Tag Archives: organic wine

Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM, with Grazing Sticks!

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.

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

June 1, 2018

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 Blanco 2016 is 90% Hondarrabi Zuri & 10% Petit Courbu, and like the label says, it’s single vineyard, hand-harvested, and estate bottled (without SO2). It’s fresh and vibrant, salty and mineral-driven, with tart green apple, ripe pear, zesty grapefruit, and refreshing acidity. Oysters, seafood, and semi-soft cheeses are good pairs.

*Astobiza Txakoli de Alava Rosé 2017 is a 50/50 blend of the red grape Hondarrabi Beltza, and the white grape Hondarrabi Zuri (also 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…

*oops, had to replace this rosé with Semeli Mountain Sun Agiorgitiko rosé. Not enough Txakoli!

Domaine Glinavos ‘Paleokerisio’ Traditional Semi-Sparkling Orange Wine, 2016, Zitsa, Greece

Domaine Glinavos is in the semi‐mountainous region of DO Zitsa, Ioannina, more reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland than Mediterranean Greece. Limestone soils influence the production of wines that tend toward bright acidity and racy minerality, and the cold winters and cooler summers produce wines that tend to be lower ABV, frequently struggling to achieve 12.5.

Lefteris Glinavos was one of a handful of rogue winemakers who set out in the 70s to steer Greece away from bulk production and into smaller-scale, boutique winemaking. This group of young winemakers who all hailed from humble, winemaking regions, decided to travel abroad to hone their skills which they would bring back to Greece. Lefteris chose to pursue his studies in Bordeaux, returning in 1978 to establish Domaine Glinavos. Lefteris’ son Thomas is now in charge of the 20 hectare property, made up of multiple, high-elevation plots of indigenous varieties Debina, Vlahiko, and Bekari.

Paleokerisio is 97% Debina and 3% Vlahiko (a local red grape) harvested at the end of September and first couple weeks of October. The de-stemmed grapes ferment on the skins for about 12 days in oak casks. In the spring, the second fermentation takes place in closed tanks, producing the gentle sparkle. The wine is bottled without additives, and when there is still a touch of residual sugar. This is a savory, honey-hued wine. Pleasant oxidative notes mingle with butter, apple, vanilla, & clove. Have it with salty cured fish (the producer suggests Greek caviar, known as Botargo and Epirotic pies), savory and semi-sweet tarts, feta and olives, and lots of fried seafood.

Vina Štekar Cabernet Sauvignon Kakovostno 2015, Goriška Brda, Slovenia

Jure Štekar is the current winemaker on this 10 hectare family property that was established in 1985 (Goriška Brda and Italy’s Collio are one region, divided only by bureaucracy, post WWII). Jure took over from his father Roman, who learned everything he knew from his father Emil. While the winery was officially founded in 1985, the family’s roots go back centuries here, and it’s said that their farmhouse was the first house built in the small village of Snežatno back in 1771. Štekar is organically certified, and they do not use any chemicals in the vineyards or the cellar. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with naturally occurring yeast. Wines are bottled unfiltered, without sulfur, and with consideration of the position of the moon.

This is single vineyard (Početrtka) Cabernet Sauvignon from vines that are about 20 years old. The grapes are de-stemmed and then macerate for 20-25 days before being transferred to 500l Slovenian oak casks for 12-14 months. It’s soft & plummy, with Mediterranean herbs, leather, sour cherries, and fine-grained tannins.

 

Memorial Weekend Tastings in the Shop

Friday, May 25, 2018, we have back to back tastings.

3-5PM: Willie’s Superbrew pours their two new brews.

5-8PM: our regularly scheduled Friday wine tasting (notes are below).

Saturday, 3-6PM: Wakefield’s Whalers Brewing in the shop.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop

Gaston Chiquet Cuvée Tradition Brut 1er Cru NV
Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

We couldn’t improve upon the importer and Terry Thiese notes for this wine, so here they are: Nicolas Chiquet farms 23 heactares in the Valle de la Marne in the villages of Ay, Dizy, Hautvillers and Mareuil-sur-Ay. All of the fruit (including that which is used in the non-vintage cuvée) comes from premiere and grand cru grapes. Nicolas does not employ any oak aging at Gaston Chiquet; he believes that concentration, fruit maturity and malolactic fermentation impart enough body and texture to make aging in barrel unnecessary.

