2011 Domaine Tabordet, Sancerre — Domaine Tabordet is owned by two brothers, Yvon and Pascal Tabordet, in the Loire village of Verdigny, just outside the town of Sancerre where they have five hectares of vineyards. They also have property across the river, in Pouilly-Fumé. Their Sancerre vines are planted on the two types of soil typical of the region: caillottes, the stony, chalky soil; and the white fossil-rich clay/limestone soil. Blending fruit from both terroirs gives their wines complex minerality and depth, and a distinct sense of place. Their Sancerre is fermented in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation, so what you get is the fresh, mouthwatering acidity that we love in a pure Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is $21 and is ready to drink now, or over the next several years with, no surprise, shellfish or other seafood. Or with goat cheese, a quintessential pairing in the region.
2011 Waitsburg Cellars, Old Vine Pinot Gris — Paul Gregutt was a long-time wine writer for the Seattle Times and Wine Enthusiast, and is the author of several excellent books on Washington wines. He has recently hung up those hats though, to begin a new venture in his adopted home of Waitsburg (near Walla Walla)—namely Waitsburg Cellars. And while his switch from critiquing wines to creating wines raised a few eyebrows, the wines themselves (four whites and a red) have raised nothing but rave reviews (not Paul’s, of course!). He was in the shop in June for a tasting of his line-up and we especially loved this Pinot Gris. Sourced from the oldest block of Pinot Gris at Willow Crest’s Minnick Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, it is pure, and fresh, with flavors of green apples, peach, and pear. Only $15, it’s great for summer salads or seafood.
2011 Torbreck, Cuvée Juveniles — Torbreck Vintners was founded in 1994 by David Powell out of a passion for preserving the winemaking traditions in Australia’s Barossa region. What began as a project to nurture old, neglected vineyards back to life turned into Torbreck Vintners, named for a forest in Scotland where David once worked as a lumberjack. This wine was originally produced as an exclusive cuvée for a cult Parisian wine bar, called Juveniles. Because David shared a love of Rhône Valley varietals with the ex-pat Brit who owned the bar, the Cuvée Juveniles has always been a blend of old-vine Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Shiraz. This $23 wine sees no oak, and is rich and satisfying, with warm, ripe, yet food-friendly flavors. Very drinkable now, it should develop nicely with a few years in the cellar, if you can wait.
2011 Perazzeta, Erio — Tuscan winemaker Alessandro Bocci needs little introduction around here—his impeccably-produced wines read like a family album, all named for his family members: Sara, his daughter, Rita the name shared by both his mother and his wife, and Erio, his father. Erio is Alessandro’s only Supertuscan-style wine, and we’ve been putting it in the club regularly for years, it is just so consistently good. A blend of 50% Sangiovese, with Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot, his newest vintage bursts with chewy fresh fruit and is lush, powerful, and perfectly balanced. This year the price went up slightly to $17, and it is worth every penny. Small Vineyards suggests pairing it with filet mignon, dry, salty cheeses, or savory stews.
2011 Marchetti, Montepulciano Rosso Conero — Maurizio Marchetti crafts his wines in Italy’s Marche region, near the Adriatic coast, where his vines see an average of 200 days of sunshine a year. Here he produces his ever-popular Verdicchios (his regular, and his later harvest), as well as this Montepulciano, a perennial shop favorite. The sunny Marche region produces some of Italy’s best and most elegant Montepulcianos, and few do it better than Marchetti, who is so selective with his fruit he sometimes produces as little as a half bottle per plant! His latest vintage, as usual, 90% Montepulciano and 10% Sangiovese, is full of ripe plum and cranberry flavors, with a hint of smoky spice. Still only $12, it is a great everyday wine, for mid-week pizza or pasta, but it would also be great with pork chops or a nice flank steak.
2009 Steele, Writer’s Block Grenache — California winemaker Jed Steele makes an impressive array of wines at his Lake County winery, sourcing fruit from around the state, and even from Washington (for his Aligote). And though his line-up is broad, overall production is relatively small and always well executed. His Writer’s Block label is perhaps his most eclectic and we were particularly impressed with this Grenache, with its bright red fruit and spice notes. A bit of Counoise and Syrah in the blend add body and texture. The fruit is sourced mostly from northern Lake County, where the hot, dry days and cooling evening winds provide a climate similar to that of the Rhône region, from which this wine draws its inspiration. The vineyards’ sandy, well-drained soil adds a nice mineral quality to the wine. Only $15, it is very versatile and food friendly, great for light fare such as tapas, or with roast chicken or lamb dishes.