2008 Kellerei Terlan, Nova Domus Riserva
Little known in the United States, Kellerei Terlan (or Cantina Terlano in Italian), located in the Alto Adige’s Dolomite Mountains, is one of the most respected and acclaimed cooperatives in Italy. Founded in 1893 by both mostly German speaking grape-growers, the cooperative association has trained its 120 or so members in natural viticulture. The site is extraordinary. The south facing slopes of the vineyards allow the grapes to ripen fully while the porphyry rocks accumulate warmth and the porous soil allows the water to drain, keeping the soil dry around the roots of the vines. And the wines are equally extraordinary. Winemaker Rudi Kofler has won 11 three-glass awards (the highest possible) from the acclaimed Gambero Rosso, Italy’s Slow Food guide, and averages six two-glass wines every year. This reserve blend is classic Terlan, showing off their distinct style of complexity, richness, and longevity. Very aromatic and incredibly layered, this is one of the great white wines of the world, worthy of comparison with the top white Burgundies. While the Piano Bianco and Chardonnay in this blend undergo malolactic fermentation and lees aging, the Sauvignon Blanc does not, thus providing a touch of mountain stream freshness. Perfect with creamy seafood dishes, goat cheese, spring peas, or even asparagus, it will continue to develop for at least another two to five years. The reserve wines of Terlan are very limited and haven’t been seen in this market in four years, so we put all we could get into this club at $52. We also have a tiny bit of their equally wonderful 2009 Quarz Sauvignon Blanc available at $55.
2003 Quinta des Roques, Garrafeira
Quinta des Roques is the top producer in the Dao, an inland region in Portugal, and we have stocked quite a few of their wines over the years. Owner Manuel Oliveira has presided over a gradual transformation of the winery since the eighties, turning a local farm that made very ordinary jug wines into a world-class estate with modern equipment. They grow many varietals, but a substantial portion of their grapes are the most age-worthy Portuguese red, Touriga Nacional, and the most expressive white, Encruzado. Garrafeira in Portugal denotes a reserve red wine that has specific aging requirements: it must age at least two years in oak and one year in the bottle before release. Typically, it is the top wine the estate produces, and that’s clearly the case with this miraculous wine. Why miraculous? You may remember that 2003 was one of the hottest years in recent European history, and many wines, particularly from Burgundy and Bordeaux, were marred by excessively ripe flavors. Despite the scorching weather this wine is not “hot” or alcoholic, but instead retains a youthful freshness and exuberance. It has intense dark fruit aromas, and is full bodied, juicy, and spicy. The tannins are quite supple and it is complex and well structured. While very pleasant now, like the best Portuguese reds it can easily age for at least another five years. It’s a great food wine, perfect with anything spicy or meaty. It’s sold out nationally, but we were able to grab one of the five cases that came to Seattle. It’s $41.50.