Collector’s Club – June 2009

NV McCrea Cellars, non sequitur — Doug McCrea is a pioneer of Rhône varietals in Washington and his efforts have had a huge impact on the course of winemaking here. Fifteen years ago, he had to beg growers to plant Syrah in their vineyards. Now it is a leading Washington grape, and other Rhône varietals, such as Grenache and Mourvèdre are gaining their own momentum. Doug’s wines have a deservedly loyal following and we’re excited to be able to fit his non sequitur in the club. It is a Rhône-style blend of Counoise, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. Only $19.75, it’s full of bright fruit and earthy aromatics and, like a good Rhône wine, very food friendly. Doug made only 290 cases, so it won’t last long. Try it with light barbecue fare, or a summer cassoulet. Great now, it could also age a few years.

2008 Domaines Ott, Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret, Rosé — If you’ve been in the club a while, you may remember this Rosé from the September, 2007 club. It hails from an estate in Provence, originally founded in 1912 by an Alsatian engineer, Marcel Ott. Domaines Ott wines can be difficult to find, and are not cheap. “Les Domaniers” is an Ott Selection, bottled on the estate, and produced from old vines and according to traditional methods. Made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, it is complex and inviting, yet light and clean on the palate. Like the previous Rosé, this one has the same gorgeous salmon color, and delicate flavors, but this one is ready to drink now. And it is in good supply, at $19. Rosés are valued for their versatility and this one could sidle up to just about any food with ease.

2007 Martina Prieto Pariente, Verdejo — For years, Small Vineyards has been delighting us with wines from small Italian producers, imported right here in West Seattle. Lately, they’ve been busy scouring Spain and Portugal, for exciting new wines from that region. The next two wines in this month’s club are from their brand new Iberian portfolio. First is this Verdejo, from Martina Prieto Pariente in the Castilla-Leon region. A young winemaker, Martina has an excellent pedigree: her mother, Victoria, is said to make the best white wine in Spain at the family estate, Jose Pariente. Verdejo is a bright, crisp, fruity varietal that thrives in the high-altitude plateau in central Spain. This one has refreshing citrus-y elements, reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc, supported by inviting aromatics. A very versatile wine at $16, and drinking perfectly now.

2007 Clua Domènech, Terra de Pedres — Also from Small Vineyards’ new portfolio is this intriguing blend from the Tarragona region of Catalunya in northeastern Spain. As reflected in their name, the winery combines the efforts of two winemakers, Xavier Clua and Rosa Domènech, both certified enologists, who have combined forces to produce wines that reflect the region they grew up in. This one is a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Ull de Llebre (Catalan for Tempranillo, meaning inexplicably, “hare’s eye”). It’s a powerful, yet smooth wine, that starts with an earthy, almost feral (in the good sense!) nose and then settles down on the palate with dark, complex, inviting notes and a long finish. All for only $11. Perfect for barbeque or with hard cheeses.

2007 Schoenheitz, Pinot Blanc, Val St. Gregoire — When Dominique Schoenheitz-Rousseau brought her wines in for us to try recently, we were completely blown away: they all exuded delicacy, nuance and great balance. So when the last slot in this club called for an exceptional $15 white wine that was light and fresh, her Pinot Blanc was an easy choice. The grapes are grown on the steep slopes of the Munster valley, in vineyards that once belonged to the Hapsburg family. Val St. Gregoire is one of the winery’s “named places” (lieux-dits), referring to their oldest and best sites. This Pinot Blanc is silky and refreshing, with lovely hints of flowers and peaches. Perfect as an aperitif, or with tapas, quiche, or mild cheeses. A hit at the tasting, we noticed it was a bit shy when first opened. Give it a half hour or so to really open up.

2007 Familia Marguery, Casa Marguery Malbec — What is it with Argentina? We keep finding great wine values from this part of South America, especially from the Mendoza region, where the high altitude and shelter from the Andes provide excellent growing and ripening conditions. Latest case in point: Familia Marguery. This family-run estate focuses on Malbec and they produce two: the higher end Familia, and this, their more affordable Casa Marguery (at $14). Familia Marguery sources their grapes from older, high-altitude vineyards in three different regions in Mendoza, adding complexity and depth to their wines. This one is well-structured and full of dark fruit character. They suggest enjoying it with prime Argentinean beef, but it would be a great match for anything from steak to pizza. It’s in good supply.