Firday, Oct. 21, 2016
Didier Tripoz took over this 13ha domaine located in the southern part of the Mâcon region in 1989. Catherine & Didier work the land like their families have for generations: they allow grass to grow between the rows and plow regularly to encourage an active biological environment. They practice “lutte raisonée” (the reasoned-fight, or sustainable farming) on vines that average 45 years old.
Clos des Tournons comes from a one hectare plot of 48-year-old vines in a nine-hectare monopole that is sub-divided into 12 different parcels determined by the age of the vines. The grapes are vinified separately in stainless steel and cement vats before blending. This wine is dry & lively, with a bit of stony minerality and crisp apple. The palate fleshes out a bit and hints at what this wine will become with a few years or more of age: a touch of vanilla, honey, and the faintest whiff of butter. Enjoy it with seafood, poultry, mild cheeses and appetizers.
La Clarine Farm, Sierra Nevada Foothills, CA
La Clarine Farm is 10 acres of grapes, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, gophers, and myriad other flora and fauna, situated at 2600 feet elevation in California’s Sierra Nevada Foothills.
We like the ‘about us’ description on their website: Caroline Hoel and Hank Beckmeyer started La Clarine Farm in 2001 and quickly became swamped with work with little monetary gain. Still, they love what they do… Something about that sounds weirdly familiar…we can’t quite put our finger on it… At La Clarine Farm, they make wine as minimally as possible, without chemicals or additives. Fermentations are spontaneous and can sometimes last up to 6 months. Aging is in neutral containers (never any new oak) without sulfur. Only a tiny bit of sulfur is added at bottling, to ensure that the wine makes it unscathed to its varied destinations.
They grow a field blend of various red varieties, including Tempranillo, Syrah, Tannat, Grenache, Negroamaro and Cabernet Sauvignon, and purchase other grapes from vineyards farmed similarly and that they wish they owned.
La Clarine Farm 2015 Jambalaia Blanc
This is a blend of 57% Viognier, 36% Marsanne, 4% Albariño & 3% Petit Manseng from various plots in El Dorado County. It’s whole cluster pressed, tank fermented, and left on the lees for approximately 10 months, then bottled unfiltered and unfined, with barely any SO2– just 15ppm. The Viognier shows through nicely, with lots of peaches and perfume. Full spontaneous malolactic adds weight and depth to the palate. Lively acidity and juicy fruit round out the flavors, and lead into a slightly nutty and gamy finish. 244 cases made.
La Clarine Farm 2015 Jambalaia Rouge
This is a blend of 59% Mourvedre, 21% Marsanne, 15% Grenache, and 5% Syrah from one single little plot on volcanic loam soil. Yields were way down on Grenache this vintage, so a touch of syrah was added. This wine is all about juicy drinkability, bright red fruit, blueberries and blackberries, vibrant acidity and barely there tannins. It takes a little chill quite nicely, and is versatile with a wide variety of foods, from casual pizza and burgers, to roasted poultry and veggie dishes. 500 cases made.
L’enclos des Braves 2013 Les Gourmands Gaillac Rouge
Importer notes: After having worked at other wineries for over 12 years, in 2005 Nicolas Lebrun found the plot he was looking for: L’Enclos des Braves. This small hilly 6 ha (14.82 acres) vineyard was topped with limestone-rich soils and a thick layer of clay, perfect for drainage. The vines were all 20 to 35 years old, and Nicolas took to them like a father to his kids.
Treating them in accordance with Biodynamic principles, he uses only indigenous yeasts, manually harvests everything, and adds barely any SO2 at bottling. Like children, he lets the wines take their time. To put it mildly, he is making beautifully wild and soulful wines with these local grapes.
Les Gourmands Rouge is a blend of Braucol & Duras that’s fermented in cement, then aged in a mixture of mostly cement, and some large old oak. This wine has a savory nose of licorice, cedar, pepper and dark fruit. On the palate it’s savory again, and herbal, with a touch of smoke and meat. The elegant texture evolves as the wine is exposed to air; the finish is long and lip-smacking, with fine tannins goading you to grab just one more helping of that wild boar stew! Or cassoulet, confit, pate…this is a food friendly little wine.
