Friday Tasting in the Shop, 5PM – 8PM

April 14, 2017

Partially TBD:

The beautiful weather has got us a little distracted, so we’re still deciding on which wines to taste tonight. Except we do know that we’re opening up Château la Colombière “Le Grand B” Bouysselet. Philippe and Diane Cauvin work this family-owned property in Fronton organically (certified), and ferment with wild yeast, and little to no sulfur. We love their Negrette (maybe we’ll open that too) which is soft and approachable, with lots of dark fruit and depth. Bouysselet is pretty much on no ones radar. Philippe and Diane were researching the history of winegrowing in their appellation when they stumbled across this grape they didn’t even know existed. They found two 200-year old vines on their property, and through Selection Massale and grafting, have slowly turned those two vines into one acre. So this wine is from the only acre of these vines known to exist in the world. That’s pretty special. The wine itself is lush and tropical, with beautiful acidity, and a finish that hangs around and makes your mouth water for more food and wine. It’s a great pair for seafood and shellfish. Definitely stop in to try some if you can.

In addition the Colombiere, we got some other new wines from MFW, and Dressner is arriving today, more rosés are rolling in…so we have many delicious choices for tonight’s tasting. But we’re keeping you in suspense!

Cheers and see you soon!

Friday Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

mosse AnjouAgnès & René Mosse Anjou Blanc 2015

Agnès & René Mosse were managers of a wine bar/wine shop in Tours before they decided to give up retail and city life in favor of the country, and wine production. They bought their estate in Anjou in 1999, replanted many vineyard blocks, and adopted organic and biodynamic farming practices.

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc from younger vines (planted in 2000, 2001, and 2002) on four different parcels of Mosse vineyards. The vineyards are on southwest facing slopes and planted on soils of clay, sand and gravel atop a bed of schist. Grapes are hand-harvested, carefully sorted, and then left to ferment naturally in small wooden barrels. The wine goes through both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, and then ages in barrel for 12 months. It’s texturally gorgeous, rich and soft but with beautiful acid and mineral presence (a dash of residual sugar balances out the acid), a little nutty, a touch smoky…it’s just delicious. Think scallops and rich seafood, herb-crusted goat cheese and soft cow’s milk cheese, squash and sweet corn…Yum.

Clos Saron, Sierra Nevada Foothills
Tickled Pink 2014
Out of the Blue 214

Gideon Beinstock and Saron Rice are husband and wife owners and famers of Clos Saron in California’s Sierra Foothills, which they established in 1999, after decades of experience in viticulture, winemaking and farming.

Here, Gideon describes how it all began: “It all started with a half acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, planted in the “wrong” place. Early in 1995, my wife Saron and I were asked by our friend Leonard if we wanted to take over his small (0.5 acre) vineyard and make some wine for ourselves… By then, I suspected that the reason his home-made Cabernet-Merlot blend tended to fall firmly on the leaner and meaner side, had more to do with the unusually cool micro-climate in which he planted his vines than with the very humble way he was making them in the tiny rustic stone cellar he built with his own hands. I asked if he would let us experiment with grafting it over to Pinot Noir, a grape variety famous for its affinity to such conditions. He said yes, and Saron proceeded to graft these 400 vines to Pinot; we also doubled the vineyard density by “own-rooting” a Pinot vine between every two grafted ones. This is how our “Old Block” came to be. Three years later Leonard sold us this piece of land and Clos Saron was born.”

The Sarons “Home Vineyard” as they call it, is now 2.5 acres, and planted with 4500 own-rooted Pinot Noir vines. While the Sierra Nevada Foothills isn’t known for Pinot production, this vineyard enjoys a microclimate that is beneficial to producing “a distinctive, expressive rendition of this variety”. The vineyard is situated at 1500-1600ft altitude, on clay-loam topsoil, and a subsoil that is a mixture of decomposed granite, volcanic ash, granitic rocks and quartz. The earth is pure, uncontaminated, and alive with earthworms and microorganisms.

In addition to the Home Vineyard, Clos Saron has branched out (and up; their Stone Soup vineyard is at 2000 feet elevation) over the years. In 2011 they also started planted 2.5 acres directly connected to their Home Vineyard; they had some setbacks due to drought, but in 2015 they completed planting varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Riesling, Petit Manseng, Syrah, Trousseau, Mondeuse, and more Pinot Noir. While they wait for these vines to be ready, they work with trusted friends and grape growers for some of their other cuvées, which brings us to this rosé.

