Category Archives: Tastings/Events

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

August 18, 2017

Special thanks to staff member Ian Augustine for writing this week’s tasting notes.

Cantina Ribelà ‘Ribolie’ 2016, Lazio, Italy

You know the saying: When in Fox Point, do as the Romans do. Or at least that’s what I always say. Twelve miles south of Rome lies the ancient town of Frascati, set upon the volcanic slopes of the Colli Albani. This is where the wine of the Ancient Romans came from. The soils here are volcanic in origin, making them very fertile, porous and rich in potassium. Grapes grow like crazy here, and thus the region is best known for growing grapes of quantity rather than quality. But that’s not to say there isn’t some beautiful wine being made here. When one of the largest producers in Frascati began selling off vast swaths of their land about ten years ago, aspiring young winemakers Chiara and Daniele Bianchi bought some and began to farm it organically and biodynamically. They inherited about 2 hectares of vines planted with mostly Malvasia, and Trebbiano that range from 25 to 60 years old. The grapes are grown alongside parcels of olive trees, as well as cherries, apricots, peaches, and apples.

Their first vintage was in 2014, and from the get-go they have produced some truly stunning wines. We find ourselves now embracing the 2016 ‘Ribolie,’ a frizzante of Malvasia, Trebbiano, Bombino, and Bellone. In keeping with ancient traditions, this sparkling receives it’s first fermentation in open-top steel vats to encourage the presence of indigenous yeasts, and is then fermented for a second time in the bottle. The result is lively and expressive, with notes of wild flowers and fresh peach. It’s also got a pretty savory/funky side, in my opinion. This stuff is totally delicious to just sip on, but even better with some olives, smoked meats, or just a good pizza.

Guímaro Blanco 2015, Ribeira Sacra, Spain

The Ribeira Sacra D.O., an appellation of Galicia, is technically a newcomer to the world of Spanish wine. The appellation was only established in 1996, but the Romans were here over 2000 years ago making wine. The slow pace at which this region modernized meant that it all but fell behind in the canon of Spanish winemaking. Winemaking here is pretty intense. The vines are terraced on incredibly steep slopes, meaning that it’s nearly impossible to get machinery near the vines, and thus all work in the vineyard must be done by hand.

The wines of ‘Guímaro,’ made by Pedro Rodríguez were some of the first wines to join the Ribeira Sacra D.O. in 1996. Like all good Galicians, Pedro and his parents keep a mixed vegetable and livestock farm, which of course informs his rustic approach to winemaking. The techniques employed here (in both the vineyard and the cellar) are pretty old-fashioned, including foot treading, open top/wild yeast fermentation, stem inclusion, and only minimal sulfur addition. All grapes are grown organically, and treated as such during production in the cellar.

The 2015 Guímaro Blanco is a wine of un-oaked Godello, grown on sandy slate and granite. It is fresh, bright, and approachable. Somewhat floral and a bit savory on the nose. It drinks semi-dry with a balanced, rounded acidity, finishing out little zing on the back of the palette. There is definitely some salinity here as well. This is the perfect thing to carry you through the rest of grilled summer squash and zucchini season, and I imagine it would pair nicely with virtually any kind of seafood imaginable.

Bisson Ciliegiolo Rosato 2016, Liguria, Italy

Pierluigi Lugano started out his career in wine by trading bulk wines, then becoming a wine merchant, and eventually growing his own grapes. He now works with grapes from several small growers on the Ligurian Coast, in conjunction with his own, to make wine. Similarly to the Ribeira Sacra, the vineyards of the Ligurian Coast are characterized by bold, steep terraces, making it nearly impossible to work with machinery. Many of the grapes in this region were planted by the ancient greeks, and so the vines are remarkably old. Lugano is a total grape nerd, and thus the wines made under his ‘Bisson’ label feature relatively unknown heirloom varietals of grapes that best capture the terroir and growing conditions of the region; grapes such as Cimixià, Bianchetta, and Piago.

