Tag Archives: Savoie

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

April 28, 2017

Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal Méthode Traditionelle

Historical documents mention the vineyards of this tiny appellation as early as the 11th century and the sparkling wines were a favorite of Queen Victoria in the mid 1800s. The “Royal Seyssel” label (originally called “Royal Carte Bleue”), was established in 1901 by the Varichon and Clerc families; unfortunately this property fell into the wrong hands in the 1990s (it was purchased by a large negociant) and quality suffered. In 2007 they closed the winery entirely, but held on the rights to the name in hopes of using that name to market their other sparkling wines. Now that just doesn’t seem right…Enter Seyssel locals Gérard and Catherine Lambert, who teamed up with Olivier Varichon, great-grandson of the founder, to buy back the Royal Seyssel label. Since 2008 they’ve been making this humble sparkling wine, using the same methods as in Champagne. The Petit Royal is 70% Molette and 30% Altesse from 10-25 year old vines grown on clay and limestone. It’s left on its lees for two years before disgorgement, and though not vintage dated, the wines produced here are all single vintage. This wine is light, lively, fruity, floral and elegant. It’ll get you through many a brunch and celebration.

Montemelino Rosé 2016, DOC Colli del Trasimeno, Umbria

We got to meet Sabina and Pier of Montemelino recently and taste through some of their wines and olive oils from this tiny and obscure wine zone in northern Umbria. There are fewer than a dozen producers in this area, and most are focused on international varieties. Montemelino is a 10 hectare farm, with 4 hectares under vine, planted to Grechetto for the whites and Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, and Gamay for the reds. Don’t get too excited Gamay lovers, it’s “Gamay di Trasimeno”, which is actually Grenache. Why do they have to confuse us like this? Because it’s fun! Farming here is all organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and naturally fermented and aged in large slavonian oak barrels that rest both under the farm house and in a tiny chapel on the property.

This fresh and delicious rose is a blend of Ciliegiolo and Gamay di Trasimeno. There’s lots of red fruit and snappy acidity; it’ll pair nicely with fish, veggies, or a warm evening breeze.

Viña Zorzal Garnacha 2015, Navarra, Spain

Antonio Sanz has been in the wine industry pretty much his entire life. In 1989 he was making wine in Navarra, where he established Viña Zorzal. In 2007 his sons took over and expanded the project. We’ve been working with the Graciano and Grenache Blanc for quite some time; we’ve semi-recently added the Grenache and figured it was time to crack it open at a tasting. This wine is from roughly 100 year old bush vines, farmed organically, and hand-harvested. It’s juicy, dark, pure-fruit brilliance, for super cheap!

D. Ventura Viña Caneiro Ribeira Sacra 2012, Spain

D. Ventura is located on the steep slopes of Ribeira Sacra (sacred banks; so-named for all the churches and monasteries that line the river). It is the project of Ramón Losada and his family. They farm organically and use wild yeast in their fermentations; this wine is from old Mencia vines grown on the slate soil (known as losa) slopes of the river.

Viña Caneiro is fermented in stainless steel and then left on the lees for 9 months. It has depth and is full of cassis, cherries, black pepper, licorice, and mineral precision and fine-grained tannins on the finish.


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

February 24, 2017

Jean Masson Apremont Vielle Vigne Traditionelle 2015, Savoie

Jean Masson’s 9 hectares of vines are located in Apremont, a high-elevation commune with a magnificent view of the Alpine mountain range. The vineyards here are upon limestone, with large stones that were scattered by the collapse of Mount Granier in 1248 (which incidentally killed over 1,000 people).

Jean’s vineyards are planted mostly to the local variety Jacquère, with a little bit of Altesse as well. He farms organically, and makes focussed, mineral driven wines. This one is dry and floral, with rock-driven minerality, zesty acidity, and a crisp finish.

Domaine de l’Aujardière Fié Gris 2015 VDP de Loire

In 2005, after years of sourcing fruit for a large negociant in Touraine, Éric Chevalier returned to his hometown of Saint-Philbert de Grandlieu, just southwest of Nantes. A year later, he ended up taking over the family domaine. His father, a talented vigneron who did not bottle much of his own wines, was well-known as a high-quality source of bulk wine. Unfortunately, he had stopped working the vineyards and the vines were either going to have to be pulled up and replanted, or the domaine would have to be sold. Éric took on the task of restoring the vineyards and today he is proud to be the fourth generation to farm the domaine.

The 25-hectare maritime-influenced property sits upon rocky soils rich in granite, quartz, metamorphic rock, sand and silt (this area was once ocean floor). Nearly half of the property is planted to Melon de Bourgogne; the other half of his crop (mostly Chardonnay, Fié Gris, and Pinot Noir) goes towards the production of Vin de Pays du Val du Loire, or “country wine”, the most notable being the Fié Gris. This indigenous grape (also known as Sauvignon Gris or Sauvignon Rose) was mostly pulled out of vineyards and replanted with the more profitable Sauvignon Blanc. Éric’s vines are some of the only ones that remain in the region. This Fié Gris has qualities that hint at Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. It has the raciness and green streak of Sancerre, and the texture and depth of Alsace. Drink it cool, not cold, or else the elegant subtleties will be lost.

