Collector’s Club – October 2010

2009 Buty, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc — The two main grapes in white Bordeaux wines are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, marrying the bright crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc with the aromatics and creamy texture of the Semillon. Many Bordeaux whites also include a lesser amount of Muscadelle for added perfume and complexity. Buty is the first Washington winery to do so. Buty’s Sem/Sauv blend has been a shop favorite for as long as we can remember and when we were lucky enough to have Nina Buty in the shop for a tasting recently, this one not surprisingly flew our the door. It is fresh, with natural acidity, balanced by its rich, silky texture. Caleb and Nina like to pair it with mushroom ravioli, or the turkey and root vegetable dishes of Thanksgiving. They made 850 cases, and it is $25. Think holiday meals!

2009 Syncline, Grüner Veltliner — Syncline is known and loved for its fabulous Rhône-style wines. But James and Poppie Mantone make a few other wines as well: a delicate Pinot Noir, and now, a Grüner Veltliner. This is their second vintage and they have nearly doubled their production—from 125 cases in 2008, to a whopping 220 cases this year. James sources his fruit for this wine from Underwood Mountain, the first planting of Grüner in Washington and an excellent site for this Austrian varietal. Grüner Veltliner is one of the most food-friendly of white wines: great with shellfish and Asian food, as well as heartier fare, such as game, beef, or poultry. This one is bone dry, with great minerality and an intriguing hint of salinity, backed by refreshing aromas of green apple and white pepper. Ageable, but delicious now, it is $19.75

2008 Trenel, Beaujolais-Villages — The fuss made over Beaujolais Nouveau is a mixed blessing. It gets people to try the wine of this region, but just once a year, and just wines that have barely even fermented. A fun, end-of-harvest celebratory gulp perhaps, but not a true expression of what Beaujolais can be. So we decided to put a true Beaujolais in the October club, before the Nouveaus come jetting over next month. Beaujolais lies in the very southern part of the Burgundy region, and its wines are made from the Gamay grape. Typically light and fruity, with hints of violets and roses, and very little tannin, they can be as refreshing as whites wine and actually benefit from being served slightly chilled. This $17.50 wine (down from $22) from Trenel is a lovely example of good villages-level Beaujolais, with bright red fruit and a pretty floral nose. Drink it soon, to fully enjoy the fruit flavors. Great for bistro fare or perhaps your Thanksgiving leftovers.

2007 Black Pearl Vineyards, “Oro” Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon — Paarl Mountain, in the Western Cape province of South Africa, is said to resemble a black pearl after it has rained. This wine (named for the god Oro who gave the black pearl as a gift to the ocean), is a Shiraz/Cab blend, grown on the slopes of Paarl Mountain by (the aptly named) Black Pearl Vineyards. Oro is lush and full-bodied, with aromas of dark berries, chocolate, and eucalyptus. It is $17 and is great now, but will continue to develop for a few more years. The winery is highly committed to nature conservancy and to the protection and preservation of the land adjacent to their vineyards, a unique local eco-system known as renosterveld.

2008 Vinedos del Quorum, NdQ Monastrell — This wine hails from the Jumilla region in central southern Spain, an area known primarily for red wines, in particular, Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre). Vinedos del Quorum is located in the hills of Jumilla where the slope orientation and older vines produce excellent fruit. Their Nacido del Quorum (NdQ) is mostly Monastrell, with a bit of Syrah included, adding a bit of softness and violets to the lush dark fruit and spice of the wine. It is a great value, at only $12, and it is ready to drink now, with grilled meats, or with Mexican dishes. This wine comes to us via Casa Ventura Imports, who will be doing a tasting of some of the wines in their Spanish portfolio on Thursday, October 7.

2008 Cucao, Carmènére, Rapel Valley — Chile has just about everything it takes to be a superlative wine-growing region: Mediterranean-like warm, sunny days, plenty of water for irrigation from the Andes’ snow melt, and a near total absence of vine pests and diseases. In recent years Chile has benefited from much foreign and domestic investment in its wine industry, resulting in massive improvements in quality, and yet the wines have remained remarkably good values. Take this Carmènére, from Cucao, made from a once-important Bordeaux grape that has since found an adopted home in Chile. Cucao (named for a South American bird known to bring good luck) is headed by one of Chile’s most influential winemakers, Alvaro Espinoza. This Carmènére is fresh and lively, with rich, dark fruit and lots of spicy notes. It’s a lot of juicy flavor for only $11, and would be great with anything off the grill.