Collector’s Club – July 2015

2011 Borie de Maurel, La Féline — In l989 Michel Escande purchased property in Minervois La Livinière, the first AOC village in the Languedoc. His vineyards lie in the foothills of the Black Mountains with diverse aspects: hot, dry sites that produce strong, heady wines, and higher plantings where the warm days and cool nights let the fruit mature slowly and fully. To let the character of this terroir fully express itself, Escande uses minimal intervention (no chemicals) and enriches the soil with manure from his two plow horses. This Syrah/Grenache blend (with a bit of Carignan) is aromatic and intense with notes of black pepper and Mediterranean herbs and elegant flavors of dark red cherries. Delicious now, it will gain in complexity over the next six or seven years. Perfect for leg of lamb or veal. $29.75

2009 Pardas, Negre Franc — This wine hails from the Penedès, the largest and most important zone in Cataluña in northeast Spain. It is a Cabernet Franc-based wine, blended with Cab Sauv, Merlot, and Sumoll, a local variety, once nearly extinct, but once again being embraced for its rustic charm, good acidity, and aging potential. Pardas is a relatively young winery, founded in 1996, and very passionate about expressing the character of their unique terroir through their wines. They use minimal intervention, including no irrigation, to best express the character of each vintage. Fruit for this wine comes from several distinct sites, each with different soils and exposures. Each lot is macerated for different lengths of time, resulting in an aromatic, and elegant wine that reflects the diversity of their estate “like a mosaic.” Full of dark fruit flavors and notes of cocoa, it’s perfect for lamb dishes or barbecues. $20.75

2013 Ottella, Lugana — Ottella was founded in 1880 in northern Italy’s Veneto region. The Montresor family had been growing grapes at this site, at the southern end of Lake Garda, for many generations. Legend has it that octuplets were born at the farm in the 16th century, hence the name “Ottella.” Today the family owns about 60 acres of vineyards planted on the local clay soil and influenced by the nearby lake. This wine is 100% Turbiano, a local clone of Trebbiano di Lugana. The widely-grown Trebbiano grape is known for producing rather uninspiring wines. But this one is a major exception. It is rich in texture, yet has a fantastic minerality that makes it a great food wine (think fish-based dishes, soups, or pasta), and also great on its own. Fresh, expressive, and full of character, it’s ready to enjoy anytime. $16

2014 L’Ecole No 41, Chenin Blanc — Few Washington wineries make a serious effort with Chenin Blanc, although the grape grows well in the state. One exception is L’Ecole No 41, the third oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley, who has been producing an old-vine Chenin since 1987. We’ve featured several vintages of this wine in the club, the rather plush 2010, and the more vibrant 2012. This month we present their current offering, sourced from four Yakima Valley vineyards all planted in the late 1970s. 2014 was relatively warm, and the fruit developed ample sugars, as well as good acidity, especially in their higher-elevation sites. This one is aromatic and richly textured, with vibrant minerality and an endless finish, making it great on its own or paired with food, especially fish, chicken, or Asian fare. $16

2013 Sobon, Old Vine Zin — This wine was a contender for last month’s club but we ended up pouring it as a bonus wine at the club tasting instead. It was a huge hit so this month it’s in the club! It’s produced from select lots of old vine fruit grown on Sobon’s estate vineyards in Amador County in the Sierra Foothills. This is gold rush country and wine grapes were introduced here in the mid-nineteenth century to provide libation for the thirsty miners. The winery itself is a registered historic landmark, originally built in 1856. The Sobon family bought and resurrected it in the 1990s and dedicated themselves to making outstanding Zinfandels that express the unique Shenandoah Valley terroir. This one is rich and focused, with intense aromas and flavors. Perfect for hearty grilled meat and pasta dishes. $12

2010 Barinas, Monastrell Roble — Jumilla is a warm, arid region in southeast Spain which, some believe, is the origin of the grape Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre in France). In any case, it remains the principal grape variety in this region, where it produces rich, dark wines. Barinas is a small village in Murcia where these wines, imported by Bellingham-based importer Casa Ventura, are produced. All of their wines are Monastrell-based, and their Seleccion has been very popular in the shop. So when the importer offered us their Roble (their “basic” Monastrell) at a great price for the club, we jumped at the chance. Produced from 25- to 30-year-old vines, it has aromas of blackberries, spice, and coffee beans and is elegant and balanced, but easy to enjoy anytime, with tapas, burgers, or grilled veggies. $11