Terry Thiese notes: “In essence this wine combines the pumpernickel-sweetness of Meunier with a walnutty richness typical of this part of the Marne, and what makes it most wonderful is that it’s both extremely articulate and openly friendly. It is class defined and enacted. If you think such qualities are “mainstream”, shame on you. Such qualities are rare, my friend, and you do not have the privilege to take them for granted. It’s 40% PM, 35% CH and 20% PN. There’s 30% reserve wine, which includes some 2011, which one does—alas—notice. Otherwise the wine is saltier than usual, with somewhat more power and length.” 45 months on the lees.

Domaine Cheveau Saint Véran “Terroir Davayé” 2016

Domaine Cheveau was established in 1950 by André Cheveau; today his two grandsons run the estate, which is situated on 14 hectares around Solutré-Pouilly, and extends into Davayé in the Maconnais, and Saint Amour in Beaujolais. No fertilizers are used and all harvesting is done by hand; the wines are fermented and vinified parcel by parcel. Total estate production is fewer than 5,000 cases.

This Saint Veran is 100% Chardonnay from younger vines of 15 to 20 years of age. It’s sourced from vineyards in the village of Davayé, part of the Saint Veran appellation. It’s fermented and aged in stainless steel for eight or so months before being bottled. Dry, finessed, understated, and produced in very small quantities, so only about 100 cases make it to the US annually.

Domaine Lucien Crochet Sancerre Rosé 2017

Lucien Crochet was formally established when Lucien Crochet married the daughter of Lucien Picard, joining the two estates of Lucien Picard and André Crochet (Lucien’s father). Lucien Picard was one of the first growers to bottle his own wine in Sancerre, and then sell them primarily to restaurants in Paris. Over 30 years, Lucien Crochet expanded upon his father-in-law’s work, and expanded the domaine as well, so that it is now over 38 hectares, 29 of which are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, 9 to Pinot Noir. The vines are planted on clay and limestone, and they’ve been farmed organically since 1989.

Only 6% of Sancerre is rosé, mostly because making good wine from red grapes in Sancerre is best left to very good producers, preferably with help from warmer weather. This is one of those rare instances where climate change makes things better.

Domaine Joseph Dorbon Arbois Rouge Trousseau Vielle Vigne 2013, Jura

Joseph Dordon established his domaine in 1996 with about 3 hectares of vineyards in AOC Arbois, situated in the village of Vadans. His vines are planted on hillsides, facing south, at approximately 1000 feet altitude. Though he’s not yet certified organic, he works as responsibly as possible, avoiding chemicals, hand-harvesting, hoeing by horse, allowing weeds to grow…

This old vine (40+ years) Trousseau is de-stemmed and fermented for 15 or so days with the pulp, and then aged for one year in stainless steel, to keep the freshness of Trousseau. The importer notes state that this wine is “open and delicious with fresh, tart fruit, underlying notes of dried herbs and a light, tannic backbone. The color is an attractive pale red tinged with a slight orange hue. High-toned and bright, this wine could easily be confused for a red Burgundy from the Hautes Cotes de Beaune.” Capable of aging for 10-15 years. And they have a very cute cottage for rent.

Here’s a cool article in The Guardian about natural wine…it mentions trailblazer Marcel Lapierre, whose 2017 Morgon we just got a case of yesterday, now produced by his son Mathieu and daughter Camille.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

May 4, 2018

Vignoble du Rêveur Pierres Sauvages Sec 2016, Alsace

Vignoble du Rêveur (The Dreamer’s Vineyard) is the side project of Mathieu Deiss, whose main duties are still working the vineyards and cellar at the family domaine, the famed Domaine Marcel Deiss. Vignoble du Rêveur was established in 2013 with 7 hectares Mathieu inherited from his uncle and his maternal grandfather. The parcels are located mostly in the commune of Bennwihr, just outside the valley of Kaysersberg, and are certified organic and biodynamic. Mathieu vinifies Rêveur and Deiss in the same winery, since, as he puts it, he “simply cannot be in two places at once during harvest”. 

