Author Archives: Campus Fine Wines

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

January 19, 2018

Vincent Grall Sancerre “Cuvée Tradition”, France 

Vincent Grall is the second smallest producer in this Loire region, making wine in his garage from his 3.8 hectares of vines. The production is split between two cuvées that are vinified and aged differently, depending on the soil type. Cuvée Tradition is primarily from the silex soils around the main hill of Sancerre, Le Plateau. It’s made entirely in stainless. While not certified, Vincent practices organic farming, and harvesting is by hand.

This is a delicious, go-to Sancerre for us. It’s layered with ripe stone fruit, but cut with a bracing acidity, and long, flinty finish. It’s simultaneously fruity, tangy, and herbaceous. All the good stuff!

Oyster River Wine Growers Morphos Rosé Petillant Naturel, Maine

Oyster River is a nearly 100% self-sustaining farm in Warren, Maine. Brian Smith is the winemaker here, if you can call him a wine“maker”, since his approach is about as hands off as you can get. Fermentation is spontaneous, with native yeast, and lasts a long time
in their cold winery, heated only with wood from their farm. Sparkling wines and ciders here are unsulphured and bottled unfiltered.

This fizzy rosé is fresh and yeasty, a little minerally, dry but with a touch of sweetness. It’s a people pleaser, great as an aperitif or with brunch, mild cheeses, and light meals.

Julien Pilon, Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah de l’Autre Rive, 2014

Julien Pilon is originally from the northern Rhone but does not hail from a winemaking family. Instead, after attending school for oenology and viticulture, he worked for Pierre Cuilleron for two years, then at Mas Amiel, then Terra Remota in Spain, followed by four years in Rousillon with Pierre Gaillard. While in his early 30s, after gaining 10 years of experience, he decided he wanted to create his own domaine. With the high price of affordable vineyards, that’s easier said than done. So he started with a negociant business that focused on the whites of the northern Rhone – Viognier, Condrieu, Saint Joseph blanc, Crozes Hermitage blanc, Hermitage blanc and Saint Peray. He now has 4.5 hectares of vineyards, and also makes a small amount of VDP Syrah and Côte Rôtie. 2010 was his first vintage.

This syrah is briny, rich, smooth, and super tasty.

Daniel Ramos Zerberos Castilla y León ‘El Altar’ 2014

Notes (mostly) from the importer: Some of you may have heard of him, some of you maybe not. For those of you that have, he needs no introduction. For the rest, let’s just say that Daniel Ramos is the OG of the GdG. For most of you, that probably means nothing. GdG stands for Garnacha de Gredos, an association of small producers in the Gredos mountain range which encompasses parts of 3 different wine regions: Castilla y León, Madrid, and Méntrida. They’re focus is on organic farming and autochthonous grape varieties of the region, mainly Garnacha and Albillo Real. With a growing number of producers and a wide variation of styles within the group, Daniel represents the old school both in his viticulture and vinification. In our opinion, he’s making some of the purest and most representative wines of the region. They don’t call him the Garnacha whisperer for nothing!

Daniel and his wife Pepi bought their fist 4.5 hectares in 2007. It’s hot and dry here, but a minimum altitude of 800 meters provides a welcome foil to the high temps. The vines are all 50 to 100 years old, planted on slopes too steep for anything but horses and hand harvesting. All wines are fermented with native yeast and macerated for long periods of time. Fermentation is in concrete, clay amphora, or old, neutral oak. There is no filtering or fining, and only a small amount of sulfur at bottling.

El Altar is from old-vine Garnacha planted on granitic sandy soils with large chunks of quartz. It’s full of red fruit like cherries and raspberries, mingling with wild herbs and flowers.

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

Dec. 29, 2017

Last tasting of 2017!

Weingut Rita & Rudolf Trossen, Pyramide Pur’us Riesling 2015, Mosel, Germany

Rita and Rudolf Trossen’s vineyards in Mosel are full of slate, which resisted phylloxera, so many of their vines are completely ungrafted and approaching 100 years old. In 1978 they converted their entire estate to biodynamics, well ahead of the trend. In 2010 they decided to take the plunge into natural winemaking with their Pur’us line of wines. This line has no intervention at all, with zero additives, including zero sulfur, and are unfined and unfiltered. They allow their wines to sit on the lees for an extended period of time, all of these factors come together to create a truly unique expression of Riesling in Pyramide Pur’us.

Grapes are of course hand-harvested, then whole bunches are fermented in 1000 liter stainless steel tanks. The tanks are cooled by ambient air, and fermentation takes about 6 months, followed by about 11 more months of aging in tank.

