Collector’s Club – April 2009

2006 Seghesio Family Vineyards, Barbera — Like so many wine family histories, the story of Seghesio goes way back, in this case to 1886, when Edoardo Seghesio arrived in Sonoma, fresh from his home in Piedmont. He began Seghesio Winery in 1902, which grew to a production high, at one time, of nearly two million gallons. Today the winery is in the hands of winemaker Ted Seghesio and his cousin Peter who have scaled back production to 30,000 cases of almost exclusively estate wines. A few weeks ago Peter Seghesio brought in some of their current releases. What especially intrigued us was this Barbera, made from some of the clones from Edoardo’s original vineyard. It has wonderful, dark fruit, a bit of spiciness, and the great acidity that makes Barbera such an excellent food wine—perfect for lamb, game, pasta marinara, or hard, aged cheeses. It’s $26, ready to drink, and in good supply.

2006 Vinoterra, Kisi — Georgia has been producing wine since 7000 B.C., making it likely the oldest wine-producing region in the world. We first tried this wine at our Georgian tasting in January and quickly ordered it for the February club. Alas, the entire shipment froze en-route, another victim of our crazy winter. This month we finally got our delivery. Kisi, an indigenous Georgian grape, is complex and nutty. The wine is fermented in huge amphorae (clay jars) called kvevri, which are buried in the ground, sealed, and left for several months. As the wines age, they will darken in color and develop a unique flavor profile: savory, musky, slightly oxidized, almost salty. Enjoy this one now in its youth, or hang onto it and see how it develops. It’s $19.75 and would pair well with grilled chicken, strong cheeses or smoked fish. (This one is still in extremely short supply so if you’d like more, we recommend you grab it soon!)

2005 Domaine de Trienne, Saint Auguste — We featured the 2003 vintage of this wine in the October, 2007 club. Trienne’s Saint Auguste is a powerful yet elegant blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The property, in the Var region of southern France, was founded by two Burgundy producers: Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac and Aubert de Villaine, of the legendary Domaine de la Romanée Conti. Unlike their Burgundian offerings however, these wines are much more available and affordable. Only $17, this wine is dark and rich, with enticing, spicy aromas. Give this one six months to a year to further develop, then enjoy it with chicken, pasta, or Provençal fare with fresh herbs and olive oil.

2005 Bodegas Benegas Don Tiburcio — Petit Verdot is usually used as a blending grape, particularly in Bordeaux, but in this Argentinean blend, it makes up a whopping 33% of the mix, followed by Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Globetrotting wine consultant, Michel Rolland, assisted winemaker Federico Benegas Lynch in creating this bright, fruity wine. The Petit Verdot and the Cab Sauv add dark, concentrated tannins, while the Cab Franc and Merlot provide spice and softness. It’s a lot of wine for $12 and would benefit from a bit of air (or age) to open up. The wine is named for Tiburcio Benegas who, as governor of Mendoza, traveled to Bordeaux and brought back the first French vines introduced to Argentina. The rest, as they say, is history. Great with any hearty fare.

2006 Bodegas Almanseñas, La Huella de Adaras — This inviting blend of Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Boushet), Monastrell (Mourvèdre), and Cabernet Sauvignon, hails from the Almansa region, in southeast Spain, just north of Jumilla. It is crafted by Ester Nin, one of the most highly regarded oenologists in Spain, who is also vineyard manager at the famed Priorat winery Clos Erasmus. Unlike those coveted wines, though, this one can be had for a mere $12, yet still exhibits Nin’s fine skills as a winemaker, with its rich, layered complexity and beautiful balance. Great with paella, or other Spanish fare.

2008 Hugues Beaulieu, Picpoul de Pinet — Picpoul is probably not the first grape name that comes to mind when you think white wine. But if you’re looking for something light, crisp, and refreshing to pair with just about any kind of seafood, it’s a no-brainer. Picpoul, which has been called the Muscadet of the south, is an ancient Languedoc grape variety, valued for its great acidity, perfectly balanced by good minerality and fresh, delicate fruit. Picpoul is sometimes used as a blending grape, but it is the sole grape found in Picpoul de Pinet, which has been awarded cru status (as a vineyard or site officially recognized for its superior quality) in Languedoc. Best of all, it can be had for a mere $9.75. Enjoy it with grilled fish, garlic shrimp, or traditional Mediterranean dishes. Picpoul is meant to be drunk young and slightly chilled.