This particular rosato is made with a grape called Ciliegiolo (pronounced chilli-gyo-lo), a red grape native to Northern Italy. The color is a juicy, vibrant, out of control hot-pink, and it tastes just like it looks. It’s a bit dry, slightly zesty, and totally delicious with ripe red fruit and notes of candied strawberry. Grab the salami folks, because we’re going to charcuterie town with this one. Or maybe burger town. Either way, make sure there’s some blue cheese around.

Mosse Bois-Rouge 2015, Anjou, Loire Valley, France

The Anjou, an appellation of the southern Loire, is a magical place encompassed by two distinct regions: Anjou Noir and Anjou Blanc. The former is a much larger region composed of darker schist soils, and is famed for it’s production of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, and Gamay. The latter describes a type of chalky, gravely limestone soil, takes up a much smaller area and is celebrated for it’s production of Chenin Blanc. The winegrowing influence of the appellation dates back 1000 years.

Agnès and René Mosse arrived in Anjou in 1999 and purchased a small estate with about 10 hectares of vines, and now work about 17 of hectares. They work their vines organically and biodynamically, and are certified organic. Their wines represent some of the most exciting natural gems coming out of the Loire these days. They offer a classic and elegant representation of the grapes being used while simultaneously serving up the kind of youthful vibrancy and energetic zing found only in the world of raw wines at the moment.

The 2105 Bois-Rouge is a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is produced from younger vines, and given a short fermentation of only 14 days before bottling. It’s got an approachable barn-yardy bouquet, with a high acidity and almost fizzy mouthfeel. It’s bright, earthy, and very food friendly. I’d pair it with just about anything – a nice tart goat cheese, some garlicky green beans, peppery arugula, steak frites, and so on. Or pizza, because anything pairs with pizza in my book.

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

August 11, 2017

Weingut Keller, Rheinhessen, Germany

Klaus-Peter Keller is considered by many to be one of the best German winemakers; Jancis Robinson calls his wines the “Montrachets of Germany”. But he doesn’t make just high end, hard to find wines; he also makes entry-level wines that are just as meticulously made, but won’t break the bank. The organically farmed vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine River have been in the Keller family since 1789. The soil on these rolling hills is limestone rich, adding mineral intensity, vibrant aromatics, and glass-like purity.

We’re tasting two new arrivals from Keller tonight: 2016 Riesling Trocken and Scheurebe Kabinett (Scheurebe is a cross of Riesling and Sylvaner). These are pre-orders, just arrived, so we’ll be tasting them for the first time too. Keller doesn’t disappoint!

Tiberio Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo 2016, Abruzzo, Italy

When Riccardo Tiberio found a 60 year old plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines back in the late 90s, he knew he had stumbled upon something special. Most Trebbianos in the region are made from the far less exciting Trebbiano Toscano, but Riccardo knew what the grape was capable of achieving through masters like Emilio Pepe and Valentini. In 2000 Riccardo bought the 8 hectares of old vines, along with 31 more acres suitable for farming. He then planted indigenous varieties matched to the different soils of the vineyards: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano Abruzzese, and Aglianico, were planted along with Pecorino and Moscato di Castiglione clones from ancient vines in the area. The first vintage was released in 2004, and in 2008 Riccardo turned over the winery to his daughter Cristiana, who now makes the wine, and son Antonio, he farms the vineyards. At this point the farming is a mixture of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic, depending upon the site. Cristiana has quite the resumé, having worked with Jacques Selosse, Nicolas Joly, and Egon Muller, to name just a few.

The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is from 52 year old Montepulciano vines (selection massal) planted on 4 hectares of limestone at 1200 feet elevation. The fruit is picked early to preserve freshness and acidity, and then left in tank with only 20 minutes of skin contact, which is surprising, given its vibrant color and depth of flavors. This is a wine for the dinner table; it’s concentrated, fine-grained, and full of cherries, rhubarb, raspberries and spice, with a dash of orange zest and flowers. This is a rosé to drink year round, and will in fact evolve over the next year, if you can put some away for later.

