July 6, 2018
Alessandra Bera didn’t wait for her family’s wines to be discovered by a world class importer like Louis/Dressner, in 2002 she got in touch with them herself. Her vigneron friends in France told her that her and her brother Gian Luigi’s style of natural wine making would be a perfect fit. Those friends were none other than Pierre Breton of Bourgueil, Marcel Richaud of Cairanne, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat in Cheverny, and Claude Maréchal in Burgundy. With friends like that…obviously Vittorio Bera & Figli was added to the portfolio.
The estate, in the Canelli region of Piedmont, dates back to 1785, when Bera’s ancestors purchased land from the Knights of Malta. Cultivation of grapes here goes back to the 13th century, and it’s particularly well known for Moscato. Bera & Figli is in Sant’Antonio di Canelli, within the region of Serra Masio, the most prestigious and ancient of Moscato production areas. By the end of the 18th century and continuing into the 20th century, Moscato was dominated by bulk producers and characterless wines. Bera has always been different, starting with being the first in their region to bottle their own wines.
Arcese is Favorita, Arneis, Cortese, and Sauvignon Blanc (and maybe some Vermentino), from vines that are co-planted and grapes that are co-fermented. The grapes are de-stemmed and ferment spontaneously in concrete tanks without any addition of sulfur. The wine goes through malolactic and rests on its lees for one year (in concrete) and is then bottled with a tiny amount of sulfur, and with a dash of residual sugar; this allows for a final bit of fermentation in the bottle, which gives the wine a little refreshing spritz.
Saetti Rosato dell’Emila Frizzante 2017, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Luciano Saetti lives in Modena and makes DOC Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce from the local strain of Salamino, a thick-skinned grape that’s darker-colored and higher in acidity than other Lambrusco grapes. He works organically with vines that his family planted in 1964, and with just grapes, nothing added, and no added sulfur anywhere at any point during production. Production technique is rare for Lambrusco: the grapes are hand-harvested, de-stemmed and crushed in the field in small 100-liter steel containers. Secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle, initiated by the addition of fresh grape must in the spring following the vintage, and is fermented to dryness. The bottles are riddled and disgorged by hand. The wines are dry, earthy, and complex.
Kevin (Kewin) Descombes Beaujolais-Villages “Cuvee Keke” 2017
From the importers website:
Kewin Descombes has de-throned his step-brother Damien Coquelet as the youngest vigneron we work with!
A the ripe old age of 21, Kewin produced his first vintage in 2013. He currently rents 1.15 hectares within the Beaujolais appellation along with 1.6 hectares of Morgon from a retired vigneron who’d previously rented the vines to his father Georges, whom we also import. In addition, Kewin purchased 1.2 hectares of 85 year old Morgon vines in 2013, which produce his Vieilles Vignes. If you’re wondering why father and son (not to mention Damien) do not work together as a family, the answer is two-fold. The first is economic: inheritance laws in France tend to be intensely costly for the benefactor, not to mention an insane amount of administrative paperwork. And if you’ve ever dreaded family get-togethers during the holidays, you can all too easily relate to the second reason: getting along with family is not always easy, and in some cases impossible. While Georges, Damien and Kewin get along, the three have very strong personalities; having their independence gives them the breathing room necessary to avoid butting heads.
Dirty & Rowdy Unfamiliar 2017
We just saw Hardy Wallace last Monday at the Dirty & Rowdy wine dinner at Fortnight. Hardy (Dirty) & Matt Richardson (Rowdy) have been making natural wine in California since the late 2000s. Their wines were amongst the first domestic ones we sought out for our shop, back in 2012, and they were kind enough to send us a few cases. 2017 was a trying year with apocalyptic wildfires being just one component of the trials and tribulations they faced. So Unfamiliar is their first, and hopefully last, “Natural Disaster” wine. It’s 85% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, and 5% Grenache from Monterrey, Mendocino, El Dorado, and Amador Counties. It’s fruity, chillable, and crushable.
Producer winemaking notes: 100% whole cluster. Stuck lots restarted. Volatility reduced. Gently filtered. We made the …. out of this wine.