Collector’s Club – July 2016

2014 Cadence, Coda — We first put this wine in the club back in 2008, with the 2006 vintage. It is made by Ben Smith, producer of some of the most elegant, complex, and ageworthy wines in the state. Like all of his wines, this is a Bordeaux-style blend, 38% Cab Sauv, 33% Cab Franc, 20% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot, made to be ready to drink in its youth. The 2014 is particularly approachable now: deep, rich, and complex, with layers of dark fruit and spice and fine tannins, typical of Red Mountain vineyards. Thanks to widespread accolades, the 2013 vintage sold out quickly (we still have some on the shelf, aging nicely!). And, due to smaller yields at Tapteil and Cara Mia vineyards in 2014, Ben made only about half as much of this vintage (714 cases), so it probably wont last long either. Grab it while you can and save a bottle for a holiday meal this fall. The price went up a bit this year—the first increase since that 2006 vintage! $28

2015 Brunelli, Poggio Apricale, Rosso Toscana — Mauro Brunelli and Anna Savini, owners of the Brunelli estate, both came from long-time farming families who had always lived in Montalcino, in Tuscany. Today they own 15 hectares of land, five of which are registered as Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Their son Luca is now at the helm and, in addition to his highly acclaimed Brunellos, he also makes this delightful Rosso Toscana, a blend of 85% Sangiovese Grosso, 10% Merlot, and 5% Colorino. It is a wine meant for everyday enjoyment and ready to drink in its youth, though a quick decant and a little air really opens it up. It sees three months of oak, just enough to add a touch of food-friendly grip, while still letting the fresh, bright flavors shine through. With its classic Tuscan aromas of Morello cherries, this small production wine from a very small estate is, the importer notes, “artisanal wine at its charming best.” $15

2013 La Quercia, Falanghina Colli Aprutini — La Quercia is an organic, self-sustaining farm, located on a windy hillside in Abruzzo overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Winemaker Antonio Lamona makes a wonderful Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which has been a mainstay in the shop for years. Several years ago he bought a small plot of older vines which included the classic Campanian white grape, Falanghina. He thought it would be a good grape to blend with his Abruzzo whites. But once he vinified the fruit he realized the resulting wine was much too special to blend away so he began bottling a 100% Falanghina. We first put this wine in the club back in 2014 and this month we present his newest vintage. Aged in oak for six months, it soft and complex, with lovely texture and notes of white flowers, pear, and a hint of sea salt. $19

2014 Domaine du Somail, Le Vin de Plume, Minervois — Minervois is one of the oldest appellations in the Languedoc region of southern France, located north of the Spanish border, between Narbonne and Carcassonne. It is a region of hot, dry summers, with stony soil and rocky scrubland, perfect for growing vines (and olives). This wine is 80% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah, from a 15-hectare, bio-dynamically-farmed estate in the eastern part of the Minervois. It is smooth and elegant, with full flavors of dark fruit and soft spice. Great with rib-eye steak, game, or a plate of hard cheeses. As the label notes, it is dedicated to a Narbonne philosopher as a tribute to those who use their mind to its full potential. However you exercise your talents, we suggest you do so with a glass of this tasty and thought-provoking wine! $14

2015 Les Costières de Pomerols, Picpoul de Pinet — Who doesn’t love a fresh, light, food-friendly summer quaffer? There’s a reason Picpoul (aka Folle Blanche) is known as “the Muscadet of the south” in France. Like that other refreshing white from up north in the Loire Valley, Picpoul is clean and focused with loads of minerality — a no-brainer for shellfish and other seafood. Picpoul de Pinet comes from the Mediterranean coast of France, in the Languedoc region. This one is made by a co-op founded in 1932 in the commune of Pomérols. The grapes are planted in clay soil, with fragments of limestone and fossil shells over marl—perfect for developing the delicacy, lightness, and “stony, sun-drenched nature” of the wine. It sees only stainless steel, preserving that clean juicy freshness. $11

2014 Tomàs Cusiné, Llebre — This wine comes from Costers del Segre in Spain’s northeast Catalunya region. Tomàs Cusiné founded his eponymous winery in 2003 after working for 20 years at his family’s highly-respected estate, Castell del Remei. Located in the village of El Vilosell, it is the highest elevation winery in Catalunya, with 30 hectares of organically-farmed vines at an average of 700 meters above sea level. This wine is 85% Tempranillo, blended with 5% each Syrah, Garnatxa, and Samso (aka Carignan). It sees 3 months in French oak and is smooth and characterful, with a hint of smokiness. (As for that bunny on the label? The Catalan name for Tempranillo is Ull de Llebre, or “eye of the hare.”) $13