Collector’s Club – May 2008

2005 Vincent Girardin, Pinot Noir, Emotion du Terroirs — The 2005 vintage was exceptional in many of the world’s wine regions, but especially so in Burgundy where it’s been regarded as the vintage of the century. In most cases though, you’d have to pay big bucks and wait many years to fully experience what the fuss is all about. But here’s is a little gem from a fabulous producer who, in addition to superb estate wines, produces some excellent négociant wines, such as this elegant, yet profound Pinot Noir. This one definitely needs some time (Bear says give it two to five years) but, at $23.75, it’s an unbeatable introduction to Burgundy, and a superlative vintage at that. It’s still in decent supply and, when you do open it, consider preparing your favorite version of boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin.

1999 Bodega Balcona, Partal, Crianza — This wine comes from the relatively new Bullas D.O.C, in the southeast corner of Spain, in the Murcia region. Family-owned Bodega Balcona was established in 1998 and is already one of the flagship wineries of this region. Monastrell (Mourvèdre) is the major grape in Bullas and Balcona is fortunate to own some excellent, high-altitude plots of 50-year-old vines. The 1999 Partal Crianza is about 60% old vine Monastrell (with Tempranillo, Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot) and is wonderfully earthy and food friendly, with lots of dark fruit and spice. Enjoy it anytime, with meat or cured cheeses. It’s $17 and we bought up just about every bottle the distributor had.

2004 Velenosi, Il Brecciarolo—We haven’t featured many wines from Italy’s Marche region, which lies on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. This one, from the Rosso Piceno DOC, is made from Montepulciano and Sangiovese It’s soft and pleasant, very food friendly and is ready now, or can hold for another three to five years. A great dinner wine, it would pair well with hearty main courses such as lasagna, truffles or mushroom dishes, or with beef, game or mature cheeses. It’s $18 and is in good supply.

2006 Crios de Susana Balbo, Cabernet Sauvignon—Susana Balbo has made wine throughout the world, but the wines she puts her name on she makes in her home country, Argentina. Her Crios label is a more moderately priced line-up of wines that receive the same meticulous care and attention as her signature label, and represent some of the best values coming out of Argentina today. Crios means “offspring” and, like offspring, these wines are meant to be “extremely lovable and fun to be around.” (The label design depicts three hands, representing Susana and her two children.) Her Crios Cabernet is a big, dark, juicy wine, with lots of black plum and currants—perfect for grilled or roasted meats or other Cab-friendly foods. Drink now or over the next few years. It’s $14 and is in good supply.

2007 Naches Heights Vineyard, Riesling—We’ve been high on Naches Heights wines, ever since we first tasted them about a year ago, when owner Phil Cline brought in his Pinot Gris and Riesling to sample. We loved the way his fruit, from some of the highest altitude vineyards in Washington, produced wines with fresh, natural acidity and bright fruit flavors, reminiscent of Alsace. His 2007 Riesling is delightful and full of crisp, aromatic fruit. Perfect for sipping on its own or for pairing with Asian food or appetizers. It’s $18 and we’ll keep it in as long as it’s available, though only 200 cases were made.

2005 Mas de Mortiès, Côteaux du Languedoc, Blanc—This wine comes from a relatively young winery in France’s Languedoc region, which continues to be a source of some of that country’s best value wines. The Mas de Mortiès estate is located in Pic-St-Loup and their wines, long popular locally, are gaining recognition further a field. We’ve always carried lots of great red wines from this region, but we’re seeing more and more excellent white wines, such as this full-bodied, food-friendly blend of Roussanne, Rolle, and Viognier. Somewhat limited, we should have more for a while, at $13. It’s ready to drink now, and would be great with appetizers, tapas, chicken or other light, savory fare.