Collector’s Club – May 2016

2014 Thomas Labaille, Sancerre “Les Monts Damnes” — Sancerre is an appellation in the eastern Loire Valley revered for its racy, flinty Sauvignon Blancs that grow on the local ancient Kimmeridgian limestone soil. One of our favorite producers is Thomas Labaille who is based in Chavignol (a town also known for its goat cheese) where he makes his stunning Sancerre’s from his vineyard, Les Monts Damnés. This site gets its name, “the damn mountains,” from the fact that it is too steep for any sort of mechanization and all work must be painstakingly done by hand. But they persevere because the site produces amazingly complex wines that are clean and precise, with beautiful grace and elegance. Plus a bit of richness from lees aging. A perfect wine for shellfish or goat cheese (from Chavignol, of course). $27

2013 Lioco, Indica Red — You’ve seen wines from this producer in the club before, including a previous vintage of this one. Lioco was founded in 2006 by two friends in the wine and restaurant trade with a shared passion for classic European wines and they produce some of the most characterful, terroir-driven wines in California. They have access to many of the top independent growers in the state and this wine, 100% old-vine Carignan, is sourced from several dry-farmed mountainside vineyards in Mendocino where the fruit ripens slowly, but completely. Inspired by the wines that the immigrant farmers of Mendocino drank back in the 1940s, their Indica is rustic, yet complex and earthy with notes of dark fruit and spice. It is a wine you could enjoy slightly chilled, with anything from blue cheese burgers to pizza. $19.75

2009 Redd Brand, Red Blend — Ever since we first tasted them we’ve been very impressed with the wines under the Redd Brand label. They are made by Walla Walla’s Tertulia Cellers and consistently feature the winning combination of great flavor and excellent value. Tertulia takes its name from a Spanish word meaning “a social gathering of friends,” which, they say, is the best place to enjoy a good bottle of wine. We’ve featured the Redd Brand Malbec and Syrah in the club and this month we present the 2009 Red, a blend of 52% Cab Sauv, 23% Cab Franc, 20% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. It is aged in 100% French oak, 64% of which was new, and now has some nice, mellowing bottle age on it. It has aromas of dark cherry fruit, and rich, intense flavors. Ready to drink now, with anything off the grill. $14

2012 Bodegas Martínez Corta, Cepasantiguas, Rioja — Spain’s Rioja region sits on a large plateau at about 1,500 feet in elevation. It is only about 60 miles from the coast, but is cut off from the maritme influence by several small mountain ranges. It is divided into three subregions, one of which is Rioja Alta, from which some of the best Riojas come. Tempranillo is the dominant grape here and Bodegas Martínez Corta has been cultivating vines here for generations. They now make their wines in their new state-of-the-art bodega, completed in 2006. Their Cepasantiguas is crafted from vines over 40 years old and is rich and smooth, with red fruit flavors and hints of coffee and cocoa. It is intense enough to stand up to robust fare, such as roasts, stews, or aged cheeses. And it’s a great price for a Rioja! $12

2013 Steele, Shooting Star Aligoté — Jed Steele has been making wine in Lake County California for over 40 years, producing a variety of wines under several labels. When he wanted to make an Aligoté he found a source in Newhouse Vineyard in Sunnyside, Washington, where two acres of the grape were planted back in the 1970s. He is now one of just a handful of winemakers with access to this fruit. Aligoté is the “other white grape” of Burgundy, where the vast majority of wines are Chardonnay. He ferments his in older oak barrels for added texture, producing a fresh, yet wonderfully aromatic wine. Aligoté is the quintessential white wine for Kirs, a delightful aperitif made with a dash of Crème de Cassis. But this one is so complex you might want to just enjoy it on its own. Or with seafood or chicken dishes. $14

2010 Valle Reale, Vigneto di Popoli, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo — Valle Reale was founded in 2000 by the Pizzolo family with a goal of creating wines that reflect the intrinsic elegance, balance, and depth of their fruit, in this case, Montepulciano. They are located in the Abruzzo region, inside of one of Italy’s most beautiful national parks. There are few other estates in the area and the terroir here is unique, with thin soil, rich in limestone with a base of clay and sand. The Gran Sasso mountain range provides wide temperature fluctuations and this combination of geography and climate produces elegant, aromatically complex wines with mature fruit flavors. This wine comes from their Popoli Vineyard, first planted in 1950, and is aged 24 months in French oak before bottling. It is classic Montepulciano: rich and savory with dark fruit flavors and spice. Enjoy it anytime with pasta dishes, roast poultry or lamb, or slow-cooked ribs. $18