Collector’s Club- January 2018

2016 Thomas Labaille, Les Mont Damnés, Sancerre — Sancerre, in France’s eastern Loire Valley, is revered for its racy, flinty Sauvignon Blancs that grow on the local ancient Kimmeridgian limestone soil. One of our favorite producers is Thomas Labaille, based in Chavignol (a town also known for its goat cheese). Labaille is known for its particularly stunning Sancerre’s, but our favorite is always their “Les Monts Damnés,” sourced from their plot in what is arguably Sancerre’s greatest vineyard. It gets its name, “the damn mountains,” from the fact that it is too steep for any sort of mechanization and all work must be done painstakingly by hand. But they persevere because the site produces such amazingly complex wines. This one is clean and focused, with beautiful grace and elegance, and a bit of round richness. Perfect with shellfish or goat cheese (from Chavignol, of course). $25

2014 Poderi Elia, Barbera d’Asti Superiore — This wine is made from the northern Italian grape, Barbera. Winemaker Federico Stella is highly respected for his unrelenting drive to continually improve his wines, regardless of the expense. As an example: he tried over 30 combinations of oak before he found the perfect cooperage formula! This Barbera is sourced from a plot of very old vines on his Barbaresco estate, which many would tear out to plant the more valuable Nebbiolo grape. But Federico resists that temptation because the vines produce such beautiful wines. For a Barbera to be designated a superiore, it must be aged a minimum 14 months (at least six in wood) and be at least 12.5% alcohol. This one shows Federico’s signature balance between modern and traditional styling and is smooth and approachable, with soft tannins and a hint of mocha. Delicious now, and perfect for pesto-rubbed roast chicken. $17

2016 Cantina del Morellino, “Capoccia” Ciliegiolo Maremma Toscana — Winemaker Sergio Bucci, who hails from the province of Pisa, is passionate about Tuscan field blends and believes that many of the more obscure Tuscan varietals can be made into exceptional wines on their own, given sufficient understanding and skill. “We want to give them proper respect,” he says. Thus we have this Ciliegiolo, a grape often blended into Chianti in small amounts, but here standing mostly on its own, along with 10% Alicante. Ciliegiolo is a close relative of Sangiovese, with which it is often blended, and it no doubt gets its name, which means “cherry” in Italian, from its fresh, cherry-like flavor and color. This version is lean and clean, with notes of sage and violets. Great with antipasti or papardelle with meat ragu. $11

2015 Burgáns, Albariño — This wine comes from Martín Códax, a co-op based in the Rías-Baixas region of northwest Spain known for the white grape, Albariño. The co-op was founded by Luciano Almoeda, a tireless advocate for the region and the Albariño varietal, who helped establish the Rías-Baixas appellation. When he launched Martín Códax it included about 50 families. Today there are nearly 600, with about 3000 parcels of Albariño in the cool, humid Salnés sub-zone. They are paid for the quality, rather than the quantity of their fruit and a team of viticulturists regularly visits the growers to promote best practices and sustainable farming. This unoaked Albariño, made by winemaker Katia Alvarez, is rich and mellow, with fresh fruit flavors and clean acidity. Enjoy it with for seafood, shellfish, or poultry dishes. $15

2015 Floating Rock, Zinfandel — Floating Rock is made by Hyatt Vineyards, a family-owned winery in the Yakima Valley established by Leland and Lynda Hyatt in 1983. They own 180 acres of vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA where, during the last ice age, the Missoula Floods scoured the region depositing silt and granite boulders throughout the valley. It created excellent terroir for viticulture, and also inspired the name for this label. This Zin is a brand new release from Floating Rock and is a great expression of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. The higher elevation allows the grapes to attain good acidity and structure, while still developing rich, concentrated flavors. It has intense flavors of cherry and licorice with subtle notes of herbs and spice. We don’t see many Zins from Washington and this was a fun find! $19

2009 Viña Cerrada, Rioja Reserva — This blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo comes from the Rioja region of north central Spain. Viña Cerrada wines are produced by Rioja Vega, one of the oldest producers in the region, with seventy hectares of vines in prime sites along the Ebro River. This wine was sourced from 50-year-old vineyards and as a reserve level wine, it was aged two years in barrel and 12 months in bottle before release. It is quite traditional in style, with intense, spicy dark fruit flavors and a touch of vanilla. With almost of decade of age on it, this wine is ready to drink now, especially with a quick decanting. Great for red meats, baked lamb, stews, or hearty bean and vegetable dishes. $16.50