Fall 2014 Newsletter
*Note: This is not the current newsletter. Items listed in the following newsletter are not guaranteed to be in stock and the prices shown are subject to change without notice.
HARBOR MISSION DEL SOL 1986, THE BOTTLING OF THE LAST VINTAGE
CHARLES MYERS began making MISSION DEL SOL wine at HARBOR WINERY in 1972. The last vintage he
produced, the 1986, was bottled July, 2014. This 28 year old wine is the last vintage of this unique production. It is an
exceptional bottling of an exceptional wine. It is also a relic of California wine, that when gone, will probably not be
Made from what is considered a worthless, yet historically famous grape variety, MISSION, it is the product of a fermentation technology, first described and written about by W.V. CRUESS, in 1916. This fermentation technology, syruped fermentation, for the production of high alcohol dessert wines, came about due to the lack of fortifying spirit in California in 1915. Professor Cruess writes about it in his book, The Principles and Practice of Winemaking [2nd edition, 1947.] Cruess’ book was the winemaking guide Charles Myers followed.
In 1972, it was difficult to make fortified wines, since to fortify necessitated the presence of the Federal officer responsible for alcohol. Charles thought this was onerous. In 1969, Stony Hill winery in St. Helena started to produce a sweet semillon wine for Corti Brothers called Semillon de Soleil. Charles thought he could produce a similar sweet wine with Mission grapes from Amador Co. As a home winemaker he had tried making such a wine in 1967. Thus, with a humble variety no one wanted, and old technology, which no one wanted either, nine vintages of Mission del Sol were produced. The grapes were always from Amador County vineyards and varied from Deaver to Eschen, to Story. This last vintage, the 1986, is from the century old vines at Story vineyard.
The production technology at Harbor winery has always been as “non interventionist” as possible. The wines didn’t make themselves, but were handled with as little manipulation as possible–what was just necessary. ANGELICA is probably the closest wine type that Mission del Sol corresponds to. It is different from classic Angelica in that not being fortified with spirit, it has a softer, less hard flavor, with great fruitiness that is not just simple.
The aged character of the 1986 comes through with a striking ruddy amber color, a marvelous “rancio” character and pungency, reminiscent of a fine Bual or Verdelho Madeira. A soft butterscotch flavor is due to the wine’s age. It is sweet, but with a dry end. With 22.7% alcohol and only 8 grams of sugar, it is not cloying or sticky. When
fermentation finished and the first analysis of the wine made, it had 15.7% alcohol. In 2010, it had 19.5%. Its alcohol at bottling is simply concentration due to evaporation. Curiously, the sweetness is less than dry Sercial Madeira would have.
The 1986 HARBOR MISSION DEL SOL, could be used either as a soup wine with a creamy soup or a bisque or anything made with mushrooms. It would accompany foie gras, pâté or chicken liver crostini. As a dessert wine, it would be a lovely accompaniment to anything made from fall season fruit. It is perfect for steamed persimmon pudding, mince pie, apple pie, even good pumpkin pie. Walnut pie, with walnuts substituting for pecans, would enhance both California products: walnuts and Mission del Sol. There are 60 cases of 750ml bottles available. When it is gone, it is gone forever. This is the end of an wine type which began more than forty years ago in West Sacramento.
HARBOR WINERY MISSION DEL SOL 1986 $39.99 750ml (#3400) $431.00 cs/12 (#3400C)
VALBUZZI BREADSTICKS I Rustici
These crispy, very friable, thick breadsticks are made by a restaurant just outside Milano, at Malnate (Varese,) called CROTTO VALTELLINA. It is famous since it is in a grotto in the side of a hill, where years ago one could actually dine. Now, the law only permits a dining room attached to the facade of the grotto. I experienced this lovely dining room at the end of my most recent trip to Greece and Italy. It had been suggested by my friend, Luca Monica, the managing director of Peck in Milano. The menu of the VALBUZZI family owned restaurant features exclusively dishes and specialties from the Valtellina, to the east of Varese, the locale where the owners originate. If you want to experience the delicacies of the Valtellina and do not have time to go there, Crotto Valtellina is as good as it gets.