North Hill Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Eve and Bill Holloran purchased a heritage vineyard in Dundee and another large parcel of land in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA in 1999. Their first harvest was 500 cases of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, produced in a converted horse barn. Bill is in fact credited with starting the “garagiste” movement in Oregon. Since 2005, Mark La Gasse has been the winemaker here, and Vincente Mora has managed the vineyards since 2013. Farming is sustainable, organic and biodynamic.

North Hill is a 2nd label for Holloran Vineyard that offers a very drinkable, solid Willamette Pinot Noir at a solid price. It’s elegant, smooth, balanced, and food-friendly.

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

August 4th, 2017

All Vini Conestabile Della Staffa

Notes condensed from the SelectioNaturel site: An arranged marriage in the 1700s brought together the Conestabile and Della Staffa families. The Conestabile family originated in Orvieto, the southwestern corner of Umbria, just north of Rome; the Della Staffa family dates back to antiquity and is from Perugia, close to the winery. The two noble families were interested in consolidating property and influence in what was a very poor region. In the 1800s, the property totaled over 700 hectares of agricultural land, with 100 hectares under vine. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Conestabile della Staffa was the most important winery in the area, producing 10,000 hectoliters of wine per vintage. Remnants of this winemaking history can be seen in the castle located at the top of the hill in the village of Monte Melino. Danilo Marcucci makes the wine here, on the property he shares with his wife Alessandra.

Quoting SelectioNaturel: In the 1920’s the hamlet of Monte Melino was home to over 20 small families, each relatives of the Counts of the Conestabile della Staffa. Danilo’s wife, Alessandra is the descendant (great granddaughter) of one of these Counts. The village essentially was a self-sufficient commune/fiefdom at that point. Work and profit sharing among the families was divided equally in all sectors of the farming; raising cows, growing and drying tobacco, making wool & silk, a cobbler, a school, a metalworker, and of course olive oil and wine.

In the post-World War era wine production dramatically decreased due to the reduced workforce for farming as people moved into the cities. The last produced vintage from the old cantina was in 1956. From 1956 until 2015 no wine was produced on the property, instead the grapes were sold off to the local co-op for this entire period.

Today Conestabile della Staffa is literally being reborn, re-envisioned by the work of Danilo Marcucci. It’s an undertaking of epic proportions. Over 12 hectares of vines, many of which have been in disrepair for over a decade, but were planted in the early 1970’s. Luckily the land was never touched by chemicals.

The wines are made in the most natural way, adhering to methods that Danilo has learned over the course of 20+ years of winemaking and farming experience from some of Italy’s great ‘masters’ (Lino Maga, Eduardo Valentini, Cappellano, Vittorio Mattioli and others).  Native grapes (grechetto, trebbiano, ciliegiolo sangiovese, Gamay del Trasimeno, canaiolo, sagrantino) are the backbone of the property, a truly inspirational project with a bright future. No yeast, no chemical corrections, no sulfur. “No technology”, as Danilo would say.

The wines we’re tasting:

Brioso Rosato Frizzante: Sangiovese rosé. Direct press. Partial primary fermentation in stainless steel before early bottling and refermentation in bottle. Not disgorged. No sulfur. Crown cap finish.

Conestabile Bianco: Trebbiano and malvasia. No skin contact. Natural fermentation w/o temperature control in open-top resin vats (500 liters). Aged in fiberglass and/or stainless steel. No sulfur.

Conestabile Rosato: Cabernet franc. Direct press, ‘fior di mosto’. Natural fermentation w/o temperature control in open-top resin vats (500 liters). Aged in fiberglass. No sulfur.

Conestabile Rosso: Sangiovese. De-stemmed, 4 day maceration on the skins before pressing and aging in fiberglass. No sulfur.

