2010 Descendents de José Palacios, Pétalos Bierzo — What is it about Mencia? We keep finding delicious wines made from this Spanish grape that become instant hits around here. We put the 2008 vintage of this wine in the club last August, and couldn’t resist this new vintage, still only $22. It comes from Alvaro Palacios, renowned Priorat producer, who partnered with his nephew Ricardo Perez in 1998 in a project to produce wines in Spain’s Bierzo region. They found a perfect site with steep hillsides, poor soil, excellent exposure, and 40- to 90-year-old Mencia vines, and dedicated their joint winery to José Palacio, Alvaro’s father and Ricardo’s grandfather. Like the 2008, this Mencia is rich, full, rustic, and spicy, and ready to drink now, or ageable for another two to three years. Enjoy with pork chops or lamb dishes.
2010 Rhiannon, Proprietary Red — Napa’s family-owned Rutherford Ranch Winery has a diverse portfolio of labels, one of which is Rhiannon, named for the Celtic goddess of power and mystery, and chosen in honor of the family’s Welsh roots. The winery, located in the Rutherford District on the Silverado Trail, is known for its dedication to environmentally responsible practices, both in the vineyard and in the winery, and all of its estate vineyards are certified organic. This wine is an inspired blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Barbera, that is complex, yet approachable in style, with a lush, velvety mouthfeel, and a silky finish livened with a bit of spice. At a mere $15, it is a great value for such a characterful and well-made wine. Enjoy it any time, with grilled meats or chicken, or just on its own.
2010 Perazzeta, Erio — Winemaker Alessandro Bocci was in town recently and before he left he made sure that the folks at Small Vineyards brought him by the shop so he could say hello. We were quite touched and honored. By now you all know about Alessandro’s wines, named for his family members: Sara, his daughter; Rita, his mother and his wife, who share the same name; and Erio, his father. Erio is his only Supertuscan style wine, a lush, powerful, yet balanced blend of 50% Sangiovese, with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Somehow it has stayed at $16 for the last several vintages. He makes only 500 cases each year and it is perfect for filet mignon, strong cheeses, or savory stews. (He also makes an award-winning olive oil from the olive trees on his property, which we hope to have in soon).
2010 Kikones, Malagousia — After training in France, Greek winemaker Melina Tassou returned home and established a winery in Thrace, in the northeast corner of continental Greece. Here she grows both Greek and international grape varietals, using both traditional and modern techniques in her winemaking. Her award-winning Bordeaux-style blend of Cab and Merlot, which we put in the April club, was a huge hit and displayed her remarkable skill. When she was in town last June we got to taste some of her wines made from traditional Greek grapes, one of which was this beautifully complex white, made from 100% Malagousia. It is rich and elegant, with lovely aromas of white flowers and stone fruit. It is $19.75 and is great now, or it could cellar for three to four years.
2010 Southern Right, Sauvignon Blanc — Sauvignon Blanc is one of those wines that can vary enormously depending on where the grapes are grown. This one hails from South Africa’s Southern Right Cellars, one of the most southerly wine estates in the country, located in the cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The temperate conditions and clay soil in this region tend to produce wines similar to those of northern France, and this wine definitely shows a Loire-like minerality and structure, with a bit of zesty fruit, reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. The wine is left on its lees for two and a half months, adding breadth and complexity, and there is a bit of brininess, characteristic of the region, making it perfect for seafood and shellfish. It is $15 and, as this region is the whale watching capital of South Africa, with each bottle sold, the winery makes a contribution to Southern Right whale conservation.
2009 Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet — Sablet is a small village in the southern Rhône which was given its own classification, Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet, in 1974. About a decade after that, Domaine de Piaugier’s Jean-Marc Autran produced his first wine, in cellars built by his great-grandfather. He has expanded his estate several times since then, and now has 30 hectares under cultivation, about 12 of which are in Sablet. Jean-Marc hand harvests all of his fruit, and vinifies them by plot, to preserve their distinct characteristics. His Sablet is 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, from vines averaging around 25 years in age. It is rich, inviting, and full of garrigue aromas and Côtes du Rhône character. It is $15 and, as the label says, it would be excellent paired with lamb and beef dishes. This one was a big hit at our club tasting!