Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

April 20, 2018

Domaine Zafeirakis Malagousia 2016, Tyrnavos, Greece

The Zafeirakis family has been involved with viticulture in Tyrnavos in eastern-central Greece for more than 100 years. Christos Zafeirakis is the fourth generation to continue the family tradition; he got his degree in oenology in Athens in 2000, and then went on to get his master’s from the University of Milan in 2004. Soon after he returned to Greece and continued to make high quality wines from organically farmed vineyards, the same way his father had done. He made the first wines from his private vineyards in 2005.

Malagousia is a white grape rediscovered by oenologist and winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou. It yields highly aromatic, full-bodied wines throughout many regions in Greece. This is an elegant wine that evokes flowers and honeysuckle.

Partida Creus SP 2016, Penedes, Spain

Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerosa are the couple behind Partida Creus. Originally from Piedmont, the two (who are both architects) moved from Italy to Barcelona because of that city’s rich architecture. In 2000 they sought out a slower and more bucolic lifestyle, so they moved once again, this time to Massís de Bonastre in the Baix Penedés. They started farming, and when they found it difficult to find wines made in a lighter, minimalist style, they began recovering forgotten old vines of local, low-yielding, grape varieties, many of which had been  disqualified or never allowed into the D.O. Partida Creus farms organically, of course, and adds nothing in the cellar, it’s all native yeast fermentation, natural acidity and no sulfur. The wines are fresh and refreshing, with lots of acidity, low alcohol, terroir-driven minerality, and sometimes sherried-nutty-gamey undertones.

SP (lovingly called “Sub Par” on the label) is Subirat Parent, an old, nearly extinct clone of Malvasia that is supposedly native to Penedes, and also known as Alarije in Extremadura, and as Malvasia Riojana in Rioja. The wine is a clear, yellow-green that turns golden with age and tends toward expressions of orange peel, lemon, and floral/tropical aromatics. Fermented spontaneously in steel with native yeast and aged for 6 months in stainless-steel, then bottled unfiltered without any added sulfites.

Shiba Wichern 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette, OR

Akiko Shiba is a young Japanese winemaker who trained in Germany, and is now making gorgeous, minimal-intervention wine in Oregon with her husband Christian Wichern. She originally wanted to be a journalist and report on the world of alcoholic beverages; when she got out of college she worked as an editor for about two years at a culinary magazine called “Ou-sama no Kitchen” (The King’s Kitchen). At the same time that the magazine folded, Christian got a job in Germany, so they moved there together. She ended up working at a bar and getting very immersed in German beer. She began studying beer, but chance and circumstance led her to oenology school; the rest, as they say, is history.

This 2015 Rosé is not an old vintage, the wine is released late and is meant to be enjoyed for at least a few years or more afterward. After primary and malolactic fermentation, it rests on the lees in stainless steel for 8 months. According to the producers notes, “the goal of this extended time sur lies was greater complexity, body and depth, while retaining freshness. The result is a wine with a complex nose combining rich floral, salty and savory tones and a mouthfeel that is tart, bold and at the same time buttery smooth. This wine will refresh in the summer with BBQ and grilled foods, but it will also pair well with spicy Asian food and continue to all the way through Thanksgiving and Christmas with roasted turkey and ham.” All of this is true, but we’d like to add that this rosé smells and tastes like still Champagne, in the best way possible. It’s leesy, yeasty, slightly sherried on the finish…when the wine is just opened it has a touch of funky, tart acidity, but that blows off and rounds out, and reveals its elegant, evolving character.

G D Vajra, Claret JC Nebbiolo 2016, Langhe, Italy

G.D. Vajra was officially established in 1972 (named after Aldo’s father, Giuseppe Domenico) but the family roots in the region go back over two centuries. Aldo Vajra has been making wine here since the late 60s. Today the estate is close to 60 hectares, 10 of which are planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo production. Farming is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and aging is done in traditional Slavonian casks. Aldo and Milena’s children Giuseppe, Francesca, and Isidoro are now carrying on the family business and traditions.

This is not your grandfather’s Nebbiolo, it’s your great, great, great, great(?) grandfather’s Nebbiolo. Giuseppe is producing it in the Metodo Ancestrale style that harks back to Thomas Jefferson’s time but slipped out of fashion in the 1950s: fermentation starts in the tank on the skins and finishes in the bottle, creating a slightly off-dry, lightly sparkling wine (the fizz might subside before the bottle is finished). Serve with a slight chill, and this wine will pair perfectly with warm spring and summer days that surely *SURELY* will become a reality. What is even going on anymore? But we’re fans of not waiting for the weather for anything, so toss back this spicy, floral, ripe, ruby-colored throwback with pizza, pasta, salumi, olives, cheese, etc…it’s glou glou.

Meet the Winemaker, Ethan Joseph of Iapetus Wine Co.