Champagne Perseval-Farge ‘Terre de Sables’ Premier Cru, Montagne de Reims

Notes from the importer: Champagne Perseval-Farge is a 4 hectare estate in the 1er Cru village of Chamery which is in the heart of the Montagne de Reims. The Perseval family traces its roots back to the early 18th century in the village and today it is Benoist and Isabelle Perseval who carry on the tradition. Benoist farms sustainably, what he calls “viticulture integrée” with the commitment of taking care of the land for future generations. The four hectares are planted with 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier. In 2004 a small parcel was planted with Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromentot (Pinot Gris). Atypical of Champagne, the Perseval’s four hectares are largely in one single parcel with the greater portion being on the mid to upper slope with calcerous-clay soils and the smaller part on the lower slopes with sandy-clay soils. Besides his commitment to sustainability in the vineyard, Benoist has worked to decrease the use of sulfur in his winemaking and at 26 to 35g per liter, his dose level is below 50% of the norm.

The Terre de Sables is a blend of one third each Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It is also a blend of vintages, with the base of 50% coming from 2006 and the rest a blend of 2007, 2004 and 2001. The cuvee is made from grapes grown on the domain’s sandiest soils and is sharply marked by it, with notes of marine minerals being supported by bright acidity. The Champagne is held “sur lattes” for four years before disgorgement and finished with a dosage of 7g/L.

Domaine La Grange Tiphaine, ‘Rosa Rosé Rosam’ 2016

Notes fro the importer: La Grange Tiphaine was established at the end of the 19th century by Alfonse Delecheneau, followed by three generations: Adrien, Jackie, and currently Damien. Coralie, Damien’s wife, has joined the family as a fully active partner in the life & work of their 10 hectare vineyard. Damien’s talent as a winemaker is evidenced by the multitude of beautifully balanced, elegant, precise, red, white, rosé & sparkling wines that he crafts from five different varieties: Chenin blanc, Côt (Malbec), Gamay, Cabernet Franc, & the ancient & rare Loire variety called Grolleau. The vines are in the AOCs of Touraine Amboise & Montlouis sur Loire. The wines are all different: tender or round, fine or fruit filled, dry or sweet, but they all share the common thread of careful work in the vines that make for beautifully balanced, terroir driven, precise wines. They are certified organic.

Rosa Rosé Rosam is a blend of Gamay, Grolleau, Cot, & Cabernet Franc from vines that average 80 years old. It’s a pet-nat rosé, made via methode ancestrale, and is a fun addition to the holiday season. Off-dry, ripe strawberries and cherries, a little tart & hazy…it’ll look beautiful in your glass.

La Vignereuse, ‘A la Santé des Mécréants’ Duras, Gaillac 2014

Marine Leys farms 5 hectares of hillside vines planted to Duras, Syrah, Braucol, Mauzac, Loin de l’oeil, and Gamay, in the town of Tarn, in Gaillac. Marine comes from a background in film production, and in that role she travelled across Europe. The job also took her to Canada, then Ireland, and eventually Turkey, where she was introduced to the world of wine through her employer, whom she helped plant a vineyard. It’s there that she eventually began working in the cellar and, after studying in Beaune, handled the winemaking as well.

In 2012 she moved to Gaillac to work and learn from her winemaker friends at Domaine Plageoles. In 2014, she found the 5 hectares of vines in Andillac and the Vignereuse that now make up La Vignereuse.

A la Santé des Mécréants (which we think translates to “cheers to miscreants”???) is 100% Duras (from 40 year old vines) that’s hand-harvested, fermented in cement, and bottled with barely any sulfur. It’s a humble little wine with crunchy-fresh fruit, white pepper, and a touch of earth and spice.

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

Dec. 22, 2017

Tonight’s wine tasting in the shop will be hosted by Nick Shugrue of Winebow. You may know Nick as a wine-guy about-town; we’re happy to have him pour in our shop this evening, and we think you’ll be very happy with the line up. Don’t miss it!

Ravier Les Abymes 2015

Philippe and Sylvain Ravier have 35 hectares of vines in the Savoie appellations of Apremont, Abymes, Chignin and Saint Jean de la Porte. The estate was established in 1979 by Philippe’s parents; in 1988 Philippe began acquiring more vineyards to bring the property to its current size. In 2014 Philippe’s son joined the operation, and they added a new winery and cellar.

Together they cultivate 10 hectares of Jacquere vineyards in the Les Abymes designation. The vines are situated at 250-300 meters altitude, are between 10 and 60 years of age, and are planted on a variety of soils (including alluvial silt and limestone) that promote good drainage and retain heat. This is a bang for your buck, refreshing white, with a soft texture and crisp flavors of green apple, citrus and jasmine.

