Classic Wine Club
Our Most Popular Club
Every month, we select four wines, two red, one white and one bottle of something else, all in the $20 range.
You choose two wines.
Classic Club - February
We've got another great lineup for you this month; four stunning wines for your drinking pleasure and edification! Our advice? Get all four!!
First off is staff and store favorite Vietti Roero Arneis DOCG, a lively and quite versatile white wine from Piedmont. Arneis was a grape variety close to extinction when Vietti owner and winemaker Luca Corrado's grandfather singlehandedly revived the grape.
In 1967, Vietti was the first to re-introduce this wine when the grape was being abandoned due to its difficult nature or was often used for blending. At the time, Arneis was also known as “Nebbiu Blanc” or white Nebbiolo.
Today, Arneis is recognized as best white wine grape in Italy’s Piemonte region, but it wasn’t always so. Back in the 1970s, the grape was nearly extinct as plantings had dwindled to a few vines here and there mixed in with Barbera and Nebbiolo. When Vietti decided to try to make a varietal Arneis, they had to buy grapes from more than 20 growers to get enough fruit to fill a small fermenter! They took cuttings from these vines, grafted them onto rootstock, and the basis for most if not all of the Arneis grown in Piedmont comes from this vineyard!
Classic Club - November
This month, we've got four wines with Thanksgiving in mind - a spicy organic Gewürztraminer, a lively organic Beaujolais, an organic Spanish red, and a deep and rich Petite Sirah! As always, I recommend getting all four!
First off is Dom. Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Lot 17O, 2009 Each year Zind-Humbrecht produces some of Alsace’s most sumptuous and sought-after wines. The property is managed by Olivier Humbrecht, one of the world’s only winemakers to attain M.W. status and a passionate and intelligent advocate for the wines of Alsace and the benefits of Organic and Biodynamic farming. Under his guidance this legendary estate produces pure, powerful, racy bottlings that are astonishingly faithful to their individual vineyard sites.
"I don't know what is more mind-boggling, the quality of Domaine Zind Humbrecht's wines or Olivier Humbrecht's complete dedication to quality. This tall, powerful, and intellectual man may well be the finest winemaker in the world." Robert Parker
Classic Club - September
This month, we present four wines that I discovered in South Africa this Spring, all from the amazing Mullineux Family Winery of the Swartland region of South Africa.
In May of this year, I travelled to South Africa with friend, wine importer and Master Sommelier Fran Kysela and five other intrepid wine professionals. While we hit all of the South African wine route hotspots like Franschhoek Valley, Paarl and Stellenbosch , we were based outside of the touristed Capetown region in the Swartland, about an hour north of the city.
Fran believes (and now so do I) that some of South Africa's most exciting wines (and winemaking) are coming out of the Swartland, a heretofore overlooked wine region, centered around the dusty town of Riebeek-Kasteel.
Chris and Andrea Mullineux are certainly at the eye of a winemaking revolution there - espousing terroir, native yeasts and non-interventionist winemaking techniques, and producing wines that are lighting up the score boards, that pundits are calling a "winery to watch."
Chris and Andrea met while working at Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards. Chris, a native South African, and Andrea, from Woodside, eventually married and in 2007 left Tulbagh to start their own project in the Swartland district.
Chris' love of Rhône varietals was inspired by the time he spent learning winemaking at Château Pibarnon in Bandol, Roc d'Anglade in the Languedoc and Sine Qua Non in California (he also worked at de Trafford and Rustenberg in South Africa). Andrea earned her stripes while working at California's Cakebread and Viader wineries before heading to Château Mont-Redon in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and ultimately to South Africa.
The duo sources grapes from numerous vineyard parcels (totaling 30 acres) throughout the Swartland and produce around 4,000 cases annually. The Syrah is a juicy, ripe, plum fruit-filled version, with a bright mineral streak; the white combines Chenin Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc to make a delicious melon-, peach- and persimmon-filled wine; the straw wine, made from air-dried Chenin Blanc grapes, is one of the country's top dessert wines.
Classic Club - October
This month, we've got two wines from the Willamette Valley, a great California Merlot and the new edition of Sean Thackrey's Pleiades. Another month where I'd recommend getting all four wines!
Here's what's on tap:
Westrey Pinot Gris Westrey's Pinot Gris is full of pear, white peach, and melon flavors, with a refreshing lift in the finish. According to Westrey: "We believe that the ethereal character of Pinot Gris fruit should be preserved and displayed in the finished wine, just as it should be with Pinot Noir. Because of the subtlety of the fruit character, Pinot Gris is particularly vulnerable to negative impacts from interventions. For this reason we take a very hands-off approach, from vine to bottle. The grapes are gently pressed and transferred to settling tanks where the juice rests overnight. The following day, the juice is racked off of the lees to a stainless steel tank where it remains until bottling the next spring. Our Pinot Gris is never fermented or aged in wood, as we prefer to let the clarity of the fruit shine. The goal is to produce a fruit-driven wine that is crisp and fruity, perfect for everyday drinking with cheese, chicken, fish and any other kind of seafood.
