February 2, 2018
The Bonneau family created Domaine de la Bonnelière with just a few hectares on the site of the “Caveau St Vincent” in 1972. Since 2000, sons Anthony and Cédric represent the fifth generation of vine growers in this family, and the property has grown to over 40 hectares. The rows between vines are grassed over to ensure protection of the soil and nutrients, and while farming isn’t certified organic, they avoid treatments unless absolutely necessary, otherwise known as “Méthode Raisonnée”.
This chenin is fresh and exotic, with notes of white flowers, honey, and lemon peel. Have it as a starter, or with shellfish and other white meat.
Maisulan Rioja Alavesa 2015
Rioja Alavesa is the smallest of the three wine-producing sub-regions in Rioja, Spain. The vineyards are situated at high altitudes, therefore the climate is cooler, and they are on soils of chalk, clay, and limestone.
In the Basque language, Maisulan means ‘good hard work’. That is how husband and wife Luis and Eva Ruiz approach working their 28 hectare estate, in a tiny, mountainous town of just 370 people. These vineyards have been in their families for four generations. They biodynamically dry farm, interplant for biodiversity and pollination, use crushed vine shoots as mulch, and hand harvest the fruit.
Maisulan is from 40 year old vines, planted at 1800 feet elevation. The wine is fermented spontaneously via native yeast, then rests for 6 months in a 50/50 split of French and American oak. It’s spicy, peppery, savory, with a bit of cherries, smoke, cinnamon, and fine-grained tannins. It’s a nice pair for lamb, it can handle a little spice, like curry, and of course it’s great with mahon and manchego.
Domaine de Terrebrune Vin de Pays du Mont Caume Rouge “Terre d’Ombre” 2015
Reyanld Delille took over from his father Georges, who purchased the property that would become Terrebrune in 1963. It’s located in Ollioules, east of Bandol and surrounded by the Mediterranean, olive groves, and the Gros-Cerveau (Big Brain) mountain.
This is declassified Bandol fruit from the properties youngest vines, fermented in stainless steel, and aged 5 months in foudre. It’s 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault from vines planted on limestone pebbles in brown clay, blue limestone bedrock, and marl. Farming here is 100% organic, all harvesting is by hand, and only indigenous yeast is used. This is a very delicious baby Bandol, the lush fruit countered by a satisfying freshness.
Collecapretta Lautizio 2015, Umbria
The Mattioli family has cultivated the rugged hillsides of southern Umbria since the 1100s. The Romans once called their tiny village Collecapretta, for Hill of the Goats. Generations of Mattioli’s have farmed ancient grains, olives, and indigenous vines on their high-elevation, 8 hectare property (just 4 are planted to vines, which are old plantings). Vittorio Mattioli, his wife Anna, and their daughter AnnaLisa live together with 3 generations of their family in a home overlooking the valley, and in the shadow of Gran Sasso and the Apennine Mountains.
The total production of Collecapretta is only 8,000 bottles at most, but the family vinifies many different cuvées in order to fully express the range of grape varieties. The soils are a mixture of calcium, iron-rich clay, and some tufo and limestone. All farming is without chemicals or synthetics and all the wines at Collecapretta are made similarly: natural fermentation in open-top cement containers without temperature control or sulfur additions at any point. The wines then age for various amounts of time in glass-lined cement vats or resin tank before bottling.
Lautizio is Ciliegiolo from 50 year old vines. It’s concentrated, full-bodied, with floral notes on the nose, and cherries, blackberries, orange rind and balsamic on the palate.