Leclerc Briant Champagne Extra Brut Millésime 2009

Notes from the importer: Leclerc Briant was an early adopter of organic practices beginning in the 1960’s and pioneered the concept of single-vineyard Champagne beginning in the 1970’s. Fifth generation vigneron, Pascal Leclerc began following biodynamic principles in 1988, with part of the production Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin continues the legacy of this visionary house.

24.7 acres of vineyard are spread between the Premier Cru villages of Cumières, Hautvillers, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Bisseuil in the Vallée de la Marne, Villers-Allerand and Rilly la Montagne in Montagne de Reims and in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil Sur Oger in the Côte des Blancs. Leclerc Briant also holds long term contracts with another 8 hectares of biodynamically farmed vineyards.

Vintage 2009 is produced from 40% Chardonnay; 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier from the Premier Cru village of Cumières. Fermentation and aging for 7-8 months in stainless steel and cement tanks is followed by 80-100 months aging in bottle sur lattes. The wine received a low dosage and is bone dry with just 4 grams per liter of residual sugar. 7,000 bottles produced.

This wine shows unexpected richness for an Extra Brut thanks to 80-100 months aging on its lees before disgorgement and the ripe character that comes with an opulent vintage like 2009. An expansive nose of lemon curd, white flowers and bread notes leads to a palate that shows a mouth coating richness and a lingering saltiness on the finish.

Domaine Eugene Carrel & Fils Savoie Pinot Noir 2015

Notes from the importer/winemaker: Domaine Eugene Carrel is located in the village of Jongieux, in the northern part of the Savoie region, at the beginning of the French Alps. Winemaker Olivier Carrel represents the third generation at the estate. They include all of the traditional varieties of the region, namely Jacquere (sold as Vin de Savoie Jongieux Bench), Altesse, Gamay, Pinot, and the unique red Mondeuse. Domaine Carrel’s customers include virtually every local restaurant from bistros to top Savoie gastronomic destinations.

This is hand-harvested Pinot Noir from vines grown on calcerous clay. In the cellar the bunches are fully destemmed, and fermentation is for 8-12 days, followed by aging on the lees until bottling. This is red-fruited and flowery on the nose, and slightly savory, tannic, and spicy on the palate. Drink now or age for up to seven years.

Domaine Jean Deydier ‘Les Clefs D’Or’ Chateauneuf du Pape 2015

Notes from the importer: In the late 19th century, Maurice Deydier founded this small estate in Chateauneuf du Pape. In the 1950s, Jean Deydier…planted new vineyards and acquired others, bringing his holding to 15 hectares. In 1957, Jean was awarded the medal of the Chevalier du Merite Agricole for “the loving, artisanal style of production that he brought to the development of his property, and the constant efforts he put to make it better.” Jean Deydier and his son Pierre in turn expanded the estate to its present size of 20 hectares of Chateauneuf du Pape and 12 hectares of Côtes du Rhone Massif of Uchaux. Today, Pierre is aided by his daughter, Laurence, and his nephew, Jean-Francois,

The estate’s holdings are located in Chateauneuf’s greatest vineyards. One is the “Pied Long” on the plateau north of the village of Chateauneuf, dominated by pebbles, and wide gold, round stones, over limestone-clay soil. Their 10 hectares of vines here were planted in the 1950s, with a majority of Grenache and other plantings typical to the appellation. The other part is in the famed “La Crau” vineyard to the east of the village. Here, the estate’s 6 hectares of Grenache and Syrah vines grow on a superbly exposed hillside with a stony, limestone-clay soil. The Grenache vines in La Crau parcel are 120 years old, having been planted in 1896. The domain practices sustainable viticulture. Only native yeasts are used and the wines are bottled without filtration.

The Clefs d’Or Chateauneuf du Pape is sourced from both vineyards. The blend is 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah and a field blend of 10% Cinsault, Muscardin, Counoise and Vaccarèse which are vinified together. The wine is fermented for 20 days in concrete tanks and then aged in large, 50 hectolitre casks for about one year.

This wine is imbued with scents of ripe red and dark berries, sweet lavender, white pepper, and hillside herbs. It’s smooth, classic Châteauneuf from an outstanding vintage.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

December 15, 2017

Champagne Huré Frères L’Invitation Brut NV 

Notes from the importer: As the story goes, Georges Huré rather reluctantly founded the estate in 1960, to satisfy the insistent dreams of his wife Jeanne. The name Huré Frères came about in 1971 when Georges passed on management of the domaine to his three sons—Jean Marie, Marc and Raoul. Since 2008, Raoul’s son, François, has been at the head of the estate after pursuing many other opportunities and inspiring wine regions as a young man. His prior stints include: falling in love with the terroir of Burgundy while obtaining his oenology degree in Dijon, becoming fascinated with biodynamics while working with Jean Pïerre Fleury, and exploring the vineyards of Australia and New Zealand. These experiences allowed François to understand the inherent advantages of both New and Old World wine regions: the traditional farming and respect for terroir of the former and the efficient modern techniques of the latter. Both serve him to create the terroir-driven and focused cuvées that mark the Huré Frères style today.

