Come out for a casual evening of special glass pours and flights of orange wine and rosé. Full Chez Pascal and Wurst Kitchen menu available, no rsvp necessary. 960 Hope St. Providence.
This is always one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, and it’s also one of the most fun. This Friday will be extra-special (and extra fun!) since we’ll have the guys from Farmer Willie’s with us, followed by a French wine tasting with Leigh of Wine Traditions. Our Saturday beer tasting will feature a visit from CT’s Thimble Island Brewing Co. Swing on by, grab some sips. And happy graduation, happy long weekend!
FRIDAY 3-5PM: FARMER WILLIE’S Alcoholic Ginger Beer
FRIDAY 5-8PM WINE TRADITIONS with Leigh Ranucci
SATURDAY 3-6PM: THIMBLE ISLAND BREWING
May 19, 2017
Domaine Philemon Perlé Gaillac Blanc
Perlé Gaillac Blanc is all fresh deliciousness. It’s 60% Loin de L’oeil, 20% Muscadelle and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The property in southwest France has been in the Vieules family for over 200 years; today Mathieu Vieules grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportion.
This wine is the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to warm-weather food: it’s lively, citrusy, ever-so-slightly spritzy, and balanced out by a bit of garden herbs and green apple. And it’s well under 15 bucks.
AJ Adam Riesling Trocken 2015, Mosel
Here’s a good telling of the Andreas Adam story. And here are more notes from the importer (clearly we’re too hot for writing): This Estate Trocken (Gutsriesling) is entirely from Dhron. Like a good Bourgogne Blanc it’s sourced from several top vineyards to make a wine that speaks to the vintage, region and style of the producer. The fruit harvested was very clean and at about 79 oechsle, similar to his Hofberg Kabinett. Fermented with spontaneous yeast in stainless steel and a bit of old fuder, the fermentation stopped at 7 grams of RS, “where it finds it’s balance”.
Champagne Moutard Brut Grand Cuvée NV
The Moutard family has been farming in Buxeuil, in the Côte des Bar since 1642, and has been making wine since 1927. In addition to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, they also grow heirloom varieties Petit Meslier and Arbanne on their 20 hectares of vines. Grand Cuvée is 100% Pinot Noir, and like all the champagne produced at Moutard, it spends a minimum of 3 years on the lees. It’s a rich, ripe, and approachable style, with nuts and brioche on the nose, and a creamy texture. At under $40, it’s very affordable farmer fizz.
Étienne Courtois L’Icaunais 2013, Loire
Notes from the importer: Claude Courtois has created a small farm which exempliﬁes what biodynamic is in terms of biodiversity and self-sufficiency, although he does not consider himself to be a biodynamic grower. He farms a balanced & completely chemical free 13-hectares of vines in the heart of the VDP Sologne. Courtois also grows organic wheat, which he feeds to his cows. “Nothing comes into my vineyard,” he says, meaning no chemicals ever. He has created a well-balanced, bio-diversity with trees, fruit trees, vines, woods, and ﬁelds. No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or synthetic chemicals of any kind are allowed on the vines or in the soil of the vineyards. He has his own methods for promoting the diverse life of the soil. The grapes—Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Côt (Malbec), Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc & Pineau d’ Aunis—are harvested by hand and only indigenous yeasts are used during fermentation. Claude regards the soil on his farm as a living organism. He lives in harmony with nature and the wines he crafts are a pure and vibrant testament to outstanding Biodynamic winemaking.
Claude, who is growing older, has started to pass off the winemaking to his son Etienne, who is already showing immense promise…read more.
May 12, 2017
Tonight Peter Buckley of Vineyard Road is in the shop with two French producers. We’ll taste a couple wines from Gilles Bonnefoy in Cotes de Forez, and another two from Domaine Leliévre in Lorraine.
Gilles Bonnefoy’s Les Vin de la Madone is situated so far on the Loire River that it’s actually closer to Beaujolais. Côtes du Forez is located on a geological fault formed in the Tertiary Period when Africa pushed into Europe and formed the Alps. There are up to 105 volcanoes in the greater area of AOC Volcanique Du Massif Central; thirty of them are in Côtes du Forez, and Gilles’ vineyards (in both Cotes du Forez and Urfé) are situated around two of them. So volcanic soil plays a big role here. Gilles has been tending vines here since 1997. He biodynamically farms 8 hectares in the village of Champdieu. Seventy-five percent of his vines are planted on volcanic soils of Urfé, the rest are on clay and granite.
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, war, rabid industrialization and poor vineyard management. During the First World War the German occupation, and subsequent liberation by the Allies, 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.
