Dec. 9, 2016
L’Acino is the communal effort of three friends (a film director, a historian, and a lawyer – in previous lives) to express the possibilities of Calabrian terroir with grapes indigenous to the region, and winemaking true to nature. The three friends started with one hectare of vines purchased from an old farmer in 2006; the property is right on the border of the Pollino national park, the largest natural park in Italy. As happens in nature, so happens in their vineyards: plantings are varied and diverse, creating a happy, healthy ecosystem. They then purchased a nearby 1.5 hectare parcel of the local red grape Magliocco (also in the shop, positively gluaggable). But they really wanted to get a parcel they could start from scratch, that had never had vines planted on it before. In 2007 they found a sandy plateau where they planted Magliocco and Mantonico from massale, much of it in franc de pied (on French rootstock). The Chora Bianco and Rosso come from this parcel.
The bianco is a blend of Mantonico, Guernaccia Bianca, Pecorello, and Greco Bianco. It’s lively, fresh, youthful, fruity and fun. Organic, wild yeast, minimal sulfur only at bottling.
Olivier Riviere Rayos Uva Rioja, 2015
Olivier Rivière was born and raised in Cognac, studied enology in Bordeaux (with an emphasis on biodynamic farming), and gained practical experience in Bordeaux and Burgundy. He had plans to set up a domaine in Fitou, in the Languedoc, but when those fell through, he went to consult in Spain instead.
Olivier rents, farms or owns vineyards in Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, Rioja Alavesa and Arlanza. He first came to Spain in 2004 to help Telmo Rodriguez convert to biodynamics. In 2006 he started his own project, but because of the high cost of land in Rioja, he traded his farming abilities for access to grapes from the best sites he could find. In 2009 he joined Luis Arnedo at Bodegas Lacus and found a more permanent home to expand his repertoire of wines.
Rayos Uva is made from Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha (in some vintages), sourced from the sandy, gravelly and alluvial soils of Rioja Baja. It’s fermented whole berry with indigenous yeasts and aged for about 9 months in stainless steel, foudre and cement tanks. Olivier purchases these grapes from Bodegas Lacus, where he oversees the winemaking. Ramos Uva is vibrant, pure, ripe and fruity, with notes of flowers and citrus, and a long, silky finish.
Frank Cornelissen Rosso del Contadino 2015
Frank Cornelissen was a Belgian wine novice in the year 2000 when he landed on the side of a volcano in Sicily, and made a big splash in the natural wine world. Until then, Etna wines were mostly sold in bulk, and certainly weren’t being taken seriously. Cornelissen, along with Andrea Franchetti of Passopisciaro and Marc de Grazia of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, were newcomers bringing attention to the potential of Etna wines. Since then he’s evolved and learned from his sometimes combustible environment. He mixes the modern (gasp! fiberglass tanks!) with an unrivaled minimalist ethos; from the producers website:
Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be.
Cornelissen has 15 high-elevation hectares on the side of the mountain, 12 are planted to vine, 1 to olives. Biodiversity is key, and local fruit trees are interplanted with the vines, which probably keep the kept bees happy. New plantings are via selection massale, from pre-phylloxera vines. Yields are low.
Producer notes: Contadino is a field-blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese (85%) with other local varietals from all our old vine vineyards: Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella nera, Uva Francesa and Minella bianco. Our Contadino expresses Etna as made in a traditional way of blending different varietals: fragrant, elegant, structured with personality.
Here’s a recent Cornelissen article from the NY Times.
Château Pimpine Bordeaux, Cotes de Francs, 2013
Château Pimpine is the second wine from Château Le Puy, a biodynamic property on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. Château Le Puy has been farming biodynamically since the early 1900s, so long that they don’t think it’s any big deal, it’s just the way they’ve always done things. Even so, they have all the certifications.
Pimpine, and Le Puy, are located in Saint-Cibard and share the same soils of clay, flint and limestone as many of Bordeaux’s most prized vines. The vineyards sit at 110 meters, on the same plateau as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.
Jean-Pierre Amoreau and his son Pascal make the wine here and at Le Puy. The blend is mostly Merlot, with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Of course everything is done by hand, there are no added sulfites, sugars or yeasts during fermentation, and the wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined. The finished wine is rather traditional: balanced, elegant, herbal and fresh.