Tickled Pink, full description from the producer: A co-fermentation of Syrah/Graciano/Viognier, this is our first rose to have been entirely stomped by foot. After a short two-day maceration, the red fruit was pressed onto the Viognier and completed fermentation on the white skins/stems. The wine was aged in barrel for 15 months before bottling. It is immediately fascinating in its subtlety and aromatic intricacy, and has the potential to age as well as our red wines.

The grapes for this wine were grown by Markus Bokisch in low rolling hills east of Galt, California. The soil is decomposed granite, washed down from the Sierra Mountains. 120 cases produced.

Out of the Blue Cinsault 2014

The 2014 (98% Cinsault, 2% Syrah) is our last vintage of this wine… This vintage has its tell-tale mesmerizing floral/spicy nose, with a bit more stuffing and tannin than in the past. The acidity is outstanding this year, which is not to be taken for granted for Cinsault. It has the potential to age for a decade or two, for those who can keep their hands off it… 190 cases produces, 30 ppm total sulfites added at bottling.

Envinate Táganan Vinos Atlanticos Tinto 2014, Tenerifetaganan

Notes from José Pastor: Envínate Real Wine from Real Folks

Envínate (Wine Yourself) is the brainchild of 4 friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez. This gang of 4 formed back in 2005 while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. Upon graduation, they formed a winemaking consultancy, which evolved into Envínate, a project that focuses on exploring distinctive parcels mainly in the Atlantic-inflected regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands. Their collective aim is to make profoundly pure and authentic wines that express the terruño of each parcel in a clear and concise manner. To this end, no chemicals are used in any of the Envínate vineyards, all parcels are picked by hand, the grapes are foot-trodden, and the wines are fermented exclusively with wild yeasts, with a varying proportion of whole grape clusters included. For aging, the wines are raised in old barrels and sulfur is only added at bottling, if needed. The results are some of the most exciting and honest wines being produced in Spain today.

Táganan – The old local name for the vineyard area located on the northeast side of Tenerife. In this area, the vineyards are planted “wild” on primary volcanic rock, on cliffs just above the Atlantic Ocean. The vineyards are very old and are mix planted with many different native grape varieties. Due to the rugged and difficult terrain, all farming has to be done by hand, and harvest is usually performed with the help of animals in order to be able to transport the grapes.

We almost didn’t want to open this one; we’re tempted to save what’s left for ourselves. But fine, we’ll share! What else can we say, this wine is so damned delicious. It’s a blend of Listan Negro, Listan Gaucho, Malvasia Negra, and a bunch of other unidentifiable grapes from vines about 100 years old. The northern coast of Tenerife has a rather temperate climate, allowing the grapes to ripen with moderate alcohol levels, while retaining acidity. The biggest challenges here come from strong winds from the Atlantic and Africa, and fluctuations in humidity. In any event, all the Envinate wines we tasted were evocative, complex, earthy, sublime; there’s all kinds of umami going on here, the texture is silky goodness, there’s a bit of rocky mineral, salty twang, that certain-something you get with volcanic wines…it’s just so good. We had it with portabello mushrooms sautéed in palo cortado sherry and it was a match made in heaven.

Friday Tasting in the Shop, 5PM-9PM

March 24, 2017

Weingut Keller Gruner Silvaner Trocken 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany

Klaus Peter and Julia Keller’s dry Rieslings are considered by many to be amongst the greatest expressions of the grape; Jancis Robinson calls them the “Montrachets of Germany”. But they don’t make just high end, hard to find wines; they also make entry-level wines that are just as meticulously made, but won’t break the bank – like this one. 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 gem-like purity. Gruner Silvaner is what they call Silvaner here (literally “Green Silvaner”, and not the same grape as Austria’s Gruner Veltliner). Silvaner is the offspring of Savagnin, a grape mostly known for vin jaune in the Jura, and Traminer, aka Savagnin Blanc (a relative of Gewurtztraminer).

This 2015 Silvaner is beautifully balanced and bursting with flowers, peaches, and stony mineral freshness. It will pair perfectly with spring, should it arrive.

Swick Rosé of Pinot Noir Pétillant Naturel 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon

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.

