The Sarah Jane English Newsletter: 7th Edition
wine.gif (1421 bytes) PORT may be the most gregarious of beverages. It is definitely best served with many friends around your table, preferably at 65 to 68 degrees. Ports enjoyed at my table with various blue cheeses, walnuts from the Trefethen’s California vineyard grove, and chocolates—including the incomparable Chocolate Truffle Cake from David Glass Desserts and bons bons from Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin and others from friends, beautifully accompanied some favorite PORTS, among which were the RAMOS-PINTO Superior Tawny, delightfully light and fruity $13.75; TAYLOR FLADGATE First Estate, inviting traditional nose with multiple berry fruits $16.50; FONSECA Bin 27, dark cherry and chocolate $17; SMITH WOODHOUSE Lodge Reserve, smoky, French vanilla-coffee $14; TAYLOR FLADGATE 10-Year-Old Tawny, currents, toasted pecans, berries $25; FONSECA 10-Year-Old Tawny, rich berries and roasted walnuts, $26; W. & J. GRAHAM’S Six Grapes, spicy richness and ripe fruit $19; 1991 DOW’S LBV, perfumed elegance $17; 1994 RAMOS PINTO Vintage, sumptuous dark chocolate hazelnut $50; SANDEMAN Founders Reserve, fruit and oak nuances with vanilla $15; SANDEMAN 20-Year-Old Tawny, medley of nuts with spicy fruit $34; RAMOS PINTO Quinta do Bom Retiro, rich and full-bodied emphasizing nuttiness $56. SAO PEDRO 10 Year Tawny, smooth and spicy, chocolate and figs $40; SAO PEDRO Ruby medley of berries and touch licorice $35. FICKLIN of California makes a couple of really nice Port-style wines, FICKLIN Tinta $10 is delicious and the FICKLIN 10-year-old is jammy with nut and oak $20. Comments most often made: rich, sweet, berries, nutty, smoky, chocolate, vanilla and fruity. Older ports demonstrated more smoky nutty character while others emphasized fruit and chocolate, but hints of most comments were in most wines. All delicious.

AN ESTEEMED VINTER DIES: Jack Davies, owner of Schramsberg Vineyards, died at home, peaceably in his sleep, March 10, 1998, of an undiagnosed neural-muscular problem he had battled for over a year. He will be missed.

ED KILLIAN, winemaker at CHATEAU SOUVERAIN, visited Austin as the featured speaker for my First Thursday Tasting Group. All the wines were delicious and those tasted were the current releases of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Reserve Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a vertical selection of Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘91-‘95. It’s sad that fewer producers are making sauvignon blanc, but as long as Chateau Souverain does you are assured an excellent one—tropical fruit style, crisp and refreshing. Both chardonnays showed varietal character with ripe, yummy fruit and the reserve had nice overtones of oak as well. Souverain has always focused on cabernet sauvignon and the 1994 and 1995 show how excellent fruit can add enormous dimensions and appeal to well-made cabernets. Enjoy!

LISA SUPPLE SOMOGYI has joined FRANCISCAN as director of public relations.

MICHELLE ARMOUR is the director of public relations at MAISON MARQUES et DOMAINES.

NANCY GILBERT has joined FERRARI-CARANO as director of public relations.

JANET PAGANO is president/winemaker of Mount Veeder Winery.

JON ENGELSKIRGER joins TURNBULL Wine Cellars as winemaker.

ED FARVER has been named general manager of KENDALL-JACKSON operations in Napa Valley. He will oversee the construction of a 500,000 case winery to open in time for this fall’s harvest. Farver spent 20 years helping make Domaine Chandon a pillar of the sparkling wine world.

FALL CREEK VINEYARDS happily announced that its Chardonnay is back on the market. After being sold out of the 1996 for several months, the 1997 is available—long on fresh fruit balanced with oak—and touting a new look--a gold, artistic waterfall-squiggle stripe on a white background. The 1997 world-class Chenin Blanc wears the same label while the red wines use a black background to the gold waterfall.

KING Estate has created a popularly priced label, LORANE Valley, for two wines that reflect the quality of this highly respected Oregon producer. At $10 each, the 1995 Lorane Pinot Noir and the 1996 Lorane Chardonnay will satisfy your budget and your palate.

At CHATEAU MONTELENA, Winemaker Bo Barrett says they worked 36 uninterrupted days to crush, ferment, press and rack the wines for the 1997 harvest. "Everybody had a great time, gained weight from the lunches the staff prepared and, most importantly, we made some fine wine from excellent grapes. Had we been able to order our weather à la carte, it could not have been better." All great wines begin with great grapes so be sure to watch for these wines in the future.

Tim Murphy, partner of Murphy-Goode Estate Winery (M-G), showcased his wines at Austin’s Chez Zee restaurant. Having visited the Sonoma winery last June to taste the previous vintages, I can happily report that the M-G wines remain consistently good.

