Collector’s Club – October 2014

2008 Salvatore Molettieri, Aglianico Irpinia “Cinque Querce” — Irpinia is a region in the heart of Campania in southwest Italy, best known for its red wines made from the grape, Aglianico. The Molettieri estate is based in the sub-zone of Montemarano, considered one of the finest for growing Aglianico, with vineyards situated at about 1600 feet in elevation where the grape grows best. Their Cinque Querce vineyard, from which this wine is sourced, is planted to a selection of local Aglianico clones, some of which are pre-phylloxera, and the wines from it are very structured and elegant, with intense, spicy dark fruit flavors, showing the true varietal character of the grape. It does have plenty of the grape’s signature tannins though, so we recommend a good decanting, then enjoy it with red meat or game dishes. $19.75

2013 Beira Aral, Aravo Albariño — We put this Albariño in our April 2011 club and it was hugely popular, while it lasted. Now it’s back with a new vintage which wowed at the recent Spanish-Japanese fusion dinner at Fresh Bistro when paired with a dish of marinated cucumbers, with Spanish white anchovies, sesame seeds and baby carrots. It from Spain’s northwest Rias Biaxas region and is made from older-vine grapes grown on a steep, stony, granite slope. Use of a complex trellising system produces lower yields, resulting in a denser, more complex wine, and partial oak aging adds richness and aromatics to the underlying minerality and zesty acidity. They make only a few hundred cases a year and, with its hint of brininess, it’s a no brainer for seafood. $19.75

2011 Bodega Sur de los Andes, Malbec Gran Reserva — Once again we feature a customer favorite, in this case from our evening of “Spanish-speaking wines” back in August. It comes from an Argentinean winery in Luján de Cuyo, the oldest wine region in Mendoza. Their vineyards lie between 850 and nearly 2000 feet in elevation, where the long, warm days and cool nights ripen the grapes slowly, developing full flavors while maintaining good acidity. Sur de los Andes sources fruit from vines up to 80 years in age. Their Gran Reserva Malbec is made in very limited quantities from some of their finest fruit. Aged 10 months in French oak, it is powerful and lush, with layers of dark fruit, perfect with a sumptuous steak—beef being Argentina’s other claim to fame. Enjoy it now or over the next five to ten years. $21

2010 Kestrel Vintners, Merlot — Kestrel Vintners was founded in 1999 but their estate vineyard, originally planted in 1972, has some of the oldest plantings in the state. We recently met up with Kestrel winemaker Flint Nelson to taste through his current offerings, including this Merlot which is actually a blend (as he pointed out in detail) of 77.6% Merlot, 17.3% Mourvèdre, 1.7% Cab Franc, and 3.4% Syrah. Two-thirds of the fruit comes from the choicest plots in their estate vineyard, with the remainder from Olsen and Boushey. As a 2010, this wine has some nice, mellowing age on it. It is full-bodied, complex, and smooth with hints of savory herbs and white pepper making it a great partner for (as they suggest) North African fare, such as lamb and cinnamon tagine, or duck with a savory berry sauce. Yum! $16

2011 Le Gravillas, Vacqueyras — Fruit for this wine comes from Vacqueyras, a Côtes du Rhône village that was awarded its own appellation status in 1990. Wines from Vacqueyras follow similar rules as those from Gigondas, its neighbor to the north, and thus have a similar profile, but often with a bit more of a rustic feel. Le Gravillas is named for the sandy, gravelly soil of the region which adds distinct character to the wines, along with the Mediterranean climate, with its hot summers, mild winters, and Mistral winds that cool the vines and help ensure that the fruit ripens slowly, retaining its fresh acidity. This Vacqueyras, 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, is dark and concentrated, with aromas and flavors of black fruits and Provençal herbs. A perfect wine for fall, to pair with game, poultry, or root vegetable dishes. $18

NV Diamant Royal, Blanc de Blancs Brut — Bubbles? This might be a first for the Collector’s Club but, hey, why not? When we tasted this French sparkler and saw what a bargain it was, we couldn’t resist. And with the holidays coming it never hurts to have a bottle of bubbly (or two or three) on hand to pull out as needed. The wine is 100% Ugni Blanc, France’s most planted white grape (known as Trebbiano in Italy) and a mainstay in Cognac and Armagnac. It thrives in the Mediterranean climate of the southwest, from where this wine hails. Made in the Charmat method, it is fresh and fruity with flavors of apples and citrus and fine, lingering bubbles. Great anytime, and at this price, you can go crazy and get creative with your holiday cocktails. (Warning: it’s on a closeout, so when it’s gone at this price, it’s gone). $9.75