Sept. 23, 2016
Marco Felluga is considered to be one of the highest quality estates in Collio. The family history goes back to the 1800s in Istria, a peninsula in the Adriatic Sea at the junction of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. In the 1930s,Giovanni Felluga moved to Friuli; Marco, the youngest of his seven children, continued the family business and in 1956 founded the estate that bears his name.
“Just Molomatta” is a blend of Pinot Bianco, Friulano, and Ribolla Gialla. from vineyards located in Molomatta. It’s fermented in stainless steel then left on the lees for about 6 months. This is a pleasantly perfumed wine with flavors of apples and pears balanced by a slightly salty note. It’s lushly textured, balanced and elegant.
Forlorn Hope “Nodosaur” 2014, Calaveras County, CA
The phrase ‘forlorn hope’ is from the mid-16th century Dutch expression ‘verloren hoop’, which originally denoted a band of soldiers picked to begin an attack, many of whom would not survive. Over the years it’s come to mean more of a persistent hope that’s never to be fulfilled. Producer Mathew Rorick explains his reasons behind the name: we love the longshots. We love the outsiders, the lost causes, the people/projects/ideas abandoned as not having a chance in the world. We love the longshots because we’re all about tenacity, we relish a challenge, and – we admit it – we love us a good tussle… (these wines are) rare creatures from appellations unknown and varieties uncommon, these wines are our brave advance party, our pride and joy – our Forlorn Hope.
Producer notes: The Nodosaur is a vineyard blend of fruit grown on our estate Rorick Vineyard at 2000′ elevation in Calaveras County. The 2014 vintage is a blend of Picpoul, Verdelho, Albariño, and a dashing of Muscat. All fruit was hand harvested; a portion of each was foot tread prior to pressing to increase aromatic depth and textural intensity. The wine was fermented in a combination of open top fermentor, stainless steel, and 500L puncheon; it saw 14 months elevage before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Brightly aromatic and fiercely structured, it bears the cut and definition that have become hallmarks of wines grown on our limestone and schist soils. 207 cases produced
Fedellos do Couto “Lomba Dos Ares” 2014, Ribeira Sacra
A Galician blend of Mencía, Mouratón, Garnacha Tintorera, Caiño, Bastardo sourced from 70 year old, high elevation, organically farmed vines on the slopes of the Bibei River. Fedellos (brats) do Couto is a young project (2013 was their first vintage) started by four friends with with backgrounds in wine: Luis Taboada (whose family has owned the 12th century manor (couto) on the 4 hectare property for generations); viticulturist Pablo Soldavini, and winemakers Curro Barreño and Jesús Olivares. Pablo is an advocate of organic farming; Curro and Jesús come from Sierra de Gredos, a mountainous region in central Spain, where they worked with winemakers Dani Landi and Fernando Garcia, of Comando G.
All harvesting here is done by hand. The grapes for Lomda dos Ares are fermented in whole bunches with indigenous yeasts at low temperatures, then aged in neutral French oak, mainly 500L demi-muids. The wine is expressive and fresh, with a slatey, savory minerality and a satisfying depth and richness.
La Querciolina “Istriciaia”, DOC Maremma, 2011
La Querciolina is a side project for bothers Lorenzo and Luciano Sassetti, who bought this previously abandoned farm in 1999. In 2000 they began reclaiming the land and replanting the vineyards with indigenous varieties. The Sasetti family goes back four generations in Tuscany, and in that time they have always farmed without chemicals. Like the mother estate, Pertimali di Livio Sassetti, La Querciolina is also certified organic. Maremma gained DOC status in 2011.
Istriciaia, which translates to “the place where the porcupine lives” is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo. Cherries, blackberries and flowers, a fine-grained texture and bright and buoyant acidity, make this wine ever so delicious.
Sept. 9th, 2016
Last week we tasted Teutonic Jazz Odyssey, a fun, off-dry blend perfect for hot days and spicy food. Tonight we’re tasting this more serious single vineyard Riesling. Just about all of Teutonic’s wines are single vineyard (with the exception of maybe one). They are all dry farmed and made in a precise, Germanic style. Total production is extremely low (only 500 cases) so we are ever so grateful to have such an assortment on our shelves – this is another producer that we tried to get into RI for a few years, so it’s extra special that there’s finally a little bit to share.