Sitting down to dinner, I started to nibble on the various breads and grissini (breadsticks) in a lovely napkin lined basket. The darkish color of the finger thick grissini attracted me. Then I could not stop eating them. I found two types particularly wonderful: the normal RUSTICI, and the RUSTICI made from Buckwheat and Farro, an ancient wheat variety. (Buckwheat is the typical grain of the Valtellina.) I brought home some packages of both and decided Corti Brothers should import them. So we have.
Packed in a 5.3 oz (150g) cellophane bag, the VALBUZZI RUSTICI are another of those, “I’ll bet you can’t eat just one” things that are a delight to encounter. They are thick enough to use for dips. and for accompanying cold meats. They are flavorful enough to eat just as they are, and delicately friable so they are not heavy, but seem “bubble” light. In case it hasn’t struck you, “I Rustici” means rustic in Italian. These are not “thin” grissini like the Piemontese ones.
VALBUZZI I RUSTICI RUSTIC BREADSTICKS $6.99 bag (#3401) $75.00 case/12 (3401C)
VALBUZZI BUCKWHEAT AND FARRO BREADSTICKS $6.99 bag (#3402) $75.00 case/12 (#3402C)
CORTI BROTHERS 2010 CABERNET SAUVIGNON: LAST CASES REMAINING
In 2012, Corti Brothers’ Sixty-fifth Anniversary in business, we bottled a wine I selected from Clos du Val winery in Napa Valley. We now have only a few cases left of this wine and I am writing about it since we have a number of customers who buy all of our special bottlings and then sometimes spring them on me, unawares, and ask” Well, what do you think of this?” I intended this wine to last a good long time, and the 2010 Napa Cabernet vintage seems to be one of those that will last and become a more traditional, old fashioned style wine, reminiscent of those from the 1950s and 60s. We still get compliments for our Zinfandel bottlings of the 1960s and 70s and I expect this Cabernet to age in the same fashion. So, to those of you who have not yet purchased our Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 for cellaring, here is your last chance to do so.
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. The final blend came out to 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. It is a “claret” lover’s type of Cabernet Alcohol is 13.8%; total acidity 0.6%; pH 3.64. Cellared properly, it should give a great deal of pleasure.
The label for this wine 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. The calligraphy reads: “ I painted this as a guest (in Seattle) in 1984, Tian Yulin.”
CORTI BROTHERS NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 65TH ANNIVERSARY
$38.49 750ml (#3403) $415.00 cs/12 (#3403C) $80.69 mag (#3404) $435.00 cs/6 (#3404C)
ROYAL TOKAJI FURMINT: The dry wine of Tokaji Closing them out
In the wine business, which sometimes needs to be hard nosed and practical, some wines just don’t sell. Why they don’t sell is the imponderable question. But here you have not one wine, but two that must go to good homes where they will be consumed and enjoyed. The wines are marvelous, but right now lack the fame and fortune and interest on our customers’ part. Perhaps with a good discount–20%-- there might be interest. It is a shame since their quality and provenance is such that one should experience them. The prices are net without further discounts. I reproduce the original texts describing the wines.
A UNIQUE WINE: MÉZES MÁLY FURMINT 2009 A dry Tokaji wine
Mézes Mály (pronounced mEzezsh my) is a vineyard of 19 hectares in Tarcal village, in Hungary’s Tokaj area. It is one of the two Great First Growth vineyards in Tokaji’s historical 1700 classification. In 2009, the Royal Tokaji Wine Company produced the first ever dry wine from the Furmint grapes grown on this vineyard. Unique, never produced before, a 2/3 hectare plot was grown specifically to make a dry wine. (Growing grapes for making the famed ASZU wines is different from making dry wines.) The loess top soil of the vineyard gives a lovely honey-like floral character to its wine. This vineyard parcel belongs to Hugh Johnson, tacitly, the world’s most famous wine writer.
