Collector’s Club – December 2019

2017 Cadence, Coda — Cadence winemaker Ben Smith makes some of the most elegant, complex, and age worthy wines in the state. His Coda, like all of his wines, is a Bordeaux-style blend, and this vintage is 45% Merlot, 25% Cab Franc, 23% Cab Sauv, and 7% Petit Verdot. Coda is produced from barrels Ben declassified from his estate and single-vineyard wines or which didn’t fit into those blends stylistically. But it is made with the same love and exacting care as those higher end wines and is meant to be enjoyed while young (perhaps with a quick decanting). The 2017 Coda is wonderfully aromatic and complex, with notes of dark fruit, and baking spices. With its amazing structure, balanced tannins, and long, satisfying finish, the 2017 is, Ben says, “an exceptional vintage for Coda!” And it is an incredible value. $28

2016 Château Moulin de Launay, Entre-Deux-Mers Bordeaux Blanc — Entre-Deux-Mers translates as “between two seas” and refers to the area in Bordeaux between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. While it does produce red wines, only whites can be labeled Entre-Deux-Mers. This one comes from a family-run estate that has been producing dry white wines for four generations and is a blend of 45% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, and 20% Muscadelle. The Sémillon contributes a soft, honeyed creaminess to the wine, which is nicely balanced by the clean citrus notes of the Sauv Blanc. The relatively large amount of Muscadelle adds further texture and complexity. Bordeaux whites are very versatile, pairing well with seafood, shellfish, roast chicken, grilled pork, or sushi. Enjoy it anytime over the next few years. $13

2018 Castro Ventosa, Mencia — Castro Ventosa was founded in 1752 by the Pérez family, in northwest Spain’s Bierzo region, and has been in the family ever since. Raúl Pérez, who produced his first vintage for his family’s winery in 1994 at age 22, branched out on his own in 2005 to become one of Spain’s most iconic and visionary winemakers, and his wines are now a reference point for the Bierzo appellation. He is still the consulting winemaker at his family estate which today farms 75 hectares of Mencia. The fruit is grown in sandy chalk soil on 1,700- to 2,000-foot slopes below the ruins of an ancient Roman fort for which they named their winery (castro ventosa means “windy castle”). This wine, aged four months in large foudres, is a pure, authentic expression of the Mencia grape. Dark, smooth, and aromatic, with savory notes of baking spice and black cherries, it is a great introduction to the grape and the region. $16

2017 Saviah Cellars, The Jack, Syrah — Rich Funk founded Saviah Cellars in Walla Walla in 2000. He originally studied microbiology and had considered a career in beermaking, but his interests turned to wine, and he has put his background in chemistry and soil science to excellent use. It helps that he has enormous talent as well as access to top vineyard sources. In addition to his Saviah wines, Rich also produces a line of delicious and affordable wines under his Jack label. This Syrah, blended with 10% Grenache and 9% Mourvèdre, is sourced from several vineyards, including Watermill, in The Rocks District. The Rocks is a unique site, similar to that of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, that tends to impart a distinct, earthy minerality to the fruit, quite evident in this juicy, aromatic wine, with its savory notes of red and black fruit and olives. $15

2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, “Les Abeilles,” Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc — Jean-Luc Colombo is based in France’s northern Rhône valley. In addition to his own winemaking, he consults for other wineries including a number of top Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers, and has been awarded the French Legion of Honor for his work. Among his own wines is this white Rhône blend of 80% Clairette and 20% Roussanne, from vines grown on ancient, terraced vineyards. Aged in tank and neutral barrels, it has lovely floral and fruit aromas, with flavors of stone fruit and pear and a smooth, silky texture, all of which shows best if it’s not too cold. A longtime beekeeper, he named this wine after the bees (abeilles) that are so important to his vineyards. A portion of the proceeds from each bottle goes to research in maintaining healthy bee colonies. $15

2018 Jean-Michel Dupré, Beaujolais-Villages, Vignes de 1940 — Jean-Michel Dupré began with nothing more than a farm and a two-hectare vineyard, above the village of Beaujeu in the heart of Beaujolais, left to him by his father. From these humble beginnings, he set out to convert the old buildings into a winery and to acquire other well-situated vineyards in Beaujolais, including Morgon and Régnié. Today he produces a number of wines from throughout the region, including this fresh, juicy unoaked Gamay from vines planted in 1940 on granite soil. The age of the vines and minerality from the volcanic soil add character and concentration to this relatively rich Beaujolais, with its black fruit flavors and balancing acidity. He made only 600 cases and it’s ready to enjoy now, with chicken, roasted vegetables, or charcuterie. $13