In any event, we are really happy to snag some of this Pét-Nat rosé. We tasted the barrel sample with Joe back in October, and loved it then for its juicy, grapefruity fabulousness. This is day-drinking fizzy, and it would be a go-to summer bottle, but alas, there will be none left. Only 33 cases were produced, so get it now or don’t get it at all.

It’s from grapes that are hand-harvested, then pressed as whole bunches. Indigenous yeast fermentation is for 3 weeks in 6-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.

Domaine La Réméjeanne “Les Chèvrefeuilles” Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2014

François Klein established Domaine La Réméjeanne in 1960 on 5 hectares near the town of Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard. It’s now operated by his son Remi, and grandson Olivier. Remi diversified the property with olive groves and fig trees, and worked over the years to convert the domaine to organic farming; it’s now 38 hectares and has been certified organic since 2010.

Les Chèvrefeuilles is 70% Syrah, 10% Grenache and Mourvedre, 5% old-vine Carignan, and 5% Marselan (a cross of cabernet sauvignon and grenache noir). This wine is soft and fruity up front with blackberries, a touch of plums, and hints of chocolate and mint. Tannins are fine-grained, and the finish is long and pleasant. Pair it with poultry, grilled meat, roasted vegetables; the fresh and fruity character can handle a bit of spice and umami too.

Domaine de la Noblaie “Les Temps des Cerises” Chinon 2014

This property, 24 hectares situated at one of the highest points in Chinon, dates back to the 15th or 16th century. The domaine now houses four generations of the same family; Jérome Billard is the current winemaker. He earned his chops as an intern at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux, and Dominus in California. He returned to Chinon and the family domaine in 2003; in 2005 the property was certified organic.

Aside from the high slopes upon which it is situated, Noblaie also sits upon soils of limestone, clay and chalk. All harvests are carried out by hand, and by the same crew year after year. The wines here are fermented and aged in stainless steel, some in barrel, and some in chalk vats carved out of the earth. That’s pretty darned cool.

Les Temps des Cerises (Cherry time!) is from vines averaging 30 years old, grown on tuffeau. Wild yeast fermentation, 8 months in tank, no sulfur during production, little to none added at bottling. This is pure Loire Cab Franc, with all the telltale traits you know and love: medium-bodied, with a little bit of raspberry, a touch of lead pencil, a dash of brambly forrest floor, and sure, cherries too.

Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Friday, March 3, 2017

Elvio Tintero Vino Rosato
90% Barbera, 5% Moscato, 5% Favorita

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 fun, fruity and lively (gentle) frizzante from young vines planted on clay, limestone and tufa. It’s produced and bottled by vintage, (this one is 2016) but because Tintero sources from different parts of Piedmont, there is no specific DOC, and therefore vintage dating is not allowed. This wine is bottled unfiltered.

Les Vins Pirouettes ‘Tutti Frutti de Stéphane’ Binner & Co. 2014, Alsace

Importer notes: Les Vins Pirouettes is a project launched by Christian Binner, that brings affordable natural wines to the table, and at the same time helps organic and biodynamic grape growers in Alsace move away from selling their grapes to cooperatives towards making and bottling natural wines. Each cuvée is made at a young growers winery. They supply the grapes and Christian supplies his 20 years of expertise in making natural wine in Alsace, and of course his marketing and distribution savvy. Each cuvée will feature the name of the grower on the bottle.

Tutti Frutti is a blend of Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Muscat grown on limestone silt, from vines about 40 years old. Grapes are hand harvested, de-stemmed, and fermented with indigenous yeast and zero sulfur. The wine stays on its lees for several months before being bottled without sulfur, filtering or fining. Tutti Frutti is all about texture and orchard fruit.

Azienda Agricola Al Di La Del Fiume ‘Fricandò’ Albana, 2015, Emilia-Romagna

We first tasted this wine back in October, and we continue to love it! It just got some bigger love than ours though, with a little shout out in the Feiring Line: “Hate apple cider in your wine? Then pass, but if like me this is a non-issue, you’ll find plenty of enjoyment here. Macerated in anfora for up to three months, there’s a lot of tannin from the thick skins and a lot of complexity. This is a full on lovely wine with a plush crustiness in the texture and blushing apricot.”

