Tag Archives: biodynamic wine

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

March 23, 2018

Vía de la Plata Cava Brut Nature NV 

In 1985, Aniceto Mesías was the first producer in Extremadura to become part of the D.O. Cava. Now three other producers in the region have joined him, and although he is no longer working in the cellars, Aniceto has left his legacy in the capable hands of Luis Miguel Calleja. Luis Miguel worked for years at some of the regions large co-ops, and was eager to make wines of quality rather than quantity. The vineyards, which are controlled by Via de la Plata, are farmed traditionally and non-invasively, and are planted to Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay. All work in the underground cellar is by hand, in the traditional Champagne method.

This Cava is 70% Macabeo and 30% Parellada, aged on the lees for 9 to 25 months before being disgorged. It’s medium-bodied, dry, and delicately fruity, with tiny bubbles making for an elegant Cava experience.

Tanganelli Anatrino Bianco 2015, Tuscany

We tasted the Tanganelli rosso last week, tonight we’ll taste the white. Producer notes from the importer: Hidden on the outskirts of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the eastern corner of Tuscany is the tiny farm of Marco Tanganelli.  Marco is first and foremost an agriculturalist, garnering a regional reputation as the best source of advice when it comes to tending vines.  Carlo Tanganelli, Marco’s father, established an agricultural nursery over 40 years ago in order to preserve and propagate the local grape, olive and orchard varieties.  The Tanganelli family always made wine, mostly for themselves and locals but didn’t start to bottle and sell their wine until the late 90’s.

Today Marco farms some 5 hectares of very old trebbiano, malvasia and sangiovese vines, with some new plantings being made in the past few years on some high altitude terraces far above the village.  Marco’s wines are made in the mold of the old-school Tuscan peasant style wines, yet they show the care and skill of a true craftsman.  Natural fermentations, long elevage and zero or minimal sulfur are paramount methods of Tanganelli.

The two white wines, Anatrino and Anatraso both come from one very old vineyard that’s about 3 hectares in size.  It is believed, both by Marco and the University of Siena, that these are the oldest parcels of trebbiano and malvasia in Tuscany; many vines are nearly 110 years old and the entire plot has never been touched by chemicals or pesticides…a rare find anywhere in Tuscany or Italy for that matter.

Anatrino (little duck) is skin-contact malvasia and trebbiano. Some vintages of this wine are wilder than others, but this one is just darned tasty. It’s an orange wine with roughly one week of skin contact; it’s savory, aromatic, orange-essence(d), herbal-tea inflected, layered, and elegantly textured. We had a glass at Oberlin with their black pepper linguine and it was perfecto!

MicroBio Correcaminos Rosé 2017, Castilla y León

We just got the new vintage of this natural favorite by Ismael Gozalo, the Wizard of Verdejo. Here’s what importer Alvaro de la Viña has to say about Ismael: “he practices his sorcery in his medieval underground cellar located in his native town of Nieva. Barrels, fudres, anforas, damejeannes, stainless…young, old, skin contact, sparkling, biological and oxidative aging…you name it, he’s got it…Ismael’s family owns some of the oldest (between 100-200 years old) ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines, most of which in the town of Nieva, province of Segovia between 800-900 meters of altitud. Characterized by it’s sandy soils, these head trained vines have never seen any chemicals over the different generations that have cared for them.”

This rosé is mostly old-vine Tempranillo, and it is like biting into a ripe, juicy cherry. It’s soft and enveloping, like a wine snuggie, which we could all probably use right about now. The finish has a slight oxidative note, which lends it a little dash of intrigue. All around gluggability. Unfiltered / unsulfured.