The wines, not necessarily in order:
Madone Sauvignon Gris et Blanc de Madone, VdP Urfé, 2014
60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sauvignon Gris, this is an elegant, clean, mineral-driven beauty. Delicate, rocky, with echoes of Sancerre and Aligoté. Think seafood and summer, should we ever see the sun.
Gamay de Bouze and Gamay Noir de Madone, Gamays sur Volcan VdP Urfé, 2014
A blend of two varieties of teinturier (red-fleshed) Gamay, this is a vibrant wine full of cherries, bright acidity, barely-there tannins, and a touch of dried herbs. Sauçissons, roast chicken, fresh and grilled veggies…
Domaine Lelièvre Gris de Toul Rosé, 2015
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 salty, tart, tangy, bright; pink grapefruit up front and a dash of cherry on the finish. Delicious. It might be a little too delicate to handle spicy food, but it’s game for just about anything else. Just fill a glass!
Domaine Lelievre, Sparkling Gamay Rosé Leucquois
Come on, it’s fizzy Gamay with a bunny on the label. Fun, crushable, puts a little hop in your step in the midst of grey days. Glug-glug!
May 5th, 2017
We’ll have Elena Brugnera of Perlage Organic Winery in the shop. Perlage is one of the first Italian organic sparkling wineries; the Nardi family produces Prosecco Valdobbiadene here using both tradition and innovation. We’ll have just the Prosecco Sgajo for sale, but we’ll taste a couple others that will be available for pre-order. Joining Elena will be Justin DeWalt of Chartrand Imports, representing our friends John & Nicole Bojanowski, and their beautiful wines from Minervois.
The Perlage winery is located in the town of Farra di Soligo in the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene area, home to the famous Prosecco region, in northeastern Italy. The vineyard property has been in the Nardi family for more than a century, when Giordano Nardi established an “Azienda Agricola” of vineyards, arable land and cattle breeding. It was in 1981, however, when the 7 Nardi brothers, encouraged and assisted by their parents, Tiziano and Afra, began converting the property to organic agriculture, and then in 2005 began implementing biodynamic practices. Ivo Nardi, the president and CEO, is a graduate in Agricultural Science from the University of Florence, and Claudio Nardi vineyard manager, received his diploma is technical design with specialized course work. Perlage’s organic cultivation is controlled and certified by CODEX S.R.L. In addition to growing their own 20 hectare vineyards (abut 50 acres) the winery also purchases grapes from other certified organic vineyards. Chartrand currently imports 7 Perlage wines and will soon begin importing the first No Sulfite Added prosecco, Animae!
In addition to the Sgajo Prosecco Spumante DOC Treviso (vegan), we’ll have a couple other Perlage wines available to taste and for pre-order, with a special tasting discount.
Justin DeWalt will also be in the shop representing Clos du Gravillas. Here’s Chartrand’s notes on the winery:
In 1996 John and Nicole Bojanowski, a young Franco-American couple, purchased Clos de Gravillas in the Minervois region of southwestern France and embarked upon a journey of making wine to best reflect the terroir of limestone gravel of their vineyards where grapes have been grown for hundreds of years.
Perched on a plateau at an elevation of almost 1000′, this 15-acre winery lies between the St. Chinian and Minerve canyons in the Parc Naturel of the Haut Languedoc just south of the Black Mountains. This location provides cool evening winds that let the grapes better retain their acidity and the hot summer temperatures assure the development of the necessary alcohol to balance acidity. This element of their terroir helps the grapes develop maximum depth of flavor.
The estate’s oldest vines are carignan, dating to 1911 and 1970 and a small parcel of grenache gris. In 1996 they planted syrah, cabernet, and mourvedre, with the first harvest taking place in 2006.
We’ll taste “a Fleur de Peau“, a skin contact Muscat (the name refers to a French expression indicating someone who wears their expressions on their sleeve) of which only 83 cases were made, and “Rendez-vous Sur la Lune” Rouge, a blend of equal parts Carignan and Syrah, with a balance of 10% Grenache. 583 cases produced.
Wine Wizards and SelectioNaturel will be in attendance, and rumor has it that Fümp t-shirts exist for a lucky few! Show up at Bucktown after 5pm, and pretend you’re on a sunny Italian hillside. Why not?