Crow Valley is a high elevation vineyard in the foothills of the Willamette Valley coastal mountain range. It’s old vines planted at high elevation, where the cold growing conditions allow for a long hang time. This is the Teutonic MO; old vines, cold climate, high elevation, dry farmed, old wood and wild yeast. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s very similar to Mosel winemaking, from whence they draw their inspiration (and they also import wine from Mosel and make wine in Mosel, so the love affair is deep and real!). Teutonic is also a member of the DRC (Deep Roots Coalition), a group that promotes “sustainable and terroir-driven viticulture without irrigation”.
This Riesling shows pure, precise, no-holds-barred, spot on balanced winemaking. The character of the terroir shines through in all the Teutonic wines; do yourself a favor and grab a bottle before they’re all gone!
Cerro La Barca Vegas Altas Eva de los Santos, 2015, Ribera del Guadiana, Spain
Ribera del Guadiana is in Extremadura, a region located in south-western Spain on the border of Portugal. Extramadura has been known as a place for bulk wine production, but some pioneers are finding unique new wines here. Cerro La Barca is the first organic producer in the region. They have 38 hectares of Tempranillo and the nearly extinct Eva de los Santos.
Importer notes: Juan Sojo and Ángel Luis González are like brothers from different mothers. One minute they’re arguing and the next they’re toasting to another harvest. They studied oenology together and ever since have been making wines together. Ángel Luis comes from a background in agriculture while Juan comes from a background in science. Both so different, but yet complement each other so well.
Fermented using indigenous yeasts in stainless steel vats where the wines naturally decant without filtration until bottling. The Eva de los Santos is from vines that are up to 80 years old. It’s flowery, fruity and perfumed on the nose, but the palate is a little more intense, with a pronounced crushed stone quality.
Laurent Herlin worked as a computer engineer for 12 years before dropping that career in 2008 and dedicating himself to wine. After taking classes in Beaune and working at various domaines, he purchased 5 hectares in Bourgueil, which he farms biodynamically.
To ensure quality, the grapes are sorted twice; first in the vineyard, and then on the sorting table. Harvest is manual, fermentations are with indigenous yeast, in steel or cask. As a dedicated environmentalist, Laurent only uses recycled glass in his production.
Laurent’s wines are said to “exude happiness” and after tasting Tsoin Tsoin, and now Cintré, we can definitively say that that statement is not hyperbole. Cintré is 100% Cabernet Franc from 25 year old vines and it is a mouthful of fizzy joy. It’s also classic Loire Valley cab franc: violets, raspberries, and pencil shavings dance around luscious strawberry notes and are neatly wrapped up in a long, long finish with just the slightest touch of gamey goodness.
Domaine Jérôme Jouret “Pas a Pas” 2015, Ardèche
Domaine Jérôme Jouret is a 12 hectare, relatively new, family winery in the southern Ardèche, a region on the right bank of the Rhône river, between the northern and southern Rhône valley. Burgundian Louis Latour was a pioneer here, most notably with his Grande Ardéche Chardonnay. Jérome Jouret works minimally, by hand, with extremely low yields and little to nu sulfur. The ancient, organic vines here are planted on steep and stony slopes. The high elevation and cool climate means that the grapes have a longer hang time, which leads to heady aromatics and purity of fruit.
Pas a Pas is a blend of 65% Carignan, 15% Alicante, 20% Grenache from 35 to 55 year old vines planted on clay and limestone. It’s fermented in stainless steel and bottled without filtration. This is a lovely wine, with fresh fruit and brambly notes. Lower alcohol and lively acidity means this one takes a chill quite nicely.