The 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is a blend of 19% Abbey Ridge Vineyard, 32% Oracle Vineyard, and 49% Sheppard Vineyard. The hallmarks of the 2009 growing season are exceptional ripeness (as in perfect balance, not excess sugar) and terrific acidity. The 2009 vintage will be one of the great vintages of the decade. The juice was stainless steel fermented to maintain the freshness and clarity of the very subtle varietal character of northern Willamette Valley Pinot Gris. We did not allow the wine to undergo a malo-lactic fermentation, preferring instead to accentuate the bright, crisp character of the fruit. Lees contact during aging added weight and texture to the palate. The wine displays a variety of floral aromas, combined with white peach and a subtle hazelnut character. On the palate there is beautiful robust fruit and lively, citrusy acidity. This weighty fruit is fleshed out with a talc/mineral note and a dash of fresh ginger. A classic Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, the wine has plenty of weight on the palate from low yields, exceptional fruit concentration and crisp, refreshing acidity. With a long, clean finish, this wine is perfect with rich foods such as lobster and scallops, or other strongly flavored, spicy dishes.
Wildaire Pinot Noir, Cuvée Timothy. Enticing aromas of rose petals, strawberry jam, cherries, and cola that merge with whiffs of allspice. A sumptuous entry evolves into a creamy mid-palate of fine grained tannins with flavors of Bing cherries, caramel, and vanilla. A well integrated balance of acidity and tannin combine with a medium finish that allows this wine to be paired with a variety of meals. Aged in 5% new oak.
According to Wildaire: Timothy blend was created in honor of my Father's name and his love of the Pommard Clone of Pinot Noir. Early in my career my father always had a love for the Pinots that I made using this clone and he'd always ask me if I was getting some Pommard from one of my vineyard sources. When he passed away last year my thoughts turned to creating a wine to honor his memory and I think that he'd love the way that this wine has turned out. A bit of each of the vineyards is in this blend, but a large component is the Pommard Clone. The grapes for this wine were 90% destemmed and then cold soaked for 5 days. All fermenters were inoculated with several types of yeasts and hand punched until dryness. Each lot was pressed off and settled before going to barrel. This wine is very approachable right now and it makes a great everyday Pinot Noir table wine.
Ceago Merlot, Camp Masut. Ceago Vinegarden is owned by Jim Fetzer, former President of Fetzer Vineyards. Jim grew up with his ten brothers and sisters in the vineyards of Mendocino County. The Fetzer family built their business into an internationally-recognized and respected winery. In 1968, the family started producing just a few dozen cases. When the family sold the winery in 1992, Fetzer Vineyard was producing two and a half million cases of wine annually and was growing 1,200 acres of wine grapes certified organic. The Fetzer family led the U.S. wine industry in organic farming and ecological business practices. In 1993, Jim Fetzer established Ceago Vinegarden. Currently, two of Jim’s children, Katrina and Barney, are on board and bringing all their talents and knowledge into the family business.
The 2009 Merlot is from organically farmed grapes from Masutr vineyard in Redwood Valley. The wine spent 14 months in 80 percent new French oak barrels. Ceago Camp Masut Merlot is a deep semi-opaque blood-red color with a nice firm core going out into a light crimson to pinkish-red rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose, there are freshly crushed red and black berry fruits with blueberry sorbet, blackberry jam, soft toffee, mocha, vanilla, oak references, loganberries, licorice twizzlers and hints of minerals. In the mouth, the wine is opulent with crushed berry fruit -- especially blueberries and raspberries -- blackberry liqueur, and good symmetry between the fruit and tannins, appearing soft and supple through the midpalate with just a little extra kick of black fruit and crushed star anise toward the lovely lingering finish.
Sean Thackreay Pleiades XXI. This is the fifth time we've offered Pleiades - we're one of the few wine shops anywhere to get decent quantities of Sean Thackrey's cult wine!
Thackrey’s 21st rendition of his mysterious, non-vintage red blend. #21 is particularly heavy on Sangiovese and Pinot Noir, with a significant dose of Viognier and Marsanne in it. Captivating nose of black pepper, nutmeg, leather and dry-aged beef. Bright red fruits in the mouth, more spice and some kalamata olive. Medium bodied. Drink as you would a spicy Pinot Noir.
We've been selling Thackrey's Pleiades, the first wine I ever remember calling a cult wine, since 2003. Back then, we got a miniscule allocation, and we hid the wine behind the counter, doling it out bottle by bottle to a few lucky souls who knew that we carried it.
Classic Club - 8th Allocation
This is our third go round with the Héritiers Mâcon. 100% Chardonnay, organically and biodynamically farmed. Dominique Lafon's biodynamically farmed Héritiers de Comte Lafon Macon-Village. Considered one of the finest winemakers in France, Dominique Lafon produces coveted white Burgundies from some of the greatest vineyards in the Côte de Beaune.
Always hungry for new challenges, he purchased 14 hectares of vines in the Maconnais in 1999. He believes strongly in the potential of the region, but feels that too few vignerons have attempted to realize that potential. Thus, in the very same spirit he runs his renowned Meursault property, Dominique utilizes biodynamic viticulture, intense soil rejuvenation, tight yield control, and rigorous green harvesting to produce some of the most complex, vibrant and impressive wines the region has ever seen.
The Macon Village bottling is comprised of village level fruit from those vineyards that do not go into a single vineyard bottlings. Good linear mineral expression with very round, buttery fruit. Excellent immediate drinking over the next 2 years. 100% Chardonnay, 100% limited 100% fabulous.