The wine industry is steeped in history, and through the years, we have accumulated a rather inane collection of trivia. These blurbs were published first 15 years ago, and are still noteworthy! 

• Corked, a bottle of Champagne packs more than three times the pressure per square inch than a fully inflated car tire. Its explosive personality remains intact today.

• A riddling rack designed by long-gone Madame Cliquot is considered to be one of the best inventions for champagne. This rack stores the bottles up-side-down, so the yeast that creates the bubbles is literally pulled down when it gets to the neck. Because of her device, champagnes are clear, instead of clouded with yeast. As the song says, we still can see clearly now.

• A monk, Dom Perignon, helped in the design of the champagne bottle. He recognized that English-made glass was stronger than the French glass used in his day. Through his efforts and encouragement, the French glass makers began producing the champagne bottle, the forefather of today’s “rocket bottle.”

• The long-standing myth that vineyards will not burn was disproved in the year 2000. A wild fire in Sonoma County, north of Santa Rosa, CA torched everything in its path, including more than one hundred acres of grape vines.

• In 2000, customs agents in China seized 12,000 bottles of counterfeit Bordeaux wine, to be sold in China and Hong Kong. Each bottled, labeled 1995 Mouton Cadet, was valued at more than $175,000. It’s worth today? Unimaginable!

• During the 1999 grape harvest in France’s Champagne region, heavy rains washed tons of excess pomace and grapes into the Mame River. This caused a virtual explosion of bacteria in the river, resulting in the suffocation of thousands of fish along a 20-mile stretch. The courts decided the vineyards did NOT have to compensate the commercial fishermen for their losses, blaming Mother Nature.

• While acceptable in most areas of the world, adding wood chips to wine to enhance the flavor was a crime in Bordeaux. Today it is still frowned upon.

• The ever-popular Chardonnay grape is related to the Pinot Noir grape, according to 2000 DNA findings at the University of California. Chardonnay is the product of in-breeding between the Pinot Noir and Goulais Blanc. Then it was a cute baby, and has grown up a real beauty!

ROUTE 152 — PINOT NOIR  (Vintage 2013, Red) Country: U.S.A.  Region: Central Coast, California  Grape: Pinot Noir

The Central Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) stretches roughly 250 miles along the coastline of California, from San Francisco County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south. It averages about 25 miles in width. The Central Coast encompasses approximately four million acres, of which 90,300 acres are planted in wine grapes. This region produces nearly 15 percent of the state’s total wine grapes, and is home to about 360 wineries. The appellation was granted based on the shared cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and includes numerous smaller AVAs within its boundaries.

This month’s selection from your favorite Wine of the Month Club and Route 152 is their Pinot Noir from the year 2013. It’s made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes grown in their estate vineyards in the rugged, rocky hills near the San Andreas Fault. Due to weather conditions, the harvest was three weeks behind the normal harvest schedule, but the resulting 3,200 cases of wine has proven to be one of their best ever.

A wine of considerable finesse, it’s lovely red fruit and flowery aromas combine with vibrant red fruit flavors of wild strawberries and raspberries. With balanced acidity, it has a subtle earthiness on the finish. The wine is ready to enjoy now. Serve at room temperature (or slightly chilled to 50-55°F) with grilled vegetables, sausages, veal cutlets and any pasta dishes you crave.

Route 152 Pinot Noir:

PINOT NOIR — One of the classics of the Champagne region of France, but its claim to greatest fame lies immediately south in Burgundy. In the right place, under ideal climatic conditions, it produces the most velvet-like smooth wines of any grape. Australia and New Zealand offer a climate and location similar to ideal. This finicky fruit is difficult to grow, a challenge that California’s Central Coast AVA successfully accepts! With flavor variations from cherries to strawberries, Pinot Noir grapes are light in color, rather low in tannin, with relatively high alcohol. A loner, it is rarely blended.

LENZ MOSER — PRESTIGE GRÜNER VELTLINER (Vintage 2013, White) Country: Austria  Region: Niederösterreich  Grape: Grüner Veltliner

The Lenz Moser estate winery is in Rohrendorf near Krems in Austria. Lenz Moser also operates the castle winery of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta in Mailberg (Weinviertel) and the Klosterkeller (cloistral cellar) in Siegendorf (Burgenland). Additionally, Lenz Moser works with winegrowers from the regions of Lower Austria and Burgenland. This symbiotic relationship with 3,000 mostly small farmers insures a sufficient supply of grapes for their winery and provides the winergrowers support from the experienced Lenz Moser oenologists.

This winery has forever been at the forefront of industry innovations, instituting chemical-free bottling and sterilization in 2000. All their reds have been organically fermented since 1987. In 2004, it was Austria’s first winery to be certified by the International Food Standard (NFS). Your favorite Wine of the Month Club is grateful for the opportunity to bring you this wine selection.

