Our relentless endeavor to find our ‘Wine Clubbers’ the utmost examples of wines that speak of type and topography invariably bring us to Europe or older worldly locales, so it is exciting to discover something from just around the corner. December has two picks ripe for whatever holiday you have planned.
2011 Madame Elke Vintage Brut Sparkling Wine - Mendocino, California
Two hours north of San Francisco stretches a mere fifteen mile lateral terrain known as the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. From the majestic Pacific Ocean’s shore to the charming town of Boonville, this is California country in its truest form. The diurnal shift from cool mornings to sunny days to foggy nights creates ideal climactic conditions for specific wine grapes. Pinot Noir stands tall here, with quite a few superb Alsatian offerings - some Gewürztraminers are delightful - and the conditions reflect Champagne; best for sparkling wine.
The Elke family have been farming here for more than three decades, originally with apples (Mary Elke was renowned for her organic apple juice), planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Most of their production had been procured by Mumm and Roederer Estate, sparklers that have arguably put California on the world class bubbly list. In 1997 they began to hold some of their favorite parcels to make their own wines.
Named after the Madame of the Elke Estate, this method traditionelle sparkler represents a lifetime of working the Mendocino landscape, understanding each vine and it’s environ, forming a California sparkling that everyone can toast to and toast with. [52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot noir], the wine dances with life, showing aromas of Asian pear, lemon zest and a touch of marzipan, resting into a wonderfully satisfying finale.
Bring a bottle of this to celebrate anything you want to raise a glass to!
2015 Lieu Dit Cabernet Franc - Santa Ynez, California
This month we’re stickin’ with Cali for both the white and red selections. No obscure varietals none of us have ever heard of this time…
This month we’ve selected a Cabernet Franc from sunny Santa Barbara from the Lieu-Dit Duo, Eric Railsback and Justin Willett. These guys are kind of a big deal in the wine world these days, Eric was connected with the fancy-schmancy Burgundy-centric RN74 in SF, among countless other notable California restaurants and Justin is the winemaker behind “Tyler” a high-end Pinot Noir and Chardonnay project out of Santa Barbara. They started Lieu Dit in 2011 to focus on varietals found in the Loire Valley, made in a style that showcases the unique micro-climates and marine based soils of Santa Barbara County.
I love that this wine actually tastes like Loire Cabernet Franc. This is no big inky bruiser, it’s bright, juicy and has a peppery quality that’s found in the classic wines of the Loire. The Santa Barbara sunshine brings a nice core of fruit that makes it (maybe too) easy to drink.
Maybe It’s cause I’m dreaming of warmer weather on this chilly December night, but this wine makes me want to picnic at the beach. A deli sandwich, maybe some pate and a very full glass of Cabernet Franc sounds like a great plan. It’s unfussy, easy to drink and darn tasty. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.