Corti Brothers Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - 65th Anniversary Wine
This Cabernet is a partnership wine. Since 2012 is our 65th anniversary year, and 2010 was one of California’s “cool” vintages, I thought that having a Cabernet from such a vintage would give us very fine wine to carry us through to our 75th anniversary. Wines under the Corti Brothers label are selected for bottling from very fine, interesting wines presented to me. The last time we made a Cabernet from scratch was in1985 with grapes coming from Applegate Valley in southern Oregon.
To make this Cabernet, I partnered with another of my former assistants, John Clews, now the Head Winemaker and COO of Napa Valley’s famed Clos du Val vineyards, from whom we have bought wine since their first vintage of 1972. John, when working with Jed Steele, had bottled several vintages of Cabernet for our label made by him at Steele Wines in Lake County. I knew John would be bottling his 2010 Clos du Val Cabernet in the summer of 2012. Asked if he had interest in bottling for us, he agreed, and sent samples.
From the two samples sent, I tasted and then blended them, producing what I think is a very nice, “claretty” style Cabernet that reflects the variety, the vintage, and Napa Valley. After another trial blend, and the suggestions of the Clos du Val winemaking team, the final blend came out to 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. It is a “claret” lover’s type of Cabernet, so typical of Clos du Val.
Our Anniversary Cabernet’s color is excellent, with a good tonality: dark, but not black. It has an excellent, classy varietal aroma, ripe, with good varietal expression. It shows wood maturation, vinosity, and is not a “ fruit bomb.” Composed, it is medium weight in the mouth; dry, fruity, with gentle, fine tannin. Not ponderous, it is a balanced style Cabernet, with a nice dry flavor, fine tannins, and a long finish. Cellared properly, it should live long. Alcohol is 13.8%; total acidity 0.6%; pH 3.64. This Anniversary Cabernet was bottled in bottles, magnums, and imperials.
The label for this wine was used only once before--for the Applegate Valley, Oregon, Cabernet we made at Sterling in 1985. The label is a painting by the Chinese artist Tian Yulin, that I purchased at an exhibition in Seattle in 1983 where Tian Yulin was painting. A student of famous painters such as Qi Baishi and Wang Xuetao, Tian Yulin has now become noted in China for his bird and flower paintings. Nothing was done to the painting; it was merely reproduced. The original’s size is 66 by 35 inches. It wasn’t conceived of as a label, but works perfectly as one.
Grape vines figure a great deal in oriental art. The vine represented in Tian Yulin’s work looks very much like Vitis amurensis, a grape family from the north of China along the Amur River. Very cold hardy, it has been used in the west to produce new, cold hardy varieties. Its wide, down turning leaves are characteristic of this grape family, as are the cluster shape and the apical scar on the berry. Please notice the wild eyed little bird. The calligraphy reads: “ I painted this as a guest (in Seattle) in 1984, Tian Yulin.”
Panettone for Christmas: Bardi and Loison
For Italians, the arrival of Panettone in shops is the sure sign that the Christmas holidays are coming. These raised dough breads are traditional at this time of year and with our two suppliers, Bardi and Loison, the holidays will be satisfied. There are two new panettone this year from Loison. One is filled with Pastry Cream and the other with Lemon Cream. So let’s start with Loison Panettone.: The following are mainly kilo sizes, 1000g (2.2 lbs)
Loison Panettone Royal Crema, vanilla pastry cream filled, traditional fruit mixture (#3038)
Loison Panettone Royal Limone, limoncello flavored cream filled, traditional fruit mix (#3039)
Loison Panettone al Torcolato Maculan, raisins soaked with Torcolato, basso shape, wrapped (#3040)
Loison Panettone al Chinotto, unique candied Chinotto citrus, basso shape, boxed (#3041)
Loison Panettone Noël, candied pears, cinnamon and clove spices, basso shape, boxed (#3042)
Loison Panettone Albicocca e Zenzero, candied young ginger and apricots, basso shape, boxed (#3043)
Loison Panettone al Mandarino di Ciaculli, Ciaculli mandarin peel, basso shape, boxed (#3044)
Loison Panettone Amarena, large Amarene candied cherries, basso shape, boxed (#3045)
Loison Panettone Fico, white Calabrian Dottato figs, traditional fruit mixture, basso shape, boxed (#3046)
LoisonPanettone Classico Latta 750g., collectable tin, 7th year of presentation (#3047)
Loison Panettonicini 100g tall shape, traditional fruit mix, boxed. Smallest Loison panettone made. (#3048)
Loison Panettone Classico Magnum 5 kg tall shape, traditional fruit mix. Party Size (#3049)
Loison Panettone Classico Magnum 10 kg largest panettone made. For a very big party. (#3050)
Loison Pasticceria 6 Gusti Individually wrapped cookies in six flavors. (#3051)
Bardi Panettone Alto Traditional tall shape, candied citrus and raisins, boxed 1 kilo (#3052)
Bardi Panettone Basso Traditional low shape, gold foil wrapped, red ribbon 1 kilo (#3053)
Bardi Panettone Alla Nocciola hazelnut glaze, basso shape, blue foil wrapped, silver ribbon 1 kilo (#3054)
Bardi Panettone Fondente basso shape, chocolate glazed, silver foil wrapped, blue ribbon 1 kilo (#3056)Bardi Pandoro tall, star shaped golden bread, no fruit, boxed 1 kilo (#3057)
Moscatel Sétubal 1983 and Moscatel Roxo
Perhaps the best “liqueur” muscats made in Europe come from Sétubal in Portugal. Other European producers should not take umbrage. Theirs are just different. We have two to offer for this holiday season both of which are rare and difficult to find. I first was acquainted with these wines in 1970 and we have had them ever since.
