Category Archives: Tastings/Events

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

June 16, 2017

Val de Mer Petit Chablis 2015

Val de Mer is Patrick Piuze’s second winery, co-owned with François Moutard, of Champagne Moutard. Patrick Piuze made wine in Chablis for more than a decade for producers such as Olivier Leflaive, Verget, and Jean‐Marc Brocard; in 2008 he started his own label. Demand for his wine was great, especially in the US, but Patrick was not interested in increasing production. He had an idea of doing another small project of the same quality just for the US market, but he didn’t have the capital to make this happen. Then in 2010 François Moutard purchased a few hectares of vineyards in Tonnerre, a village about 20 minutes outside of Chablis. François asked Patrick to help manage the vineyards and make the wine, and out of this partnership, Val de Mer was created. Farming here is the same, essentially organic, though not certified, and the winemaking is very similar at both properties: hand-harvesting, spontaneous fermentation, and élèvage in used barrels for 1er Cru and Grand Cru, and tanks for entry-level. Some of you are probably familiar with the non-dosage Cremant, which we’ve been loving since last fall… But now for the bad news: Val de Mer was hit hard by hail last year, and the future of the property is not certain. We’ve purchased what’s available to us, but there’s no guarantee of procuring the wine in the future. This is what divides the small farmer from the factory producer, and why we’ll continue to support the little guy every chance we get; when mother nature comes stomping through their vineyards, these producers can’t call on their investors and lab managers to make it right, they live and die by that year’s harvest, and sometimes they can’t recover. And every year, the wild weather and hail just seems to get worse and worse. Anyway, enjoy this wine (and the sparkling) while you can, and remember that these winemakers aren’t trying to build empires, they’re just doing what they love and sharing what they love with us.

AOC Petit Chablis forms one of the rings of the Chablis area, with soils dating from the Tithonian age (152-145 million years ago), a little more recent than those of the other appellations in the region. The soil is usually hard, brown limestone, and sometimes silty or sandy. The wine is 100% Chardonnay, and typically tangy and evocative of the sea, even though the AOC is inland. Flowers, flint and citrus on the nose are coupled with a little bit of fatness on the palate that’s balanced by refreshing acidity. This is a perfect seafood wine: sushi, sashimi, shrimp, lobster, oysters…it’s a lovely little white.

Marc Pesnot (Domaine de la Sénéchalière) “Miss Terre” Melon de Bourgogne 2015

Marc Pesnot organically farms 13 hectares of fifty-plus year old Melon de Bourgogne vines near the city of Nantes, on the western edge of the Loire, in the Muscadet appellation. His old vines thrive in schist rich soils, adding depth and character to his wines.

Miss Terre is from vines that are 50 to 80 years old. This wine is set apart from Pesnot’s other melon de bourgogne, La Boheme, because it undergoes malolactic fermentation, which adds a touch of softness to this minerally wine, as well as depth and substance. There’s still lots of lively acidity, along with savory notes and pithy fruit on the finish.

Gauthier (Domaine de Bel Air) Bourgueil “Jour de Soif” 2015

Catherine and Pierre Gauthier have been making wine on their 18 hectare property in the heart of Bourgueil since 1979. They’ve been certified organic since 2000, and in 2005 their son Rodolphe officially joined the domaine, ensuring their lineage for at least the next generation. They were friends with famed and too-soon-departed Didier Dagueneau, who recommended these “masters of cab franc” to a US importer. Work in the vineyard and the cellar is all by hand and meticulous. Their cellar was in fact carved directly out of one of their vineyards, providing it with natural temperature control. All fermentation is with native yeast.

Jour de Soif is meant for early consumption. It’s soft, dark fruit, refreshing acidity, pretty violets and subtle foliage notes. Put a little chill on it and enjoy.

Triennes, Provençal Rouge “St. Auguste” 2013

Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac, and Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, are the partners behind this 46 hectare property established in 1989 in Provence. Just a little bit of name recognition there….this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot from organically farmed vines grown on clay and limestone. It’s fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 12 months in french barrels seasoned at Domaine Dujac. It’s lightly fined, and unfiltered.

This wine is pretty delicious. Lots of raspberry, blackberry, with a touch of black licorice and fresh black tea leaves. It’s got body, depth and fine tannins. This is your cozy wine for cool nights, but it would also be lovely with sunny southern french fare, like a big bowl of bouillabaisse.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop – All SelectioNaturel

June 9, 2017

We’re excited about tonight’s line-up of SelectioNaturel wines, and grateful to importer Matt Mollo, and Wine Wizards rep Kat Cummings for providing us with such colorful notes for this newsletter; they make us feel like we’re there!

