moist and fluffy breading balanced by seafood. They were accompanied by a salad of fresh, mixed greens topped with Sharon’s distinctive Asian dressing—you guess what’s in it.

I also enjoyed the Caesar Salad—really crisp, fresh, romaine lettuce--and the Mixed Berry Slaw, a house specialty. It was a cornucopia of blueberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, spinach, purple cabbage, red bell peppers, baby yellow plum tomatoes tossed with a complimentary dressing and served warm with giant-slices of asiago crostini.

The menu included Gazpacho $3.40/4.50; Roasted Corn & Poblano Chowder, $3.75/4.75; Vegetable Sandwich, $7.50; Tequilla Grilled Shrimp Club, $7.95; Ella Burger, classic, $7.25 all served with a choice of pasta salad or summer slaw or chips.

Entrees are Poblano Steak $11.25; Hot & Crunchy Chicken or Trout, $10.25 and $11.50; Duck Quesadilla, $8.95; Serrano Cream Penne Pasta, $7.95.

Don’t overlook the desserts—especially the Fresh Peach tart in a buttery, crust with Vanilla Ice Cream.

ELLA’s has 50 seats inside and 50 outside on the patio; open Monday through Saturday for lunch 11 to 2 P.M. and dinner at 5:30 to 10 P.M. Sunday brunch only 10 to 2 P.M.

Bruschetta Parker
RECIPE from MARCY PARKER of FESS PARKER WINERY
Serve with Fess Parker Syrah, Santa Barbara
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 to 2 long eggplants
salt
Fess Parker Garlic & Basil Grapeseed Oil
12 slices French or Italian bread
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
½ lb. low fat mozzarella cheese
7 to 8 Roma tomatoes, vine-ripened
2 bunches fresh sweet basil
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

DIRECTIONS:
dot.gif (854 bytes) Slice eggplants into one-half-inch thick round disks. Brush generously with salt and let rest for one half hour to remove bitterness. Wash eggplant and pat dry. Baste eggplant on both sides with grapeseed oil and place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350° oven 15 to 20 minutes until fairly soft. Remove from oven and set aside.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Slice bread ½ inch thick. Place on separate cookie sheet and brush with grapeseed oil and minced garlic on one side. Broil in oven until brown then repeat on the other side with remaining oil and garlic.
dot.gif (854 bytes) Place a slice of mozzarella on each eggplant disk and each toasted bread slice and broil until just melted. Return to moderate over to keep warm.
dot.gif (854 bytes) While the eggplant is warming, seed and dice tomatoes. Remove cookie sheet from oven. Arrange three toasted bread slices per place, forming a cloverleaf pattern. Spoon tomatoes over each slice and sprinkle with Lawry’s. Top with chopped, fresh basil.


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