Pierres Sauvages is Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir from 1.9 hectares of vines around 45 years old. It’s fermented via spontaneous fermentation in foudre (large oak barrels that hold up to a thousand liters, that are believed to preserve the vineyard character by minimizing both oak extraction and oxidation—they are also expensive, both to purchase and to maintain). It ages for one year on fine lees, and is bottled with minimal sulfur (Riesling Vibrations is bottled with no sulfur, and is available in the shop). The wine is richly aromatic, with peaches, pears, flowers and honey fluttering from the glass. It’s rich on the palate as well, the viscosity balanced by mineral tension and vibrant acidity. Delicious through and through. 

Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Saint Veran ‘Prelude’ 2016, Burgundy

Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau is a small estate run by Frantz Chagnoleau and his wife Caroline Gon, who has herself been head winemaker at Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon since 2006; she holds two degrees, one in agricultural engineering, and another in oenology. After obtaining her degrees she worked at Newton Vineyards in Napa before returning to France to work with Dominique Lafon. Frantz graduated with a degree in Oenology from Bordeaux University in 2004, and then went on to work for Olivier Merlin at Domaine Merlin in the Mâconnais. The couple’s friendship with Lafon comes through in their elegant, pure, terroir driven wines. Since 2013 all of the vineyards have been certified organic.

Like Lafon, Frantz and Caroline believe in minimal intervention, and use only indigenous yeast. Harvest is by hand, and aging is in old French oak. This Chardonnay evokes the old vines and stony soil of the vineyards; flinty, chalky intensity, mineral-precision, pure and focused flavors of apples and white flowers…this is an elegant bottle of wine. 

Sclavos Tsaousi 2015, Cephalonia, Greece 

The Sclavos family can trace its roots back over many centuries on the Greek island of Cephalonia. In 1700, a branch of the family emigrated to the Black Sea port of Odessa, where they had contracts for using their privately-owned commercial boats for the distribution of wheat. Records from 1860 show the family owned a large winery and estate in Odessa. In 1919, following the Russian Revolution, the grandfather of present owner Evriviadis Sclavos returned to the family’s 6 hectares in the Paliki peninsula and planted his first vines of Mavrodaphne and Vostilidi, some of which are still bearing fruit today. The mountainous terrain of the area provides a number of microclimates that are ideal for growing a variety of grapes, like those grown at Sclavos. 

The property is situated on limestone and is farmed biodynamically (or homeodynamic, as they call it), and all wines are made the same way: from non-irrigated, low-yielding, original rootstock bush vines, via spontaneous yeast fermentaion, bottled unfined and unfiltered, and with very little sulphur. These are some of the most lo-fi wines produced in Greece. 

100% Tsaousi from vines that are 60 years old, or older, this wine is a little wild; it’s orangey—golden hued, not from skin-contact, but rather from intentionally oxidative style, kind of like a Jura wine, or sherry. It’s herbal, savory, hazy, a bit salty, and finishes like a lemon-edged, Mediterranean sunset. 

Calabretta, ‘Gaio Gaio’ Vino Rosso, Etna

The Calabrettas are the fourth generation farming their family’s seven hectares of nearly 100 year old, ungrafted, organic vines (as well as olive and fruit trees) on the north side of Mt. Etna. In 1997 Massimo and Massimiliano dug a new cellar and winery into the black, volcanic rock, where old oak an indigenous yeast work their magic. Before the new winery, the family only sold its wine in sfuso, or in barrel, to restaurants and private customers, many of whom would travel long distances to pick up their wine. Calabretta is old-school, and is known for long aging; the Etna Rosso ages much like Barolo and Brunello were aged decades ago: in massive, neutral Slavonian oak for 6 to 7 years… They don’t use any chemical herbicides or pesticides, harvest is by hand, and fermentation is with wild yeast. 

