Tonight’s wine tasting in the shop features Brice Jourdain of Chateau l’Argentier. Brice & his parents Élisabeth and François make lovely wines from Langudeoc-Roussillon, on an estate the family has owned and operated since 1937. François is originally from Santenay, Burgundy, and makes fine, silky, wines with great aging potential. They work with indigenous grapes such as Cinsault, Carignan, Aramon, Grenache, but also have one plot of Cabernet Sauvignon, just for the hell of it. These wines are really well made, and are great values. The rosé of Aramon is a new favorite of ours; we think you’ll love it too!
Rosé is so passé, we’ve moved on to Ramato! Just kidding, we still love rosé, but have you ever tried copper wine, or Ramato, as it’s known in Friuli? Ramato is made from the pinkish-hued Pinot Grigio grape, which is crushed and then the juice is allowed to sit on its skins for an extended period of time, usually less than a day. Copper wine is not to be confused with orange wine, which tends toward the funkier, cidery, oxidized end of the spectrum. Ramato is all about texture, texture, texture, with a richness & mineral character that is hard to define. The nose is highly aromatic & enticing, and the color is simply glorious! It makes us want to take up painting just to see if we can recreate it on canvas. We’ll taste the Di Lenardo Ramato tonight; you’ll definitely want to swing on by for a sip!
Di Lenardo Vineyards, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
The Di Lenardo estate produces wines from its four large (150 hectares) family owned vineyards situated in Ontagnano, in the heart of the Friuli region in the foothills of the Alps, as well as from rented vineyards in Aquileia and Manzano. The estate was established in 1878, and has been for many years now under the direction of winemaker Massimo “Max” Di Lenardo.
All the fruit here is hand-harvested and the winery is 100% solar powered.
Di Lenardo Sauvignon Monovitigno 2013
This Sauvignon Blanc is from Sancerre clones. It’s fermented in steel and left on its lees until bottling. This is a richer & rounder expression of Sauvignon Blanc than what we commonly encounter. On the nose it has peaches, melons, and on the palate there is the suggestion of fig, followed by more tropical fruit. It’s a perfect ham wine, but is also lovely with fish or as an aperitif.
Di Lenardo Pinot Grigio Ramato “Gossip” 2013
2012 was the first vintage of Di Lenardo Ramato, and only about 1600 cases are made each year. We’re not really sure why it’s called Gossip, but we think it has something to do with everyone in town talking about the new copper wine that Max was cooking up. And now we’re talking about it! As mentioned previously, this is a wine produced by letting Pinot Grigio sit on its skins for an extended period of time, 18 hours in this case (Ramato is sometimes called a baby-orange wine). The nose is pretty wild and intense; it’s fruity, floral and concentrated with notes of citrus, pears, tropical fruit & hay. The first sip reveals deep minerality, almonds, dried flowers, & dried fruit. The fine grained texture is intriguing and satisfying.
La Roche Bussiere Flonflons 2012, Cotes du Rhone
We meant to taste this a couple of weeks ago, nut we bumped it for a new Rioja. Here it is again!
Importer notes on the estate: Located northeast of Vaison-La-Romaine in the southern Côtes du Rhone, Antoine and Lawrence Joly work 18 hectare of organic vineyards making some of our favorite wines in the region. They maintain a freshness and lightness in their wines by dedicating themselves to very intense vineyard work that allows them to harvest earlier than several other producers in their area, resulting in less concentrated and lower alcohol wines.
Antoine’s family has run the estate since the early 1970s (his grandfather was a beekeeper in the area and his father Pierre returned to live a more simple life after his involvement in the Parisian student riots of 1968). Pierre was a pioneer of organic viticulture in the Rhone and the vineyards have been certified since the 1980s, although he sold most of the grapes to the local co-op when he started. Antoine and Lawrence took over in 1999 and, since 2003, have vinified 100% of the harvest themselves.
Flonflons is mostly Syrah and Grenache from 2.5 hectares of vines averaging 25 years old. It’s fermented and aged in concrete and bottled unfiltered and unfined with little to no sulfur.
Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc 2013, Clarksburg
Dry Creek Vineyard, established in 1972, is a family owned and operated winery. At a time when bigger and industrialized often rules the day, Dry Creek Vineyards has gone in the opposite direction. They’ve cut their production by 50%, they derive power from solar panels and are effectively off-the-grid. They’ve spearheaded the sustainability movement in Dry Creek Valley; they utilize cover crops and limit the use of sulfur. In 2013, the winery partnered with the Sonoma County Water Agency in the Creekside Restoration Project along the Dry Creek. This project provides needed habitat for the endangered Coho and Steelhead salmon.
This wine is so easy to drink, it might be a little dangerous! It’s creamy & tropical profile is balanced by bright acidity and spicy fruit. Rich in melon, pineapple, flowers and orange zest, with just the slightest hint of sweet fruit, it’s the perfect foil for spicy foods, but it’s just fine on it’s own as well. It’s a satisfying little sipper.
Casey Flat Ranch “Open Range” Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Casey Flat Ranch is part longhorn cattle ranch, (6,000 acres), part vineyard, (24 acres) situated at 2,000 feet above Capay Valley in the Vaca Mountains, east of Napa Valley. Winemaker Laura Barrett makes wines that exemplify this region: richly textured, spicy, and full of character and zesty acidity. Farming is sustainable and production is small: just 1600 cases of this Sauvignon Blanc were produced.
Extended skin contact gives this wine a lush texture, while the zesty citrus notes of grapefruit & lemon keep it lively. This is definitely a full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, one you want to drink with a meal. It can keep pace with buttery lobster and scallops, grilled fish, fried chicken
Domaine Rimbert Le Mas au Schiste 2010, St. Chinian
Importer notes: Jean-Marie Rimbert, a native of Provence, arrived in the Languedoc nearly twenty-five years ago and managed the vineyards at Château de Flaugergues for five years until he saved up enough money to purchase his first parcels of gnarled ancient vine Carignan that had been nurtured in schist-laden soils for the better part of the last century. Today, Jean-Marie has 20 hectares spread amongst 40 diverse parcels each with different soil compositions and expositions. Berlou has the highest elevation in all of the St. Chinian AOC and is the only place in the region that possesses schist rich soils. From the beginning, his objective was to cultivate vineyards with the utmost respect for the environment and his wines reflect all of the natural beauty, depth and flavor originating from those vines. The wines Jean-Marie crafts are a passionate testament to this region’s multi-dimensionality and ever-expanding potential.
Varietals: 40% Carignan, 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache. 60 year old vines.
Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed before they are gently pressed. Only indigenous yeasts are used, the different varieties are fermented separately in tank. One third of the cuvee is aged in old oak before the final wine is blended. The wine is bottled using gravity and undergoes a slight filtration.
Tasting Note: Ruby in the glass with shimmering highlights. The nose is redolent with red and black fruit scents; cherry cordial, blueberry jam and crushed stones that are backed by a slight suggestion of black olive and hummus. The palate is elegant and generous with loads of elegant red and black fruit flavors steeped in dynamic mineral-infused cocoa tones.
Pairing: herb encrusted roast chicken, grilled steak, grilled lamb chops.
Éric Chevalier Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu Sur Lie 2012
This 25-hectare property sits upon rocky soils rich in granite, quartz, sand and silt. The fruit for this wine is hand-harvested from 6 hectares of 50-year-old vines, then fermented with native yeasts in underground glass-lined cement tanks. The wine is left on its lees and is never racked or filtered.
We love this wine for its stony, saline notes, as well as its texture & refreshing acidity. It’s pairs perfectly with oysters, of course, but is also a good match for all kinds of seafood, as well as poultry & salads.
Tremonti Barbera Frizzante 2012, Emilia Romagna
Cool things are happening here in the land of Lambrusco, and Tre Monti winery is at the forefront of those cool things. Only estate-grown grapes are vinified here. Winemaker Vittorio Navacchia believes in minimal intervention from the vine to the cellar. To that end, all of the vineyards are managed according the principles of sustainable viticulture, which mandates inter-row cover-cropping and the lowest possible use of chemicals. Tre Monti is in the process of transitioning to biodynamic farming.
The vines of the Tre Monti estates are planted in pebbly, sandy, clay soils giving the wines mineral depth and complexity. This Barbera is fizzy, dry, and fruity. Perfect for salami or other cured meats–and for getting the party started.
