2003 Bodegas Primitivo Quiles, Raspay Reserva — The Quiles family has been growing grapes in the Alicante region, on the east coast of Spain, since 1780. In 1940, Don Primitivo Quiles started his Bodega in Monóvar, and it is now the oldest in Alicante. Their focus has always been on one grape variety: Monastrell (Mourvèdre), and their Raspay Reserva is such an amazing example, they call it “the Barolo of Monastrell.” The fruit comes from old vines, extremely low yields, and is harvested late, then vinified in small batches, in six- to ten-year-old barrels. The result is an intense, rich wine, with flavors of old wood, spices, and ripe fruit — perfect for stews, charcuterie, or any kind of roast. It is $19.75 and was the runaway hit at our club tasting. (We also have a bottle of their Fondillón, an amazing unfortified dessert wine, in the shop.)
2007 Dobbes Family Estate, Pinot Noir, Grande Assemblage Cuvée — When it comes to winemaking, Oregon’s Joe Dobbes has been around. He apprenticed at Weingut Erbhof Tesch, in Germany and at Domaine Comtes Lafon in Burgundy. He has produced wine for a number of Oregon wineries, and consulted for even more. And since 2002, Joe has been producing his own wines under three labels, one of which is Dobbes Family Estate. Because he feels that blending fruit from different elevations and soil types produces the most expressive Pinot Noirs, he sources fruit for his Grande Assemblage Pinot Noir from multiple vineyards in different Willamette Valley AVAs. His 2007 vintage, soft and smooth, with a touch of dusty earthiness, is approachable now, but has the structure to develop over time. Perfect for blackened salmon, duck, or veal chops. It’s a steal at $19.75 (new, lower price) and in good supply.
2003 Cantina Tollo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, “Rubino” — Cantina Tollo was established in 1960 by a group of winemakers in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, with a goal of producing wines that express the best quality the region has to offer. Their Rubino Montepulciano is traditionally styled, with lots of spicy licorice notes, and dark red fruit. It is definitely a food wine — think pasta in red sauce, roasts, sausages, or cheese — and benefits from an hour or two of breathing time, even though it is a 2003 vintage. By the end of our club tasting, the bottle we opened two hours earlier had definitely softened and mellowed. It is $16 and we have all that was left of this vintage.
2006 Domaine de la Janasse, Terre de Bussière — Domaine de la Janasse was founded by Aimé Sabon in 1973, and is now run by his son Christophe and oenologist daughter, Isabelle. They hold 122 acres of vineyards in various appellations between Courthézon and the Crau plateau in the southern Rhône. From their simple vin de pays, to their Châteauneuf-du-Papes, their wines are luscious and concentrated and very expressive of the region. Interestingly, the Terre de Bussière is a Merlot/Syrah blend; not your typical southern Rhône mix, but it works. It is well balanced, with power and strength, and utterly evocative of the local terroir. Ready to drink now and perfect for any hearty fare, it is $17.50 and in decent supply.
2009 Buty, Beast, Semillon “Sphinx” — As most of you know, Buty (pronounced like “beauty,” after winemaker Caleb Foster’s wife, Nina Buty) is a producer of seriously sophisticated Walla Walla wines. But there is a playful, edgier side to this winery, and it calls itself the Beast. They explain: “Beast is the rare alter ego of Buty…. Beast allows us spontaneity and exploration, and most releases are one of a kind.” Up until now the Beast wines, made with the same care and attention and from the same fruit sources as their higher end cousins, have been sold exclusively at the winery, or to their club. But this year they have migrated into the retail domain and we pounced. This Semillon, affectionately dubbed Sphinx, is $15, clean and rich, and boasts lovely aromatics. The Hartebeest (Cab) and Wildebeest red blend can also be spotted lurking on our shelves, but all are endangered species and won’t last long so bag them while you can.
2008 Mas de Daumas Gassac, Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem Blanc — Mas de Daumas Gassac lies in the heart of the Languedoc region of southern France. Founded in the early 1970s by Aimé and Veronique Guibert, it quickly became one of the most respected wineries in a region not previously known for producing world class wines. In 1991 Aimé and Veronique launched a second label, Moulin de Gassac, in reaction to the increasing trend among local farmers to tear out indigenous grapes in order to plant more standardized (and profitable) varieties. The winery partnered with local growers to help them preserve their indigenous grapes, of which Sauvignon Blanc is one. The Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc is a delightful blend of organically-grown Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, and Clairette. It has great acidity and freshness and is perfect for crab quiche, seafood gratin, smoked salmon mousse or a Salade Niçoise. It’s $14 and in decent supply.