Tag Archives: natural wine

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Bourgogne Blanc 2016

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet was established in 1590 on some of Chablis’ most prime sites. It’s now run by Jean-François Bordet. The winery is modern, and vinification takes place in stainless steel vats, and typically aged 3-5 months on the lees. The 2016 vintage was a tough one, with hail and freezing temps resulting in almost a complete loss of fruit. Jean- François turned to his friends and neighbors to purchase grapes, since not making wine was not an option. This Bourgogne Blanc replaces his village level Chablis. We’re thinking of it as a baby-Chablis, since it hits all the right notes. It’s light and lean, with flinty minerality, a touch of apples and pears, and a dash of salinity on the long and elegant finish.

Albamar Rias Baixas Albariño 2016

Xurxo (pronounced sure-sho) Alba farms his family’s 2.5 hectares, and sources from an additional 10 hectares. He farms (and makes sure his farmers farm) as naturally as possible; all wines are fermented in his cellar, via spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts. His family has been farming and making albariño in the O Salnés sub-region of Rías Baixas for generations, but it wasn’t until Xurxo finished his oenological studies in 2006 that they started bottling and selling wine under their own name. They still maintain their restaurant and tienda de ultramarinos, a small shop selling local artisanal foods.

This Albariño is sourced from multiple sites on mostly sandy soil. The plots are vinified separately, some in stainless, and some in barrel, then aged on the lees for 6 months. The wine is crisp, salty, finely textured, and perfect as a starter, or with seafood.

Domaine Lelièvre Gris de Toul Rosé 2017 

We’ve been waiting about a year for the new vintage of this rosé, and we’re happy to report it’s just as good as the last! We bought as bunch 🙂

Domaine Lelièvre is located in Cotes de Toul, Lorraine. The Lelièvre family goes back generations here, to the time when Romans first planted vines. At one time Cotes de Toul, situated just 60 miles south of the German border, was a thriving wine-production region, covering parts of Alsace and Lorraine. It was famous for Riesling (this makes sense, as it’s located on the western banks of Moselle River–follow it north and you’re in Mosel, Germany) and as a source of base wine for Champagne. Unfortunately the region was ravaged by phylloxera, followed by rabid industrialization and poor vineyard management. Then came the First World War, German occupation, and liberation by the Allies—all of which left most of the vineyards as battle trenches. The final blow came in 1919, when a law was passed restricting the name champagne to the wines made from grapes grown in the region of Champagne. By 1951 there were only 30 hectares of vineyards left and most of the wine was bottled by negotiants. In 1998, a handful of remaining vignerons fought for and won AOC status. The Lelièvres were one of the producers to champion the region. After the famous 1971 vintage, Jean Lelièvre decided to no longer sell to negotiants and to bottle everything at the estate. From there the family started to rebuild, replant and recapture the glory of Lorraine. It is still an obscure little region, with most of the wine staying within the area, and very little of it leaving France. Lelièvre makes about 1100 cases annually, and they’re one of the most well known producers in the area.

Gris de Toul is a blend of 90% Gamay and 10% Pinot Noir from the producers best plots located in Lucey, Bruley, Blénod les Toul and Buligny. The well-drained clayey slopes are protected from the wet winds coming from the West. Grapes were hand-harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel, matured briefly on the lees, and then assembled just before bottling. This wine is delicate and pretty, with touch of tart citrus, like pink grapefruit, and ripe cherry.

Fredi Torres “Classic” Priorat 2016

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, and he recently started a project with two friends in Galicia, where they are restoring old vines on treacherously steep and rocky slopes of Ribeira Sacra.

All Fredi’s wines are fermented with native yeast, no fining or filtering, and only the tiniest amount of sulfur at bottling. The goal is to make wines with bright acidity, pure fruit and low alcohol (for Priorat). This wine is Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Macbeu; it’s approachable and fresh, with notes of strawberry, plum, and pomegranate. It’s also deep, lush, and generous, with the perfect backbone of granite-minerality and acidity.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

March 23, 2018

Vía de la Plata Cava Brut Nature NV 

In 1985, Aniceto Mesías was the first producer in Extremadura to become part of the D.O. Cava. Now three other producers in the region have joined him, and although he is no longer working in the cellars, Aniceto has left his legacy in the capable hands of Luis Miguel Calleja. Luis Miguel worked for years at some of the regions large co-ops, and was eager to make wines of quality rather than quantity. The vineyards, which are controlled by Via de la Plata, are farmed traditionally and non-invasively, and are planted to Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay. All work in the underground cellar is by hand, in the traditional Champagne method.

This Cava is 70% Macabeo and 30% Parellada, aged on the lees for 9 to 25 months before being disgorged. It’s medium-bodied, dry, and delicately fruity, with tiny bubbles making for an elegant Cava experience.

Tanganelli Anatrino Bianco 2015, Tuscany

We tasted the Tanganelli rosso last week, tonight we’ll taste the white. Producer notes from the importer: Hidden on the outskirts of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the eastern corner of Tuscany is the tiny farm of Marco Tanganelli.  Marco is first and foremost an agriculturalist, garnering a regional reputation as the best source of advice when it comes to tending vines.  Carlo Tanganelli, Marco’s father, established an agricultural nursery over 40 years ago in order to preserve and propagate the local grape, olive and orchard varieties.  The Tanganelli family always made wine, mostly for themselves and locals but didn’t start to bottle and sell their wine until the late 90’s.

