Collector’s Club – April 2014

2011 Château des Eyssards, Bergerac Sec Cuvée Prestige — When we put the 2010 vintage of the wine in the club, we noted that the winemaker also plays tuba in his village oompah band. When he’s not busy doing that, he makes wine at his estate in Bergerac, just east of Bordeaux. Wines from this region are made from Bordeaux grape varieties, but are typically much more affordable than those from its more famous neighbor. This one is 40% Sauv Blanc and 30% each Semillon and Muscadelle, the classic Bordeaux white grapes but, being from a slightly warmer micro-climate, it is a bit fuller and richer in style than many Bordeaux whites. The higher percentage of Muscadelle in the blend adds further depth and complexity. It’s a lovely wine for enjoying on its own, or to pair with light pasta dishes or seafood. $15

2010 Lioco, Indica Red — Lioco was founded in 2006 by two friends in the wine and restaurant trade who shared a passion for classic European wines. Now they produce some of the most characterful, terroir-driven wines in California. With access to many of the top independent growers in the state, they source fruit from exceptional vineyard sites, perfectly suited to each varietal. Their 2010 Indica, mostly Carignan, comes from dry-farmed benchland vineyards in Mendocino’s Redwood Valley. In this cool, upland site, the 70-year-old Carignan vines ripen slowly yet fully, developing amazing concentration without getting overripe. This one is complex and earthy, with notes of dark berries, spice, and black tea. It is a great food wine, and their suggestions, pizza, baby back ribs, or Peking duck, sound perfect. $21

2009 Tenuta Santa Maria, Pràgel — A Syrah/Merlot blend may not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Italy’s northeastern Veneto region. Tenuta Santa Maria grows many of the indigenous grape varietals on their estate, ten miles east of Verona, where they happen to produce one of our favorite Amarones. But they are also experimenting with wines that express the essence of their local terroir using international grape varieties which they grow in small plots on their estate. Their Pràgel is a delicious example that knocked our socks off when we first tried it. It is rich and intense, with some solid tannins that a bit of air (or decanting) helps soften, revealing elegant, complex flavors of dark fruit, black pepper, and anise. Don’t rush this one, but do enjoy it with a lingering meal of hearty fare. $21

2010 DFJ Vinhos, Grand’Arte Alvarinho — Alvarinho is the Portuguese name for the grape we know and love as Albariño in Spain. Although it is typically grown in the northwest part of Portugal, just south of the border from the Rias Biaxas region, this one comes from the central coastal region of Lisboa which, up until 2009 was known as Estremadura. The wine is made by José Neiva Correia and it is clean and fresh, with lovely aromas of orchard fruit and a soft, inviting texture. It was a big hit at our club tasting and we sold most of the extra bottles we had but we can get more. It is a perfect wine for summer sipping, or to enjoy with appetizers or just about any seafood. $13

2011 Señorío de Barahonda, Monastrell — This lush, full-bodied wine comes from one of the oldest wineries in Spain’s warm, southeast Yecla region. Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) is the leading grape in this region and this one is made from 100% organically grown estate-owned Monastrell fruit. The goal of winemaker Araceli Gonzalez is to express the pure, unadulterated flavor of the grape and to that end, he produces this one without any oak (“sin madera”). The relatively cooler, high-elevation vineyard site (over 2300 feet), adds brightness and pretty aromatics to the wine. With its warm, spicy, fruit-forward flavor, it would be great anytime over the next two to three years, on its own or with veal or pork sausage, Cuban ropa vieja, or beef or pork empañadas. $13

2012 Château Grand Français, Bordeaux Supérieur — This Bordeaux estate is located on the Right Bank of the Dordogne, in a sub-region known as the Libournais, which also includes the heralded communes of St.-Émilion and Pomerol. Château Grand Français is just north of St. Émilion and their 40-year-old vineyards, which share similar soil characteristics to that coveted wine district, lie on a slope overlooking the famous village. Their Bordeaux Supérieur is a blend ofMerlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and it is soft and supple, with plenty of berry and spice flavors. We decanted it before the club tasting to help soften its fine tannins, and it continued to develop in complexity over the course of the tasting. Enjoy it now or over the next few years, with hearty meat dishes. $18