“The Farm Beyond the River” is a small, biodynamically farmed, 27 hectare property, 3 of which are planted to Albana and Barbera. Everything here is done by hand & without chemicals or additives.

Fricando is amphora fermented & macerated Albana, a rare, thick-skinned grape indigenous to Bologna. Whole clusters are added to terracotta vessels where it slowly ferments, and then the wine is bottled unfined, unfiltered and unsulfured. As a skin-fermented wine, Fricando pours a deep, brilliant amber. Along with the cidery notes, it’s also umami driven, and pleasantly oxidative. Don’t over chill, a little cool will do.

Poderi Cellario È Rosso, Piedmont

Fausto & Cinzia Cellario are 3rd generation winemakers in the village of Carru` on the western outskirts of the Langhe. They focus on indigenous grapes, farm entirely organically, and only use wild yeasts. Sulfur is avoided, but may be added in tiny quantities at bottling, if at all.

È Rosso is a liter of Barbera grown at high altitude. It’s gluggable and slurpable, full of berries, spice, woodsy earth and subtle tannins – and under crown-cap for easy access!

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

February 24, 2017

Jean Masson Apremont Vielle Vigne Traditionelle 2015, Savoie

Jean Masson’s 9 hectares of vines are located in Apremont, a high-elevation commune with a magnificent view of the Alpine mountain range. The vineyards here are upon limestone, with large stones that were scattered by the collapse of Mount Granier in 1248 (which incidentally killed over 1,000 people).

Jean’s vineyards are planted mostly to the local variety Jacquère, with a little bit of Altesse as well. He farms organically, and makes focussed, mineral driven wines. This one is dry and floral, with rock-driven minerality, zesty acidity, and a crisp finish.

Domaine de l’Aujardière Fié Gris 2015 VDP de Loire

In 2005, after years of sourcing fruit for a large negociant in Touraine, Éric Chevalier returned to his hometown of Saint-Philbert de Grandlieu, just southwest of Nantes. A year later, he ended up taking over the family domaine. His father, a talented vigneron who did not bottle much of his own wines, was well-known as a high-quality source of bulk wine. Unfortunately, he had stopped working the vineyards and the vines were either going to have to be pulled up and replanted, or the domaine would have to be sold. Éric took on the task of restoring the vineyards and today he is proud to be the fourth generation to farm the domaine.

The 25-hectare maritime-influenced property sits upon rocky soils rich in granite, quartz, metamorphic rock, sand and silt (this area was once ocean floor). Nearly half of the property is planted to Melon de Bourgogne; the other half of his crop (mostly Chardonnay, Fié Gris, and Pinot Noir) goes towards the production of Vin de Pays du Val du Loire, or “country wine”, the most notable being the Fié Gris. This indigenous grape (also known as Sauvignon Gris or Sauvignon Rose) was mostly pulled out of vineyards and replanted with the more profitable Sauvignon Blanc. Éric’s vines are some of the only ones that remain in the region. This Fié Gris has qualities that hint at Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. It has the raciness and green streak of Sancerre, and the texture and depth of Alsace. Drink it cool, not cold, or else the elegant subtleties will be lost.

Thierry Germain ‘Les Roches’ 2015 Saumur-Champigny

Thierry Germain left his native Bordeaux for the Loire in the early 90s, when he was just 23 years old. He was seduced by the land, and fell under the spell of Charly Foucault of Clos Rougeard, of whom the great Charles Joguet of Chinon once remarked: “there are two suns. One shines outside for everybody. The second shines in the Foucaults’ cellar”. Inspired, Thierry converted all of his vineyards to biodynamic farming. His domaine, Roches Neuves, with vineyards planted in the Saumur (Blanc) and Saumur-Champigny (Rouge) appellations, are considered amongst the best examples of biodynamically-produced wines in France. Indeed his wines are hard to come by, as most stay in Europe. We got a little bit of this one, as well as Bulles de Roches (non-dosage sparkling from 65 year old (mostly Chenin) vines on a 1.5 ha plot), a teeny-tiny bit of “L’Insolite” (still wine from 90 year old Chenin Blanc on 3 ha), and an equally small amount of “Terres Chaudes” (Cabernet Franc, 45 year old vines from a 4 ha plot). All are 2015 vintage.

