May 4, 2018
Vignoble du Rêveur (The Dreamer’s Vineyard) is the side project of Mathieu Deiss, whose main duties are still working the vineyards and cellar at the family domaine, the famed Domaine Marcel Deiss. Vignoble du Rêveur was established in 2013 with 7 hectares Mathieu inherited from his uncle and his maternal grandfather. The parcels are located mostly in the commune of Bennwihr, just outside the valley of Kaysersberg, and are certified organic and biodynamic. Mathieu vinifies Rêveur and Deiss in the same winery, since, as he puts it, he “simply cannot be in two places at once during harvest”.
Pierres Sauvages is Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir from 1.9 hectares of vines around 45 years old. It’s fermented via spontaneous fermentation in foudre (large oak barrels that hold up to a thousand liters, that are believed to preserve the vineyard character by minimizing both oak extraction and oxidation—they are also expensive, both to purchase and to maintain). It ages for one year on fine lees, and is bottled with minimal sulfur (Riesling Vibrations is bottled with no sulfur, and is available in the shop). The wine is richly aromatic, with peaches, pears, flowers and honey fluttering from the glass. It’s rich on the palate as well, the viscosity balanced by mineral tension and vibrant acidity. Delicious through and through.
Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Saint Veran ‘Prelude’ 2016, Burgundy
Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau is a small estate run by Frantz Chagnoleau and his wife Caroline Gon, who has herself been head winemaker at Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon since 2006; she holds two degrees, one in agricultural engineering, and another in oenology. After obtaining her degrees she worked at Newton Vineyards in Napa before returning to France to work with Dominique Lafon. Frantz graduated with a degree in Oenology from Bordeaux University in 2004, and then went on to work for Olivier Merlin at Domaine Merlin in the Mâconnais. The couple’s friendship with Lafon comes through in their elegant, pure, terroir driven wines. Since 2013 all of the vineyards have been certified organic.
Like Lafon, Frantz and Caroline believe in minimal intervention, and use only indigenous yeast. Harvest is by hand, and aging is in old French oak. This Chardonnay evokes the old vines and stony soil of the vineyards; flinty, chalky intensity, mineral-precision, pure and focused flavors of apples and white flowers…this is an elegant bottle of wine.
Sclavos Tsaousi 2015, Cephalonia, Greece
The Sclavos family can trace its roots back over many centuries on the Greek island of Cephalonia. In 1700, a branch of the family emigrated to the Black Sea port of Odessa, where they had contracts for using their privately-owned commercial boats for the distribution of wheat. Records from 1860 show the family owned a large winery and estate in Odessa. In 1919, following the Russian Revolution, the grandfather of present owner Evriviadis Sclavos returned to the family’s 6 hectares in the Paliki peninsula and planted his first vines of Mavrodaphne and Vostilidi, some of which are still bearing fruit today. The mountainous terrain of the area provides a number of microclimates that are ideal for growing a variety of grapes, like those grown at Sclavos.
The property is situated on limestone and is farmed biodynamically (or homeodynamic, as they call it), and all wines are made the same way: from non-irrigated, low-yielding, original rootstock bush vines, via spontaneous yeast fermentaion, bottled unfined and unfiltered, and with very little sulphur. These are some of the most lo-fi wines produced in Greece.
100% Tsaousi from vines that are 60 years old, or older, this wine is a little wild; it’s orangey—golden hued, not from skin-contact, but rather from intentionally oxidative style, kind of like a Jura wine, or sherry. It’s herbal, savory, hazy, a bit salty, and finishes like a lemon-edged, Mediterranean sunset.
Calabretta, ‘Gaio Gaio’ Vino Rosso, Etna
The Calabrettas are the fourth generation farming their family’s seven hectares of nearly 100 year old, ungrafted, organic vines (as well as olive and fruit trees) on the north side of Mt. Etna. In 1997 Massimo and Massimiliano dug a new cellar and winery into the black, volcanic rock, where old oak an indigenous yeast work their magic. Before the new winery, the family only sold its wine in sfuso, or in barrel, to restaurants and private customers, many of whom would travel long distances to pick up their wine. Calabretta is old-school, and is known for long aging; the Etna Rosso ages much like Barolo and Brunello were aged decades ago: in massive, neutral Slavonian oak for 6 to 7 years… They don’t use any chemical herbicides or pesticides, harvest is by hand, and fermentation is with wild yeast.
Gaio Gaio translates as Joy Joy (Gaio is the nickname of Gaetano Calabretta). It is 100% Nerello Mascalese from 2 plots of young vines, 50% on original rootstock, fermented in wood, and aged on fine lees in Slavonian oak barrels for about 11 months. Cherries and smoke, red berries and earth, medium-bodied, grainy tannins and fresh acidity; this wine is perfect grill-side!
Domaine Glinavos ‘Vlahiko’ 2013, Zitsa, Greece
Domaine Glinavos is in the semi‐mountainous region of DO Zitsa, Ioannina, more reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland than Mediterranean Greece. Limestone soils influence the production of wines that tend toward bright acidity and lacy minerality, and the cold winters and cooler summers produce wines that tend to be lower ABV, frequently struggling to achieve 12.5.
Lefteris Glinavos was one of a handful of rogue winemakers who set out in the 70s to steer Greece away from bulk production and into smaller-scale, boutique winemaking. This group of young winemakers who all hailed from humble, winemaking regions, decided to travel abroad to hone their skills which they would bring back to Greece. Lefteris chose to pursue his studies in Bordeaux, returning in 1978 to establish Domaine Glinavos. Lefteris’ son Thomas is now in charge of the 20 hectare property, made up of multiple, high-elevation plots of indigenous varieties Debina, Vlahiko, and Bekari.
Vlahiko (which may be blended with a bit of Bekari) has an old-world character, and not just because of the embroidery pictured on the label (for which the region is known). It ages for two years in French oak, and is full of earthy, peppery, spicy notes, as well as what the producer describes as “fresh cut mushroom”, and lots of wild/woodsy-berry goodness, and crackly acidity. Have it with something fatty and salty!