2011 Syncline, Grüner Veltliner — It seems like every week, someone shows us a wine from yet another grape that we had no idea was even grown in Washington. But it is rare indeed to encounter one that is this amazing. Syncline (long one of our favorite wineries, especially for their Rhône-style blends) has been making wine from the Austrian grape, Grüner Veltliner, for several years now, sourced from a sheltered, alpine site on the Columbia Gorge’s Underwood Mountain. And now, with their fourth vintage with this varietal, they have really outdone themselves. It has amazingly focused aromas and flavors, inviting complexity, and perfect acidity. Like their 2009 Grüner that we put in the October 2010 club, this one is still only $19.75. Extremely food friendly, it’s perfect for fish, Asian fare or other ethnic cuisines.
2011 Cantina Altarocca, Arcosesto Orvieto Classico — The Umbrian estate of Cantina Altarocca is located at 350 meters above sea level (hence the name, which translates as high rock), where the grapes enjoy a long ripening season, developing added complexity. Altarocca uses the classic Umbiran varietals in their Orvieto, this one being 50% Grechetto, 30% Procanico (a clone of Trebbiano), and 20% Malvasia Bianco. And while they have embraced some of the best of the modern winemaking practices, they also maintain a deep respect for tradition. This balanced approach is no doubt what allows them to produce such exceptional wines. Their Orvieto, at $15, is clean, bright, and elegant; light on the palate, with soft notes of white flowers. Enjoy it with appetizers, fish, white meat dishes, or steamed clams.
2006 Château Haute-Serre, Cahors — Mention Malbec, and most people think Argentina, where the grape has found a happy home. But its origins are firmly in France where it was used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, and is the sole grape in the red wines of the Cahor region southeast of Bordeaux. (Known as Côt in the rest of France, here it is called Auxerrois.) Cahor’s Haute-Serre estate dates back to the Middle Ages but its vines, along with the rest in the region, were wiped out by Phylloxera in the 1880s. In 1970, Georges Vigouroux bought the property, overgrown and uncultivated for over a century, and spent several years bringing the vineyards back from neglect. Now he produces classic Cahor reds, long known for their sturdy, tannic structure. This one, 100% Malbec, is intense and powerful, with notes of licorice and pepper, and a firm grip, which softens over time in the glass. Enjoy it with hearty foods, like cassoulet. It is $23 and definitely ageable, though with air or a bit of decanting, it is wonderful now.
2006 Patit Creek Cellars, Trinite — This Walla Walla winery was founded in 1999 and, over the years, focused primarily on Merlot and Cab. But along the way it was bought by new owners who set about to improve and expand the winery’s offerings. They hired Joe Forest as their winemaker, who brought impressive experience with him, having worked at Dunham Cellars as assistant winemaker and at Seven Hills Winery. At Patit Creek he gets to explore his own personal style. The Trinite is a smooth, tasty Rhône-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. This $18 wine is rich and flavorful, with notes of earth and spice, and a bit of white pepper on the finish. It’s ready to enjoy now, with fowl or pork.
2009 De Tarczal, Marzemino — Opera fans may be familiar with the northern Italian grape, Marzemino, thanks to its appearance in Don Giovanni: “Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!” as Don Giovanni calls for a glass of the wine just before he is sent to hell. Widely grown in the Trentino region of the Alto Adige, Marzemino is a difficult wine to cultivate, as it ripens late, and is susceptible to various diseases. But in the capable hands of winemaker Ruggero de Tarczal, it is taken to a new level. Low in tannins, with ripe, bright fruit, it is light in body and somewhat reminiscent of a Burgundy, but with a bit more oomph. At $16, this one would be perfect with cured meats, hearty stews, or hard cheeses.
2011 Mas des Bressades, Rosé — Once a year we like to put one of our favorite Rosés in the club, and this is the month. This one comes to us like so many, from the portfolio of Robert Kacher. Like so many of his Rosés, it hails from the Costières de Nîmes region of France, southwest of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The estate, considered by many to be one of the top in the region, is run by Cyril Marès, whose wife, Natalie Blanc, runs Mas Carlot next door (her Rosé is the one with the hedgehog on it, also very tasty!). The Bressades is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, all harvested specifically to produce Rosé, and it has a wonderful balance of spice and fruit, making it great on its own, or with summer meals, like grilled chicken or fish. At $14, it is fun and fresh, but with a definite elegance to it.