Collector’s Club – May 2021

2016 Wautoma Springs, El Prat — After we brought in the inaugural vintage of this wine (2010), in response to a customer request, it became one our most requested wines of all time. We recently had a chance to try the latest vintage and it’s as delicious as ever. El Prat is made by Jessica Munnell, formerly with Château Ste. Michelle and Mercer Estates, and is always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Jessica founded Wautoma Wines with Tom Merkle, owner and vineyard manager of Wautoma Springs Vineyard. Their 2016 vintage is 60% Cab Sauv from Wautoma Springs, blended with 40% Malbec and aged in French and American oak (30% new). It is rich, dark, and smooth, and very accessible, with notes of baking spice and a hint of espresso. Enjoy it anytime over the next few years, on its own or with a nice meal. El prat is Spanish for “prairie” and the new label depicts the scraggly plants found in Eastern Washington. $28

2018 San Felice, Chianti Classico — San Felice is based in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the southern part of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico zone, where they have about 140 hectares of vineyards surrounding the medieval hamlet. They are noted for their “Vitiarium,” an experimental vineyard planted in 1987 to 278 unique grape varieties rescued by the University of Florence. The goal of the Vitiarium is to preserve Tuscany’s historic viticultural heritage. San Felice’s Chianti Classico is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino, and 10% Pugnitello, one of the most important grapes grown in the Vitiarium. The wine is aged 12 months in large Slavonian oak casks and is medium-bodied and elegant, with notes of bright red fruit, delicate tannins, and fresh acidity. Great with antipasti, roast chicken, and most red meat dishes. $15

2019 Notre Dame des Pallières, Sablet Blanc “Montmartel” — There is evidence that this French estate, based in the Côtes-du-Rhône village of Gigondas, existed as far back as the tenth century. During the Middle Ages people made pilgrimages to the site, believing that the water from their fountain would protect them from the Plague, hence the name, Notre Dame des Pallières (“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 Sablet, from where this wine comes. It is typically a blend of 50% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, 15% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Marsanne, fermented in a combination of new oak and stainless steel. It is aromatic and rich, with floral notes of pear, white fruit and peach, balanced by a nice stony minerality. Enjoy it over the next two or three years with poultry or richer seafood dishes. $18

NV Château Beck, Le Bec Fin — Jean Claude Beck comes from a long line of winemakers in the Alsace region of France and he ran his own winery there before finding his way to the Yakima Valley. He has been winemaker for Woodinville’s Woodhouse Wine Estates for many years and now has a side project, Le Bec Fin. This non-vintage white wine is a blend of 50% Muscat Ottonel, 32% Riesling, and 18% Pinot Gris. Muscat Ottonel is a 19th century crossing of the Muscat grape with Chasselas and is the dominant form of Muscat grown in Alsace today. It is lighter and less perfumey than other forms of the grape can be. The result is a fresh, aromatic wine with nice bright acidity. Jean Claude suggests enjoying it with halibut, salmon with a dill lemon sauce, crab cakes, poultry, or dishes with Indian or Asian spices. $21

2018 Viña Reboreda, Mencía — Galicia lies in the wet, lush northwest corner of Spain and includes several smaller wine zones, including Ribeiro, located across the Miño River from Portugal’s Vinho Verde region. Viña Reboreda was founded here in 1940 and today is run by José Luis Méndes and his daughter Ana. They have worked hard to preserve their indigenous local grape varieties, one of which is Mencía (pronounced “men-thia” locally), a grape that has seen a revival in recent decades. Mencía wines tend to have red fruit flavors and earthy, peppery notes, with good acidity and minerality. This one is sourced from a ten-acre estate vineyard planted on steep, granite slopes. It sees no oak and is refreshing and bright, with juicy berry fruit flavors and mouthwatering acidity. Try it with Ibérico pork or blackened Cajun chicken. $15

2016 Bodegas Borsao, Cabriola — Bodegas Borsao was established in 2001 in the wine zone of Campo de Borja in northeast Spain. It is an extremely arid region where winemaking dates back to Roman times. While it lies just southeast of Rioja where Tempranillo reigns supreme, Garnacha is the most widely planted grape in Campo de Borja and Bodegas Borsao has played a big role in revolutionizing the region and promoting its wines internationally. This one is 55% Garnacha, blended with 39% Syrah and 6% Mazuelo (aka Carignan), aged 12 months in French and American oak. It is rich and full-bodied and, despite the alcohol level, is very balanced and focused, with ripe, juicy, red fruit flavors and nicely integrated notes from the oak aging. As the label notes, it is named for a complex jumping maneuver in dressage. $15