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

July 28, 2017

In addition to tonight’s tasting, Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista will visit us this Tuesday, August 1st, from 5-6:30pm for a wine tasting and book signing. We hope you can join us to taste these acclaimed, tiny-production Vermont wines. 

H&M Hofer Gruner Veltliner 2016, Wienviertel, Austria

Hofer is a 20-hectare, family-operated, certified organic estate, with top sites in Freiberg and Kirchlissen. In addition to vines, they grow organic grains (rye, barley, and alfalfa) for consumption and as cover crops. Wienvertiel is Austria’s largest growing region and is known for commodity wines; the high quality wines of Hofer stand out & raise the bar. All Hofer wines are produced using grapes that are destemmed, macerated for a short time, and fermented in stainless steel to preserve freshness and acidity. This wine is a liter of refreshing deliciousness. It’s herbal, dry, white-peppery (common in Gruner) with citrus-like acidity and a touch of stony minerality. Too easy to toss back. Have it with seafood, scrambled eggs, sushi, salads…it’s got most stuff covered, except for maybe super-spicy. A little spicy is ok!

Pierre Olivier Bonhomme “Le Telquel”, Vin de France (Touraine)

LE TELQUEL translates to ‘as it is’, but sounds like the french word for dachshund, hence the wiener dog on the label. Originally made by natural-wine trailblazer Thierry Puzelat (of Clos du Tue-Boeuf) and Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, Pierre-O has been solely making the wine since 2011, and since 2014, only his name has graced the label. Read more about all that here.

Every release is slightly different, but we’re pretty sure this is a blend of mostly Gamay, with some Grolleau and maybe some Pineau D’Aunis from vines planted on flint. The wine is aged in wooden tanks and bottled in the spring. It’s light & spicy, with tangy fruit and lots of acidity. Put a slight chill on it for the complete vin de soif experience. Au naturale, unfiltered, etc…

La P’Tite Vadrouille 2016

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

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

Domaine Elodie Balme Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2015

Elodie Balme began her foray into wine making at just 19 years old, when she quit her wine sales job to study viticulture and oenology. As part of her coursework, she was placed with Marcel Richaud, a pioneer of biodynamics in the southern Rhone. The two became friends, and Elodie was inspired to go deeper into organic and biodynamic winemaking. With Marcel her mentor, Elodie founded her domaine at 23 years old.

2006 was her first vintage, which she produced from four hectares belonging to her father Bernard, who had been a viticulturist his whole life. Until Elodie joined him in farming and production, he had worked his property conventionally. Elodie has eliminated pesticides and herbicides entirely in most of the 14 hectares she farms (there are a couple stubborn parcels that still get one treatment per year) and Bernard has stopped using systemic treatments on all 28 hectares. They are getting closer to 100% organic every year. The grapes from the other 14 hectares that Elodie doesn’t farm are sold to local co-ops.

Fermentation is spontaneous with native yeast. and the wines are vinified and aged in concrete, with no added sulfur during production. The wines do get a tiny dose at bottling.

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Eleanor Léger of Eden Specialty Ciders in the shop!

Friday, July 21, 5PM-8PM

eden ciderWe’re excited to have Eleanor Léger of Eden Specialty Ciders in the shop tonight!

But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be lazy right now and use the note we wrote a few weeks ago when these first arrived 🙂

Eden Specialty Ciders works with traditional New England heirloom varieties, as well as bittersweet old-world varieties that originated in France and England. They farm biodynamically and only press once per year, and use the natural winter cold of the farm to concentrate the flavors and sugars of the apples. Everything we tasted was delicious–and the apple ice wine is a flavor and textural dream; it takes over 8lbs of apples to make one 375ml bottle, and we would definitely hold it upside down to get the very last drop. Also, there’s a rosé cider, and that is positively speaking our language.