Today Marco farms some 5 hectares of very old trebbiano, malvasia and sangiovese vines, with some new plantings being made in the past few years on some high altitude terraces far above the village.  Marco’s wines are made in the mold of the old-school Tuscan peasant style wines, yet they show the care and skill of a true craftsman.  Natural fermentations, long elevage and zero or minimal sulfur are paramount methods of Tanganelli.

The two white wines, Anatrino and Anatraso both come from one very old vineyard that’s about 3 hectares in size.  It is believed, both by Marco and the University of Siena, that these are the oldest parcels of trebbiano and malvasia in Tuscany; many vines are nearly 110 years old and the entire plot has never been touched by chemicals or pesticides…a rare find anywhere in Tuscany or Italy for that matter.

Anatrino (little duck) is skin-contact malvasia and trebbiano. Some vintages of this wine are wilder than others, but this one is just darned tasty. It’s an orange wine with roughly one week of skin contact; it’s savory, aromatic, orange-essence(d), herbal-tea inflected, layered, and elegantly textured. We had a glass at Oberlin with their black pepper linguine and it was perfecto!

MicroBio Correcaminos Rosé 2017, Castilla y León

We just got the new vintage of this natural favorite by Ismael Gozalo, the Wizard of Verdejo. Here’s what importer Alvaro de la Viña has to say about Ismael: “he practices his sorcery in his medieval underground cellar located in his native town of Nieva. Barrels, fudres, anforas, damejeannes, stainless…young, old, skin contact, sparkling, biological and oxidative aging…you name it, he’s got it…Ismael’s family owns some of the oldest (between 100-200 years old) ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines, most of which in the town of Nieva, province of Segovia between 800-900 meters of altitud. Characterized by it’s sandy soils, these head trained vines have never seen any chemicals over the different generations that have cared for them.”

This rosé is mostly old-vine Tempranillo, and it is like biting into a ripe, juicy cherry. It’s soft and enveloping, like a wine snuggie, which we could all probably use right about now. The finish has a slight oxidative note, which lends it a little dash of intrigue. All around gluggability. Unfiltered / unsulfured.

Domaine de Clovallon Les Indigenes Rouge 2016, Pays d’Herault 

This is the first vintage of this wine from Alix Roque, who learned how to make wine from her mother Catherine Roque, of Mas d’Alezon in Faugeres. Both of these properties were originally established by Catherine, who is a pioneer in natural winemaking in Languedoc-Roussillon. Clovallon is a certified biodynamic, high-elevation property dense with old vine plantings of indigenous grapes. Here’s the note from the importer, Wine Traditions: The cuvée “Les Indigènes” is produced from a single “clos” of less than a hectare that was planted around two hundred years ago and retains pre-phylloxera vines. As was the custom “back in the day” the vineyard was co-planted with a wide variety of grape types both white and red. Most of the grapes have been identified and include Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Grenache Blanc. Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Malvasia, Muscat a Petits Grains, Ugni Blanc, Aramon, Terret, and Jacquet. The clos itself sits high above the town of Bedarieux and is accessible only by a narrow lane that winds its way up from the town to the vineyard at the top of the hill. It is hidden from the eye because it is both walled and shielded by fruit trees. To gain entrance to the small vineyard one has to pass through an entrance gate and then a bit further on pass through a doorway framed by a stone arch giving the whole experience a “secret garden” quality. All varieties are co-fermented in old oak foudres using indigenous yeasts and without temperature control. The wine is unfiltered and unfined.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

March 16, 2018

Alkoomi Frankland River Rosé, 2017 Australia

Alkoomi is a large property just outside the tiny town of Frankland River, in western Australia’s most isolated wine-growing region. It’s been in the same family since 1946, when it was originally purchased by Vic and Netta Lange as a mixed grain and livestock farm. Their son Merv took over the property when Vic retired, and in 1971, his wife Judy decided to plant one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and a little bit of Shiraz and Malbec. The first vintage was in 1976; instead of selling off their grapes, they decided to build a winery and make the wine themselves. They completed the winery in time for the 1979 vintage, and Merv and Judy went on to become award winning ambassadors for the Frankland River emerging wine region. In 2010, their daughter Sandy took over the property, along with her husband Rod Hallet.

Alkoomi has worked to reduce its carbon footprint in recent years by installing solar panels, and upgrading their tank refrigeration system to make it more efficient. They have a ‘wall-to-wall’ grass policy, which uses clover and rye grass between rows and under vines. The plantings control weeds, encourage diverse soil microbiology, and improve water retention. Weed control in colder months is by grazing sheep.

This rosé is 100% estate grown Petit Verdot that was left on its lees for 4 weeks after fermentation. The tart, fresh, cranberry notes on the entry are tempered by a slight creamy texture mid-palate, then there’s strawberry, violets, and dried herbs to bring it all home. It would be an all-summer-long-sipper, if we could’ve gotten more than three cases. At under 15 bucks, it’s hard to say no to it.

Bethel Heights Oregon Pinot Gris 2015 

This old-school property in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills has been a family operation since its founding in 1977. No time to write all the producer notes unfortunately, but here’s a link to the very thorough and descriptive website for background. This is a rich & fruity wine, with perfectly balanced acidity that offsets the intensity, and lends a buoyancy to the depth and creaminess.  It’s a delicious mouthful.

