2004 Quilceda Creek, Columbia Valley Red Wine — Ah, Quilceda Creek. The wine has become a local legend and, after several consecutive years of perfect scores, their Cab is all but impossible to find in the market. Lucky for all of us, they also produce a red blend (this year, 81% Cab, 13% Cab Franc, and 6% Merlot) that, being made by the same winemakers with the same excellent sources of fruit, is a great introduction to the Quilceda Creek style. It was tasting beautifully when we opened it at the club tasting in November, but it could certainly age for a few more years. Do enjoy within 5-7 years, with whatever you love to eat that merits a superb wine. Almost every drop we got went into the club (see how much we love you!) so there is little, if any, left. It was $39.75 and worth every penny.
2006 Domaine de Couron, Marselan, Coteaux de l’Ardèche — The back label of this wine says “Cabernet/Grenache,” but this is not a blend. Marselan is actually the name of a unique grape: a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, created in the hopes of combining the finesse of Cabernet with the heartiness and heat tolerance of Grenache. Only a handful of producers are making Marselan, all of them in the Languedoc region, and it has just recently begun to appear in this country. (The name actually comes from the town of Marseillan, where the grape was first grown). Medium-bodied, with a nice dose of earthiness, this is a great food wine, one that wouldn’t overpower lighter fare, but which could also stand up to heartier dishes. It’s in good supply at $9.75.
2005 Compagnia di Ermes, Cesanese di Olevano Romano— While we’re on the subject of unusual grapes, here’s another wine out of left field, courtesy of our friends at Small Vineyards. We can probably say with absolute certainty that we’ve yet to feature a wine from Lazio, much more famous as the home to Rome than as a hotbed of viticulture. But one winemaker, Mariano Mampierei is working hard to change that, and this wine, 100% Cesanese (“chay-za-NAY-zay”) is an exciting effort in that direction. It is a spicy wine, with flavors of currants and figs, and it really begs for Italian fare: pasta with meat or cream sauces, chicken cacciatore, or even pizza. When we opened it at our club tasting we decided to decant it to let it open up a bit, which it did. You could definitely let this one age a few years; decant it if you want to try it soon. We have a bit more, and it is a reasonable $14.
2006 Martorana, Insolia — Here’s one more curveball. We know you joined this club so you could try new wines, right? Far be it from us to disappoint! The grape is Insolia, a white variety that grows mainly in Tuscany and Sicily, where this wine hails from. Grown on the sun-drenched coastline of southwest Sicily, this fresh, aromatic wine has great acidity, yet an alluring, Mediterranean lushness that would pair perfectly with seafood, fowl, or pasta dishes. It is drinking perfectly right now. Also $14, this is another Small Vineyards direct import and we have a fair bit left.
2006 Alamos, Torrentes — Torrentes is becoming known as the signature white grape varietal of Argentina. And Alamos makes one of the best ones we’ve come across yet. It was the surprise hit of the West Seattle Helpline tasting, garnering more orders than any other wine that night. So we decided to share this little gem with our club members. This one has incredible aromatics, both floral and fruity, and is still somehow light and fresh and perfectly balanced on the palate. All that for $9.75. It’s ready to drink now, and is a natural to enjoy with seafood or chicken dishes, or lighter meat fare.
2005 Verasol, Garnacha — We featured the 2004 Verasol Garnacha in last year’s club and it quickly became our go-to, bin wine for inexpensive, easy drinking. This tasty Spanish red from the Campo de Borja region is back, as full-bodied and jam-packed as ever, and still only $8; perfect to grab on your way to a party, or to pair with meat dishes and the like. This one’s meant for drinking now.