Collector’s Club – April 2019

2015 Cardedu, Canonau “Caladu” — The island of Sardinia lies about 125 miles off the west coast of Italy. Its most widely planted red grape is Cannonau, aka Grenache in France or Garnacha in Spain. (The label uses an older spelling, with one ‘n’). Cardedu is a small, family winery that farms naturally and ferments their wines using only native yeasts. They source their Cannonau from vineyards located in the mountainous province of Ogliastra on the southeast part of the island. This one, named caladu from the Sardinian word for sunset, was a big hit at our recent Italian tasting and for good reason: it is juicy, round, and savory with dark red fruit flavors and inviting notes of earth and spice. Delicious on its own or paired with anything from grilled meats to “the local roasted suckling pig,” as they suggest on the label. $19

2015 Xavier Vignon, Cairanne — Xavier Vignon is an enologist and négociant in the Rhône Valley. He has consulted for a number of top estates in the area, including such Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers as Usseglio, La Nerthe, and Roger Perrin. As such, he has access to excellent fruit, along with the skill and know-how to produce stunning wines from it. This blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre comes from 80- to 100-year-old vines grown at higher elevations in Cairanne. It is aromatic and complex, with inviting layers of dark fruit and savory notes of spice and garrigue. It was a big hit at our most recent French tasting and is drinking beautifully now, although it could easily develop for another five years if you wanted to wait that long. Great with herb-crusted lamb or cassoulet. $19

2015 Peirano Estate, Old Vine Zinfandel — Grape farmer Giacomo Peirano immigrated from Genoa, Italy to San Francisco in 1879 hoping to strike it rich in the Gold Rush. When that didn’t pan out, he went back to Italy and returned with a wife and some Zinfandel cuttings from his family vineyards. He bought 300 acres of land and proceeded to plant some of the first vineyards in what is now the Lodi appellation. Peirano Estate is still family run, with those original vineyards and Giacamo’s great grandson, Lance Randolph, as winemaker. The vines, some now over 120 years old, grow well in Lodi’s Mediterranean-type climate and rich, sandy-loam soils. In 2015 the grapes got plenty of hang time, developing layers of juicy, dark fruit flavors, with notes of spice and toast from aging in French and American oak (15% new). They suggest pairing it with anything from grilled gourmet burgers to nut-crusted seared ahi. $12

2015 McPherson Wine Company, MWC, Shiraz-Mourvèdre — This family winery is based in Victoria, in southeastern Australia, with the talented Jo Nash as head winemaker. She makes their “MWC” wines with food in mind—rustic, with complex character. This medium bodied Rhône-inspired wine is 95% Shiraz and 5% Mourvèdre. The Shiraz is sourced from two distinct sites in Central Victoria with cool-climate fruit adding spice notes, and fruit from a milder site contributing body and richness. The Mourvèdre adds a savory earthy character to this juicy, elegant wine, with subtle hints of French oak. The winemaker calls it a “perfect dinner party wine,” great with char-grilled steak, rich red meat dishes, or hearty pastas. $16

2015 Lumos Wine Company, Julia Pinot Gris, Temperance Hill Vineyard — Lumos was founded in 2000 by long-time, highly respected grape grower Dai Crisp. He grows all of the fruit that goes into his wines, all of which is certified organic and farmed sustainably. Dai is probably best known for his Temperance Hill Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, which he has managed since 1999 and which provides fruit for a number of other distinguished Willamette Valley wineries. His Pinot Gris, made with assistant winemaker Julia Cattrall, comes from cooler parts of the vineyard located at 750 feet in elevation and is fermented 80% in stainless steel and 20% in neutral barrels. It is rich, with a soft creaminess and lush flavors of apples and pear balanced by fresh, food-friendly acidity and notes of citrus. $19.75

2018 Monte Xanic, Viña Kristel, Sauvignon Blanc — In February we featured a wine from Mexico for the first time, and it was so well received, we’re following it up this month with this 100% Sauv Blanc, also from the Valle de Guadalupe in northern Baja. It is produced by Monte Xanic, founded in 1988 as Mexico’s first “boutique winery.” It has grown quite a bit since the early days, acquiring vineyard property beyond the Valle de Guadalupe proper, providing a wider variety of growing conditions for their fruit. But they’re still considered boutique by Mexican standards and are credited with helping drive up the quality of wine production in the Valle de Guadalupe. This wine (which is featured on the wine list of the esteemed French Laundry in Napa Valley) is clean and bright, with subtle notes of citrus and tropical fruit and a great balance of crisp acidity and texture. Perfect for ceviche, shellfish, or sashimi. $17.50