Carlin de Paolo Grignolino Piemonte 2013
Carlin de Paolo is a 4th generation family winery in Piedmont. The figure on the label is Carlin, son of great grandfather Paolo. Carlin is described as “an indefatigable worker, bent from the hard work carried out in the vineyards for many years. However he was always joyful, with his fist clenched as a sign of determination and always striding forward. The work of the soil, the love for the family, a life full of sacrifices, his trousers patched, and an open heart”. Aw, we wish we knew him!
Grignolino is a grape indigenous to Piedmont. This wine is so light in color it’s almost a rosé, but it packs a punch. It’s all tart cranberry, cherry and minerally earth mingling with a touch of orange zest. It’s got a little bit of a hard edge to it, but it’s not at all unpleasant. It’s vibrant acidity makes it a fantastic food pairing wine. We had it with chorizo, red beans and potatoes and it certainly did the trick!
Chateau Tire Pé “Diem” Bordeaux 2013
David and Hélène Barrault have been organically farming this small estate since 1997. This wine is 100% Merlot grown on clay and limestone. It’s hand-harvested, de-stemmed, cool fermented, and aged for 8-10 months in concrete before being bottled unfiltered. This vintage leads with iron, iodine & earthy notes but it fleshes out and brings on the soft fruit and elegant tannins on the finish. It’s a good cheap date wine, works with steak, chicken, pasta….it’s pretty versatile really!
We got some new wines from Jenny & François in the shop, and we’ll be opening them up tonight. Because we love them. Or maybe we’re scared of them. We can’t decide whether to go with the Valentine’s Day theme or Friday the 13th. Either way, they’re scary good!
We’re in a snow stupor here on Brook Street. Motivation? What’s that? Someone pass the remote! There’s a whole lotta snow out there, but damn, we love the city in a blizzard. Even the winter whiners have a hard time not getting into the spirit. Monday’s party atmosphere in anticipation of Snowmageddon2015 was the most fun we’ve had in a long time; thank you to everyone who came in to stock up–we truly had a blast! And though we didn’t post about it, we were in fact open on Tuesday; Vin and Mulligan braved the elements like proper arctic explorers, shoveled off our roof, and held down the fort for most of the day. That’s when one of our customers snapped this picture outside the shop, which perfectly captures the joie de vivre of this little neighborhood. When’s the next storm? We can’t wait!
2014 Berger Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria
This is a father and son estate on roughly 18 hectares of mostly south-facing vineyards. According to the producer, this Gruner grows on steep loess terraces which emphasize terroir and characterize the landscape of the eastern part of the Kremstal. These terraces store heat during the day and reflect it onto the vines at night producing wines with unique fruity, fresh and bright flavors. They use stainless steel and cultured yeasts in order to get slow fermentation and to preserve CO2; this further ensures the fresh, fruity, and clean flavors we’ve come to expect and love from this producer.
2013 Jean Manciat Macon Charnay Franclieu
The Mâconnais, in southern Burgundy, has been well known as a region for cooperatives and négociants, but back in 1986, this producer was the catalyst for one of our favorite importers to go out in search of comparable wines from other regions in France. Jean Manciat took over this 5.5 hectare estate from his grandfather. He immediately embraced biodiversity in the vineyards by planting different types of grasses between rows, keeping down the need for weeding while avoiding herbicides and soil erosion. He planted new vines from old Pouilly Fuissé rootstock, but also kept as much of the (at the time) 50+ year old vines as possible. He prunes his vines to be up to 50% less productive than others in the Mâconnais, producing wines that are more concentrated, evocative and nuanced than high yielding vines. While Manciat does appreciate wines fermented and aged in oak, he only uses stainless steel in the Franclieu, to best express the “fruity, floral aromas and flinty minerality that characterize the best Chardonnay in the region.”
2011 Chateau de Parenchere Bordeaux Superieur Rouge
This sustainably farmed estate is situated in the eastern edge of the Bordeaux wine growing area, on the borders of the Dordogne and the Lot et Garonne departments. The soil here has a very high clay content, which is unusual for this area and is thought to contribute to the strength and intensity of the wines produced.
This is a large estate of 159 hectares, 63 of which are vineyards. The breakdown of the vines is 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon (on the most exposed plots), 9% Cabernet Franc & 1% Malbec. The vines are densely planted and average between 25 and 50 years old.
We’ll also open up a bottle of red from our ever-popular “Best Buys Under $15” section.