April 28, 2017
Historical documents mention the vineyards of this tiny appellation as early as the 11th century and the sparkling wines were a favorite of Queen Victoria in the mid 1800s. The “Royal Seyssel” label (originally called “Royal Carte Bleue”), was established in 1901 by the Varichon and Clerc families; unfortunately this property fell into the wrong hands in the 1990s (it was purchased by a large negociant) and quality suffered. In 2007 they closed the winery entirely, but held on the rights to the name in hopes of using that name to market their other sparkling wines. Now that just doesn’t seem right…Enter Seyssel locals Gérard and Catherine Lambert, who teamed up with Olivier Varichon, great-grandson of the founder, to buy back the Royal Seyssel label. Since 2008 they’ve been making this humble sparkling wine, using the same methods as in Champagne. The Petit Royal is 70% Molette and 30% Altesse from 10-25 year old vines grown on clay and limestone. It’s left on its lees for two years before disgorgement, and though not vintage dated, the wines produced here are all single vintage. This wine is light, lively, fruity, floral and elegant. It’ll get you through many a brunch and celebration.
Montemelino Rosé 2016, DOC Colli del Trasimeno, Umbria
We got to meet Sabina and Pier of Montemelino recently and taste through some of their wines and olive oils from this tiny and obscure wine zone in northern Umbria. There are fewer than a dozen producers in this area, and most are focused on international varieties. Montemelino is a 10 hectare farm, with 4 hectares under vine, planted to Grechetto for the whites and Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, and Gamay for the reds. Don’t get too excited Gamay lovers, it’s “Gamay di Trasimeno”, which is actually Grenache. Why do they have to confuse us like this? Because it’s fun! Farming here is all organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and naturally fermented and aged in large slavonian oak barrels that rest both under the farm house and in a tiny chapel on the property.
This fresh and delicious rose is a blend of Ciliegiolo and Gamay di Trasimeno. There’s lots of red fruit and snappy acidity; it’ll pair nicely with fish, veggies, or a warm evening breeze.
Viña Zorzal Garnacha 2015, Navarra, Spain
Antonio Sanz has been in the wine industry pretty much his entire life. In 1989 he was making wine in Navarra, where he established Viña Zorzal. In 2007 his sons took over and expanded the project. We’ve been working with the Graciano and Grenache Blanc for quite some time; we’ve semi-recently added the Grenache and figured it was time to crack it open at a tasting. This wine is from roughly 100 year old bush vines, farmed organically, and hand-harvested. It’s juicy, dark, pure-fruit brilliance, for super cheap!
D. Ventura Viña Caneiro Ribeira Sacra 2012, Spain
D. Ventura is located on the steep slopes of Ribeira Sacra (sacred banks; so-named for all the churches and monasteries that line the river). It is the project of Ramón Losada and his family. They farm organically and use wild yeast in their fermentations; this wine is from old Mencia vines grown on the slate soil (known as losa) slopes of the river.
Viña Caneiro is fermented in stainless steel and then left on the lees for 9 months. It has depth and is full of cassis, cherries, black pepper, licorice, and mineral precision and fine-grained tannins on the finish.
April 14, 2017
The beautiful weather has got us a little distracted, so we’re still deciding on which wines to taste tonight. Except we do know that we’re opening up Château la Colombière “Le Grand B” Bouysselet. Philippe and Diane Cauvin work this family-owned property in Fronton organically (certified), and ferment with wild yeast, and little to no sulfur. We love their Negrette (maybe we’ll open that too) which is soft and approachable, with lots of dark fruit and depth. Bouysselet is pretty much on no ones radar. Philippe and Diane were researching the history of winegrowing in their appellation when they stumbled across this grape they didn’t even know existed. They found two 200-year old vines on their property, and through Selection Massale and grafting, have slowly turned those two vines into one acre. So this wine is from the only acre of these vines known to exist in the world. That’s pretty special. The wine itself is lush and tropical, with beautiful acidity, and a finish that hangs around and makes your mouth water for more food and wine. It’s a great pair for seafood and shellfish. Definitely stop in to try some if you can.
In addition the Colombiere, we got some other new wines from MFW, and Dressner is arriving today, more rosés are rolling in…so we have many delicious choices for tonight’s tasting. But we’re keeping you in suspense!
Agnès & René Mosse were managers of a wine bar/wine shop in Tours before they decided to give up retail and city life in favor of the country, and wine production. They bought their estate in Anjou in 1999, replanted many vineyard blocks, and adopted organic and biodynamic farming practices.
