Collector’s Club – October 2013

2012 Domain du Cros, Marcillac, Cuvée Lo Sang del Païs — The small, rather isolated appellation of Marcillac, in south central France, was once a thriving wine region. But by the 1960s it was nearly abandoned, after the devastation of phylloxera in the 19th century, and the economic woes of the early 20th, when most of the local mines had shut down and workers had fled to larger cities. Domaine du Cros played an important part in keeping winemaking alive here and continues to do so today. They produce wine from one grape only: Fer Servadou (known locally as Mansois), grown in the region’s iron-rich red clay soil, on the steep slopes of the Massif Central. Light-bodied, spicy, and full of red fruit flavors, it tastes like Cab Franc meets Gamay and it was a blockbuster hit at our most recent French tasting. This wine is meant to be enjoyed young and at a cool cellar temperature. Perfect for grilled foods, especially lamb. $14

2011 Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes de Pinot Noir — Albert Bichot is a large house in Burgundy which dates back to the 1300s, although they didn’t actually get into the wine business until 1831. Today the family owns estates in four of the prime areas of Burgundy, and they also purchase fruit for some of their more affordable wines, though the winemaking experience and expertise is the same for all their wines. This Pinot Noir is produced from vines between 25 and 35 years old grown in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. Blending fruit from vineyard parcels in two sub-regions adds complexity to the wine and the older vines impart lovely aromatic concentration. It is rare to find such an elegant and inviting Burgundy at this price. It is ready to enjoy now or over the next few years, with roasted or grilled meats, poultry, lamb, or stuffed mushrooms. $17

2011 Lioco, Sonoma County Chardonnay — Matt Licklider (Lioco’s “Li”) and Kevin O’Conner (the “oco”) brought much food and wine experience to their joint venture: Matt being from wine importer, North Berkeley Imports, and Kevin, former wine director at Spago-Beverly Hills. With a mutual love of European wines, their goal with Lioco was to produce Californian wines equally expressive of varietal and place. To this end, they source fruit from some of the top independent growers in the state, and use only wild yeasts and little or no oak. When we put the 2008 vintage of this wine in the club, the response was: “I can’t believe this is not a European wine!” This new vintage is again classically Old World in style: expressive, complex, rich, and perfectly balanced. They suggest pairing their Chard with pressed sandwiches, fish and chips, or crab cakes. $21

2011 Jean-Marc Brocard, Saint-Bris — The French appellation of Saint-Bris is a bit of an oddity. Located just southwest of Chablis, it is technically part of Burgundy, where Chardonnay rules, but the wines here are made from the very un-Burgundian grape, Sauvignon Blanc. The region lies on the same type of Kimmeridgian limestone soil as the Loire Valley, directly to the west, from which we get some of the world’s most sought-after Sauv Blancs. But the wines of Saint-Bris are distinct from both those Loire whites, and the white wines of Burgundy. This one, from highly-regarded Chablis producer Jean-Marc Brocard is wonderfully fresh, high-toned, and inviting. It has bright Sauv Blanc aromas, but surprising complexity and power on the palate. It would be perfect with shellfish, goat cheese, or perhaps a salade niçoise. $16

2011 Bielsa, Garnacha Tinto — This wine comes from Spain’s Campo de Borja, northeast of Madrid in the Aragon region, considered by many to be the ancestral home of the Garnacha grape. With its poor, limestone-based soils, and continental climate, Campo de Borja has the perfect conditions for growing and producing Garnacha. The hot days help the grapes ripen fully, while the cool nighttime temperatures preserve acidity in the fruit and allow delicate aromatics and elegance to develop while keeping alcohol levels low. This 100% Garnacha, made from 40 to 60-year-old vines, is produced especially for importer José Pastor Selections. Food friendly and very easy going, it is fresh, earthy, and bright, with a wonderfully smooth finish. They suggest enjoying it with barbecue, chorizos, lamb chops, or pork dishes. $13

2011 Angel Vine, Zinfandel — When most people think of Zinfandel, their thoughts turn to California. While Washington also grows a variety of warm-climate grapes, only about 60 acres are planted to Zin —even fewer to its Italian alter ego, Primitivo. Winemaker Ed Fus focuses on those Washington grapes which he vinifies at his Oregon-based winery, Angel Vine. As he states on his website, he is “committed to producing premium Washington Zinfandel and Primitivo wines that show character, individuality, and spunk.” Enjoy this warm, ripe, spicy Zin anytime, with food and/or friends. $19