The domaine’s trademark cuvée is a blend of the three Champagne varieties: 20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, from three villages: Montagne de Reims (Ludes and Villedommange), Tardenois (Serzy & Prin) and Vitry (Vavray le Grand), with an average vine age of 35 years. Vineyard methods involve no herbicides, maintenance of natural ground cover, organic composts, and meticulous pruning, thinning, and canopy management. Villages, varieties, and parcels are vinified separately; 25% to 40% reserve wine depending on the year blended in by solera, 3 years aging on the lees.

Domaine Dublère, Bourgogne Blanc Les Millerands 2014

Blair Pethel, formerly a Washington DC-based political and economic journalist, first stumbled across Burgundy in the late 1980s. He was working and living in London at the time, but quickly made it a point to return to this fascinatingly complex region several times a year. During a sabbatical in 1999, he threw himself into a harvest stint, “and after that experience, it was only a question of when and how I was going to become a winemaker here,” says Blair. In 2003, he managed to acquire 3 hectares of vines and made his dream a reality. Read more about him here.

“Le Millerands” comes from a single de-classified plot of 30-40 year old vines in Meursault. Like the rest of the property, no pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides are used. Fermentation and malolactic are in older oak barrels (less than 10% new oak), followed by 16 months aging, and 2 months blending and settling in stainless steel tank. Bottled unfiltered and unfined, with minimal sulfur.

Domaine Thillardon, Chénas Les Boccards 2015

Paul Henri Thillardon biodynamically farms nearly 6 hectares of vines in Chenas, the smallest of the ten Beaujolais Crus in the far north of the region, situated west of Moulin-A-Vent. His vineyards are located on a plateau around the Catle Boccards in the town of La Chapelle-de-Guinchay where the soil is granitic (pink granite). Aging in oak barrels for 5 months (70%) but no new oak.

2015 was a hot year, and that comes through in this muscular Beaujolais. The nose reveals notes of ripe black fruits; on the palate, the wine is very round and rich, and finishes with silky tannins. This is a wine to enjoy now, or to lay down for a decade.

Domaine Dublère Beaune 1er Cru Rouge Les Blanches Fleurs 2014

(Importer notes are above)

Pinot Noir from vines planted in 1973. 100% de-stemmed, fermented with indigenous yeast, and aged for 18-20 months in older oak barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration. 2014 was a tough year for red Burgundy, especially in Beaune, with major hail damage for the 3rd year in a row forcing production way down (or eliminating entirely in some places), and difficult weather leading to lighter reds in general. But there are always producers making quality wines, even in the toughest of times. This wine is an example of harnessing every wayward ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy, cool, hail-studded, and wet vintage.

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

Dec. 8, 2017

Champagne Guy Larmandier Vertus “Brut Zero” 1er Cru

Notes from the importer: The cellars of Champagne Guy Larmandier are located in the village of Vertus at the southern base of the Cote des Blancs. This estate owns 9 hectares of vineyards, all located within the Cote des Blancs and distributed amongst the Grand Cru rated villages of Chouilly and Cramant and the 1er Cru rated vineyards of Vertus and Cuis.

Guy Larmandier established this domaine which, following his death, is now supervised by his wife, Colette, and their two children, Francois and Marie-Helene. Harvest is conducted manually, the Champagnes are aged a minimum of 36 months on the lees and the Champagnes destined for the US market are disgorged on order and receive a minimal dosage so as to emphasize the purity and finesse of this special terroir.

Sporting a more markedly floral, chalky nose than the classic disgorgement, this new “Brut Zero” version of the Vertus 1er Cru has a similarly chiseled frame to the Cramant. However, it is less obviously bone-dry on the palate—the ample character the village manifesting itself in a rounder overall texture. The wine is firm without being hard, with a great interplay of supple fruit and intense stoniness.

Arnaud Lambert Brézé ‘Clos du Midi’ Saumur Blanc 2016

Château de Brézé has been around since at least the 15th century, when it was served to royalty and held in the same regard as Château d’Yquem. In the 1600s, the white wines of Château de Brézé were known throughout Europe as Chenin de Brézé. Recently, the ‘Chateau’ bit has been dropped from the name and it’s now simply Bréze. How very Cher.

In 2009, the new owner of the estate asked Yves Lambert and his son, Arnaud, from Domaine de Saint-Just, to manage the estate. They got a 25 year lease and began converting the estate to organic farming. In a little less than a decade, they’ve restored the wines to the heights they achieved centuries ago.