Swick Rosé of Pinot Noir Pétillant Naturel 2017, Willamette Valley, OR

When writing today’s note, we realized that we tasted the 2016 of this exactly one year ago, so it’s a little bit of deja Swick all over again. We’re going to recycle a portion of last year’s note, because recycling is good, and sometimes we’re lazy:

This is Rhode Island, Joe Swick’s home away from home, so we probably don’t need to tell you the Swick story. But if you want it, here’s the short version: http://www.jennyandfrancois.com/wines/usa/joe-swick/#7

This wine is from grapes from nearly 20-year-old vines that are hand-harvested, then pressed as whole bunches. Indigenous yeast fermentation is for 3 weeks in 6—7 year old barrels. The wine was bottled with a small amount of residual sugar, and finished fermenting in the bottle with no filtration and no sulfur added. It was then hand-disgorged, recapped, and sent out into the world. The 2017 is just as vibrant, hazy, and delicious as the 2016. It, too, will be gone before we know it, and too soon.

Tanganelli Cibreo Rosso, Tuscany

These notes from the importer sum it all up perfectly: Hidden on the outskirts of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the eastern corner of Tuscany is the tiny farm of Marco Tanganelli.  Marco is first and foremost an agriculturalist, garnering a regional reputation as the best source of advice when it comes to tending vines.  Carlo Tanganelli, Marco’s father, established an agricultural nursery over 40 years ago in order to preserve and propagate the local grape, olive and orchard varieties.  The Tanganelli family always made wine, mostly for themselves and locals but didn’t start to bottle and sell their wine until the late 90’s.

Today Marco farms some 5 hectares of very old trebbiano, malvasia and sangiovese vines, with some new plantings being made in the past few years on some high altitude terraces far above the village.  Marco’s wines are made in the mold of the old-school Tuscan peasant style wines, yet they show the care and skill of a true craftsman.  Natural fermentations, long elevage and zero or minimal sulfur are paramount methods of Tanganelli.

The two white wines, Anatrino and Anatraso both come from one very old vineyard that’s about 3 hectares in size.  It is believed, both by Marco and the University of Siena, that these are the oldest parcels of trebbiano and malvasia in Tuscany; many vines are nearly 110 years old and the entire plot has never been touched by chemicals or pesticides…a rare find anywhere in Tuscany or Italy for that matter.

Cibreo is mostly Sangiovese and Merlot, and a little but of Syrah. It’s named after a restaurant, which takes its name from an iconic Tuscan dish made from rooster. It’s medium-bodied, food-friendly, and satisfying.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

February 9, 2018

Capriades “Piege a Filles” Rose Methode Ancestrale, Vin de France, Touraine

At Capriades Pascal Potaire grows Chenin Blanc, Menu Pineau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Côt, Cabernet Franc, & Pineau D’Aunis. The organically farmed grapes are from 7 hectares, 2 of which are owned by the domaine, the remainder from local organic vineyards in Touraine that are worked and harvested, but not owned, by Capriades. Piège à Filles” rosé is mostly Gamay, with small amounts of Côt, Cab Franc, and Pineau D’Aunis. It has deep flavors of ripe fruit, a savory note, a touch of sweetness, and a mineral streak from the silex, clay, and limestone soils the vines grow upon.

Pascal worked for others before starting his own label in 2000. He was and is all about balance, low alcohol, & high acidity, and wanted to bring the finesse of champagne to naturally fermented sparkling wine. He is happiest in the cellar, so his business partner Moses handles the marketing, and is the public face of the domain.

More info from the importer: The process of making méthode ancestrale sparkling wine is both incredibly simple and incredibly difficult to execute well. First, there’s extensive sorting in the vines. Because the wines are made without sulfur, the grapes have to be perfect; flaws in the grapes will mean bigger flaws in the wine. The juice begins to ferment in tank, and at the opportune moment mid-fermentation, the wines are bottled to complete their fermentation under a crown cap, trapping carbonic gas and giving them their soft, frothy bubbles. It’s both an art and a science bottling at the right time to create wines of varying levels of sweetness, not to mention stability in a category noted for instability and bottle variation.

The wines are riddled before disgorgement using a giropallet, and are disgorged by hand, in some cases twice due to the large amount of deposit in the bottle. Les Capriades maintains unassailable status as the best Domaine at making this style of sensitive yet highly satisfying sparkling wine. Total case production is 3,000.

Thorigny Vouvray Sec 2015

Christophe Thorigny is the 4th generation to farm this 10.5 hectare estate in Vouvray. Most of the grapes here are sold off to local negociants, which makes the small amount of estate-bottled wines that much more special. Christophe farms with minimal intervention and keeps yields low with severe pruning throughout the growing season. The vines are planted on chalky and flinty clay covering a thick layer of limestone, and those mineral, rocky notes come through in the wine. This is dry, focussed Chenin Blanc, with notes of honeysuckle, oranges and lemons on a long and elegant finish.

Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby 2016

5 hectares, organically farmed Beaujolais-Villages, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Fleurie. Soils are pink granite, chalk, and sand.

Though Gilles Paris is from Beaujolais, and has been involved with grape growing for much of his life (along with his five brothers) it wasn’t until he met his now ex-wife Christine that he dipped his toes into winemaking. Shortly after meeting Christine, they moved to Chiroubles, where her family had vines. He produced his first wines in 2005, and with each passing vintage he moved closer and closer to natural production. Now all his wines are made without additives of any kind, including zero sulfur. But these wines are clean and delicious. Douby is 100% Gamay from vines averaging 50 years old. It’s vibrant, silky red raspberries and black cherries wrapped up in a granite dress.

