The Sarah Jane English Newsletter: 5th Edition
wine.gif (1421 bytes) Port-producer FICKLIN Vineyards offers a guide to serving port and recipes, free. Send SASE to Port Booklet, Ficklin Vineyards, 30246 Avenue 7 1/2, Madera, CA 93637.

’96 TREFETHEN Estate Cabernet Sauvignon won a double gold medal and Best Cabernet in Napa at the California State Fair Wine Competition. Let’s hear the applause!

ROBERT MONDAVI was honored as the "Twenty-ninth Annual Business Leader of the Year" by Harvard Business School Assoc. , CA. During the last 12 months, he has received California State Fair Lifetime Achievement Award, Wine Spectator’s "Critics Choice", World Trade Club’s International Achievement Award and Winemaker of the Decade from NY’sSmith & Wollensky.

FLORA SPRINGS’ red wines rate high, especially of late, even with the same vines and winemaker, Ken Deis. Co-owner Julie Garvey believes its a combination of things she calls "creative tinkering," specifically, old-world grape stomping. Small, experimental wine lots permitted the hands-on and feet-on approach. She thinks it makes a difference. Try the FLORA SPRINGS Reserve Cabernet, Trilogy, Sangiovese to see if you agree. I did.

U.C.DAVIS has established a one-acre Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard at its Oakville Experimental Vineyard with 57 selections of historically important Zin grapevines chosen from 27 older Zin vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, Contra Costa, San Luis Obispo and San Joaquin Counties. Scientists sought the purest and finest quality clones to isolate and nurture and to someday make available commercially.

LUCE red table wine $55 represents the historic partnership of the Mondavi and Frecobaldi families. Look for the few available releases in restaurants.

NORMANS, a respected Australian winery since the 1850s, offers a number of wines which combine quality with value. ’95 Normans LONE GUM (named for old river bed) Shiraz Cabernet $8; ’96 LONE GUM Shiraz $9; LONE GUM Semillon Chardonnay $8; NORMANS White Label Bin C 207 Chardonnay $12. The reds are lighter, fruit-styled wines and the whites have oak hints amid fresh and soft fruit.

’96 CAIN MUSQUÉ is 100% sauvignon blanc (only Cain not blended) from a unique clone, single Monterey vineyard, and barrel fermented to complement many foods. Lovely wine, always a treat.

’95 JEPSON Pinot Noir $16 employs a cold-soaking process for Russian River and Carneros grapes to enhance fruit flavors in this elegant wine.

’96 KING ESTATE Pinot Gris $13 and Reserve Pinot Gris $18 continue to show this varietal at its best. Both stainless steel fermented, 10% malolactic but the Reserve was aged 40% in oak ovals. ’95 KING Chardonnay $20 has balanced complexity expressing tropical fruits, vanilla and sweet toasty oak; ’95 KING Pinot Noir has plenty of berry-fruit, nutmeg and smooth structure.

’96 CAKEBREAD Sauvignon blanc $14 from new vineyards has first blending with 8% semillon and 1% sauvignon musqué but preserves its famous citrus tones with good body.

FETZER is emphasizing BARREL SELECT on its new label to emphasize premier coastal vineyards making super-premiums. ’96 Fetzer BARREL SELECT Chardonnay $12; ’94 Cabernet Sauvignon $13; ’96 Pinot Noir $13; ’95 Merlot $14—delicious wine at good prices.

’96 BELVEDERE Chardonnay $11from Alexander Valley and Russian River spent 8 months in French and American oak. It has abundant fruit enhanced by oak hints. Clean fruit shows well. ’95 BELVEDERE Dry Creek Merlot has cherry, berry fragrance with ample tannins and complexity.

’95 COLUMBIA WINERY Syrah, Red Willow Vineyard, offers a big, structured wine with long finish and concentrated flavors. Definitely a wine for syrah lovers!

’96 MURPHY-GOODE Fumé Blanc $11.50, Chardonnay $15 and Pinot Blanc $13.50, Reserve Fumé $16.50 and ’95 Cabernet Sauvignon $19 represent fine, well-made wines with appropriate flavors and body for the types.

’95 CLOS DU BOIS Merlot $17, Cabernet Sauvignon $15 and Zinfandel $14 show careful oak aging of fully ripened fruit from small harvest (especially reds) of spectacular quality in Sonoma County.

’96 ST. FRANCIS Reserve Chardonnay $20 is crisp and fresh while the ’96 Reserve Chardonnay shows ripe fruits mixed with oak and vanilla and a buttery texture.

