The month of September has been a bonanza of wine club shipments, though my favorite club selections are from The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. I guess, because I feel like family when I walk in the door. I even got a “Happy Birthday” greeting from one of the employees who follows me on social media and my writings. They were very busy, which is a great sign, and I am sure that the Wine Club is a great pull for them. For just under thirty dollars a month, one gets two curated bottles of wine, but I think the best, besides the great customer service, is that club members automatically get case discounted prices, even if they just stop to get a bottle or two.
The first club selection was Gran Passione Rosso Veneto 2020 a limited production wine made by Cantine Bertoldi. Cantine Bertoldi is known for their Valpolicella and Amarone wines. They were founded in 1932 and several generations later they now own fifty acres of hand-cared vineyards. They are now part of the larger umbrella wine producer and distributor Casa Vinicola Botter. They began in 1928 selling local Veneto wines. After World War II, they moved onto bottled wines and started exporting. Now in their third generation, ninety percent of their business is done overseas. The soil of the estate is basically clay, and this wine is a blend of sixty percent Merlot and forty percent Corvina. The grapes selected for this wine are hand selected and harvested, allowing for the grapes to dry on the vine, reducing the weight by about fifty percent. This technique is in the tradition of Apassimento (to dry and shrivel), just like how Amarone is made. After harvest, the over-ripe grapes are destemmed and undergo maceration and fermentation for fifteen days on the skins, and then malolactic fermentation occurs in the barrel aging. The wine is described as an intense purple color with notes of black raspberry puree, black cherry, cassis, black tea and dried violet blossoms. On the palate the wine is described as a medium-bodied red with intense flavors, medium acidity and medium tannins. I still have a few bottles of the last vintage and I have been assured that this wine is even better than that, so it is truly a great bargain. I can’t wait to try it.
The second club selection, representing the New World is Cline Family Cellars “Seven Ranchlands” Viognier North Coast 2021. Cline Family Cellars is a producer based in Carneros and known for Zinfandel and Rhone varieties and established in 1982 in Oakley. Fred Cline is one of the original Rhone Rangers of California. The “Seven Ranchlands” is a way of honoring both the seven children of the Cline family, and the seven vineyard ranches. The fruit for this wine is from the Catapult Ranch Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, and the balance is from the Diamond Pile Vineyard at the base of the Wild Cat Mountain. The grapes are handpicked at night, where they are destemmed and pressed, and allowed to settle for forty-eight hours before racking. The Catapult portion was inoculated with wild yeast, while the Diamond Pile portion was allowed to ferment naturally in barrels. After fermentation, the wine was aged in neutral French Oak for six months before blending and bottling. The soft colored wine has been described as having the texture of a reserve Chardonnay. The wine offers notes of mango, guava pineapple. On the palate tones of dried apricots, pears and banana in a full-bodied wine with nice acidity. It sounds like a wonderful Viognier from the Rhone and my Bride was excited when I showed her the wine, when I got home.