Collector’s Club – November 2013

2012 Château de Montfaucon, Viognier — This estate dates back to the 11th century, when a castle was built on the site along the banks of the Rhône River. A winery was added in the 1500s. When current winemaker, Rodolphe de Pins, took over the estate in 1995, he rebuilt the winery, although the old 16th century vaulted cellars are still used for barrel aging. The vineyards, some over 90 years old, lie just across the Rhône from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This elegant Viognier, their only single-varietal wine, has a touch of bright freshness alongside the floral aromatics typical of this traditional Rhône white grape. Rodolphe says that he aims for elegance and finesse in his wines and this one, with its soft richness, balanced by notes of exotic fruit, is perfect as a pre-meal aperitif, or with grilled fish, shellfish, or chicken dishes. $17

2009 Château Magneau, Graves Rouge — Here’s another historic estate: Château Magneau is an ancient Bordeaux property run by the Ardurats family whose winegrowing history dates back to the reign of Henri IV. Today it is headed by Henri Ardurats and his son Jean-Louis oversees the vineyards and the winemaking. They farm 41 hectares of land in the Graves region, with its eponymous gravelly soil. Jean-Louis farms his parcels individually, and vinifies each separately according to its intrinsic character, to achieve the utmost expression in his wines. This one is half Merlot, with 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cab Franc and it is full-bodied, with notes of red fruits and nicely balanced tannins. It is a wine for bolder fare, such as rib eye steak, or other red meat dishes and can be enjoyed now, or over the next three to four years. $19.75

2012 Cadaretta Winery, SBS — Walla Walla-based Cadaretta Winery is owned by the Middleton family, whose Washington ties date back to 1868 when they started the Anderson and Middleton forestry products company in Aberdeen. When they established their winery in 2005, they named it after one of the family’s early lumber schooners. Their Bordeaux-inspired SBS, a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, is one of their most popular wines. It is sourced from a number of vineyards, including their own estate Southwind Vineyard located just south of Walla Walla. This is a great food wine, especially for seafood, shellfish, and chicken dishes, and foods with creamy, butter sauces. The steely, racy notes of the Sauvignon Blanc are perfectly balanced by the stone fruit flavors and aromas of the Semillon. $24

2010 Donati Family Vineyard, Claret — Here’s another winery with some interesting history, in this case, its location: in Paicines, California east of Monterey. Long ago this region was widely planted with the Mission grape. Decades after those inferior wine grapes were abandoned, the site was rediscovered by Almaden, who grew fruit for their bulk wines there. Flash forward to 1998 when Ron Donati purchased property in Paicines and, after painstakingly identifying which sites were best suited to which clones, he is now helping to establish the AVA as a high-end growing region, capable of producing wines rich in character and nuance. Donati is one of the only wineries located there, and their impressive offerings include this Bordeaux-style blend: 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, plus Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. It is moderate in alcohol, balanced, very food friendly and ready to enjoy any time. $15

2012 For a Song, Syrah — For a Song wines are created exclusively for one of our local distributors by several of their favorite regional winemakers. In Washington their man is Kyle Johnson, previously of Chateau St. Michelle and Olsen Estates, and who now has his own label, Purple Star. When we put Kyle’s Cab in the club last July, we explained how the For a Song wines are meticulously crafted, sourced from some of the most coveted vineyard sites in the region, and sell “for a song.” One of his most popular wines was always his Syrah, which sold out last summer. We’ve been waiting eagerly for the new vintage and it’s here at last! And while it’s still youthful, with a gentle grip on the finish that will no doubt soften over time,
it, too, is very tasty! This one would be great with roasted pork loin, blue cheese burgers, or flank steak. $15

2011 Fanti, Sassomagno, Sant’Antimo — We featured the 2008 vintage of this wine in the club a few years ago. It hails from the Tuscan town of Montalcino, famed for its powerful Brunellos. Less known is the local DOC of Sant’Antimo, named after a beautiful church in the town. This DOC, established in 1996, covers roughly the same territory as Brunello, but is less strict in its rules, allowing winemakers to use a wider variety of grapes in their wines. This estate, which has been in the Fanti family since the 18th century, is known for its excellent Brunellos, but they also produce simpler, more affordable, and ready-to-drink wines under the new DOC. Their 2011 Sassomagno is a smooth, tasty blend of Sangiovese, from some of their younger vines, blended with Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Syrah. Perfect for pizza, lasagna, or pasta. $13