Collector’s Club – November 2020

2017 Carol Shelton, Wild Things Old Vine Zinfandel — Carol Shelton says her path to the wine industry began when she was six and her mother played “guess the scent” games using herbs and spices from the kitchen. After training at U.C. Davis and work at a number of California wineries, she began her own winery in 2000 with a focus on Zinfandel, her favorite varietal. She sources fruit from exceptional vineyards throughout the state, many decades old. This Zin, blended with 15% old vine Carignane and 9% Petite Sirah, comes primarily from the organically-farmed Cox Vineyard in Mendocino County, planted in 1956. It is fermented with wild yeasts from the vineyard, allowing the wine to express the nuances of the terroir. Aged 14 months in new and used oak, it is rich and round, yet very balanced, with brambly fruit flavors and a long finish. $22

2017 Paitin, “Serra” Barbera d’Alba — Paitin is a family owned estate in the commune of Neive, in the heart of Piedmont’s Barbaresco zone. Established in 1796, they are one of the oldest wineries in the region and are best known for their Barbarescos, sourced from their prized Serraboella vineyard in Neive, which tends to produce wines with great power and depth. But they have other excellent vineyards in Piedmont, all of which are certified organic and farmed using biodynamic practices. This 100% Barbera is sourced mostly from Serraboella, with about 30% from their Campolive vineyard in Alba. Fermented in stainless steel and aged 12 months in neutral Slavonian oak, it has bright notes of red fruit and spice, with balancing richness and complexity. Enjoy it anytime over the next few years with game, duck, or mushroom risotto. $19.75

2017 Nexus One, Ribera del Duero — Ribera del Duero is an important wine zone in north central Spain, situated on a high plateau 2,800 feet above sea level. It is bisected by the Duero River hence the name, which means “bank of the Duero.” The climate is harsh, with short, hot summers and long, cold winters and it tends to produce wines with bold, rustic flavors. The most important grape here is Tempranillo, grown in the local clay and limestone soil. Nexus is one of two wineries owned and operated by Camino Pardo (her other property is in Toro). Her Nexus One is 100% Tempranillo, aged nine months in French oak. It is concentrated and well structured with dark fruit, dusty tannins, and hints of cocoa powder. It’s a great match for lamb, grilled fare, or paella. (Note: we tasted the 2016 vintage but received the 2017. It has all the qualities of the earlier vintage but, if you can wait, we suggest letting it age a few more months to soften a bit.) $16

2018 Alexakis, Assyritiko — Assyrtiko is an ancient white grape indigenous to the Greek island of Santorini, but it also grows well on Crete, to the south. Alexakis is a privately-owned family winery, still overseen by founder Stelios Alexakis, along with his two sons, both trained enologists, who now oversee production. Having grown up in the winery that their father founded, they bring a deep understanding of the land, the climate, and the soils throughout the island to their winemaking. Assyrtiko is characterized by its Sauv Blanc-like acidity, great minerality, and texture, which is especially evident in the wines from the cool climate of Santorini. Because Crete is warmer, the Alexakis brothers source their fruit from high-elevation vineyards to preserve those bright, fresh characteristics. This Assyrtiko sees no oak, but is aged on its lees for three months, adding complexity and depth to the wine. Enjoy it with grilled fish, shellfish, or Greek dishes. $18

2017 Howard Park, Flint Rock Syrah — The Great Southern region is located on the south coast of Western Australia, 3000 miles from the much more familiar areas in the southeast, such as Barossa Valley. In contrast to the southeast, Great Southern has a cooler, more continental climate. Grapes were first planted here in 1829 although, due to its remoteness, they have tended to remain under the radar outside of the country. Howard Park is a family-owned winery with a long history in the region and exceptional vineyards in both Great Southern and Margaret River. Their Flint Rock Syrah is sourced from two sub-regions, Frankland River and Mount Barker, each of which adds its own distinct character. This soft, elegant Syrah is complex and savory, with dark fruit flavors, notes of herbs and spice, and a nice hint of earthiness. $19.75

2019 Vignobles des Doms, Côtes du Rhône Blanc — This wine is produced by the Lavau family, whose roots are in Bordeaux but who spent decades in Tunisia where they developed a successful wine business. In 1962 Jean-Guy Lavau moved back to France and settled in the Côte du Rhône village of Sablet. Today his sons oversee the family business and have 180 hectares of vines in the Rhône valley plus partnerships with over 350 winegrowers in the area. With all those resources, they are producing some pretty delicious and surprisingly affordable wines. This blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Viognier has already become a shop favorite. It has lovely notes of white peach and citrus with soft floral overtones. Medium-bodied and aromatic with fresh, balancing acidity, it’s a versatile food wine, especially with fish dishes or poultry. $12