Collector’s Club – June 2015

2012 Vignobles Brunier, Le Pigeoulet en Provence — The history of the Brunier family in the southern Rhône region dates back to 1898 when Hippolyte Brunier planted his first vines there. Today his two grandsons farm some of the best parcels in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, from which they produce the highly regarded Vieux Télégraphe. They also make this delicious but more affordable wine, mostly Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan. About a third comes from some of their holdings just south of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with similar soil and climate The rest is sourced from the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux. The result is a wine that tastes like a baby Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but at a fraction of the cost. And it’s ready to drink now or anytime over the next few years. Layered and elegant, with flavors of dark red fruit, garrigue, and spic, it’s perfect for rotisserie chicken, charcuterie, or roasted vegetables. $19

2010 Muga, Rioja — Rioja, in north central Spain, has long been considered that country’s greatest wine region, known for its elegant, earthy red wines based on Tempranillo. Here, in the historic district of Haro, the family-owned bodega of Muga has been crafting wines since 1932 in facilities over two centuries old. They are the only estate in Spain that makes their own barrels, having their own master cooper and three in-house barrel makers. Their Rioja Reserva is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 7% Mazuelo (Carignan), and 3% Graciano, aged 24 months in those oak casks. They say that the 2010 vintage was one of the greatest they ever produced and, although they are now on to the 2011, we were able to get enough of this one for the club. It is juicy and meaty, with ripe red fruit flavors and notes of licorice and spice and should drink well through 2020. Perfect with paella, chorizo, or a white bean soup. $25

2013 Montaribaldi, Roero Arneis — In April the owner/winemaker from Italy’s Montaribaldi (and their export manager who thankfully spoke excellent English) poured their wines at one of our Thursday tastings. Needless to say it was a rare treat and the wines were amazing across the board. But this one was the big hit of the evening. Montaribaldi has diverse holdings throughout the northern Piedmont region and this wine comes from the commune of Vezza d’Alba, in the heart of the Roero region just north of the river Tanara. It is a hilly area, with sandy clay soils, and is known for both its red wines (from Nebbiolo and Barbera) and for white made from the grape Arneis. This delightful example is complex and floral with refreshing acidity. Perfect on its own as an aperitif, or with appetizers or fish. $17.25

2012 Southard Winery, Columbia Valley Red — Ever since we had winemaker Scott Southard in the shop for a tasting, and put his 2011 Columbia Valley Red in the club, it has been a shop favorite. People kept asking for it long after the vintage ran out, so we were thrilled when the 2012 was finally released. And we think fans won’t be disappointed! Scott originally majored in drama, but soon realized his true calling was winemaking and, after a stint as winemaker at Kana, he transitioned to his family’s winery where he continues to impress with his well-crafted, and well-priced offerings. While the 2011 vintage of this wine was a Syrah/Zin blend, this year it’s about 42% each Grenache and Syrah, with 13% Zin and a bit of Mourvèdre. A different profile, but equally delicious, with or without food—think summer grilling! $15

2013 Domaine de la Chauvinière, Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie — Muscadet, from the western end of the Loire Valley, is made from the grape Melon de Bourgogne. Much of the fruit grown here is sold to négociants, but there is a growing number of producers who are making more serious Muscadet, focusing on the nuances of the varied soils in the region. One of these is Jérémie Huchet who has vineyards in several distinct sites, the characteristics of which he highlights in his different cuvées. This wine comes from an area with shallow soil over the unique local granite which happens to be faulted vertically here, allowing the roots to grow deeply, capturing more of the amazing minerality that the granite imparts. Dry and crisp with zesty acidity it’s perfect for oysters, mussels, or sashimi. $11.25

2012 Alcesti, Nero d’Avola — Sicily may be best known for Marsala and, in the past, mass-produced wines of varying quality. But today many winemakers are working hard to produce wines that showcase the quality that this hot, hilly, volcanic island is capable of. The widely grown red grape Nero d’Avola is a good example, producing deeply colored wines with good acidity and ripe flavors. This one comes from a family-owned winery near Marsala in western Sicily. Their vineyards are planted on the warm, inland hills and their wines, aged six months in French oak, wonderfully reflect the volcanic terroir of their origin. Give it a quick decant to open up those juicy flavors. Great for red meat or game. $16