Collector’s Club – November 2008

NV Va Piano Vineyards, Bruno’s Blend IV — We featured the Bruno’s Blend II in the March, 2007 club. It’s made by Justin Wylie, of Walla Walla’s Va Piano Vineyards, and is dedicated to his former art teacher, Father Bruno Segatta. For his IV version, Justin added 30 percent Malbec from Gamache Vineyard, providing a dose of dark fruit and spice to the lush, smooth Syrah-based blend. This wine garnered a lot of votes at our election, but if you can let it age a bit more in the bottle—say 6 months or so—it should be even more delightful. A great partner for Pasta Bolognese (Father Bruno’s choice) or for other hearty fare, it’s $23 on the shelf and still in decent supply. A portion of the proceeds from Bruno’s Blend goes to support Father Bruno’s humanitarian work around the globe.

2006 The Cost Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley — We love a challenge, but some requests always stump us. One is typically a variation of: “Do you have more of that wine I got here a few months ago? It had a red label, or maybe blue, and I think it was from France…or California. It was in this bin, I think.” Huh? Another is: “Do you have any really good Oregon Pinot for under $20?” Now that’s a challenge! Which is why we were so excited to discover this one from The Cost Vineyard, a small producer of premium, all estate-grown Pinot Noir in the Eola Hills, near Salem. And somehow, it is only $19.75. Medium bodied, fruit forward, spicy and complex, it’s lovely now, or could age for five years or so. Enjoy it with fall comfort food, or with salmon, of course. Also, enjoy the fun labels (they’re all different).

2005 Domaine de la Terre Rouge, Syrah, Les Côtes de L’Ouest — At our election tasting we poured the Terre Rouge Têtes-à-Têtes. It was a big vote getter but, alas, was unable to take office (something about delayed shipments). Lucky for everyone, our rep managed to sub in its “big brother:” this 100% Syrah, Les Côtes de L’Ouest, from California winemaker Bill Easton’s Rhône portfolio. While the Têtes was an easy-drinking Rhône blend, this wine is more northern Rhône in style, like a St. Joseph, for those familiar with the region. Unlike a St. Joseph, though, this one is ready to drink now, with nice dark, spicy fruit up front and a smooth, yet peppery finish. Also, quite unlike a St. Joseph, this one is a mere $19. Try it with bistro fare, pork dishes, or wild mushroom pizza. We should be able to get more of this one, as well as the Têtes-à-Têtes.

2004 Quinta das Maias, Dão Tinto — The Dão region, in north central Portugal, produces some of that country’s best wines. It wasn’t until the 1990s though, when wine laws were eased (no longer requiring that all grapes grown be sold to cooperatives) that quality really began to take off, thanks to a new generation of wineries, such as Quinta das Maias, who jump started the winemaking revolution. Maias’ 2004 Tinto was a big vote-getter at our tasting (it also won in exit polls, based on bottles sold). It has lots of bright fruit, up front, with a great, lingering complexity. Like most Portuguese reds, it’s made from a blend of grapes: 60% Jaen (adding color and spice), 25% Touriga Nacional (the famed Port grape, rich and concentrated), 10% Alfrochiero (added for its color and balance) and 5% Tinta Roriz (Portuguese for Tempranillo). It’s $11, ready to drink now, and in good supply. Try it with tapas, or hearty seafood dishes.

2006 Doña Beatriz, Verdejo — The votes for Position No. 1 (white wine) were clear cut: this wine garnered twice as many votes as its opposition. The Verdejo grape is the pride and joy of Spain’s Rueda region where, in the 1970s, it put this part of Spain on the map as a source of great white wines. Verdejo produces fresh, fruity, almost nutty wines, with great aromatics and body. At a mere $13, this one is no exception. It’s flavorful and versatile, and could accompany a grilled pork roast, be sipped on its own, or paired with appetizers. In reasonable supply and drinking well now, it would also develop some over time.

2007 Gerald and Philibert Talmard, Mâcon-Uchizy — We round out this month’s club with another wine you’ve seen in the past. But we just can’t resist this 100% unoaked Chardonnay from the village of Uchizy in the Mâconnais, a region in the southern reaches of Burgundy known primarily for its white wines. Crisp and clean, with a bit less peach than the 2006, but lots of zesty flavor and still only $12, this is a great food wine and a good introduction to white Burgundy. In decent supply, it’s drinking well now, or could develop for a few more years. Try it with creamy fish dishes, quiche, spring rolls, or risotto.