Collector’s Club – September 2020

2019 Poderi Elia, Dolcetto d’Alba — Poderi Elia has been making wines in northern Italy’s Piedmont region since 1890 but Small Vineyards, based right here in West Seattle, was the first to import them into the U.S. Winemaker Federico Stella has always been highly respected for his unrelenting drive to continually improve his wines, regardless of the expense. (He’s the one who tried over 30 combinations of oak before he found his perfect cooperage formula!) His family has produced one of the top Barbarescos in the region for three generations. He also produces a “basic” Nebbiolo (which we put in our January club) as well as this clean, fresh, 100% Dolcetto. It is fruity and inviting, with bright red fruit flavors and a nice touch of earthiness and spice. It’s a great everyday wine, modest in alcohol, and perfect for the foods of fall. $15

2018 Palamà, “Ninì” Rosso Salento — The Palamà family, originally of Greek origin, settled in southern Italy about two thousand years ago and have been making wine there ever since. The current family vineyard was founded in 1936 by Arcangelo Palamà in Puglia, on the hot, dry Salento Peninsula. Arcangelo’s son Ninì later took over from his father and mentor, to whom he dedicated his “Arcangelo” wines, longtime shop favorites. Ninì is now assisted by his own son, Michele, and this wine is his first solo project which he, of course, named for his father. It is a smooth, complex blend of equal parts Negroamaro and Primitivo, two important grapes in the region, both known for their inky color and dark fruit flavors. As the folks at Small Vineyards note, “It pays homage both to the soft, dark fruit of the Salento, and Michele’s father’s quest for freshness and balanced acidity.” Enjoy with eggplant Parmesan, grilled polenta, or pizza Napolitano. $19.75

2017 Basel Cellars, Claret — Basel Cellars is housed in a stunning 13,000-square-foot mansion on a hilltop in Walla Walla. Today the wines are made by Cape Town native Dirk Brink, who studied viticulture and enology in South Africa before coming to the U.S. in 2004. Their Claret has always been a delicious and affordable introduction to the Basel line-up, but we heard that this may be the last vintage of this wine. We wanted to make sure our customers got a chance to enjoy it! It’s a blend of about half Cab Sauv, with Merlot, Cab Franc, and Malbec, sourced from Wallula, Double Canyon, Double River, Pheasant Run, and Phinny Hill vineyards. Aged 20 months in mostly neutral French and American oak, it’s rich, complex, and aromatic, with layered flavors of dark fruit and a touch of oak. Great with gourmet burgers, pasta, or wood fired pizza. $18

2018 J. Mourat, Collection Val de Loire Blanc — The Loire Valley stretches from Sancerre in the east, to Muscadet, where the river empties into the Atlantic. And while these two areas may be the most familiar, there is much diversity along the way. Meanwhile, Fiefs Vendéens, a small zone located south of Muscadet, remains relatively unknown. Located about 20 kilometers from the Atlantic, it has a cooler maritime climate. Vignobles Mourat was established here in 1974 and today is run by Jérémie Mourat, who has converted most of the property to organic viticulture. This wine is a 50/50 blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, aged in stainless steel. It is clean and fresh, with crisp fruit flavors and medium body. Enjoy it over the next five years with halibut with roasted cauliflower, southeast Asian cuisine, terrine, or herb-crusted goat cheese. $13

2019 Syncline, Grenache Blanc — Syncline is located in Lyle, Washington in the Columbia Gorge. Founders James and Poppie Mantone focus primarily on Rhône-style wines, with a few intriguing exceptions. This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc sourced from the coveted Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. They love this cool, high elevation site for the delicious complexity and brilliant acidity of its fruit. Grenache Blanc is an important grape in southern French white blends. On its own it produces wines with rich texture and notes of citrus and orchard fruit. Fermented and aged in a combination of large neutral puncheons, “cigar” French oak barrels, stainless steel, and concrete egg, this wine is full-bodied and aromatic, with fresh, lively acidity. It could pair with a wide variety of food from fish tacos or garlic prawns to Moroccan lamb tagine. $25

2019 Decibel Wines, Giunta, Malbec Nouveau — We’re not sure if we’ve ever had a Malbec from New Zealand before. And we know we’ve never seen a “Malbec nouveau” from anywhere! But we were enchanted by this fresh, inviting offering from the Bridge Pa Triangle of Hawkes Bay on the east coast of the North Island. It comes from Decibel Wines, a project started by Daniel Brennan, who relocated from Philadelphia to New Zealand to craft wines using “classic practices and minimal intervention, with a community based attitude.” His Malbec nouveau is light in style, with aromas of bright fruit and spice and fresh flavors of juicy, brambly blackberries and plum. Soft, refreshing, and easygoing, it is reminiscent of a Beaujolais, but with more savory meat on its bones. It’s a great red to enjoy slightly chilled, especially with fall foods. $17