Thierry Germain ‘Les Roches’ 2015 Saumur-Champigny

Thierry Germain left his native Bordeaux for the Loire in the early 90s, when he was just 23 years old. He was seduced by the land, and fell under the spell of Charly Foucault of Clos Rougeard, of whom the great Charles Joguet of Chinon once remarked: “there are two suns. One shines outside for everybody. The second shines in the Foucaults’ cellar”. Inspired, Thierry converted all of his vineyards to biodynamic farming. His domaine, Roches Neuves, with vineyards planted in the Saumur (Blanc) and Saumur-Champigny (Rouge) appellations, are considered amongst the best examples of biodynamically-produced wines in France. Indeed his wines are hard to come by, as most stay in Europe. We got a little bit of this one, as well as Bulles de Roches (non-dosage sparkling from 65 year old (mostly Chenin) vines on a 1.5 ha plot), a teeny-tiny bit of “L’Insolite” (still wine from 90 year old Chenin Blanc on 3 ha), and an equally small amount of “Terres Chaudes” (Cabernet Franc, 45 year old vines from a 4 ha plot). All are 2015 vintage.

Saumur-Champigny is on a tuffeau plateau in the village of Champigny. Les Roche is 100% Cabernet Franc from 25 year old vines, grown on a 6 ha plot of chalk, sand, clay, and limestone. Grapes are 100% destemmed, fermented in stainless, then aged in stainless steel and wood tanks on fine lees (without sulfur) for 3 to 4 months. It’s pure, full of crunchy red fruit, and vibrant acidity. Get it before it’s gone.

Fredi Torres “Classic” Priorat 2014

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.

This wine is 75% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, 3% Syrah and 2% Macabeo, and it’s impossibly fresh and drinkable for a Priorat. It’s only 13.5% alcohol, in a land where 15% is normal. 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, and he has succeeded. Here you have rich and dark earthiness mingling with lively minerality, pretty flowers, plums and blackberries, wrapped around elegant, fine-grained tannins. Don’t miss this one either!

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

Sept. 25, 2015

Romain Chamiot Apremont 2014, Savoie

Savoie is a region in eastern France on the Swiss border, in the foothills of the Alps. The landscape is alpine, with mountains, lakes, and vines planted mostly in the flatter parts of the region, though some are planted on slopes and hillsides. Much of the soil is dotted with large stones that are the result of years of avalanches.

Chamiot is a multi-generation 7 ha estate, nearly all planted to Jacquere, with vines ranging in age from 40 to 80 years. Most of the vineyards are on slopes, and handpicked. Jacquère is the common white grape of Savoie. Chamiot’s Jacquere is dry, delicate, lightly scented, herbal, pleasantly green and exceedingly pure.

Domaine La Piffaudiere Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Touraine

Olivier Bellanger has apprenticed under some of the Loire’s best vignerons, including Philippe Tessier (for 5 years) and Jean-François Merieau (for one harvest). In 2008 he got the opportunity to purchase his own 6 ha estate, but it didn’t have a cellar or wine making facility, since the previous owner only grew grapes for the local cooperative. He has since converted the domain to organic farming, and works naturally in a nearby cellar, which he purchased in 2012. He uses a friends facility to crush.

This Sauvignon Blanc is grown on sandy, flinty soils. It sits on its lees for 3 months in 500 liter casks (no new oak) and is bottled unfined, lightly filtered, and with very little SO2. It’s bone dry, elegantly textured, and balanced.

Domaine La Piffaudiere Mon Tout Rouge 2013

Mon Tout rouge is a blend of 60% Côt (Malbec) and 40% Gamay, also grown on sandy, flinty soils. After fermentation with indigenous yeast, the Cot stays in 2 year old barrels for 11 months; the Gamay sees no oak at all. This is a light, mineral driven wine with bright red fruit & lively acidity. It’s refreshing from start to finish.

Monsecco Vespolina “Barbatasso”, Colline Novaresi 2012, Piedmont

Monsecco was established in 1872 in the Novara hills of Gattinara, in Piedmont. In the 19th century, there was more Nebbiolo planted here than Langhe, and the wines were more highly prized than either Barolo or Barbaresco. The region experienced a bit of a decline for a while, until 1990, when it was awarded DOCG status. Monsecco itself was purchased by the Zanetta family in 1993. They ended up owning five hectares of vineyards and rent an additional three hectares, where only Nebbiolo, Vespolina, Uva Rara and Croatina are planted.

Recent DNA profiling has shown that Vespolina is an offspring of Nebbiolo. One rarely finds a varietal bottling of it, as it is usually blended with Nebbiolo or Bonarda. The Barbatasso is floral, earthy, peppery & intriguing.