Collector’s Club – December 2020

2018 Notre Dame des Pallières, Lirac “Le Pellegrin” — This wine comes from the Côtes-du-Rhône village of Gigondas, at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail where evidence shows the estate dates as far back as the tenth century. During the Middle Ages people made pilgrimages to the site, believing that water from the fountain there would protect them from the plague—hence the name (roughly, “our lady of alleviation”). The modern-day winery has been run by the Roux family for generations and today they have vineyards in a number of top appellations in the Rhône Valley, including Lirac, which lies just across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape with similar soil and exposure. Fruit for this blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah comes from 70-year-old vines grown on sandy subsoil covered with galet-like stones. It is rich, complex, and well structured, with dark fruit flavors and hints of licorice and soft spice. Great for fall and winter foods. $15

2018 Planeta, La Segreto Il Bianco — The Planeta family has been involved in agriculture in Sicily for five centuries. Diego Planeta, born in Palermo in 1940, worked tirelessly to revitalize and promote Sicilian viticulture and his efforts were instrumental in helping gain international respect for Sicilian wines. Today the winery has six properties throughout the region, each planted with grapes that best reflect their terroir. This wine comes from three of those sites and is half Grecanico, a Sicilian white grape recently discovered to be identical to Garganega, the grape in Soave. Here it is blended with 30% Chardonnay and 10% each Fiano and Viognier, all of which add aromatics and structure to the inherent fresh fruitiness and acidity of the Grecanico. Enjoy it over the next few years, with seafood, shrimp gumbo, or Mediterranean fare. $16

2017 Charles Gonnet, Chignin — Savoie, aka Savoy, is a rocky, mountainous region located in the French Alps along the Swiss border. It produces mostly white wines, with Jacquère being the most widely planted grape, much loved for producing clean, alpine fresh wines. Chignin is one of the 17 crus that can add their name to the appellation, Vin de Savoie. It is situated on a steeper, warmer site of limestone scree, beneath the Massif des Bauges. Domaine Gonnet is a traditional estate that has been producing wines here for generations, with about 13 hectares of vineyards. Their Chignin is fresh and crisp, with stony minerality, and a subtle touch of nutty, mushroomy complexity. Enjoy with grilled trout, raclette, or fondue. $17

2018 Walla Walla Vintners, Sangiovese — Walla Walla Vintners was founded in 1995 by Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri, becoming the eighth winery in the appellation. Over the next two decades they earned much acclaim for their elegant, well-crafted wines and in 2016 they were named Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. Myles and Gordy recently retired and the wines are now made by Derek Vipond, former assistant winemaker at Long Shadows. Their Sangiovese has always been a shop favorite but what we especially love about this vintage is the new low price (it used to be in the $20s), making it possible to put in the club. It is sourced primarily from Sagemore, Seven Hills, and Kiona vineyards and is blended with a dash of Syrah and Malbec and aged 15 months in mostly neutral oak barrels. It is a great match for Italian fare, with its layered flavors of red fruit and spice and notes of herbs and forest floor. $19.75

2016 Elqui Wines, Red Blend — Steffan Jorgensen was head winemaker at Bergevin Lane in Walla Walla for six years before relocating to his wife’s home in La Serena, Chile in 2012. They wanted to start their own winery in the Elqui Valley—the northernmost wine region in Chile, just south of the Atacama Desert. It is a transversal valley, perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, and the unique geography and micro-climate adds distinct character to their wines. Steffan has four separate vineyard sites and his wines are very expressive of the terroir of each site. This wine is 50% Carménère, 26% Malbec, and 14% Syrah, aged in new and used oak for 24 months. It is rich and supple, with dark fruit flavors, inviting spice notes, and balancing earthy minerality from the ancient Elqui river bed. Great on its own or with meat dishes. $16

2018 Château les Croisille, Le Croizillon Cahors — This wine comes from the Cahors appellation in southwest France, a region best known for its red wines made primarily from Malbec, locally known as Côt. Croisille is a family-owned winery, begun in 1979 by Bernard and Cécile Croisille and now run by their two sons along with a childhood friend. The new generation soon began converting to organic viticulture and more natural practices, including the use of wild yeasts and minimal sulfites and filtration. This wine is 100% Malbec, sourced from 30-year-old vines grown in limestone and clay soils in several different terroirs. It is made in a lighter, fruitier style, as opposed to the traditional “black wines of Cahors,” using partial carbonic maceration (the process typically used in making Beaujolais) and aged in stainless steel and concrete. The result is a fresh, juicy, easy-drinking wine that is low in alcohol and great with a variety of foods. $16.50