Collector’s Club – November 2011

2007 Von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte, Riesling Spätlese — If there is a theme to this month’s club, it is vintage, beginning with this wine from 2007, an exceptional year in Germany for Riesling. As importer Rudi Wiest put it so poetically, it is a vintage “where Mother Nature conducted her orchestra with measured sunshine, cool nights, and timely rains, yielding a mosaic of top caliber wines across all of Germany’s wine regions.” This estate, in the Saar village of Oberemmel, has been in the same family for six generations. Their 2007 Spätlese (refers to the riper level of the grapes at harvest than a Kabinett), is wonderfully racy and concentrated. The sweetness from the riper fruit is balanced by crisp acidity, resulting in a succulent, concentrated wine with notes of pear and the slate soil of the vineyard. Originally $35, we were able to put it in the club at $19.75. Enjoy the beguiling aromatics and complexity that an older Riesling develops as it ages. Great for spicy Asian dishes, this wine could also be a star on your Thanksgiving table!

2009 Domaine Jean Fournier, Bourgogne Rouge — In Burgundy, 2009 is being heralded as a truly great vintage, especially for reds, which are proving to be exceptionally rich and expressive. This wine comes from Marsannay, the northernmost appellation of the Côte de Nuits, and the only place in Burgundy with appellation status for red, white, and Rosé wines. Jean Fournier is one of the oldest domains in the village of Marsannay-la-Côte. With vines up to 60 years old, their wines are characteristically bold and powerful with good aging potential. Jean’s son Laurent is now in charge of the domaine. Part of the new generation of winemakers, he has been transitioning the winery to organic agriculture. He uses both traditional and large barrels, allowing the wine to develop slowly so the terroir and vintage characteristics can shine through. This one has an inviting, rustic nose and lovely character. It’s $21.25.

2005 Chateau Begadanet, Médoc — We didn’t pick out this wine to put in the club so much as realize that it was just too popular not to. We have a small bin of under-$20 Bordeaux reds, and this one mysteriously disappears from it week after week. So ok, we get it! From the commune of Begadan, from which it gets its name, this is a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a bit of Cabernet Franc to add layers and depth. From the superlative 2005 vintage in Bordeaux (there’s that theme again!), this wine has nice ripeness but is very elegant, with pleasant tannins and notes of forest floor. At only $15, it is an excellent value and a great introduction to this excellent vintage. Enjoy with lamb chops.

2010 Gamache Vintners, Viogner, Velida — We filled you in on the history of Gamache Vintners in September, when we featured their Merlot in the club. Longtime growers of exceptional fruit for many of the state’s top wineries, the Gamache brothers brought on Charlie Hoppes in 2002 and began to produce wine under their own label. This month we feature their 2010 Viognier which, as the label says, is named for their mother and grandmother, two strong women with gentle grace. That describes this wine, too: it has a soft richness, but maintains a crisp acidity that keeps it balanced and fresh. An inviting and food-friendly alternative to the more voluptuous Viogniers out there, or to oakier Chardonnays. It is $15.

2008 Soos Creek, Commander Comet, Syrah — This winery flies under the radar for many Washington wine drinkers. As Paul Gregutt noted, “I have written about the exceptional wines of Soos Creek for many years, but outside recognition has been slow to arrive for this producer.” This month we do our part to change that. Winemaker David Larsen got his start, like a number of successful Washington producers, in the Boeing Wine Club, where he got access to some of the best fruit in the state right from the beginning. He still works with some of the most coveted Washington vineyards. Fruit for this $25 Syrah comes from Riverbend, Lewis, and Boushey vineyards, all known for producing some of the best Syrah fruit in the state. To highlight the varietal character of the grapes, Larson ages his Syrah in once-used French oak barrels, producing a very food-friendly and well-structured wine that has intensity without undue weight. Think northern Rhône. Lovely now, it will continue to develop another three to five years in the bottle.

NV Elvio Tintero, Rosso — Probably the single most popular club wine (in terms of subsequent requests) in recent memory has been the Tintero Grangia: you remember—the refreshing Italian white with a hint of spritz, so perfect for summer (or fall!) days. Well, here’s another offering from the same producer, at the same price ($11), also fun and refreshing but this time a red. It’s a non-vintage blend of 40% each Nebbiolo and Barbera, and 10% each, Dolcetto and Cabernet Franc. There’s no oak here, just fresh, easy-to-drink fruitiness, that’s low in alcohol (12.5%) and great with pizza, lasagna, or even Thanksgiving leftovers. Get your bistro on, and enjoy a glass anytime!