Collector’s Club – January 2008

2006 Thomas-Labaille, “Les Monts Damnés,” Sancerre — Both of the white wines in this month’s club are made from Sauvignon Blanc, but they are worlds apart. This one hails from Sancerre, in the easternmost part of the Loire region in France. Thomas-Labaille still adheres to age-old practices in making their wines. Some of this in inevitable: the Mont Damnés vineyard plot is so steep (hence, the “the damned mountains”) it must all be harvested by hand. You can really taste the harsh, rocky soil in this Sancerre. It’s racy and rich, with great minerality and a long finish. The quintessential pairing for Sancerre is shellfish, but it would also go well with appetizers, chèvre, chicken salad or perhaps sushi. At $25, it is delicious now, or it could age for several years. Although only fifty cases came into the market, we may be able to get a bit more.

2003 Terredelgrico, Don Felice, Salento — Here’s another in our line-up of direct imports from our friends at Small Vineyards. This rich, compelling blend from Puglia — 50% Primitivo, 30% Negroamaro, and 20% Montepulciano — is made by the Apollonio brothers and named for their father, from whom they inherited their family estate in 1995. Their goal is to produce the greatest wine in southern Italy and they seem to be doing just that. Lush, and full of exotic spices, this wine would be a great partner to pasta (spaghetti Bolognese?) or wild mushroom dishes. Only 1800 cases were produced and, at $25, it’s still in good supply.

2006 Mas de Guiot, Grenache-Syrah — This Grenache/Syrah blend hails from the Costières de Nîmes, courtesy of Bobby Kacher Selections. Mas de Guiot is family owned and operated: Sylvia Cornut makes the wines and her husband, François, tends the vineyards along with their two sons. For $9.75 this is a lot of wine. They practice sustainable agriculture, using no synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers, and the grapes are grown at low yields and are hand-harvested. What you get is a soft, yet concentrated wine, full of dark fruit, spice and garrigue — ready to drink now or over the next year or two. Take it to a party or enjoy it anytime with medium to hearty fare. This is a new vintage so we can still get plenty more.

2005 Montoya, Napa Valley Cabernet Savuignon — This is a very easy wine to like. When we first tasted this Napa Cabernet — full-bodied yet not overpowering, nicely layered and well-balanced — clocking in at only $13, well, we had to get some. In fact, we had to put it in the club. Seems like everyone agreed: at our Thursday tasting, we sold every extra bottle (a case and half) that wasn’t earmarked for club members. We’re not sure if we can get more, so enjoy this one anytime, with steak, pasta, cheese, or on its own. It’s ready to drink now, or over the next year or so and is unassuming enough for mid-week burgers, yet plenty respectable to take to a weekend dinner party.

2005 Vinos de Terruños, Siete 7 — We keep finding excellent values from Spain. This Grenache – Tempranillo blend (80/20), from the Navarra region, is no exception. It has great cherry fruit, good acidity and a nice touch of earthiness. The Navarra region lies to the north of Rioja, just across the Pyrenees from France. Navarra has long been known for its rosé wines, but it is quickly gaining a solid reputation for being an alternative to Rioja as a source of excellent and affordable red wines. The Siete 7, at $14, is in good supply and is ready to drink now, with paella, meat dishes, or tapas.

2007 Zolo, Sauvignon Blanc — We’ve been big fans of the Zolo wines from Argentina, ever since we first discovered them a few years back. Their Malbec was a regular staple in our Under-$10 bin until a price increase sadly forced it out of the section. Sigh. Lucky for us, this Sauvignon Blanc still hits the shelf at $9.75 and delivers a ton of flavor in the process. Typical of Mendoza wines, this one comes from high-elevation vineyards, resulting in zesty, tropical notes of grapefruit, and citrus. We’re excited to have two amazing, but completely different, expressions of Sauvignon Blanc in the club this month. This is another one to enjoy soon, with appetizers, chicken, seafood empanadas, you name it!