‘Clos du Midi’ is 100% Chenin Blanc from the colder sites on on the Brézé Hill. The upper section of the hill is sandy, while the bottom is richer in clay. Both are atop tuffeau, the chalky limestone rock made up of compressed marine organisms that lived in floating colonies in the prehistoric Turonian era. The differing soil types, coupled with the limestone, create a wine of great tension and depth, with a rounded palate punctuated by lively acidity, and balanced with notes of honey, dried fruit, and touch of lemon…it’s a gorgeous wine. Pair it with lobster, scallops, salmon – all kinds of seafood really – or roasted poultry, pork chops, terrines…goat cheese…it’s quite versatile!

Domaine Gerard Metz Pinot Noir Cuvée Pierric 2015

Domaine Gérard Metz is a 12 hectare estate in the Vosges mountains of Alsace. The domaine grows Alsatian varieties, such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Riesling, Muscat & Pinot Noir. Farming is as organic as possible, but they are not certified; harvest is by hand.

Eric Casimir married into the Metz family and is now the winemaker. He’s a 3rd generation winemaker from Champagne, so his crémants are things of wonder.

Cuvée Pierric is made with grapes from 30-year-old south-west facing vines located
in Itterswiller. The grapes are hand-picked, sorted, and fully destemmed. The wine then spends about 12 months in oak casks.

This is a wine that can be aged up to 10 years, so if we’re going to drink it now, it should be decanted. It’s silky, elegant, earthy, mineral-laden…it’s Alsatian Pinot Noir.

Frank Cornelissen Rosso del Contadino 13th edition (2015)

For this vintage, Frank Cornelissen decided not to make his popular Susucaru Rosato and to instead put the fruit into Contadino, which is a blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese (85%) with other local varieties from old-vine vineyards: Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella nera, Uva Francesa and Minella bianco. We might like this latest edition best of all. It’s still got that wild, volcano-infused personality, but this 2015 isn’t so funky as previous vintages; as Cornelissen hones his craft, his wines become more structured, more elegant, more expressive. This one is a beauty.

Here’s some background: Frank Cornelissen was a Belgian wine novice in the year 2000 when he landed on the side of a volcano in Sicily, and made a big splash in the natural wine world. Until then, Etna wines were mostly sold in bulk, and certainly weren’t being taken seriously. Cornelissen, along with Andrea Franchetti of Passopisciaro and Marc de Grazia of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, were newcomers bringing attention to the potential of Etna wines. Since then he’s evolved and learned from his sometimes combustible environment. He mixes the modern with an unrivaled minimalist ethos; from the producers website:

Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be.

Cornelissen has 15 high-elevation hectares on the side of the mountain, 12 are planted to vine, 1 to olives. Biodiversity is key, and local fruit trees are interplanted with the vines, which probably keep the kept bees happy. New plantings are via selection massale, from pre-phylloxera vines. Yields are low.

Friday Tasting in the Shop; South American Wines: 5PM – 8PM

December 1, 2017

Meet Nieves Edwards, who represents Clos de Luz (where her brother is winemaker) and Andes Plateau. We’re tasting all reds this evening, on the mid-to-upper end of the price range (thinking gifts) from $24 to $60. Notes are below.

Clos de Luz Valle del Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Massal 1945’, 2014

Clos de Luz Valle del Colchagua Carmenere ‘Massal 1945’, 2014

Notes from the importer: Clos de Luz is a family winery located in Almahue Valley, known as the birthplace of Carmenere in Chile – Carmenere represents 75% of the plantings. Winemaker Gabriel Edwards currently runs his family domaine. The estate, bought by his great grandfather in 1892, now spreads over 33 hectares of vineyards, planted in 1945 by Gabriel’s grandmother, Luz. They are some of the oldest Carmenere vineyards in Chile, and probably in the world. The grapes were being sold for more than 20 years to Casa Lapostolle, until Gabriel decided to return to Chile and make his own wine.

Almahue Valley is located 70 miles South East of Santiago, 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 28 miles from the Andes Mountains. The viticulture history of the valley started in the XVIIth century during the Spanish colonization era. Modern viticulture started in 1933, when Gabriel’s ancestors planted French grape varieties such as what they thought was Merlot but later was discovered to be Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Climate: rain reaches to up to 22 inches during the winter, on average. The growing season (Oct-April) offers beautiful days and warm temperatures with no rain. There are cool breezes in the afternoon and night time temperatures are cold. A wide temperature fluctuation between day and night allows to obtain high concentration in color and tannin. The grapes ripen slowly and reach ideal maturity while retaining a high level of natural acidity, ensuring a long aging potential.

