2005 Torre de Oña, Barón de Oña, Rioja Reserva — Traditionally, Rioja wines are made by large cooperatives that buy fruit from some of the nearly 20,000 local growers. But that is changing, especially in the Rioja Alavesa region, in the Basque province of Alava. Torre de Oño was founded in 1987 as a single estate winery. It was later bought by the Rioja Alta group, who remain firmly committed to showcasing the best wines from top vineyard sites in this region. Barón de Oña is their reserve level wine. It is mostly Tempranillo, with 5% Mazuelo, all hand harvested from estate fruit, and only the best batches are selected for this bottling. 2005 was an excellent vintage, and this wine, now with a nice bit of age on it, is powerful and intense, with loads of red berry fruit and spice, good tannins, and great depth. It is $22 and perfect for roast or grilled meat, or spicy stews. Still fairly tight, we recommend decanting it first.
2009 Tre Nova, Nebbaro — Gino Cuneo has been making wine since 1989, first in Oregon, and now here in Washington. He focuses on exploring how Italian red varietals express themselves in Pacific Northwest terroir. Wine Press Northwest Magazine named Cuneo Cellars 2005 Oregon Winery of the Year, for its innovation and “Gino’s unique approach and success in crossing borders that show up in the bottle.” This wine was a big hit at our “affordable Washington wines” tasting, so it was a no-brainer for the club. A totally inviting blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera, it combines the bold structure and aromas of the first grape, with the clean acidity of the second. It’s $19.75 and ready to enjoy with all Gino’s suggestions on the label.
2011 Cave B, Sauvignon Blanc — In August, we welcomed back Freddy Arredondo, winemaker at Cave B, to pour at our Saturday tasting and his wines, as always, were very well received. A former chef, Freddy crafts his wines to pair well with food, and we have been more and more impressed with his results with every vintage. All of his wines are made from estate fruit, grown on the 100 acres of vineyards that surround the winery. The estate, in the upper Columbia Gorge (by the Gorge amphitheater) is blessed with a wide range of soil types and micro climates, and each site was carefully analyzed and selected for planting to different grapes. His Sauvignon Blanc has a New Zealand feel to it, with tropical fruit flavors and that touch of grassiness that makes it perfect with oysters or other shellfish. It is $19.75
2011 Pech Céleyran, Cuvée Sixtine Rouge — The Languedoc estate of Pech Céleyran, located near the town of Carcassonne, has a notable history. At one time owned by relatives of the painter, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, it has been in the St. Exupery family (think The Little Prince) for five generations. We poured this Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah blend at our Small Vineyards French tasting in August and it was immensely popular, both for its tasty accessibility, and for its sweet price: only $9.75. (We sold over a case of it at our club tasting, too!) A great balance of robustness and finesse, it would pair perfectly with Mediterranean foods, grilled meat, or a platter of French cheeses.
2009 Adriano Ramos Pinto, Duas Quintas — Adriano Ramos Pinto is one of the few Port producers to spend serious time and energy on unfortified wines from the region. This is thanks, in part, to current winemaker, João Nicolau de Alameida, a direct descendent of the founders, who joined the family company in 1976 after studying enology at Bordeaux University. His Duas Quintas is made from traditional Portuguese varieties, sourced from two very distinct vineyards (hence, “two quintas”) in the Douro. The warm, dry, Quinta de Ervamoira is located at low altitude, where the grapes ripen quickly and fully, and add richness to the blend. Fruit from the cooler Quinta dos Bons Ares, at higher altitude, contributes freshness and liveliness. 25% is aged in French oak for 12 months, the rest in stainless steel. The resulting wine is fruity, powerful, and complex, with rich undertones. It takes some time to open up so we recommend decanting, or giving it plenty of time to breathe. Great with chicken or veal dishes, it is $16.
2010 Château Fayau, Bordeaux Blanc — Château Fayau is situated in the historic village of Cadillac, in Bordeaux’s Entre-Deux-Mers region, which lies between the Dordogne and the Garonne rivers. Winemaking at this estate dates back to 1711, but the current owners, the Médeville family, bought it in 1826. Since then they have been producing wines from their fruit grown on the chalky, clay soils of their vineyards which surround the lovely chartreuse-style chateau. This white combines the traditional Bordeaux white grapes in a blend of 40% Semillon, 50% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Muscadelle. It is fresh and aromatic, and quite delicate and refined. The combination of the soft Semillon and the crisp Sauv Blanc is supremely food-friendly and versatile. This one is $13.