Collector’s Club – June 2016

2010 Pardas, Negre Franc — This wine was a big hit when we poured it at a Spanish tasting back in February. It is produced by a small, artisanal winery in the Penedès wine zone, just south of Barcelona, which has 2.8 hectares planted on calcareous clay soil. They tend these vines naturally, with no pesticides or herbicides and harvest everything by hand. Their Negre Franc is an aromatic, medium-bodied blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, with 20% Cab Sauv, 15% Merlot and 5% the local grape Sumoll, aged about a year in large French oak barriques. It is full of dark bramble fruit flavors with notes of leather and herbs that go on forever. They hold their wines until they’re ready to drink so you can enjoy this one anytime over the next five to eight years, with grilled meats, rich stews, or pungent cheese. $19.75

2013 G.D. Vajra, Barbera d’Alba — This northern Italian winery was established in 1972 by Aldo Vaira and named for his father, Giuseppe Domenico. Vaira adheres to traditional winemaking methods, although he combines these with modern techniques as well, and his wines are characterized by great elegance and depth, with pure flavors and aromas and true varietal character. His vineyards are situated about 400 meters above sea level in the commune of Barolo. This Barbera is sourced from six different sites in three different areas, with a variety of soils and exposures and the combined result is an aromatically complex wine with dark minerally graphite notes and flavors of black fruit and spice. Perfect with a simple array of salumi, a wood-fired pizza, or even a juicy steak. $22

2014 Tranche Cellars, Pinot Gris — Tranche is the sister label of Corliss, producer of some of the top wines in the state. The Tranche line explores varietals and styles beyond the more focused scope of the Corliss wines. Corliss, they say, “is more timeless, Tranche more cutting edge and exploratory.” We’ve put several vintages of the Tranche Barbera in the club. This month we feature their Pinot Gris, sourced from Lawrence Vineyard—a high elevation site (1675 feet) on the Royal Slope in the Columbia Valley. It is a cool site, where the grapes are able to ripen more slowly and develop fully ripened flavors while still maintaining good acidity. Native yeast fermentation and eight months on its lees, gives this Pinot Gris a lovely richness and depth, balanced by fresh minerality. It’s ready to drink now, with or without food. $18

2010 Cousiño-Macul, Finis Terrae — Established in 1856, this winery is still run by the original founding family, now in its sixth generation. Their vineyards are located in the Alto Maipo sub-region of the Maipo Valley, a high-elevation site at the foot of the Andes. We’ve featured their Sauvignon Gris in the club and this month we present their Finis Terrae, which they make from some of their finest fruit each vintage to produce a “clear reflection of the Maipo Valley terroir.” It’s 72% Cab Sauv, blended with Merlot and Syrah and is bold and complex, with loads of dark fruit flavors. It’s delicious now, or you could lay it down for up to ten years. It would be perfect with red meat dishes or, as the importer suggests, a potato and pumpkin gnocchi gratin with Roquefort cheese and Parmesan. We got all that was left of this vintage so alas, there is none left. The good news is we got an amazing deal on it (originally $26). And it’s nicely aged! $18

2014 Barbi, Orvieto Abboccato — Orvieto is a white wine produced around the medieval hilltop town of the same name in the central Italian region of Umbria. The best come from the Orvieto Classico zone, and all are based on Trebbiano (or its local sub-variety, Procanico) plus other local grapes such as Grechetto, Drupeggio, and Malvasia. The term abboccato means “off dry” but in this case, that is expressed in added depth and complexity rather than any perceived sweetness. It is aromatic and elegant, with notes of white flowers and food-friendly acidity. It would be great on its own as an aperitif, or with appetizers or seafood. Enjoy it while it is still young and fresh, anytime over the next two years. $14

Bedrock Wine Company, Shebang 9th Cuvée — Bedrock Wine Company founder Morgan Twain-Peterson got a very early education in wine. The son of Ravenswood founder, Joel Peterson, he could discern the difference between Merlot and Zin by the age of five, the same age at which he began making small lots of Pinot Noir! Since then he passed the grueling Master of Wine exam and today he has his own winery, where he makes this fun, non-vintage field blend, sourced from several old-vine vineyards in Sonoma County. It’s about half Zinfandel, with, blended with Carignane, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Grenache, etc., plus a touch of whites for aromatics. His goal is to create a wine that is “long on deliciousness and low on pretense.” It is juicy, full of flavor and a great anytime, with anything wine. $15