The domaine’s vineyards are 100% ungrafted and certified organic by Ceres. Because Chile is isolated from the phylloxera, they are planted “franc de pied”, giving a unique character to the wines. The vineyards are also 100% Massal selection from old vineyards, as opposed to a large majority of vineyards planted using clonal selection (all genetically identical plants). Massal selection consists in selecting good and healthy vines, and then propagating them from cuttings. This method preserves the natural diversity of the plants. The vineyards are plowed by horses, as the twisted trunks of the old vines make it impossible to use a tractor.

Andes Plateau 700 Red Blend 2014, Central Valley, Chile

Andes Plateau is inspired by the the altitude, colors, sky and terroir of the Andes Mountain range.

After working for two years at San Pedro Vineyards in Chile, enologist Felipe Uribe got his Masters in viticulture and enology from the Polytechnic University in Madrid. He then returned to Chile where he was assistant winemaker at Santa Helena Vineyard. From there he went to work at La Crema, then back to Chile where he was assistant winemaker at DeMartino, before becoming chief winemaker at Miravalle Vineyard.

700 is a red blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Carignan. It’s fresh as the mountain air, and imbued with mint, black pepper, and crunchy black fruit. Organic.

Bodega Chacra, Pinot Noir Cincuenta y Cinco, Patagonia, Argentina

Notes are from the importer, and here’s a nice New York Times article on the producer. And here’s a podcast.

Bodega Chacra is located in the Rio Negro Valley of northern Patagonia. The property’s location in the arid central Argentine desert is tempered by the confluence of the Neuquen and Limay Rivers, both of which flow from the Andes and converge in the Rio Negro.

The climate is dry and the area gets an average of seven inches of rainfall annually. This aridity, coupled with the natural barrier of the surrounding desert, results in a complete absence of phylloxera. The soil of the Rio Negro Valley, an ancient riverbed composed of limestone, sand, and clay, coupled with the Valley’s pristine pollution-free air and tremendous luminosity, makes for ideal conditions to grow Pinot Noir.

In 2004, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta purchased the first of Bodega Chacra’s vineyards, a property with an existing, though abandoned, vineyard planted in 1932. This vineyard of gnarled and ungrafted Pinot Noir vines was later added to a neighboring vineyard of vines planted in 1955. From these two old vine vineyards, Piero produces two distinct single vineyard Pinot Noirs. They are named “Treinta y Dos” and “Cincuenta y Cinco” after the dates of their respective plantings.

Cincuenta y Cinco comes from vineyards planted in 1955 which gently rest on a sea of pebbles, typical in riverbed soils. It is fermented with its whole bunches at very low temperatures, enhancing the floral characteristics of the wine. It is essential 90% whole cluster with the rest of the stems used to make the pied de cuve. Cincuenta y Cinco has the most tension of all of Piero’s wines. It is aged in a combination of mostly neutral oak barrels and cement.

Thanksgiving Wine Tasting with Vineyard Road, in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Friday Nov. 17, 2017

11 17 17

Note: Our Saturday tasting (Nov. 18th) will feature Wine Traditions French Cider instead of the usual beer. These ciders are so good with Thanksgiving, it seemed like a good route to go.

Same time, 3PM-6PM!

And here is today’s line up~

Hugues Godmé, Reserve 1er Cru Brut (NV)

Hugues Godmé represents the 5th generation to farm and make wine on his 11 hectare family estate in Verzenay. Although this area is dominated by Pinot Noir, Godmé cultivates Chardonnay on more than half of his holdings, with a balance of 30% Pinot Noir on his Grand-Cru certified sites, and the remaining 20% is Pinot Meunier.  Godmé works biodynamically, and gained organic certification in 2013. Fermentation is with natural yeast (when possible) in enamel-lined tanks and/or oak, such as with this champagne. No fining or filtration.

Godmé Reserve 1er Cru Brut uses a very high proportion of reserve wines, somewhere around 50%, and usually from the previous two to three vintages, adding depth and richness. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier come through as vibrant dashes of red fruit on a round and creamy chardonnay base. This is a lovely, lively, aromatic champagne that finishes with great length and finesse.

Alberto Nanclares Rías Baixas Dandelion Albariño 2016

Alberto Nanclares was an economist before he was a winemaker. A native of Basque Country, he left the region and his career behind in 1992, settling in the seaside parish of Castrelo, in close proximity to Cambados, a village well-known for Albariño wines. As luck would have it, the house that Alberto purchased came with a a little bit of vineyard land. At first he farmed this conventionally, but quickly turned away from this in favor of organic and biodynamic farming, a rarity here because of the humid conditions that can lead to viticultural difficulties. Alberto now farms 12 small plots across 2.5 hectares, all trained in the pergola-style (to increase airflow and reduce the chance of fungal conditions). Yields are very low, about half of what the DO Rías Baixas permits. Alberto uses seaweed from the nearby ocean for compost, and doesn’t plow in order to maintain and promote the natural flora and fauna. All the wines are fermented with yeasts from their respective vineyards.

