Collector’s Club – August 2016

2012 La Quercia, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva — La Quercia is a small estate in the Abruzzo region on the east coast of Italy. Their “basic” Montepulciano has been a shop favorite for years, a great value and always packed with flavor. When Small Vineyards introduced their reserve level version, we were blown away, and we’ve been featuring it in the club ever since. It is made from 40-year-old vines grown on La Quercia’s windy hillside vineyards overlooking the sea, pruned to a miniscule yield of only about two-thirds of a bottle per plant! The wine is aged for 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels, and an additional year in stainless steel. This latest vintage is particularly rich and elegant, with complex character and great depth of flavor. Pair it with roasted pork, veggie burgers, or other savory dishes. $19

2013 Domaine Grosbois, Chinon “La Cuisine de ma mère” — We put the 2009 vintage of this wine, “My Mother’s Kitchen,” in the club five years ago. And when we poured it at a recent tasting we realized it was time we included it again. It comes from the central Loire Valley region of Chinon, an area best known for its red wines, typically based on Cabernet Franc. Current proprietor, Nicolas Grosbois, spent six years working at wineries around the world, including Oregon, hoping to bring back the best practices to his own family estate. The distinct soil of their vineyards produces wines with great aromatics and expressiveness. This charming example is fresh and approachable with a bit of earthiness and spice. We found a quick decant really brings out those qualities. Very food friendly, it would be great with herbed pork dishes. $17

2015 Marchetti, Tenuta del Cavaliere, Verdicchio — Once again we present Small Vineyards producer Maurizio Marchetti’s “later harvest Verdicchio.” Based in Italy’s Marche region, near the Adriatic coast, he has been making Verdicchio for generations and his “basic” Classico version is top notch. But for this wine, he leaves the fruit on the vine an extra month, adding inviting body, structure, and a soft richness. He makes only about 300 cases a year, so it is not in the Small Vineyards’ portfolio year round. But when we can get it, we are delighted! It has the refreshing acidity and minerality you’d expect from a Verdicchio, but with depth and complexty you don’t usually find in the grape. Excellent with richer seafood dishes, such as lightly seared scallops with lemon and olive oil or calamari. $17

2014 Mas de Daumas Gassac, Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem Blanc — Founded in the Languedoc in the early 1970s, Mas de Daumas Gassac quickly became one of the most respected wineries in southern France, an area not previously known for producing world-class wines. In 1991 they launched a second label, Moulin de Gassac, to produce affordable, terroir-driven wines that focus on their indigenous grapes, which are often torn out in favor of more popular (and profitable) varieties. This wine is 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% each Grenache Blanc and Terret Blanc—one of the oldest vine varieties in the Languedoc though rarely seen these days. It is delightfully fresh and crisp, with enough underlying complexity to make it great on its own or with food. The winery suggests pairing it with crab quiche, seafood gratin or salade Niçoise, over the next year or two when it will be at its fresh and fruity best. $14

2013 Domaine Roche, Cairanne — When we put the 2011 vintage of this wine in the club in 2013, we noted that the Côtes du Rhône village of Cairanne was poised for elevation to Cru status. That just happened in February of 2016, and Cairanne has now joined the ranks of Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Romain Roche is one of the youngest winemakers in this beautiful hilltop village. He comes from a long line of winegrowers who had always sold their fruit to the local co-op. After winemaking studies in France and abroad, Romain returned to Cairanne to produce his own wines. His Cairanne is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah—a very similar blend to the very different wine below. It is rich and savory with great structure and complexity. Enjoy it over the few years with lamb, roast chicken, or cassoulet. $19.75

2014 Flegenheimer Bros., Paisant Red —Ben Hammerschlag founded Epicurian Wines in Seattle in 2000 to import exceptional wines from Australia. He now spends half of each year Down Under and because he works closely with his producers, he was able to enlist the talented Australian winemaker, Ben Glaetzer, to craft the wines for this, his personal label. It is named in honor of the New York wine-merchant business his great-grandfather married into, which flourished up until Prohibition. This wine, almost the same blend as the Cairanne above, (85% Grenache/15% Shiraz), is sourced from low-yielding plantings in a high-altitude site on Ben’s own property in McLaren Vale. The wine sees several months’ aging in neutral oak and is dark and rich, with mouthfilling fruit flavors. Great for a hearty summer barbeque! $18