2006 Bodega Catena Zapata, Catena Alta Malbec
In the last few years, no region in the shop has shown more progress than Latin America, particularly Argentina, in the quality of the wines and diversity of selection. Elite Argentinean wines are routinely tasted against the heavyweight wineries of France and Italy, and they often come out on top. So we are proud to put in this club the third consecutive vintage of the flagship wine of the best winemaker in Argentina, Nicolás Catena. Bodega Catena Zapata was founded by Italian immigrant Nicola Catena in 1898, and he was the first one to plant Malbec in the Mendoza region, convinced that it could produce ageable wines. In 1994, his grandson Nicolás started making Catena Alta from his very best vineyard sites, four small, high-altitude lots. The 2006 vintage is the best so far, characteristically dark in color, full and supple, with wonderful dark berry fruits. While drinking beautifully now, particularly if decanted and served with steak, this powerhouse will continue to age for another decade, at least. We do have a tiny bit more available at $60.
2007 Falesco, Ferentano Bianco Lazio
Since putting the 2006 vintage of this unique wine in the Specialty Club in December, 2008, we have purchased more of this wine from the distributor than any other shop in the area. And it’s no surprise it’s caught on with our customers, since it’s a worthy alternative to any big California Chardonnay, especially since it’s only $29.75. Falesco was founded in 1979 in Montefiascone, a little village in the Lazio region, the province around Rome, by Renzo and Riccardo Cotarello. While they made their reputation with “international” varieties like Cabernet and Merlot, the Cotarello brothers have spent the last five years reviving grapes indigenous to the area. This wine, for example, is 100% Roscetto, and, as far as we can tell, it is the only wine in the world made from this grape. Although it sees oak barrels for only three months, it is rich, soft, and full-bodied, with wonderful aromas of citrus and minerals and hints of fresh herbs and vanilla. Ready to drink, it will nicely complement risotto, white meats, and vegetable dishes. We were able to obtain the last two cases available in Seattle, although we might be able to obtain more in the future.