Wednesday, April 18th, 5-6:30PM

Tonight in the shop, 5-6:30PM, meet Ethan Joseph, head winemaker at Shelburne Vineyards, and its sub-label Iapetus, which we’ll taste this evening. Iapetus is a new, experimental, place-driven project of minimalist wine-making named after the ancient ocean that once covered the present-day Champlain Valley. This is how it’s pronounced and here’s an article on Shelburne & Iapetus if you’re looking to dig in a little more before meeting Ethan tonight. We hope you can swing by for a taste of these cool New England wines.

Ethan heads to Fortnight after visiting with us, so there’s extra opportunity to get to know these wines and the winemaker.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5PM – 8PM

April 6, 2018

Domaine Oudin Chablis 2016

Nathalie and Isabella Oudin are the proprietors of this domaine in Chichée, a small village of 350 people, and just a handful of winemakers. The two took over from their parents, Jean-Claude and Christiane, who moved from Paris in 1988. Christiane’s family had 2 hectares of chardonnay vines, the grapes from which they would sell to negociants. For ten years, Jean-Claude continued to work in Paris during the week, and tended to the vines on weekends. The domaine is now about 8 hectares of 30 to 70 year old vines, planted on clay and limestone, with southern exposures. Farming here is without chemicals, and the harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in stainless steel with natural yeast, and the wine rests on the lees for a year or more.

This is the main cuvée of the domaine, with the grapes coming from across multiple sites. We feel quite lucky to get this Chablis, since the 2016 yield was down by as much as 50% across the region due to frost and hail. Despite the extreme weather, the wines produced are classic, with acidity, alcohol, body, and fruit concentration all in balance. There’s some malo here softening up the citrus, saline and limestone notes. It’s an elegant wine, ready to drink or cellar for 4-5 years.

Domaine de l’Aumonier Touraine Rosé 2017

Domaine de l’Aumonier has a mini-manifesto on their website:

The Domaine de l’Aumonier it’s,
mainly a love story, singular …
work every moment,
a search for meaning in our actions,

the respect for life and our environment, because we are one,
the way of reason because it is inconceivable to overcome,

the pleasure of creating and composing each year, with what nature gives us.

And this quote by Antoine de St Exupery: ” We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.”

So it’s no surprise that Sophie & Thierry Chardon farm their 47 hectares in the village of Couffy organically (certified). They started in 1996 with 10 hectares purchased from retired winemakers. Their vineyards are now split between 26 hectares on the slopes around Couffy, on soils of clay and flint, and 21 hectares around the village of Mareuil sur Cher, on soils of chalk and clay. This rosé is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay from three hectares on their southern slopes. It’s delicate and floral, with notes of honeysuckle, and tart, refreshing citrus.

La P’Tite Vadrouille 2016

We managed to snag another drop of this wine, which we love.

This is a side project for Domaine du Mortier, a 9 hectare, certified biodynamic property located in Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil. Brothers Fabien and Cyril Boisard were quite young when they started Domaine du Mortier nearly ten years ago. And while they don’t hail from a long line of winemakers, they do employ the most traditional method of propagating vines: Selection Massale, a labor intensive and time consuming practice of selecting the best vines in a vineyard and propagating through cuttings. Their wines are made and bottled with little to no SO2.

Heavy frost in 2016 left the brothers needing grapes (it was a tough vintage across the board), so they sourced from friends growing organically in Bordeaux. La P’Tite Vadrouille is 55% merlot and 45% Cabernet Franc from vines planted along the Dordogne. They picked the grapes themselves and then brought them back to Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil in a refrigerated truck, where the grapes then underwent a 12 day maceration with semi-carbonic fermentation, producing a lively wine with bright fruit aromas. Unfortunately this vineyard also froze in 2017, so they’ll have to source again for next year.

Vinca Minor Old Vine Carignan, Mendocino 2016

Jason Charles worked as a photographer in the US, Mexico and Europe, then waited tables in NYC, where he became interested in wine. He then worked vineyards in Bordeaux and the Sonoma Coast before starting the Vinca Minor label. He’s a believer in organic farming and works as naturally as possible, using only indigenous yeast and never filtering or fining, and bottling with minimal sulfur. This wine is from 85 year old vines that are dry-farmed on a property that has been tended by the same family for over four generations. It’s fermented 85% whole-cluster in neutral french oak. It’s spicy, high-toned and herbal, with red fruits & flowers throughout.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Bourgogne Blanc 2016

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet was established in 1590 on some of Chablis’ most prime sites. It’s now run by Jean-François Bordet. The winery is modern, and vinification takes place in stainless steel vats, and typically aged 3-5 months on the lees. The 2016 vintage was a tough one, with hail and freezing temps resulting in almost a complete loss of fruit. Jean- François turned to his friends and neighbors to purchase grapes, since not making wine was not an option. This Bourgogne Blanc replaces his village level Chablis. We’re thinking of it as a baby-Chablis, since it hits all the right notes. It’s light and lean, with flinty minerality, a touch of apples and pears, and a dash of salinity on the long and elegant finish.

