Collector’s Club – November 2015

2011 Baer Winery, Ursa — This Woodinville winery was founded in 2000 by Lance Baer. When he passed away suddenly at the age of 39 in 2007, his family leapt in to help keep his dream alive, and they continue to do so today, now with the expert assistance of winemaker Erica Orr. The aptly-named Ursa was Baer’s first signature blend, designed to be a softer, more feminine expression of red wine, in contrast to their Cab Sauv-dominant Arctos. This year’s Ursa is 43% each Cab Franc and Merlot, blended with a bit of Malbec and Cab Sauv. All of the fruit is sourced from the steep, south-facing Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills, one of the Columbia Valley’s top vineyard sites. The wine is lush and full, with red fruit flavors and savory black tea notes. It will continue to develop over the next few years and should drink well for up to ten years. $35

2011 Domaine Las Vals, Corbières Les Pins — Corbières is a large, geographically diverse appellation in southern France’s Languedoc region. It can be broken down into several more distinct sub-regions, one of which is the northern strip along the Montagne d’Alaric, an enormous limestone mountain between Carcassonne and Narbonne. The Lignères family has owned vineyards on these slopes since the 1950s. They have a particular fondness for the predominant local variety, Carignan, with plantings over 100 years old. Their constant goal in their winemaking is to achieve the ultimate expression of this grape, conveying its utmost elegance and finesse. This wine is half Carignan, 40% Syrah and 10% Grenache. It is smooth and spicy, with rustic, herbal notes, perhaps influenced by the pine and cypress forests and garrigue that surround the vineyard. Great over the next few years with lamb, fowl, or other hearty fare. $19

2014 Tomàs Cusiné, Auzells — This wine comes from Costers del Segre in Spain’s northeast Catalunya region. After working for 20 years at his family’s highly-respected estate, Castell del Remei, Tomàs Cusiné ventured out on his own to found his eponymous winery in 2003. Located in the village of El Vilosell, it is the highest elevation winery in Catalunya. He describes this blend of Macabeu, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, and Chardonnay as “a kaleidoscope full of sensations,” and it certainly does evolve invitingly on the palate as rich, soft flavors and aromas of honeysuckle and white pepper, give way to more minerally citrus tones. This wine would be a lovely start to a meal on its own, or perfect paired with wild mushroom paella, as it was with great success at a recent Catalunya wine dinner at Fresh Bistro. $16.25

2012 Familia Solana, Toro Clásico — This Spanish offering comes to us through our friends at Bellingham-based Casa Ventura. Their Familia Solana line is a personal project of founder Basi Rodriguez, and the labels feature old photographs of his Spanish family. This wine, from the Toro region of northern Spain, is 85% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) and 15% century-old Garnacha. It is bursting with ripe, dark fruit flavors, balanced by soft, spicy tannins. It’s hard to tell what the family is enjoying on their picnic, but this wine would be excellent paired with lamb, paella, or cured meats and cheeses. Or even with burgers or pizza. Enjoy it over the next three to four years. $14

2013 Les Pentes de Barène, Tursan Blanc — This delightful white wine hails from Tursan, a tiny appellation in southwestern France, just north of the Pyrénées and only 45 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Although about half of the wines produced here are red, the whites are perhaps more fascinating, based on the once nearly extinct grape, Baroque. This wine comes from one of the smallest producers in the region with just under 4 acres of high-elevation terraced vineyards on steep, south-facing slopes, where the fruit ripens fully, developing beautiful, concentrated flavors. In this version, the Baroque is blended with Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng (two other southwestern French white grapes) along with Sauvignon Blanc, producing a crisp, aromatic wine with excellent minerality, with bright citrus flavors and balancing herbal notes. Enjoy it anytime over the next year or so with seafood or light pasta dishes. $14.50

2014 Cantina Sociale, 1339 Teroldego — Teroldego is a red grape indigenous to the mountainous Trentino region in the northeastern Italian Alps. It grows well in the gravelly, alluvial soils here but it might have disappeared into mediocrity, were it not for the efforts of Elisabetta Foradori who proved it could produce seriously interesting wines. Today, more and more wineries are taking a renewed interest in this charming grape, rich in color, yet light bodied, fruity, and somewhat rustic. This one is produced by a local cooperative with a long-standing commitment to the wines, the growers and producers behind them, and to the environment. Perfect to pair with red meat dishes, game, or venison. $11