Collector’s Club – February 2015

2012 Poderi Elia, Langhe Nebbiolo “Padrun” — This producer has been making wines in the heart of northern Italy’s Piedmont region since 1890, but didn’t begin exporting them until the folks at Small Vineyards convinced them that Americans could truly appreciate them (we do!). Winemaker Federico Stella is highly respected for his unrelenting drive to continually improve his wines, regardless of the cost. (He tried over 30 combinations of oak to find the perfect cooperage formula!) We’ve featured his Barbera d’Asti in this club, and his Barbaresco in our Specialty Club. But this is the first time he has made a “basic” Nebbiolo. It shows the intense, vibrant flavors from their old-vine fruit, grown in the highest-elevation estate in Barbaresco: smooth, approachable, and full of cherry, raspberry, cedar and chocolate flavors. Small Vineyards writes, “it’s a connoisseur’s Piedmont for everyday enjoyment.” $19.75

2011 DiStefano Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon — Just to be clear, this winery has no relation to anyone at West Seattle Cellars. One of the first five wineries in Woodinville, it was established in 1983 by Mark Newton as a gift to his wife Donna DiStefano. His original focus on sparkling wine shifted over the years and he now produces his hand-crafted wines from classic red and white Bordeaux varietals. Like all his wines, this Cab is sourced from top Washington vineyards. 2011 was a long, cool vintage, which allowed maximum flavor to develop without sugar levels getting too high. Blended from some of their best and most expressive barrel selections, it is dark and inviting, with delicate aromas and flavors and lovely texture. Enjoy it anytime over the next two to three years. $25 (previously $35)

2012 Crios, Limited Edition Red Blend — Crios, meaning “offspring,” is the second label of highly respected Argentinean winemaker, Susana Balbo. Named in honor of her children, the Crios wines are fresh and vibrant, meant to be enjoyed in their youth, and represent excellent value. And as of 2011, one of those offspring, her son José who trained at UC Davis, has been making the wines. This is a blend of Malbec, Bonarda (Argentina’s other red grape), Syrah, and Tannat, a southern French grape, now widely grown in Uruguay. The wine exhibits a mix of both red and dark fruit flavors, with spicy black pepper notes and juicy tannins. We recommend a good decanting, plus some time to breathe for it to soften and really show its lush, complex flavors. Great with juicy burgers, barbeque chicken, or chorizo. $13

2010 Höpler, Pannonica — This Austrian wine is named in honor of Pannonia, an ancient province of the Roman Empire that included parts of present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, and northern Croatia. Höpler is located on the western bank of Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland, in a site with cold winters and hot, dry summers (one of the sunniest places in Europe!) This wine is 35% Zweigelt, a cross of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch (aka Lemberger) developed in 1922 and now one of Austria’s most important red grapes. Another 40% is Blaufränkisch itself, also widely grown in Austria and prized for its great character and good acidity and spice. It is rounded out with Pinot Noir for a blend that is bright, fun, and fruity, with a touch of spice and nice, soft tannins. It’s a very versatile food wine! $12

2013 Château de Fontenille, Entre-Deux-Mers — Bordeaux whites are typically blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, often with a small amount of Muscadelle. But this one is the first we’ve seen with the pinkish grape, Sauvignon Gris, in the mix (40% Sauv Blanc, and 20% each of the other varietals). It hails from the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, which lies between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, and is sourced from vines averaging about 25 years in age, planted on limestone and gravelly clay soil. Only 12% alcohol, it is lively and aromatic with flavors of citrus and white stone fruit. Lees aging adds a nice touch of richness to this wine, which you could enjoy anytime over the next three years with grilled shrimp or scallops, sushi, or goat cheese. It was a big hit at our club tasting! $14

2012 Henri Perrusset, Mâcon-Villages — This wine made its way into the portfolio of Kermit Lynch by chance, when that importer was seated next to a stranger (winemaker Henri Perrusset) in a crowded restaurant in Beajolais. The winemaker invited Kermit to come and taste his first vintage and the rest is history. Perrusset is based in the small town of Farges-les-Mâcon (not far from the village of Chardonnay), where the soil is more marly than in the rest of southern Burgundy’s Mâcon region, imparting a unique minerality and rich character to the wines. This offering is blended from Perrusset’s holdings around Farges, and gives a good sense of the unique soil in his corner of the Mâcon. Aromatic, and complex, it would pair beautifully with roasted chicken or gruyere cheese. $18