Collector’s Club – December 2015

2013 Cadence, Coda — As you know, Ben Smith makes some of the most elegant, complex, and ageworthy wines in the state. His Bordeaux-style blends, which highlight specific vineyard sites, are stunning, but definitely built for cellaring. Happily he also produces this wine, Coda, at about half the price, which is ready to drink much sooner (though a good decant is always recommended). The newest vintage is 38% Cab Franc, 26% Cab Sauv, 22% Merlot and 14% Petit Verdot. Ben describes it as plush and silky textured “with surprising energy from the well-balanced acidity.” He made only 1,250 cases and because Wine and Spirits Magazine gave it 93 points and named it a top 100 Best Buy in the World, it may not last long. Delicious now or ageable up to 10 years, it’s a wonderful match for hearty fare. $25

2011 Domaine du Poujol, “Podio Alto” Languedoc Rouge — Have you ever dreamed of having your own estate in France? Englishman Robert Cripps and his American wife Kim did, and in 1994 they became the first non-French owners of a domaine in the Languedoc, just outside of Pic St. Loup. The site benefits from the warm Mediterranean air, cooled by the southeastern breezes coming down off the Cevennes mountains. The local limestone soil has a high concentration of magnesium that adds character and freshness to their wines, which typically have deep aromas of red fruit, and notes of garrigue and forest floor. This Syrah/Grenache/Mourvèdre/Cinsault blend is selected from some of their top parcels worked specifically to produce a pure expression of Languedoc terroir. Rich, elegant, and complex, it is lovely now, or could age up to ten years. Enjoy it with rack of lamb or a yummy cassoulet. $21.50

2014 de Tarczal, Chardonnay — Last month we featured a red wine (the Teroldego) from Italy’s northern Trentino region. This month we return to that alpine zone where the de Tarczal family has been making wine for 25 generations. Today Ruggero de Tarczal is the winemaker and enologist for the estate. His wines, which come to us via Small Vineyards, are sourced entirely from his own estate fruit, planted at the foot of the Alps, along the Adige river. He produces both red and white wines, including this elegant Chardonnay, made entirely in stainless steel. A lovely, aromatic nose leads to bright, fresh fruit flavors that make the wine perfect as an aperitif, or with appetizers or fish. $17

2014 Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet — Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape in the western end of the Loire Valley. It is often produced in mass quantities which can be pretty non-descript. But in the hands of a serious, meticulous winemaker like Marc Ollivier, it rises to an entirely new level. His vines average 25 years in age grown on original rootstock on two coveted types of granite soil (Clisson and Château-Thébaud). His use of natural yeasts (most producers use “starter” yeasts to speed things along), extended lees aging, and slow, traditional processes is rare, but is the reason his are considered some of the top wines in the Muscadet AOC. This one, from an excellent vintage after two difficult years, is particularly fresh, clean, and approachable and, as one would expect, an excellent match for seafood. $14

2008 Casa Contini, Biferno Riserva — We actually ordered the 2011 vintage of this wine but the 2008, which we put in the club two years ago, arrived once again on the most recent container from Italy. Too late to make a change, we thought we’d let you see how it has aged, which is: beautifully. A Small Vineyards favorite, it comes from the central Italian region of Molise, just south of Abruzzo, where the Botter family has owned a spectacular vineyard site for three generations. This blend of 80% Montepulciano and 20% Aglianico is produced with a miniscule yield of one bottle per plant and aged 18 months in barrel and six in bottle before release. It has developed smooth, complex flavors with smoky, chestnut, and pepper notes. Enjoy it soon, paired with typical Abruzzo fare such as lamb, salumi, or pasta with a hearty sauce. $12

2011 Celler el Masroig, Solà Fred — Celler el Masroig, is a cooperative founded in 1917 in northeast Spain’s Montsant region, dedicated to producing wines that express the traditional character of the region. The Wine Advocate’s Jay Miller has called Masroig “a role model for how a cooperative ought to function.” Keeping only their best grapes and selling the rest to other producers, they craft wines of amazing quality and also great value. Their Solà Fred, 90% Carignan and 10% Grenache, is sourced from a selection of diverse vineyard sites, blended together to produce a smooth, complex, wine with ripe fruit and an inviting touch of earthiness. It’s delicious on its own, or with game or dishes with rich sauces. There is a bit left, but when this one is gone, it will no longer be in the market, so enjoy! $12.25