Specialty Club – July 2008

2006 Massena, the howling dog Petite Sirah
Massena may be a new name to our club members, but co-winemaker Dan Standish is definitely not, at least not to those who have had a chance to enjoy his 2002 Standish Shiraz from the December 2006 Club. Dan and his partner Jason Collins have been actively seeking out new grapes they think would flourish in the hot, dry Barossa Valley, including Barbera, Dolcetto, Tannat, and even the Georgian grape Saperavi. Their choice of the Rhone grape Durif (Petite Sirah, if you speak Californian) is inspired. The wine is very dark, with rich, full fruit flavors, and well-structured with meaty, lingering tannins. The 2006 is definitely more approachable than previous vintages, both in price and availability, but it could definitely develop for another 4-5 years. Have it with something that will stand up to its intense fruit. It costs $49.75 and is still in decent supply.

2006 J Vineyards, Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Since its founding in 1986, J Vineyards has been one of the top sustainably farmed estates in California, and it’s not surprising they have received much acclaim for their vintage sparkling wines. Now, for the first time, their Russian River Chardonnay, produced from just three top-quality blocks of vines, is available outside of California. The wine is fermented and aged in large French oak barrels (80% new) and underwent two full months of malolactic fermentation. Not surprisingly, it is very rich and creamy, a nice integration of lemon custard flavors, nutty caramel aromas, and a fresh pineapple finish. The winery’s recommendation for a food pairing: “caramelized scallops in an orange saffron reduction with micro greens.” Although it is limited, there’s a bit more available at $41.