Domestic Selections: September 1989

Wines evaluated last month: 301     Rejected: 249              Approved: 52              Selected: 2

It still is summer – at least from the weather point of view! – even though we are knocking at the doors of autumn. So here are two summer wines again.

For the red wine this month I fi­nally found a blush wine worth looking at. Removing the red grape skins early on in the fermen­tation produces blush, rosé, or ‘white’ wine. There are many of these on the shelves, but they all seem to taste alike, or seem to taste-emulate a well known White Zin. For those of you who have been asking for a blush wine, here’s my discovery. If you are a dyed in the wool ‘red wine from red grapes’ fan, give this one a chance. You’ll be surprised!

The white wine for this month is an exercise in Chenin Blanc study. We had a superb California ver­sion last month, and here is one of equal quality from the homeland of that grape. It is a pedigreed ver­sion, with a chateau-estate bottling reputation, just in case that adds any­thing to the taste!

Remember that the test is always in the taste!


(Pee-No Nwah Blonk)

Geyser Peak is a major player in the California wine scene. And it will be playing a lot harder in the years to come. You see, the Aus­sie wine people have invaded our shores, and they purchased 50% of Geyser Peak. The new partner is Penfolds of Tempe, New South Wales, the largest winery in the Land Down Under. They command 20% of the Australian wine market.

Geyser Peak is a 109-year old winery located in Geyserville, CA. The Trione family from Santa Rosa have owned it since 1982. There are 850 acres of vineyards that supply the winery with grapes. It is a sizable operation, with national and worldwide distri­bution. They produce a wide array of generic, varietal, and reserve wines. Many of their labels are found on super-market shelves. And that is not a necessarily a negative!

Many will shy from large opera­tions for their premium wine choices. I am also victim to that habit. However, I force myself to try all wines, from the giant in Modesto to the country jugs in Spain. You never know what you uncover! In fact in this case with Geyser Peak, they are yelling “bin­go” for a second time! Remember the wonderful $3 Geyser Peak Sonoma Vintage White ’85 we fea­tured in May 1987 opposite the glorious 1969 Fossi Chianti Classico at $12? The reorders on both these wines did not stop. We ran out of wine!

This Pinot Noir is a blush ver­sion. That is the new name for rosé wines today! Blush wines are “in” today. Since the skyrocketing popularity of White Zinfandel wines with the novices, other blush varietals have emerged and offer alternative choices. The va­rietal differences of the grapes and attempts at making drier versions have produced some charming wines. This Geyser Peak is one, in my opinion.

The wine is light salmon in col­or. The aroma is fruity, clean, and refreshing. Some chalkiness and a hint of violets comes through. Rather intriguing! The taste is frui­ty with a spicy first sensation. A medium body shows itself next, developing into a nice crispness with perfect balance of acid and sugar. This wine would be consid­ered a dry blush wine. It has cher­ry overtones, with very compatible flavors that produce an end result of wanting more! Serve well chilled with Mexican, Szechuan and Cajun foods, or with hors d’oeuvres as an aperitif.


Cellaring Notes: Will be at its best in 1989/90. Not for ageing.

#989A             Regular Price:                   $5.29/ea

Member Reorder Price:                                   $3.75/ea

29.11% disc.                                                        $45.00/cs


(Sha-TOE Mawn-Cawn-TOUR)


I think the best Chenin Blanc in France comes from Vouvray. Lo­cated in the Loire Valley wine growing region of France, this charming little village is six miles upstream from the city of Tours, on the Loire river. If you ever find yourself in Tours, be sure and lunch at the restaurant in the Hotel de Bordeaux, in the same square as the railroad station. We had feuillette de fruits de mer when we were there. It was superb!

I discovered this wine while on our wine evaluation trip to the area. I had to wait for another ex­ceptional vintage to show it to you. Vouvray does vary across the spectrum.

The area’s first vineyards were planted 1600 years ago by Saint Martin. A story persists that his donkey nibbled on the vines, acci­dentally teaching the value of prun­ing in yielding better fruit.

Other than donkey stories, the history of this Chateaux dates to the 1400’s, when Charles VII, King of France, built it for his “of­ficial” mistress, Agnes Sorel. Later it passed to Napoleon’s creditors after his defeat. The famous author Honoré de Balzac, who lived at Moncontour for a time and tried to buy it, called this wine “a wine for lovers”. Six owners later, here we are, with another champion (lov­ers) Vouvray.

All Vouvray wines are made from Pineau de la Loire grape. That is the French name for the grape. We call it Chenin Blanc. In Vouvray, and the surrounding are­as, wines with different sweetness levels are made, and labeled ac­cordingly. You will also find botri­cized late harvest Vouvray as well as a sparkling version. Most Vouvray that is exported is of the drier styles.

Our wine is light lemon yellow in color, with a hint of green tint to it. It has a rich fruity aroma, with a bouquet underlayment of bottle ageing. These two are perfectly balanced at this point in time. The taste follows the nose in richness. An explosive set of flavors of peach, honey, and apricots emerge. Then a hint of sweetness, immediately dominated by a crisp acidity. The fruits linger, and then a close of clean dry Chenin flavor persists. Amazing sequences. No wonder Balzac called it what he did!

Serve well chilled as an aperitif, with deli cold cuts as hors d’oeuvres, or with poultry dishes. Would be great with filet of sole Almondine.

Cellaring Notes: I think this wine is at its best. Can keep 3 years.

#989B             Regular Price:                         $9.69/ea

Member Reorder Price:                                         $6.99/ea

27.86% disc.                                                             $83.88/case

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