April 20, 2018
The Zafeirakis family has been involved with viticulture in Tyrnavos in eastern-central Greece for more than 100 years. Christos Zafeirakis is the fourth generation to continue the family tradition; he got his degree in oenology in Athens in 2000, and then went on to get his master’s from the University of Milan in 2004. Soon after he returned to Greece and continued to make high quality wines from organically farmed vineyards, the same way his father had done. He made the first wines from his private vineyards in 2005.
Malagousia is a white grape rediscovered by oenologist and winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou. It yields highly aromatic, full-bodied wines throughout many regions in Greece. This is an elegant wine that evokes flowers and honeysuckle.
Partida Creus SP 2016, Penedes, Spain
Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerosa are the couple behind Partida Creus. Originally from Piedmont, the two (who are both architects) moved from Italy to Barcelona because of that city’s rich architecture. In 2000 they sought out a slower and more bucolic lifestyle, so they moved once again, this time to Massís de Bonastre in the Baix Penedés. They started farming, and when they found it difficult to find wines made in a lighter, minimalist style, they began recovering forgotten old vines of local, low-yielding, grape varieties, many of which had been disqualified or never allowed into the D.O. Partida Creus farms organically, of course, and adds nothing in the cellar, it’s all native yeast fermentation, natural acidity and no sulfur. The wines are fresh and refreshing, with lots of acidity, low alcohol, terroir-driven minerality, and sometimes sherried-nutty-gamey undertones.
SP (lovingly called “Sub Par” on the label) is Subirat Parent, an old, nearly extinct clone of Malvasia that is supposedly native to Penedes, and also known as Alarije in Extremadura, and as Malvasia Riojana in Rioja. The wine is a clear, yellow-green that turns golden with age and tends toward expressions of orange peel, lemon, and floral/tropical aromatics. Fermented spontaneously in steel with native yeast and aged for 6 months in stainless-steel, then bottled unfiltered without any added sulfites.
Shiba Wichern 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette, OR
Akiko Shiba is a young Japanese winemaker who trained in Germany, and is now making gorgeous, minimal-intervention wine in Oregon with her husband Christian Wichern. She originally wanted to be a journalist and report on the world of alcoholic beverages; 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, Christian got a job in Germany, so they moved there together. 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.
This 2015 Rosé is not an old vintage, the wine is released late and is meant to be enjoyed for at least a few years or more afterward. After primary and malolactic fermentation, it rests on the lees in stainless steel for 8 months. According to the producers notes, “the goal of this extended time sur lies was greater complexity, body and depth, while retaining freshness. The result is a wine with a complex nose combining rich floral, salty and savory tones and a mouthfeel that is tart, bold and at the same time buttery smooth. This wine will refresh in the summer with BBQ and grilled foods, but it will also pair well with spicy Asian food and continue to all the way through Thanksgiving and Christmas with roasted turkey and ham.” All of this is true, but we’d like to add that this rosé smells and tastes like still Champagne, in the best way possible. It’s leesy, yeasty, slightly sherried on the finish…when the wine is just opened it has a touch of funky, tart acidity, but that blows off and rounds out, and reveals its elegant, evolving character.
G D Vajra, Claret JC Nebbiolo 2016, Langhe, Italy
G.D. Vajra was officially established in 1972 (named after Aldo’s father, Giuseppe Domenico) but the family roots in the region go back over two centuries. Aldo Vajra has been making wine here since the late 60s. Today the estate is close to 60 hectares, 10 of which are planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo production. Farming is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and aging is done in traditional Slavonian casks. Aldo and Milena’s children Giuseppe, Francesca, and Isidoro are now carrying on the family business and traditions.
This is not your grandfather’s Nebbiolo, it’s your great, great, great, great(?) grandfather’s Nebbiolo. Giuseppe is producing it in the Metodo Ancestrale style that harks back to Thomas Jefferson’s time but slipped out of fashion in the 1950s: fermentation starts in the tank on the skins and finishes in the bottle, creating a slightly off-dry, lightly sparkling wine (the fizz might subside before the bottle is finished). Serve with a slight chill, and this wine will pair perfectly with warm spring and summer days that surely *SURELY* will become a reality. What is even going on anymore? But we’re fans of not waiting for the weather for anything, so toss back this spicy, floral, ripe, ruby-colored throwback with pizza, pasta, salumi, olives, cheese, etc…it’s glou glou.