Domaine de Clovallon Les Indigenes Rouge 2016, Pays d’Herault 

This is the first vintage of this wine from Alix Roque, who learned how to make wine from her mother Catherine Roque, of Mas d’Alezon in Faugeres. Both of these properties were originally established by Catherine, who is a pioneer in natural winemaking in Languedoc-Roussillon. Clovallon is a certified biodynamic, high-elevation property dense with old vine plantings of indigenous grapes. Here’s the note from the importer, Wine Traditions: The cuvée “Les Indigènes” is produced from a single “clos” of less than a hectare that was planted around two hundred years ago and retains pre-phylloxera vines. As was the custom “back in the day” the vineyard was co-planted with a wide variety of grape types both white and red. Most of the grapes have been identified and include Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Grenache Blanc. Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Malvasia, Muscat a Petits Grains, Ugni Blanc, Aramon, Terret, and Jacquet. The clos itself sits high above the town of Bedarieux and is accessible only by a narrow lane that winds its way up from the town to the vineyard at the top of the hill. It is hidden from the eye because it is both walled and shielded by fruit trees. To gain entrance to the small vineyard one has to pass through an entrance gate and then a bit further on pass through a doorway framed by a stone arch giving the whole experience a “secret garden” quality. All varieties are co-fermented in old oak foudres using indigenous yeasts and without temperature control. The wine is unfiltered and unfined.

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

February 9, 2018

Capriades “Piege a Filles” Rose Methode Ancestrale, Vin de France, Touraine

At Capriades Pascal Potaire grows Chenin Blanc, Menu Pineau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Côt, Cabernet Franc, & Pineau D’Aunis. The organically farmed grapes are from 7 hectares, 2 of which are owned by the domaine, the remainder from local organic vineyards in Touraine that are worked and harvested, but not owned, by Capriades. Piège à Filles” rosé is mostly Gamay, with small amounts of Côt, Cab Franc, and Pineau D’Aunis. It has deep flavors of ripe fruit, a savory note, a touch of sweetness, and a mineral streak from the silex, clay, and limestone soils the vines grow upon.

Pascal worked for others before starting his own label in 2000. He was and is all about balance, low alcohol, & high acidity, and wanted to bring the finesse of champagne to naturally fermented sparkling wine. He is happiest in the cellar, so his business partner Moses handles the marketing, and is the public face of the domain.

More info from the importer: The process of making méthode ancestrale sparkling wine is both incredibly simple and incredibly difficult to execute well. First, there’s extensive sorting in the vines. Because the wines are made without sulfur, the grapes have to be perfect; flaws in the grapes will mean bigger flaws in the wine. The juice begins to ferment in tank, and at the opportune moment mid-fermentation, the wines are bottled to complete their fermentation under a crown cap, trapping carbonic gas and giving them their soft, frothy bubbles. It’s both an art and a science bottling at the right time to create wines of varying levels of sweetness, not to mention stability in a category noted for instability and bottle variation.

The wines are riddled before disgorgement using a giropallet, and are disgorged by hand, in some cases twice due to the large amount of deposit in the bottle. Les Capriades maintains unassailable status as the best Domaine at making this style of sensitive yet highly satisfying sparkling wine. Total case production is 3,000.

Thorigny Vouvray Sec 2015

Christophe Thorigny is the 4th generation to farm this 10.5 hectare estate in Vouvray. Most of the grapes here are sold off to local negociants, which makes the small amount of estate-bottled wines that much more special. Christophe farms with minimal intervention and keeps yields low with severe pruning throughout the growing season. The vines are planted on chalky and flinty clay covering a thick layer of limestone, and those mineral, rocky notes come through in the wine. This is dry, focussed Chenin Blanc, with notes of honeysuckle, oranges and lemons on a long and elegant finish.

Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby 2016

5 hectares, organically farmed Beaujolais-Villages, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Fleurie. Soils are pink granite, chalk, and sand.

Though Gilles Paris is from Beaujolais, and has been involved with grape growing for much of his life (along with his five brothers) it wasn’t until he met his now ex-wife Christine that he dipped his toes into winemaking. Shortly after meeting Christine, they moved to Chiroubles, where her family had vines. He produced his first wines in 2005, and with each passing vintage he moved closer and closer to natural production. Now all his wines are made without additives of any kind, including zero sulfur. But these wines are clean and delicious. Douby is 100% Gamay from vines averaging 50 years old. It’s vibrant, silky red raspberries and black cherries wrapped up in a granite dress.