Orleans Cider Aperitifs are made by Eden in collaboration with Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista (who will be here on August 1st!). For these vermouth and bitters substitutes, they fermented their natural apple concentrate to make a pure dry cider and then infused with them with herbs and roots. The Herbal is infused with Vermont grown herbs, the aromas of which waft gloriously from the glass. The Bitter is infused with red currant and blended with dandelion, gentian and angelica bitters from URBAN MOONSHINE in Burlington, Vermont. orleans

Definitely don’t miss the opportunity to try these New England beauties, they’re all such a treat!

We also want to say thanks to all the producers, importers, and industry peeps who are so kind to visit our shop and share their knowledge and expertise with us, and to say thanks to our customers who always welcome them with such enthusiasm – you guys are all the best!

Cheers!

Partida Creus Tasting Tonight with Álvaro de la Viña, 5PM-8PM

Friday, July 14, 2017

Álvaro from Selections de la Viña is in the shop tonight with new arrivals from Partida Creus. We even got a few mags of BS, which, if you’re gonna call a wine BS, it really should come in a mag. We tried it last night and it is so damn good. We only have three bottles so we won’t be sampling this one, but Fortnight might still have some available by the glass…even though you should really just buy the mag 🙂

Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerosa are the couple behind Partida Creus. Originally from Piedmont, the two (who are both architects) moved from Italy to Barcelona because of that city’s rich architecture. In 2000 they sought out a slower and more bucolic lifestyle, so they moved once again, this time to Massís de Bonastre in the Baix Penedés. They started farming, and when they found it difficult to find wines made in a lighter, minimalist style, they began recovering forgotten old vines of local, low-yielding, grape varieties, many of which had been  disqualified or never allowed into the D.O. Partida Creus farms organically, of course, and adds nothing in the cellar, it’s all native yeast fermentation, natural acidity and no sulfur. The wines are fresh and refreshing, with lots of acidity, low alcohol, terroir-driven minerality, and sometimes sherried-nutty-gamey undertones which turn into a bouquet of fresh flowers with a little bit of bottle age. These wines are living things, and each stage of their development offers new and endearing traits. Selections de la Viña also sells out of these wines before they even land in the states, so don’t miss this chance to taste them and grab some for yourself. We might have to keep a mag of BS for ourselves though….

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

July 7, 2017

Schlossgut Diel Riesling Trocken 2015, Nahe, Germany

Caroline is a 6th generation winemaker at her family’s 25 hectare estate in Nahe, Germany. Her father Armin Diel owns the estate, and is well known for his work to promote German wine and food culture. Their steep vineyards sit upon soils of gravel, slate and quartzite, and the wines are known for their precision, clarity, and balance, above all. Viticulture is almost entirely organic, and fermentation is carried out spontaneously in cement. Read more here. 

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl Spätburgunder Rosé Trocken 2016, Pfalz, Germany

Von Buhl is a 62 hectare organically farmed estate in Pfalz. It was founded in 1849, and was at one point part of the Jordan Estate, a leader in fine German wine production. The Von Buhl estate and its buildings are protected as national monuments. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. It’s dry (trocken), fresh, flecked with red fruit, and zesty. 

Ampeleia Unlitro 2016, IGT Costa Toscana

Elisabetta Foradori. Elisabetta took over the grape growing and winemaking duties at the family estate in Trentino, Italy, when her father died young in 1985. Since then she has transformed the estate from the ground up, converting to biodynamic viticulture and bringing the region back to valuing quality over quantity. When the website Corkbuzz asked her what her 10-year goals were, this was her answer: “To create an independent agricultural union. To help ease my children into adulthood. To have a garden that can feed all those that come to visit. To be aware and happy every day.” Thumbs up to that. 

Ampeleia is a joint venture from Elisabetta Foradori and a few friends. The Unlitro is, yes, a liter of glou-glou deliciousness. It’s mostly Alicante (Grenache) and some Carignan and Alicante Bouschet from vineyards planted at 200-250 meters above sea level, then fermented and aged for 6 months in cement. Organic, very low SO2. Put a little chill on it, toss it back. 