In a world that is mesmerized by chardonnay, Murphy-Goode manages to produce three deliciously distinctive sauvignon blancs (also known as fumé blanc), one of my favorite white wines: 1997 Fumé Blanc, herbal and floral hints and smoothly crisp, $8.75; 1996 Reserve Fumé, unctuous with oak overtones, $12.50 and the 1995 Fumé II "The Deuce" from a selected block, slightly floral, vanilla and pierre ã fusil, $18.50. Tim says the partners wanted to make a stainless steel fruity style, a Graves (barrel fermented) style, and then they wanted something very intense—so they offer three. All worthy choices.

Not to deny the chardonnay enthusiasts, Murphy-Goode also makes three chardonnays. They are oak fermented and undergo malo-lactic fermentation, but the difference among them is the length of time in, type and ages of the oak barrels, and the percentage of wine that undergoes malo-lactic and sur lie batonage: the 1995 "Island Block" Alexander Valley Chardonnay—one taster remarked "so big it has its own zip code," and the 1995 "J & K Murphy" Russian River Chardonnay both intensely textured and with the compelling oak flavors that barrel fermenting brings, while the 1996 Sonoma County Chardonnay combines grapes from three appellations to offer a floral, smoothly crisp taste.

Murphy-Goode also makes delicious wines from merlot, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon grapes, $14, $12.50 and $23.50 respectively. Check them out.

GEYSER PEAK has released the 1995 Shiraz, $15, harvested from Geyser Peak vineyards; the 1995 Merlot, $16, a complex style enjoyable young, and the 1997 Sauvignon Blanc, $$8.50, selected from a range of vineyards at varying maturity levels to increase diversity.

FRANCISCAN has a new, powerful 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, indicative of Oakville, and characterically reasonably priced at $17. Two other releases are the 1996 Chardonnay $15, 100% barrel fermentation, and the ever-irresistible 1995 Chardonnay Cuvée Sauvage $30—long a favorite of mine.

ESTANCIA has four new hand-crafted wines to tempt your taste buds and save your money: 1995 Chardonnay $11; 1996 Fumé Blanc $10; 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1996 Reserve Chardonnay $19.

FESS PARKER chardonnays: Marcella’s Vineyard $24, American Tradition $22 and Santa Barbara County, have something for every taste: rich, buttery, fruity and a delice ‘96 FESS PARKER earthy Pinot Noir, $18.

STAG’S LEAP WINE CELLARS Napa Valley 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon $26, 1994 Fay Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon $50 and 1996 Chardonnay Napa $24 should keep your palate very happy.

CK MONDAVI has well-made wines for $7: ’97 Chardonnay, ’96 Zinfandal and ’96 Cabernet Sauvignon.

TAFT STREET ’96 Chardonnay $9, ’95 Cabernet Sauvignon $12, ’95 Merlot $13 and ’96 Zinfandel $12 are fruit filled, approachable wines and a good value.

EBERLE ’97 Muscat Canelli elegant ripe pear with floral bouquet and EBERLE ’95 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles, lusciously fragrant, toasty, coffee, ripe plum.

ALDERBROOK showcases its ‘96 Zinfandel OVOC (Old Vines-Old Clone) with Chef May’s Emu Burger, made with dried tomatoes and pepper pecorino. Call 800-655-3838 for the recipe. Enjoy it with the Zinfandel, a favorite of Winemaker Kristi Koford: "I’m a fruit-driven winemaker, and Zinfandel is a fruit-driven wine. I extract all the potential from this flavor-rich grape without too much intervention."

A Wine Institute NEWSFLASH reports a French study published in Epidemiology (March 1998) that finds significant reduction in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and all types of cancer among moderate (described as 2-3 glasses a day) wine drinking men. The study followed 34,000 middle-aged French men for 10-15 years.

Another Wine Institute NEWSFLASH reports new research based on a pooled analysis of six cohort studies, "Women consuming 30 to 60 grams per day of alcohol (approximately 2.3-4.5 bottles of beer, 2.8-5.6 glasses of wine, or 2.0-4.0 shots of liquor) had a 41% higher risk of invasive breast cancer," Journal of the American Medical Association. In another category, three of the six pooled studies found that 5.0 up to 15.0 grams per day—approximately the level of moderation according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, actually found a very slight decrease in breast cancer risk. In conclusion, "Since moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality among women, the risk-benefit ratio of alcohol consumption is complex."

In another study, findings from the Nurses’ Health Study by researchers from Harvard ‘s School of Public Health, found "in this population of women, higher intakes of folate alone or in association with vitamin B6 are associated with substantially lower risk of Coronary Heart Disease." More in depth investigation is needed, but it seems wine plays a role in folate synthesis.  See for more information.

My January Symposium tasted some delicious sauvignon blancs. JEPSON, light, fruity, rounded with good balance, long finish; BERINGER, nicely crisp and tart with good acidity; BUENA VISTA, filled with medley of tropical, softer and lush; CAKEBREAD, citrus tones, good structure; MATANZAS CREEK, good fruit entry, balanced; CHALK HILL, rich and buttery; ST. SUPERY, complex, fruit and acidity nicely balanced, long finish; MERIDIAN citrus flavors evolve nicely.

