Collector’s Club – December 2016

2012 Wautoma Wines, El Prat — A few years ago we brought in the inaugural vintage (2010) of this then unfamiliar wine in response to a customer request. It quickly became one of our most requested wines of all time. The winery has just released the 2012 vintage, a blend of 75% Cab and 25% Malbec (similar to the first bottling) and we think it is every bit as delicious. It is made by Jessica Munnell, formerly with Château Ste. Michelle and current winemaker at Mercer Estates. For Wautoma, her own label, she blends Cab from Wautoma Springs Vineyard (next to the coveted Cold Creek Vineyard) and Malbec from Stonetree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. The result is a rich, elegant wine with inviting deep, rich flavors. It is ready to drink now or over the next few years on its own or with any special meal. $25

2013 Mas Champart, Pays d’Oc — Parisian Isabelle Champart and her husband Mathieu, originally from a family of farmers in Champagne, took over this St. Chinian-based estate in 1976. They continued to sell their fruit to the local co-op until 1988, when they decided to produce wine under their own label, quickly gaining much acclaim for their efforts. Today Isabelle makes the wines and Mathieu tends to the vines, some of which are over 100 years old. This blend is typically about 70% Cab Franc and 30% Syrah, sometimes with a bit of Carignan. It is very terroir-driven, with spicy, dark fruit aromas and smooth, ripe flavors with notes of stone and earth. Perfect for the hearty fare of southern France. According to importer Kermit Lynch, in addition to her skills as a winemaker, Isabelle is also a fabulous cook and he says he always tries to schedule his visits for 11:00 am on the off chance they’ll invite him to stay for lunch! $17

2015 Marchetti, “Due Amici” Montepulciano — We’ve worked with Alki-based Italian wine importer Small Vineyards for so many years that you may feel like you personally know the winemakers. They are like a big family in Italy as well and two of them, Maurizio Marchetti and Antonio Sanguineti have not only developed great mutual respect, but have begun a playful rivalry to see who can make the best wine. Instead of declaring a winner though, they decided to team up and produce a wine together, which they fittingly named Due Amici (two friends). It is mostly Montepulciano with 10% Sangiovese from the Marche region, on Italy’s central east coast. Made in what they call a “neo-classic” style, it is medium bodied, with bright, ripe, spicy flavors. Try it with pasta, roast beef, or hamburger sliders with blue cheese. $13

2013 Bodegas Naia, Verdejo — The soils and climate in Spain’s Rueda region are particularly suited to white wine grapes, which is what the region produces almost exclusively, with a focus on the Verdejo grape. Bodegas Naia was established in 2002 in the village of La Seca, where some of the area’s oldest vineyards are located. Their goal from the start has been to produce well-structured, elegant wines that express the true character of the grape and the region. To this end, they grow the original local clone that was first used in the region. This offering is 100% Verdejo. It is aged on its lees for four months, with 15% fermented in large French oak barrels, adding richness and texture to the classic, clean, citrus and stone fruit flavors of the grape. The winery suggests pairing it with roast sea bass or a mushroom risotto. $14

2015 Pajzos, Furmint — The Tokaj region of northernmost Hungary is best known for its stunning dessert wines, known as Tokaji, based primarily on the white grape Furmint. But the region also produces delightful dry wines, rich in natural acidity thanks to the rocky, volcanic soils. This one comes from an estate established in 1991 and now run by the Laborde family who also own the highly regarded Château Clinet in the Bordeaux region of Pomerol. Their perfectly situated vineyard sites in Tokaj produce superb wines, both dry and sweet, and we were particularly taken by this clean, fresh offering. It is 90% Furmint blended with another important local grape, Harslevelu, along with a bit of Muscat. It is very aromatic and richly textured, with soft creaminess, balanced by food-friendly acidity — a perfect wine for seafood or poultry dishes. $13

2014 Josep Grau Viticultor, Celler Dosterras, Vespres Montsant — Dosterras was founded by Josep Grau in the early 2000s in Spain’s northeast Montsant region. Montsant more or less surrounds the much smaller Priorat region, renowned for its llicorella slate soils. Grau was able to purchase several excellent vineyard sites, some of which consisted of llicorella soil, with vines between 40 and 100 years of age. This wine is mostly old-vine Garnatxa (Grenache) with 20% Samsó (Carignan), grown in some of his top parcels and it shows the intense mineral character that llicorella soil imparts to wines. With its elegant structure, pure fruit flavors, and dark, spicy earthiness it would pair well with hearty winter fare. Vespres refers to the prayer services of the Carthusian Monks, the first winemakers in the region. $21