2005 Giribaldi, Barbaresco — To many, the northern Italian grape, Nebbiolo, is the source of some of the finest wines in the world. Of course, everyone has their own preferences, but Nebbiolo-based Barolos and Barbarescos are certainly some of the most beguiling and long-lived wines around. Intensely aromatic, and high in acidity and tannins, these wines can take years to develop in the bottle. But this $29.75 Barbaresco from Giribaldi is just about ready to enjoy now, especially with a bit of decanting, or you could let it age for another year or two. It has the violet and tar flavors, typical of Nebbiolo, with soft hints of earth and leather. Definitely a food wine—think roasts.
2007 Saviah Cellars, Red Mountain Syrah — Bear was always a big fan of Saviah wines. Winemaker, Rich Funk, has consistently made flavorful and balanced wines at his Walla Walla winery, and is a great guy to boot. He makes his wine in small quantities so we don’t always see a lot of it, although his affordable “Jack” blend has been a big hit over the years. But Rich really shines with his varietals and higher-end blends and this Syrah, from Red Mountain, is a super example. It is sourced from the high-elevation Ranch at the End of the Road Vineyard, and the spicy plum and black pepper notes are typical of Red Mountain. Enjoy it any time, with steak or a warm winter stew. Originally $32, it is now only $19.75!
2009 Adelsheim Vineyard, Willamette Valley Pinot Gris— Adelsheim is one of the oldest wineries in Oregon, established in the northern Willamette Valley in 1971 by David and Ginny Adelsheim. While some wineries come and go, Adelsheim has stood the test of time and today their estate is still headed by David and Ginny and includes eleven vineyard sites. Adelsheim was one of the first producers of Pinot Gris in the U.S. and their 2009 vintage of this varietal is their 26th. Grapes for this vintage were sourced from nine different vineyards, six of which are estate vineyards and one, Quarter Mile Lane Vineyard, includes one of the oldest plantings of Pinot Gris in the New World. Their Pinot Gris has always been known for its crisp, clean brightness and this one is no exception, balanced by its soft, rich texture and fruitiness. It is $14 and the winemaker suggests enjoying it with ceviche, rich fish entrees, or roasted fowl.
2008 Pheasant’s Tears, Rkatsiteli — At our tasting of Georgian wines last month, this unusual wine was so popular we decided to put it in the club. Georgia’s winemaking history dates back 8000 years, yet most people today know little about it or its wines. The family at Pheasant’s Tears has been making wine in the eastern province of Kakheti for over eight generations, with a commitment to preserving the indigenous grape varietals. They make all of their wines in qveri (clay amphorae) which are buried in the ground to maintain even temperature during fermentation, which is carried out naturally, using all native yeasts. This wine, made from the grape Rkatsiteli, is golden amber with a rich, honeyed apricot nose and a full-bodied, yet dry palate. Given the natural winemaking process, we’ve noticed some bottle variation, even within this vintage, ranging from lighter-colored, brighter wines, to darker, more intensely flavored ones, with an almost oxidized profile. The longer this wine ages, the more these characteristics will develop. It is $17 and would pair well with sharp cheeses or other exotic flavors. They suggest drinking it at room temp.
2007 Cannonball, Cabernet Sauvignon — The capsule of this wine invites you to “dive in,” and that’s just what we suggest you do with this wine. It’s a California Cab that is serious about quality and value, yet doesn’t take itself too seriously. Oh, it has plenty of nice dark fruit, solid structure, and good balance, allright. What it lacks is pretension. This is a wine to take to a party or pull out for a mid-week quaff. It’s $14 and great for burgers, barbeque, or pizza. The winery is located near Healdsburg, in the heart of Sonoma, with the fruit coming from small growers in Mendocino and Sonoma. As the winery states, “The Cannonball dive is a dive for the people…. If you’ve never done a Cannonball then you’d better just shut down your computer, go find a body of water, and dive in!”
2009 Fedriani Laffitte, Syrah-Bobal — This has been a popular wine in our under-$10 bins for some time now, so when we found we needed a $9 red to fill out this club, it was a no-brainer. It has been next to impossible to find much information about Fedriani Laffitte, although it is bottled by Alvarez Nölting, a producer in the southeast Spanish region of Valencia. But who needs a story? This wine is just plain good: full-bodied, smooth and versatile and, although the label says Syrah, it is actually an 80/20 blend of Syrah and Bobal. Bobal is a dark-skinned grape, grown in and around the Valencia region. It would be great with short ribs. It was a big hit at our club tasting last week.