Collector’s Club – August 2009

2007 Owen Roe, Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon — We’ve long been big fans of Owen Roe wines. Their distinctive labels, featuring Irish castles and other rustic scenes, have graced our shelves for years. The inspiration for their Sharecroppers line was taken from the age-old practice in which landowners partner with the laborers who grow their crops and share in the resulting profits. When the folks at Owen Roe found themselves with an oversupply of high quality grapes, they decided to make a first-rate, but affordable wine, and split the profits with the vineyards. Plush and, smooth, with dark fruit and well-integrated neutral oak, it’s a very sumptuous and satisfying Cab for only $19.75. It’s beautiful now, or you could let it develop for another year or two. Enjoy it with a hearty roast, or class up a meal of gourmet burgers.

2005 Thirsty Pagans, Horse Heaven Hills, Communion Wine — As you might guess, this winery doesn’t take itself too seriously. Their belief is that life—and wine—are meant to be enjoyed and that, whatever our politics or creed, we should find some way to join together—like over a glass of wine! And their mission is to produce the best wines possible for this cause. Thirsty Pagans’ Sales and Marketing Wench (official title), Jeanie Inglis-Chowanietz, joined us at our club tasting to introduce their wine: a big, fruity, mouth-filling Bordeaux blend. Winemaker (and Jeanie’s husband) Rob Chowanietz honed his winemaking chops with his friend and mentor John Abbott (now of Abeja) and at Woodward Canyon, so he knows a thing or two about winemaking, as is evidenced in his Communion Wine, their inaugural release. Jeanie suggested pairing this one with big, rich foods, like steak, pizza, or pasta. It’s $26. No communion wafers or confessions needed.

2008 Naches Heights Vineyards, Pinot Gris — As if pagans weren’t enough, here’s how Phil Cline starts his website: “Far out in the backyard of a popular end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small but very powerful yellow sun. That sun sends energy in the form of light to a small blue green planet called Earth. On this planet that sun’s bright glow provides energy to grow wine grapes. In a place called Naches Heights, great wine grapes are grown. From these grapes, great wines are being made and now they are available to you!” Here’s another winery that doesn’t take itself too seriously. But their wines have serious style and finesse. The grapes are grown in one of the highest elevation vineyards in the state, on rich, volcanic soil. These conditions impart a delightful, almost Alsatian-style freshness to their Pinot Gris. This one ready to drink, as an aperitif or with light summer fare, and it’s sweetly priced at $12. Enjoy now.

2007 Perazzeta, Erio — After three Northwest wines, we now present three Italian wines from Small Vineyards. Not as geographically diverse as most Collector’s Clubs, but stylistically, this club still packs lots of variety. As for the three Small Vineyards wines, they are all direct import wines, meaning that only the pre-ordered amount was brought into the country. Thus, quantities on these wines are limited. The first Italian offering is from Perazzeta. Customers who’ve been around a while will be familiar with winemaker Alessandro Bocci’s wines: his elegant Rita, (named after his wife and his mother) and the simpler, but very pleasurable Sara (named for his daughter). Now we offer his first Super Tuscan, named after his father, Erio. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, this wine is intense but, like all of his wines, very approachable and enjoyable. As they suggest on the label, this would be a great pairing with red meat or game. It’s $16.

2007 Compagnia de Ermes, Cibele Bianco — In Italy, you can’t swing a wine bottle without hitting yet another grape you’ve never hear of. We discovered two new grapes in this 50–50 blend of Ottonese and Bollone. Compagnia de Ermes is the winery that introduced us to Cesanese, that obscure red grape from the Roman Lazio region where this winery is based. Now we get to try a white blend from this producer. At the club tasting, almost everyone was immediately drawn to this wine, though few could pin it down. It is crisp on palate, with a bit of nuttiness, followed by a soft, pleasant warmth. It would be a great partner for seafood (calamari anyone?), chicken, or tapas. It’s $14. Share this one with your wine geek friends.

2008 Rigoloccia, Rosato Maremma Toscana— We don’t get very many Italian Rosés, especially Rosés this good. This one comes to us from winemaker Fabrizio Motard, based in the coastal Maremma region of Tuscany. It is made from 100 percent Cabernet Franc planted on top of an old pyrite mine (check out the miners on the label). Is that what gives this wine its flinty, gun-metal elements? It has great minerality and complexity, but still qualifies as an easy, sunny afternoon quaffer. And it’s only $9.75. Crackers and cheese. Pasta salad. Summer barbeque. This Rosé won’t let you down.