2007 K Vintners, Syrah, Milbrandt — K Vintners is all about Syrah. Although winemaker Charles Smith works with other varietals as well, it is his Syrahs that we first came to know and love, especially his small lot, site-specific wines which express the unique terroir of their origin. The 2007 Milbrandt is sourced from two vineyards on the Wahluke Slope, both owned and sustainably farmed by Butch and Jerry Milbrandt. The vineyards, Sundance and Pheasant, are only two miles apart, but have markedly different soil types, providing very different wine profiles. Together, they produce a plush, smooth Syrah, with a stony minerality, that begs to be paired with a rack of lamb, or a roast pork. It’s $28 and in decent supply. It is beautiful now, but will develop over the next few years.
2007 Domaine du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge — To pair with the Milbrandt, we chose another Syrah from a region practically synonymous with that grape: the northern Rhône. This harsh, steep, rocky region produces some of most exotic and intense Syrahs in the world. Crozes-Hermitage wines are grown in the flatter land below the spectacular hill of Hermitage, and are generally less intense than those legendary wines. But Colombier holds property in both regions and even his Crozes expresses much of that same dark fruit, spice, and depth that the northern Rhône is famous for, but at a much more affordable price, $27. It has a wonderful earthy nose that speaks of the soil.
2008 Cune, Monopole Rioja Blanco — CVNE (Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España, or Northern Spanish Wine Company) was founded in 1879 by two brothers who loved the wines of France and Alsace and wanted to produce wines of similar quality at home. The brand, still managed by their direct descendants, consists of three wineries in Rioja, of which Cune is one. Cune is one of the few Rioja wineries with a reputation for both excellent red and white wines. The Monopole label was created in 1915 and is made from Viura (aka Macabeo, the predominant white grape in Rioja). The wine sees no oak and is fresh and aromatic, with crisp mineral notes. Still in good supply, it is $13, and ready now. Enjoy it as you would a nice Chablis: as an aperitif or with seafood.
2008 Domaine La Croix Belle, Chardonnay — Domaine La Croix Belle is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France (another wine from the Côtes de Thongue!) and has been continuously farmed for three centuries. Brothers Jacques and François Boyer took over the family domaine in 1977, replanting the vineyards, lowering yields, and updating the cellar. Their sustainably-grown fruit ripens under the bright Languedoc sun, with the heat moderated by Mediterranean breezes. This Chardonnay has a wonderful hint of earthiness on the nose and, because it is matured on lees in the tank, a nice dose of richness and complexity. It’s a lot of wine for only $9.75 and it’s in good supply. Perfect for fish in butter sauce, poultry dishes, or as an aperitif.
2006 Bodegas Casa de Illana, Tradición — This wine hails from the region of Ribera del Júcar, in the eastern part of Spain’s Castilla-la Mancha. The soil here is poor, filled with stones from the river Júcar, which insulate the ground and reflect the sunlight back onto the grapes, intensifying their ripening process. It comes to us via Casa Ventura, a Bellingham-based importer that seeks out wines of exceptional quality, made as traditionally and organically as possible. This wine was a huge hit at our Spanish tasting, thanks to its great structure, easy approachability, and unbelievable $12 price. Bobal, a traditional varietal in this region, makes up 45% of this wine. Blended with Tempranillo and Syrah, it makes a perfect wine for pork or chicken dishes, lamb burgers or grilled salmon.
2009 Zolo, Bonarda — Zolo is already a familiar face in the shop but we thought we’d include it in this month’s club in to round out the selection. The winery is situated in the Mendoza region of Argentina and owns vineyards at various altitudes throughout the region. Their goal with their Zolo classic line is to create fruit-forward wines at great value. Bonarda is Argentina’s second-most planted varietal, after Malbec, and it produces wines with ripe, smoky flavors, balanced by soft tannins. The Zolo Bonarda is a wine to sit down and enjoy right away, and the $11 price tag makes that a painless undertaking. It’s great for quaffing with friends or to have with barbeque or burgers. As the folks at Zolo say, “It’ll blow your hat off!”