Domaine Rois Mages Rully ‘Les Cailloux’ 2015

Anne-Sophie Debavelaere is a native Burgundian who established her domaine in 1984; she now works the property with her son Felix. Her 7 hectares of vines are mostly in Rully, but include some small parcels in Bouzeron and Beaune. Her vineyards are all farmed “lutte raisnonnée”, which isn’t technically organic, but only uses synthetics or chemicals as a last resort. Her winery, a vaulted cellar dug from the Rully hillside , was originally built in 1850 by a local negociant who wanted a cellar similar tho those in Champagne. Anne-Sophie farms three parcels in Rully, the 1er Cru “Les Pierres” and the two lieux dits “Moulin A Vent” and “Les Cailloux”. The 1.8 hectares she owns in the Les Cailloux vineyard are planted mostly to Chardonnay, with just .3h planted to Pinot Noir. Vine density is 8,000 plants per hectare, with an average vine age of over 50 years, and yields are kept very low. The vineyard descends from one of the highest elevations in Rully, and is full of surface stones that absorb the day’s heat, and release it after sunset. Natural herbs and grasses grow between the rows and make the vines compete for nutrients. This, coupled with the rocky soils and dense plantings, contribute to the vines producing very few bunches, and in turn the grapes are ripe, concentrated, complex, and balanced.

Les Cailloux is Pinot Noir fermented in tank with its natural yeasts at cool temperatures, and matured in barrel (just 10% new) for at least a year. An average vintage produces fewer than 150 cases. This is delicious, classic, silky-smooth Pinot Noir.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm-8pm

January 19, 2018

Vincent Grall Sancerre “Cuvée Tradition”, France 

Vincent Grall is the second smallest producer in this Loire region, making wine in his garage from his 3.8 hectares of vines. The production is split between two cuvées that are vinified and aged differently, depending on the soil type. Cuvée Tradition is primarily from the silex soils around the main hill of Sancerre, Le Plateau. It’s made entirely in stainless. While not certified, Vincent practices organic farming, and harvesting is by hand.

This is a delicious, go-to Sancerre for us. It’s layered with ripe stone fruit, but cut with a bracing acidity, and long, flinty finish. It’s simultaneously fruity, tangy, and herbaceous. All the good stuff!

Oyster River Wine Growers Morphos Rosé Petillant Naturel, Maine

Oyster River is a nearly 100% self-sustaining farm in Warren, Maine. Brian Smith is the winemaker here, if you can call him a wine“maker”, since his approach is about as hands off as you can get. Fermentation is spontaneous, with native yeast, and lasts a long time
in their cold winery, heated only with wood from their farm. Sparkling wines and ciders here are unsulphured and bottled unfiltered.

This fizzy rosé is fresh and yeasty, a little minerally, dry but with a touch of sweetness. It’s a people pleaser, great as an aperitif or with brunch, mild cheeses, and light meals.

Julien Pilon, Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah de l’Autre Rive, 2014

Julien Pilon is originally from the northern Rhone but does not hail from a winemaking family. Instead, after attending school for oenology and viticulture, he worked for Pierre Cuilleron for two years, then at Mas Amiel, then Terra Remota in Spain, followed by four years in Rousillon with Pierre Gaillard. While in his early 30s, after gaining 10 years of experience, he decided he wanted to create his own domaine. With the high price of affordable vineyards, that’s easier said than done. So he started with a negociant business that focused on the whites of the northern Rhone – Viognier, Condrieu, Saint Joseph blanc, Crozes Hermitage blanc, Hermitage blanc and Saint Peray. He now has 4.5 hectares of vineyards, and also makes a small amount of VDP Syrah and Côte Rôtie. 2010 was his first vintage.

This syrah is briny, rich, smooth, and super tasty.

Daniel Ramos Zerberos Castilla y León ‘El Altar’ 2014

Notes (mostly) from the importer: Some of you may have heard of him, some of you maybe not. For those of you that have, he needs no introduction. For the rest, let’s just say that Daniel Ramos is the OG of the GdG. For most of you, that probably means nothing. GdG stands for Garnacha de Gredos, an association of small producers in the Gredos mountain range which encompasses parts of 3 different wine regions: Castilla y León, Madrid, and Méntrida. They’re focus is on organic farming and autochthonous grape varieties of the region, mainly Garnacha and Albillo Real. With a growing number of producers and a wide variation of styles within the group, Daniel represents the old school both in his viticulture and vinification. In our opinion, he’s making some of the purest and most representative wines of the region. They don’t call him the Garnacha whisperer for nothing!

Daniel and his wife Pepi bought their fist 4.5 hectares in 2007. It’s hot and dry here, but a minimum altitude of 800 meters provides a welcome foil to the high temps. The vines are all 50 to 100 years old, planted on slopes too steep for anything but horses and hand harvesting. All wines are fermented with native yeast and macerated for long periods of time. Fermentation is in concrete, clay amphora, or old, neutral oak. There is no filtering or fining, and only a small amount of sulfur at bottling.

El Altar is from old-vine Garnacha planted on granitic sandy soils with large chunks of quartz. It’s full of red fruit like cherries and raspberries, mingling with wild herbs and flowers.

Thanksgiving Wine Tasting with Vineyard Road, in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Friday Nov. 17, 2017

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Note: Our Saturday tasting (Nov. 18th) will feature Wine Traditions French Cider instead of the usual beer. These ciders are so good with Thanksgiving, it seemed like a good route to go.

Same time, 3PM-6PM!