Albamar Rias Baixas Albariño 2016

Xurxo (pronounced sure-sho) Alba farms his family’s 2.5 hectares, and sources from an additional 10 hectares. He farms (and makes sure his farmers farm) as naturally as possible; all wines are fermented in his cellar, via spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts. His family has been farming and making albariño in the O Salnés sub-region of Rías Baixas for generations, but it wasn’t until Xurxo finished his oenological studies in 2006 that they started bottling and selling wine under their own name. They still maintain their restaurant and tienda de ultramarinos, a small shop selling local artisanal foods.

This Albariño is sourced from multiple sites on mostly sandy soil. The plots are vinified separately, some in stainless, and some in barrel, then aged on the lees for 6 months. The wine is crisp, salty, finely textured, and perfect as a starter, or with seafood.

Domaine Lelièvre Gris de Toul Rosé 2017 

We’ve been waiting about a year for the new vintage of this rosé, and we’re happy to report it’s just as good as the last! We bought as bunch 🙂

Domaine Lelièvre is located in Cotes de Toul, Lorraine. The Lelièvre family goes back generations here, to the time when Romans first planted vines. At one time Cotes de Toul, situated just 60 miles south of the German border, was a thriving wine-production region, covering parts of Alsace and Lorraine. It was famous for Riesling (this makes sense, as it’s located on the western banks of Moselle River–follow it north and you’re in Mosel, Germany) and as a source of base wine for Champagne. Unfortunately the region was ravaged by phylloxera, followed by rabid industrialization and poor vineyard management. Then came the First World War, German occupation, and liberation by the Allies—all of which left most of the vineyards as battle trenches. The final blow came in 1919, when a law was passed restricting the name champagne to the wines made from grapes grown in the region of Champagne. By 1951 there were only 30 hectares of vineyards left and most of the wine was bottled by negotiants. In 1998, a handful of remaining vignerons fought for and won AOC status. The Lelièvres were one of the producers to champion the region. After the famous 1971 vintage, Jean Lelièvre decided to no longer sell to negotiants and to bottle everything at the estate. From there the family started to rebuild, replant and recapture the glory of Lorraine. It is still an obscure little region, with most of the wine staying within the area, and very little of it leaving France. Lelièvre makes about 1100 cases annually, and they’re one of the most well known producers in the area.

Gris de Toul is a blend of 90% Gamay and 10% Pinot Noir from the producers best plots located in Lucey, Bruley, Blénod les Toul and Buligny. The well-drained clayey slopes are protected from the wet winds coming from the West. Grapes were hand-harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel, matured briefly on the lees, and then assembled just before bottling. This wine is delicate and pretty, with touch of tart citrus, like pink grapefruit, and ripe cherry.

Fredi Torres “Classic” Priorat 2016

Fredi Torres was born in Galicia, spent much of his childhood in Switzerland, spent nearly a decade as a DJ in the European house music scene, and then made his way into the wine world (he studied viticulture and winemaking in Switzerland, Burgundy, Argentina, & South Africa) and came full circle back to Spain in 2004, landing finally in Priorat. There he founded Sao del Coster with partners from Switzerland; the focus from the get-go was on organic and biodynamic farming and non-interventionist winemaking. Eventually he and his partners parted ways, and Fredi went on to purchase his own 8.5ha in Priorat. He also farms a nearby 5ha plot in Monsant, and he recently started a project with two friends in Galicia, where they are restoring old vines on treacherously steep and rocky slopes of Ribeira Sacra.

All Fredi’s wines are fermented with native yeast, no fining or filtering, and only the tiniest amount of sulfur at bottling. The goal is to make wines with bright acidity, pure fruit and low alcohol (for Priorat). This wine is Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Macbeu; it’s approachable and fresh, with notes of strawberry, plum, and pomegranate. It’s also deep, lush, and generous, with the perfect backbone of granite-minerality and acidity.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

March 23, 2018

Vía de la Plata Cava Brut Nature NV 

In 1985, Aniceto Mesías was the first producer in Extremadura to become part of the D.O. Cava. Now three other producers in the region have joined him, and although he is no longer working in the cellars, Aniceto has left his legacy in the capable hands of Luis Miguel Calleja. Luis Miguel worked for years at some of the regions large co-ops, and was eager to make wines of quality rather than quantity. The vineyards, which are controlled by Via de la Plata, are farmed traditionally and non-invasively, and are planted to Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay. All work in the underground cellar is by hand, in the traditional Champagne method.

This Cava is 70% Macabeo and 30% Parellada, aged on the lees for 9 to 25 months before being disgorged. It’s medium-bodied, dry, and delicately fruity, with tiny bubbles making for an elegant Cava experience.

