Collector’s Club – March 2018

2016 Isenhower, Malbec — When Brett and Denise Isenhower founded their eponymous winery in 1999 it was the 23rd bonded winery in the state. There are now over 900! Like their Cab Franc that we featured last February, this Malbec is under their new “I” label. 85% of the fruit is sourced from Olsen Ranch Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, and 15% from the higher elevation Les Collines Vineyard near their winery in Walla Walla County. While we often associate Malbec with Argentina, its ancestral home is in southwest France’s Cahors region, where it tends to produce dark, savory wines with plenty of grip. Brett says he aims for a riper style of Cahors with his Malbec: with the savory character, but a little more fruit. This one is balanced and structured, with flavors of dark berry fruit, dried herbs, and a touch of earthiness. It’s a great value for a Washington Malbec. Enjoy it anytime over the next five to eight years. $19.75

2015 Cave de Tain, Première Note Syrah — Cave de Tain is a large cooperative in the town of Tain l’Hermitage, at the foot of the famed Hermitage hill. As a self-proclaimed Syrah specialist, they seek to produce “the purest expression of the Syrah varietal, cultivated in its birthplace, the northern Rhône Valley.” They have vineyard holdings in Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Cornas. They also produce much of the region’s IGP wines, including this one from the Collines Rhodaniennes, sourced from fruit grown on slopes along the Rhône River, on the outskirts of the AOC production area. It has flavors of black currant, spice, and a touch of licorice that really open up with a good decanting. Enjoy it over the next two to three years with grilled or roasted meat, barbecue, or Mediterranean cuisine. $15

2016 Mauro Molino, Barbera d’Alba — Mauro Molino began making wine in Emila Romagna. But in 1979 when his father died and left him some vineyards, he returned to his family farm in La Morra, in the Langhe region of Piedmont in northwest Italy. Today his son Matteo and daughter Martina work alongside him. Like many younger winemakers these days, Matteo brought fresh ideas and innovation to the estate and has worked to improve environmental sustainability. They now have about 12 hectares of vines, about half of which is Nebbiolo for their Barolos. They also produce this fresh, juicy Barbera, a grape known for its good acidity and low tannins. With notes of ripe red fruits and touch of wild herbs, this one is very approachable and easy to enjoy — perfect for pasta, pizza, barbeque, or moderately spicy food. $14

2016 Commanderie de la Bargemone, Blanc — This estate was originally founded by the Templar knights in the 13th century. It was named Bargemone after the Provençal family who owned it for some 200 years. The vineyards eventually succumbed to phylloxera but in 1973 a French industrialist purchased the property, replanted the vines and restored the estate. Today it is one of the top estates in the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, a region best known for dry Rosés. Indeed, two thirds of Bargemone’s production is dedicated to Rosé. But they also make this refreshing unoaked white blend of 50% Rolle (Vermentino), 40% Sauv Blanc, and 10% Ugni Blanc. It is fresh and clean, with complex floral flavors, a touch of herbs, and good minerality. A great partner for poultry dishes, fish, shellfish, sushi, or grilled calamari. $16

2016 Balboa Winery, Mith White — Long time Beresan winemaker Tom Glase founded Balboa Winery in 2005 with a goal of producing elegant, yet affordable and ready-to-drink Washington wines that are true to the varietal, the terroir and the vintage. Today Tyler Grennan is making the wines and they continue to fulfill that goal. Their Mith white is a southern Rhône-style blend of 40% Viognier, 30% Roussanne, and 15% each Marsanne and Grenache Blanc from Walla Walla Valley, Blue Mountain, Summit View, and Seven Hills vineyards. The wine is aged on its lees for six months in neutral French oak and goes through partial malolactic fermentation, adding lovely richness and texture. It has aromas and flavors of ripe peach white pear and stone fruits, with balancing acidity and fresh mineraltiy. Only 349 cases made. $22.50

2014 Domaine de la Graveirette, Côtes du Rhône — This wine comes from a relatively small estate with about 25 hectares of vines in the southern Rhône valley, just east of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wines are produced by Julien Mus who studied in Burgundy where he apprenticed with Domaine Drouhin before returning to his home village and eventually founding his own estate in 2005. From the beginning his goal has been to craft wines of quality and character and to that end he farms organically and, since 2015, is certified Biodynamic. This Côtes du Rhône is 100% Grenache, sourced from vines averaging 50 years in age. It is aged in stainless steel and concrete tank for one year and is rich and complex, with velvety texture and savory flavors of red fruits and spice, balanced by a food-friendly brightness and freshness. $15.50