And here is today’s line up~

Hugues Godmé, Reserve 1er Cru Brut (NV)

Hugues Godmé represents the 5th generation to farm and make wine on his 11 hectare family estate in Verzenay. Although this area is dominated by Pinot Noir, Godmé cultivates Chardonnay on more than half of his holdings, with a balance of 30% Pinot Noir on his Grand-Cru certified sites, and the remaining 20% is Pinot Meunier.  Godmé works biodynamically, and gained organic certification in 2013. Fermentation is with natural yeast (when possible) in enamel-lined tanks and/or oak, such as with this champagne. No fining or filtration.

Godmé Reserve 1er Cru Brut uses a very high proportion of reserve wines, somewhere around 50%, and usually from the previous two to three vintages, adding depth and richness. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier come through as vibrant dashes of red fruit on a round and creamy chardonnay base. This is a lovely, lively, aromatic champagne that finishes with great length and finesse.

Alberto Nanclares Rías Baixas Dandelion Albariño 2016

Alberto Nanclares was an economist before he was a winemaker. A native of Basque Country, he left the region and his career behind in 1992, settling in the seaside parish of Castrelo, in close proximity to Cambados, a village well-known for Albariño wines. As luck would have it, the house that Alberto purchased came with a a little bit of vineyard land. At first he farmed this conventionally, but quickly turned away from this in favor of organic and biodynamic farming, a rarity here because of the humid conditions that can lead to viticultural difficulties. Alberto now farms 12 small plots across 2.5 hectares, all trained in the pergola-style (to increase airflow and reduce the chance of fungal conditions). Yields are very low, about half of what the DO Rías Baixas permits. Alberto uses seaweed from the nearby ocean for compost, and doesn’t plow in order to maintain and promote the natural flora and fauna. All the wines are fermented with yeasts from their respective vineyards.

Dandelion is a beautiful, salty, and sun-shiny Albariño. It’s from 30-60 year old vines from multiple plots in and around Cambados, planted on sandy soil over granite. Albariño is a naturally high acid grape, and Alberto embraces this; some in the DO will add potassium in order to soften the wine, but Alberto prefers the raciness of the grape. Most of his wines don’t undergo malolactic fermentation, but they do spend quite some time on the lees, often more than a year, giving the wine textural complexity and a long finish. Very little SO2 is used, mostly a dash at bottling, and wines are bottled without filtering or fining.

Domaine les Capreoles, Regnie Chamodère 2016

Notes from the importer: When Cédric Lecareux and his wife Catherine, native of Beaujolais, discovered the property, it was love at first sight. Located in Regnie-Durette, the wine estate, steeped in history for more than 250 years, charmed them with its old stones and ancient arched cellars. With an existing winery and 3.5 hectares of old Gamay vines surrounding the house, everything was there for them to combine their wine project and family life. They took the plunge and made their first vintage in 2014. Two years later, they bought an additional 2 ha of vines. A trained agronomist and oenologist, Cedric spent nearly 15 years working in the wine business before achieving his dream. Everything he does is hands on and natural; the results are purely-fruited, fresh Beaujolais that remarkably express all the richness of their exceptional terroir. Total production is around 2,500 cases.

The word “Capréoles” comes from the Old French and means vine tendrils. Cédric and Catherine chose this name for all it symbolizes: the reference to History and Tradition, the natural support allowing vertical growth of the vine but also the idea of the relationship they want to establish with those who appreciate their work.

Farming/vinification practices: in conversion to organic, will soon be certified. The wines are vegan. The grapes can be destemmed, depending on the years. Open tank fermentation, no pumping over, vinification as natural as possible but always with control – little SO2 added, only after malolactic in tanks.

Shiba-Wichern Willamette Cuvée Pinot Noir 2014

Akiko Shiba is a young Japanese winemaker who trained in Germany, and is now making gorgeous wine in Oregon. She was originally wanted to be a journalist and report on the world of alcohol; when she got out of college she worked as an editor for about two years at a culinary magazine called “Ou-sama no Kitchen” (The King’s Kitchen). At the same time that the magazine folded, Akiko’s husband got a job in Germany, so she moved their with him. She ended up working at a bar and getting very immersed in German beer. She began studying beer, but chance and circumstance led her to oenology school; the rest, as they say, is history.

Willamette Cuvée is a blend of pinot noir from three vineyards, here described by the producer: “Mild red and black fruits from the Havlin Vineyard, smells of summer-forest and black tea from Barrett Hill Vineyard and powerful dark fruits and spices from Eola Springs Vineyard all play well together to make the Willamette Cuvée complex, but not muddled. As the wine breathes the character continues to expand and present more depth.”

Willamette Cuvée was blended after barrel aging in 12% new French Oak for a little over 18 months and has been in the bottle since May 1st, 2016.

*Honorable mention wine we really want to taste, but we’ve maxed out at four: 

Adega Eloi Lorenzo, Ribeiro Blanco Villa Paz (2015)

Javier Monsalve is farmer and winemaker at this small winery in Galicia, started by his grandfather Eloi Lorenzo, in 1976. Javier farms his 5 hectares organically and biodynamically; most of his vines are planted on high altitude terraced slopes, and on soils made up mostly of granite, upon which Treixadura thrives. This wine is a blend of Treixadura, Albariño, Godello, and Torrontés.  It’s soft, easy, aromatic, and perfect for sipping while cheffing up feasts. And it’s called House of Peace, so that’s extra points right there.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5PM-8PM

Nov. 10, 2017

Finally, a beautiful, blustery fall day! We’ve been waiting for this. Maybe not quite this cold and windy, but it sure puts us in the mood for the big feasts and cozy feel of fall.

