Selections for November 2016

Regardless of Vintage …

2014/15 JEAN VULLIEN ‘St-Jean de la Porte’ MONDEUSE – Vin de Savoie, France

That’s right, some of you will receive the slightly more mellow 2014 version of this, while others will be handed the lively 2015.  That’s due to a deal where there wasn’t enough of either to satisfy your total consumption; a deal which – unusually - made the price of this drop into our Tuesday Night Club budget.

No matter – both vintages are delicious.  The grape at play is little-known Mondeuse, and the beautiful Alpine foothills of eastern France are its main nursery.  This region better known for brisk whites like Jacquere (we carry Vullien’s example) can also put out a nice red, but your expectations for such must be qualified.  This place is too cool to give you big, rich, amply-oaked fruit bombs.  Expect instead lively and refreshing reds more resembling the Gamays of Beaujolais or less-pricey Pinots of Bourgogne. 

Mondeuse with its “Beaujolais tendencies” is therefore a fantastic red for the Thanksgiving feast.  Theory: There’s a lot of heavy fare on the table . . . Granny’s yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, the protein of turkey . . . do you really want to heap a big red atop all of that??  How many times have you been fully saturated with all of that great food all too soon - three minutes in and you’re full?  This red, slightly chilled, can be a refreshing foil; a wash-it-all-down quaffer that keeps you enlivened and engaged just a little longer.    

Use it next Thursday!  

A rambunctious Gold Country red

2014 SOBON ESTATE RED ‘A Premium Blend’ – Amador County

My Mom was born in northern Arizona but soon thereafter her family packed up and headed for Sutter Creek in the Sierra Foothills.  Up the hill my Grandfather filed the enormous bandsaws for the lumber mill in now-removed Omo Ranch, where my Grandmother also operated the general store.  Back down the hill in little Sutter Creek my grandfather and Mom’s older brothers spent any available free time building the family home on Spanish Street.  This curiously/endearingly-designed place ultimately became the venue for family weddings, summer vacations for the grandkids, and many a Small-Town U.S.A. Christmas replete with cousins, caramels, and big glass bottles of Coca Cola when we could steal them.  When Grandpa and – finally – Grandma passed we had to regretfully sell that place, but Sutter Creek as I’ve known it for more than fifty years stays in my heart with more great memories than it can properly contain.

All that time, a little wine country just to the north was barely clinging to life.  Bustling before Prohibition, by the time my Mom was driving through the Shenandoah Valley on the way to the mill she remembered but one surviving winery, D’Agostino.  That very winery became Sobon Estate, and two weeks ago I drove up Highway 49 for the first time in years to retrieve your club wine there, and reference many a memory.      

The Shenandoah Valley is now an important hub for wine tourism with more tasting rooms than you can count.  Sobon Estate and sister winery Shenandoah were a big part of its renaissance.  So this is kind of important for me, from both a personal history perspective and a love of local wine history.

We bring you a blend of what happens best in that wine region with its continental climate and rugged terrain.  30% Syrah, 24% Barbera, 24% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah join forces to provide brawny scents of heat-induced pie fruit, leather, and tar.  The mouth is full-fruited and chewy, yet refreshingly lush.

Enjoy this “Gold Miner’s Cuvée” with anything off the grill, or richer Chinese fare including duck and pork.

Thanks for accommodating my nostalgic side!