Specialty Club – January 2015

2013 Alheit Vineyards, Cartology
We were immediately smitten when we tasted this white blend from South Africa’s Stellenbosch region. It is produced by the husband and wife team of Chris and Suzaan Alheit for their eponymous winery. Together they have worked harvests in wine regions all over the map, including Napa Valley, Australia, Bordeaux, and Germany’s Mosel Valley. This experience instilled in them a deep respect for the great wines of Europe and an Old World winemaking philosophy, which they now bring to their young winery in South Africa’s Cape region. They make exclusively white wines and their Cartology line, named for the study of maps, is a “vinous exploration of Cape heritage.” With this line, they seek to showcase the Cape through its vineyards, selecting fruit from their extraordinary parcels of mature, dry-farmed bush vines planted to heritage varieties that have been grown on the Cape for centuries. The first vintage of their Cartology brought them immediate attention and, just a few years later, these wines are now some of the most allocated South African wines in the market. This bottling is a blend of Chenin Blanc, sourced from four distinct Cape vineyards, and very old Semillon, from Franschoek. It shows amazing depth and complexity, with hints of stone fruit and a long, lingering finish. With tiny yields from their old vineyards and a very small production, it isn’t cheap, at $52, but it is worth every sip, which luckily seems to last forever. We found it quite inviting now, although the winery says it will continue to gain in complexity for a number of years. It would be a wonderful partner for rich seafood dishes, perhaps something that involves lobster or crab.

2010 Poderi Elia, Barbaresco Serracapelli
This always elegant wine, directly imported by our friends at Small Vineyards here in West Seattle, should be a familiar face by now: this is the sixth vintage of Poderi Elia’s Barbaresco that we’ve featured in the club. It is made by the Stella family who have been producing wine in their commune of Neive, in the heart of Piedmont’s Barbaresco area, since 1890. They didn’t begin exporting those wines, though, until Small Vineyards’ founder, Josh Hanson, convinced them that Americans could truly appreciate them. And by now it is pretty clear that we all do! This current release comes from the 2010 vintage which has been highly acclaimed for its great Barolos, Barbarescos, and Brunellos. The wine is dark and rich, with the aromas of red currant and Morello cherry that one would expect from a 100% Nebbiolo, with a solid structure and fine grained tannins. Amazingly, the price has stayed consistent over the years and, at $49.75, it is a remarkable value for such a stunning wine. We’ve now sold through all of our older vintages of this one, so it’s a good thing that it is ready to enjoy now. It was showing great when we poured it at our Boxing Day tasting last December and it can only be even more developed now. Of course it has the power and structure to age for another five to ten years if you’d like. Whenever you choose to enjoy it, we suggest pairing it with osso bucco, strip steak, or roast fowl.