Collector’s Club – April 2020

2014 L.A. Cetto, Private Reserve Nebbiolo — L. A. Cetto is one of the oldest wineries in Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley, in northern Baja about 75 miles south of San Diego. The area has a Mediterranean-type climate tempered by the marine influence of the Pacific, and winemaking here dates back over 200 years. Don Luis Angelo Cetto migrated here from Italy in 1924 and began his winery a few years later. In 1965, Italian winemaker Camillo Magoni visited the site and determined that Nebbiolo, the noble grape of his native Piedmont region, though notoriously difficult to grow well outside of northern Italy, could thrive in Mexico. He became winemaker at Cetto and his Nebbiolo has proven him right (it was once included in a list of the top 25 Nebbiolos in the world, with the rest all from Piedmont). This one is deliciously dark and smooth, with spicy notes of red and black fruit and a touch of earth. Great for Italian or Mexican cuisine. $19

2017 Freehand Cellars, Cabernet Franc — Freehand Cellars is a young winery founded by several architects who wanted a way to “expand upon their artistic expression.” They are located on a beautiful site in the Yakima Valley, where the long growing season with warm days and cool nights allows the fruit to mature slowly and steadily developing full flavor with ample balancing acidity. We’ve always liked well-made Cab Francs from Washington and this one is a new addition to our list of favorites. It is rich, aromatic, and well structured, with flavors of black currants and dried plum, savory notes of roasted herbs, and a touch of French oak. Pair this food-friendly wine with roast chicken, pork, or roast vegetable dishes. $19

2017 Cantina di Negrar, Valpolicella Ripasso — The Veneto region of northeast Italy is the home of Amarone, an intense, concentrated red wine made with grapes that have been dried before vinification. Another important wine from this region is Ripasso, so-named because the juice for this wine is refermented (or “repassed”) on the dried grapes left over from Amarone production, adding depth and character to the finished wine. This one comes from a historic cooperative in the Veneto. It is 70% Corvina and 15% each Corvinone and Rondinella, grown in the Valpolicella Classico area in the hills of Negrar. It is rich, elegant, and aromatic, with great structure and flavors of chocolate and spice. Enjoy with herbed roast ham, grilled or braised meats, risotto with seasonal mushrooms, or creamy cheeses such as taleggio. $16

2018 Château Tourril, “Hélios” Minervois Blanc — This wine comes from Minervois, an appellation in France’s southern Languedoc region. It is produced by a small, family-owned winery just east of the fortified city of Carcassone. They have about 16 hectares of vines, planted on clay-limestone soil surrounded by Mediterranean scrubland (garrigue), which they farm organically (they have been certified organic since 2016). While Minervois is best known for its distinctive red wines, it also produces some delicious whites, such as this 100% Roussanne. It is a rich and aromatic wine, with notes of white flowers and pear, and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Aging in stainless steel preserves a nice balancing freshness. Perfect for scallops, mussels, fish in a butter sauce, or with poultry. $19.75

2018 Domaine des Pasquiers, Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Sablet — Sablet is a small village in the southern Rhône which was given its own classification, Côtes du Rhône-Villages Sablet, in 1974. It has a Mediterranean climate with long, hot summers, perfect for ripening Mourvèdre and Grenache, two of the predominate grapes. The soil is sandy (Sablet takes its name from sable, French for sand) with patches of rock, similar to that of nearby Gigondas. This estate has vineyards in several parts of the Rhône Valley. Their Sablet is roughly 60% Grenache, blended with Syrah and about 10% Mourvèdre. Although Sablet reds are typically soft and easy drinking, this one surprised us with its exceptional character and complexity. It is richly textured with savory notes of olive, garrigue, and licorice. Great for game, lamb, or cassoulet. $18

2019 Totara, Sauvignon Blanc — This wine comes from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, at the north east tip of the South Island. The winery is named for the native Totara tree, long revered by the Maori for its diverse uses and its great strength and durability. Totara’s goal is to showcase the classic Marlborough varietals, Pinot Noir and Sauv Blanc. They are made by Alan Peters-Oswald, former winemaker at Cloudy Bay. Like all good New Zealand Sauv Blancs, his is crisp, refreshing, and juicy. But, to add texture and complexity, he ages most of it on the fine lees for three months, and a small portion in large French oak barrels, adding further dimension. So there is a lot more going on here than simply the fresh citrus and grassy notes that you might expect. Enjoy it with seafood, salads, goat cheese, or Thai or Indian food. $15