August, 19, 2016
Jean-François produces mostly single varietal bottlings, often from single parcels, in the tiny village of Saint-Julien-de-Chédon, in Touraine. He farms his 35 hectare estate organically; many of his vines are quite old (100 year old Pineau d’Aunis, Cot between 50-100 years old). No commercial yeasts are used in any of his wines. This Sauvignon Blanc is from vines of between 10 and 60 years old. It’s fermented and aged for five months in stainless steel before release. We’ve been getting every vintage of this wine since 2013, and the 2015 continues to deliver. It’s smoky and mineral-driven, elegant and clean, with a touch of orange blossom mingling with grassy, herbal notes. Perfect with fresh goat cheese, chicken, fish…
Orsi San Vito “Posca Bianca NV”, Colli Bolognesi, Emilia-Romagna
Vigneto San Vito has been producing high quality wines in this ancient viticultural area for almost 50 years. In 2005, Federico Orsi & Carola Orsi Pallavicino took over the tiny cantina, and subsequently converted it to biodynamic farming. “Bianco Perpetuo, Cuvée Novembre 2015” is a non-vintage, bottled to order blend of mostly Pignoletto. The Orsi’s intent is to make wines with a sense of place, with more guidance than intervention. Vines here are not fertilized or irrigated; fermentations are spontaneous with wild yeast, and wines are bottled without filtering or fining and very little SO2. Their goal is to make wines that are fresh and drinkable and that “celebrate the flavors of the region”.
Domaine des Terres Dorées “L’Ancien” 2015, Beaujolais
Jean-Paul Brun’s domaine is located in Charnay, a village in the Southern Beaujolais in an area known as the “Region of Golden Stones”. Brun is the owner and winemaker at this 40-acre family estate and is well known for his Beaujolais, which he makes with minimal intervention, minimal sulfur, and without the use of industrial yeasts, leading to wines that are elegant & delicate, with purity of fruit, and great character and depth. L’Ancien is old-vine Gamay that is earthy & spicy, full of wild red & black fruits.
Domaine des Sauvaire-Reilhe “Mas Sauvaire” Rouge, 2013, Languedoc
The Sauvaire family has been working the same land, in the same buildings, since the mid 1600s. The 25 hectare estate is planted to traditional southern French varieties, on poor, sandy soils, upon which the vines must work extra hard to find nutrients. Today Hervé Sauvaire works the land in the same way his ancestors did: no pesticides or chemicals, and letting the vineyard “work in conjunction with the land around it, to find balance on its own, without mans help”. The only application he uses in the vineyards is a compost made from his grapes. Harvest is by hand. It’s hands-off in the winery as well, with only wild yeast fermentation in steel and cement.
Mas Sauvaire Rouge is a blend of 70% Carignan, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah, that until very recently, was seen only on Hervé’s table and that of his family, friends, and local restaurants. It’s a very drinkable wine, with pure red fruit, bright acidity, and a long, silky finish.
August 5, 2016
TAMI’ is a joint negociant project between Arianna Occhipinti, a young, natural-wine maker (niece of the “O” in COS Wines”) and some friends and neighbors, including her boyfriend, the owner of Tami wine bar in Siracusa. TAMI utilizes high quality fruit from Vittoria; this project allows Ariana to bring more organic wines to market, at prices closer to every day than her other wines.
100% Grillo, a grape used in Marsala, this wine is gorgeously aromatic, with tropical fruit and citrus mingling with ripe stone-fruit. The finish is long, dry and mineral-driven. Have it as an aperitif, with light appetizers, with shellfish and seafood, or risotto.
TAMI’ Nero d’Avola IGT Sicilia Rosso 2014, Italy
This 100% Nero d’Avola is dark and spicy, with black pepper and a touch of earthiness. Grill and swill.
Domaine Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Barnabés” 2014
Olga Raffault took over all duties on this estate from her husband Pierre, after his sudden death in 1947. The mother of two young children at the time, she realized she needed help, and found it in Ernest Zenninger, a German prisoner-of war. Ernest could not fathom the meaning of the war, and soon formed a deep friendship with the Raffault family, whom he considered his protectors. Ernest devoted his life to the vines and making wine, and vowed to instill his knowledge and foster a love of winemaking in the younger Raffaults.
Olga’s son Jean took over from Ernest in the 80s; since Olga’s death half a decade ago, the estate has been run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. Raffault wines are extremely age-worthy and some of the best examples of Cabernet Franc. They are longtime favorites of discerning restaurants and wineshops.
“Les Barnabés” is made from younger vines planted on sand and gravel, farmed without herbicides or pesticides. They are hand picked and fermented in whole clusters in stainless steel. This wine is fresh and fruity, with raspberry, brambles, blackcurrant and violets. Put a little chill on it and enjoy. It is delicious.
