Category Archives: Tastings/Events

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:

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.

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.