Collector’s Club – October 2018

16ème, Domaine Jean Royer, Le Petit Roy — This wine is about as close as you can get to Châteauneuf-du-Pape without having the name on the label…or paying the big bucks. It comes from Jean Royer, whose family has a long history of grape growing in the region. Today he has vineyards in some of the most prestigious areas in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as well as in nearby sites. His higher end wines have been described as among the most elegant examples of Châteauneuf. His Petit Roy, vinified in the same way and with the same care as his top cuvées, is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah sourced from various locations, including declassified Châteauneuf fruit. As such, it must be labeled “Vin de France,” without any regional or vintage designation, although there is a hint: “16ème année.” It is smooth, complex and well-structured, with rich, but not heavy, notes of brambly fruit and savory garrigue, Give it plenty of time to open up (it’s even great the second day!). A fabulous food wine! $17

2017 Château de Caraguilhes, Corbières Blanc — This winery is located in the Corbières appellation of southern France’s Languedoc region, not far from Carcassonne. It has been organically farmed for decades and, because the vineyards are surrounded by 500 hectares of scrubland, it has its own ecosystem, completely isolated from any effects from neighboring properties. Their Corbières Blanc is a blend of 60% Roussanne, 25% Grenache Blanc, and 15% Marsanne, vinified in French oak. It is soft and rich, with flavors of white peach and citrus fruits, with subtle hints of herbs from the surrounding area. They suggest enjoying it with seafood gratin, bouillabaisse, grilled fish, salade Niçoise, sushi, or tapas. $18

2015 Bodegas Casto Pequeño, Gravedad Toro — Casto Pequeño is located north of Madrid on Spain’s central plateau, in the Toro zone of the Castilla y León region. The climate is harsh, with short, hot summers followed by long, cold winters. The principal grape here is Tinta de Toro, a local variant of Tempranillo. Grown on the dry, stony soils of the hot plateau, wines from Toro tend to be rich and full-bodied, and this one is no exception. Casto Pequeño’s focus is on making wines that best represent the Toro region. This red, 100% Tinta de Toro, is dark and savory, with flavors of red and black fruit, a bit of spice, and food-friendly acidity. There is a touch of oak on the nose that softens as the wine opens up with air. Enjoy with grilled meats or roasted vegetables. $17

2015 Elqui Wines, Red Blend — Danish-born Steffan Jorgensen was winemaker at Walla Walla’s Bergevin Lane for six years. But in 2012 he relocated to his wife’s home in La Serena, Chile. She was also an experienced winemaker and they wanted to make their own wine together in this part of the world—the northernmost wine region in Chile, just south of the Atacama Desert. Elqui is a transversal valley, at right angles to the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, and the vineyards are very much influenced by this geography. This blend of 55% Syrah, 27% Carménère, and 18% Malbec is sourced from three vineyard sites and aged in new and used French oak. It is rich and supple, with bold dark fruit flavors and balancing earthy, minerality. We featured the 2013 vintage in a previous club. Great with food or on its own. $16

2016 Château Lamothe de Haux, Bordeaux Blanc — Lamothe has been producing estate-bottled wine in Bordeaux since the sixteenth century. Today they have about 80 hectares of vineyards on clay and limestone slopes in the Right Bank. This unoaked white is a blend of 40% Sauv Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 20% Muscadelle. The unusually high percentage of Muscadelle adds rich aromatics, while a period of fermentation on the skins, imparts texture and body to this crisp, refreshing wine. With its fruity, citrus flavors and good acidity, it is perfect for shellfish (oysters), seafood, or cheeses. Enjoy it anytime over the next year or two. $15

2015 Gerardo Cesari, Ripasso Valpolicella Mara — Cesari is based in Italy’s northern Veneto region and is known for their Amarones, the rich, intense red wines made from the concentrated juice of carefully dired grapes. They also produce Ripasso. The term means to “re-pass,” and is a designation for wines that take young wine and ferment it on the skins and pulp left over after the Amarone process. This adds richness and depth, but the wines are less intense and powerful than Amarones and thus more versatile. The Cesari estate has over 100 hectares of vineyards in the Valpolicella appellation, planted mostly to indigenous varietals. This Ripasso is a blend of 75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara, named in honor of the winery’s matriarch, Mara Cesari. It is full-bodied and smooth, with ripe, warm flavors. They suggest pairing it with grilled meats, mature cheeses, or risotto made with sausage or mushrooms. $22