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc from younger vines (planted in 2000, 2001, and 2002) on four different parcels of Mosse vineyards. The vineyards are on southwest facing slopes and planted on soils of clay, sand and gravel atop a bed of schist. Grapes are hand-harvested, carefully sorted, and then left to ferment naturally in small wooden barrels. The wine goes through both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, and then ages in barrel for 12 months. It’s texturally gorgeous, rich and soft but with beautiful acid and mineral presence (a dash of residual sugar balances out the acid), a little nutty, a touch smoky…it’s just delicious. Think scallops and rich seafood, herb-crusted goat cheese and soft cow’s milk cheese, squash and sweet corn…Yum.
Clos Saron, Sierra Nevada Foothills
Tickled Pink 2014
Out of the Blue 214
Gideon Beinstock and Saron Rice are husband and wife owners and famers of Clos Saron in California’s Sierra Foothills, which they established in 1999, after decades of experience in viticulture, winemaking and farming.
Here, Gideon describes how it all began: “It all started with a half acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, planted in the “wrong” place. Early in 1995, my wife Saron and I were asked by our friend Leonard if we wanted to take over his small (0.5 acre) vineyard and make some wine for ourselves… By then, I suspected that the reason his home-made Cabernet-Merlot blend tended to fall firmly on the leaner and meaner side, had more to do with the unusually cool micro-climate in which he planted his vines than with the very humble way he was making them in the tiny rustic stone cellar he built with his own hands. I asked if he would let us experiment with grafting it over to Pinot Noir, a grape variety famous for its affinity to such conditions. He said yes, and Saron proceeded to graft these 400 vines to Pinot; we also doubled the vineyard density by “own-rooting” a Pinot vine between every two grafted ones. This is how our “Old Block” came to be. Three years later Leonard sold us this piece of land and Clos Saron was born.”
The Sarons “Home Vineyard” as they call it, is now 2.5 acres, and planted with 4500 own-rooted Pinot Noir vines. While the Sierra Nevada Foothills isn’t known for Pinot production, this vineyard enjoys a microclimate that is beneficial to producing “a distinctive, expressive rendition of this variety”. The vineyard is situated at 1500-1600ft altitude, on clay-loam topsoil, and a subsoil that is a mixture of decomposed granite, volcanic ash, granitic rocks and quartz. The earth is pure, uncontaminated, and alive with earthworms and microorganisms.
In addition to the Home Vineyard, Clos Saron has branched out (and up; their Stone Soup vineyard is at 2000 feet elevation) over the years. In 2011 they also started planted 2.5 acres directly connected to their Home Vineyard; they had some setbacks due to drought, but in 2015 they completed planting varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Riesling, Petit Manseng, Syrah, Trousseau, Mondeuse, and more Pinot Noir. While they wait for these vines to be ready, they work with trusted friends and grape growers for some of their other cuvées, which brings us to this rosé.
Tickled Pink, full description from the producer: A co-fermentation of Syrah/Graciano/Viognier, this is our first rose to have been entirely stomped by foot. After a short two-day maceration, the red fruit was pressed onto the Viognier and completed fermentation on the white skins/stems. The wine was aged in barrel for 15 months before bottling. It is immediately fascinating in its subtlety and aromatic intricacy, and has the potential to age as well as our red wines.
The grapes for this wine were grown by Markus Bokisch in low rolling hills east of Galt, California. The soil is decomposed granite, washed down from the Sierra Mountains. 120 cases produced.
Out of the Blue Cinsault 2014
The 2014 (98% Cinsault, 2% Syrah) is our last vintage of this wine… This vintage has its tell-tale mesmerizing floral/spicy nose, with a bit more stuffing and tannin than in the past. The acidity is outstanding this year, which is not to be taken for granted for Cinsault. It has the potential to age for a decade or two, for those who can keep their hands off it… 190 cases produces, 30 ppm total sulfites added at bottling.
Notes from José Pastor: Envínate Real Wine from Real Folks
Envínate (Wine Yourself) is the brainchild of 4 friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez. This gang of 4 formed back in 2005 while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. Upon graduation, they formed a winemaking consultancy, which evolved into Envínate, a project that focuses on exploring distinctive parcels mainly in the Atlantic-inflected regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands. Their collective aim is to make profoundly pure and authentic wines that express the terruño of each parcel in a clear and concise manner. To this end, no chemicals are used in any of the Envínate vineyards, all parcels are picked by hand, the grapes are foot-trodden, and the wines are fermented exclusively with wild yeasts, with a varying proportion of whole grape clusters included. For aging, the wines are raised in old barrels and sulfur is only added at bottling, if needed. The results are some of the most exciting and honest wines being produced in Spain today.