July 29, 2016
Giordano Lombardo Gavi di Gavi di San Martino DOCG 2015, Piedmont, Italy
This is a 20 hectare Demeter certified estate that straddles the border between Piedmont and Liguria. The indigenous Cortese vines are grown on volcanic soils of clay and limestone, rich in iron and magnesium. After hand-harvesting, the grapes are pressed whole and left to macerate on their skins for a short time. The wine is bottled after resting on the lees for three to five months. This is a very pretty wine, with a delicate nose and lots of mineral freshness. This wine is so food friendly. Believe us, it’s the most food friendly wine you’ll ever taste! Especially if what you’re eating is lighter fare, like salads, crudo, white fish and shellfish…
Bodegas Mustiguillo Mestizaje Blanco 2014, Valencia, Spain
This wine is mostly Merseguera, a rare, almost lost, Spanish variety that gets little respect. Merseguera has been around for a long time, but it’s not often appreciated for its subtle charms. The Merseguera for this wine, however, was grafted onto 40 year Bobal rootstock, then planted at 2700 feet elevation. The Bobal can’t grow at this altitude, but the Merseguera thrives. Still, for some, the Merseguera is a little too neutral and not worthy of a single-varietal wine of its own – and really, (some people say) isn’t it just coasting on the coattails of the Bobal rootstock? So the winemakers at Mustiguillo did what people do when they want to make something great: they enlisted the support of other grapes that would bolster the Merseguera, that would help this underestimated wine get a place on your table – enter Viognier and Malvasia, adding soft and flowery nuances to the taut and reserved Merseguera. They are better together, and together they are glorious with lobster.
Mestizaje is from organically farmed grapes that are fermented with wild yeast in stainless steel, and left on the lees for a short amount of time. This is a generous in the mouth wine, with live-wire acidity that tiptoes around fleshy tropical fruit, and mingles happily with apricots, honey and flowers. It’s a well-rounded, versatile wine that will work just as well with the lighter fare of spring and summer as it will with the richer fare of fall and winter.
Béatrice & Pascal Lambert “Les Terraces” Chinon 2014
Béatrice & Pascal started making wine together on their property back in 1987. Like many, they were inspired by Nicolas Joly, and by the early 2000s were practicing organic farming and winemaking; by 2005 they were certified biodynamic. They propagate vines through selection massale and interplant with mustard, oats, rapeseed and rye. The Cabernet Franc vines for this Chinon are between 10 and 25 years old and grow on soils of gravel, calcareous clay, limestone, and flint. Grapes are hand-harvested, and fermented in concrete, with wild yeast and no sulfur.
This is a lovely Chinon for under $20. It hits all the right notes for lovers of Loire Cab Franc – bright fruit, vibrant acidity, earthy-herbal-musky nose…with a hint of violets and velvety, soft tannins. It loves a little chill.
Domaine Guillot-Broux Macon-Cruzille 2014, Bourgogne Rouge
The Guillot family has been making wine in Cruzille since 1954; by 1991, their tiny one-hectare estate had expanded under the brothers Ludovic, Patrice & Emmanuel, and became the first vineyard in Burgundy to be certified organic. In 2000, after the death of their father, Emmanuel took over winemaking duties. He is now head of the “CGAB” or Confederation of Organic Growers in Burgundy” and one of the creators of a graphic novel about rediscovering lost vines. The estate is now approximately 16 hectare spread over a number of small vineyards in the Mâconnais villages of Cruzille, Grevilly, Pierreclos and Chardonnay.
The vineyards are planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay on eastern facing slopes of clay and limestone. The 60-90 year old Gamay, however, is planted on granite. Yields are kept low through high density planting; Emmanuel’s goal is to have as few grapes per vine as possible, to concentrate the flavors of the wine. Current yields are around 30-55 hectoliters per hectare.
This Macon-Cruzille is 100% Gamay from vineyards spread across 3 hectares, fermented in older oak with wild yeast and very little sulfur. Most of the wines here are bottled without fining or filtration. These are graceful, expressive, mineral driven wines. We’re happy to have this one (and a couple others) on our shelves again.