Tanganelli Anatrino Bianco 2015, Tuscany

We tasted the Tanganelli rosso last week, tonight we’ll taste the white. Producer notes from the importer: Hidden on the outskirts of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the eastern corner of Tuscany is the tiny farm of Marco Tanganelli.  Marco is first and foremost an agriculturalist, garnering a regional reputation as the best source of advice when it comes to tending vines.  Carlo Tanganelli, Marco’s father, established an agricultural nursery over 40 years ago in order to preserve and propagate the local grape, olive and orchard varieties.  The Tanganelli family always made wine, mostly for themselves and locals but didn’t start to bottle and sell their wine until the late 90’s.

Today Marco farms some 5 hectares of very old trebbiano, malvasia and sangiovese vines, with some new plantings being made in the past few years on some high altitude terraces far above the village.  Marco’s wines are made in the mold of the old-school Tuscan peasant style wines, yet they show the care and skill of a true craftsman.  Natural fermentations, long elevage and zero or minimal sulfur are paramount methods of Tanganelli.

The two white wines, Anatrino and Anatraso both come from one very old vineyard that’s about 3 hectares in size.  It is believed, both by Marco and the University of Siena, that these are the oldest parcels of trebbiano and malvasia in Tuscany; many vines are nearly 110 years old and the entire plot has never been touched by chemicals or pesticides…a rare find anywhere in Tuscany or Italy for that matter.

Anatrino (little duck) is skin-contact malvasia and trebbiano. Some vintages of this wine are wilder than others, but this one is just darned tasty. It’s an orange wine with roughly one week of skin contact; it’s savory, aromatic, orange-essence(d), herbal-tea inflected, layered, and elegantly textured. We had a glass at Oberlin with their black pepper linguine and it was perfecto!

MicroBio Correcaminos Rosé 2017, Castilla y León

We just got the new vintage of this natural favorite by Ismael Gozalo, the Wizard of Verdejo. Here’s what importer Alvaro de la Viña has to say about Ismael: “he practices his sorcery in his medieval underground cellar located in his native town of Nieva. Barrels, fudres, anforas, damejeannes, stainless…young, old, skin contact, sparkling, biological and oxidative aging…you name it, he’s got it…Ismael’s family owns some of the oldest (between 100-200 years old) ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines, most of which in the town of Nieva, province of Segovia between 800-900 meters of altitud. Characterized by it’s sandy soils, these head trained vines have never seen any chemicals over the different generations that have cared for them.”

This rosé is mostly old-vine Tempranillo, and it is like biting into a ripe, juicy cherry. It’s soft and enveloping, like a wine snuggie, which we could all probably use right about now. The finish has a slight oxidative note, which lends it a little dash of intrigue. All around gluggability. Unfiltered / unsulfured.

Domaine de Clovallon Les Indigenes Rouge 2016, Pays d’Herault 

This is the first vintage of this wine from Alix Roque, who learned how to make wine from her mother Catherine Roque, of Mas d’Alezon in Faugeres. Both of these properties were originally established by Catherine, who is a pioneer in natural winemaking in Languedoc-Roussillon. Clovallon is a certified biodynamic, high-elevation property dense with old vine plantings of indigenous grapes. Here’s the note from the importer, Wine Traditions: The cuvée “Les Indigènes” is produced from a single “clos” of less than a hectare that was planted around two hundred years ago and retains pre-phylloxera vines. As was the custom “back in the day” the vineyard was co-planted with a wide variety of grape types both white and red. Most of the grapes have been identified and include Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Grenache Blanc. Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Malvasia, Muscat a Petits Grains, Ugni Blanc, Aramon, Terret, and Jacquet. The clos itself sits high above the town of Bedarieux and is accessible only by a narrow lane that winds its way up from the town to the vineyard at the top of the hill. It is hidden from the eye because it is both walled and shielded by fruit trees. To gain entrance to the small vineyard one has to pass through an entrance gate and then a bit further on pass through a doorway framed by a stone arch giving the whole experience a “secret garden” quality. All varieties are co-fermented in old oak foudres using indigenous yeasts and without temperature control. The wine is unfiltered and unfined.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

March 16, 2018

Alkoomi Frankland River Rosé, 2017 Australia

Alkoomi is a large property just outside the tiny town of Frankland River, in western Australia’s most isolated wine-growing region. It’s been in the same family since 1946, when it was originally purchased by Vic and Netta Lange as a mixed grain and livestock farm. Their son Merv took over the property when Vic retired, and in 1971, his wife Judy decided to plant one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and a little bit of Shiraz and Malbec. The first vintage was in 1976; instead of selling off their grapes, they decided to build a winery and make the wine themselves. They completed the winery in time for the 1979 vintage, and Merv and Judy went on to become award winning ambassadors for the Frankland River emerging wine region. In 2010, their daughter Sandy took over the property, along with her husband Rod Hallet.