Saumur-Champigny is on a tuffeau plateau in the village of Champigny. Les Roche is 100% Cabernet Franc from 25 year old vines, grown on a 6 ha plot of chalk, sand, clay, and limestone. Grapes are 100% destemmed, fermented in stainless, then aged in stainless steel and wood tanks on fine lees (without sulfur) for 3 to 4 months. It’s pure, full of crunchy red fruit, and vibrant acidity. Get it before it’s gone.

Fredi Torres “Classic” Priorat 2014

Fredi Torres was born in Galicia, spent much of his childhood in Switzerland, spent nearly a decade as a DJ in the European house music scene, and then made his way into the wine world (he studied viticulture and winemaking in Switzerland, Burgundy, Argentina, & South Africa) and came full circle back to Spain in 2004, landing finally in Priorat. There he founded Sao del Coster with partners from Switzerland; the focus from the get-go was on organic and biodynamic farming and non-interventionist winemaking. Eventually he and his partners parted ways, and Fredi went on to purchase his own 8.5ha in Priorat. He also farms a nearby 5ha plot in Monsant, and he recently started a project with two friends in Galicia, where they are restoring old vines on treacherously steep and rocky slopes of Ribeira Sacra.

This wine is 75% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, 3% Syrah and 2% Macabeo, and it’s impossibly fresh and drinkable for a Priorat. It’s only 13.5% alcohol, in a land where 15% is normal. All Fredi’s wines are fermented with native yeast, no fining or filtering, and only the tiniest amount of sulfur at bottling. The goal is to make wines with bright acidity, pure fruit and low alcohol, and he has succeeded. Here you have rich and dark earthiness mingling with lively minerality, pretty flowers, plums and blackberries, wrapped around elegant, fine-grained tannins. Don’t miss this one either!

Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Friday, February 17th

Tonight in the shop we have Gian Lorenzo Ernesto of Picollo Ernesto in Piedmont, and Enrico Pierazzuoli of Tenuta Pierazzuoli/Cantagallo in Montalbano, and also of Tenuta La Farnete in Carmignano, Tuscany. These two winemakers are friends who travel to promote their wines together, and we’re very happy to have them in our shop tonight. Picollo Ernesto is a 3rd generation producer on 8 hectares in Rovereto di Gavi. These high elevation, sunny, southern exposure vineyards are farmed traditionally, without chemicals. The Gavi made here is refreshing, minerally, lightly fruity and sunny like the hillsides.

Enrico Pierazzuoli’s family has owned their 200 hectares of olives, grapes and forest in Montalbano and Carmignano since 1970. The Pierazzuili/Cantagallo property is in Montalbano DOCG, a subzone of Chianti known for a lighter, fruitier, more acid-driven style. The family’s vineyards are located in the southern part of the region, and planted on marl, making the Sangiovese-based wines a bit fuller and softer, but retaining balanced, appetizing acidity.

Tenute la Farnete is in Carmignano, a region in Tuscany that has been considered one of the best for red wine production since the Middle Ages. The vineyards are situated on a series of low-lying hills; as a result, the Sangiovese that makes up the base of the wines is lower in acid and with softer tannins than in Chianti Classico. It’s the only Tuscan DOC to require the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon (up to 20%).

We’re looking forward to trying the wines from these two friends tonight. We hope you can join us!

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

February 3, 2017

Il Farneto Rio Rocca Spérgle Frisant

The name Rio Rocca comes from a valley in the province of Reggio Emilia. Spergle is an old grape variety (dating back to at least the 15th century) from the Scandiano Hills in Emilia Romagna. It was on the verge of extinction until a farmer decided to resurrect it.

Il Farneto is 8 hectares of biodiverse land and vineyards, farmed biodynamically. Spergle Frisant is made from grapes that are hand-harvested and carefully sorted. It’s unfiltered, contains little to no sulfur, and fermented with only naturally occurring yeast. It’s light and pretty, with pithy citrus notes of fresh grapefruit. It’s a lovely brunch wine or starter.

Domaine des Gandines Viré Clessé ‘Terroir de Clessé’ 2015

Domaine des Gandines is located in the middle of Maconnais, and was created by Joseph Dananchet in 1925. It is still small, now only 1.5 hectares, and still in the same family. They practice biodynamic farming, were certified organic in 2009, and say that their entire harvest is done by hand, “in a good mood”. That’s important!