Fondo Bozzole Foxi Trebbiano Romagnolo 2015

Matt’s notes: Brothers Franco and Mario Accorsi are farmers at heart, more specifically they primarily cultivate orchards filled with local varieties of pears and apples. The farm was run by their grandfather Ezio who raised cows and produced cheese sold in the local markets around south eastern Lombardy. Today Franco and Mario have integrated orchard fruit production with several small parcels of old vineyards and focus on producing wines from near-lost indigenous varieties of lambrusco. All the vineyard work is done organically (certified), yields are limited and natural fermentations and low sulfur additions are key to their production. The OltrePo` Mantovano is, as the name suggests, on the banks of the Po` River Valley to the south of the village of Mantova. Soils are clay and limestone mixed with alluvial deposits left by the river. This unique and tiny DOC is the only appellation outside of Emilia-Romagna that produces true lambrusco.

Kat’s tasting notes: The thing that appeals most to me about Foxi is that it’s an entirely new experience every time I drink it. I always forget just how much I love it. It’s fresh and lively and immediate but also a little round and ever-so-slightly caramel. And dangerously easy to drink. Better to have two bottles. Also don’t you want to sing that Fergie song about it and say “foxi” instead of “flossy”

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

Rabasco Vino Rosato Cancelli 2016

Kat’s notes: Iole Rabasco is magic. She grows mostly old-vine Montepulciano (with some old-vine Trebbiano and olives and magic fagioli perle thrown in for good measure) on her 10 hectare estate in the hills of Pianella. Another wonderfully magical thing to know: there are crazy old (think 130 year old) olive trees right outside her front door. I know because I saw them when her family generously welcomed a group of loopy, wine-weary travelers into their home this spring. For dinner we were offered not only the aforementioned perle beans alongside thousands of pastas and meats, BUT ALSO bread baked by Iole’s mom, Giulia, using yeast from the second racking of Salita Rosso, Iole’s red cuvée from the ultra steep La Salita vineyard. But I digress.

Pianella is situated in the north-central corner of Abruzzo, an area blessed with a unique set of micro-climates — the Adriatic is some 40 kilometers away, offering tempering maritime influences, while the base of Gran Sasso flanks the western edge of the Rabasco property. I’m assured that some short months before our March visit there was snow piled everywhere.

No chemicals ever touch Iole’s vines or the wines in her cellar. The Rosato Cancelli is direct press Montepulciano from the Cancelli vineyard site, a bowl that starts at the base of the La Salita slalom run and jumps a small road to climb the more gentle adjacent slope. This wine is part of a serious Abruzzo tradition — no skin maceration as is the custom, a fact belied by its electric raspberry hue. In 2016, Iole opted to ferment the rosato in cement and then age in stainless steel (rather than her classic fiberglass damigiana used in years past), producing a super fresh and vibrant wine laced with tension and electricity. This isn an all year round, family sort of wine, meant for pairing with whatever brings your family to the table. It is pure joy, refined and elegant but still ready to dance barefoot at the end of the night. To recap, it is magic. – Kat Cummings

Ceppaiolo:

Matt’s notes: This tiny property acts as the purest, most rudimentary “laboratory” for Danilo Marcucci’s natural wine designs. Here no compromise is taken. Given the exceedingly small scale of the property, 4 rows of vines that total less than 1 hectare, Danilo and his friend Riccardo can do things on a different wavelength…no time frames, no yielding. The beauty of Ceppaiolo is that it displays the classic “contrasto Italiano” with clarity…plain and simple, Ceppaiolo is a dump. Nothing more then a run down cement farm house that lies mostly in disrepair with bombed out old Fiats and farm equipment scattered around the property. There’s no electricity, no bathroom. Just a 4 rows of some of the oldest, rarest and most ‘antique’ varieties of Umbrian vines, all white, that can be found in the region; trubiano (trebbiano dorato), malvasia bianca, grechetto, fumaiola (a rare variety of verdicchio), uva pecora, san colombana. Winemaking is beyond rudimentary…no pumping, nothing more then 1 old barrel, a couple resin tanks, a cement vat and some demijohns. Here the ‘terroir’ is not the soil or the altitude but the old vine material and the vision of Danilo and Riccardo, basta.

Ceppaiolo Bianco 2105: All the white varieties, harvested fully mature. De-stemmed, skin contact for 2 days. Aged in resin and bottle.

Ceppaiolo Rosso 2014: Sangiovese, Vernaccia rossa, canaiolo. 10 days skin maceration, aged in old barrel and bottle. No sulfur.

Here’s the whole newsletter.

Tastings in the Shop for Memorial Day/Brown Grad Weekend 2017!

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

Farmer Willie's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Traditions

Friday Wine Tasting in the shop, 5-8PM

May 19, 2017

Domaine Philemon Perlé Gaillac Blanc 

perle

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.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM: Vineyard Road

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.

Vineyard Road Selection

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!

Click here for more info on events and new arrivals.

Friday Wine Tasting, 5PM-8PM: Perlage & Clos du Gravillas

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.

Fümp!Fest at Bucktown! Friday, May 5th!

bucktown fump festRain will force fizzy festivities indoors, but that won’t dampen the fun! Come get fried chicken by the piece or bucket, and fizzy by the glass or bottle!

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?

 

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

April 28, 2017

Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal Méthode Traditionelle

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.