Alkoomi has worked to reduce its carbon footprint in recent years by installing solar panels, and upgrading their tank refrigeration system to make it more efficient. They have a ‘wall-to-wall’ grass policy, which uses clover and rye grass between rows and under vines. The plantings control weeds, encourage diverse soil microbiology, and improve water retention. Weed control in colder months is by grazing sheep.

This rosé is 100% estate grown Petit Verdot that was left on its lees for 4 weeks after fermentation. The tart, fresh, cranberry notes on the entry are tempered by a slight creamy texture mid-palate, then there’s strawberry, violets, and dried herbs to bring it all home. It would be an all-summer-long-sipper, if we could’ve gotten more than three cases. At under 15 bucks, it’s hard to say no to it.

Bethel Heights Oregon Pinot Gris 2015 

This old-school property in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills has been a family operation since its founding in 1977. No time to write all the producer notes unfortunately, but here’s a link to the very thorough and descriptive website for background. This is a rich & fruity wine, with perfectly balanced acidity that offsets the intensity, and lends a buoyancy to the depth and creaminess.  It’s a delicious mouthful.

Swick Rosé of Pinot Noir Pétillant Naturel 2017, Willamette Valley, OR

When writing today’s note, we realized that we tasted the 2016 of this exactly one year ago, so it’s a little bit of deja Swick all over again. We’re going to recycle a portion of last year’s note, because recycling is good, and sometimes we’re lazy:

This is Rhode Island, Joe Swick’s home away from home, so we probably don’t need to tell you the Swick story. But if you want it, here’s the short version: http://www.jennyandfrancois.com/wines/usa/joe-swick/#7

This wine is from grapes from nearly 20-year-old vines that are hand-harvested, then pressed as whole bunches. Indigenous yeast fermentation is for 3 weeks in 6—7 year old barrels. The wine was bottled with a small amount of residual sugar, and finished fermenting in the bottle with no filtration and no sulfur added. It was then hand-disgorged, recapped, and sent out into the world. The 2017 is just as vibrant, hazy, and delicious as the 2016. It, too, will be gone before we know it, and too soon.

Tanganelli Cibreo Rosso, Tuscany

These notes from the importer sum it all up perfectly: Hidden on the outskirts of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the eastern corner of Tuscany is the tiny farm of Marco Tanganelli.  Marco is first and foremost an agriculturalist, garnering a regional reputation as the best source of advice when it comes to tending vines.  Carlo Tanganelli, Marco’s father, established an agricultural nursery over 40 years ago in order to preserve and propagate the local grape, olive and orchard varieties.  The Tanganelli family always made wine, mostly for themselves and locals but didn’t start to bottle and sell their wine until the late 90’s.

Today Marco farms some 5 hectares of very old trebbiano, malvasia and sangiovese vines, with some new plantings being made in the past few years on some high altitude terraces far above the village.  Marco’s wines are made in the mold of the old-school Tuscan peasant style wines, yet they show the care and skill of a true craftsman.  Natural fermentations, long elevage and zero or minimal sulfur are paramount methods of Tanganelli.

The two white wines, Anatrino and Anatraso both come from one very old vineyard that’s about 3 hectares in size.  It is believed, both by Marco and the University of Siena, that these are the oldest parcels of trebbiano and malvasia in Tuscany; many vines are nearly 110 years old and the entire plot has never been touched by chemicals or pesticides…a rare find anywhere in Tuscany or Italy for that matter.

Cibreo is mostly Sangiovese and Merlot, and a little but of Syrah. It’s named after a restaurant, which takes its name from an iconic Tuscan dish made from rooster. It’s medium-bodied, food-friendly, and satisfying.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

March 9, 2018

Elvio Tintero Vino Rosato 2017

Cantine Elvio Tintero was founded in 1900 by Frenchman Pierre Tintero, when he happened upon the small estate while looking for work in Piedmont. The vineyards were already being worked alone by a young widow named Rosina. The two married, had children, and the estate remains in the same family today. The vines are sustainably farmed and all vinification is in stainless steel.

This is a blend of 90% Barbera, 5% Moscato, and 5% Favorita from young vines grown on clay, limestone, and tufa. It’s a light, lively, and refreshing frizzante with just a touch of pleasant sweetness that’s offset by tart acidity. It’s the perfect summer slurper, but it’s usually sold out by June. This wine is produced and bottled by vintage, but because Tintero sources from different parts of Piedmont, there is no specific DOC, and therefore vintage dating is not allowed. It’s bottled unfiltered.