Produced from Furmint, the major variety of Tokaji, the others are Muskotály and Hárslevelü. This 2009 Mézes Mály was harvested at the end of October. Fermentation was done with selected yeast, and the wine fermented and matured in new Hungarian oak from the Zemplen forest for 11 months. Its alcohol is 13.5%, sugar 7.1g/L, and total acidity .57%. The total production of 1,592 –750ml bottles was bottled on 17 November 2010.
This wine is sufficiently outstanding and rare that its sale is very limited. There are two wine merchants in the world offering the wine: One is Corti Brothers in Sacramento, the other was Berry Brothers in London. (Berrys sold theirs, we have not).
MÉZES MÁLY FURMINT 2009 shows the lovely floral character of its grape origin. Its aging in new oak has given it great complexity, without woodiness. It is well balanced, delicate in taste, yet rich with great length on the palate. This Mézes Mály was intentionally produced to be a dry wine, a sort of “Le Montrachet” of Tokaji, if you will. If you want to have only one dry Furmint in your cellar, it should be this!
MÉZES MÁLY FURMINT 2009, Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Close out $27.99 750ml (#3405) $167.00 cs/6 (#3405C)
FURMINT FROM ROYAL TOKAJI: DÛLÕVÁLOGATÁS 2009
This wine is a VINEYARD SELECT FURMINT, from ROYAL TOKAJI in Hungary, different from the MÉZES MÁLY that we offered in December 2011. The DÛLÕVÁLOGÁTAS, (meaning vineyard selection,) is a blend of two different vineyard sites, ÚRÁGYA (pronounced Uh-Rye-yuh) and BETSEK, both in MÁD village.
Now that you have been overwhelmed with Hungarian, noted for the difficulty of its pronunciation, we won’t be put off if you simply call this wine “DULO.” Betsek is the largest vineyard owned by Royal Tokaji. Its aspect is a half moon section, tilted north-east, hence colder soil with dark humus mixed with volcanic clay. Betsek makes weighty, pungent wines. Úrágya is a vineyard site that is north of Mád and faces south. The two vineyards produce wines which are complementary, hence their blending.
This Furmint has14% alcohol; total acidity is .64% with 4.2g/L sugar to balance the acidity. Production was 2,036 bottles, bottled April 11, 2011, of which 300 bottles are available only from Corti Brothers.
There is an intensity to the wine’s flavor, a sort of peppermint tone, said to be typical of the Mád area. Tasting at Royal Tokaji in September of 2011, we drank DULO after tasting the incredible 2003 Essencia. It actually stood up to the intensity of the Essencia. A remarkable feat!
ROYAL TOKAJI DÛLÕVÁLOGATÁS 2009 14% Close out $26.79 750ml (#3406) $160.00 case/6 (#3406C)
ORGANIC CURRANTS FROM CORINTH: The real thing.
These ORGANIC CURRANTS are the raisins called currants and have nothing to do with the bush fruit called currants or, in French, “groseille.” Groseille come in three colors, white, red, and the black, from which “cassis” is produced. There are plenty of people who confuse the two, berries and raisins, most of whom should know better. The name is derived from the place called Corinth in Greece. Hence, Corinth > currant. The varietal name is “Black Corinth” or when sold fresh, “Champagne” grapes, just to confuse things further. They have nothing to do with Champagne.
Currants were a very important crop on the west, or Ionian, coast of Greece, at the top of the Peloponnesus. In California we produce Zante Currants, but now you can try the original, highest quality currants the VOSTIZZA, praised since the days of Aristotle, and having, since 1993, a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO).