1996 ALEXANDER VALLEY VINEYARDS Cabernet France $20, is a limited edition that represents Alexander Valley’s new, successful viticultural strategy (only 1,000 cases of this soft, rich wine); also, the New Gewurz $8.50 is a deliciously fresh wine filled with roses, lychee, cloves and fruit—perfect with smoked turkey. Call Katie for Mediterranean White Bean Gratin recipe 800/888-7209.

’95 CHAPPELLET Sangiovese $22 is available. Treat yourself.

’94 CHARLES KRUG PETER MONDAVI FAMILY wines shows the heart of the producer—concentrated, balanced wines: Generatioins Red Table $30, Reserve Merlot $22.50, Sangiovese $16.

WILLIAM HILL has a handsome new label and wines equal to it under winemaker Jill Davis and all 100% Napa Valley fruit: ’96 Chardonnay $14.50, ’95 Cabernet Sauvignon (9% cab. franc/8% petit verdot/3% merlot) $16 and ’95 Merlot (12% cab. sauvignon/3% petit verdot) $19.

DRY CREEK has released a trio of fruity, intense, complex reds: ’95 Merlot (22% cab sauvig./2% cab franc/ 1% petit verdot) $18.75, ’95 Cabernet Sauvignon (9% cab franc/4% petit verdot) $18.75, ’95 Old Vines Zinfandel (24% petite sirah) $16.

BEAULIEU Signet Collection--its prestige, limited-edition wines--offers a Sangiovese $16, Syrah $25, Viognier $25 and Zinfandel $12. BV’s Signets represent exciting new wines of highest quality in very small quantities, illustrating that 100 year-old winery can stay at the cutting edge of winemaking.

’95 CLOS DU BOIS recent reds will astonish you with the price: Merlot $17, Cabernet Sauvignon $15 and Zinfandel $14. Delicious!

CHAMPAGNE KRUG 1989 $220 deserves a special moment, ample yet silky, textured yet tender. You decide. For the first time ever, KRUG had three exceptional successive vintages, each meriting a vintage label: ’88, ’89, ’90. The ’89 showed supple roundness and has been released first.

CHAMPAGNE VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN Yellow Label $30 and La Grande Dame $100 cast their unique spell of sparkling bubbles for any celebration.

1989 CHAMPAGNE La DEMOISELLE Tete de Cuvée from Vranken $40, fairly new to Texas markets, makes a positively delicious and elegantly crisp statement, and also worthy, the nv Brut $28. Look for DEMOISELLE CUVÉE 21, a prestigious 100% Grands Crus chardonnay, $100, creamy wine, floral and citrus aromas, a persisting mousse, created to celebrate the 21st century.

’92 DOMAINE CARNEROS Brut $18 represents a classic cool year in the Carneros with a small crop and rich aromas. The wine was aged on the yeast for almost 4 years. Great body and richness.

CHAMPAGNE TAITTINGER Brut Rosé $48 and La Francaise $30 will brighten any gathering considerably, especially for those liking the classically elegant style.

IRON HORSE offers its award winning products: ’92 Classic Brut $23, Vrais Amis $23, Blanc de Blancs LD $45, Wedding Cuvée $28, Brut Rosé $28 and Brut LD $30, all fine wines. Winemaker and partner Forrest Tancer has been making these excellent wines since the early ‘80s.

MUMM CUVÉE NAPA presents two excellent wines for $16, Brut Prestige and Blanc de Noirs.

CHAMPAGNE LOUIS ROEDERER Brut Premier $42 has been synonymous with great champagne since 1776. The Brut sets the house style for this esteemed producer. The American property, ROEDERER ESTATE, produces two excellent sparkling wines: ROEDERER ESTATE Anderson Valley Brut $17 has two years on the yeasts and 1991 L’ERMITAGE $33, the crème de la crème, has four. Both are oak aged and show the skilled craftsmanship of winemaker Michel Salgues.

CHAMPAGNE DEUTZ Classic $29 is the house style of one of the most respected Champagne houses. This beautifully balanced wine has long been a favorite.

GLORIA FERRER has vineyards of chardonnay and pinot noir in the Carneros, an area many believe grows those two varietals at their best. The sparkling wines certainly exhibit the quality: Sonoma Brut $15; Blanc de Noirs $15; 1989 Brut $16—deliciously priced.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE makes three well-made, incredibly reasonable wines: Blanc de Blancs, lean and elegant; Brut, traditional blend; Extra Dry, fruity demi- sec, each $10. Try these winners.