On that note, we’re tasting some more (not just for) Thanksgiving wines tonight. The pet-nat makes a statement and is a good conversation starter; the skin-contact Pinot Gris is delicious and beautifully packaged. Serve the two together and it’ll look like Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart are your personal shoppers. The other two wines in the line up are classic, humble, and easy-drinking. The perfect grab-a-bottle-and-go wines. All the notes are below.

Whalers Brewing from South Kingstown, RI is in the shop tomorrow, don’t forget to swing by!

Also, Veterans Day is observed today, so we don’t want to forget to give a shout-out to everyone who has served. It’s a tough job. We just sell booze.

Cheers and see you soon!

Supernatural Wine Co. ‘The Super-Nat’ Pétillant Naturel of Sauvignon Blanc, 2017, NZ 

Supernatural Wine Co makes certified organic, (practicing biodynamic since 2015) naturally vinified, low sulphur white, orange, and sparkling wines from a north-facing hillside estate in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Soils are lime-rich clay with volcanic influence, and the vines are around 15 years old. Hayden Penny has been the winemaker here since 2013. Hayden has made wine in Sonoma and Napa, Marlborough in New Zealand, the Yarra Valley in Australia, Toro in Spain, and in southern Bulgaria. He’s a fan of cool climate styles, and minimal intervention.

The Super Nat is a fun and funky (and super fresh) choice for your fall festivities. Pét-Nats are bottled before the first fermentation is finished, which allows carbon dioxide to be produced via the natural sugars in the grapes, giving the wines a gentle fizz. The scary label on this one will add a touch of drama to your table!

Kelley Fox Maresh Vineyard Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, OR

Kelley Fox created her small winery with her father Gus Stearns. The first vintage was 2007, and was just 100 cases. Annual production as of 2016 was 2000 cases, all from two vineyards: Maresh, and Demeter-certified biodynamic Momtazi Vineyard. Kelley might be an overachiever; she has a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology from Texas AM University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with dual degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University and was admitted to the PhD program in Biochemistry. In 2000, she decided to take a different path, and dedicated herself full-time to making wine.

Wines here are not manipulated at all. They are fermented with wild yeasts and no additives or enzymes are ever used. Kelley picks on biodynamically favorable days, and makes biodynamic preparations herself.

Here are Kelley’s slightly condensed notes on this wine: …These self-rooted vines were planted in 1991 on the northeast corner of the farm facing Mt. Hood, and the energy there is joyful and beautiful.…Pinot gris is not one of my favorites, and I wonder why. All of these years tasting the fruit in the vineyard, I have found nothing but delight. But this is Maresh Vineyard, and I know that that alone is enough to produce a Gris that I might like. I wondered before deciding how to approach it whether this dark pink Pinot grape really wants to be pressed off of its skins right after picking. Its true nature just might be that of a dark pink wine. That is why I fermented it on its skins. I might have gone a little too far fermenting it 100% whole cluster. In fact, I fermented it exactly like I ferment my Pinot. It was fermented in two macrobin fermentors. I did one pigeage a day, and pressed to taste at dryness. After settling, though, I racked it into a concrete amphora tank for élevage until bottling, and I allowed a natural, complete malolactic fermentation.

Depending on the lighting, the colour is either deep pink or medium peachy-pink like a sunset. It is very clear and light-reflecting, bordering on effulgent. At this time (July 2017), it smells like peaches and peach skins. I love the nose. There is both the fruit and the good kind of green that is that of something living and fresh. It is rather minerally and saline, too, and this is certainly not a fruit forward, tooty fruity fruit bomb by a long stretch. In the mouth, the fruit is there, but the frame can sometimes deliver a sucker punch, depending on one’s palate and sensibilities. I seem to notice this a lot more than anyone who has tried it so far. In six months or so, the fruit will emerge more fully from behind the frame, the minerals, and the slight salinity. The texture is classically Maresh Vineyard silky, and the finish is long. It is best served chilled.

Romuald Petit Chiroubles 2016, Beaujolais

Romuald Petit’s 12-hectare estate is made up of small plots of different age & origin (some are over 100 years old) that are farmed without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and are harvested by hand. Eight hectares are in the village of St. Verand, on the clay-limestone land of the Maconnais. This is where 80% the white wine is made. The other 4 hectares are dedicated to red in Morgon, and  Chiroubles (the latter a small plot of vines he inherited from his mother). Here the Gamay grows on decomposed granite soils so poor they’re referred to locally as “rotten rock”. This adds complexity and finesse to the wines.

Chiroubles sits at the highest elevation in Beaujolais and is therefore picked about a week later than the other crus. This wine is really pretty and velvety. There’s a touch of fresh, spongy earth mingling with red fruit that just makes you want to stick your nose in the glass over and over. It’s a joy to drink and it’s a no brainer for the holiday.

Chateau la Rame Bordeaux Rouge 2015

Chateau La Rame has been in the Armand family for over 100 years. It’s made up of approximately 120 hectares, half of which are leased, the rest is owned. They grow the classics here: Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, with an average vine age of 50 years, and Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a go-to, under $20 Bordeaux. It’s a little spicy, a little earthy, perfectly balanced acidity, nice ripe fruit. Another crowd pleaser!

More notes from the importer: The vineyards for this lovely red are at the base of the hillside vineyards of the estate in the village of Sainte Croix du Mont and are composed of sand, limestone and clay. The grape varieties are Merlot (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and the average age of the vines is thirty (30) years. The wine is fermented and aged in temperature-controlled vats and is bottled usually one year after harvest.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop 5-8PM AND Saturday Wine Tasting 3-6PM

Nov. 3, 2017

Chartrand Imports tasting on Friday; Domaine des Terrisses on Saturday:

Justin DeWalt of Chartrand Imports will be in the shop Friday from 5-8PM with a selection of organic French wines. Chartrand is located in Rockland, Maine, and specializes in organic wines from small producers. Justin will have wine from two producers this evening; both of these producers have also been in the shop before: Fred Niger of Domaine de l’ecu and John Bojanowski of Clos du Gravillas.