There are two wines. Moscatel Roxo, (pronounced row-show), is made from a unique clone of red muscat grown only in the Sétubal area, just south of Lisbon. It is fermented slightly on its skins, has a ruddy tone--not red--with a lovely rose-like scent, coupled with the nuttiness that comes with cask aging.
Unfortunately there is not much made any more, and it is expensive. But the 500ml bottle will last once opened and can be enjoyed over more than one evening. Muscat is again a “darling” in California, and Moscatel Roxo is one of the rarest muscats around.
The other famous muscat from Sétubal is the Moscatel De Sétubal itself, made from the muscat of Alexandria variety. This wine is made by fermenting the muscat juice with some of the skins left in contact with the wine over the winter, after fortification. This skin contact enriches the wine’s aroma. Then the wine is aged for a more or less long period. We have for sale now the 1983 vintage, bottled in 2004. It has 20 years of cask aging and several more in bottle. I can think of no better wine to serve with Christmas pudding and cakes, fruit cakes and the like, or holiday cookies. The wine is rich and sweet, but not cloying, with a wonderful balance that only age can produce. Try this muscat just to see how wonderful it is. It can make your holidays even more wonderful!
Bacalhoa Moscatel Roxo Wine 2000 18.5% $29.99 500ml (#3058)
Bacalhoa Moscatel De Sétubal Wine 1983 18.5% (20 years old when bottled) $150.00 500ml (#3059)
Goyogura Shoyu for the Emperor’s Table
When certain items are produced by specific firms in England which have been accorded the Royal Warrant as purveyors to the Royal Household, these products are considered the best of their kind. The same quality notion is used in Japan, but in the best, down-played Japanese fashion, one rarely, if ever, sees an Imperial Household Warranted product for sale. Corti Brothers is again offering one.
In 1995, Corti Brothers offered Goyogura Shoyu, the Emperor’s Soy Sauce. We are again offering it to our customers for their delectation. Its very name tells what it is: Goyo means supplier to the Imperial Household, and Gura is the dissonant sound of the word Kura, meaning a brewing establishment, or storehouse. Thus, just by its name, Goyogura is a very special soy sauce.
Fermented in its own special brewery--lacquered bright red on the inside--the ingredients, soybeans, wheat, and salt, are only of Japanese origin. It takes one year to brew; only ten vats are produced. This production began in 1939, so it is not an “ancient” production, such as our Marumata tamari shoyu, but is limited and not often found. Once again, you can get it from Corti Brothers. Store at room temperature. Refrigerate once opened.
Goyogura Shoyu $15.99 250ml (#3060)
Arita Porcelain Shoyu Sprayer
A wonderful stocking stuffer or accompaniment to any of our unique shoyu is this genuine Arita porcelain shoyu sprayer. For finely distributing any shoyu to dishes, this sprayer allows you to flavor dishes, but not overpower them with shoyu. The Gaho Ceramic works on Kyushu produces this unique item.
Arita Porcelain Shoyu Sprayer $13.79 each plus tax (#3061)
Exclusive Tokaji: Aszu and Essencia from Various Properties
Some of these wines are the result of my tasting in Tokaj in the fall of 2011. Others are wines which were purchased when shipped several years ago and are now being offered for sale.
Tokaji is a wine of fabled history, especially the Essencia, a great wine treasure, although spelled various ways. Six puttonyos Aszú is another remarkable wine. These wines are made with some of the most painstaking methodology used in enology. They are very rich, sweet wines that merit your attention. Tokaji is one of the world’s greatest dessert wines that lives practically forever. If you have never tried Tokaji, you should. Here are some of the very best.