July 1, 2016
Oyster River Villager White, ME
Oyster River is a nearly 100% self-sustaining farm in Warren, Maine, with a very hands-off approach to winemaking. Fermentation is spontaneous with native yeast, and lasts a long time in their cold winery; they only heat with wood from their farm, and they keep it chilly! Sparkling wines and ciders are unsulphured and bottled unfiltered.
Villager White is a 50/50 blend of Serval Blanc and Cayuga, sourced from Serenity Vineyard in the Seneca Lake region of NY. This is a German-influenced easy sipper, that’s off-dry with refreshing acidity.
Weingut Schnaitmann Evoe Rosé 2015, Württemberg, Germany
Weingut Schnaitmann has been in the same family for over 600 years; Rainer Schnaitmann began making wine here in 1997. In 2007 he was chosen as newcomer of the year by Gault-Millau/German Wine Guide and then the estate won the European Pinot Cup two years in a row, a feat no one achieved before or since. Weingut Schnaitmann is farmed organically (certified since 2014) and fermentations are 90% with wild yeast. The 25 hectares of vineyards are planted to 25% Riesling, 25% Lemberger, 20% Pinot Noir, 8% Sauvignon Blanc, 6% Pinot Gris and 16% other (which includes some Pinot Meunier) on soils of gypsum, marl and red sandstone.
Evoe Rosé is mostly Pinot Noir with most likely some Pinot Meunier and Lemberger (aka: Blaufrankisch). It’s deliciously spicy and floral, a little bit of orange and pomegranate mingle nicely with grapefruit, wildflowers and fresh herbs. Don’t drink it too cold or you’ll miss the gentle nuances…
Viña Maitia “Aúpa” Pipeño, Chile
Viña Maitia is a little gem in Chile’s southern Maule Valley. It’s owned and operated by husband and wife David Marcel (vigneron) and Loreta Garau (enologist). David hails from Irouleguy in French Basque country; he met Loreta in Chile, and together they are putting Chile’s traditional (if not indigenous) grapes back on the map, so to speak. Their 10 hectare estate is made up of old vines (at least 120 years old, some older than 150 years) that are farmed without intervention. The focus is on Pais, Carignane, and Malbec. Pais (aka: Listan Negro or Criolla Grande that originated in the Canary Islands) is the mission grape that was brought over by the Spanish in the 1500s. It’s mostly associated with Chilean jug wines that were enjoyed by campesinos (peasant farmers), but David and Loreta saw its potential to be a true “wine of place” and were intrigued with how expressive it could be when made from old, low-yielding vines. Though David prefers the term “ancestral” to “natural”, his wines are just grapes, made with no additives and little to no sulphur.
Aupa Pipeño is 70% Pais and 30% Carignane. The Carignane is whole cluster fermented and the wine is lightly filtered before bottling. If this is anything like what the campesinos were drinking back in the day, then pass the jug! It’s fruity and floral, with a little bit of clove and fresh herbs, a touch of brambles, and the slightest whisper of tannins…drink it with a slight chill, and drink it all summer long.
Veronica Ortega “Quite” Bierzo 2014, Spain
Veronica Ortega grew up in Cadiz, a little coastal town in the Sherry producing region of Jerez. She doesn’t come from a wine making family, but took an interest in wine early on; she first began dipping her toes into winemaking in Priorat, where she worked alongside Alvro Palacios and Daphne Glorian. She then made her way to Burn Cottage in Central Otago, Niepport in the Douro, and then to France, where she learned from greats like Domaine Combier in Croze-Hermitage, and Comte Armand and Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy. That’s not a bad resumé.
When she returned to Spain she worked for many years alongside Raul Perez in Bierzo, and in Bierzo she has remained. Here she organically farms 5 hectares of 80 year old (mostly) Mencia vines planted on calcareous clay and granitic sand. The climate in Bierzo straddles cool maritime Galicia and hot Central Spain. These conditions are perfect for producing Mencia that expresses the qualities of fine Pinot Noir and Syrah; in the right hands the grape produces wines that are reflective of the terroir, that are refreshing and bright, savory and complex.
