Tag Archives: Rioja

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop: L’Acino, Rayos Uva, Cornelissen, Pimpine

Dec. 9, 2016

L’Acino IGP Calabria Bianco “Chora” 2014

L’Acino is the communal effort of three friends (a film director, a historian, and a lawyer – in previous lives) to express the possibilities of Calabrian terroir with grapes indigenous to the region, and winemaking true to nature. The three friends started with one hectare of vines purchased from an old farmer in 2006; the property is right on the border of the Pollino national park, the largest natural park in Italy. As happens in nature, so happens in their vineyards: plantings are varied and diverse, creating a happy, healthy ecosystem. They then purchased a nearby 1.5 hectare parcel of the local red grape Magliocco (also in the shop, positively gluaggable). But they really wanted to get a parcel they could start from scratch, that had never had vines planted on it before. In 2007 they found a sandy plateau where they planted Magliocco and Mantonico from massale, much of it in franc de pied (on French rootstock). The Chora Bianco and Rosso come from this parcel.

The bianco is a blend of Mantonico, Guernaccia Bianca, Pecorello, and Greco Bianco. It’s lively, fresh, youthful, fruity and fun. Organic, wild yeast, minimal sulfur only at bottling.

Olivier Riviere Rayos Uva Rioja, 2015

Olivier Rivière was born and raised in Cognac, studied enology in Bordeaux (with an emphasis on biodynamic farming), and gained practical experience in Bordeaux and Burgundy. He had plans to set up a domaine in Fitou, in the Languedoc, but when those fell through, he went to consult in Spain instead.

Olivier rents, farms or owns vineyards in Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, Rioja Alavesa and Arlanza. He first came to Spain in 2004 to help Telmo Rodriguez convert to biodynamics. In 2006 he started his own project, but because of the high cost of land in Rioja, he traded his farming abilities for access to grapes from the best sites he could find. In 2009 he joined Luis Arnedo at Bodegas Lacus and found a more permanent home to expand his repertoire of wines.

Rayos Uva is made from Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha (in some vintages), sourced from the sandy, gravelly and alluvial soils of Rioja Baja. It’s fermented whole berry with indigenous yeasts and aged for about 9 months in stainless steel, foudre and cement tanks. Olivier purchases these grapes from Bodegas Lacus, where he oversees the winemaking. Ramos Uva is vibrant, pure, ripe and fruity, with notes of flowers and citrus, and a long, silky finish.

Frank Cornelissen Rosso del Contadino 2015

Frank Cornelissen was a Belgian wine novice in the year 2000 when he landed on the side of a volcano in Sicily, and made a big splash in the natural wine world. Until then, Etna wines were mostly sold in bulk, and certainly weren’t being taken seriously. Cornelissen, along with Andrea Franchetti of Passopisciaro and Marc de Grazia of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, were newcomers bringing attention to the potential of Etna wines. Since then he’s evolved and learned from his sometimes combustible environment. He mixes the modern (gasp! fiberglass tanks!) with an unrivaled minimalist ethos; from the producers website:

Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to understand nature’s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be.

Cornelissen has 15 high-elevation hectares on the side of the mountain, 12 are planted to vine, 1 to olives. Biodiversity is key, and local fruit trees are interplanted with the vines, which probably keep the kept bees happy. New plantings are via selection massale, from pre-phylloxera vines. Yields are low.

Producer notes: Contadino is a field-blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese (85%) with other local varietals from all our old vine vineyards: Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella nera, Uva Francesa and Minella bianco. Our Contadino expresses Etna as made in a traditional way of blending different varietals: fragrant, elegant, structured with personality.

Here’s a recent Cornelissen article from the NY Times.

Château Pimpine Bordeaux, Cotes de Francs, 2013

Château Pimpine is the second wine from Château Le Puy, a biodynamic property on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. Château Le Puy has been farming biodynamically since the early 1900s, so long that they don’t think it’s any big deal, it’s just the way they’ve always done things. Even so, they have all the certifications.

Pimpine, and Le Puy, are located in Saint-Cibard and share the same soils of clay, flint and limestone as many of Bordeaux’s most prized vines. The vineyards sit at 110 meters, on the same plateau as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.

Jean-Pierre Amoreau and his son Pascal make the wine here and at Le Puy. The blend is mostly Merlot, with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Of course everything is done by hand, there are no added sulfites, sugars or yeasts during fermentation, and the wine is bottled unfiltered and unfined. The finished wine is rather traditional: balanced, elegant, herbal and fresh.

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

July 22, 2016

Folk Machine “White Light” 2015, CA

Folk Machine is part of Kenny Likitprakong’s Hobo Wine Company, which he started in 2002, at the age of 26. He grew up in Healdsburg, spending much time at Domaine St. George, the winery owned by his great-uncle Supasit Mahaguna. From the start, Likitprakong set out to make lower sugar, lower alcohol, higher acid, food friendly wines.