Domaine Rois Mages Rully ‘Les Cailloux’ 2015

Anne-Sophie Debavelaere is a native Burgundian who established her domaine in 1984; she now works the property with her son Felix. Her 7 hectares of vines are mostly in Rully, but include some small parcels in Bouzeron and Beaune. Her vineyards are all farmed “lutte raisnonnée”, which isn’t technically organic, but only uses synthetics or chemicals as a last resort. Her winery, a vaulted cellar dug from the Rully hillside , was originally built in 1850 by a local negociant who wanted a cellar similar tho those in Champagne. Anne-Sophie farms three parcels in Rully, the 1er Cru “Les Pierres” and the two lieux dits “Moulin A Vent” and “Les Cailloux”. The 1.8 hectares she owns in the Les Cailloux vineyard are planted mostly to Chardonnay, with just .3h planted to Pinot Noir. Vine density is 8,000 plants per hectare, with an average vine age of over 50 years, and yields are kept very low. The vineyard descends from one of the highest elevations in Rully, and is full of surface stones that absorb the day’s heat, and release it after sunset. Natural herbs and grasses grow between the rows and make the vines compete for nutrients. This, coupled with the rocky soils and dense plantings, contribute to the vines producing very few bunches, and in turn the grapes are ripe, concentrated, complex, and balanced.

Les Cailloux is Pinot Noir fermented in tank with its natural yeasts at cool temperatures, and matured in barrel (just 10% new) for at least a year. An average vintage produces fewer than 150 cases. This is delicious, classic, silky-smooth Pinot Noir.

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

Nov. 10, 2017

Finally, a beautiful, blustery fall day! We’ve been waiting for this. Maybe not quite this cold and windy, but it sure puts us in the mood for the big feasts and cozy feel of fall.

On that note, we’re tasting some more (not just for) Thanksgiving wines tonight. The pet-nat makes a statement and is a good conversation starter; the skin-contact Pinot Gris is delicious and beautifully packaged. Serve the two together and it’ll look like Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart are your personal shoppers. The other two wines in the line up are classic, humble, and easy-drinking. The perfect grab-a-bottle-and-go wines. All the notes are below.

Whalers Brewing from South Kingstown, RI is in the shop tomorrow, don’t forget to swing by!

Also, Veterans Day is observed today, so we don’t want to forget to give a shout-out to everyone who has served. It’s a tough job. We just sell booze.

Cheers and see you soon!

Supernatural Wine Co. ‘The Super-Nat’ Pétillant Naturel of Sauvignon Blanc, 2017, NZ 

Supernatural Wine Co makes certified organic, (practicing biodynamic since 2015) naturally vinified, low sulphur white, orange, and sparkling wines from a north-facing hillside estate in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Soils are lime-rich clay with volcanic influence, and the vines are around 15 years old. Hayden Penny has been the winemaker here since 2013. Hayden has made wine in Sonoma and Napa, Marlborough in New Zealand, the Yarra Valley in Australia, Toro in Spain, and in southern Bulgaria. He’s a fan of cool climate styles, and minimal intervention.

The Super Nat is a fun and funky (and super fresh) choice for your fall festivities. Pét-Nats are bottled before the first fermentation is finished, which allows carbon dioxide to be produced via the natural sugars in the grapes, giving the wines a gentle fizz. The scary label on this one will add a touch of drama to your table!

Kelley Fox Maresh Vineyard Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, OR

Kelley Fox created her small winery with her father Gus Stearns. The first vintage was 2007, and was just 100 cases. Annual production as of 2016 was 2000 cases, all from two vineyards: Maresh, and Demeter-certified biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard. Kelley might be an overachiever; she has a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology from Texas AM University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with dual degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University and was admitted to the PhD program in Biochemistry. In 2000, she decided to take a different path, and dedicated herself full-time to making wine.

