Collector’s Club – August 2020

2016 La Quercia, Montepulciano Riserva — Once again we present the new vintage of an annual shop favorite, imported by our friends at Small Vineyards. La Quercia is a small estate in Abruzzo on Italy’s rugged east coast. Their 40-year-old vines grow in the family’s windy hillside vineyards overlooking the sea and are pruned to a miniscule yield of about two thirds of a bottle per plant. Winemaker Antonio Lamona ages this wine 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and an additional year in stainless steel, producing a rich, dark, inviting wine, with soft grip, juicy tannins, and a touch of vanilla. He doesn’t make much, and only a small amount makes it to the U.S. It’s a great match for roast pork, tapenade, or other savory fare. $19.75

2019 Monte Tondo, Garganega Frizzante — This wine, another direct import from Small Vineyards, is becoming a new shop favorite. It comes from Monte Tondo, who has been producing wine for three generations in the northern Italian hills of Soave, not far from Verona. The folks at Small Vineyards think that winemakers Gino Magnabosco and his daughter Marta are making some of the most exciting and vibrant wines in all of the Veneto, especially their Soaves, based on the Garganega grape. They are one of only about six producers in the region making a sparkling Soave, and they also produce this semi-sparkler (frizzante) version of the grape. It is light, fresh and playfully fizzy, with notes of citrus, orchard fruit and a touch of sea salt. At only 12% alcohol, it’s perfect anytime, but especially on a warm summer day! $12

2019 Rasa Vineyards, Occam’s Razor Pinot Gris — Billo Naravane had a successful career in high tech before he was lured into the world of wine. He returned to school and earned a degree in viticulture from UC Davis, and also became a Master of Wine (one of fewer than 400 in the world today). He then founded Rasa in Walla Walla with his brother Pinto. This Pinot Gris, under their Occam’s Razor line, is a “skin contact” wine, meaning the juice saw extended time on the skins (10 to 12 hours) allowing the wine to pick up its golden-orange color (yes, there is some pigment in Pinot Gris skins). These are sometimes called “orange wines.” This one was fermented in neutral oak and stainless steel and is aromatic and complex, with lovely texture and body balanced by vibrant acidity and a touch of grip from the added skin contact. The savory notes of stone fruit and spice evolve in the glass and linger on the finish. Enjoy over the next two to four years. $18

2015 L.A. Cetto, Private Reserve Nebbiolo — When we put the previous vintage of this wine in the club, it was a big hit. So when we tasted the 2015 and loved it as much, if not more, we couldn’t wait to share it with you. It comes from Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley, a region about 75 miles south of San Diego with a Mediterranean-type climate tempered by the marine influence of the Pacific. Winemaking here dates back over 200 years and L.A. Cetto is one of the oldest wineries in the area, founded in the 1920s by Italian immigrant, Don Luis Angelo Cetto. In the 1960s he learned that Nebbiolo, the noble grape of Italy’s Piedmont region, though notoriously difficult to grow well outside of northern Italy, could thrive in Mexico. This wine is a case in point! Like the previous vintage, it is deliciously dark and smooth, with notes of spice and a touch of earth plus a wonderful freshness. Enjoy it over the next few years with Italian or Mexican cuisine. $19

2018 Cérvoles Celler, Garnatxa — We have featured several wines from Tomàs Cusiné in the past. He is based in the Costers del Segre zone of Spain’s northeast Catalonia region where, in 2003, he founded his own winery after working for 20 years at his family’s highly respected estate, Castell del Remei. He knows the land and the terroir intimately and he created Cérvoles Celler in 1997 with a desire to be the first mountain viticultural project for single estate wines in Catalonia. This wine is 100% Grenache (aka Garnatxa locally), sourced from vineyards in Les Garrigues, situated between 700 and 800 meters elevation on stony, silt-loam soil. The site produces wines with excellent concentration, structure, and aromatic character. This one is fresh, fruit-driven, and very approachable, with herbal notes and a touch of spice. Partial aging in 4,000-liter French oak tonneau adds further character and depth. Great with roasted meats, duck, or charcuterie. $19.75

2018 COR Cellars, Momentum — Luke Bradford developed an interest in wine while on a hiking trip in Italy. After working several harvests at wineries there, he returned to Washington and worked at a number of wineries, including Syncline. In 2004 he founded COR (Latin for heart) in Lyle, Washington in the Columbia Gorge. He later met, and was joined by Meg Gilbert, of the Gilbert Cellars family, now his wife and partner in COR Cellars. They source their white and sparkling wines from the Columbia Gorge AVA, while their reds come from the warmer Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley AVAs. This wine is 38% Malbec, 34% Merlot, and 28% Cab Franc, aged 10 months in neutral French oak. It is smooth and savory with notes of black cherry, dark cocoa, and spice. Enjoy over the next few years with anything from burgers to roast lamb. $18