Mestres 1312 Brut Reserva Cava
Nothing has changed here since the very beginning. All methods carried out are organic, from the vineyards to the cellar, and everything is done by hand, including riddling. All second fermentations and aging are under cork. The minimum amount of time any wine stays in cave is 20 months.
1312 is 30% Macabeu, 30% Xarel.lo and 40% Parellada. This is an elegant Cava, with notes of flowers, sandalwood, citrus and herbs. The bubbles are persistent and delicate. This is a delicious addition to any meal or festive occasion.
Alphonse Dolly “Cuvée Silex” Sancerre 2013
This Sancerre is from a small, family-owned organic domaine just outside the village of Thauvenay, one of Sancerre’s 14 communes in the southeast section of the appellation. It’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc from grapes around 35-40 years old, grown on silex, or flint. It is indeed flinty, crisp and minerally, with citrus peel and flowers throughout.
G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2011, Piedmont Italy
G.D. Vajra was officially established in 1972 but the family roots in the region go back over two centuries. The estate sits 400 meters above sea level in the village of Vergne, in the commune of Barolo. Some of these vineyards were in the family since the 1920s but were given to sharecroppers after WWII. Aldo returned in the late 60s and reclaimed the family legacy. Today the estate is over 40 hectares, 10 of which are planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo production. Aldo and his wife Milena worked the vineyards and made the wine during those early years, while Aldo also worked as a professor of oenology during the day in nearby Alba. Now their sons Giuseppe & Isidoro are assistant winemakers preparing to carry on the family tradition. Farming here is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and aging is done in traditional Slavonian casks.
The Langhe Rosso is a blend of Nebbiolo, Dolcetto & Barbera, with small amounts of Albarossa, Freisa and Pinot Noir. It’s fruity, floral and spicy, with a touch of brambly underbrush and black pepper. It’s lively and bright with pleasant tannins on the finish. It’s a perfect bistro-style wine!
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba 2013
The grapes for this Dolcetto are from Vajra`s vineyards located in Coste di Vergne, Fossati and Pascolo in the Barolo region, and the Ravera vineyard in the Nerollo region. The vines were planted from 1982 to 2002 on soil that is a mix of limestone and marl. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, this wine is fresh and aromatic, with notes of violets, hay, cherries and thyme. It’s elegant, with refined tannins on a long, smooth finish. Aldo describes it thusly: It is a wine that gives life! If people knew how good, digestible, and humanizing it was, they would drink it every day.
A wine that gives life and humanizes? Let’s get an IV pump for the world!
Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, CA
Roederer Estate was established in 1982 by Jean-Claude Rouzaud, then president of Louis Roederer, and 5th generation descendant of the founder. Rouzaud believed that estate-owned vineyards were essential for producing top quality wine, so he searched for years before purchasing this 580-acre Anderson Valley vineyard. They only grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir here. Farming is organic and biodynamic. They are highly selective here and only about 70% of the pressed juice makes it into the final cuvée. The addition of reserve wines defines the Roederer style, which is known for its“body, finesse and depth of flavor”.
Kruger-Rumpf Riesling Trocken 2013, Nahe, Germany
You may remember this from our Thanksgiving picks. We realized we never got around to tasting it in the shop, but it is so good, we’re doing it now! Kruger-Rumpf was founded in 1790 and nearly 200 years later, in 1984, Stefan Rumpf took over the estate. Now, Stefan’s son Georg helps out with the operation. Farming is sustainable, harvest is by hand, and fermentation is short to preserve the fresh fruit character of the wine. This Riesling is pristine & dry (trocken). On the nose you get roses and peaches; on the palate it’s a tangy, twangy, sweet and sour symphony. The finish is lush and lip-smackingly delicious!
2013 Broc Carignan, Alexander Valley, CA
Chris Brockway makes site-specific, natural wines out of a “low-wattage, urban winery”.
This wine is from sustainably-grown Carignan, made via carbonic maceration (common in Beaujolais). This technique produces wines that are vivid, lively and totally crushable.
2012 Paterna Chianti Colli Aretini DOCG
Here’s another wine from SelectioNaturel and boy do we love it! Read about the producer here (three hippy couples and some “old toothless Italian guys”-ha!) and then come try the wine. It’s that lovely, rustic, dusty Sangiovese (mostly) that we just want to drink and drink and drink….with some old toothless Italian guys! Sounds like heaven.