|The Sarah Jane English Newsletter: 7th Edition|
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 Trefethens California vineyard grove, and
chocolatesincluding 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. GRAHAMS Six Grapes,
spicy richness and ripe fruit $19; 1991 DOWS 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.
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. Its sad that fewer producers are making sauvignon blanc, but as long as Chateau Souverain does you are assured an excellent onetropical 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 falls 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 availablelong on fresh fruit balanced with oakand 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.
MURPHY-GOODE ESTATE WINERY owner visits
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 intenseso 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 Chardonnayone 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.
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 $30long 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: Marcellas 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.
STAGS 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 Mays 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: "Im 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."
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 dayapproximately 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 http://www.wineinstitute.org for more information.
WINES RECENTLY TASTED
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 onesCHATEAU MONTELENA Calistoga Cuvée, BERINGER Knight Valley, ATLAS PEAK, CLOS du BOIS Briarcrest; those with stronger tannic structures, multiple berries and vanillaTRUCHARD, TAFT STREET, STERLING Reserve, CLOS DU VAL, CAIN Cuvée, LOS ENCANTOS "Covenant."
GUADALUPE RIVER RANCHhas announced the next Vintner Weekend, scheduled for April 24-26, 1998. Call 800/460-2005 for information.
Also, I attended the College of the Oaks sponsored by Seguin Moreau and Beaulieu. We made barrels and designed wine to suit our barrels.
JOSIE, 1200-B West 6th St., Austin (322-9226) is one of those rare
neighborhood finds whose good reputation has extended its borders. Its 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 dishessauvignon 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
Ive 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
caloriesespecially the whipped white chocolate and the banana frozen mousse.
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 Casellas life. He says, "No one has written a cookbook for the American public that presents Tuscan food as it isgood, 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)