Terroir de Clessé is from grapes from small vineyards in the village of Clessé. The wine is made and aged on fine lees for 12 months in 5000L barrels. It’s ripe, concentrated, and full of hazelnuts, apples, apricots, and sunshine.

Château de Brézé ‘Clos Mazurique’ Saumur Rouge 2015

We tasted the white in the shop a few weeks back; here’s the red.

Château de Brézé has been around since at least the 15th century, when it was served to royalty and aristocracy. In the 1600s, the white wines of Château de Brézé were known throughout Europe simply as Chenin de Brézé, and were held in the same regard as Sauternes and Chateau d’Yquem, to the extent that royals exchanged them annually. The Chateau just outside of Saumur is also designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.

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 immediately began converting the 25 hectare property to organic farming. In a little less than a decade, they’ve restored the wines to the heights they achieved centuries ago.

‘Clos Mazurique’ is 100% Cabernet Franc grown on silty soil atop limestone rock, and fermented in concrete. It’s lively, friendly, brambly, and elegantly textured.

Masseria Guttarolo Lamie Delle Vigne 2015, Puglia, Italy

Cantine Cristiano Guttarolo is located in the former stables of an old stone farmhouse in Gioia del Colle (Jewel of the Colle), which is itself on the Murge Plateau in Puglia, about 400 meters above sea level. The winery was founded in 2004 and is certified organic, but practices biodynamic farming and natural winemaking. Many of the wines here are made in amphora; all of them are macerated on the skins for 14 – 18 days, with spontaneous fermentations with indigenous yeast, and spontaneous malolactic in the spring. The wines of Guttarolo are elegant and refined, in contrast to the frequently plodding and overripe examples of Primitivo in the region.

Lamie Delle Vigne is from a 1.5 hectare vineyard of 25+ year old vines, planted on limestone and clay. Constant sea winds and cool nights lift the aromatics and add freshness and vibrancy. The grapes are hand-harvested in late September/early October. After fermentation, it’s aged in stainless steel, then bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur. It’s salty, sunny, and full of fresh, fleshy fruit. Have it with spaghetti and meatballs, puttanesca, hard Italian cheese, and antipasto.

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

January 27, 2017

Becker Family Pinot Gris 2014, Pfalz, Germany

Becker Estate is made up of 28 hectares in Schweigen (in southern Pfalz), on the border of Alsace. Now on its 7th generation, Becker is known as a top producer of Pinot Noir in Germany. Since the vineyards have been in the Becker family, the border between France and Germany has changed many times, the last time in 1945. Now, 70% of their holdings are actually in Alsace; the winery itself is in Germany. A 1955 accord grants them and five other vineyards the right to continue to call themselves as German. In exchange, the French got water rights to the springs of Schweigen and some lumber rights from the local forest.

This Pinot Gris is aromatic and full of citrus, apples and tropical fruit. Pair it with root vegetables, creamy squash soups, and as a foil for spicy food.

Keller Riesling Trocken 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany

…Keller has inspired an entire generation of young winemakers and single-handedly given birth to a Renaissance in the Rheinhessen. Storied vineyards that were all but forsaken – Kirchspiel, Hubacker, Morstein and Abtserde to name a few – are now seen as holy ground for Riesling and command some of the highest prices for dry wines in Germany. Read more from the importer here.

This Riesling has lots of acidity, tempered by aging on the lees. Peaches, apples, lemons, honey and honeydew all bounce around on your palate. Delicious.
Domaine des Pothiers Référence Gamay 2015, Côte Roannaise, Loire

Domaine des Pothiers is one of the oldest estates in the appellation. The Paires family has been here for over 300 years; as well as tending nine hectares of vines, the family also raises cattle. They are certified organic since 2010, and also practice biodynamic farming, though not certified.

Référence is 100% hand-harvested Gamay grown on granite. It’s soft and round, aromatic, brambly, with lots of raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. The finish has the slightest touch of tannins. It’s gluggable.

Mas D’Alezon “Le Presbytère” 2015 Faugères

Catherine Roque is a pioneer in Faugères. She has two high elevation properties totaling 17 hectares: Mas D’Alezon, and Domaine du Clovallon, which she co-runs with her daughter Alix Roque. Catherine saw the promise in this somewhat unsung region in the Languedoc, and planted varieties that aren’t typical, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Reisling, Viognier, Roussanne, Clairette and Petite Arvine. She fully embraced biodynamic farming, and now both of her properties adhere to the practice. Her wines are produced with indigenous yeast, without sulfur, and are bottled unfiltered and unfined.

