2006 Clos des Brusquières, Châteauneuf-du-Pape —This is a gorgeous Châteauneuf-du-Pape from a tiny, very traditional estate that produces just this one wine, and only in very small quantities. Winemaker Claude Courthil’s 2006 blend is 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. We decanted it at our tasting, and it was delightful: medium bodied and smooth, with nice, earthy hints of garrigue. It should develop even further, if you can wait that is, for up to ten years. The importer suggests pairing it with a Christmas goose or wild boar, but it would be perfect with any hearty meal. It was a squeeze to get this wine into the club, at $39.75, but we couldn’t resist. We probably can’t get any more.
2007 Abbazia di Novacella, Kerner — This lovely white wine was a big hit at our tasting. It hails from the predominantly German-speaking Alto Adige region of northern Italy, which shares a border (and much history) with Austria. Which makes it less surprising that this wine is made from 100% Kerner, a German cross of Riesling and the red grape, Trollinger. Some at the tasting likened the flavor to a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling. It has Riesling’s fresh, clean minerality, followed by rich, creamy hints of pear and honey. Only 16 cases came to Seattle and we snatched up about a third of them for the club but there may be a bit more available, at $26. This wine is ready to enjoy now, and is perfect for grilled fish, shellfish dishes, or antipasti. Fun fact: it was named after a local nineteenth-century writer of drinking songs!
2005 Podere Ciona, Montegrossoli, Sangiovese Toscana — The next two wines have lot in common: they are both Small Vineyards direct import wines (only the amount preordered was shipped to Seattle, so quantities are limited), they are both from Tuscany, and both are predominantly Sangiovese. And their vineyards are only about 20 miles apart. But the similarities end there. This offering, from Podere Ciona, has 5% Alicante Bouschet and is full of soft, ripe fruit. At $14, it is immediately approachable, and perfect for pasta, meat or cheese dishes, or anything Tuscan. You may recall that it was at this winery that the vision of what was to become Small Vineyards was first conceived. The rest is history.
2003 Fattoria di Bibbiani, Treggiaia Rosso Toscano — This Sangiovese-based wine is from Fattoria di Bibbiani, a Tuscan hilltop estate that has been making wine for nearly 1000 years, although the current owners date back a mere 150 years. Their focus is on wines unique to the region, and this Treggiaia is predominantly Sangiovese, with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo blended in. The resulting wine is rather tight and smoky, with moderate oak and an herbally earthiness that calls for food—pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, you name it. It’s a great buy, at $9.75, and ready to drink now. We decanted it at the tasting to help it open up. As a direct import, it is limited in availability, though we still have some on hand.
2007 Strong Arms, Shiraz — Here’s a fun, easy-drinking Shiraz from South Australia that has a sense of style and finesse. It hails from “R Wines,” a venture by Dan Philips (of Marquis Philips wines fame) and winemaker Chris Ringland. A blend of McLaren Vale, Riverland and Barossa Valley fruit, it’s ripe, but not overripe; soft, but not flabby; and pretty classy for a $9.75 wine. This one is a no-brainer to take to a party (take two!), or to have with a casual dinner. It was a big hit at the tasting and is great supply.
2006 Domaine de la Ferrandière, 6 Enfants, Viognier — We’ve been featuring wines from Domaine de la Ferrandière (now imported under the “6 Enfants” label) in our bins for quite a while. They are exactly what we seek in our under-$10 bin wines (this one’s $9.75): excellent quality, excellent value and flavor well beyond its modest price. Their Viognier, from the Pays d’Oc in the south of France, is one of their stars. It has all the body and flavor we know and love from a Viognier, with a delicacy and brightness that makes it very light and food friendly, even with hard-to-match foods like salad or fresh vegetables. It’s in good supply, as are all the 6 Enfants wines, which we encourage you to explore.