Collector’s Club – May 2015

2012 Weninger, Kékfrankos — When we put the 2008 vintage of this wine in the club back in January, 2013, we explained that Kékfrankos is the Hungarian equivalent of Blaufränkisch (aka Lemberger). This wine comes from the small village of Balf in Hungary’s Sopron region, which borders the renowned Austrian wine region of Burgenland. Franz Weninger actually grew up in central Burgenland on his family’s estate. But his father happened to own several prime, centuries-old vineyards in Balf and in 2000 Franz decided to relocate to that Hungarian site to carry on his father’s project. He continues to work there today, farming exclusively biodynamically. The local slate and schist soil gives this fruity, earthy and very food friendly wine its soft spice. Great with lamb dishes, goulash, or grilled vegetables. $19.75

2013 Stark Condé, Elgin “Postcard Series” Pinot Noir — You may remember this South African wine: three years ago a tiny bit was brought into the U.S. for the first time ever and we put it in the club. Everyone loved it, but it disappeared immediately with no more to be had. Last year it was back and we jumped on it, but it took months to arrive (somehow our shipment ended up in Georgia). Well, we just tasted the stunning new vintage and, taking no chances, ordered six cases on the spot. They’re making and exporting a bit more of it now, but shipping it only once a year so it continues to be very limited. It’s no longer labeled Pepin Condé, but it’s the same, soft, inviting, simply lovely Pinot as before. Maybe even better. It is sourced from a single vineyard block in the cool Elgin region, known for producing wines with lightly spicy, elegant flavors. The distributor got one pallet and it won’t last long. $19.75

2012 Famiglia Pasqua, Passimento — Ready for a bit of romance? This wine is dedicated to the city of its origin, Verona, and its most famous legend. The label is a photo of the wall below “Juliet’s balcony,” where tourists flock to leave messages of love. The name “passimento” echoes this passion but really refers to the appassimento method of winemaking in which the grapes are dried and then made into a very rich, concentrated wine. Think Amarone. This wine is made from Merlot, Corvina, and Croatina grapes that, after losing about 30% of their water content during a month of drying, are aged in large oak vats. The result is a dark, intense, somewhat tannic wine that you could sip on its own or pair with red meat, game, or aged cheese. Decanting or bit of air softens the tannins and enhances the richness. $16

2013 Weingut Direder, Schlossburg Reserve Grüner Veltliner — As most of you know, we love Grüner Veltliner, the most widely planted grape in Austria. This one comes from an estate in Wagram (formerly known as Donauland), a region just northwest of Vienna bisected by the Danube River. The layered loess soil overlaying marine deposits in this area produces full-bodied, aromatic wines and is perfect for growing Grüner Veltliner. The Direder estate has been in the same family for generations, and their winemaking reflects a mix of tradition and modernity. Their reserve Grüner is particularly complex and rich, with all the characteristic stone fruit flavors and notes of white pepper and spice that the grape is known for. One of the Grüner Veltliner’s best qualities is its versatility, pairing well even with vegetables, as well as many meat dishes. Try it with Wiener schnitzel or perhaps fried chicken. $18

2013 Adegas Morgadío, Legado del Conde Albariño — Albariño, from northwest Spain’s Rías Baixas region, is pretty well known and loved these days, but that hasn’t always been the case. Up until the mid-1980s it was produced only in small, often inconsistent quantities and rarely made it outside of the region. But thanks to the efforts of such producers as Morgadío, plantings of the grape were expanded and, as winemaking techniques were modernized, Albariño gradually became one of most sought after and expensive white wines in Spain. Grown on granite-based soil in the cool, maritime climate, Albariños tend to be aromatic, fruity wines and this one is no exception, although it is more full bodied and serious than many. Being from a coastal region, this wine will enhance almost any seafood-based dish. $14.50

NV Tertulia Redd Brand, Syrah — Last September we put the Redd Brand Malbec in the club, and this month, we present the Syrah. The wines are made by Tertulia Cellars, a Walla Walla winery that takes its name from a Spanish word meaning “a social gathering of friends” (which, they say, is the best place to enjoy a good bottle of wine). Fruit for this non-vintage Syrah was sourced from both their estate Whistling Hills Vineyard and Les Collines, both in the Walla Walla AVA where the hot, sun-drenched summers produce fruit with complex, robust flavors. This Syrah is concentrated and rich, with notes of dark red fruit, cassis, and wet stone. Like the Malbec, a bit of air, or a good decant will open it up beautifully. $16