Iapetus Geocratic Vermont Wine ‘Substrata’ 2016

Iapetus is a new experimental, place-driven project for winemaker Ethan Joseph of Shelburne Vineyards, in Shelburne, VT (just south of Burlington, it would make a for a fun weekend getaway!). Iapetus is the name of an ancient ocean that once covered the present-day Champlain Valley; Substrata refers to the complex matrix of ancient geologic debris in which the vines are grown.

This lovely, hazy white is 100% Louise Swenson (planted in 2006) from McCabe’s Brook Vineyard. The grapes were destemmed and crushed, then soaked on the skins for several hours in tank. The juice is then racked into three Hungarian oak barrels to spontaneously ferment; one of these barrels is new, and the other two are both one-year old. The wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined. This is a mesmerizing wine with compelling, endlessly appealing aromatics. Only 71 cases were produced.

Bodegas Cerro la Barca Vegas Altas Tempranillo 2015

Ribera del Guadiana is in Extremadura, a region located in south-western Spain on the border of Portugal. Extramadura has been known as a place for bulk wine production, but some pioneers are finding unique new wines here. Cerro La Barca is the first organic producer in the region. They have 38 hectares of Tempranillo and the nearly extinct Eva de los Santos. The Tempranillo is from a vineyard of shallow slate that makes tilling difficult, so legumes were planted amongst the vines. Just before sprouting, the legumes are mowed and incorporated into the soil, creating a green cover, and adding to the vineyard’s biodiversity. This is the only work that is done in the vineyard. Harvest is by hand, at night.

This is a delicious, bang-for-you-buck wine. It’s medium-bodied and a touch spicy, with notes of licorice and strawberries.

Librandi Cirò Duca San Felice Riserva 2013, Calabria, Italy

Librandi is a large family winery founded in 1950 by Antonio and Nicodemo Librandi, and now operated by Nicodemo, his two sons Paolo and Raffaele, his nephew Francesco, and his niece Teresa. It’s located between the sea and the Sila Mountains, in Calabria’s Cirò DOC, in the toe of Italy’s boot. The Librandi family owns 890 acres; 573 are vineyards, 247 are olive groves, and the remaining acres are dedicated to the forest. They focus on indigenous varieties like Gaglioppo, Magliocco and Mantonico, as well as some ancient and experimental grapes. They do have some plantings of international varieties as well.

Duca San Felice is an 85 acre vineyard of Gaglioppo planted on calcareous and clay-loam soil. It’s the oldest vineyard owned by the Librandi family and is the last vineyard planted by Raffaele Librandi, father of Antonio and Nicodemo. Gaglioppo is the predominant variety in Calabria, and DNA testing has shown it to be a sibling of Nerello Mascalese. It thrives in dry conditions, and can be quite tannic and beautifully perfumed, often with aromas of roses. The grapes for this wine were harvested in October, then fermented and aged for 30 months in stainless steel. It’s aged for another 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied, age-worthy wine, with well-structured and defined tannins. It’s quite aromatic, with hints of sour cherry, tobacco and figs. Red berries, earthiness, and a long, spicy finish bring it all home. Pair this with cured meats and hard cheeses, earthy mushroom-based dishes, slow-cooked beef, roasted meat…think hearty.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5PM – 8PM

February 16, 2018

Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina Rosado 2016V

This pink is a mix of red and white grapes (50% Hondarribi Beltza and 50% Hondarribi Zuri) indigenous to the Spanish Basque region; the vines range in age from 20 to 150 years old. The grapes are co-fermented in stainless steel, then bottled with a touch of residual carbonic acid to preserve that little spritz.

Ignacio Ameztoi is the 7th generation to farm this 20 hectare estate on the Atlantic ocean, in the province of Getaria. The vines are planted on sand and clay, and the farming is sustainable.

This wine is as refreshing as the first warm day of spring after a long, cold winter. It’s the color of a sunset, and it bounces around the palate like sunbeams through a prism.

Dominio del Aguila, Ribera del Duero Pícaro Clarete 2014

Dominio del Aguila is a family owned winery run by Jorge Monzón and Isabel Rodero. It’s 30 hectares of old vines (60+) situated at 800-900 meters altitude, farmed organically and biodynamically. The vineyards are planted to Tempranillo, Garnacha, Bobal, and Albillo, on topsoil of sandy clay/limestone. Jorge comes from a long line of winemakers, and worked for some well-known names, including over two years with Domaine De La Romanée-Conti, a year with Vega Sicilia, and at Bodegas Arzuaga-Navarro for nine years. He’s been full time at Dominio del Águila sonce 2013.

Pícaro Clarete is another co-ferment of red and white grapes (this used to be common practice in Ribera del Duero) but the expression is completely different from the Txakolina. It’s whole cluster direct pressed into French and American oak barrels, with natural yeast fermentation. It spends 16 months in the barrels, but they aren’t new barrels, so in no way is the wine overly oaky. It is extraordinarily elegant and creamy, laced with flowers, herbs, and spices. The 2014 is beautiful now, but will continue to evolve and express itself over the next few years.

