Collector’s Club – April 2018

2014 Gramercy Cellars, Lower East Syrah — Before founding Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla in 2005, Greg Harrington oversaw wine programs at some of the top restaurants in the country. But he discovered that his passion was making wine, and that he could make the kind of wines he loved—elegant and food-friendly, with earthy character and balance—in Walla Walla. His “Lower East” line, so-named because Walla Walla lies in the lower east corner of the state, is a more affordable introduction to his stunning higher-end offerings. This Syrah is sourced from several Yakima Valley vineyards, as well as Stoney Vine and SJR in the Rocks District, a location coveted for the flavors of earthy meatiness it impart to wines. It is a medium-bodied Syrah with juicy dark fruit flavors, a bit of pepper, and loads of character. $25

2016 Tenuta Decugnano dei Barbi, Villa Barbi, Orvieto Classico — Written record of wine being made at this site in central Italy’s Umbria region dates back to 1212. It was the land of Saint Mary of Decugnano and the wines were made for the clergy in Orvieto. Centuries later in 1972, Claudio Barbi discovered the site and created his winery there. Umbria is known for Orvieto, produced around the medieval hilltop town of the same name, and Barbi makes some of the best in the region. This one is a blend of half Grechetto, 20% each Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Procanico (aka Trebbiano), sourced from their sustainably-farmed estate vineyards. It is clean and refreshing with bright fruit flavors and mouthwatering acidity. Enjoy with fettucini alfredo or chicken dishes. $17

2015 Domaine de Pellehaut, Réserve Blanc — This winery in the Gascony region of southwest France has been owned by the Béraut family for 300 years. A long-time Armagnac producer, they also make excellent still wines. Gascony is known for its fresh, easy-to-drink wines made from local varieties, but this one is in a class by itself. Made in small quantities, and only in years when the conditions are right, it is a blend of 60% old vine Chardonnay and 40% Petit Manseng sourced from their best parcels. Because these two grapes ripen at different times, the Chardonnay is left on its lees to develop for a month and a half while they wait to harvest the Petit Manseng. They are then blended together and aged in large oak foudre for nine months, producing a rich, complex, aromatic wine with beguiling flavors of orchard fruit, toast, and spice. Enjoy it over the next five years, with cream sauce dishes or Coquilles St. Jacques. $18

2015 Tomàs Cusiné, Vilosell — We have featured several Tomàs Cusiné wines in the club in recent years. The winery is in the Costers del Segre zone of Spain’s northeast Catalunya region. Tomàs Cusiné founded his winery there in 2003, after working for 20 years at his family’s highly respected estate, Castell del Remei. Based in the village of El Vilosell, at the southern end of Costers del Segre, his is the highest elevation winery in Catalunya, with 30 hectares of organically-farmed vines at an average of 700 meters above sea level. His Vilosell is a blend of Tempranillo (locally known as Ull de Llebre, or “eye of the hare”), Syrah, Garnatxa, and Cariñena (aka Samso). A big hit at a Spanish tasting a while back, it is rich and full, with dark fruit flavors, a touch of mocha and spice, and nice hints of garrigue. $15.75

2012 Castelfeder, Lagrein, “Rieder” — Alto Adige is the northernmost wine region in Italy, bordering the Austrian Tyrol. In fact its inhabitants, many of whom are German speakers, call it the Südtirol, or south Tyrol. Nestled in the Alps, it has some of the steepest vineyards in the world but, because it is the south-facing side of the Alps, it gets enough warming sun to ripen the grapes fully. One of the indigenous grapes that thrives here is Lagrein. It produces deep, red wines with soft, fruity flavors and a bit of spice. This one is made by a winery founded in 1969 and is sourced from fruit grown on loamy, alluvial soils near the town of Bolzano, situated in a warm valley where the Adige and Isarco rivers meet. Their Lagrein is soft and spicy with just enough tannins to make it a great partner for meat dishes or a variety of savory foods. $13

2015 Domaine de la Graveirette, “Lou Tardoun” — This is the first time we’ve featured the same winery two months in a row, but this wine was such a hit at our recent southern French tasting we couldn’t resist. It comes from a small southern Rhône estate just east of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and is made by Julien Mus (nicknamed “Lou Tardoun” because he is always running late). He studied in Burgundy and apprenticed with Domaine Drouhin before returning to his home village and eventually founding his own estate in 2005. He farms biodynamically in order to create wines of the utmost quality and character. Surprisingly for a Rhône wine, this one is 80% Merlot (aged in oak for one year) and 20% Grenache (aged in concrete), grown on sandy, clay pebbly soils. It is juicy and spicy with rustic dark fruit flavors and medium tannins. $15