Collector’s Club – November 2018

2015 Tranche Cellars, Pape Blanc — As always, Tranche needs little introduction. It is the sister label of Corliss Estates, producer of some of the top wines in Washington. Their Tranche line explores varietals and styles beyond the more focused scope of the Corliss wines. This month we present the new vintage of their “Pape Blanc,” a wine in their Rhône series that is a nod to white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is a blend of 29% Viognier, 22% Roussanne, 16% Grenache Blanc, 15% Marsanne, 10% Clairette Blanche, and 8% Picpoul Blanc, from their Blue Mountain estate vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, fermented in neutral French oak barrels and concrete eggs. Native yeast fermentation and frequent lees stirring adds texture and complexity to this wine, while the partial concrete aging provides focus. Always one of our favorite whites for holiday meals, this wine is vibrant and aromatic, with excellent minerality and evolving layers of flavor. $25

2017 Domaine de Châteaumar, Cuvée Bastien, Côtes du Rhône — This wine is imported by Jean-Philippe Bourgeois, who seeks out handcrafted, sustainably-farmed wines from small, family owned wineries in his native France. His wines were out of the local market for a while but we’re delighted to have them back. This one was always one of our favorites and was a huge hit at a recent tasting of JP’s wines. The estate is located near Orange, and has 25 acres of vineyards in the Côtes du Rhône and 12 in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with its stony, galets-strewn soil. This vintage of Cuvée Bastien is 100% Grenache, sourced from vines averaging over 50 years in age. Rich, earthy, and elegant, with ripe flavors of black cherry and spice, it’s perfect for lamb, poultry, grilled meats, or cassoulet. $18

2014 Bodegas Zugober, Belezos, Rioja Crianza — This wine comes to us via our friends at Casa Ventura Imports in Bellingham. It is made by Bodegas Zugober in the northern Spanish La Rioja Alavesa region. The estate was founded in 1987 by Eduardo Gomez and Isabel Bernardo, two young enologists who both came from families with a long history of winemaking. Their small winery focuses on innovation and modern technology based on old winemaking tradition. Their 2014 Crianza is 100% Tempranillo, aged 14 months in American and French oak. It is full-bodied and aromatic with a delicious balance of fruit, spice, and earthiness. We recommend giving it a chance to breathe or a quick decant. Then enjoy anytime with meat dishes, especially pork or lamb, paella, or with Mediterranean or even Moroccan fare. $21

2014 Josetta Saffirio, Langhe Barbera — Josetta Saffirio was one of the first wineries in Italy’s northern Piedmont region to be headed by a female winemaker. Today her daughter Sara represents the fifth generation to make wine at the family estate. They are certified organic and they have incorporated natural and sustainable approaches throughout their winery. Best known for their excellent Barolos, they produce wines from other local grapes as well, including this delicious and affordable 100% Barbera from the Castelletto subzone of Monforte d’Alba. It is aged 12 months in new and used oak casks and is well-balanced and very approachable now, with dark fruit flavors and excellent minerality. It’s a very versatile wine, especially with rich meats, root vegetables, or seasonal mushroom dishes. $14

2015 Domaine Schoenheitz, Val St. Grégoire Pinot Blanc — The vineyards in the Alsatian village of Wihr-au-Val belonged to the Habsburg family during the Middle Ages and produced quality wines even then. They were left in ruins after World War II, but in the 1970s Henri Schoenheitz began to repair and replant them. Today his son, also Henri, and his wife Dominique, produce top-notch wines from those vineyards, situated on the steep slopes of the Munster Valley. Val St. Grégoire is one of the winery’s “named places” (lieux-dits). This Pinot Blanc comes from 20- to 25-year-old vines grown on decomposed granite soils. It is delicate and nuanced, with floral aromas, light citrus notes, and a long, lovely finish. Enjoy it on its own as a refreshing aperitif, or with tapas, quiche, or mild cheeses. $12

2016 SoDo Cellars, Deadbird Cabernet Sauvignon — Ryan Crane got his winemaking start as a volunteer at ANIMALE, and later worked at Forgeron and VaPiano before founding Kerloo Cellars in 2007. The Wine Enthusiast recently featured him as one of four Game-Changing Winemakers who are “altering the landscape of northwest wine.” SoDo is his second, more budget-friendly label. His 2016 Deadbird Cab (with cool label art courtesy from the Smithsonian) is sourced from various vineyards in Washington, and aged in French oak (20% new and 80% neutral) for 20 months. It is medium-bodied, with flavors of dark cherry, black pepper, and baking spice, with a nice touch of earthiness. And, as he describes it, “some serious depth, flavor, and balance,” adding, “This is bang-for-your-buck Cab Sauv!” $19