June 8, 2018
Tonight we’re joined by Martin from New England Grass Fed Beef, part of the Cloverbud Ranch co-op in Portsmouth RI. We’ll be sampling his “Grazing Sticks” during our wine tasting. Think locally-sourced, artisanal Slim Jims.
Weingut Keller Riesling Trocken 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany
Klaus-Peter Keller is considered by many to be one of the best German winemakers; Jancis Robinson calls his wines the “Montrachets of Germany”. But he doesn’t make just high end, hard to find wines; he also makes entry-level wines that are just as meticulously made, but won’t break the bank. The organically farmed vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine River have been in the Keller family since 1789. The soil on these rolling hills is limestone rich, adding mineral intensity, vibrant aromatics, and glass-like purity.
This Riesling is loaded with notes of peaches, apples, lemons, honey, and honeydew, backed up by refreshing acidity that is tempered by aging on the lees.
We had a bit of a mix up last week and didn’t end up tasting this rosé, so here it is again:
Señoria de Astobiza, Basque Country, Txakoli de Alava D.O.
Xabier Abando was only 15 when his father passed away, but his memories of seeing him working in the vineyards and making wine had a lasting effect upon him. He carried the dream of his own bodega with him over the years, and in 1996 acquired the first two hectares near the town of Okondo that would become his estate. He planted vines, and each year planted more, patiently waiting for the vines to produce grapes suitable to his taste. In 2008, he felt they were ready, and finally built his bodega for what would be his first vintage, and officially establish Señorio de Astobiza. He was 68. Now Xabier and Ana Martin make wine at this small, high-elevation, organically farmed estate.
Astobiza Txakoli de Alava Rosé 2017 is a 50/50 blend of the red grape Hondarrabi Beltza, and the white grape Hondarrabi Zuri. It’s single vineyard, hand-harvested, and estate bottled, without SO2. The red grapes spend a day or so on the skins, giving the wine it’s lovely pink hue. It’s white flower and strawberry scented, with a similar salty, mineral-driven character to the white, along with splashes of citrus and more flowers on the finish. It’s another fine seafood pair…
Pomagrana Trepat 2016, Conca de Barbera, Spain
Fredi Torres was born in Galicia, spent much of his childhood in Switzerland, spent nearly a decade as a DJ in the European house music scene, and then made his way into the wine world (he studied viticulture and winemaking in Switzerland, Burgundy, Argentina, & South Africa) and came full circle back to Spain in 2004, landing finally in Priorat. There he founded Sao del Coster with partners from Switzerland; the focus from the get-go was on organic and biodynamic farming and non-interventionist winemaking. Eventually he and his partners parted ways, and Fredi went on to purchase his own 8.5ha in Priorat. He also farms a nearby 5ha plot in Monsant, has another project on the rocky slopes of Ribeira Sacra with brothers Carlos and Juan Rodríguez, and this one in Conca de Barberá, with his friend Marc Lecha, who was one of the first natural wine retailers in Barcelona.
Pomagrana is from a little-known Spanish grape called Trepat, that’s a bit like Gamay. We think of this as a light red, but some people consider it a rosé; in any event, it can take a chill. On the nose there’s lots of red fruit like strawberries and raspberries (and maybe a touch of tart cranberry) along with an earthy, herbal, woodsy note. On the palate you’ve got more red fruit and tart, crisp acidity. It’s a thirst-quenching, low-alcohol wine that’s perfect for casual meals at a sun-dappled outdoor table, piled with that day’s farmer’s market haul.
Dashe Cellars Old Vine Carignane, Evangelho Vineyard ’Les Enfants Terribles’ 2015, CA
Husband and wife winemaking team Michael and Anne Dashe focus on producing “exceptional, single-vineyard wines using a traditional, non-industrial approach to winemaking”. Their first vintage was a 1996 Dry Creek Zin. They partner with small growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and surrounding areas, seeking out older vines, steep hillsides, and low-yielding conditions. They avoid chemicals in the vineyards and cellar.
This carignane is from vines on original rootstock planted in 1890. The vineyard is dry-farmed and the roots extend more than 40 feet through soils of almost pure sand to reach the water table below. The grapes produce wines that are dark, expressive, and complex. The wine spends about 8 months in old, neutral oak barrels. The end result is a vibrant red laced with floral notes like roses and violets, mingling with black cherries and strawberries. The texture is lush and soft, but finishes with lively acidity and crisp minerality.