Wines here are not manipulated at all. They are fermented with wild yeasts and no additives or enzymes are ever used. Kelley picks on biodynamically favorable days, and makes biodynamic preparations herself.

Here are Kelley’s slightly condensed notes on this wine: …These self-rooted vines were planted in 1991 on the northeast corner of the farm facing Mt. Hood, and the energy there is joyful and beautiful.…Pinot gris is not one of my favorites, and I wonder why. All of these years tasting the fruit in the vineyard, I have found nothing but delight. But this is Maresh Vineyard, and I know that that alone is enough to produce a Gris that I might like. I wondered before deciding how to approach it whether this dark pink Pinot grape really wants to be pressed off of its skins right after picking. Its true nature just might be that of a dark pink wine. That is why I fermented it on its skins. I might have gone a little too far fermenting it 100% whole cluster. In fact, I fermented it exactly like I ferment my Pinot. It was fermented in two macrobin fermentors. I did one pigeage a day, and pressed to taste at dryness. After settling, though, I racked it into a concrete amphora tank for élevage until bottling, and I allowed a natural, complete malolactic fermentation.

Depending on the lighting, the colour is either deep pink or medium peachy-pink like a sunset. It is very clear and light-reflecting, bordering on effulgent. At this time (July 2017), it smells like peaches and peach skins. I love the nose. There is both the fruit and the good kind of green that is that of something living and fresh. It is rather minerally and saline, too, and this is certainly not a fruit forward, tooty fruity fruit bomb by a long stretch. In the mouth, the fruit is there, but the frame can sometimes deliver a sucker punch, depending on one’s palate and sensibilities. I seem to notice this a lot more than anyone who has tried it so far. In six months or so, the fruit will emerge more fully from behind the frame, the minerals, and the slight salinity. The texture is classically Maresh Vineyard silky, and the finish is long. It is best served chilled.

Romuald Petit Chiroubles 2016, Beaujolais

Romuald Petit’s 12-hectare estate is made up of small plots of different age & origin (some are over 100 years old) that are farmed without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and are harvested by hand. Eight hectares are in the village of St. Verand, on the clay-limestone land of the Maconnais. This is where 80% the white wine is made. The other 4 hectares are dedicated to red in Morgon, and  Chiroubles (the latter a small plot of vines he inherited from his mother). Here the Gamay grows on decomposed granite soils so poor they’re referred to locally as “rotten rock”. This adds complexity and finesse to the wines.

Chiroubles sits at the highest elevation in Beaujolais and is therefore picked about a week later than the other crus. This wine is really pretty and velvety. There’s a touch of fresh, spongy earth mingling with red fruit that just makes you want to stick your nose in the glass over and over. It’s a joy to drink and it’s a no brainer for the holiday.

Chateau la Rame Bordeaux Rouge 2015

Chateau La Rame has been in the Armand family for over 100 years. It’s made up of approximately 120 hectares, half of which are leased, the rest is owned. They grow the classics here: Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, with an average vine age of 50 years, and Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a go-to, under $20 Bordeaux. It’s a little spicy, a little earthy, perfectly balanced acidity, nice ripe fruit. Another crowd pleaser!

More notes from the importer: The vineyards for this lovely red are at the base of the hillside vineyards of the estate in the village of Sainte Croix du Mont and are composed of sand, limestone and clay. The grape varieties are Merlot (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and the average age of the vines is thirty (30) years. The wine is fermented and aged in temperature-controlled vats and is bottled usually one year after harvest.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop 5-8PM AND Saturday Wine Tasting 3-6PM

Nov. 3, 2017

Chartrand Imports tasting on Friday; Domaine des Terrisses on Saturday:

Justin DeWalt of Chartrand Imports will be in the shop Friday from 5-8PM with a selection of organic French wines. Chartrand is located in Rockland, Maine, and specializes in organic wines from small producers. Justin will have wine from two producers this evening; both of these producers have also been in the shop before: Fred Niger of Domaine de l’ecu and John Bojanowski of Clos du Gravillas.

