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.
June 30, 2017
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.
June 16, 2017
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.
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”
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
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.
We feel pretty special that Hank will be in the shop sharing his La Clarine Farm wines with all of us; definitely don’t miss this! Thursday, June 22nd, 4:30-6:30PM.
Come out for a casual evening of special glass pours and flights of orange wine and rosé. Full Chez Pascal and Wurst Kitchen menu available, no rsvp necessary. 960 Hope St. Providence.
This is always one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, and it’s also one of the most fun. This Friday will be extra-special (and extra fun!) since we’ll have the guys from Farmer Willie’s with us, followed by a French wine tasting with Leigh of Wine Traditions. Our Saturday beer tasting will feature a visit from CT’s Thimble Island Brewing Co. Swing on by, grab some sips. And happy graduation, happy long weekend!
FRIDAY 3-5PM: FARMER WILLIE’S Alcoholic Ginger Beer
FRIDAY 5-8PM WINE TRADITIONS with Leigh Ranucci
SATURDAY 3-6PM: THIMBLE ISLAND BREWING
May 19, 2017
Domaine Philemon Perlé Gaillac Blanc
Perlé Gaillac Blanc is all fresh deliciousness. It’s 60% Loin de L’oeil, 20% Muscadelle and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The property in southwest France has been in the Vieules family for over 200 years; today Mathieu Vieules grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportion.
This wine is the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to warm-weather food: it’s lively, citrusy, ever-so-slightly spritzy, and balanced out by a bit of garden herbs and green apple. And it’s well under 15 bucks.
AJ Adam Riesling Trocken 2015, Mosel
Here’s a good telling of the Andreas Adam story. And here are more notes from the importer (clearly we’re too hot for writing): This Estate Trocken (Gutsriesling) is entirely from Dhron. Like a good Bourgogne Blanc it’s sourced from several top vineyards to make a wine that speaks to the vintage, region and style of the producer. The fruit harvested was very clean and at about 79 oechsle, similar to his Hofberg Kabinett. Fermented with spontaneous yeast in stainless steel and a bit of old fuder, the fermentation stopped at 7 grams of RS, “where it finds it’s balance”.
Champagne Moutard Brut Grand Cuvée NV
The Moutard family has been farming in Buxeuil, in the Côte des Bar since 1642, and has been making wine since 1927. In addition to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, they also grow heirloom varieties Petit Meslier and Arbanne on their 20 hectares of vines. Grand Cuvée is 100% Pinot Noir, and like all the champagne produced at Moutard, it spends a minimum of 3 years on the lees. It’s a rich, ripe, and approachable style, with nuts and brioche on the nose, and a creamy texture. At under $40, it’s very affordable farmer fizz.
Étienne Courtois L’Icaunais 2013, Loire
Notes from the importer: Claude Courtois has created a small farm which exempliﬁes what biodynamic is in terms of biodiversity and self-sufficiency, although he does not consider himself to be a biodynamic grower. He farms a balanced & completely chemical free 13-hectares of vines in the heart of the VDP Sologne. Courtois also grows organic wheat, which he feeds to his cows. “Nothing comes into my vineyard,” he says, meaning no chemicals ever. He has created a well-balanced, bio-diversity with trees, fruit trees, vines, woods, and ﬁelds. No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or synthetic chemicals of any kind are allowed on the vines or in the soil of the vineyards. He has his own methods for promoting the diverse life of the soil. The grapes—Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Côt (Malbec), Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc & Pineau d’ Aunis—are harvested by hand and only indigenous yeasts are used during fermentation. Claude regards the soil on his farm as a living organism. He lives in harmony with nature and the wines he crafts are a pure and vibrant testament to outstanding Biodynamic winemaking.
Claude, who is growing older, has started to pass off the winemaking to his son Etienne, who is already showing immense promise…read more.
May 12, 2017
Tonight Peter Buckley of Vineyard Road is in the shop with two French producers. We’ll taste a couple wines from Gilles Bonnefoy in Cotes de Forez, and another two from Domaine Leliévre in Lorraine.
Gilles Bonnefoy’s Les Vin de la Madone is situated so far on the Loire River that it’s actually closer to Beaujolais. Côtes du Forez is located on a geological fault formed in the Tertiary Period when Africa pushed into Europe and formed the Alps. There are up to 105 volcanoes in the greater area of AOC Volcanique Du Massif Central; thirty of them are in Côtes du Forez, and Gilles’ vineyards (in both Cotes du Forez and Urfé) are situated around two of them. So volcanic soil plays a big role here. Gilles has been tending vines here since 1997. He biodynamically farms 8 hectares in the village of Champdieu. Seventy-five percent of his vines are planted on volcanic soils of Urfé, the rest are on clay and granite.
Domaine Lelièvre is located in Cotes de Toul, Lorraine. The Lelièvre family goes back generations here, to the time when Romans first planted vines. At one time Cotes de Toul, situated just 60 miles south of the German border, was a thriving wine-production region, covering parts of Alsace and Lorraine. It was famous for Riesling (this makes sense, as it’s located on the western banks of Moselle River–follow it north and you’re in Mosel, Germany) and as a source of base wine for Champagne. Unfortunately the region was ravaged by phylloxera, war, rabid industrialization and poor vineyard management. During the First World War the German occupation, and subsequent liberation by the Allies, left most of the vineyards as battle trenches. The final blow came in 1919, when a law was passed restricting the name champagne to the wines made from grapes grown in the region of Champagne. By 1951 there were only 30 hectares of vineyards left and most of the wine was bottled by negotiants. In 1998, a handful of remaining vignerons fought for and won AOC status. The Lelièvres were one of the producers to champion the region. After the famous 1971 vintage, Jean Lelièvre decided to no longer sell to negotiants and to bottle everything at the estate. From there the family started to rebuild, replant and recapture the glory of Lorraine. It is still an obscure little region, with most of the wine staying within the area, and very little of it leaving France. Lelièvre makes about 1100 cases annually, and they’re one of the most well known producers in the area.
The wines, not necessarily in order:
Madone Sauvignon Gris et Blanc de Madone, VdP Urfé, 2014
60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sauvignon Gris, this is an elegant, clean, mineral-driven beauty. Delicate, rocky, with echoes of Sancerre and Aligoté. Think seafood and summer, should we ever see the sun.
Gamay de Bouze and Gamay Noir de Madone, Gamays sur Volcan VdP Urfé, 2014
A blend of two varieties of teinturier (red-fleshed) Gamay, this is a vibrant wine full of cherries, bright acidity, barely-there tannins, and a touch of dried herbs. Sauçissons, roast chicken, fresh and grilled veggies…
Domaine Lelièvre Gris de Toul Rosé, 2015
A blend of 90% Gamay and 10% Pinot Noir from the producers best plots located in Lucey, Bruley, Blénod les Toul and Buligny. The well-drained clayey slopes are protected from the wet winds coming from the West. Grapes were hand-harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel, matured briefly on the lees, and then assembled just before bottling. This wine is salty, tart, tangy, bright; pink grapefruit up front and a dash of cherry on the finish. Delicious. It might be a little too delicate to handle spicy food, but it’s game for just about anything else. Just fill a glass!
Domaine Lelievre, Sparkling Gamay Rosé Leucquois
Come on, it’s fizzy Gamay with a bunny on the label. Fun, crushable, puts a little hop in your step in the midst of grey days. Glug-glug!