Collector’s Club – March 2010

2005 Christian Moueix, Pomerol — This month’s club has a decidedly French theme: three of the wines are from France, and the other three come from important French grapes. The first is this Bordeaux from the right-bank region of Pomerol where the predominant grape is Merlot and the wines are known for their rich opulence. In this, the tiniest region in Bordeaux, no other family has had more influence than that of Jean-Pierre Moueix. The house is now run by Jean-Pierre’s son Christian, (also owner of Napa’s Dominus Estate). Moueix’s Pomerol is powerful, yet elegant, with spice, leather, and red fruit. It already has some age, but a few more years would really allow the nuanced flavors to develop and knit together. We opened it two hours before we poured it at our tasting and it continued to evolve throughout the evening. It cries for food, perhaps a rib roast. It’s $25 and very limited.

2006 Hecht and Bannier, Côtes de Roussillon Villages — From Bordeaux, we head to the south of France, where we find the negociant team of Gregory Hecht and François Bannier. They have been producing excellent wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region since 2002 and they are even developing a unique barrel size just for Languedoc-Roussillon wines. This Grenache-based wine, blended with Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah, has a pleasingly rustic profile of dark fruit and pepper and is perfect now but could evolve in the bottle for another three to five years. Grenache from this region is juicy, yet elegant, with great aroma and velvety texture. This Côtes de Roussillon would be a perfect accompaniment for a roast leg of lamb or poultry. Previously priced at $25, it’s now only $17.

2008 Domaine Pierre de La Grange, Muscadet — Before we leave France, we head back up north to where the Loire River empties into the Atlantic. This is the home of Muscadet, the fresh, crisp white wine, made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, that is the quintessential partner for shellfish. Pierre Luneau-Papin comes from a long line of vignerons. His focus is on quality over yield and, he continues to hand harvest his old-vine fruit, vinify in small batches, and age his wines on the lees (sur lie). His Muscadet is clean and crisp with intense minerality, and great structure. It is still in decent supply and is $14. It’s delicious now but this is a Muscadet that would also develop over time.

2008 J. Scott Cellars, Roussanne — This wine hails from Oregon, but is made from Roussanne, a southern Rhône grape. It is a delightful contrast to the crisp Muscadet above, being plush and aromatic. This is a wine for appetizers or tapas or for Chardonnay drinkers who want to try something different. Jonathan Scott Oberlander is one of the new generation of Oregon winemakers, who are drawing new inspiration from Old World wine traditions. His small Oregon winery, J. Scott Cellars, sources fruit from some of the best vineyards in Oregon and Washington, and his 2008 Roussanne, made with fruit from Wasington’s hot Columbia Valley, is round and rich, although it sees no oak or secondary fermentation, and boasts lovely floral and mango notes. It’s a real treat, for $16.

2008 Ramsay Winery, Pinot Noir — While Pinot Noir is made all over the world, it is first and foremost, a Burgundian grape. California produces its share of wine from this finicky grape, especially in cooler locations. Ramsay is the second label for Rasmussen Winery, located in the Napa Valley town of Oakville. Half of the grapes for their North Coast Pinot come from the cool Mendocino region, the rest from their vineyards in Carneros. We were impressed with the great varietal characteristics of this Pinot: light in body, yet full of flavor and checking in at only 13% alcohol and a mere $17.75 on the shelf. Its hint of smokiness would make it a perfect partner for smoked fish, or lighter meat dishes.

2007 The Rebel, Cabernet Sauvignon — O’Shea Scarborough is a Tukwila-based winery formed by Darryn O’Shea and Travis Scarborough, two friends with much experience and great connections in the local wine scene. They put their names on their higher end wines, which typically cost upwards of $30 to $40, but they also make some more affordably-priced gems, such as this Cabernet Sauvignon, which boasts the same amazing “if-we-told-you-we’d-have-to-shoot-you” fruit sources, and the same winemaking talent. The Rebel Cab is a cool $15, made with fruit from the warm, sunny Wahluke Slope. It was popular at the club tasting, for its intriguing flavor and aroma profile. Its big dose of black cherry, leafy notes, and rich, full body make it perfect for parties or casual meals.