FREIXENET (fresh-eh-net) WINERY, approximately 35 miles from Barcelona, is the world’s largest producer of méthode champenoise sparkling wines. The sparkling wine holdings of the company recently tasted include SEGURA VIUDAS, CASTELLBLANCH and GLORIA FERRER in Sonoma (see above). They are well-made wines of good value. Two very pleasing, refreshing wines for about $6 were the FREIXENET Carta Nevada and the SEGURA VIUDAS Brut Reserva, and for about $5 the CASTELLBLANCH Brut Extra beats anything of a comparable price in the market. SEGURA VIUDAS Reserva Heredad is a unique and stunning bottle emblazoned with a permanent silvery metal crest and coaster inscribed with grapes $14 which always creates "oohs" and "ahs" when displayed. If unfamiliar with these wines, treat yourself to several bottles at minimum expense.

Affordable and delicious In the not too distant past, some French "vin de pays" or country wines were course and had little flavor. Apparently competition from well-priced American wines encouraged better products. FORTANT DE FRANCE founder Robert Skalli, leading producer of 100% varietal wines, has made revolutionary changes in wines from southern France’s Vin de Pays D’Oc. They represent some of the best buys in this category, $7.50, and can be found in super markets and wine shops: Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Varietal wines of Baron Philippe de ROTHSCHILD are called CADET and come from the Languedoc-Roussillon, $7 each. The Cadet Chardonnay, apple and buttery; the Sauvignon Blanc, crisp, refreshing, nicely tart; Merlot, spicy dry and the Cabernet Sauvignon, hints of earth, olives and tannins. From Bordeaux for $10 they produce the Mouton Cadet Rouge and Mouton Cadet Blanc, dry and structured.

Well-respected producer Jean-Michel Cazes of notable Chateau Lynch-Bages has new releases of 100% varietal wines from Bordeaux. The new line offers MICHEL LYNCH Merlot, a soft fruity style, and MICHEL LYNCH Sauvignon Blanc, appealing crispness with citrus reminders, each $9.

Other Bordeaux products are delicious and affordable at $10. One comes from the famous Prats family. The MAÎTRE d’ESTOURNEL, PRATS FRÈRES is full-flavored, smooth with subtle vanilla overtones. Christian Moueix’s name has been synonymous with the finest wines from Pomerol 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.

Founded 160 years ago, DELAS FRÈRES is one of the largest land holders in northern Rhone. After three rainy harvests, the 1995 vintage is characterized by rich, highly colored and aromatic wines: Côtes-du-Rhone Saint Esprit Rouge, 100% syrah, $8; Côtes-du-Rhone Saint Esprit Blanc, blended white grapes with delicate sweet frutiness, $8; and the uniquely flavored 1995 Delas Frères Viognier, light and refreshing yet subtly sumptuous, $10.

PICARD PÈRE et FILS is the second largest wine producer/négociant in Burgundy, and, with 227 acres of vineyards, the third largest landholder. The company began in 1951.

"Being the son of a winemaker is like being the son of a fisherman—when you are born in the water, going to another place never occurs to you, "Michel Picard says.

Picard has been a winemaker for more than 35 years. He began as a boy by helping in the vineyards.

"It was there that I grew up and it is there that my passion for winemaking began."

He is introducing a new line of wines that bear his name. They represent a partnership with Brown-Forman and the 1996 vintage is their inaugural. The varietal wines are from the south of France. He supervised their production from selecting the grapes through vinification. All are gently oak-aged. Two recently introduced varietals are the 1996 Michel Picard Chardonnay and 1996 Michel Picard Chardonnay, $10 each, and two regionals are the 1996 Michel Picard Beaujolais Villages, $11, and the 1996 Michel Picard Mâcon-Villages (100% chardonnay), $12. These refreshing, fruity wines are ready to be enjoyed.

food.gif (1390 bytes) Austin has one restaurant for every 320 people—more than Houston (one per 360), San Antonio (one per 332) and Dallas (one per 380). Explore this largesse.

Doubleday has three good-looking new releases: Fiesta! by Anya Von Bremzen $29.50, explores Latin influences on American food—Peruvian Pumpkin Doughnuts and Drunken Chicken with Papaya, for example, and Great Fish, Quick by Leslie Revsin $27.50, proposes that fish fillets are as simple to prepare as chicken breast, but with vastly different tastes and textures. Also techniques and tips, accompaniments and sauces. Entertaining 101 by Linda West Eckhardt & Katherine West DeFoyd explores a return to entertaining at home: considering what to serve, coordinating various dishes among courses, special meals—all done with ease.