The Black Corinth cluster is very pretty. It is dark, very long, a berry smaller than the size of a pencil eraser, with a long wing, which allows the cluster to be suspended between the cluster and wing for drying. The growing area for Vostizza currants, known in Greek as AEGHION, is very high up. Five tons of fresh fruit are required to make one ton of raisins. Due to the altitude at which these grapes are grown, their acidity does not fall and the characteristic of Vostizza currants is a fine sweetness, nice texture, coupled with a savory tartness.
Since we are coming into the holiday baking season, you should know about the ORGANIC CURRANTS of VOSTIZZA. They might just change your mind about raisins and their flavor. VOSTIZZA CURRANTS are very different from what you normally find on the market. Baking with Vostizza currants might get you baking again.
ORGANIC CURRANTS OF VOSTIZZA P.D.O. $3.59 8oz bag (#3407)
TEAS FROM LOCK CHA, HONG KONG
LOCK CHA TEA HOUSE is probably Hong Kong’s pre-eminent tea merchant. Owner, Wing-chi Ip, is always
searching for new undiscovered teas to offer. New teas are always to be found in China, especially since the more
famous teas now remain in China due to the wealthy population beginning to appreciate their tea heritage. We have
some very fine Taiwanese oolong teas, selected by Mr. Ip for their high quality.
High quality PU-ER, is a specialty of Lock Cha. It is particularly appreciated in Hong Kong, where it is the dim sum
tea. We have lovely little “moon shape” cakes, which would delight the most exigent dim sum fancier. Pu-er is to tea,
what vintage port is to wine: both must be aged to appreciate its quality. I think you will find some treasures here.
Fushoushan High Mountain Oolong: Needs a short steeping for best flavor and elegance $53.00 75g bag (#3408)
Buddha Hand Oolong: Not scented, a comment on the leaf shape. Aromatic, short steeping $34.00 75g bag (#3409)
Oriental Beauty: Perhaps the most famous tea in Taiwan. Aromatic, delicate flavor $33.99 75g bag (#3410)
Wuyi Suixian (old tree): From the Wuyi mountains in Fujian. Leaves from very old bushes $27.00 75g bag (#3411)
Jasmine Pearl: Tightly worked green tea with summer jasmine blossoms $24.99 150g bag (#3412)
Fragrance Tieguanyin: A cultivar and a style. Scented “orchid” like fragrance, greenish steep $19.99 75g bag(#3413)
Fujian Silver Needle White Tea: The inflorences of a shoot. Pale liquor, very delicate $29.99 75g bag (#3414)
Premium Peony White Tea: A large leaf, producing a delicate scented infusion $9.99 38g bag (#3415)
Organic Red Tea: What we call “black tea” in the west. Deep flavor, good with milk $24.99 75g bag (#3416)
Organic Misty Cloud Green: Pleasant green tea for everyday use $19.99 75g bag (#3417)
2010 Moon shape Green Pu-er cake: Can be used now. 100g cake in tin $16.99 each (#3419)
2009 Mengku Green Pu-er cake: Made to celebrate 60 years of People’s Republic. Age or use. $51.99 403g (#3420)
VALOBRA SOAPS: THE LAST SOAPS MADE IN GENOVA
PRIMULA: A super fatted soap with lecithin, scented with primrose, wonderful for babies and those with very
delicate skin. 3.75 oz bar $11.59 each (#3421)
CALENDULA: Contains an extract of calendula flowers with beneficent emollient properties, for sensitive and
delicate skin. 4 oz bar $12.99 each (#3422)
GLICERLANOLINA: A blend of glycerine and lanolin for dry skin 100g bar $11.59 each (#3423)
RESEDA: Contains wheat germ oil, scented with Mignonette (Reseda odorata) which grows in the Mediterranean
and perfect for delicate skin during winter weather. 6 oz bar $12.99 each (#3424)
LATTUGA: Made with lettuce extract, developed for the removal of makeup and for cleansing sunburned skin
without irritating it further. 6oz bar $12.99 each (#3425)