Gaio Gaio translates as Joy Joy (Gaio is the nickname of Gaetano Calabretta). It is 100% Nerello Mascalese from 2 plots of young vines, 50% on original rootstock, fermented in wood, and aged on fine lees in Slavonian oak barrels for about 11 months. Cherries and smoke, red berries and earth, medium-bodied, grainy tannins and fresh acidity; this wine is perfect grill-side! 

Domaine Glinavos ‘Vlahiko’ 2013, Zitsa, Greece 

Domaine Glinavos is in the semi‐mountainous region of DO Zitsa, Ioannina, more reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland than Mediterranean Greece. Limestone soils influence the production of wines that tend toward bright acidity and lacy minerality, and the cold winters and cooler summers produce wines that tend to be lower ABV, frequently struggling to achieve 12.5. 

Lefteris Glinavos was one of a handful of rogue winemakers who set out in the 70s to steer Greece away from bulk production and into smaller-scale, boutique winemaking. This group of young winemakers who all hailed from humble, winemaking regions, decided to travel abroad to hone their skills which they would bring back to Greece. Lefteris chose to pursue his studies in Bordeaux, returning in 1978 to establish Domaine Glinavos. Lefteris’ son Thomas is now in charge of the 20 hectare property, made up of multiple, high-elevation plots of indigenous varieties Debina, Vlahiko, and Bekari. 

Vlahiko (which may be blended with a bit of Bekari) has an old-world character, and not just because of the embroidery pictured on the label (for which the region is known). It ages for two years in French oak, and is full of earthy, peppery, spicy notes, as well as what the producer describes as “fresh cut mushroom”, and lots of wild/woodsy-berry goodness, and crackly acidity. Have it with something fatty and salty! 

Friday Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM: Italian Wine with Best Beverage

April 27, 2018

Tonight in the shop, from 5-8PM, Natalie Volpe from Best Beverage will pour tasty Italian wines, two that are brand new to the state. Notes are below.

Tomorrow Farmer Willie’s will be with us from noon-3 with refreshing boozy, ginger beer (and samples of their rebranded, new brew), and this will coincide with the spring Wickenden Street Makers & Merchants Sale, from 11-5.

But wait, there’s more! Gored for Good, a fundraiser for Amos House, is this Sunday, 9-3. If you haven’t signed up to run with the “bulls”, you can still watch, and hit the after party. All for a good cause!

We’re not done yet! Wednesday is going to be warm and sunny and perfect for rosé at Broadway Bistro. Swing by to fill your glass with pink, and forget the troubles of the world!

Cheers!

Perla del Garda Trebbiano di Lugana 2017
and Vino Rosato Rosé Delle Siepi 2017

Perla del Garda was established in 2000 in Lugana, a tiny region on the southern banks of Lake Garda that straddles the provinces of Lombardy and Veneto. It’s not an area exactly known for super-high quality wines, but there are some producers doing some cool things, like these guys. At Perla del Garda, they farm organically, hand-harvest, and the winery is gravity fed.

The white is 100% Trebbiano di Lugana from three vineyards planted on soils of calcareous clay and glacial stones (morainic). It evokes cool lake breezes on a summer day, and the flora and fauna of the region: wild mountain flowers, lemon trees, and buzzy bees….

Rosé delle Siepi is 100% Rebo (a cross of Merlot and Teroldego) from a single vineyard. It’s dry and elegant, evoking the same flora as the white, but in an understated fashion, and with a touch of cherry and wild strawberry tossed in. Both of these wines would be perfect with speck, polenta, mushroom risotto, freshwater fish, and anything olive oily and lemon-flecked.

Tre Monti Vigna Rocca Albana Secco 2017
and Campo di Mezzo Sangiovese Superiore 2016
Romagna

Winemaker Vittorio Navacchia believes in minimal intervention from the vine to the cellar. Certified organic since 2014, Tre Monti is in the process of transitioning to full biodynamic farming. Only estate-grown grapes from their 50 hectares are vinified here. Pebbly, sandy, clay soils give the wines mineral depth and complexity.