Saturday in the shop, instead of our usual 3-6PM beer tasting, we’ll meet Alain and Brigitte Cazottes of Domaine des Terrisses, a Gaillac producer imported by Wine Traditions.

We hope you can swing by to meet these guys, and get a jump on wine for your fall feasts and holiday treats (even though these warm temps are seriously messing with our autumnal mojo!).

Cheers and see you soon! Tonight’s wine notes are below.

Friday, 5-8PM

Domaine de l’Ecu is a 22 hectare property in the Sèvre et Maine region of the Muscadet appellation. Guy Bossard was the 5th generation to farm the domaine, which he worked alongside his wife Annie Thuaud. They were leaders in Muscadet, and many credit them (along with a handful of other producers, like Pepiere) for making the region what it is today. Guy was farming organically by the early 70s, and biodynamically since 1986. In 2009 they partnered with Fred Niger, and continued to make stellar wines from older vines (average of 50 years). The soils here are mostly made up of three metamorphic rocks: Gneiss, Orthogneiss and Granite. While the Gneiss soil produces Muscadet that is light and fruity, made to be consumed in its youth, Granite and Orthogneiss Muscadets can age beautifully for up to 20 years. In addition to traditional Muscadet, Fred makes a bunch of tiny production, experimental wines; we’ll taste one of those tonight. All of the wines are biodynamic, gravity fed, made with indigenous yeast, and vegan.

Domaine de L’Ecu “La Divina” Method Traditionnelle Brut Sparkling

This fun and fresh sparkling is a blend of Folle Blanche, Melon de Bourgogne, and Chardonnay, with a dash of Cabernet-Franc adding lower tones, depth and complexity. After bottling the wine is fermented a second time with champagne yeasts and left to age on the the lees for at least one year. Perfect to welcome guests, to have with brunch, oysters, and celebrations big and small.

Domaine de l’Ecu Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Cuvée Classique 2016

This Muscadet comes from a blend of younger Melon de Bourgogne vines on the estate, grown on silex and metamorphic rock. It’s aged on the lees in underground, glass-tile lined vats for 10 to 12 months. It’s rocky, minerally, and leesy. Another great aperitif, and also a go-to for raw bars, salads, and simply prepared white fish like sole and cod.

Domaine de l’Ecu Mephisto [Cabernet Franc] Vin de France 2014

This is a zero-sulphur cab franc from vines grown an granite. After being destemmed and spending 12 days fermenting on the skins, Mephisto ages in a combination of amphora and old barrels for 15 months. Only 200 cases are produced. This is an intriguing wine that opens up to reveal a peppery, briny, yet elegant personality.

Clos du Gravillas ‘Sous les Cailloux des Grillons’ 2015

Kentucky native and Brown alum John Bojanowski, and his wife Nicole, own and operate this Languedoc estate. They work organically in Saint Jean de Minervois, a gateway village to the Parc Natural du Haut Languedoc, an area of thousands of hectares of protected mountains, canyons and scrubland that is a migratory haven for birds of prey. Their 8.5 hectares of vineyards are on a dry, rocky plateau of white gravel. The summer days are sunny and warm, and the nights are cooled by breezes blowing down from the Montagne Noire, making the conditions perfect for ripe, balanced wines.

Sous les Cailloux des Grillons is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Counoise, Terret Gris and Mourvèdre. It’s deliciously smooth and ripe, with red fruit and refreshing acidity that make it quite food friendly.

Little bit of trivia: this wine is named for the crickets on the property. From the producer: In St. Jean, the soil is only white gravel; in our youngest vines, under these rocks innumerable crickets find shade from the scorching Mediterranean sun. At night they come out to play, (and during the day, they are under the rocks).

