Collector’s Club – December 2017

2013 Torbreck, Cuvée Juveniles — Torbreck Vintners was founded in Australia’s Barossa Valley in 1994 by David Powell, with the modest goal of “building one of the finest wine estates in the world.” The site has some of the oldest vines in the country, which David nurtured back to life. He named Torbreck after a forest in Scotland where he once worked as a lumberjack. This wine was first produced as an exclusive cuvée for a Parisian wine bar, called Juveniles. Because David shared a love of Rhône Valley wines with the ex-pat Brit who owned the bar, the Cuvée Juveniles has always been a blend of Grenache, Mataro (Mourvèdre), and Shiraz. This vintage is a 59%/22%/19% blend of those grapes, from vines ranging from 40 to 150 years in age. It sees no oak and is soft and seductive, with smooth texture and savory, food-friendly flavors. Lovely now, or you could cellar it for a few years to let it develop further. $25

2015 Podere Ciona, Montegrossoli, Rosso Toscana — As we have noted in the past, Podere Ciona is the place where the idea of Small Vineyards was first conceived. And with only four hectares, situated on one of the highest sites in Chianti Classico, it remains one of the smallest producers in the Small Vineyards family. They make only a few hundred cases of this wine annually, and this year’s blend is 67% Sangiovese, 31% Merlot, and 2% Alicante Bouschet. It has bright, Chianti-like flavors of red fruit and spice with subtle earthy undertones. It’s a great everyday wine, very approachable now, or over the next four or five years. Enjoy it with pasta, pizza, meat dishes or traditional Tuscan fare. $15

2016 La Quercia, Aglianico — Long-time Small Vineyards producer, La Quercia, is a family estate in Italy’s central Abruzzo region, situated on a windy hillside overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Winemaker Antonio Lamona produces a delicious Montepulciano from their estate fruit that is a perennial shop favorite. The family also owns a single vineyard plot in the boot heel region of Puglia, planted to Aglianico. It is a difficult grape to grow, but it thrives in the volcanic soils of that southern region. La Quercia’s Aglianico shows the grape’s characteristic ripe plum and white pepper flavors in a fresh, approachable style. It is rich and smooth, with soft tannins and a deft combination of power and finesse. Small Vineyards suggests pairing it with seared Ahi tuna with plum sauce, grilled polenta cakes, or Cioppino. $14

2016 Pajzos, Furmint — Hungary’s northern Tokaj region is famous for its stunning dessert wines, known as Tokaji, based primarily on the white grape Furmint. But it also produces delightful dry wines, rich in natural acidity thanks to the rocky, volcanic soils. This one comes from an estate 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. We put a previous vintage of this wine in the club last year, and were delighted again with this one. It is mostly Furmint, blended with the local grape, Harslevelu, and a bit of Muscat. It is clean and fresh, with a touch of soft creaminess and balancing acidity. Great for seafood or poultry dishes. $13

2012 Pardas, Negre Franc — We featured the 2010 vintage of this wine in a previous club, and the 2011 was a big hit at a Spanish tasting back in October. Now they’re onto the 2012 and it’s as delicious as ever. It is produced by a small, artisanal winery with about 12 hectares of vineyards in the Alt Penedès wine zone southwest of Barcelona, which they farm naturally, using no pesticides or herbicides. Their Negre Franc is a rich, structured blend of 65% Cabernet Franc, with 20% Cab Sauv and 15% the local grape Sumoll, aged ten months in French oak. It is full of dark, brambly fruit flavors with notes of cacao and earthy spice. They hold their wines until they’re ready to drink so you can enjoy this one anytime over the next five to eight years (a quick decant wouldn’t hurt), with grilled lamb, winter stews, or barbecue. $21.50

2015 Château Moulin de Launay, Entre-Deux-Mers — Entre-Deux-Mers translates as “between two seas” and refers to the area in Bordeaux lying between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. While it does produce red wines, only whites can be labeled Entre-Deux-Mers. This one comes from a family-run estate that has been producing dry white wines for four generations. It is a blend of 45% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, and 20% Muscadelle, from vines averaging 25 years in age. The Sémillon contributes a soft, honeyed creaminess to the wine, which is deftly balanced by the clean citrus notes of the Sauv Blanc. The relatively large amount of Muscadelle adds further texture and complexity. Bordeaux whites are very versatile, pairing well with seafood, shellfish, roast chicken, grilled pork, or sushi. It will be at its best over the next couple of years. $13