Collector’s Club – April 2010

2007 Lost River Winery, Nebbiolo, Wahluke Slope — If you tend to hang on to your wine club wines over the years, you may now have a nice little vertical of the Lost River Nebbiolo, 2005 to 2007. If you have been drinking them, then you know how good these wines are. Winemaker John Morgan made his first wine from this noble Italian varietal in 2005, from Nebbiolo grapes grown on the Wahluke Slope. It is one of the largest plantings of this Piedmont grape in Washington and it is proving to be an excellent site. This wine has the classic aromas of tar and violet, but is softer and less tannic than a typical Piedmontese Nebbiolo. It is $24, ready to drink now, and perfect for pork or game, polenta with wild mushrooms, or antipasti. Only seven cases came to Seattle and we got five of them. If you want more, act fast!

2008 Domaine Thomas-Labaille, Sancerre “Les Monts Damnés” — Sancerre is an appellation in the upper reaches of the Loire River, renowned for its racy, flinty, super-focused Sauvignon Blancs. The soil here can be chalky limestone or flint, depending on the sub-region. Thomas-Labaille is one of the top producers in Chavignol, (a town also famous for its goat cheese) and one of the few still making traditional, old-style Sancerre. His vineyards, located on Les Monts Damnés (“the damn mountains”), are too steep to use any sort of mechanized vineyard work and his hand-harvested Sancerres are clean and precise, with a hint of richness and a graceful elegance. This one is beautiful now, or you could age it, if you want. Perfect for crab, or with goat cheese (from Chavignol, of course). It’s $25 and in limited supply.

2006 Nashwauk Vineyards, Tempranillo, McLaren Vale — We first tasted this wine about a year ago at a tasting of Australian wines, where the last thing we expected to encounter was a wine made from the Spanish grape, Tempranillo. We loved its complexity and food-friendly approachability. Nashwauk’s vineyards are terraced on steep, rugged hills, where yields are necessarily low. (If you sense a theme developing of wines from precipitous, mountainside vineyards, you’re right!) Their Tempranillo is grown on the highest, most exposed parts of the vineyards and the resulting wine is savory and aromatic, with dark fruit and subtle, earthy tones. They made only 450 cases and this is the tail end of the vintage. It’s $19.75 and would be great with tapas, or a shrimp and sausage paella.

2007 Ikella, Cabernet Sauvignon — Ikella is the second label of Argentina’s highly respected Bodega Melipal. The winery is located in the Luján de Cuyo appellation of Mendoza, the only DOC designated growing area in that region. Specifically, the winery is located in the Agrelo district, which lies at more than 3,300 feet above sea level with some of the best soil for wine grape growing around. This 2007 Cabernet (with 15% Malbec) is balanced and structured, with smooth tannins and pleasing dark fruit. It’s ready to drink now, or over the next two to three years, with a slow-cooked beef roast, grilled rib eye, or a beef and barley soup. This wine was originally $18, but we were able to snag the last five cases in town at $14. The few extra bottles will probably disappear the night of our club tasting.

2008 Domaine Jean Vullien, Montmélian Jacquère de Savoie — The rocky, mountainous, Savoie region, which lies in the lower reaches of the French Alps near the border with Switzerland, seems an unlikely place to grow wine grapes. But grow they do, in the calcium-rich scree and glacial soil of vineyards well positioned on warm slopes and in protected valleys. The AOC here is Vin de Savoie, which is further subdivided into 15 crus, one of which is Montmélian, where Domaine Jean Vullien is located. Jacquère is the most widely planted variety in Savoie, and is prized for its fresh minerality. It should almost be mandatory to pair this with fondue, but if that doesn’t work for you, other cheese dishes, such as quiche, or similarly salty food would go well with this $12, low-alcohol wine. It’s in good supply for now.

2007 Maison l’Aiglon, Saint-Chinian — St-Chinian is an appellation located in very mountainous terrain (there are those mountains again) in the Languedoc region of southern France. The appellation was created in 1982 and volume-wise it is the fourth most important in Languedoc. While the north and eastern part of St-Chinian is mostly schist and sandstone, in the south and west, where Maison l’Aiglon is located, the soil tends to be chalky limestone, producing fuller, softer wines. This blend of mainly Grenache and Syrah is somewhat reminiscent of a Côtes du Rhône: rich and concentrated, with soft texture and an elegant finish. Perfect with meats, casseroles, or cheeses. It’s in good supply, is only $9, and happens to be a favorite of a certain local restaurateur who frequents our shop.