Collector’s Club – February 2017

2015 Isenhower Cellars, Cabernet Franc — Brett and Denise Isenhower founded their eponymous winery in 1999. We were big fans of their wines right from the start, but in 2010, during the recession, they stopped distributing their wines and we could no longer get them. Well they’re back in distribution now and we’re delighted! Brett and Denise have produced a 100% Cabernet Franc since 2002. It is an important blending grape in Bordeaux and is bottled as a single varietal in the Loire, although it can struggle to fully ripen in that cool region. It has proven to grow and ripen very reliably in our climate, though. This one is sourced 72% from Olsen Ranch Vineyard near Prosser and 28% from Dineen Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. The two sites add dark cherry and herbal flavors, along with savory blueberry notes. It is soft and spicy and ready to enjoy now through 2026, with roast vegetables, pork, chicken, or hearty soups. $19.75

2008 Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda, Tinto Roa Crianza — Ribera del Duero is an important wine zone in north central Spain, and a sub region of Castilla y León. The climate is harsh here, with short, hot summers and long cold winters, and tends to produce wines with bolder and more rustic flavors. Ribera del Duero is best known for its deeply concentrated, well-structured reds made from their local clone of Tempranillo. This one comes from an estate established in 1956 in the town of Roa. As a crianza, it is aged a minimum of two years before release, one of which was in barrel. This 100% Tempranillo, now with some mellowing bottle age on it, is rich, dark, and toasty with well-balanced tannins and a long finish. In the importer’s words, it is “to die for!” Perfect for grilled meats, chorizo, pizza, or spiced lamb. $19.75

2013 La Biòca, Barbera d’Alba “Zabaldà” — La Biòca is a small winery in the northeastern Italian region of Piedmont. They have vineyards in a number of villages from which they produce Barolo, Barbaresco, and this wine, 100% Barbera from Monforte d’Alba. The winery’s name comes from a word in the local dialect used to describe a stubborn, decisive person—which they say reflects their own drive to make the best and most expressive wines possible from their region. This particular wine is named in honor of the former proprietor of the vineyard from which it is sourced—a cool site with clay soil on a west-facing hill where the grapes ripen slowly and evenly. Aged mostly in large, old Slavonian oak barrels, it remains low in tannins, but with the natural acidity of the grape that makes it such an excellent food wine. This one is smooth, expressive, and as the winery notes, “an easy quaffer, as Barbera should be.” $15

2014 Famiglia Pasqua, Passimento — This wine is dedicated to the city of its origin, Verona, and its most famous legend, that of Romeo and Juliet. The label depicts the wall below “Juliet’s balcony,” where locals and tourists continue to write messages of love. The name “passimento” reflects that passion but also refers to the way this wine is made. Before fermentation, some the grapes (Merlot, Corvina, and Croatina) were dried for about a month in wooden trays using the appassimento method, concentrating their sugars and flavors. During this process, they lose about 30% of their water content. The resulting wine is rich, dark, and intense (think Amarone), and perfect with red meat, game, or aged cheeses. $16

2014 Bodega Garzón, Albariño — When it comes to South American wines, most people are quite familiar with Argentina and Chile; Uruguay, on the Atlantic coast, not so much. But despite its relatively short history of winemaking, Uruguay is making great strides. Its main claim to fame is the red grape Tannat, but the Spanish white grape Albariño also grows very successfully here, especially in the well-situated vineyards of Garzón. Their fruit grows on hillside slopes located about ten miles from the Atlantic Ocean and the stony soil and maritime breezes provide perfect conditions for producing elegant, complex wines. Extended lees aging adds even more depth to this offering, which is balanced by fresh, mouthwatering acidity. Like its Spanish counterpart, it is perfect for seafood or fresh salads. $16

2015 Domaine Beauséjour, Les Grenettes — Touraine is one of the most important and most beautiful regions in the Loire Valley. Centered around the town of Tours, it lies at a place where the climate changes from that of the western Loire, tempered by the influence of the Atlantic, to the more continental eastern Loire with its more extreme weather. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from 25-year-old vines planted in two districts, Noyers sur Cher and St Romain sur Cher. The combination of their two different soil types results in wonderful complexity, with fruit from St Romain contributing power and richness and that from Noyers adding liveliness and freshness. Aged on its lees for around eight months in stainless steel tanks, this Sauv Blanc is vibrant and fresh with great minerality and supple body. $15