Collector’s Club – June 2012

2010 Brian Carter Cellars, Oriana — Our club selections are, more often than not, new discoveries, from interesting places or grapes that we want to introduce to our club members. But, in a bit of a shake up, both of this month’s whites are long-time shop favorites, and both from very close to home. We have long been fans of Brian Carter’s skillfully crafted, European-style blends, for which he has received much recognition over the years. We’ve put his Abracadabra red in the club a few times, and this month we’re presenting his Oriana, a gorgeously aromatic blend of two Rhône grapes (Viognier and Roussanne) with a touch of Riesling to add a note of brightness. Rich texture and food-friendly acidity make this a sure-fire wine for anything from shellfish to Cajun fare. It is $19.75. (Brian will be here for a tasting on August 9!)

2010 Cedergreen, Sauvignon Blanc — Another familiar face on our shelves has been this crisp Sauv Blanc from Kevin Cedergreen. Year after year, it’s been on our short list of go-to wines for anyone looking for a clean, fresh, pairing for seafood, or just sipping. But this year Kevin somehow managed to outdo himself. When he brought in his line-up of current releases recently, we were especially smitten with the purity and seamlessness of his most recent Sauvignon Blanc. Which is probably why it was a winner of the “Oyster Award” at the 2012 Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition (not a first for this wine). At only $14, this is a wine to enjoy anytime, whether with oysters, or just with friends on the deck.

2010 Angel Vine, Primitivo — Angel Vine winemaker Ed Fus poured his wines at our Saturday tasting last March. While his winery is located in Carlton, Oregon, he sources his fruit from the warmer vineyard sites of Washington, where the Zinfandel grapes he focuses on can ripen fully. There are only about 62 acres planted to Zin in Washington, much less to its Italian kissing cousin, Primitivo. And Ed’s version was a real hit. It comes at you with aromas of dark berries, coffee, and pepper, followed by plush, dark flavors with a nice spicy edge. Washington has not always been thought of as a prime source of Zinfandel, but Ed Fus may be the man to change that with his highly-regarded wines. His Primitivo is $19.75, ready to drink (though you could give it a bit of time to open up), and great for grilled burgers.

2009 Odisea, The Temp, Tempranillo — Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz, two longtime wine industry friends in Napa, shared a passion for the wines of the south of France and the Iberian Peninsula. The Odyssey that ensued led to their formation of Odisea Wine Company. They source fruit from unique vineyard sites near their winery (organically grown, whenever possible), and make their wines in small lots, “letting the fruit and the vineyard speak for themselves.” What this $18 Tempranillo said to us was, “Yum!” The fruit for this wine comes from three vineyard sources in Lodi, all planted to clones from the Ribera del Duero, but bringing slightly different terroir characteristics to the blend. It has a hugely inviting nose, of dark fruit and spice, followed by velvety texture and a lush finish. Enjoy it anytime.

2010 Oller del Mas, Petit Bernat — When we decided to pour this wine at a recent tasting our wine rep cautioned, “it will be fun for the wine geeks, but I’m not sure how the general public will react.” As it turned out, they reacted by buying up nearly every bottle we had! So into the club it went. This estate has been in the same family in the Pla de Bages DO, in the province of Barcelona, for over 1000 years. The current generation has decided to focus on the highest quality wines, made exclusively with the fruit they grow organically on their estate. Although the label states this blend as Syrah, Cab Franc, and Merlot, the main grape is Picapoll Negre, one that is not allowed in the DO, so they solved that issue by calling it Cab Franc! In any case, it is delightfully intriguing, with hints of cocoa, tobacco, orange peel, spice, and more. As one customer noted: “It tastes different every time I take a sip!” We couldn’t pass it up! It is $14.

2010 Les Vignerons d’Estézargues, Les Génestas — The cooperative, Les Vignerons d’Estézargues, was formed in 1965 in a tiny southern Rhône village of the same name. At first, like most French wine co-ops, they took fruit from all their member vineyards and vinified it all together. But over the years, as they began to focus more on natural winemaking, they also made the rare move to produce individual cuvées, sourced from their best vineyards and vinified separately to express the uniqueness of each site. One of these is Domaine des Génestas, with its clay soil, covered with the galets roules (pudding stones) that abound in Châteauneuf du Pape. A blend of old vine Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (some sources say Carignan), this wine has a traditional feel, but is smooth, spicy, and supple, with dark fruit and brambly tannins. Perfect for grilled lamb, steak, or pork. It is $15 and ready to drink now.