Februrary Domestic Wine: 2012 Grochau Cellars ‘Commuter Cuvee’ Pinot Noir, Willamette, OREGON

“At Grochau Cellars, we come to wine as appreciators first, explorers second and creators third. We try to always remember that balance. Drawing inspiration from the landscape around us, and the classic, nuanced wines of France and Spain, we craft the kind of wines we hope to drink at the end of the day: pure, honest and delicious.

Established in 2002, Grochau Cellars is anchored to our Oregon homeland, and we approach each vintage with the same goals: Create complex, genuine wines true to their origins and to the distinct flavors of Oregon.” -grochaucellars.com

Origins of Grochau Cellars: Grochau Cellars is the project and passion of John Grochau, and his wife Kerri. John has been fortunate enough to learn the trade from some of the Willamette Valley’s finest winemakers. From the pioneering cellars and large-scale work of Erath Winery to four years as Doug Tunnel’s assistant at the esteemed Brick House Wines, John has logged the numerous hours of careful attention, expert advice and forklift skills necessary to risk his own money on his own undertaking.

John grew up in Portland, and watched his backyard evolve into a world-class wine area. After years of selling wine at some of Portland’s finest restaurants, including a 13-year stint at Higgins, it was John’s desire to learn the craft behind the wines we loved, and to try and approach the process of making wine with the same blend of curiosity, respect and excitement that we feel when drinking it.

Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 13.6% by volume

Tasting Notes: This wine is all about the bright fresh purity of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir! They age the wine 7.5 months on it’s lees and rack it directly to tank just prior to bottling. Only 15% new French Oak is used in this wine. The remaining 85% of the barrels were used at least twice before. Bright and juicy with sweet spice, earth and loads of red and black raspberry fruit. This is a wine for early consumption but will easily age a few years too.

Food Pairings: Pinot is one of the most food friendly grapes around. This wine is great with seafood and meat. The ultimate pairing with lighter foods, adding elegance and great acidity!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A real Pinot Noir with flavors of rhubarb and cherry. Loaded with great mouth feel, with a long lingering finish. It is a fantastic wine for the money. In my opinion, one of the best values coming out of Willamette. Great with seared salmon or heavier fishes.”-JL

February Imported Wine: 2010 Bodega Catena Zapata ‘La Consulta’ Malbec, Mendoza, ARGENTINA

The Catena wines are a blend of single varietal lots from the Catena family’s vineyards. Each vineyard is divided into lots that are harvested separately, and specially prepared to be part of the final blend of each Catena wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Chardonnay. By blending components from different terroirs and altitudes, they aim to create the most balanced and expressive wine.  Although they have found that most of the Catena wines are consumed shortly after release, they have been pleased to see that they age beautifully for ten to twenty years.

The Birth of the Catena Zapata Malbecs: In 2001 Nicolas’ daughter Laura took over the Research & Development program at Bodega Catena Zapata. An Emergency Room physician with degrees from Harvard and Stanford, Laura brought a very strong science background to the family winery’s R&D project. She immediately set about working with the high altitude Malbec that her father had planted. Laura was sure that this Argentine varietal, planted in these extreme microclimates, would yield something truly special.

Laura’s determination to produce a world class Malbec led her and the viticultural team to conduct an actual plant by plant selection of the top Malbec lots in their high altitude vineyards. These Zapata plants were managed and harvested separately to isolate their incredible potential.

In 2004 this program produced such extraordinary fruit that the winemakeing team decided to ferment the fruit directly in new oak barrels. The results were three spectacular new Malbecs which showed the incredible quality of the family’s high altitude Malbec vineyards: Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec, Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard, and Catena Zapata Malbec Argentina.

In 2009, Catena Malbec Appellation La Consulta was introduced. It is composed of 100% Malbec blended from vineyards of La Consulta district in San Carlos.  The result is a wine with a pure expression of a unique terroir. 35-year-old vines gives red and black fresh fruits flavors, sweet texture and character. Cold nights lend bright, crisp acidity and the intense sunshine gives explosive floral aromatics and concentrated structure.

Varietal: 100% Malbec

Alcohol: 13.5% by volume

Tasting Notes: The Catena Malbec Appellation La Consulta shows a dark violet color with deep purple tones. The nose offers aromas like red fruit and ripe, concentrated dark berries with fresh herbs and floral notes like lavender and violets, some traces of vanilla and tobacco. The mouthfeel is rich, with raspberries and blueberries, spices notes and a touch of mocha. The finish presents soft and well-structured tannins with bright, crisp acidity that gives the wine exceptional length.

Food Pairings: Pair this this wine with beef tenderloin and other hearty dishes.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Made by the iconic Malbec producer Catena. Rich and spicy, with a power pack of layers and complexity. It is loaded with flavors of cedar, smoke and pork tones. A great wine for grilled meats. I hope you enjoy as much as I do!”-JL