Brett Brothers Beaujolais-Leynes Glou de Jeff, 2014

Notes from the importer: These young brothers, much praised by the more intelligent press, are incredibly talented. They have the unmistakable, and highly contagious, spark of people who are trying against difficult odds to raise the standards of an appellation. They are neither alone or the first, but they are part of a very small handful of revolutionaries in the Mâconnais. You will find almost no new oak in their cellar; if think you have tasted some, it is just a testimony to the incredible transparency of their style, letting even the taste and aroma of one to three year old barrels through.

This wine is unique for the Bret Brothers as they neither harvested nor vinified it. It was created by Jean-François, “Jeff” Promonet, a winemaker friend just starting his career in Leynes. He was having trouble selling all of his production in 2013, so the Brothers offered to bottle and sell his wine, and continue to do so!

Certified organic, 100% Gamay, 50 year old vines from 400 m altitude, steep, south-facing slopes. Vinification and aging in concrete.

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

June 30, 2017

Tegernseerhof Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2016, Wachau, Austria

Notes from the importer and producer: Martin Mittelbach is the sixth generation to lead this winery. It is his declared goal to use the vineyards’ enormous potential to produce unique and distinguished wines: “Following ancient traditions, we select our grapes for their agility and vitality. Quality comes before quantity. Our wines reflect our values: they impress through their expression of vineyard and grape variety rather than their alcohol of sugar content. Their finesse comes naturally from a combination of soil, climate, and traditional viticulture.”

This wine comes from up to 50 year old vines planted on sandy soil. Apples, pears, flowers and wild herbs are backed up by a lively mineral core and crisp, refreshing acidity.

La Grange de Piaugier Cotes du Rhone Blanc, 2015

Jean-Marc Autran, took over the winery from his father Marc in 1985, who had previously inherited it from his father, Alphonse. Jean-Marc acquired more vineyards and, with the assistance of his wife Sophie, developed the sale of his wines in bottle. The winery soon became too small and they extended it in 1995 to enable them to mature and store the wines in the best possible conditions. Today, Sophie and Jean-Marc cultivate 3.5 hectares within the Gigondas AOC, 12.5 hectares in the Sablet AOC and 14 hectares of Côtes du Rhône vineyards. Farming is organic.

This is a delicious little white counterpart to the Sablet rouge we’ve been loving for so long. It’s a new addition for Piaugier, and is a blend of mostly Grenache, Roussane and Viognier, fermented and aged in concrete. It’s lush and plush, but not flabby; there’s lots of vibrant acidity here! Honeysuckle and ripe, spiced pear mingle with oranges and crisp apples. It’s a delicious, full-bodied white that will go nicely with creamy dishes with a hint of sweetness, grilled veggies, and shrimp and other seafood.

Château des Sarrins 2016 Rosé, Côtes de Provence

This property is owned by Champagne producer Bruno Paillard. It’s an organic blend of mostly Cinsault along with four other grapes, from a gravity fed winery at 800 feet elevation between Marseille and Nice. It’s light and crisp (just like Bruno’s Champagne!) and red-berry fruit driven. Drink it like we drink rosé: FTW.

Paterna il Rosso 2016, Tuscany

Paterna is a 15 hectare fully functioning farm in the Tuscan hills, established in 1985 by a group of friends looking to get away from the tourist market that Tuscany had become. In addition to grapes (indigenous only), they cultivate local products like cheese, honey, salumi, etc. The farm has been organic since the beginning, but they go beyond that by working naturally in the cellars as well, with only indigenous yeast, and little to no sulfur.

Il Rosso is a blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo, fermented outdoors in cement tanks, without temperature control. This is a lively wine, with lots of cherry, red fruit, and zesty, food friendly acidity, but also an iron-like streak of minerality and rustic tannins that make it perfect for your outdoor table full of cured meats, cheeses, olives and paisans.

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