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Wine Club Newsletter - December 2017

Holiday Champagne

Most of us know we can research tasting notes and scores from wine critics and experts on just about any wine that is sold in the United States. Many people rely on these ratings from various publications. However, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Another point of reference is to consider the results of the 100 people who tasted over two-dozen hand-selected Champagne and sparkling wines at our annual Grande Champagne Tasting last month. This mass of bubbling wine aficionado’s was a good cross-section of our populace, as they have varying taste preferences and economic prowess. In the end, they voted with their pocketbooks and their opinions. In order of popularity (by bottles sold), the results are below.

1st Place:
Pierre Peters, Brut Cuvee, Reserve Grand Cru, Non-Vintage $65
This is a Blanc de Blancs, meaning it is made from 100% Chardonnay. Everyone loved it for its vibrant feel in the mouth, while still retaining an amazing amount of elegance and harmony. The flavors are driven by the chalky soil, in addition to flavors of poached pear, apple blossom, and pickled ginger. And if you don’t want to believe 100 people, it rated 93 points in The Wine Spectator!

2nd Place:
Gaston Chiquet, Brut Tradition, Non-Vintage   $41
This Champagne has aromas of brioche, yeast, pear, anise, honey and a hint of lemon. There is a wonderful feel in the palate, with a fine, delicate “mousse” (bubble dispersion in the mouth). Notes of fresh apricot, white peach and toasted almond linger on the very long finish. Oh, and 92 Points in The Wine Spectator.

3rd Place:
Paul Laurent, Brut Rose’, Non-Vintage   $38
This was the bargain of the tasting! Made from 65% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay, and 9% Still Pinot Noir, giving this wine a salmon/pinkish hue. The bubbles are active, and the palate feel is lively. There is a distinctive taste of red raspberry, strawberry, and even detectable Pinot Noir fruit. Lovely!

OK, so that’s what 100 people think. I think they chose wisely, but I need to throw in my 2 cents.

Cent #1
Taittinger, Brut “La Francaise”, Non-Vintage $40
To my taste, this is one heck of a bottle of Champagne, especially for the price. Firstly, you have high marquee name recognition in Taittinger, producing a consistent high quality Champagne. It has a nice fresh toasted white bread aromatic, with hints of peach and ginger. Great palate feel, acid (it’s GREAT with food) and the mousse are top notch. Scoring 90 points in two major publications. This wine sold one bottle less than the third place wine above.

Cent #2
Dom Ruinart, Ruinart, Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2006  $200
This was the wine of the tasting, outdueling the Dom Perignon, La Grande Dame, and dare I say, I like it better the ubiquitous Louis Roederer Cristal (at an additional $75-$100 per bottle). Some people have favorite wineries, this is my favorite Champagne house. I happen to love everything they make. It’s like they thought of me and figured out how to make Champagne I love and cherish.

Simply gorgeous, fashioned by 100% Chardonnay, acting more like a great white Burgundy with its richness, finesse, with super fine bubbles. Length of the finish is astounding. The bottle will age 20-plus years, and I hope to still have a few of these around at that time. This is a true investment in your quality of life, and should be enjoyed in the celebrations that may happen along the way.

I was just noticing the savings our club members enjoyed this month.

The WineSellar Club:
The suggested retail value of the two wines is $56, $21 savings on your two bottles!

The Two Rouge Club:
The suggested retail value of the two wines is $76, $26 savings on your two bottles!

The Gary Parker Collection:
The suggested retail value of the two wines is $95, $16 savings on your two bottles!

I want to wish you all happy, healthy, loving holiday season. It is my pleasure to find great wines for you, and I look forward to more of the same for years to come.

Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie

2015 Furmint, Tornai Pincészet

Growing Region: Nagy-Somlo, Hungary
Varietal Composition: 100% Furmint
Fermentation:  Stainless Steel Vats
Alcohol Content: 12%
Suggested Retail:  $20.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $16.19

Broad Strokes:              
Here’s something I bet you haven’t tried, FURMINT! It’s the main white grape varietal used in Hungary, and it is taking hold in the United States market. This particular Furmint is typical of the modern style coming from the Somlo volcanic mountain region. I love the wine and I think you will too!

The Tornai family has been dealing with winemaking since 1946 on Mt. Somló. Endre Tornai, the founder, started making wine on a one-acre vineyard. Today the family owns 56 acres and its third generation is now engaged in the everyday tasks of wine production. Every year, 250-300 thousand liters of bottled wine are produced and mainly sold on the Hungarian market, although there’s an increasing interest from the export markets too.

