2015 Domaine Michel, Mâcon-Villages — The Michel family has been producing wines in the Mâcon region, in the southern part of Burgundy, for six generations. They grow exclusively Chardonnay, planted on clay-limestone soil with an average vine age of 50 years. They are based in the village of Cray, a named lieu-dit in the relatively new appellation of Viré-Clessé, although this wine is not designated as such. Fruit for this wine comes from a five-acre vineyard located on the lower, east-facing part of the hillside of Clessé. Six months lees aging in stainless steel adds supple richness and texture to the wine’s fresh notes of citrus and white flowers and limestone minerality. You could easily mistake it for a much more expensive white Burgundy. Enjoy it now or over the next four years with rich seafood dishes, roast duck, or escargot. $22
2014 La Quercia, Montepulciano Riserva — If you’ve been in this club for any length of time you’ll recognize this wine from our friends at Small Vineyards. This is the new vintage of the Riserva Montepulciano from La Quercia—a small estate in Abruzzo on Italy’s rugged east coast. Their 40-year-old vines grow in the family’s windy hillside vineyards overlooking the sea and are pruned to a miniscule yield of about two thirds of a bottle per plant. Winemaker Antonio Lamona ages this wine for 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and an additional year in stainless steel. As in previous vintages, it is dark, rich, and full of flavor, with soft grip and juicy tannins. It’s a great match for roast pork, olive tapenade, or other savory dishes. Also like previous vintages, it is still only $19.
2015 Bodegas Langa, Pasión Garnacha — Calatayud is a warm wine region in northeast Spain known for its bold red wines, most of which are made from Garnacha. The Langa family’s history here dates back over 150 years and today they have about 170 acres of vineyards on two estates. This 100% Garnacha comes from their Los Yermos vineyard, located between the La Sierra Armantes mountain range and the Ribota River. The vines range from 25 to 40 years in age and grow on stony clay soil at about 2000 feet in elevation in a site that receives very little rainfall. These conditions, plus a bit of oak aging, give this wine its singular character. It is bright and juicy, with red fruit flavors, toasty, savory notes, and a hint of licorice. With its balanced acidity and complex structure, it’s perfect for cured Iberian meats or aged cheeses. $12
2016 Château Mourgues du Grès, Galets Rouge — Mourgues du Grès is located in the sunny Costières de Nîmes region of southern France and their motto, Sine Sole Nihil, (“Nothing, without sun”) celebrates their warm Mediterranean climate. Their vineyards are covered with the same round, flat stones (galets) as those found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, about 20 miles to the north. They absorb warmth during the day and reflect it back to the vines at night and also impart a unique mineral character to the wines. Winemaker François Collard says he strives to achieve a perfect balance between that minerality and the natural ripeness that develops in the sunny climate. This wine, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Marselan (a cross of Cab Sauv and Grenache), is dark and rich, with a bit of spice. They suggest pairing it with Italian or Mediterranean cuisine such as pasta, or grilled lamb, or with duck breast. $14
2017 Domaine de l’Idylle, Savoie-Cruet, Jacquère — Savoie (aka Savoy) is located in the French Alps along the Swiss border. Because it is so mountainous, the sub-regions are somewhat dispersed, located in flatter, more sheltered areas scattered across several French departments. There are 17 crus that can add their names to the appellation Vin de Savoie, and this one is from Cruet, near Albertville. Savoie is known mostly for its whites and this wine is 100% Jacquère. With its long history in the region, Dom. de l’Idylle has older vineyards on some of the best south-facing slopes in the Isere Valley, with stony, alluvial soils over a clay-limestone base. Their wines have added concentration and weight, balancing the natural fresh acidity of this alpine grape. Light and crisp, it’s a perfect wine for seafood or chicken dishes. $14
2016 Ambassador, Attaché — This winery was founded in 2004 with the modest goal of becoming the top estate-producing winery on Washington’s Red Mountain. Their 22-acre Ambassador vineyard, planted in 2005 and 2006, is managed by Dick Boushey, one of the most talented vineyard managers in the state. Until recently, Sarah Goedhart of the Hedges family (another long-time Red Mountain estate) made the wines but that baton recently passed to Mike Macmorran, head winemaker at Mark Ryan since 2009 and also for his own label, Manu Propria. His impeccable skills are in evidence here in this blend of 70% Cab Sauv, 16% Syrah, 11% Malbec, and 3% Cab Franc. It is rich and elegant, with aromas and flavors of dark cherry and a bit of cocoa powder and spice. Perfectly balanced and utterly approachable right now. $19.75