White Light is a blend of 50% Tocai Friulano from Mendocino, 30% Riesling from Santa Lucia Highlands, and 20% Verdelho from Suisan Valley. Everything was picked early and fermented in stainless steel without commercial yeast. The final wine is just 11.9% alcohol; it’s light on its feet, a touch salty, and pleasantly aromatic. Pair it with seafood, salads, light summery meals, and Wilco on the stereo.

Les Tètes, “Tete Rosé” 2015, Touraine, France

Les Tètes is a certified organic producer in Touraine, owned and operated by a small group of friends. They describe their wines like this: Les Tètes is about friendship, and wines you drink with friends. We hand-pick the best grapes and keep the vinification completely natural, every step of the way. Fermentation is with wild yeasts only, which allows the purest expression of each varietal. And our wines contain minimal sulfites, for the best flavor and no headaches!

No headaches for The Heads! Rosé Head is 60% Grolleau and 40% Gamay, from vines that average 25 years, grown on clay and limestone. This is an enticing little wine. Low alcohol, sweet fruit, some funky grolleau/gamay antics. Yum.

Domaine du Mortier “Les Pins” 2014, Bourgueil

Domaine du Mortier is a 9 hectare, certified biodynamic property located in Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil, owned and operated by brothers Fabien and Cyril Boisard. Here the brothers 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. They also promote eco-diversity in their vineyards, by planting diverse crops amongst the vines. With this level of discipline and commitment, they always produce top notch wines.

Les Pins is 100$ Cabernet Franc from one parcel of 60 year old vines, grown on clay and chalk. The grapes are hand harvested, and then the whole bunches go into 50 hectoliter oak vats for a traditional fermentation at low temperature (usually lasts about 20 days). They use the lees from the previous vintage to start the fermentation. The bottom of the tank is lined with boxes so that the fresh grapes are not in contact with any of the juice at the bottom. The wine then stays in tank until it’s bottled with only 15mg per liter of sulfur. Les Pins, like all wines here, is bottled unfiltered and unfined.

Bodegas Lecea “Corazon de Lago” Rioja, 2014

Bodegas Lecea is a multi-generational producer in Rioja, Spain. They have 25 hectares of vines that average 25 years old, but the vines for their Crianza and Reserva wines are at least 50 years old.

Corazon de Lago is hand harvested and then made via carbonic maceration, which is unusual in Rioja, but results in a wine that blends bright, clean and fruity characteristics with darker, earthier and spicier tones.

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

March 4th, 2016

La Perla White Rioja, 2014

The La Perla winery is located in Labastida, an area in Rioja that is at a higher elevation and experiences a cooler climate than most of the region, resulting in wines that are higher in acidity and are especially fresh.

Manuel Ruiz is the 2nd generation winemaker here. The wine is a blend of dry-farmed Viura (92%, 30 year old vines), and 8% Malvasia (50+ years old) sourced from independent growers. It’s fermented in stainless steel and is light and easy, a touch tropical, and will be an easy one to toss back all spring and summer. And it’s super cheap too!

De Martino “Viejas Tinajas” Cinsault 2014, Itata Valley, Chile

This 100% Cinsault is made in 100 year old amphorae or tinajas, (earthenware jugs) that the De Martino family salvaged to bring back this old winemaking tradition. The grapes come from unirrigated vineyards in the coastal mountain region of the Itata Valley, about 14 miles from the Pacific. There is little to no intervention in the winemaking process. After destemming, the grapes were fermented for 15 days in amphorae, where they undergo carbonic maceration. It then rests in the same jug and then goes through malolactic fermentation. It’s bottled unfiltered and unfined, with no artificial enzymes or yeasts, and only a small amount of sulfur.

Cinsault is somewhat low in acidity, hence the choice to plant here in the Itata Valley, where the proximity to the ocean, and the cooler climate, help to boost acidity. The wine itself is fresh and lively, tempered by an earthy, floral, herbaceous notes.

Alto 3 Malbec, Catamarca, Argentina

Catamarca is located 515 miles north of Mendoza, and at 4,947 feet, has some of the highest altitude vineyards in the world. Alto 3 practices organic and biodynamic farming. They ferment in concrete tanks and some of their wines go into clay cones which are buried in the ground; winemaker Carlos Arizu does this because the wines will undergo fewer temperature fluctuations and add structure, in his opinion. Fermentation takes longer but he thinks the process produces more complex wines.

Alto 3 Malbec is alas not one of the wines that goes into cone, but it’s still pretty special. It’s hand-harvested, estate-grown fruit (as are all the wines here). After fermentation in concrete, it goes into French and American oak casks for 6 months. It’s then bottled unfiltered and unfined. This wine is rich & smooth, with mocha, plums, raspberry and tobacco. The finish is long with notes of licorice and spice.