Mas d’Alezon focusses on grapes that are native to the region. Presbytère is 80% Grenache from 70 year old vines, with the remainder a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre, from 80 year-old vines. This is a silky wine, ripe with cherries & plums, balanced by earth & dried hillside herbs, and finishing with a touch of gaminess and soft tannins.

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

January 20th, 2017

Marc Pesnot “La Boheme” Melon de Bourgogne, 2015

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

Harvest is by hand at maximum ripeness. The fruit undergoes a slow manual pressing and rests on its lees for at least 9 months. There’s lots of refreshing acidity in this wine, tempered by pears, green apple, crushed stones and a touch of creaminess. Pairs nicely with shellfish, salads, chicken, and light appetizers.

Château de Brézé Saumur Blanc ‘Clos du Midi’ 2015

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.

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. This being Chenin, also expect honey, dried fruit, a touch of lemon…it’s a gorgeous wine. Pair it with lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops – all kinds of seafood really, salads with simple viniagrette; it’s versatile and a crowd pleaser.

Fun facts about tuffeau: In addition to being used for the châteaux of royalty and nobility that line the banks of the Loire River, tuffeau also made up the homes of the general population. Carved out of cliff sides and tunneled underground, the snaking network of troglodyte caves was turned into homes for artists, monks, craftspeople, soldiers, farmers, etc. The greatest concentration of troglodyte caves is in Saumur. During the Norman invasions of the 9th and 10th centuries, the caves provided the region with defense and escape routes. The cool, damp, consistent temperature of the caves also makes them great for storing wine (of course) and for mushroom beds.

Piaugier Sablet Cotes-du-Rhone Villages, 2014

Notes from the importer: Alphonse Vautour made his wine in a cellar at the top of a little hill to the south of Sablet – called ‘Les Briguières’ – where he owned 6 hectares of vines. The winery was named ‘Ténébi’, after the old owner of the house.

Alphonse had to go down the hill, his mules loaded with barrels, to wait for the wine merchant to come by. If the merchant didn’t come, or didn’t buy his wine, he had to climb back up with his reluctant mules. So in 1947 he decided to build a new winery on the road below, where the Piaugier cellars are to this day.

Jean-Marc Autran, Alphonse’s great-grandson, took over the winery from his father Marc in 1985. He 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 Autran cultivate 3.5 hectares within the Gigondas Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée area, 12.5 hectares in the Sablet AOC and 14 hectares of Côtes du Rhône vineyards. Farming is organic.

Sablet is a blend of Grenache and Syrah from 12.5 hectares of vines that are approximately 25 years old, grown on clay, with limestone and sand. Grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, and fermented in tank with natural yeast. It’s matured for 2 years in used barrique as well as concrete tank, and is the only wine here that is filtered.

It’s bold, spicy, perfumed, with warm-stone minerality and a long, elegant finish.

Claude Courtois Racines 2013, Soings-en-Sologne, Loire valley

Notes from the importer: Claude Courtois has created a small farm which exemplifies what biodynamics is all about 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, 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 & only indigenous yeast are used during fermentation. Claude regards the soil on his farm as a living organism. He lives in harmony with nature & the wines he crafts are a pure & vibrantly alive testament to outstanding Biodynamic winemaking.

Racine is a blend of Cabernet franc, Malbec (Côt), Cabernet Sauvignon from 5-15 year old vines grown on clay and limestone. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and gently pressed. Only natural yeasts are used and the juice undergoes an extended maceration. Vinified in barrel and then aged for 18 months in oak.

Tasting Note: Deep purple in the glass with a dark amber rim. The nose is redolent with pounded stones, plum, cherry pit, warm iron and damp chalk. The palate has great depth of dried currant, fig and plum hewn to a deep mineral bed. The wine has lovely acidity, a terrific structure and finishes with red berry fruit and mineral zest.

Pairing: Pan seared duck breast, grilled streak, rabbit stew over polenta and cassoulet.

All the complexity that biodiversity can provide a wine. Racines is Claude’s attempt at creating a wine the way Burgundy was made a hundred years ago, from many different varieties… Racines is a rediscovery, a realization of what great wine once was!