Tag Archives: Rheinhessen

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

January 27, 2017

Becker Family Pinot Gris 2014, Pfalz, Germany

Becker Estate is made up of 28 hectares in Schweigen (in southern Pfalz), on the border of Alsace. Now on its 7th generation, Becker is known as a top producer of Pinot Noir in Germany. Since the vineyards have been in the Becker family, the border between France and Germany has changed many times, the last time in 1945. Now, 70% of their holdings are actually in Alsace; the winery itself is in Germany. A 1955 accord grants them and five other vineyards the right to continue to call themselves as German. In exchange, the French got water rights to the springs of Schweigen and some lumber rights from the local forest.

This Pinot Gris is aromatic and full of citrus, apples and tropical fruit. Pair it with root vegetables, creamy squash soups, and as a foil for spicy food.

Keller Riesling Trocken 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany

…Keller has inspired an entire generation of young winemakers and single-handedly given birth to a Renaissance in the Rheinhessen. Storied vineyards that were all but forsaken – Kirchspiel, Hubacker, Morstein and Abtserde to name a few – are now seen as holy ground for Riesling and command some of the highest prices for dry wines in Germany. Read more from the importer here.

This Riesling has lots of acidity, tempered by aging on the lees. Peaches, apples, lemons, honey and honeydew all bounce around on your palate. Delicious.
Domaine des Pothiers Référence Gamay 2015, Côte Roannaise, Loire

Domaine des Pothiers is one of the oldest estates in the appellation. The Paires family has been here for over 300 years; as well as tending nine hectares of vines, the family also raises cattle. They are certified organic since 2010, and also practice biodynamic farming, though not certified.

Référence is 100% hand-harvested Gamay grown on granite. It’s soft and round, aromatic, brambly, with lots of raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. The finish has the slightest touch of tannins. It’s gluggable.

Mas D’Alezon “Le Presbytère” 2015 Faugères

Catherine Roque is a pioneer in Faugères. She has two high elevation properties totaling 17 hectares: Mas D’Alezon, and Domaine du Clovallon, which she co-runs with her daughter Alix Roque. Catherine saw the promise in this somewhat unsung region in the Languedoc, and planted varieties that aren’t typical, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Reisling, Viognier, Roussanne, Clairette and Petite Arvine. She fully embraced biodynamic farming, and now both of her properties adhere to the practice. Her wines are produced with indigenous yeast, without sulfur, and are bottled unfiltered and unfined.

Mas d’Alezon focusses on grapes that are native to the region. Presbytère is 80% Grenache from 70 year old vines, with the remainder a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre, from 80 year-old vines. This is a silky wine, ripe with cherries & plums, balanced by earth & dried hillside herbs, and finishing with a touch of gaminess and soft tannins.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

2013 Gysler Silvaner Halbtrocken, Rheinhessen, Germany

12 hectares, 8,000 cases annually, certified biodynamic

gysler sylvanerNotes from the importer: Gysler’s history in Weinheim dates to 1450, with record of winemaking dating to 1750. The windy, cool microclimate of Weinheim, and its red soil dominated by Rotliegend sandstone, allow Gysler to ply a quite unique expression of Riesling from his 12 hectares, in a region planted to many lesser varieties and hybrids.

When Alexander Gysler took the helm from his father abrubtly, changes were made in the vineyard, including the reversal of the plantings of experimental crossings, instead focusing the estate by increased plantings of classic varieties such as Riesling and Sylvaner. Next came Biodynamic conversion and certification by Demeter in 2008, with the intention of helping to reverse the reputation of Rheinhessen wines as high-yielding, overly sweet ‘plonk.’ Fruit is hand harvested, which is rare in the Rheinhessen, and composting and cover cropping have become integral to the health of the estate’s vines – every second row is planted with flowers & herbs. In 2005, Gysler began bottling his wines in only 2 quality levels, estate and S-class, eschewing the pradikät system that portends quality is based predominantly on ripeness. Other changes include employing whole cluster pressing, spontaneous fermentations in stainless steel, eliminating fining and racking, gross lees contact right up until bottling, and abandoning the use of süssreserve. “2008 was the first vintage we did absolutely no handling of the juice,” says Alex Gysler.

And Terry Theise on the wine: Now 100% estate-bottled (Demeter!), and this is a crisp, fine and charming vintage of this perennial value, showing a curious length. Among the best vintages of a wine I’ve known for nearly thirty years(!).

2012 Chateau de Jouclary, Cabardès Rouge

jouclary 12Robert & Pascal Gianesini farm in the Cabardès AOC, on the southernmost outcropping of the Massif Central in south central France. It’s influenced by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; AOC laws mandate that a minimum of 40% of the varieties must be “atlantique”: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc and 40% “mediterranean”: Syrah or Grenache.

The 2012 Jouclary rouge is a whole lotta wine for not a whole lotta money. This vintage appears to have more Cab Franc than the 2011, and that is especially apparent on the nose; it’s got tobacco leaf and hints of underbrush mingling with vibrant fruit, earthy complexity, delicate acidity, and a long, lingering finish to boot. It’s a winner!

2013 Domaine Philémon, Gaillac Rouge, Jurançon Noir

Notes from the importer:

philemon juranconDomaine Philémon is a 20 hectare estate located in Villeneuve-sur-Vere, a small village on the Vere river in between Albi and Cordes in the northeast quadrant of the Gaillac appellation. The Vieules family have had a vineyard in Villeneuve since 1804. Today the vineyard is run by Mathieu Vieules who grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportions. All of his land is farmed organically with the vineyard being certified in 2013. Mathieu Vieules has twenty hectares of vines in production along the Cordes plateau on south facing slopes with a calcerous soil. They are planted almost entirely to the traditional Gaillac grape varieties: Loin de L’oeil, Mauzac and Muscadelle for the whites, and Braucol (Fer Servadou), Duras and Jurancon Noir for the reds. A good proportion of the vines are more than fifty years old. The vines are trained in the gobelet fashion meaning that they are head pruned and yields are kept exceedingly low; 40 hl/h for the whites and 30hl/h for the reds. The harvest is done entirely by hand.

After a few years of tasting Jurançon Noir from tank and begging Mathieu Vieules to bottle it separately, he finally agreed in 2013. The grapes are hand harvested and put into the cement fermentation tank in whole clusters for a semi-carbonic fermentation with indigenous yeasts. The Jurançon Noir is an old variety local to the southwest of France. According to Jancis Robinson, it is a cross between Folle Blanche and Cot (Malbec). To produce quality wine this vigourous variety must be severely pruned and then it will produce dark, spicy and slightly bitter wine that is 11% alc, when fully ripe. The bottles are sealed with a crown cap.