Symposium Chardonnays, all excellent, included St. FRANCES, rounded with lovely flavors and balance; MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER, tropical fruit nuances, rich and complex; CHATEAU ST. JEAN, Belle Terre, elegant with generous fruit; CLOS du VAL, buttery, classic and lingering finish; CHARLES KRUG PETER MONDAVI FAMILY RESERVE, supple, full, compelling ripe fruit; The HESS COLLECTION, subtle nose, delicious palate, crisp; FRANCISCAN, pineapple and green apple, hints of oak; SIGNORELLO, richly complex, vanilla, buttery, pineapple; FAR NIENTE, integrated, balanced, stylish; GLORIA FERRER, crisply tart with ample fruit and structure; STONESTREET, ripe, rounded, vanilla, buttery.

Symposium Pinot Noirs, noteworthy, included the scrumptious MARIMAR TORRES, perfumy, balanced and generous $25; IRON HORSE, perfumy, elegant and rounded $20; EDMEADES, rich, complex, terroir $20; CHARLES KRUG Carneros delicious, fruity, spices $15; FESS PARKER, good structure, leather, tea, earthy $18; LA CREMA Reserve, complex, cola, celery, spice, explosive aromas and flavors $18; STERLING, Winery Lake, Carneros, full, integrated medley of fruits and herbal spiceS $20: HANDLEY Reserve, big, nicely textured, long finish $24. From Oregon, the ultimate in pinot noir is expressed by the KING ESTATE-- delicate, filled with a complex medley of fruits, clean on the palate and beautifully balanced.

A lovely array of Cabernet Sauvignons were tasted, some bright, ripe and fruity ones—CHATEAU MONTELENA Calistoga Cuvée, BERINGER Knight Valley, ATLAS PEAK, CLOS du BOIS Briarcrest; those with stronger tannic structures, multiple berries and vanilla—TRUCHARD, TAFT STREET, STERLING Reserve, CLOS DU VAL, CAIN Cuvée, LOS ENCANTOS "Covenant."

GUADALUPE RIVER RANCH has announced the next Vintner Weekend, scheduled for April 24-26, 1998. Call 800/460-2005 for information.

Click here for Sarah Jane's report on Masters of Food and Wine 1998.

Also, I attended the College of the Oaks sponsored by Seguin Moreau and Beaulieu. We made barrels and designed wine to suit our barrels.


food.gif (1390 bytes) CAFÉ JOSIE, 1200-B West 6th St., Austin (322-9226) is one of those rare neighborhood finds whose good reputation has extended its borders. It’s a sassy, brassy place, filled with happy chatter and satisfied diners. I liked the lighting because I could see the delicious presentation on the plate. I agree with the French in wanting to admire the food rather than having to search to discover it under the flicker of a votive. The food is spicy and good. The amount of spice may be moderated upon request because each dish is prepared to order. I asked for less hot spiciness because of my preference and received it. White wines are best with these dishes—sauvignon blanc, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, riesling, pinot blanc and pinot gris. The several things enjoyed will give the best idea of the style of food: Cajun Spiced Calamari with Chipotle Aioli (the best I’ve eaten); Bay Shrimp Potstickers with Ginger Tamarind Sauce, delicious with Hogue Sauvignon Blanc; Grilled Pepita Crust Redfish with Mango Habanero Butter on Saffron Rice with Black Beans, nice with a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay; Mesquite Grilled Jerk Port Tenderloin with Spiced Rum Glaze and Garlic New Potatoes with Vegetables, lovely with the Estancia Chardonnay; Swordfish, nice with several wines including a pinot noir; Grilled Pistachio Crust Chicken and Pineapple Mango Salsa on Saffron Rice and Black Beans, a fruity chardonnay or the King Estate Pinot Gris is good, and the desserts were worth the calories—especially the whipped white chocolate and the banana frozen mousse.

Doubleday has published 99% FAT-FREE MEALS IN 30 MINUTES, $25, by Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey, bestselling authors of previous fat-free books. This one includes time saving tips and clever shortcuts as well as mimimal work and minimal fat—scrumptious menus for quick-to-fix meals with no more than one gram of fat per dish.

Also published by Doubleday: DIARY OF A TUSCAN CHEF, $35, by Cesare Casella & Eileen Daspin arranges seasonal menus that are inspired by an anecdote from Casella’s life. He says, "No one has written a cookbook for the American public that presents Tuscan food as it is—good, simple and natural, the way I learned to cook and still cook today. It is using what you have on hand." He is the chef at Il Vipore outside of Lucca in the hills of Tuscany. It was awarded its first Michlin star in 1993. I especially liked the scattering of tidbits of information throughout the text, such as, "Perfect Pasta," "Artichokes are Reactive," and "To Clean Clams." The recipes are easy to follow and require ordinary ingredients. (published April 1998)