Collector’s Club – December 2010

2007 Bocelli, Poggioncino Rosso Toscano — Once again, we begin a parade of Small Vineyards direct imports. Small Vineyards showcased these wines for the trade last August, and then brought in the amount ordered at that time. These wines are not in their regular catalog so they are mostly limited to what was ordered back in August. First off is this wine from the Bocelli family. They have been making wine for over 300 years on their small farm in Tuscany but did not export their wine until they met the folks from Small Vineyards. Andrea (yes, the opera singer), his brother Alberto, and sister-in-law Cinzia made 450 cases of this Sangiovese-based blend. It is smooth, soft, and somewhat modern in style, yet maintains a classic, rustic feel. At $19.75 it would be perfect with hearty meat dishes, or creamy soup.

2009 Martorana, Sicilian Red — This Sicilian wine was a huge hit the first time we brought it in and it has become a staple on our direct import order. It is made by Giuseppi Martorana, a local cop (a job which allows him to make his wines just as he pleases, without any “direction” from the island mafia). The Martorana family had been making wine for three generations when, upon returning from a 10-year post in Tuscany, Giuseppi began implementing some of the newer techniques he’d picked up from winemakers there. His family was critical, convinced no one would be interested in the results. But when his father learned that their wine was going to be sold in America (through Small Vineyards), he tearfully gushed, “You were right! I am so proud!” Their 2009 Nero d’Avola, is soft and smooth, with great complexity and hints of cocoa. It’s $12 and ready to drink now with everyday foods, or perhaps cioppino, lamb, or scampi.

2009 Monte Tondo, Soave Classico — This is a new estate in the Small Vineyards family. The winery is located in the hills of Soave, not far from Verona, and is run by Gino Magnabosco and his daughter Marta. There are oceans of mediocre Garganega-based Soave around, often supplemented with other grapes, such as Trebbiano, to give it the body it lacks. So we’re always excited to find well-made examples, such as this Soave, which is 100% Garganega, from 45-50 year-old vines. The fruit is meticulously managed, and carefully vinified giving it enough body and backbone to stand on its own, without blending. It is clean and flinty, with elegant minerality—like a Mediterranean Sancerre. And it would pair well with Sancerre-friendly foods, like appetizers, shellfish, or other seafood dishes. It is $13 and ready to drink anytime.

2008 Bodega Benegas, Malbec — The Benegas-Lynch family founded Trapiche Vineyards, one of Argentina’s oldest commercial wineries, back in 1897. The winery was sold in the early 70s, but Federico Benegas-Lynch repurchased the original family vineyard and now carries on the family tradition under the Bodega Benegas label. Luckily, the Finca Libertad Vineyard was not part of the sale, and today Benegas produces wines from nearly 100-year-old vines on this site in the Upper Mendoza (where Catena Alta and Achaval-Ferrer have their best vineyards). This single-vineyard Malbec, made in consultation with Michel Rolland, is rich and smooth, with lovely texture. It’s a great food wine, either with a holiday dinner, or with party appetizers, and it hits the shelf at $19.75. Great now, or it could soften over the next year or two.

2007 Sélection Laurence Féraud, Seguret — Laurence Feraud, along with her father Paul, owns and oversees one of the top producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Pégau. In addition to her winemaking duties at Pégau, Laurence produces her own wines under the “Sélection Laurence Féraud” label. Her Plume Bleue and Plan Pégau have been hugely popular whenever we’ve had them in. And we were excited when we discovered her Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Séguret. Séguret is one of the best of the Rhône “villages” but, being about one tenth the size of towns such as Cairanne or Rasteau, it is much less known. But this wine is stunning, and a great value at $18. Mostly Grenache, with a touch of Syrah, it is full bodied, dense, and aromatic — perfect for grilled meats or vegetables, or classic Provençal fare such as ratatouille or cassoulet. It’s perfect now, or over the next five years.

2009 Weingut Markus Huber, Hugo Sparkling Rosé — We thought no one would mind if we slipped a sparkling wine into the club this month; especially this festive Rosé sparkler from Austria’s young ‘Wunderkind’ (as per Decanter Magazine), Markus Huber. After a successful career in pro soccer, he returned to take over the family winery in the Traisental, the youngest and one of the smallest, wine regions in Austria. While the focus here is on Grüner Veltliner, he makes this charming Rosé sparkler from Pinot Noir and Zweigelt, a cross between Blaufränkish (Lemberger) and St. Laurent. Fresh and lively, with bright red fruit and a delicate minerality, it’s $18 and good before, during, or after a nice meal. Cheers!