SATURDAY WINE TASTING IN THE SHOP, 3-6PM

Meet the producers, Alain and Brigitte Cazottes of Domaine des Terrisses

Notes from the importer: Spread out around the town of Albi, the Gaillac vineyards extend over 73 communes along the Tarn river. The appellation includes significantly different terroirs, the results of different geological strata, which include limestone plateaus, hillside vineyards with limestone and clay soils and alluvial plains with soils of gravel and sand. The climate is more Mediterranean than Atlantic and the vineyards benefit from a warm and dry autumn. The wines can have a balance of concentration and restraint that is rare and the appellation’s local grape varieties enhance the originality of Gaillac’s wines.

Domaine des Terrisses has been the property of the Cazottes family since 1750. The vineyard is situated along the “Premiere Cotes” of Gaillac, the hillsides facing south-southwest toward the Tarn river. The vineyard is planted almost entirely with the traditional grape varieties of the region; Mauzac and Len de L’ehl for the whites and Braucol and Duras for the reds. Domaine des Terrisses offers a wide range of wines which is typical of the Gaillac appellation and is a reminder of the region’s long historical and cultural links with wine.

We’ll taste new to RI wines from Domaine des Terrisses.

 

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

Oct. 27, 2017

Shinn Estate Coalescence 2016, North Fork, NY

Established in 2000 by former NYC restaurateurs David Page and Barbara Shinn, Shinn Estate is a certified sustainable family-owned winery & farmhouse, located in North Fork on Long Island.

Coalescence is 51% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Chardonnay, 11.5% Riesling, 3% Semillon, and 0.5% Pinot Blanc. Grapes are hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, and fermented separately in stainless steel with natural yeast. Minimal sulfur is used in the production.

Zippy, citrusy, fresh and juicy, this is a fun choice for raw oysters and crisp salads.

Vincent Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2015

Vincent Fritzsche established Vincent Winery in 2009. Despite the fact that he shares a name with the winery, he didn’t exactly name it after himself. It was also his uncle’s name, and his maternal grandfathers. But it’s not even named for them! It’s named in honor of the 4th century saint, Vincent of Saragossa, Spain, the patron saint of vintners. Now that that’s settled, here’s the scoop on the winery: It’s small, located in the Eola Hills in Willamette Valley, and operates out of Grochau Cellars. The grapes are all sourced from single vineyards that are responsibly farmed (sometimes organic, sometimes biodynamic) and are produced with minimal intervention. These wines are classic, elegant, finely textured, and perfect on any table. We have a couple cases of the 2015 Chardonnay, which is drinking beautifully right now, with all the acidity rounded out, and the crunchy orchard fruit softened with a streak of creaminess. Once it’s gone, we’ll move on to the 2016, which is delicious as well.

Vincent Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

This is a blend of grapes from Ribbon Ridge and Eola Amity Hills; basically whatever doesn’t go into the limited single vineyard bottlings goes into this wine. It’s silky, bright and pure, with food-friendly acidity, and a touch of cinnamon spiciness. We also grabbed more Gamay Noir, which is super-tasty too.

Bernard Vallette Gamay ‘Cuvée Centenaire’ 2014

100% biodynamic, hand harvested Gamay from Lachassagne, in southern Beaujolais. This wine is listed only as Vin de France because Bernard refuses to submit his wines for AC status; we love cranky rebels! Cuvée Centenaire refers to the 100 year old vines that make up this estate blend. Soils here are clay and limestone on 6.5 hectares of land that were passed down from Bernard’s grandparents. Grapes are hand harvested and fermented with native yeasts with carbonic maceration, followed by relatively lengthy aging in stainless steel. There are no additives whatsoever in this wine, and just a touch of SO2 at bottling. The wine is gluggable and chuggable when young, but develops layers, spice, and depth with a few years on it. We’re straddling the best of both worlds right now!

Click here for this week’s newsletter.

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.

Read this week’s newsletter here.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM: Vineyard Road

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.

Vineyard Road Selection

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!

Click here for more info on events and new arrivals.

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 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.