Royal Tokaji Szt Tamas 6 puttonyos 2003 Aszú Amazing dill/peppermint character, 3 years new wood.
$102.79 500 ml (#3062)
Patricius Bendecs 6 puttonyos 2000 Aszú Deep color, sparkling acidity, balanced sweetness $179.99 500 ml (#3065)
Disznókő Kapi 6 puttonyos 2005 Aszú South slopes of vineyard, only furmint aszú berries. $164.99 250 ml (#3068)
Should you wish to delve further into the fame, fate, and tradition of Tokaji, I recommend the unique book, Tokaji Wine written by Miles Lambert-Gócs. The only work of its type in English, it is encyclopedic in scope, a fascinating read, and a must for any wine library.
Tokaji Wine: Fame, Fate, Tradition Author signed copies $27.95 plus tax (#3074)
Mature Vintage Port for the Holidays
We have cellared these wines since they arrived. Now the time has come to enjoy them. If you have not experienced mature vintage port before, here is your opportunity to try some of the best wines of the vintage. The Taylor 1970, is one of the now very rare London bottlings, the wine having been bottled by Deinhard and Co., Taylor’s London agents. 1970 vintage, bottled in 1972, turned out to be the last vintage bottled outside of Portugal, since the bottling regulations changed in 1974. All vintage port since then must be bottled in Portugal.
Now forty years in bottle, these wines will show you why vintage port is such a revered wine and why it should be aged to be appreciated at its best. You could make either of these wines the centerpiece of a Port dinner.
Taylor 1970, London bottled, Deinhard & Co. $273.00 750ml (#3075)
Graham 1970, Lodge bottled $273.00 750ml (#3076)
Graham 1970, London bottled, Deinhard & Co $273.00 750ml (#3077)
Kampot Peppercorns from Cambodia
At one time, Black Pepper Corns were expensive. So expensive that they gave a monetary term its name: Peppercorn rent. Even in the 21st century this term is still used for a rent that belies its cost.
Piper nigrum, the vine which produces what we know as “black” pepper, also produces the rare red peppercorns, green peppercorns and white pepper corns. They all come from the same plant, this vine, producing a grape cluster looking set of berries, which when treated differently produces different flavors for different uses.
The rarest peppercorn is the red, produced from red, ripe, fully matured pepper berries, which, when dried, retain some of their ruddy color and have a different scent and flavor from black peppercorns. Black peppercorns are the green berries, which turn dark in drying. Green peppercorns are found either fresh, freeze dried, or pickled where they retain their green color and have a different scent and flavor. White peppercorns are made by removing the outer hull of the black pepper berries by soaking in water. It is black pepper without its hull.
Cambodia is the source of Kampot peppercorns. Known to the Chinese since the 13th century, Kampot was the source of most pepper used in France after 1863, the year France colonized the country. In 1953, Cambodia declared its independence from France and in the 1970s, it became the scene of devastation due to events aligned with the Vietnam war. Cambodia sits between southern Vietnam on the east and Thailand and Laos to the northwest. Kampot is a province in the southern part of the country, south of the capital Phnom Penh. So well thought of by the French, Kampot peppercorns were the most widely available and sought after in French gastronomy from the mid 19th century to the end of the French Indo-China war.
In 2009, Kampot Peppercorns were given a protected geographical indication by the E.U. and the Cambodian government to revive production. This means that all Kampot peppercorns must be grown within the designated area of Kampot and Kep provinces and must follow traditional methods of growing and harvesting.
Royal Banyan Gourmet is a company importing this nearly forgotten pepper in its three colors of red, white, and black. Royal Banyan acts as the go between, since importing from Cambodia is very difficult. You should try these peppercorns to see how different they are from run-of-the-mill peppercorns. A couple of generations of French chefs couldn’t be wrong, and we would be helping re-establish a national product.
Try this simple sauce with Cambodian peppercorns: Tuk Meric
Royal Banyan Gourmet Red Kampot Peppercorns $14.99 4oz bag (#3078)
Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino
The Cocchi firm, producer of Cocchi Americano, Barolo Chinato, and sparkling wines, celebrated its 120TH year in 2011. To celebrate this anniversary, the BAVA family, owners of Cocchi, have resurrected the original 1891 recipe for vermouth created by Giulio Cocchi and have brought it back to market. Vermouth di Torino is famous since it must be produced with a base of Piemonte’s Moscato d’Asti wine. If the base wine is not Moscato, a vermouth cannot be called “di Torino.” Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is clearly in a class by itself.
With today’s fashion for cocktails, fine vermouth is a necessary ingredient. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is equally at home in a well made Manhattan or Negroni or simply enjoyed by itself, with an ice cube or two and a twist of lemon.
