Taking the Leap

It was a Saturday morning and we we’re settling in to watch a favorite film on Turner Classic Movies. Before it started, however, we were caught by a commercial for the channel’s own wine club. We looked at each other with some skepticism, but as one of the channel’s hosts interviewed a certified Master of Wine about the club and its selections, we became more intrigued. They talked about wines selected for pairing with specific TCM films, for example, a Francis Ford Coppola’s Café Zoetrop Merlot 2014 was suggested for the director’s 1972 classic, “The Godfather.” Yes, a marketing gimmick for sure. But somehow we fell for it. And after having snubbed a good number of similar wine club offerings, we took the leap and joined.

What was intriguing as well was the introductory price $79.99 for 15 bottles of wine. Was this for real? We went online, joined the club, and waited. The wines arrived in short order. What impressed us from the start was how well they were packaged, a thick cardboard box with stiff corrugated dividers. Included as well was a package of tasting notes printed on 2-hole 6” x 5” glossy stock. (A binder for the notes is promised with the next shipment.) So far, so good, I thought.

Over the next couple of months we went through the case and I have to say that all of the wines were quite good and there were definitely some standouts. Below are my reviews of the three wines that impressed me the most.

 

zoetrope

 

Cafe Zoetrope Merlot 2014
Mendocino County, California
This California Merlot is an intriguing blend of fruit and spice. Subtle aromas of black fruit on the nose are followed by rich flavors of plums and raisins, and a touch of spice. Well structured with balanced fruit and acidity, it has a smooth mouthfeel and a lingering finish. Perfect for a steak or a red-sauced pasta.

 

 

champ

 

Le Champ des Etoiles Pinot Noir 2014
Pays d’Oc IGP, France

A typical Pinot Noir from the Coteaux du Languedoc in the southwest of France, this wine has an alluring berry aroma. On the palate, it’s crisp with good acidity and delivers restrained fruit flavors followed by a good finish. Perfect with grilled lamb chops or salmon.

 

 

selvascura

 

Principe Strozzi Selvascura 2013
Toscana IGT, Italy

Our favorite from the case, this classic Super Tuscan is a perfectly balanced blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot from Tuscany’s Maremma region. The wine’s fantasy name, Selvasucra, alludes to the “dark forest” in the opening line’s of Dante’s Divina Commedia. Beautiful violet aromas are followed by rich woodland fruit flavors supported by soft tannins and good acidity. The finish is long and lingering. This wine is crafted by one of Italy’s leading winemaker’s Franco Bernabei.

We were recently notified that our next shipment is due by the end of January. Based on the quality of the first, we are anxiously awaiting it.

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