Collector’s Club – January 2012

2009 Fall Line, El Otro, Boushey Vineyard, Tempranillo — We are longtime fans of Tim Sorenson’s Fall Line wines. They are always complex, nuanced, and ageworthy, and carefully crafted to showcase the unique characteristics of place (such as his single-vineyard Bordeaux blends); or varietal (as in his elegant Cabs, blended from different sites). This wine is Tim’s first single-varietal, single-vineyard wine and lo-and-behold, it is a Tempranillo! Aptly named, El Otro (the other one) it is his first departure from Bordeaux grapes and it was a huge hit when Tim poured it at a tasting in the shop recently. Tim captures all of the dark fruit and floral characteristics of this Spanish varietal, in an elegant, silky, New World interpretation. He made only 166 cases so it is quite limited, and it is ready to drink now. It is $25 and would be a classy accompaniment to any hearty meal.

2008 Olsen Estates, Petit Verdot — Two Washington wines in the club? Well, we thought it would be fun to showcase two less common Washington grapes, especially Petit Verdot which is rarely seen as a varietal wine. Having farmed in the Yakima Valley since 1908, the Olsen family began growing grapes in 1980. With over 800 acres of vineyards, they supply fruit to such producers as Betz, Brian Carter, and Owen Roe. In 2006 brothers Dick and Larry Olsen decided to craft their own wines from their fruit. But despite excellent quality, and glowing reviews, the winery did not succeed economically and 2009 was their last vintage. Their wines are still available though, and at much reduced prices. Originally $38, we were able to put this one in the club at only $25. Petit Verdot is one of the Bordeaux blending grapes, valued for adding color, richness, and spice and this one is definitely dark and intense. Drinking well now (give it an hour or so to open up), it could age another four to five years. Perfect for a sumptuous roast!

2010 Cantina Altarocca, Arcosesto Orvieto — Cantina Altarocca is located in the heart of Orvieto Classico, with one of the highest vineyards in the area (hence the winery name, meaning “high rock”). Orvieto is the most important DOC in Umbria. When produced in mass quantities, as it often is, it can be rather ordinary but this wine is a happy exception. It is a blend of Grechetto, Procanico (Trebbiano Toscano), and Malvasia. In Altarocca’s high vineyards, the grapes ripen more slowly, gaining added complexity and intense aromatics. It sees no oak, but the wine does get 18 hours of skin contact, which adds to the richness of this unique wine. It would pair perfectly with seafood dishes, such as steamed clams, or sea bass, or with chicken or pork dishes. It is $15 and drinking well now.

2009 Podere Ciona, Montegrossoli — As we have noted in the past, Poderi Ciona is the place where the idea of Small Vineyards was first conceived. And, with only four hectares, situated on one of the highest sites in Chianti Classico, it remains one of the smallest producers in the Small Vineyards family. They make about 430 cases of this “baby SuperTuscan” each year. In the past, the Montegrossoli has been all Sangiovese, but this year they have added Merlot and Alicante Bouschet, resulting in a wine with bright, Chianti-like fruit and spice, and rich, dark fruit undertones. Well-balanced and ready to drink now, it is $15 and would pair well with traditional Tuscan fare, or with a mid-week pizza. Very tasty and inviting!

2008, Château Miraval, Côteaux Varois, Clara Lua — One of our favorite recent Rosé discoveries comes from this historic southern French estate, and is named “Pink Floyd” in honor of one of the many bands that have recorded at the legendary Studio Miraval located here. So we were delighted to try another wine from Château Miraval, their Clara Lua, a blend of 95% Rolle (known as Vermentino in Italy), and 5% Grenache Blanc. The Rolle adds aromatics and vibrancy to this fresh, lively wine, while the Grenache Blanc imparts a touch of white peach notes. It is cool and crisp, and very expressive; perfect for rosemary roasted chicken, tapas, or Mediterranean fare. It is $16.

2010 López Cristobal, Tinto Roble — And now, a Tempranillo from its native Spain, specifically, the Ribera del Duero. Retired bullfighter Galo López is now in charge of his family estate which dates back nearly 100 years. They once sold grapes to the legendary Dominio de Pingus, but in the mid-1990s, they decided to produce their own wines and, thanks to his tremendous passion and talent, Galo has turned López Cristobal into a highly respected and award-winning estate. This wine helps illustrate why. Galo’s Tempranillos are known for their remarkable nuance and subtlety. This one is aged in French and American oak for about three months, giving it hints of vanilla and vibrant tannins, balanced by fresh, herbaceous notes. Definitely a food wine, enjoy it with game, kabobs, or a juicy steak. It is $15.