New Cheeses from Winters, California
California has now become the premier milk producing state in the U.S. It has also given rise to a number of boutique, artisan cheese producers. At one time, when one thought of cheese in the U.S., thoughts went to Wisconsin, perhaps New York state, but not very much to California. Now with the cheese revolution, this is no longer true.
Cheese aging is called “affinage” in French and is the job of respected artisans. The cheese is literally “raised” and brought to maturity by using particular techniques, molds, washings, and handling to produce the desired result. I would like to introduce to you some of the tasty products produced by the Winters Cheese Co.
The cheeses are: Mountain Style, Tomme, and Caerphilly. Mountain Style, is a firm cheese, pale ivory colored, creamy, nutty, sweet finished. It would be wonderful in a potato gratin. The Tomme is a firm, washed rind cheese with the characteristic earthy scent of this cheese type. Smooth, buttery, nutty, and rich, it is a fine cheese for medium bodied red wines. The Caerphilly is modeled after the Welsh cheese of the same name, the difference being that it is firmer, more tender, smooth and buttery than the crumbly original. This is a cheese that takes to full bodied ales and fruity, port-like wines. Winters Cheese Company cheeses are available in approximately one pound pieces. We will cut to order. They will be shipped in cryovac. Price: $19.99 Per lb.
Mountain Style (#3082)
Cougar Gold Cheese from Washington State
Cougar Gold, a cheddar-like cheese is a true American original. Created in 1940 for the military, it is the only cheese aged in a tin. Thus it is aged anaerobically and develops a wonderful flavor. Created at Washington State University in Pullman, WA., this cheese has been offered by Corti Brothers only occasionally. Personally, I think Cougar Gold is a wonderful cheese with wine since it has a delicious cheddar flavor, without the acidity sometimes found in this cheese, thus complementing wine very well. I first tasted this cheese in the early 1970s when going to judge in wine competitions in Washington state.
There is another form of Cougar Gold, the three year aged one, which is even more delicious. All it is, is the normal Cougar Gold, left to age in its tin for three years. You can do the same with a young Cougar Gold, just by keeping it in the refrigerator. The tins are dated so you would have a record. You can do this at home, provided you can keep your hands off the cheese and let it get three years old.
Cougar Gold is unique in the cheese world and is an icon in American cheese production.
Cougar Gold (2011 production) $27.99 each 30 oz tin (#3085)
Cougar Gold 3 Years Old (2009 production) $32.99 each 30 oz. tin (#3086)
Agostoni Chocolate from Lake Como, Italy
I would like to introduce you to Agostoni Chocolate from Lecco, on Italy’s Lake Como. This is not a fancy packaged chocolate, but chocolate for chocolate lovers interested in fine flavor. Agostoni produces chocolate to be used by chocolatiers, who make different chocolates out of it. But I am showing it to you as chocolate to be tasted to experience single origin flavors and a few of the blends made by this famous Italian company.
The presentation of the Agostoni chocolate is in “cialde,” pieces of chocolate the size of a nickel (3/4 inch wide). In French chocolate terminology, “pistole” is the word for a similar piece. These are chocolates for eating and not having to think about the packaging. Used to make other chocolate products, Agostoni chocolate cialde are perfect for nibbling on. Just put them into a bowl and let your guests enjoy them. The cialde can also be melted down for making desserts.
Since 1946, Agostoni has been a family owned and run firm, buying single origin and estate cocao mainly from Central and South America. Production is entirely in house with all cocoa related ingredients. Corti Brothers repacks these chocolate cialde into simple plastic containers. All you have to do is put them into your bowls and serve them.
A number of years ago, Corti Brothers introduced Valrhona chocolate to our customers in a similar way, using blocks of chocolate. Now, I am pleased to introduced you to the Agostini products.
Agostini Valtellina White Chocolate Rich vanilla custard flavor, flavory like creme brulee $6.99- 8 oz tub (#3087)
Agostini Bittra Dark Chocolate Blend 60% cocoa. Intense cocoa flavor, good smokey finish $5.99- 8 oz tub (#3088)
Agostini Single Origin Peru 70% Cocoa Brisk, berry fruit flavor with fruity finish. $6.89- 8 oz tub (#3089)
Agostini Single Estate Los Vasquez, Dominican Republic 75% Cocoa Fruity, light acidity, smokey $7.49- 8 oz tub (#3090)
Agostini Gianduia: 32% Cocoa with 24% Hazelnut Paste Creamy; luscious, intense hazelnut flavor. $6.99, 8 oz tub (#3091)
Other Holiday Specialties on hand for your holiday table:
A Word to the Wise:
Best Wishes for this Holiday Season and a Bountiful and Peaceful 2013!
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