Alsace Riesling style bottle has great overall appearance, with the white label and screw cap contrasting the brown bottle. I also like the whimsical ”F” for “Furmint” on the label. The wine is brilliant, sparkling, with a very clear yellow hue core. The wine has some serious viscosity, and clings to the inside of the bowl.

Gorgeous tree fruit essence, along with some tropical fruit, tangerine, ginger, and peach. I got something quite unique and fun, egg custard. It also reminded me of something like a cupcake, with dough, frosting and some nutmeg and cinnamon thrown in. Also note the mineral and stones adding complexity to the nose.

This Furmint is medium to medium full in weight. It has a firm acidity that is lively, edging off the substantial amount of fruit. After the acid resolves in your palate, the wine has an almost oily feel to it, though still dry.

Spicy Bosque pear and Granny Smith apple is laced with cream and dairy. The cake dough and frosting is there with nutmeg and cinnamon. Tangerine, citrus and ginger has presence in the middle and finish. Aftertaste shows complexity and intrigue with mineral and stones, finally leaving ripe peach impressions.

Serving Suggestions:
Wow, do I love this! Drink as an aperitif, and show it off to your wine friends. Superb with spicy dishes, Asian foods, including sushi.

2012 Kieu Hoang Cabernet Sauvignon, Blue Label

Growing Region:  California Appellation
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation:  Oak Barrel
Alcohol Content: 12.8%
Suggested Retail:  $36.00
WineSellar Club Price: $22.49

Broad Strokes:              
From the winery: Kieu Hoang’s journey to find KH good-healthy cells to improve quality of life. Mr. Kieu Hoang is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, originally from Vietnam.

He is the CEO of RAAS, Inc (USA) and Vice Chairman of Shanghai RAAS Blood Products, China. Through his studies on different foods and plants, he has come across numerous findings. Studying Red wine in particular caught his attention. In his research he found that good healthy cells did not just exist in human plasma but also in red wine; he found that a small grape has 5000 more genes than a human being. With 38 years of experience in sophisticated fermentation, PH adjustments and cold stabilization, Mr. Hoang presents the world with his exclusive line of wines.

No way you are going to miss this label, a significant departure from the standard. With Mr. Kieu Hoang’s image, vertical titles, and blue background for the blood cell theme, it will definitely stand out on the shelf. The wine is dark red at the core, edging to clear.

A lovely, assertive bouquet with sultry, sexy vanilla oak and leather strap. Notes of raisin, ripe plum, prune, and tobacco meld with coconut, mushrooms, forest floor and fresh herbs.

Smooth entry, feeling large in the mouth without being too brutish. Fruit emerges after some 30 minutes of air. Acid melts into the fruit, and creates the impression of a full, seamless, supple bottle of wine.

Black fruits, with very ripe (bursting at the skin) black plum, with dark cherry and that touch of prune, Somewhat like a rich cherry juice (sour) with cinnamon stick, tobacco, hard wood, black walnut, and flavor of grain (brown rice). Finishing with a knockout punch of black fruits.

Serving Suggestions:
Did you notice the difference between the winery price and ours? With this kind of savings, you should salt away 6-12 bottles and enjoy it with Filet Mignon or breast of duckling in mild sauces. The Dark Cherry Sauce recipe I supplied in March 2016 would be perfect.

2014 Bannister Pinot Noir, Green Valley

Growing Region:  Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Ca.
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Fermentation:  Barrel Aging
Alcohol Content: 14.1%
Suggested Retail:  $40.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $34.19

Broad Strokes:              
From the winery: Our family began hand making small lots of wine in Sonoma County in 1989, but our history in the industry started in 1973 when Marty took a job in the lab at Rodney Strong Vineyards. After five years as a member of the winemaking staff, Marty left to co-found Vinquiry in Healdsburg.

Our wine service laboratory, consulting and specialty winemaking products provided critical support to the surge of growth in the wine industry.

In 1989, Marty and Gary acted on their interest in winemaking and started the Bannister label, with a focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Brook was involved in harvest and critical points in the process when he wasn’t busy in school. At present, he and Marty collaborate on the wine making and the management of the business.

Nice black/dark looking package with a heavier-weighted bottle. Makes you anticipate the quality within. Nod to the local Pomo Indian tribe with one of their prized baskets adorning the label. The wine had a beautiful dark rose color, evenly dispersed.