BURRO DI CACAO: Rich in cacao butter which softens skin while cleansing. For dry skin 3.75oz $11.59 (#3426)
VITAMINA A e CAROTENE: Enriched with wheat germ oil and vitamin A. For sensitive skin and makeup removal
Recommended for use in summer on sunburned skin. 4 oz bar $12.99 each (#3427)
BALSAMO: A brown colored soap. Contains lecithin. For oily, flakey skin 7.75 oz bar $15.99 each (#3428)
VITAMINA E: Vitamin E keeps skin soft. A velvety lather for very delicate skin 4 oz bar $12.99 (#3429)
PRATOLINA: Made with vitamin A and E, for all skin types. Light lavender scent 3.75oz bar $12.39 each (#3430)
FOUGÈRE: Excellent for skin that reddens easily. Royal fern scent. 3.75oz bar $11.59 each (#3431)
MANDORLA: A glycerine and almond oil bar; can be broken in half. Almond scent 6 oz bar $11.59 each (#3432)
VALOBRA GIFT TIN: Contains a bar each of Lattuga, Vitamin E, Reseda, Vit. A & Carotene $68.29 tin (#3433)
PRIMULA GIFT TIN: Contains four bars of Primula soap $63.99 tin (#3434)
SHAVING SOAP A stick for shaving 2 oz size $11.59 (#3435)
SHAVING SOAP BAR: ALMOND (#3436) or MENTHOL (#3437) 5.2oz $14.49
PRESERVES AND MARMALADES FROM SACRAMENTO FRUIT: THE GOOD STUFF
The belief that eating fruits and vegetables at their flavor peak was the impetus for a small production of edibles in
Sacramento called THE GOOD STUFF. What Janet McDonald of The Good Stuff makes is from only local fruit in
season. When fruit is in season, Janet makes as much as she thinks she can sell. This spring, two strawberry jams were
made. One, with the San Geminiano Agrestum we sell, and the other, with the 5X5 Aged Citrus Bitters made in
Chico, which we also sell.
Tomato jam, from local tomatoes, is just hot off the stove and useful both as a breakfast jam and as a condiment for
meats and cheese. Everything is handmade in small batches. The produce used is mainly organic. You should try
them. The Preserves and Marmalades from The Good Stuff are in 6.4 oz jars. They sell for $10.99 the each.
THE GOOD STUFF
Quince Marmalade (#3441) Meyer Lemon-Blood Orange Marmalade (#3442) Lemon Curd (#3443)
Cherry Jam (#3444) Peach Cardamom Jam (#3445)
The last production of ARDOINO BIANCARDO we offered was in 2008. This very late harvest oil, almost opalescent in color and very soft in flavor, is highly prized on the Ligurian Riviera. Historically, it was always sold to the demanding gourmets of neighboring Nice in France. ARDOINO is the only producer who makes this oil style. In the more than 30 years Corti Brothers has offered Ardoino oils, we have been able to offer Biancardo only 13 times. It is very special and not for everyone.
One could ask, “Why offer an oil from Spring harvest when the olive harvest is just months away?” Harvested in April from high growing Taggiasca trees at the top of the Ligurian Alps, the mountains which separate Liguria from its neighboring region of Piemonte, it has to be a special growing season where Nature does not cause the olives to fall from the trees during winter. It also takes great skill to make, which is why Ardoino is the sole producer.
Harvested from dead ripe fruit, Ardoino Biancardo is not your everyday oil. It is an oil for using when pungent extra virgin olive oil character is not desired, but the silky smooth character of oil is required, ideal for steamed or poached fish and delicate salad greens. Our customers are great fans of Biancardo. If you have not yet experienced Biancardo, you owe it to yourself to try it at least once. Since it is not produced every year, it would be better to say you have tried it than not. This is an “anointing” oil, with a sensuous texture and delicate flavor rather than a pungent, bitter “flavoring” one.