Like all wines here, Quite is made from hand harvested grapes. It’s about 30-50% whole cluster fermented via spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast, in large oak vats. It spends about 4 months in 2nd and 3rd fill French oak. Quite is a delicate, floral, silky and elegant.
May 27, 2016
We’ve got a little bit of symbolism happening in tonight’s tasting. We open with a French sparkler, and everyone knows that sparkling wine denotes celebrations and all things good and happy. We close our tasting with Forlorn Hope Mataro, in honor of Memorial Day. The phrase ‘forlorn hope’ is from the mid-16th century Dutch expression ‘verloren hoop’, which originally denoted a band of soldiers picked to begin an attack, many of whom would not survive. Over the years it’s come to mean more of a persistent hope that’s never to be fulfilled. Either way, it’s a strange name for a wine, but it makes sense, as producer Mathew Rorick describes it: we love the longshots. We love the outsiders, the lost causes, the people/projects/ideas abandoned as not having a chance in the world. We love the longshots because we’re all about tenacity, we relish a challenge, and – we admit it – we love us a good tussle… (these wines are) rare creatures from appellations unknown and varieties uncommon, these wines are our brave advance party, our pride and joy – our Forlorn Hope.
That resonates with us on so many levels…from the personal sacrifice to the championing of the underdog – the story is real.
Cheers, congratulations, and Happy Memorial Day from all of us at Campus!
Louis de Grenelle “Platine” NV Brut, Crémant de Loire, Saumur
Created in 1859, this is one of the oldest (and last) family owned sparkling wine houses in Saumur. Platine is a hand-harvested blend of 85% Chenin Blanc, 10% Chardonnay & 5% Cabernet Franc from limestone hillsides outside of Saumur. It’s made in the Champagne-method and aged for at least 18 months before being bottled at 7 grams dosage. This is a bang for your buck bubbly, with stones and hay, lemons and pears, a fine bead, and a delicate and delicious finish.
Pépière 2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clos des Briords
2014 Loire Valley whites have been a real treat, and 2014 Clos de Briords is no exception. Marc Ollivier is tops in his field and it shows with this wine. It’s from 3 hectares of old vines planted on the granite of Chateau Thébaud. He hand harvests, uses natural yeasts, and the wine stays in contact with the lees until time of bottling (about 7 months). It’s then bottled with a very light filtration. 2014 is a bit rounder and richer than previous vintages. An average spring through July was followed by a cold and humid August. The risk of rot was very high, through the end of August, when dry, sunny weather emerged and lasted through October. This allowed the grapes to mature with high sugar and his acidity. The result here is a wine that is incredibly balanced, splashed with bright citrus, texturally appealing, and stony/salty on the finish, just how you want it.
Cuilleron 2015 VdP Collines Rhodaniennes Rosé Sybel
From the importers website: The Cuilleron family domaine, located in the hamlet of Verlieu (part of the town of Chavanay) was founded several generations ago (1920). Yves Cuilleron’s grandfather was the first to bottle wine for commercial purposes in 1947. Antoine Cuilleron, the uncle and immediate predecessor of Yves, assumed control of the domaine in 1960 and significantly increased the percentage of wine bottled at the estate and extended the scope of the domaine. Yves assumed full ownership and direction of the domaine in 1987 and, since that time, has built an entirely new facility while at the same time acquiring additional vineyard property. The domaine is now…52 hectares of vineyards that cover multiple appellations, including principally, Condrieu, Saint Joseph Rouge and Blanc, Cote Rotie, Saint Péray and a series of Vin de Pays from the Collines Rhodaniennes.
This is a smooth and round rosé, dry but full of ripe red fruit. It’s only 12.5% abv, but it feels much richer than that. It has the fruit and balance to sip on its own, but the weight and acidity to be a refreshing gulp between bites.
Calaveras County, CA
From the producers website: The Forlorn Hope wines were born to connect the thread between California’s boundless viticultural potential and its diverse viticultural history. In addition to the vines my family and I farm, I work with a handful of growers across the north of the state whose plantings might otherwise be misfits: the uncommon sites and varieties that pay tribute to California’s eclectic and often unexpected viticultural heritage. Taking cues from the stones and soil, I endeavor to interrupt the natural development of each of these wines as little as possible in order that the character and uniqueness of each vineyard site may take center stage.