2015 Cadence, Coda — It’s time for our annual inclusion of Ben Smith’s Coda—a club tradition dating back to 2008 when we featured the 2006 vintage. Ben makes some of the most elegant, complex, and age worthy wines in the state. Like all of his wines, Coda is a Bordeaux-style blend, this year with 46% Cab Franc, 28% Merlot, 17% Cab Sauv, and 9% Petit Verdot. It is produced from barrels not essential to his estate wines or vineyard blends and, unlike those wines, is meant to be enjoyed in its youth. The 2015 (with a new look!) shows classic Red Mountain fruit and, in Ben’s words: “the tannins, fruit and acid play off each other to create a seamless wine of effortless power and depth.” Ready now (perhaps with decanting) or over the next few years. Perfect for a holiday meal! $28 (Also available in 375ml at $15 while they last.)
2015 Tomero, Reserve Malbec — In Argentina’s Mendoza region, the tomero is the person in charge of the vineyard water supply. With his expert knowledge of the land and the climate, the tomero sees that all of the farmers get their fair share of this precious commodity. This winery, located in Argentina’s upper Uco Valley, is named after that indispensable figure. They source fruit for this reserve level Malbec from their high altitude vineyards where the harsh winters and mild summer days with cold nights ripen the grapes slowly and produce wines like this one: elegant and well structured, with moderate tannins and a lingering finish. Enjoy it with meat dishes, stews, or hearty pasta. $19.75
2016 Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem Rouge — Mas de Daumas Gassac was founded in the early 1970s by Aimé and Veronique Guibert in the heart of the Languedoc region of southern France. Their winery quickly became one of the most respected in the region and in 1991 they launched a second label, Moulin de Gassac, under which they could produce affordable, terroir-driven wines with a focus on indigenous grapes. Their Guilhem rouge is typically a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 30% Carignan, grown on the local Jurassic limestone slopes. It sees no oak and is a delightful, everyday wine, ready to enjoy anytime over the next year or two. It is smooth and fruity, with gentle tannins and a touch of spice and cocoa and would be a great partner for lamb or pork dishes, winter soups, or anything off the grill. $14
2015 Paul Anheuser, Blanc de Noir — The Anheuser family history dates back to the 1600s, when they owned vineyards in Germany’s Nahe region. At some point along the way, one of their descendants came to the U.S. and started a brewery in St. Louis, which has done quite well. Today, back in Nahe, Rudolf Anheuser and his son Paul represent the 14th generation to run the family estate. And while their focus has historically been on Riesling, they have recently introduced some new, more innovative wines, such as this Blanc de Noir—a still white wine made from 100% Pinot Noir. Because it uses just the free run juice from the first pressing, the wine doesn’t pick up any color from the skins and is classified as a white wine. Yet it has Pinot-like character and complexity, with firm structure and subtle flavors of cherry and strawberries. It’s ready to drink anytime, with Indian or Asian fare, roast vegetables, or soft cheeses. $13.
2016 Franck Decrenisse, Côteaux du Lyonnais, Mes Vielles Vignes — The Côteaux du Lyonnais is a young appellation, created in 1984 near Lyon (“the world capital of gastronomy”). It lies just north of the northern Rhône, and south of Burgundy and produces whites, Rosés, and reds, with the latter always being 100% Gamay, as is the case in its neighbor to the north, Beaujolais. The wines have historically been consumed mostly locally and are rarely exported so we were excited to find this one, sourced from 60- to 70-year-old vines, grown on granite, silex, and limestone soil. It is delightfully expressive and savory, with a nice balance of fruit and spice. They make only about 415 cases a year of this wine, so you won’t see it around much! Enjoy it with charcuterie or, as they suggest, “the rich foods of Lyon.” $15
2016 CUNE, Monopole, Rioja Blanco — We’ve featured several previous vintages of this wine in the club. And as we’ve pointed out, Cune (actually CVNE: Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España, or Northern Spanish Wine Company) was founded in 1879 by two brothers who loved the wines of France and Alsace and wanted to produce wines of similar quality back home in Spain. The company is still managed by their direct descendants and now has three wineries, all in the Rioja region, of which Cune is one. Their Monopole is 100 percent Viura (aka Macabeo, the predominant white grape in Rioja), grown in the cooler Rioja Alta subzone. This one is fresh and complex, with notes of apple, pear, and spring flowers and a long, lovely finish. Always a great partner for appetizers, fish, or most seafood dishes. $13