A brilliant yellow-green, this pure Grüner Veltliner wine has a spicy-peppery bouquet. On the palate, a piquant spiciness combines with exotic fruits and nice fullness. It’s youthful, freshly acidic and has a great finish. Chill and enjoy soon with appetizers, Wiener Schnitzel, poultry, flavorful fish or light meat dishes. Relish it with steamed or grilled veggies such as asparagus and zucchini.

Lenz Moser’s Prestige Grüner Veltliner:

GRÜNER VELTLINER GRAPES — This white grape variety is the most important wine grape in Austria, and accounts for about one-third of Austria’s total viticultural area. It produces fresh, well-balanced wines with a light, fruity and sometimes slightly spicy flavor. When grown in the Wauchau area, there is a distinctly penetrating pepperiness to the Grüner Veltliner fruit. Other areas lend their own distinctiveness. This offering from Lenz Moser shines with spicy youthfulness.

MÜENZENRIEDER — ZWEIGELT CLASSIC (Vintage 2012, Red) Country: Austria  Region: Neusiedlersee  Grape: Zweigelt

The Neusiedlersee, Lake Neusiedl, is a wine-growing area in the Burgenland region of Austria, situated on the eastern shores of the large, shallow lake. The vineyard stretches from the town of Gols in the north, through the Heideboden region and down to the Seewinkel area, adjacent to the Hungarian border. The Neusiedlersee DAC region includes the district of Neusiedl am See, except for the communities of Winden and Jois.

The Estate is in the town of Apetlon in the Neusiedlersee/Seewinkel National Park. The Müenzenrieder Estate consists of 57 acres, spanning two vineyards. Winegrowers Johann and Johannes Müenzenrieder produce potent wines marked with regional characteristics and tremendous intensity. Their reds are known to be dense and robust, and their 100% Zweigelt is no exception.

Deep ruby red, it is medium-bodied and supple with delicate floral aromas and a slightly spicy note. On the palate it has good acidity and soft tannins with a bit of earth. It is quite fruity. Note the dark cherry and black raspberry flavors, spicy undertones and good length. Uncork it now. Serve at room temperature with red meats, fried or roasted recipes with mild sauces, and most Mediterranean dishes that you favor. Call your favorite Wine of the Month Club if you don’t like to dine alone.

Müenzenrieder Zweigelt Classic:

ZWEIGELT — This is the most important red grape varietal in all of Austria. It is a crossing of the St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch grapes, developed in back in 1922 by Fritz Zweigelt. A favorite of all who seek a red wine that offers a little spice, medium acidity and a bit of earth tones. This particular Zweigelt has notable dark cherry and raspberry flavors announced by the delicate floral bouquet, following the personality of most Zweigelt wines.

PIETRA SANTA — PINOT GRIS  (Vintage 2012, White) Country: U.S.A.  Region: Cienega Valley, California  Grape: Pinot Gris

Pietra Santa is a family-run estate producing artisanal wines and olive oils located in the town of Hollister in the Cienega Valley AVA. The site was planted to wine grapes in the 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache who chose the location for its maritime climate and unique soils. In 2005, the property was purchased by the Blackburns, a family dedicated to preserving and building upon this magnificent winemaking history. Alessio Carli is the winemaker.

Pietra Santa is 25 miles from Monterey Bay and benefits from cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. It is located on the San Andreas Fault, creating soils rich with granite and limestone that naturally lower yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. Pietra Santa, Italian for Sacred Stone, is in honor of these exceptional soils. Due to mountainous terrain, only 120 of the Estate’s 450 acres are planted with wine grapes. The oldest vines are in a treasured block  of Zinfandel planted in 1905.

This 100% Pinot Gris nectar is yellow with green tints in the glass. Total production was just 1998 cases, so your favorite Wine of the Month Club is so pleased to be able to bring it to your table. It is well balanced that is crisp and refreshing, offering aromas and tastes of mangos and peaches with hints of other citrus. Enjoy this delight now, chilled, served with oysters on the half shell, crab salad, cold vichyssoise or grilled shrimp dishes of any and all descriptions.

Pietra Santa’s Pinot Gris:

PINOT GRIS GRAPES — Also identified as Pinot Grigio and Rulander, this white grape with a hint of lavender is capable of producing rich, complex wines of superior quality. Its spiciness is seldom encountered in other varieties. This grape is responsible for many grand flavored, sweet fortified wines produced throughout the world with hues from white to slightly pink in color. The skin of this grape is more hued than most other whites, but be assured the grape is a true white. Fruit colors range from yellowish to bluish-violet. It originated in France as a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape.

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Tracie Burket
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