A wealth of fruit, savory elements and herbs that seems sharply focused. Black cherry, blackberry fruit, clove, vanilla, black licorice, smoke and spices.

The wine is medium full in body. The texture is typical of fine Pinot Noir: long, silken and delicate. This Bannister is closer to full in the mid-palate, with round, fleshy character. Some light crisp acid on the seamless finish.

Overall delicious! I’ll go naming things . . . black cherry, red apple, cranberry and pomegranate, date, figs, prunes, smoke, ginger and vanilla. It’s kind of a mix between old world style and contemporary Pinot Noir styles.

Serving Suggestions:
Only 300 cases produced, this is a pretty rare bird. It will keep 5-9 years if cellared properly, and I would expect it to take on aged complexities very nicely though those years.

2014 Dewitt Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

Growing Region:  Alexander Valley, Sonoma, Ca.
Varietal Composition:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation:  Barrel Aging
Alcohol Content: 14.5%
Suggested Retail:  $55.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $44.99

Broad Strokes:              
From the winery: A passion for wine began in the 1970’s with producers such as; Lancers, Blue Nun and Mateus. As our wine experience moved into the 1980’s we began to enjoy wines from California like; Inglenook, RM-Robert Mondavi, Sebastiani and Paul Masson. However; our most memorable experience was with a 1976 Silver Oak, North Coast, Cabernet Sauvignon, made by the late, Justin Meyer. It was this experience that identified Cabernet Sauvignon as “King.”

Through the years, Marie and I have enjoyed fine Cabernet on numerous special occasions. Over time, we discovered a “great” Cabernet would make any occasion, special. Our goal is to make a great Cabernet Sauvignon, in order to make your occasion, special! We hope you enjoy our wine, a much as we have enjoyed making it for you!

Ed & Marie DeWitt

The black dominated bottle with paperless label looks classy and distinctive, I’d give it an “A” for packaging. The wine is nearly black at the core, as well as nearly all the way to the edge of the glass.

It has a firm and sturdy impression as it takes awhile for it to open up. Deep red and black fruits come about, with vanilla, roasted hazelnut, and distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon aromatics. Also noted casaba melon, unusual aroma from a red wine, but lovely!

The wine is medium plus in body. Evolving textures as the wine grows with airing. It is elegant and sophisticated, reminding me of the sweet and cedar Bordeaux wines I love so much, but with ripe, developed California fruit. It keeps making my mouth water!

WOW!!! With gorgeous Alexander Valley fruit flavors, which I liken specifically to ripe blackberries, it’s just wonderful. The focused dark berry and black currant fruits from the nose translate wholly to the palate. So too does vanilla and roasted nuts. Great Cabernet Sauvignon properties, and somehow Bordeaux like with sweet and cedar impressions.

Serving Suggestions:
Only a few hundred cases produced, this is a pretty rare bird. It will keep 10-16 years if cellared properly. Check out the great price!

Honey and Soy Cured Hamachi

This has been one of my all-time favorite Brasserie appetizers. This is great with the 2015 Furmint by Tornai. (For four persons)

For the marinade and glaze:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 pound cleaned hamachi fillet
  1. Combine the honey and soy sauce, set aside 1/4 cup for the glaze to be used later.
  2. Add the pepper and ginger to the mixture and stir well in a non reactive bowl.
  3. Add the hamachi and toss to coat on all sides.
  4. Refrigerate, turning twice a day for five days.

For the cream:

  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon spicy Asian chili oil
  • pinch of kosher salt

Combine and mix well.

For the ginger vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher salt

Combine and mix well.

For the marinated cucumber:

  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup ginger vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
  1. Thinly slice the cucumber and toss with the salt, place into a colander, drain for fifteen minutes.
  2. Rinse thoroughly and toss with the vinaigrette and coriander.

For the plate:

  • Remaining half of the English cucumber
  • 1 ripe Haas avocado
  • 4 ounces daikon sprouts (kaiware)
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and cut into a small dice
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Slice the cucumber into 36 paper thin slices, arrange nine of them into a circle in the center of four plates.
  2. Mound the marinated cucumbers in the middle and top each with a dollop of the cream.
  3. Quarter and peel the avocado and slice each into three slices, place on top of the cream.
  4. Divide the daikon sprouts on top of the avocado and drizzle each with a tablespoon of vinaigrette.
  5. Slice the hamachi into 12 very thin slices and arrange them on top of the sprouts.
  6. Drizzle one tablespoon of the reserved glaze over each and garnish with the tomato and scallion

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