Collector’s Club – May 2017

2012 Saviah Cellars, Petit Verdot — We’re big fans of Rich Funk’s wines, produced under his main label, Saviah, and his second line, The Jack. Rich studied microbiology and originally considered a career in beermaking, but along the way his interests turned to wine, where he has put his background in chemistry and interest in soil science to excellent use. It helps that he has access to top vineyard sources and enormous talent. Last year we featured his Malbec in the club, and this year we present his Petit Verdot—an important grape in many Bordeaux red blends, usually in small amounts. It is less commonly produced as a single varietal wine, but Rich does, and it is one of the best in the state. Sourced from McClellan Estate and Anna Marie Estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley, in the “near perfect” 2012 vintage, this wine is full-bodied, with complex aromas and flavors and ready to enjoy anytime. $24

2009 Bodegas Olarra, Añares Reserva — This estate was established in 1973 on the outskirts of Logroño, in the heart of Rioja. Their aim is to combine cutting edge technology with traditional winemaking methods to produce wines that reflect their origins and express unique identity. This reserve level wine, now with some nice age on it, is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, with Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano, aged 18 months in oak casks, then in bottle in their cellars where it develops further aromatic complexity and depth. It is a smooth, rich Rioja, with layers of red fruit flavors, licorice, a touch of smokiness, and a hint of meatiness that will make it great with food, such as lamb, charcuterie, or wild game. $15

2012 Schoenheitz, Linsenburg Riesling — The vineyards in the Alsatian village of Wihr-au-Val belonged to the Habsburg family during the Middle Ages and produced quality wines even then. They were left in ruins after World War II, but in the 1970s Henri Shoenheitz set about to repair and replant them. In 1980 his son (also Henri) and his wife Dominique began to produce wines from those vineyards, situated on the steep slopes of the Munster Valley with granite soil and excellent southern exposure. Linsenberg is one of their several “lieux-dits” (named places)—exceptional sites which produce particularly elegant, nuanced wines. Its stony soil warms rapidly in the spring allowing excellent maturation but also limits yields adding deep concentration. This Riesling is wonderfully complex, with fresh fruit flavor, amazing minerality, and balancing acidity. Enjoy it with seafood, chicken or pork, or Asian fare. $16

2015 Pala, I Fiori Vermentino — The sunny island of Sardinia is located off the west coast of Italy. With its dry climate, hilly terrain, volcanic soil, and warm Mediterranean breezes, it’s a perfect place for viticulture. It is best known for its red wines from the grape Cannonau (aka Grenache), but the white grape, Vermentino, does particularly well here. This one comes from a small family producer founded in 1950 and is sourced from their “Is Crabilis” vineyard, a limestone hill about 200 meters above sea level, with vines averaging 35 years in age. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, it is smooth and aromatic, with refreshing citrus notes, and inviting complexity and depth. Perfect for any kind of seafood, calamari, or a lightly seasoned soup. $16

2014 DV Catena, Tinto Histórico Red Blend — The Catena family’s history in Argentina dates back to 1902 when Italian immigrant Nicola Catena planted his first grapes on the slopes of the Andes. Over the years the family has continued to research the soils and microclimates of their different high-altitude vineyard sites to find the ideal location for each of their selected clones. This robust blend was created in honor of Don Domingo Vicente Catena (Nicola’s son), who was famed in the 1930s for his rich, red blends, popular in the French-styled bistros of Buenos Aires. A blend of 92% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot from their high altitude mountain vineyards, this wine is dark and sultry, with great balance and concentration. $18

2013 Domaine de Magellan, Pézenas — Winemaker Bruno Lafon grew up in Burgundy on his family’s legendary estate, Domaine des Comtes Lafon. But he relocated to Pézenas, a sub-appellation of Languedoc between Narbonne and Nîmes, to produce his own wines, along with his sister-in-law Sylvie Legros. They have vineyards in several distinct sites, with different soil types and exposures. We poured some of their wines at a recent tasting and this one was the hit of the evening (we put the 2012 vintage in a previous club). It is a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache, two grapes that don’t typically ripen at the same time. But Lafon has situated the vines so that the Syrah ripens a bit later and the Grenache a few days earlier than usual, so that both grapes can be harvested at the same time and vinified together. The result is a rich, dark, and spicy wine, perfect for coq au vin or boeuf Bourguignon. $18