2005 Tenute Selle, San Sebastiano allo Zoppo, Lessona
Almost everybody associates great Nebbiolo with the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. So we were happily surprised to discover this world-class Nebbiolo from Lessona, a lesser known region in northern Piedmont. This tiny appellation (just 6.5 hectares) is located just to the west of Gattinara in the foothills of the nearby Alps. The soils there are primarily deep orange and red marine sand, which imparts a strong minerality that complements nicely the typical Nebbiolo flavors of dried cherries, flowers, tar and licorice. Tenute Selle, founded in 1671, is the top estate in the area. While they produce a range of wines from other indigenous varietals from the region, such as Vespolina, Croatina and Erbaluce, they are known best for their single-vineyard Nebbiolos, including this San Sebastiano allo Zoppo. The wine is all made from 45 year old vines and produced traditionally, with a relatively long maceration and extended aging in large old barrels for several years, followed by a period of resting in bottle to allow for drinkability upon release. Structurally, the wine is a bit lighter and finer than its Nebbiolo cousins in Barolo and Barbaresco, but it has both the power and freshness to age beautifully for a decade or two. Think of it as a Nebbiolo for Pinot Noir lovers! Beautiful now, it could still develop for another decade. And, for the second month in a row, our Spec Club red has won three glasses from the Gambero Rosso, the most reliable guide to Italian wine. Compared to Barolo, it’s a bargain at $49.75 and we have a bit more available.
2013 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé
Since our summer has been so beautiful, it seems like a perfect time to put the best Rosé in the world in this club. Although it is made from the same grapes as many of our other southern French Rosés, Mourvèdre (50%), Grenache (28%), Cinsault (20%) and Carignan (2%), this one is in a class by itself. At $43 this is a wine to savor and enjoy, whether on the patio this summer or as a Thanksgiving starter. (One of my best wine memories is having a bottle of the 2005 Tempier Bandol Rosé with barbecued chicken after a long week producing a folk festival.) For the first time in four years, we got enough for the club and if, by some chance, there is any left after that, there will be the usual serious arm wrestling in the back room for them. Enjoy!