Collector’s Club – February 2016

2011 Ambassador, Syrah — Syrah has been an important grape throughout the history of Washington wine. Nearly every winery seems to produce one, but we’re always happy to find a version that we especially like. This offering is crafted by Sarah Goedhart, whose family founded Hedges Cellars and where she is currently head winemaker. (She also owns her own winery, Goedhart Family, along with her husband Brent). As busy as all this must keep her, she somehow finds time to produce wine for Ambassador as well. This Syrah comes from their estate vineyard carefully managed by Dick Boushey, one of the most talented and sought-after vineyard managers in the state. Blended with a bit of Grenache and Cab, it has wonderful balance and structure, a touch of spice and loads of flavor, while still being deft and food friendly. $24

2013 Idilico, Roble — In December we welcomed back winemaker Javier Alfonso to pour his wines at one of our Saturday tastings. Originally from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region, Javier now lives in Washington where he is the owner and winemaker at Woodinville-based Pomum Cellars. He also produces wines under Pomum’s sister label, Idilico, which focuses on the Spanish grapes of his home, which happen to grow very well here in our state. The biggest hit of the tasting that day was this Roble, Javier’s first red blend based on Spanish varieties. It is 40% Tempranillo, 33% Garnacha (aka Grenache), and 27% Graciano, a red grape grown primarily in Rioja known for its deep color and great aromatics. Javier said he created this wine to be easy, refreshing, and food friendly, without too much oak influence, reminiscent of Rioja blends of days past. Enjoy it anytime, with barbeque, pizza, or burgers. $17

2011 Viu Manent, ViBo Viñedo Centenario — Viu Manent, a family-owned winery founded in 1935 in Chile’s Colchauga Valley, has long been an excellent source of tasty, value-oriented wines for the shop. A representative from the winery recently dropped by to taste us on a nice cross section of their wines including this one, which was new to us. It is made from estate-grown fruit, from vines averaging over 100 years old, hence the name, Viñedo Centenario. Viu Manent started their ViBo line in 2007 to experiment with less common Chilean grapes. This blend of 51% Cab Sauv, 44% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot is quite elegant and complex and very approachable, with dark fruit and hints of toast (we recommend a quick decant to really open up those flavors). Enjoy it any time over the next five years or so. $16

2009 Frontaura, Dominio de Valdelacasa Toro — Bodega del Palacio de los Frontaura y Victoria is based in Toro but they produce wine in several regions. We’ve featured their Ribera del Duero in the past, as well as the previous vintage of this wine, a 100% Tempranillo (known locally as Tinta de Toro) from their home region. The label lists plenty of descriptive adjectives for this wine, all of which are fitting: complex, elegant, intense, zesty… “It is a wine that tastes like Tinta de Toro.” It’s aged in French oak, but the oak is very balanced and allows the expressive layers of flavor to shine through. Perfect for robust fare, such as pork, grilled vegetables, or a juicy steak. Another reason to love it is its new lower price: $15

2013 Domaine de la Verpaille, Mâcon-Villages Vielles Vignes — Here’s another wine sourced from older vines (vielles vignes), in this case 100-year-old Chardonnay vines grown in the Mâcon region, in the southernmost part of Burgundy. The winery is based in the heart of the appellation of Viré-Clessé and focuses exclusively on white wines made from fruit that they have been farming organically since 2006. They feel that grapes grown organically best reveal the character of the limestone soils of their vineyard. (In the cellar, they let the wine ferment naturally and at its own pace, to further develop an expression of their terroir while still maintaining freshness and minerality. Bright and clean, with soft notes of white fruit, it is ready to drink now or over the next year or two, with scallops, seafood, or cheese. $16

2014 Château Ducasse, Bordeaux Blanc — Bordeaux winemaker Hervé Dubourdieu makes Sauternes at his Roûmieu-Lacoste estate and Bordeaux Blancs under his Graville-Lacoste and Ducasse labels. His property lies in the Graves AOC, with its gravelly, alluvial soil, from which the appellation takes its name. His vines, averaging a half-century in age, contribute to the complexity of his wines, which have a high percentage of Semillon (60%, with 35% Sauv Blanc, plus Muscadelle). An acknowledged perfectionist, he picks all his fruit by hand, making multiple passes through the vineyard to ensure that all the fruit is evenly and fully ripe, resulting in a richer, more aromatic wine. Lees contact adds even more texture and depth, which shows best when the wine is not overly chilled. Perfect for fish, poultry, or even Indian food. $17