Collector’s Club – August 2015

2011 La Quercia, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva — La Quercia is a small estate in the Abruzzo region on the east coast of Italy. Their “basic” Montepulciano has been a shop favorite for years, full of flavor and a great value. A few years ago Small Vineyards brought in the reserve level of that wine and we were blown away. This is now the third vintage of this wine to make it to our shores and it is better than ever. It is produced from 40-year old vines grown on windy, hillside vineyards overlooking the Adriatic Sea, pruned to a miniscule yield of about two-thirds of a bottle per plant. (They produce only about 1000 cases annually.) Aged in large Slavonian oak for 12 months, this is a delicious wine, full of flavor, but not “big,” with amazing complexity and depth. Perfect for pork chops or grilled meats. $19

2014 Cantina Altarocca, Arcosesto Orvieto Classico Superiore — This is the fourth vintage of this wine we’ve put in the club! Imported by Small Vineyards, it comes from Orvieto, the most important DOC in the Umbria region of central Italy. The aptly named Cantina Altarocco (or “high rock”) is situated 350 meters above sea level and has some of the highest vineyards in the area. Here the grapes ripen slowly, developing wonderful complexity and aromatics. This wine is a blend of the classic Orvieto varietals: 50% Grechetto, 30% Procanico (a clone of Trebbiano), and 20% Malvasia Bianca. Bright and fresh with a lovely creamy mouth feel, it is ready to drink anytime and perfect for seafood or grilled vegetables. $16

2012 Bodegas y Viñedos Recoletas, Valdecampaña, Ribera del Duero Crianza — A recent Spanish tasting yielded this popular gem, which sold out almost immediately. It is 100% Tinto del Pais, the local variant of Tempranillo, from Ribera del Duero, in north central Spain. The grape has adapted to the extreme weather here, with hot days, cool nights, and little rain, producing dark, supple wines with balanced tannins and a hint of cocoa. This one comes from a winery in the village of Olivares del Duero, in the province of Valladolid, where the vines grow on chalky soils covered with limestone pebbles. It spends 12 months in French oak, plus 12 months in bottle before release, making it perfectly ready to enjoy anytime now through 2018, with grilled red meat or your favorite paella. $16

2013 Roger Labbé, Vin de Savoie “Abymes” — The Savoie region of France, on its eastern border with Italy and Switzerland is best known for its many ski resorts. But this cool alpine region also produces some delightful wines. This one is from Abymes, one of the 17 crus in the region. It takes its name from the French word abimé, or “broken,” referring to the broken stones that litter the area from years of avalanches off the nearby Alps. This light, refreshing wine is made from the white grape, Jacquère, the most widely planted grape in the region. The vineyards are planted near the upper reaches of the Rhône River, as it heads from Geneva south to the Rhône Valley. Lightly floral and low in alcohol, it is a perfect partner for the foods of the Savoie region, such as fondue or raclette but, with its excellent minerality and acidity, it is also a great summer wine, especially with seafood and fresh salads. $13

2010 Kestrel Vintners, Tribute Red — Kestrel’s Tribute Red commemorates the life of John Walker who founded the winery in 1999 with a goal of crafting exceptional wines at reasonable prices. Their estate vineyard, originally planted in 1972, has some of the oldest plantings in the state. The Tribute Red varies each year but is always blended from the finest barrels in their cellar, “with beauty and elegance in mind.” We especially liked the 2010 vintage, almost half Malbec (44%), plus 22% Petit Verdot, 21% Cab Sauv, 10% Cab Franc, and 3% Mourvèdre. It has bright fruit flavors, with a good dose of spice from the Malbec, and a long, lingering finish. We got all of the 2010 that was left (and barely enough for the club at that) so alas, there is no more to be had. $21

2013 Domaine Richard Rottiers, Moulin à Vent “Dernier Souffle” — This wine was a huge hit at our recent French tasting. It comes from Moulin-à-Vent, one of the most famous communes in Beaujolais, named for a local windmill. Moulin-à-Vent tends to produce the most concentrated and ageable wines of all the Beaujolais crus, almost more reminiscent of a Pinot Noir: indeed, several people at our tasting said it could be mistaken for a good Burgundy. But this one is 100% Gamay, as are nearly all Beaujolais, sourced from 60-year-old vines grown on granite soil in a vineyard located next to a cemetery, hence the name Dernier Souffle (“last breath”). It is light-bodied, but well-structured, with dark fruit flavors, floral notes, and a touch of spice. It is very versatile, great with red meat, lamb, game, or roasted vegetables, and would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving meal. This is a red you could even chill a bit. $17