Vigna Rocca is 100% Albana di Romagna from three vineyard sites. This is a dry, savory, full-bodied white that hints at honey, peaches, and almonds. Have it with fried seafood, risotto, olives…

Campo di Mezzo is 100% Sangiovese from younger vines, fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel and glass lined cement. It’s dark and spicy, with palate pleasing notes of sour cherry and violets. Pizza, pasta, burgers, dogs, hard cheeses, cured meat, veggie dishes; this red can easily cover all the bases.

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

April 6, 2018

Domaine Oudin Chablis 2016

Nathalie and Isabella Oudin are the proprietors of this domaine in Chichée, a small village of 350 people, and just a handful of winemakers. The two took over from their parents, Jean-Claude and Christiane, who moved from Paris in 1988. Christiane’s family had 2 hectares of chardonnay vines, the grapes from which they would sell to negociants. For ten years, Jean-Claude continued to work in Paris during the week, and tended to the vines on weekends. The domaine is now about 8 hectares of 30 to 70 year old vines, planted on clay and limestone, with southern exposures. Farming here is without chemicals, and the harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in stainless steel with natural yeast, and the wine rests on the lees for a year or more.

This is the main cuvée of the domaine, with the grapes coming from across multiple sites. We feel quite lucky to get this Chablis, since the 2016 yield was down by as much as 50% across the region due to frost and hail. Despite the extreme weather, the wines produced are classic, with acidity, alcohol, body, and fruit concentration all in balance. There’s some malo here softening up the citrus, saline and limestone notes. It’s an elegant wine, ready to drink or cellar for 4-5 years.

Domaine de l’Aumonier Touraine Rosé 2017

Domaine de l’Aumonier has a mini-manifesto on their website:

The Domaine de l’Aumonier it’s,
mainly a love story, singular …
work every moment,
a search for meaning in our actions,

the respect for life and our environment, because we are one,
the way of reason because it is inconceivable to overcome,

the pleasure of creating and composing each year, with what nature gives us.

And this quote by Antoine de St Exupery: ” We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.”

So it’s no surprise that Sophie & Thierry Chardon farm their 47 hectares in the village of Couffy organically (certified). They started in 1996 with 10 hectares purchased from retired winemakers. Their vineyards are now split between 26 hectares on the slopes around Couffy, on soils of clay and flint, and 21 hectares around the village of Mareuil sur Cher, on soils of chalk and clay. This rosé is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay from three hectares on their southern slopes. It’s delicate and floral, with notes of honeysuckle, and tart, refreshing citrus.

La P’Tite Vadrouille 2016

We managed to snag another drop of this wine, which we love.

This is a side project for Domaine du Mortier, a 9 hectare, certified biodynamic property located in Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil. Brothers Fabien and Cyril Boisard were quite young when they started Domaine du Mortier nearly ten years ago. And while they don’t hail from a long line of winemakers, they do employ the most traditional method of propagating vines: Selection Massale, a labor intensive and time consuming practice of selecting the best vines in a vineyard and propagating through cuttings. Their wines are made and bottled with little to no SO2.

Heavy frost in 2016 left the brothers needing grapes (it was a tough vintage across the board), so they sourced from friends growing organically in Bordeaux. La P’Tite Vadrouille is 55% merlot and 45% Cabernet Franc from vines planted along the Dordogne. They picked the grapes themselves and then brought them back to Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil in a refrigerated truck, where the grapes then underwent a 12 day maceration with semi-carbonic fermentation, producing a lively wine with bright fruit aromas. Unfortunately this vineyard also froze in 2017, so they’ll have to source again for next year.

Vinca Minor Old Vine Carignan, Mendocino 2016

Jason Charles worked as a photographer in the US, Mexico and Europe, then waited tables in NYC, where he became interested in wine. He then worked vineyards in Bordeaux and the Sonoma Coast before starting the Vinca Minor label. He’s a believer in organic farming and works as naturally as possible, using only indigenous yeast and never filtering or fining, and bottling with minimal sulfur. This wine is from 85 year old vines that are dry-farmed on a property that has been tended by the same family for over four generations. It’s fermented 85% whole-cluster in neutral french oak. It’s spicy, high-toned and herbal, with red fruits & flowers throughout.

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, 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.