Táganan – The old local name for the vineyard area located on the northeast side of Tenerife. In this area, the vineyards are planted “wild” on primary volcanic rock, on cliffs just above the Atlantic Ocean. The vineyards are very old and are mix planted with many different native grape varieties. Due to the rugged and difficult terrain, all farming has to be done by hand, and harvest is usually performed with the help of animals in order to be able to transport the grapes.
We almost didn’t want to open this one; we’re tempted to save what’s left for ourselves. But fine, we’ll share! What else can we say, this wine is so damned delicious. It’s a blend of Listan Negro, Listan Gaucho, Malvasia Negra, and a bunch of other unidentifiable grapes from vines about 100 years old. The northern coast of Tenerife has a rather temperate climate, allowing the grapes to ripen with moderate alcohol levels, while retaining acidity. The biggest challenges here come from strong winds from the Atlantic and Africa, and fluctuations in humidity. In any event, all the Envinate wines we tasted were evocative, complex, earthy, sublime; there’s all kinds of umami going on here, the texture is silky goodness, there’s a bit of rocky mineral, salty twang, that certain-something you get with volcanic wines…it’s just so good. We had it with portabello mushrooms sautéed in palo cortado sherry and it was a match made in heaven.
March 24, 2017
Klaus Peter and Julia Keller’s dry Rieslings are considered by many to be amongst the greatest expressions of the grape; Jancis Robinson calls them the “Montrachets of Germany”. But they don’t make just high end, hard to find wines; they also make entry-level wines that are just as meticulously made, but won’t break the bank – like this one. The organically farmed vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine River have been in the Keller family since 1789. The soil on these rolling hills is limestone rich, adding mineral intensity, vibrant aromatics, and gem-like purity. Gruner Silvaner is what they call Silvaner here (literally “Green Silvaner”, and not the same grape as Austria’s Gruner Veltliner). Silvaner is the offspring of Savagnin, a grape mostly known for vin jaune in the Jura, and Traminer, aka Savagnin Blanc (a relative of Gewurtztraminer).
This 2015 Silvaner is beautifully balanced and bursting with flowers, peaches, and stony mineral freshness. It will pair perfectly with spring, should it arrive.
Swick Rosé of Pinot Noir Pétillant Naturel 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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.
In any event, we are really happy to snag some of this Pét-Nat rosé. We tasted the barrel sample with Joe back in October, and loved it then for its juicy, grapefruity fabulousness. This is day-drinking fizzy, and it would be a go-to summer bottle, but alas, there will be none left. Only 33 cases were produced, so get it now or don’t get it at all.
It’s from grapes that are hand-harvested, then pressed as whole bunches. Indigenous yeast fermentation is for 3 weeks in 6-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.
Domaine La Réméjeanne “Les Chèvrefeuilles” Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2014
François Klein established Domaine La Réméjeanne in 1960 on 5 hectares near the town of Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard. It’s now operated by his son Remi, and grandson Olivier. Remi diversified the property with olive groves and fig trees, and worked over the years to convert the domaine to organic farming; it’s now 38 hectares and has been certified organic since 2010.
Les Chèvrefeuilles is 70% Syrah, 10% Grenache and Mourvedre, 5% old-vine Carignan, and 5% Marselan (a cross of cabernet sauvignon and grenache noir). This wine is soft and fruity up front with blackberries, a touch of plums, and hints of chocolate and mint. Tannins are fine-grained, and the finish is long and pleasant. Pair it with poultry, grilled meat, roasted vegetables; the fresh and fruity character can handle a bit of spice and umami too.
Domaine de la Noblaie “Les Temps des Cerises” Chinon 2014
This property, 24 hectares situated at one of the highest points in Chinon, dates back to the 15th or 16th century. The domaine now houses four generations of the same family; Jérome Billard is the current winemaker. He earned his chops as an intern at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux, and Dominus in California. He returned to Chinon and the family domaine in 2003; in 2005 the property was certified organic.
Aside from the high slopes upon which it is situated, Noblaie also sits upon soils of limestone, clay and chalk. All harvests are carried out by hand, and by the same crew year after year. The wines here are fermented and aged in stainless steel, some in barrel, and some in chalk vats carved out of the earth. That’s pretty darned cool.
Les Temps des Cerises (Cherry time!) is from vines averaging 30 years old, grown on tuffeau. Wild yeast fermentation, 8 months in tank, no sulfur during production, little to none added at bottling. This is pure Loire Cab Franc, with all the telltale traits you know and love: medium-bodied, with a little bit of raspberry, a touch of lead pencil, a dash of brambly forrest floor, and sure, cherries too.