Collectors Club – September 2008

2004 Poderi Ciona, Le Diacce, Merlot — Here’s another fabulous direct import from Small Vineyards. The Poderi Ciona estate is located in Chianti Classico, and is the winery where the idea for Small Vineyards was born. They produce excellent Sangiovese, of course, but this is winemaker Lorenzo Gatteschi’s 100% Merlot offering. Produced from young vines grown on one of the highest hills in the region, it is lush and intense and thoroughly satisfying now, but it could be cellared for a few years. The tiny estate produced only 300 cases of this wine and we have a bit left. It is $29.75 and would be great with roasted meats, game, stew or a good cheese plate.

2004 Foley, Santa Rita Hills, Chardonnay — Foley Estate has earned its fine reputation by focusing on two wines: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This Chardonnay comes from their Rancho Santa Rosa vineyard, in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, an extremely cool growing site where daily ocean breezes allow for extended hang time without over-ripening the grapes. When we had an opportunity to buy up the last 65 bottles of this wine, we jumped on it. This meticulously crafted wine is a fine example of just how expressive California Chardonnay can be: rich, creamy, and balanced with perfect acidity. Originally $30, we offer it in the club at $25 and suggest you try it with soft cheeses or quiche, mild seafood, or a fish-based risotto.

2007 Saint Cosme, Côtes-du-Rhône — We’ve always loved the wines from Saint Cosme, the negociant line of Château de Saint Cosme. Made with the same care and expression as the higher end offerings, the wines are always amazing values. The 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône is 100% Syrah, completely unoaked, and is rich and silky smooth, with lots of dark fruit but not at all heavy on the palate. It’s drinking beautifully right now, though it could easily age for 4 to 5 years. It is soft enough to pair with lighter foods, such as chicken or vegetable-based dishes, but would also be great with more robust fare. A crowd pleaser at our club tasting, it is only $15.

2006 Tapiz, Malbec — Putting the clubs together is much like filling the roster of a sports team: you need to cover all the skills, the salaries have to balance, and everyone must be able to work well as a team. Filling the last spot is always a challenge. The last member to join this month’s line up was this Malbec from Argentina. We liked it right away for its rustic, earthy nose, and full-bodied, satisfying dark fruit. And it came in at a perfect $16. Team complete. From Fincas Patagónicas, which also produces the more modestly priced Zolo line, this last addition to the team was a big hit (no pun intended) at the club tasting, and is ready to drink now. Have it with an Indian summer barbeque, pizza, or any hearty fare.

2007 Domaine de Couron, Marselan — After we featured the 2006 Marselan in our December 2006 club, we could barely keep it in stock, it was so popular. Now the 2007 vintage is in, sure to be another hit, at $11. As a refresher: the Marselan grape is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, first created in 1961 and enjoying a resurgence in attention, especially in the south of France. This one is from the Côteaux de l’Ardèche (between the northern and southern Rhône regions). It has soft fruit and a nice tannin kick from the Cabernet, balanced by the hearty, rustic flavors of the Grenache. You could pair it with a wide variety of food from light to robust. We’ve got a great supply on hand, but now that the word is out on this one, it might be hard to get more when we do finally run out.

2007 Perazzeta, Sara Bianco — The Perazzeta estate, in Tuscany, has been a source of some our most popular “go-to” Italian wines, ever since the folks at Small Vineyards began importing them Customers have long enjoyed their Sangiovese-based Sara and Rita (and their lovely, but limited, Syrah). Now for the first time we have brought in a white from this family estate. The Sara Bianco (named after winemaker Alessandro Bocci’s daughter, who now helps in the winemaking), is a blend of 40% each Trebbiano and Chardonnay, and 10% each Malvasia and Sauvignon. Dry and crisp and very Italian in style, it’s ready to drink now, with strong cheeses or full-flavored tapas. Only 250 cases were made, five of which went into this month’s club. It’s $11 and we have a tiny bit more but, as a direct import, that may be about all we can get. (By the way, they also make an award-winning olive oil that is just fabulous! We have little 100ml bottles of it for $9.75.)