2010 Château des Eyssards, Bergerac Sec Cuvée Prestige — As far as we know, this is the first wine we’ve put in the club made by a winemaker who also plays tuba in his local oompah band. When he’s not making music, Pascal Cuisset works his 48-hectare estate in Bergerac, a region just east of Bordeaux which produces wines with similar blends to its more famous neighbor, but at less heady prices (in this case, $15). This wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle, typical of Bordeaux whites and similarly crisp, aromatic, and inviting. But with the fruit sourced from a slightly warmer micro-climate, it is a bit more concentrated, fuller, and richer. Perfect on its own, or with seafood or pasta dishes.
2011 Viñedos y Bodega Pardevalles, Albarín Blanco — That’s no typo: this wine, no relation to Albariño, is made from Albarín Blanco, a rare grape once on the verge of extinction. The small, family-owned estate of Pardevalles is dedicated to cultivating the native varietals of their region of Tierra de León, in northern Spain’s central plateau. They are one of the only producers making a 100% Albarin Blanco, and they have about three hectares of the grape under cultivation on alluvial clay and stone soil, at about 2700 feet elevation. Albarín produces deep, full-bodied, yet fresh and crisp wines with aromas of stone fruits and subtle exotic notes. This one is ready to drink now, or over the next two years, and would be perfect with fish, shellfish, poultry dishes, or risotto. A big hit at a recent Spanish tasting, it is $17 and we snagged the last five cases in Seattle, although the distributor may get more in a few months.
2008 Triennes, St. Auguste — We’ve featured the 2003 and 2005 vintages of this Syrah/Cab/Merlot blend in past clubs. It comes from an estate in southern France established by two Burgundian icons: Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac, and Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of the legendary Domaine de la Romanée Conti. In 1989 they purchased a 46-hectare estate in Provence, 30 kilometers from the Mediterranean, where the dry, sunny climate and cool nights combine to produce fruit with good acidity and complexity. The $18 St. Auguste is their flagship wine and the 2008 vintage is, as always, powerful yet elegant, with full flavors, plenty of structure, and a bit of spice. Give it some time to breathe (or a bit of time in the bottle), then enjoy it with Provençal fare, or a Mediterranean-style pizza, with fresh herbs and olive oil.
2009 Kestrel Vintners, Tribute Red — Here’s another hit from a recent tasting. Kestral’s Tribute Red commemorates the life of John Walker, who founded Kestrel Vintners in 1999 with a goal of crafting exceptional wines at reasonable prices. The winery owns some of the oldest vineyards in the state, dating back to 1972. Their Tribute is a blend of 52% Mourvèdre, 44% Merlot, plus a dab of Cab Sauv and Sangiovese, from both their own, and Olsen vineyards. The Merlot provides strength and structure, while the Mourvèdre adds finesse and elegance to the wine. It was showing beautifully at our tasting, especially as it opened up over time, allowing the dark fruit flavors, soft spice, and smooth tannins to really shine. At $19.75, it is full and flavorful, but also very food-friendly: the winery suggests paring it with a beef, barley, and root vegetable soup, or grilled portobello mushrooms with blue cheese.
2005 Bodegas Riojanas, Viña Albina Reserva — We were introduced to the wines of Bodegas Riojanas, and winemaker, Pablo Orio, at a recent wine dinner at Harvest Vine. Riojanas has over 100 years of winemaking history in the Rioja region, with a focus on aged Reservas and Gran Reservas. Their Viña Albina is a blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo (Carignan), and Graciano from vineyards in the Rioja Alta subregion. Aged between 24 and 30 months in oak, it has an elegant nose, complex aromas, and the finesse and character that come from long oak and bottle aging. It definitely needs decanting and some time to breathe, though, for it to really open up. Amazingly, it is only $18 and, not surprising, orders were flying at the tasting, but we were able to get six cases trucked up from Portland just in time for the club. Enjoy!
2010 Stobi Winery, Macedon, Pinot Noir — We don’t go out of our way to find wines from unexpected places, but when we do discover gems from off the beaten track, we’re delighted. Case in point: this elegant, complex Pinot Noir from Macedona. Macedonia has a long history of winemaking and the Tikvesh region, from which this wines hails, is its viticultural center. The area, influenced by the Mediterranean climate from the Aegean Sea to the south, and the continental climate from the north, is roughly the same latitude as Burgundy. Perhaps that is why Pinot Noir does so well here. This one comes from a modern winery in the village of Gradsko. It sees no oak, and is light and pretty, with a touch of earthiness and depth. A Small Vineyards discovery, it is $15 and ready to enjoy now with salmon, chicken, or grilled vegetables.