Collector’s Club – March 2014

2011 Cadence, Coda — Ben Smith makes some of the most elegant, complex, and ageworthy wines in Washington. His 2008 Camerata was featured at a White House holiday dinner in 2012, the same year Seattle Magazine named him Winemaker of the Year! His serious Bordeaux-style blends highlight their specific vineyard sources and are not inexpensive, but worth every penny, and worth the patience they demand to fully develop. He also produces his Coda blend which, lucky for us, is half the price and ready to drink much sooner, although it, too, softens and develops with a bit of age and benefits from a good decant. His 2011 is full of dark fruit, a bit of earth, and firm tannins. Always a superb wine for carnivores, it would also go well with wild mushroom polenta, or hearty vegetable ragout. $25

2010 Velenosi, Il Brecciarolo — The Marche region lies on central Italy’s Adriatic coast. It shares a border with both Umbria and Abruzzo and is planted to some of the same grapes, in particular Sangiovese and Montepulciano, the two grapes blended into wines of the Rosso Piceno DOC. The best, including this one, come from a limited zone in the province of Ascoli Piceno where the soils are mostly clay and broken stones, from which this one, “Il Brecciarolo,” gets its name. It is full-bodied and well-structured, with the Montepulciano adding heartiness to the bright spicy flavors of the Sangiovese. Great now or over the next few years, this inviting wine would be perfect with lasagna, truffle and wild mushroom risotto, or meat or game. $18

2012 Crazy by Nature Shotberry Chardonnay — Millton Estate is located in the Gisborne region of New Zealand’s North Island. Founders James and Annie Millton, who honed their winemaking chops in France and Germany, practice strict bio-dynamic viticulture, for which many called them crazy (hence the name). All their wines are made from estate fruit, and this one uses the Mendoza clone of Chardonnay, known for producing “shotberries,” small, undeveloped grapes in the ripe bunches. In some varieties, this is undesirable, but in this case, the flavor is actually enhanced by the improved skin-to-juice ratio. Plant biology aside, this is a lovely Chard, with bright aromas of white peaches and a soft minerality from the alluvial soils. Perfect for seafood, cheeses, or summer salads. $19.50

2012 Tamellini, Soave — The majority of Soave growers, in Italy’s northeast Veneto region, have historically sold all their fruit to the local co-ops. This was true for long-time grower Gaetano Tamellini, too. But in 1998, with the help of Italian winemaker, Paolo Caciorgna, Gaetano and his brother began producing wines from their own estate fruit, becoming one of only around two dozen producers in Soave to do so. They grow only the indigenous varietal, Garganega, and age all of their wines in stainless steel. This one, their “basic” Soave, is fresh and clean, with nutty almond notes and flavors of white stone fruits. The volcanic soils of their hillside vineyards adds a steely minerality. This is a great white for light pasta dishes or pizza margherita with mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil. $16

2011 Calmel & Joseph, St-Chinian — This southern French wine comes from Laurent Calmel and Jérôme Joseph, who work with select growers in Languedoc-Roussillon to craft wines that reflect the unique quality and character of some of the lesser-known appellations in this hot, Mediterranean region. In sourcing fruit for their terroir-specific wines, they seek out vineyard plots in cooler sites that are farmed as naturally as possible. This one, from the St.-Chinian appellation, is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, with 10% Carignan that has been vinified by semi-carbonic maceration, an anaerobic process that produces light, fresh flavors. The result is a smooth, elegant wine, with a touch of herbs and bright, fresh acidity. Very versatile and ready to drink anytime. $15

2012 Sainte Marie des Crozes, Cabernet Franc — Sainte Marie des Crozes is located in southern France’s Corbières AOC and is run by Bernard and Dominique Alias, the fifth generation of their family to oversee the estate. They own 80 acres of vineyards on the rocky clay and limestone slopes of the Alaric Mountain, between Narbonne and Carcassonne, a hot site influenced by both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Over the years, Bernard has replanted some of their vineyards with new varietals, including the Cabernet Franc featured in this wine. It is inviting, complex, and rich, yet still hints of the local garrigue, with softly rustic notes. Drinking beautifully now, it could be cellared three to four more years. The winery suggests pairing it with savory pie, pizza, or barbecue. $13