|Nigl Gruner Veltliner Freiheit 2016, Kremstal, Austria
Weingut Nigl is a 25 hectare property in the Krems Valley on the edge of the Seftenberg mountain. While technically in Kremstal, it’s important to note that the the difference between this region and Wachau, to the west, is merely political; the geology is very similar, with both on terroir of primary rock, or gneiss. But because of the forested mountains of Seftenberg, Nigl experiences cooler nights than Wachau, and greater diurnal swings, therefore the growing season is longer, and the wines can develop more depth and character.
The Nigl family has been farming in Kremstal for over 200 years but Martin Nigl is a first generation winemaker. He started out in 1985, after convincing his family to stop selling their small quantity of fruit to the local co-op and to instead bottle it themselves. The vineyards are ideally situated on terraces of Seftenberg’s southwest facing slopes, as well as some old-vine (75+ years) vineyards of mostly Gruner in the village of Krems. Martin never uses herbicides or insecticides, plants cover crops of legumes and herbs, and even avoids copper (frequently used in biodynamic farming), which he considers detrimental to his vines and soil.
Freiheit (which means freedom — the vineyards are believed to be some of the first privately owned in the valley, not controlled by the Church or a feudal estate) is sourced from 4 different vineyards in the hills above Krems. Martin works almost all in stainless steel, doesn’t de-stem, and uses only native yeast. We like Terry Theise’s tasting notes: It’s sternly loessy but not “sweetly” so; it even has power, and a lovely nubby texture, with aromas and flavors of lentil and sorrel and barley, with a faro starchiness. We sell a lot of it, and if you’re a long-time buyer I promise you, you’ll take the first sip of this and think WTF got into this?
Domaine Eugene Carrel Vin de Savoie Rosé 2017
Domaine Eugene Carrel is located in Savoie, in eastern France, in the village of Jongieux. It’s situated on 59 acres of steep slopes on the Chavaz Mountain. This is where the French Alps begin, and it is a region famous for cheese, vermouth, and part of a little bike race.
Winemaker Olivier Carrel represents the third generation to run the estate. They grow all the traditional varieties here including Jacquere, Altesse, Gamay, Pinot, and Mondeuse. Domaine Carrel is poured in every restaurant and bistro in Savoie.
This rosé is 80% Gamay and 20% Mondeuse, a grape that can produce juicy, peppery, flavorful wine when it has to struggle for nutrients, or somewhat insipid wines if the growing conditions are too easy and fertile. Luckily, 20% of this wine had to suffer for our enjoyment. This rosé is kind of tooty-fruity on the nose, but the back end has a bit of grip and a pleasing, blackberry bitterness. We’d pair it with a plate of cheese and the Triplets of Belleville.
Chateau du Breuil ‘Couleurs du Breuil Le Grolleau’ 2016, IGP Val de Loire
Chateau du Breuil was established in 1822 in Savennières, near the banks of the Layon. The estate is 30 hectares, 16 of which are planted to Chenin, 10 to Cabernet, 2 to Grolleau Noir, and 1 each of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The soils are mainly schistous clay in the Layon parcels, and 100% schist in the 2 hectares of Savennières. The property was purchased in 2006 by friends Michel Petitbois and David Vigan, who converted the farming to organic, and are now starting to explore biodynamics.
This is a fun little 100% Grolleau from young vines. It’s a minerally, peppery, fresh-acidity, fruit forward, grill and swill kind of wine.
Dashe Cellars Dry Creek Zinfandel 2014
Husband and wife winemaking team Michael and Anne Dashe focus on producing “exceptional, single-vineyard wines using a traditional, non-industrial approach to winemaking”. Their first vintage was a 1996 Dry Creek Zin. They partner with small growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and surrounding areas, seeking out older vines, steep hillsides, and low-yielding conditions. They avoid chemicals in the vineyards and cellar.
This 2014 Zin is from 5 small family vineyards in center and northern part of Dry Creek Valley. 5% Petite Sirah was added for structure and aging potential. The wine was fermented with native yeast and aged for 10 months in 20% foudre, and 80% older French oak. There’s black pepper, lavender, chocolate and cherries on the nose that follow through to the palate, where they continue to mingle with anise and raspberry.