ARDOINO BIANCARDO 2014 $34.99 500ml bottle (#3446) $188.00 case/6 (#3446C)
Reading about food sometimes is better than actually eating it. It is a pleasure that can satisfy anytime, anywhere. From PROSPECT BOOKS, the English publisher of “Petits Propos Culinaires,” the amazing little food quarterly founded by Alan Davidson and Elizabeth David, comes a work translated from Russian, but edited by the former editor of “Gastronomica,” Darra Goldstein. Written by Yuri Lotman (1922-1993), it is a compilation of a year’s menus from 1857-1858 served by Petr Pavlovich Durnovo, a nobleman at the highest level of Russian society. When High Society Dinners appeared in Russian in 1996, it was ground breaking. Lotman had delved into the meal as the understanding of daily life, a life which he could not have imagined and that for us is now unthinkable. This is a gastronomic journey of the highest order and one that illuminates and delights at the same time. If you will, with Darra Goldstein’s notations, this is a crash course in very “grande cuisine.”
HIGH SOCIETY DINNERS, Prospect Books, 444pp. $49.99 plus 8.5% sales tax and shipping. (#3447)
The SACRAMENTO COOKIE is a round wafer cookie made in Sacramento. It is a seven inch diameter, thin, filled wafer which originated in the Czech Republic’s famed spa town of Carlsbad or Karlóvy Váry. Made in Sacramento since 1996 by JIRI KNEDLIK, it needs meticulous handwork since it is made twice. The first production is of the wafers or “oplatky,” “oblaten” in German. The wafer itself is baked, aged for twelve days to dry, filled and baked again. The filling is sugar, finely ground nutmeats–almonds or hazelnuts–spices and vanilla. Each box contains 8–7 inch wafers.
The original Sacramento Cookie, in its dark blue box, has the design of the State Capitol on one side and the California Bear on the other. This original cookie is filled with ground hazelnuts, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. There are three similar cookies called CALIFORNIA WINE WAFERS. They do not contain wine, but are meant to accompany it. Then there is the TEA WAFER and the JAVA WAFER, both designed to accompany their respective beverages. All the Sacramento Cookie wafers are in a 7 ounce box. The box sells for $6.99 each. A mixed case, 2 of each, $75.00 (#3448C)
SACRAMENTO COOKIE (#3449) CALIFORNIA WINE WAFER Lemon Vanilla (#3450), Mocha Chocolate (#3451) CHAMPAGNE WAFER Raspberry Almond (#3452) TEA WAFER Vanilla Almond (#3453) JAVA WAFER Mocha Hazelnut (#3454)
CAPITAL VINTAGE MARMALADE, is made by Corti Brothers in its kitchen from Sacramento grown Seville oranges, using the recipe in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1866. We have made this marmalade since the early 1980s. Its name come from the fact that the original oranges came from the Capitol grounds. “Capital” in British English means “fine” or “extra good.” Thus, the word play. Made only with Seville oranges, sugar, and water, it is then aged in jar, to round out its flavor. The 2012 harvest seems to have produced a more harmonious marmalade, without the intense savory bitterness of Seville oranges. The Seville flavor is there, just less bitter than usual.
Dark in color, with a thin-ish ribbon cut to the orange peel, CORTI BROTHERS CAPITAL VINTAGE MARMALADE is lovely and appealing. It is certainly the wake up flavor you want on your morning toast. A customer once wrote us saying he didn’t know how he would get through breakfast without it.
NOTA BENE: Corti Brothers has updated its web site. This was done by our assistant manager Josh Moresi and I
think you will find it much easier to navigate and more user friendly. It is www.cortibrothers.com
TERMS OF SALE: This list supersedes all others. All taxable items, such as wine, beer, or spirits will be taxed at the rate of 8.5%. This is for all sales since we sell in California. Foodstuffs are not taxable. Shipping will be charged at prevailing rates. PLEASE NOTE: In extreme weather, either hot or cold, please give us a shipping address where your order may be properly received and stored. Corti Brothers cannot be responsible for items left without protection.