Collector’s Club – July 2009

2007 Cadence, Coda — Ben Smith is one winemaker whose wines our shop is never without. His stylish Bordeaux blends, sourced from some of the best vineyard sites in the state, are always balanced and elegant. He blends his Coda from juice that doesn’t make it into his higher-end wines. This year’s version represents a bit of a miscalculation on his part. Somehow, after he tasted the barrel samples to decide which would go into his elite wines and which into the Coda, the Merlot destined for his Coda developed far more beautifully than he had expected. Rather than rethink all of the blends, he left it as is—the result: a Coda of exceptional depth, power and complexity. Bank error in our favor! It’s drinking well now, but it could age for up to five years. Ben has a bit left, but it won’t last beyond August, at $25. His suggested food pairing? Pork tenderloin with a Nebbiolo, fig, and hazelnut chutney. Yum! If you try it, let us know!

2008 Domaine du Trienne, Rosé — Domaine du Trienne was established in the late 1980s by two renowned Burgundy producers (including Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of the legendary Domaine de la Romanée Conti) along with a friend of theirs from Paris. They wanted to branch out, into a region where they could experiment with other varietals and where the benchmark was still yet to be reached. They believed in the potential of the Var region, and selected their ideal vineyard site based on its soil type and perfect southern exposure. The name Trienne comes from the triennia festivities which took place every three years in Roman times to honor Bacchus. This Rosé, made predominantly from Cinsault, is fresh and pretty and a versatile accompaniment to all sorts of fare. Or great on its own. It’s $15 and is in good supply.

2007 De Tarczal, Müller-Thurgau — The grape Müller Thurgau is most often associated with Germany, where it is one of the most widely planted varietals, producing decent, but rarely memorable wines. An early-ripening grape, it does best in cool climate regions, such as Trentino-Alto Adige in northern Italy. Müller Thurgau can feel right at home here, where German is the primary language and the Alps rise dramatically off in the distance beyond the vineyards. Ruggero de Tarczal’s Müller Thurgau, grown on 50-year-old vines, shows a wonderful flinty complexity, accompanied by perfect crisp acidity thanks to the cool breezes off the Alps. This one is $16 and would be as happy alongside grilled fish or meat, as it would be with spicy Asian dishes. The three Italian wines in this club are all Small Vineyards’ direct imports: only the amount ordered was brought into the country, so they are fairly limited.

2007 Martorana, Colonna — Everyone remembers the story of Sicilian winemaker Giuseppi Martorana: he’s the one who makes his wine, unbothered by the local mob, because he also happens to be the police chief in town. We featured his 2006 Colonna in last year’s August club. Like that one, his 2007 vintage is a 50-50 blend of Nero d’Avola and Syrah, two red varietals that are ideally suited to the climate and geography of this hot, arid, Mediterranean island. Grown under the careful eye of Martorana in his ocean-front vineyard, the fruit produces a lush wine, layered, and brushed with spice, which can develop and open up for hours. Save some to try the next day. It’s $14.

2007 Le Rote, Chianti Colli Senesi — Le Rote is another familiar face, both in the club and on our shelves. The winery, run by husband and wife team Lara and Massimo Scotti, is in San Gimignano, an area devoted almost exclusively to the white grape Vernaccia. But the Scottis believe that their particular site and microclimate can produce reds of equal quality to that of nearby Chianti Classico, which is what they are striving for with this Chianti Colli Senesi. It is made from Sangiovese, grown on vines up to 40 years old, and it has been aged for one and a half years before release, rare for a non-riserva Chianti. It has rich, dark fruit and a smooth, lingering finish. Italians would never dream of drinking wine without food, nor should you. Enjoy it with robust fare, be it spaghetti, steak or pizza. They made only 585 cases and we have it at $15.

2005 Herdade do Esporão, Reserva Branco — The Esporão estate is located in the hot, southern Portuguese region of Alentejo, long known more as a major source of cork than for its wines. Alentejo has had a turbulent history when it comes to winemaking, but since the 1980s, wineries have been modernizing and quality has been rising steadily. Austalian winemaker and Portugal’s winemaker of the year for 2000, David Baverstock, leads the production team at Esporão, an estate whose borders have not changed since 1267. Here he makes wines from traditional Portuguese grapes, in this case, Roupeiro, Arinto, and Antão Vaz, not exactly household names. It is rich and full-bodied, with nice depth and complexity—lots more wine than you’d expect for only $12. It’s in good supply and is perfect for seafood. Try it with seared scallops.