Saturday in the shop, instead of our usual 3-6PM beer tasting, we’ll meet Alain and Brigitte Cazottes of Domaine des Terrisses, a Gaillac producer imported by Wine Traditions.

We hope you can swing by to meet these guys, and get a jump on wine for your fall feasts and holiday treats (even though these warm temps are seriously messing with our autumnal mojo!).

Cheers and see you soon! Tonight’s wine notes are below.

Friday, 5-8PM

Domaine de l’Ecu is a 22 hectare property in the Sèvre et Maine region of the Muscadet appellation. Guy Bossard was the 5th generation to farm the domaine, which he worked alongside his wife Annie Thuaud. They were leaders in Muscadet, and many credit them (along with a handful of other producers, like Pepiere) for making the region what it is today. Guy was farming organically by the early 70s, and biodynamically since 1986. In 2009 they partnered with Fred Niger, and continued to make stellar wines from older vines (average of 50 years). The soils here are mostly made up of three metamorphic rocks: Gneiss, Orthogneiss and Granite. While the Gneiss soil produces Muscadet that is light and fruity, made to be consumed in its youth, Granite and Orthogneiss Muscadets can age beautifully for up to 20 years. In addition to traditional Muscadet, Fred makes a bunch of tiny production, experimental wines; we’ll taste one of those tonight. All of the wines are biodynamic, gravity fed, made with indigenous yeast, and vegan.

Domaine de L’Ecu “La Divina” Method Traditionnelle Brut Sparkling

This fun and fresh sparkling is a blend of Folle Blanche, Melon de Bourgogne, and Chardonnay, with a dash of Cabernet-Franc adding lower tones, depth and complexity. After bottling the wine is fermented a second time with champagne yeasts and left to age on the the lees for at least one year. Perfect to welcome guests, to have with brunch, oysters, and celebrations big and small.

Domaine de l’Ecu Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Cuvée Classique 2016

This Muscadet comes from a blend of younger Melon de Bourgogne vines on the estate, grown on silex and metamorphic rock. It’s aged on the lees in underground, glass-tile lined vats for 10 to 12 months. It’s rocky, minerally, and leesy. Another great aperitif, and also a go-to for raw bars, salads, and simply prepared white fish like sole and cod.

Domaine de l’Ecu Mephisto [Cabernet Franc] Vin de France 2014

This is a zero-sulphur cab franc from vines grown an granite. After being destemmed and spending 12 days fermenting on the skins, Mephisto ages in a combination of amphora and old barrels for 15 months. Only 200 cases are produced. This is an intriguing wine that opens up to reveal a peppery, briny, yet elegant personality.

Clos du Gravillas ‘Sous les Cailloux des Grillons’ 2015

Kentucky native and Brown alum John Bojanowski, and his wife Nicole, own and operate this Languedoc estate. They work organically in Saint Jean de Minervois, a gateway village to the Parc Natural du Haut Languedoc, an area of thousands of hectares of protected mountains, canyons and scrubland that is a migratory haven for birds of prey. Their 8.5 hectares of vineyards are on a dry, rocky plateau of white gravel. The summer days are sunny and warm, and the nights are cooled by breezes blowing down from the Montagne Noire, making the conditions perfect for ripe, balanced wines.

Sous les Cailloux des Grillons is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Counoise, Terret Gris and Mourvèdre. It’s deliciously smooth and ripe, with red fruit and refreshing acidity that make it quite food friendly.

Little bit of trivia: this wine is named for the crickets on the property. From the producer: In St. Jean, the soil is only white gravel; in our youngest vines, under these rocks innumerable crickets find shade from the scorching Mediterranean sun. At night they come out to play, (and during the day, they are under the rocks).

SATURDAY WINE TASTING IN THE SHOP, 3-6PM

Meet the producers, Alain and Brigitte Cazottes of Domaine des Terrisses

Notes from the importer: Spread out around the town of Albi, the Gaillac vineyards extend over 73 communes along the Tarn river. The appellation includes significantly different terroirs, the results of different geological strata, which include limestone plateaus, hillside vineyards with limestone and clay soils and alluvial plains with soils of gravel and sand. The climate is more Mediterranean than Atlantic and the vineyards benefit from a warm and dry autumn. The wines can have a balance of concentration and restraint that is rare and the appellation’s local grape varieties enhance the originality of Gaillac’s wines.

Domaine des Terrisses has been the property of the Cazottes family since 1750. The vineyard is situated along the “Premiere Cotes” of Gaillac, the hillsides facing south-southwest toward the Tarn river. The vineyard is planted almost entirely with the traditional grape varieties of the region; Mauzac and Len de L’ehl for the whites and Braucol and Duras for the reds. Domaine des Terrisses offers a wide range of wines which is typical of the Gaillac appellation and is a reminder of the region’s long historical and cultural links with wine.

We’ll taste new to RI wines from Domaine des Terrisses.

 

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5PM-8PM

Oct. 27, 2017

Shinn Estate Coalescence 2016, North Fork, NY

Established in 2000 by former NYC restaurateurs David Page and Barbara Shinn, Shinn Estate is a certified sustainable family-owned winery & farmhouse, located in North Fork on Long Island.