Dandelion is a beautiful, salty, and sun-shiny Albariño. It’s from 30-60 year old vines from multiple plots in and around Cambados, planted on sandy soil over granite. Albariño is a naturally high acid grape, and Alberto embraces this; some in the DO will add potassium in order to soften the wine, but Alberto prefers the raciness of the grape. Most of his wines don’t undergo malolactic fermentation, but they do spend quite some time on the lees, often more than a year, giving the wine textural complexity and a long finish. Very little SO2 is used, mostly a dash at bottling, and wines are bottled without filtering or fining.

Domaine les Capreoles, Regnie Chamodère 2016

Notes from the importer: When Cédric Lecareux and his wife Catherine, native of Beaujolais, discovered the property, it was love at first sight. Located in Regnie-Durette, the wine estate, steeped in history for more than 250 years, charmed them with its old stones and ancient arched cellars. With an existing winery and 3.5 hectares of old Gamay vines surrounding the house, everything was there for them to combine their wine project and family life. They took the plunge and made their first vintage in 2014. Two years later, they bought an additional 2 ha of vines. A trained agronomist and oenologist, Cedric spent nearly 15 years working in the wine business before achieving his dream. Everything he does is hands on and natural; the results are purely-fruited, fresh Beaujolais that remarkably express all the richness of their exceptional terroir. Total production is around 2,500 cases.

The word “Capréoles” comes from the Old French and means vine tendrils. Cédric and Catherine chose this name for all it symbolizes: the reference to History and Tradition, the natural support allowing vertical growth of the vine but also the idea of the relationship they want to establish with those who appreciate their work.

Farming/vinification practices: in conversion to organic, will soon be certified. The wines are vegan. The grapes can be destemmed, depending on the years. Open tank fermentation, no pumping over, vinification as natural as possible but always with control – little SO2 added, only after malolactic in tanks.

Shiba-Wichern Willamette Cuvée Pinot Noir 2014

Akiko Shiba is a young Japanese winemaker who trained in Germany, and is now making gorgeous wine in Oregon. She was originally wanted to be a journalist and report on the world of alcohol; 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, Akiko’s husband got a job in Germany, so she moved their with him. 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.

Willamette Cuvée is a blend of pinot noir from three vineyards, here described by the producer: “Mild red and black fruits from the Havlin Vineyard, smells of summer-forest and black tea from Barrett Hill Vineyard and powerful dark fruits and spices from Eola Springs Vineyard all play well together to make the Willamette Cuvée complex, but not muddled. As the wine breathes the character continues to expand and present more depth.”

Willamette Cuvée was blended after barrel aging in 12% new French Oak for a little over 18 months and has been in the bottle since May 1st, 2016.

*Honorable mention wine we really want to taste, but we’ve maxed out at four: 

Adega Eloi Lorenzo, Ribeiro Blanco Villa Paz (2015)

Javier Monsalve is farmer and winemaker at this small winery in Galicia, started by his grandfather Eloi Lorenzo, in 1976. Javier farms his 5 hectares organically and biodynamically; most of his vines are planted on high altitude terraced slopes, and on soils made up mostly of granite, upon which Treixadura thrives. This wine is a blend of Treixadura, Albariño, Godello, and Torrontés.  It’s soft, easy, aromatic, and perfect for sipping while cheffing up feasts. And it’s called House of Peace, so that’s extra points right there.

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

Nov. 10, 2017

Finally, a beautiful, blustery fall day! We’ve been waiting for this. Maybe not quite this cold and windy, but it sure puts us in the mood for the big feasts and cozy feel of fall.

On that note, we’re tasting some more (not just for) Thanksgiving wines tonight. The pet-nat makes a statement and is a good conversation starter; the skin-contact Pinot Gris is delicious and beautifully packaged. Serve the two together and it’ll look like Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart are your personal shoppers. The other two wines in the line up are classic, humble, and easy-drinking. The perfect grab-a-bottle-and-go wines. All the notes are below.

Whalers Brewing from South Kingstown, RI is in the shop tomorrow, don’t forget to swing by!

Also, Veterans Day is observed today, so we don’t want to forget to give a shout-out to everyone who has served. It’s a tough job. We just sell booze.

Cheers and see you soon!

