2008 Obelisco, Malbec — Some of the most sought-after wines in the state are sourced from vineyards on the slopes of the rocky, volcanic Red Mountain, near Benton City. This is where Doug Long, after “retiring” from a successful wine career in Napa, found and planted his own vineyard and began his new venture, Obelisco Estate. The first vintage from this site, his 2007 Cabernet, won Best Cabernet in the State Over $20 from Seattle Magazine, and it’s clear why. Under the talented winemaking team of Sara Goedhart and Pete Hedges, Obelisco’s wines are smooth and polished and they deftly tame the tannins that Red Mountain fruit is famous for. Their 2008 Malbec has 20% Cabernet blended in, adding to the rich, concentrated aromatics. Elegant on the palate and low in alcohol, this is a great food wine, especially with lamb. It is $29.75 and is drinking beautifully now.
2011 Marchetti, Tenuta del Cavaliere Verdicchio — Here it is, the “later harvest” Verdicchio that is such a hit, year after year. Maurizio Marchetti makes just a tiny amount of this wine each year, which is why it is part of the Small Vineyard direct import line-up and not in their portfolio year round. Marchetti’s winery is in Italy’s Marche region, near the Adriatic coast, where they enjoy an average 200 glorious days of sunshine a year. In contrast to his “basic” Verdicchio Classico, which is one of the best, Marchetti leaves the grapes on the vine an extra month for this bottling, giving the wine its added body, structure, and length. It is $17, and the folks at Small Vineyards recommend pairing it with lightly seared scallops, with lemon and olive oil, or calamari. Sounds good to us!
2010 Marchetti, Montepulciano — Also from Marchetti, and also a perennial shop favorite, is his Montepulciano. The warm, sunny Marche region produces some of the best and most elegant Montepulcianos, and the Marchetti family has been one of the top producers there for over a century. With 10% Sangiovese added, it is inviting and tasty, full of ripe plum and dark fruit flavors, and a touch of smoky spice. At a mere $12, it’s a great wine for any time—think pizza or pasta night. But it would also stand right up to filet mignon, or pork chops. While Marchetti is best known for his fabulous Verdicchios here in the states, this is the wine he is famous for back home in the Marche.
2010 Poderi Elia, Barbera d’Asti — Also a familiar face in past clubs is this Barbera d’Asti from Federico Stella, a long-time member of the Small Vineyards family. Only 35, he has winemaking talent and instinct beyond his years, and is highly respected for his meticulous and unrelenting drive to continually improve his wines, regardless of the expense. (He is the winemaker who tried over 30 combinations of oak to find the perfect cooperage formula!) This wine comes from a plot of very old Barbera vines on his Barbaresco estate, which many would tear out to plant the more valuable Nebbiolo. But he does not give in to such temptation, because these vines produce such amazing wines. This Barbara d’Asti has his signature soft, well-integrated tannins, and shows a deft balance between modern and traditional approaches. It is $16, delicious now, and perfect for grilled salmon.
2011 J. Scott Cellars, Pinot Blanc — Jonathan Scott Oberlander made his way to his current home in Eugene, Oregon, after enology study at U.C. Davis, and winemaking stints in California. Lured by the opportunity to produce wine from cooler climate grapes, he traveled north to accept the position of winemaker at Silvan Ridge Winery. And like many winemakers, he succumbed to the temptation to do his own thing on the side, and thus began J. Scott Cellars. He produces a wide variety of wines under his own label, but we were particularly drawn to this clean, fresh, Pinot Blanc. It has brisk, minerally aromatics, that make it perfect for seafood, such as crab, oysters, or even salmon. It is $16, and really shines best when the wine has a nice chill on it.
2010 Atalaya do Mar, Mencia — When we put a wine made from the relatively unknown grape, Mencia, in the club back in January, 2011, we were surprised and delighted when club members hurried in asking for more. So now that you’re all hard-core Mencia fans, we’re excited to include another one, which was a huge hit at our recent Spanish tasting. It is pronounced “Menthia” in the Galicia (“Galithia”) region of northwest Spain from which the wine hails, where the soils are filled with slate, as pictured on the label. The wine is dark, rich, smooth, and full of flavor and it may just make you ask: Mencia, where have you been all my life? It is $14, and is ready to drink now or over the next four years.