Tami’ Frappato Terre Siciliane 2016

Tami’ is a joint negociant project between Arianna Occhipinti, a young, natural-wine maker (niece of the “O” in COS Wines”) and some friends and neighbors in the food and wine world. The fist incarnation of Tami’ was an artisanal shop selling handmade goods, including wine. Some of the grapes come from the organically farmed vineyards adjacent to the shop. Tami’ utilizes high quality fruit from Vittoria, indigenous yeasts, short macerations, and aging only in stainless steel. This project allows Ariana to bring more organic wines to market, at prices closer to every day than her other higher end wines. This is a medium bodied wine with bright red fruits, like raspberries and strawberries, and a touch of lavender and black pepper.

Laurent Herlin Bourgueil Eclosion 2014

Laurent Herlin worked as a computer engineer for 12 years before dropping that career in 2008 and dedicating himself to wine. After taking classes in Beaune and working at various domaines, he purchased 5 hectares in Bourgueil, which he farms biodynamically. All of his wines are from hand-harvested grapes that are sorted twice (once in the vineyard, then in the cellar), fermented with indigenous yeast, and bottled unfiltered, unfined, and with no added sulfites.

Eclosion is from 50 year old Cabernet Franc vines planted on clay/limestone soil. It’s foot-trod and ages in barrel for 12 months. We have a little bit of this wine left, so we’re gonna open it up and see how it’s doing.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

February 9, 2018

Capriades “Piege a Filles” Rose Methode Ancestrale, Vin de France, Touraine

At Capriades Pascal Potaire grows Chenin Blanc, Menu Pineau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Côt, Cabernet Franc, & Pineau D’Aunis. The organically farmed grapes are from 7 hectares, 2 of which are owned by the domaine, the remainder from local organic vineyards in Touraine that are worked and harvested, but not owned, by Capriades. Piège à Filles” rosé is mostly Gamay, with small amounts of Côt, Cab Franc, and Pineau D’Aunis. It has deep flavors of ripe fruit, a savory note, a touch of sweetness, and a mineral streak from the silex, clay, and limestone soils the vines grow upon.

Pascal worked for others before starting his own label in 2000. He was and is all about balance, low alcohol, & high acidity, and wanted to bring the finesse of champagne to naturally fermented sparkling wine. He is happiest in the cellar, so his business partner Moses handles the marketing, and is the public face of the domain.

More info from the importer: The process of making méthode ancestrale sparkling wine is both incredibly simple and incredibly difficult to execute well. First, there’s extensive sorting in the vines. Because the wines are made without sulfur, the grapes have to be perfect; flaws in the grapes will mean bigger flaws in the wine. The juice begins to ferment in tank, and at the opportune moment mid-fermentation, the wines are bottled to complete their fermentation under a crown cap, trapping carbonic gas and giving them their soft, frothy bubbles. It’s both an art and a science bottling at the right time to create wines of varying levels of sweetness, not to mention stability in a category noted for instability and bottle variation.

The wines are riddled before disgorgement using a giropallet, and are disgorged by hand, in some cases twice due to the large amount of deposit in the bottle. Les Capriades maintains unassailable status as the best Domaine at making this style of sensitive yet highly satisfying sparkling wine. Total case production is 3,000.

Thorigny Vouvray Sec 2015

Christophe Thorigny is the 4th generation to farm this 10.5 hectare estate in Vouvray. Most of the grapes here are sold off to local negociants, which makes the small amount of estate-bottled wines that much more special. Christophe farms with minimal intervention and keeps yields low with severe pruning throughout the growing season. The vines are planted on chalky and flinty clay covering a thick layer of limestone, and those mineral, rocky notes come through in the wine. This is dry, focussed Chenin Blanc, with notes of honeysuckle, oranges and lemons on a long and elegant finish.

Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby 2016

5 hectares, organically farmed Beaujolais-Villages, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Fleurie. Soils are pink granite, chalk, and sand.

Though Gilles Paris is from Beaujolais, and has been involved with grape growing for much of his life (along with his five brothers) it wasn’t until he met his now ex-wife Christine that he dipped his toes into winemaking. Shortly after meeting Christine, they moved to Chiroubles, where her family had vines. He produced his first wines in 2005, and with each passing vintage he moved closer and closer to natural production. Now all his wines are made without additives of any kind, including zero sulfur. But these wines are clean and delicious. Douby is 100% Gamay from vines averaging 50 years old. It’s vibrant, silky red raspberries and black cherries wrapped up in a granite dress.

