Collector’s Club – July 2011

2010 Trevisiol, Rosé Brut — This is the first in our latest batch of direct-import Italian wines. Small Vineyards imports just what is pre-ordered at their preview trade tasting: these are not regular wines in their portfolio, so when they run out that’s it. You’ve been forewarned. This is one of those wines that develops a fan base each year, then disappears just when demand peaks. It’s the sparkling Prosecco that Paolo Trevisiol cleverly dubbed “Rosecco” until he was told he couldn’t, for some reason. It is still delightfully light and lively, showing all the fresh, fruity flavors of the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Prosecco that make up the blend. Softly effervescent, and just nudging the edge of being off-dry, it is perfect for summer on the deck, or Sunday brunch. It’s $16 and if you want more, grab it while it’s…chilled.

2010 Marchetti, Tenuta del Cavaliere Verdicchio — Never let it be said that we don’t learn from our mistakes. Last year we ordered only two cases of this amazing wine, and demand far outpaced our limited supply. So this year we made sure we got enough of the ever-popular “later harvest” Verdicchio, from the Marche’s Maurizio Marchetti, to put in the club. It is truly micro production: he keeps his yield so low he gets only about 1/2 bottle per plant, resulting in an amazingly concentrated, complex, and lush wine. An extra month on the vine (the “later harvest” part) helps develop even greater body, structure, and fruit flavors, but not sweetness. Of 300 cases made, Small Vineyards gets 280. And we snagged six of those. (Because we don’t make the same mistake twice!) At $16 it is perfect for seafood.

2010 Francois Cazin, Cheverny, Le Petit Chambord — Cheverny is one of the youngest appellations in the Loire Valley (indeed in France itself), receiving AOC status in 1993. It lies in the middle part of the Loire, in the northeast edge of the Touraine region. By law, Cheverny wines must be 60 to 85 percent Sauvignon Blanc, blended with Chardonnay, Menu Pineau (a relative of Chenin Blanc) or Chenin Blanc itself. This wine supplements the compulsory Sauv Blanc with Chardonnay, grown on the combination clay, limestone, and silica soil found in the area. François Cazin is a major producer in Cheverny with fairly old vines, which he harvests at low yields. His Cheverny is lovely; fresh, and floral with beautiful complexity and elegant flavors. And it’s organic! Perfect for mussels or other shellfish, it is $17.

2009 Cana’s Feast, Pinot Noir — In this time of budget belt-tightening, we’re constantly being asked for quality wines at lower and lower prices. Alas, most truly well-crafted, high-quality wines are expensive for a reason, and some grapes, such as Pinot Noir, are difficult to grow, and just can’t be vinified well and cheaply. So we were delighted to find this delicious Pinot from Cana’s Feast (formerly Cuneo Cellars), in Carlton, Oregon, at a friendly $22. Made from 100% Pommard clone fruit, it has an elegant nose, and is soft and inviting, with juicy, red, not-too-ripe fruit. Winemaker Patrick Taylor crafts all of his wines to be food friendly, and the winery has its own restaurant on site (the Cucina) where the wines can be enjoyed as intended: with a good meal. We suggest you do that with this one!

2006 Vega Escal, Priorat — The label is pure poetry: “In the mouth this wine reminds raspberry jam.” And the aroma “reminds red fruits.” The wine is from the Priorat region, in northeast Spain, where wine has been made for centuries, beginning with Carthusian monks who started a priory (Priorat) there in 1163. The climate is extreme, with cold winters and hot summers and the poor, thin soils force the vines to root deeply in search of water and nutrients. Here, Grenache is typically the predominant grape, followed by Carignan, but this wine, interestingly, leads with 60% Carignan, grown near the town of Gratallops on vines up to 50 years old. It is rustic, and yes, reminiscent of raspberry and red fruits but, to quote the label further, “It is mineral, warm, smooth, silky.” Hopefully, you get the idea. At $19.75, it’s a tasty example of the regional style, and is ready to drink now with grilled meat, or Manchego cheese.

2009 Domaine de Couron, Marselan — If you’ve been in the Collector’s Club a while, you will recognize this label. This is the fourth vintage we’ve featured of this wine, and the vintage is about all that has changed: same label, same price ($11), and same grape—Marselan. Marselan is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, first bred in 1961 near the French town of Marseillan, hoping to combine the heartiness and heat-tolerance of Grenache, with the finesse and structure of Cabernet. For whatever reason, it didn’t really catch on at the time, but we’re finding some great examples, mostly from the south of France these days, and this is one of them. Smooth and warm, with a bit of black pepper spice and a rustic edge, this is ready to drink now, with just about anything—burgers, kebabs, you name it.