Collector’s Club – August 2017

2014 Tranche Cellars, Pape Blanc — Tranche Cellars is the sister label of Corliss Estates, producer of some of the top wines in Washington. The Tranche line explores varietals and styles beyond the more focused scope of Corliss (Corliss “is more timeless, Tranche more cutting edge and exploratory”). This month we present their “Pape Blanc,” a wine in their Rhône series that is a nod to white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is a blend of 28% Viognier, 20% Roussanne, 18% Grenache Blanc, 13% Picpoul Blanc, 12% Marsanne, and 9% Clairette Blanche from their Blue Mountain estate vineyard in Walla Walla Valley, fermented in neutral French oak barrels and concrete eggs. Native yeast fermentation and frequent stirring of barrel lees produced a wine with amazing texture and complexity. Beautifully aromatic and layered, with balancing acidity, it is as perfect with a summer meal as it is on a holiday dinner table. $25

2004 Cedergreen Cellers, Thuja — Kevin Cedergreen makes delightful wines at his small, Kirkland-based winery. His Sauvignon Blanc is a frequent winner of the annual Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition and is a shop staple, but we are longtime fans of his Thuja (Latin for Cedar), a Merlot/Cab blend. Several years ago we featured the 2005 vintage of this wine that Kevin had unearthed. Well, there was also a 2004 vintage that he was sitting on and he recently discovered it has developed beautifully and is at its prime right now. It is 80% Merlot and 20% Cab Sauv sourced from Conner Lee, Canoe Ridge, Wahluke Slope, and Clifton vineyards. It has the wonderful complexity that comes with age, with rich flavors of black cherries and toast. Of course, it is fairly limited (he made only 480 cases) but it’s ready to enjoy now with, Kevin says, “cuisine from India to Italy, Provence to the Pacific Northwest.” $21

2013 La Quercia, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva — In case you’re new to the club, Small Vineyards is based right here in West Seattle (on Alki) and imports lovingly-made wines from small, family-owned estates throughout Italy. The new vintages of some of our old favorites have just arrived and this month we include this Riserva Montepulciano from La Quercia—a small estate in Abruzzo on Italy’s rugged east coast. Their 40-year-old vines grow on windy hillside vineyards overlooking the sea and are pruned to a miniscule yield of about two thirds of a bottle per plant. Winemaker Antonio Lamona ages this wine for 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and an additional year in stainless steel. It is dark and rich, with soft grip and juicy tannins—perfect for roasted pork, olive tapenade, or other savory dishes. $19

2015 Ramirana, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva — This Chilean winery is named for the Creole horse, a relative of the Arabian, brought to the country in the 1500s by Spanish missionaries and conquistadores, at the same time they brought wine to Chile. Today those horses run freely at the vineyard and the winery crafts their wines to reflect their power and beauty: “where the fruit takes the reins and the soul of our Creole horses can be felt in every bottle.” This Cab, with 15% Syrah, is a blend of older and younger vines, sourced from the Maipo Valley, with 70% aged in French oak for ten months. It is savory and expressive, with notes of black pepper and spice. Great with grilled red meat or mature cheeses. $12

2016 Cooper’s Creek, Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc — New Zealand is known for its vibrant, tropical Sauvignon Blancs, the most widely planted grape in the country. This one comes from Cooper’s Creek, established by Andrew and Cynthia Hendry in 1980 on the North Island, outside of Auckland. They still oversee the winery today, although it has expanded to include vineyard holdings in principal wine growing regions throughout the country. This Sauv Blanc is sourced from six distinct parcels in Marlborough (at the north end of the South Island), blended to capture the “essence of Marlborough.” It has the classic zesty citrus and gooseberry notes you’d expect, balanced by a bit of rich, herbaceous complexity to add an extra note of interest. Best over the next year or so, with seafood, especially mussels, oysters, or squid. $15

2014 CUNE, Rioja Crianza — This Spanish estate has gets its name from the CVNE, short for Compañia Vinícola del Norte del España, or Northern Spanish Wine Company. It was founded in 1879 by two brothers and is still managed by their descendants who now oversee three separate wineries in the northern Rioja region, one of which is CUNE. Fruit for the CUNE wines comes from the Rioja Alta zone, where the higher elevation and moderate, Atlantic-influenced climate produces elegant, well-structured wines. This wine is predominantly Tempranillo, blended with Garnacha and Mazuelo (the Rioja name for Carignan), aged 12 months in oak, and a further six months in bottle before release. Full bodied and well-balanced, with notes of spice and balsamic, it would be perfect for grilled foods (veggies or meat). $13