Coalescence is 51% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Chardonnay, 11.5% Riesling, 3% Semillon, and 0.5% Pinot Blanc. Grapes are hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, and fermented separately in stainless steel with natural yeast. Minimal sulfur is used in the production.

Zippy, citrusy, fresh and juicy, this is a fun choice for raw oysters and crisp salads.

Vincent Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2015

Vincent Fritzsche established Vincent Winery in 2009. Despite the fact that he shares a name with the winery, he didn’t exactly name it after himself. It was also his uncle’s name, and his maternal grandfathers. But it’s not even named for them! It’s named in honor of the 4th century saint, Vincent of Saragossa, Spain, the patron saint of vintners. Now that that’s settled, here’s the scoop on the winery: It’s small, located in the Eola Hills in Willamette Valley, and operates out of Grochau Cellars. The grapes are all sourced from single vineyards that are responsibly farmed (sometimes organic, sometimes biodynamic) and are produced with minimal intervention. These wines are classic, elegant, finely textured, and perfect on any table. We have a couple cases of the 2015 Chardonnay, which is drinking beautifully right now, with all the acidity rounded out, and the crunchy orchard fruit softened with a streak of creaminess. Once it’s gone, we’ll move on to the 2016, which is delicious as well.

Vincent Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

This is a blend of grapes from Ribbon Ridge and Eola Amity Hills; basically whatever doesn’t go into the limited single vineyard bottlings goes into this wine. It’s silky, bright and pure, with food-friendly acidity, and a touch of cinnamon spiciness. We also grabbed more Gamay Noir, which is super-tasty too.

Bernard Vallette Gamay ‘Cuvée Centenaire’ 2014

100% biodynamic, hand harvested Gamay from Lachassagne, in southern Beaujolais. This wine is listed only as Vin de France because Bernard refuses to submit his wines for AC status; we love cranky rebels! Cuvée Centenaire refers to the 100 year old vines that make up this estate blend. Soils here are clay and limestone on 6.5 hectares of land that were passed down from Bernard’s grandparents. Grapes are hand harvested and fermented with native yeasts with carbonic maceration, followed by relatively lengthy aging in stainless steel. There are no additives whatsoever in this wine, and just a touch of SO2 at bottling. The wine is gluggable and chuggable when young, but develops layers, spice, and depth with a few years on it. We’re straddling the best of both worlds right now!

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Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5pm – 8pm

Oct. 13, 2017

We’re starting with a new vintage of an old favorite: Romuald Petit Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2016

This 7-hectare estate is made up of small plots of different age & origin that are farmed without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. There are young vines planted by winemaker Romuald Petit, and others over a hundred years old. Each parcel produces grapes with very different qualities that are vinified separately & assembled just before bottling.

Old vines combined with heavy clay and fossil rich limestone soil add depth and mineral intensity to this un-oaked chardonnay. After vinification it’s left on its lees for 8 months, adding further textural nuances and preserving freshness and acidity.

Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre ‘Prémices’ Beaujolais 2016

100% Gamay from 50-70 year old vines; grapes are hand-harvested and fermented and aged in concrete, with minimal sulfur. Light and easy, floral and elegant, this is still serious Beaujolais, but a touch less serious than Dufaitre’s Brouilly and Cotes de Brouilly.

Notes from the importer: Rémi makes wines in a classic carbonic style, using whole bunches, which are carefully sorted to avoid broken grapes or rot. He adds some carbon dioxide gas to protect the grapes at the beginning of fermentation, and does not use any temperature control. He avoids foot stomping the grapes unless he sees some volatility starting to creep in. His goal is to have as little juice in the tank as possible. He also performs routine analysis to see how the yeast is performing and whether or not there is any volatility. Remi makes all his wines with the same method, thus we can really see and taste the differences between the sites, with minor differences in the elevage of each cuvée. He tastes each cuvée before bottling, and may decide to add between zero and 2 mg of sulfur, depending on how stabile he judges the wine to be.

Domaine Vincent Paris, Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah Sélection, 2016

1997 was Vincent Paris’ first vintage, and now, at 43 years old, he produces up to 3,000 cases per year on his 8 hectare estate (he owns 6 hectares, rents 2), with 20% of that coming to the states. Paris doesn’t have an underground cellar, as his facility is located on a shallower water table, so he makes his classic, elegant wines out of an above ground, industrial warehouse. He’s in the process of building his own wine-making facility on the land where he grows apricots.

Vincent is the nephew of Robert Michel, who is a respected winemaker in Cornas, and from whom Vincent rents vines. He inherited most of his vines from his grandfather, and some of those are 90 years old. They are located mostly along the southeast facing Cornas slope and a small lot in St. Joseph. He farms sustainably, organically, and biodynamically (depending on the plot—Cornas Granit 30 is biodynamic). All fruit is destemmed, and he uses only steel tanks for vinification. Only native yeast is used in the fermentation process and no new wood is ever incorporated, but some of his wines are matured in old oak for up to a year. Wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined.

This syrah is from young Crozes Hermitage vines from multiple parcels with varied exposure. The grapes are 100% destemmed, then undergo temperature controlled fermentation to preserve the vibrant fruit, followed by 9 months aging in tank. This is a bang for your buck, welcome to fall wine.

Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 30, 2014

Granit 30 is Syrah from young vines (10-20 years old) grown at the bottom and the top of the slope. The ’30’ refers to the degree of the slope; the ‘Granit’ is rather self-explanatory. This is a beautiful Cornas from a rising star. It’s pure, dark-fruited, earthy, peppery…