Specialty Club – January 2011

2007 Bocelli, In canto
Yes, this wine is from the family of that Bocelli—the famed blind opera singer. The winemaker is his brother Alberto, although Josh Hanson of Small Vineyards reports that Andrea does help – by tasting the wines when he’s home from one of his concert tours. While the Bocellis do make Chianti-like Sangiovese-based blends, this wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s not such a surprise when you take into account that their village of Lajatico is closer to Pisa than to Florence, and the ripening season there is much longer than in Chianti. They reserve the best soils on the estate for Cabernet, and make only 275 cases of the In canto. It’s a lush, powerful wine that will age well for another five years or more. Give it at least a couple of years before enjoying it with a truly memorable meal. It’s a good value at $35, and we have a tiny bit more available.

2008 Morlet Family Vineyards, La Proportion Doree
As far as we can tell, this is the first time we have put a California Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend in this club, much less one that costs $62. We first encountered this wine at a Day of the Dead dinner at Bridgett’s house honoring Bear, and it was the star wine of the night (not an easy feat when Bear’s entire cellar was available to us). The winemaker is Luc Morlet, a fourth generation vigneron from Champagne who came to California in 1996 after extensive experience in the vineyards of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the south of France. In 2001, after working at some top California wineries, Luc became the winemaker at Peter Michael Winery, Bear’s very favorite producer of California whites. In 2006, Luc and his wife Jodie bought thirteen acres of elite property in Napa and Sonoma, and so he turned the reins at Peter Michael over to his brother Nicholas. Not surprisingly, Luc’s wines, whether Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet or Syrah, show a very French sense of harmony and delicacy, while also being intense, complex and elegant. La Proportion Doree is made from grapes from seven Sonoma vineyards, with all vines being at least 50 years old. The intense aromas of lemon, apricot and quince come from a special clone of Sauvignon Blanc, Musque, which is cultivated in only a handful of California vineyards. Aging in special fine-grained French oak barrels for ten months gives the wine a full-bodied richness. Lovely now, but you can easily give it three to five more years to develop. Excellent as a start to the evening, it would also shine with anything from the grill, particularly vegetables. Distribution of this wine in Washington is very limited, and so we got just enough bottles for the club.