Collector’s Club – April 2012

2009 Luccchetti, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, Guardengo — Lacrima is an indigenous grape from Italy’s Marche region. Its name, Italian for tears, is said to come either from the fact that the fruit is tear-shaped, or because, when it ripens, it has a tendency to split and weep droplets of juice. The appellation, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba (unrelated to the Alba of Piedmont) was recognized in 1985, and Mario Lucchetti is one of the people who helped rescue the grape from extinction. His Guardengo is made from a selection of the best fruit from the oldest parcels on his property. If there is one word that describes the essence of this wine, it is rose petals. Aromatic, exotic, spicy, and fruit forward, it is a wine like none other. Some have described it as a “red Gewurztraminer,” which makes a certain sense. You could enjoy it slightly chilled, with pasta, antipasti, or even burgers. It is ready to drink now and is $19.75.

2009 Herdade do Mouchao, Dom Rafael — In the mid-19th century, Thomas Reynolds traveled from Oporto to the Alentejo region of southern Portugal in search of a cork estate. He found a perfect site and later generations planted vineyards there as well. And, while the Mouchão estate still produces cork, it is now much better known for its wines. Muchão uses an unusually high percentage of Alicante Bouschet, resulting in some of Portugal’s most powerful and complex red wines, though they need cellaring to soften and mature. Dom Rafael is their second label, made to be drinkable earlier. This wine is a blend of the brawny Alicante, softened by the addition of Aragonez (Tempranillo) and Trincadeira. It has the Muchão concentration and complexity, but is full, rich, and very approachable now. It is $13.

2007 Domaine Kikones, Ippeas — This just in: our favorite new Bordeaux in the shop is from Greece! Domaine Kikones, located in Thrace, in the northeast corner of continental Greece, was established in 2004 by Melina Tassou. She got her formal training at the Bordeaux School of Enology, followed by extensive experience in France and Australia. Her Bordelaise influence really shows in this wine, a 60/40 blend of Cab Sauv and Merlot, which has been winning awards, even over wines from Bordeaux! No surprise there: this wine wowed us with its soft, lush body and ethereal flavors. It would be perfect with a nice, juicy steak or succulent roast. It is $22 and is drinking beautifully now. (Melina emailed us, thanking us for putting her wine in the club, and offering to do a tasting here the next time she’s in the country!)

2006 Tranche Cellars, Barbera — We love the wines from Tranche, which is why we’ve featured them in a number of our clubs, along with those of its “sister” label, Corliss. Tranche produces Rhône blends, in the their Slice of Pape series, plus small quantities of single varietal wines with which they strive to capture the unique character of each grape, as expressed when grown in Washington terroir. Like Corliss, Tranche has access to some of the best fruit in the state, and this Barbera is no exception. Aged over three years in neutral French oak, the bright fruit flavors have developed inviting earth and spice characteristics. Low in tannins and packed with flavor, it is $19.75, and perfect for Mediterranean fare. But this vintage is almost gone and we’re told the 2007 will be $25, so if you’d like more, don’t wait long!

2010 Château Ducasse, Bordeaux Blanc — The famously meticulous winemaker Hervé Dubourdieu makes Sauternes at Roûmieu-Lacoste, and Bordeaux Blancs under his Graville-Lacoste and Ducasse labels. His Bordeaux estate lies in the Graves AOC, with its gravelly, alluvial soil, from which the appellation takes its name. His vines average a half century in age, adding complexity to his wines, which are unusual in their high percentage of Semillon (60%, with 35% Sauv Blanc, and Muscadelle). He picks all his fruit by hand, making multiple passes through the vineyard, to ensure that all the fruit is evenly and fully ripe. This results in a richer, fuller, and more aromatic wine. Lees contact provides even more texture and depth. This wine is $17 and would be perfect with fish, poultry, or even Indian food.

2010 Domaine de Laballe, Sables Fauves — Jean Dominique Laudet founded Domaine de Laballe in 1820 in the Gascony region of southwest France, the heart of Armagnac country. Generations of Laudets continued to produce that distilled spirit up to the 1980s, when Noel Laudet, after years at Chateau Beychevelle in Bordeaux, returned to Laballe and decided to produce still white wines as well. He selected grapes that would thrive in the local silty, sedimentary soil, known as “sables fauves,” (tawny sands). This blend of Sauv Blanc, Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng, and Chardonnay, is a delightful value, at $9.75. It is crisp and fresh, with notes of citrus and white flowers, plus an earthy complexity that makes it very alluring. Perfect for summer fare, seafood, or white meat.