2021 Cantine Madaudo, Barone di Bernaj Nerello Mascalese — The first two wines in this month’s club come from our friends at Alki-based Small Vineyards, but both are from wineries we have never featured before.
This one is made by a fourth-generation family winery on the island of Sicily. It is sourced from vineyards located high on the north slope of Mt. Etna and is 100% Nerello Mascalese, a late-ripening, dark-skinned grape that grows well in the volcanic soils and tends to produce powerful, fruity wines with excellent minerality and notes of spice. Organically farmed and aged in stainless steel, it is medium-bodied with flavors of dark plum and cherry, hints of smoke and ash, and a touch of earthiness. Great for lamb kabobs, mushroom-based dishes, or anything off the grill. $15
2021 Jordanov, Zilavka — While Small Vineyards is primarily associated with Italian wines, they also find undiscovered gems from other parts of the world, including this white wine from north Macedonia, made with passion by Minco Jordanov. It is 100% Zilavka (pronounced “jhee-lahv-kah), an intriguing grape originally from Herzegovina, that is high in natural acidity, but ripens quickly, especially in the hot, fertile plains of North Macedonia. Jordanov keeps a close eye on his fruit, harvesting it at its prime and producing a rich, warm, wine with floral and white peach notes, zippy acidity, and good minerality. Great for trout or other freshwater fish, lamb, or perhaps dolmas. $14
2020 Sobon Estate, Old Vine Zinfandel — Sobon is the oldest continually operating winery in California, originally founded in 1856 in Amador County, in the Sierra Foothills. This is gold rush country and wine grapes were introduced here in the mid-nineteenth century to provide libation for the thirsty miners. The Sobon family bought the winery in the 1990s and dedicated themselves to making Zinfandels that express the unique Shenandoah Valley terroir. This Zin is produced from select blocks of old vine fruit ranging from 35 to 105 years in age, grown in their estate vineyards in Amador County. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral barrels, it is spicy and fresh, and shows the classic brambly notes of Amador County Zin. Perfect for hearty grilled meat and pasta dishes. $14
2021 Mark Ryan, Lu & Oly, Chardonnay — Mark Ryan McNeilly began making wine in 1999 and is now based in Woodinville where, with winemaker Mike MacMorran, he produces deliciously bold and characterful wines that are longtime favorites in the shop. They also produce wines under several side labels including Board Track Racer, Megan Anne, and Lu & Oly. Lu & Oly wines were originally mostly allocated to restaurants, but have since become available to retail as well, offering delicious wines that are excellent values. This 100% Chard, sourced from vineyard sites in the Columbia Valley AVA, is complex and smooth, with flavors of crisp apple and stone fruit, rich texture, and bright, balancing acidity. It is a very versatile wine for food, but also perfectly delicious on its own. $15
2018 Domaine Léon Boesch, “Les Jardins,” Pinot Noir — Léon Boesch is located in the Alsatian commune of Westhalten, in a beautiful valley in the heart of the Ballons des Vosges nature reserve. They have 14 hectares of vines, averaging about 30 years in age, planted on slopes of limestone-dominant soil, and they farm biodynamically. This lovely Pinot Noir gets a bit of carbonic maceration (as in Beaujolais), then is aged 12 months in large, neutral French oak barrels. The bright and elegant flavors continue to evolve as it opens up, revealing ripe notes of blackcurrant and red fruit, and fine tannins. They suggest enjoying it with friends around platters of charcuterie and cheese, or with a Chinese fondue, or meat fondue—apparently a popular dish in the region. $28
2021 Bodegas Breca, El Nacido Garnacha — Breca was founded by importer Jorge Ordóñez in 2010 in the Aragón region of northeast Spain, with the goal of producing the finest Garnacha in the region. To that end, he chose to use Garnacha de Aragón, said to be the oldest and most genetically untouched clone of the grape. This one is sourced from over 150 small vineyard sites in the D.O. Calatayud, grown in old mountain vineyards with iron-rich, red slate soils. The region has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, cold winters, and large diurnal temperature shifts. Combined with the high elevation, Calatayud produces a unique expression of Garnacha, with great character and good acidity. Aged mostly in concrete, plus large barrels, this wine is fresh and juicy with flavors of raspberry and crushed pepper. Enjoy with grilled meat, lamb, chorizo, or tapas. $17