Domaine Rois Mages Rully ‘Les Cailloux’ 2015

Anne-Sophie Debavelaere is a native Burgundian who established her domaine in 1984; she now works the property with her son Felix. Her 7 hectares of vines are mostly in Rully, but include some small parcels in Bouzeron and Beaune. Her vineyards are all farmed “lutte raisnonnée”, which isn’t technically organic, but only uses synthetics or chemicals as a last resort. Her winery, a vaulted cellar dug from the Rully hillside , was originally built in 1850 by a local negociant who wanted a cellar similar tho those in Champagne. Anne-Sophie farms three parcels in Rully, the 1er Cru “Les Pierres” and the two lieux dits “Moulin A Vent” and “Les Cailloux”. The 1.8 hectares she owns in the Les Cailloux vineyard are planted mostly to Chardonnay, with just .3h planted to Pinot Noir. Vine density is 8,000 plants per hectare, with an average vine age of over 50 years, and yields are kept very low. The vineyard descends from one of the highest elevations in Rully, and is full of surface stones that absorb the day’s heat, and release it after sunset. Natural herbs and grasses grow between the rows and make the vines compete for nutrients. This, coupled with the rocky soils and dense plantings, contribute to the vines producing very few bunches, and in turn the grapes are ripe, concentrated, complex, and balanced.

Les Cailloux is Pinot Noir fermented in tank with its natural yeasts at cool temperatures, and matured in barrel (just 10% new) for at least a year. An average vintage produces fewer than 150 cases. This is delicious, classic, silky-smooth Pinot Noir.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

February 2, 2018

Domaine la Bonnelière, Saumur Champigny Blanc 2016 

The Bonneau family created Domaine de la Bonnelière with just a few hectares on the site of the “Caveau St Vincent” in 1972. Since 2000, sons Anthony and Cédric represent the fifth generation of vine growers in this family, and the property has grown to over 40 hectares. The rows between vines are grassed over to ensure protection of the soil and nutrients, and while farming isn’t certified organic, they avoid treatments unless absolutely necessary, otherwise known as “Méthode Raisonnée”.

This chenin is fresh and exotic, with notes of white flowers, honey, and lemon peel. Have it as a starter, or with shellfish and other white meat.

Maisulan Rioja Alavesa 2015

Rioja Alavesa is the smallest of the three wine-producing sub-regions in Rioja, Spain. The vineyards are situated at high altitudes, therefore the climate is cooler, and they are on soils of chalk, clay, and limestone.

In the Basque language, Maisulan means ‘good hard work’. That is how husband and wife Luis and Eva Ruiz approach working their 28 hectare estate, in a tiny, mountainous town of just 370 people. These vineyards have been in their families for four generations. They biodynamically dry farm, interplant for biodiversity and pollination, use crushed vine shoots as mulch, and hand harvest the fruit.

Maisulan is from 40 year old vines, planted at 1800 feet elevation. The wine is fermented spontaneously via native yeast, then rests for 6 months in a 50/50 split of French and American oak. It’s spicy, peppery, savory, with a bit of cherries, smoke, cinnamon, and fine-grained tannins. It’s a nice pair for lamb, it can handle a little spice, like curry, and of course it’s great with mahon and manchego.

Domaine de Terrebrune Vin de Pays du Mont Caume Rouge  “Terre d’Ombre” 2015

Reyanld Delille took over from his father Georges, who purchased the property that would become Terrebrune in 1963. It’s located in Ollioules, east of Bandol and surrounded by the Mediterranean, olive groves, and the Gros-Cerveau (Big Brain) mountain.

This is declassified Bandol fruit from the properties youngest vines, fermented in stainless steel, and aged 5 months in foudre. It’s 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault from vines planted on limestone pebbles in brown clay, blue limestone bedrock, and marl. Farming here is 100% organic, all harvesting is by hand, and only indigenous yeast is used. This is a very delicious baby Bandol, the lush fruit countered by a satisfying freshness.

Collecapretta Lautizio 2015, Umbria

The Mattioli family has cultivated the rugged hillsides of southern Umbria since the 1100s. The Romans once called their tiny village Collecapretta, for Hill of the Goats. Generations of Mattioli’s have farmed ancient grains, olives, and indigenous vines on their high-elevation, 8 hectare property (just 4 are planted to vines, which are old plantings). Vittorio Mattioli, his wife Anna, and their daughter AnnaLisa live together with 3 generations of their family in a home overlooking the valley, and in the shadow of Gran Sasso and the Apennine Mountains.

The total production of Collecapretta is only 8,000 bottles at most, but the family vinifies many different cuvées in order to fully express the range of grape varieties. The soils are a mixture of calcium, iron-rich clay, and some tufo and limestone. All farming is without chemicals or synthetics and all the wines at Collecapretta are made similarly: natural fermentation in open-top cement containers without temperature control or sulfur additions at any point. The wines then age for various amounts of time in glass-lined cement vats or resin tank before bottling.

Lautizio is Ciliegiolo from 50 year old vines. It’s concentrated, full-bodied, with floral notes on the nose, and cherries, blackberries, orange rind and balsamic on the palate.