Supernatural Wine Co. ‘The Super-Nat’ Pétillant Naturel of Sauvignon Blanc, 2017, NZ 

Supernatural Wine Co makes certified organic, (practicing biodynamic since 2015) naturally vinified, low sulphur white, orange, and sparkling wines from a north-facing hillside estate in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Soils are lime-rich clay with volcanic influence, and the vines are around 15 years old. Hayden Penny has been the winemaker here since 2013. Hayden has made wine in Sonoma and Napa, Marlborough in New Zealand, the Yarra Valley in Australia, Toro in Spain, and in southern Bulgaria. He’s a fan of cool climate styles, and minimal intervention.

The Super Nat is a fun and funky (and super fresh) choice for your fall festivities. Pét-Nats are bottled before the first fermentation is finished, which allows carbon dioxide to be produced via the natural sugars in the grapes, giving the wines a gentle fizz. The scary label on this one will add a touch of drama to your table!

Kelley Fox Maresh Vineyard Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, OR

Kelley Fox created her small winery with her father Gus Stearns. The first vintage was 2007, and was just 100 cases. Annual production as of 2016 was 2000 cases, all from two vineyards: Maresh, and Demeter-certified biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard. Kelley might be an overachiever; she has a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology from Texas AM University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with dual degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University and was admitted to the PhD program in Biochemistry. In 2000, she decided to take a different path, and dedicated herself full-time to making wine.

Wines here are not manipulated at all. They are fermented with wild yeasts and no additives or enzymes are ever used. Kelley picks on biodynamically favorable days, and makes biodynamic preparations herself.

Here are Kelley’s slightly condensed notes on this wine: …These self-rooted vines were planted in 1991 on the northeast corner of the farm facing Mt. Hood, and the energy there is joyful and beautiful.…Pinot gris is not one of my favorites, and I wonder why. All of these years tasting the fruit in the vineyard, I have found nothing but delight. But this is Maresh Vineyard, and I know that that alone is enough to produce a Gris that I might like. I wondered before deciding how to approach it whether this dark pink Pinot grape really wants to be pressed off of its skins right after picking. Its true nature just might be that of a dark pink wine. That is why I fermented it on its skins. I might have gone a little too far fermenting it 100% whole cluster. In fact, I fermented it exactly like I ferment my Pinot. It was fermented in two macrobin fermentors. I did one pigeage a day, and pressed to taste at dryness. After settling, though, I racked it into a concrete amphora tank for élevage until bottling, and I allowed a natural, complete malolactic fermentation.

Depending on the lighting, the colour is either deep pink or medium peachy-pink like a sunset. It is very clear and light-reflecting, bordering on effulgent. At this time (July 2017), it smells like peaches and peach skins. I love the nose. There is both the fruit and the good kind of green that is that of something living and fresh. It is rather minerally and saline, too, and this is certainly not a fruit forward, tooty fruity fruit bomb by a long stretch. In the mouth, the fruit is there, but the frame can sometimes deliver a sucker punch, depending on one’s palate and sensibilities. I seem to notice this a lot more than anyone who has tried it so far. In six months or so, the fruit will emerge more fully from behind the frame, the minerals, and the slight salinity. The texture is classically Maresh Vineyard silky, and the finish is long. It is best served chilled.

Romuald Petit Chiroubles 2016, Beaujolais

Romuald Petit’s 12-hectare estate is made up of small plots of different age & origin (some are over 100 years old) that are farmed without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and are harvested by hand. Eight hectares are in the village of St. Verand, on the clay-limestone land of the Maconnais. This is where 80% the white wine is made. The other 4 hectares are dedicated to red in Morgon, and  Chiroubles (the latter a small plot of vines he inherited from his mother). Here the Gamay grows on decomposed granite soils so poor they’re referred to locally as “rotten rock”. This adds complexity and finesse to the wines.

Chiroubles sits at the highest elevation in Beaujolais and is therefore picked about a week later than the other crus. This wine is really pretty and velvety. There’s a touch of fresh, spongy earth mingling with red fruit that just makes you want to stick your nose in the glass over and over. It’s a joy to drink and it’s a no brainer for the holiday.

Chateau la Rame Bordeaux Rouge 2015

Chateau La Rame has been in the Armand family for over 100 years. It’s made up of approximately 120 hectares, half of which are leased, the rest is owned. They grow the classics here: Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, with an average vine age of 50 years, and Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a go-to, under $20 Bordeaux. It’s a little spicy, a little earthy, perfectly balanced acidity, nice ripe fruit. Another crowd pleaser!

More notes from the importer: The vineyards for this lovely red are at the base of the hillside vineyards of the estate in the village of Sainte Croix du Mont and are composed of sand, limestone and clay. The grape varieties are Merlot (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and the average age of the vines is thirty (30) years. The wine is fermented and aged in temperature-controlled vats and is bottled usually one year after harvest.