Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

All organic French wines with Vineyard Road.

April 26, 2019

Domaine de l’enclos Chablis, Burgundy 2017

Domaine de l’enclos is a 29 hectare property (partly certified organic, and in conversion) run by brothers Romain and Damien Bouchard. Romain and Damien grew up working in the cellar with their father, Pascal Bouchard. In 2005 they bought the tiny, defunct Domaine de la Grande Chaume, and started making certified, organic Chablis in a small corner of their father’s cellar. Roughly 10 years later Pascal sold his winery, passing along the proceeds of the sale to his two sons, who then had to find a new winery and equipment. Two years later they purchased this property. The average vine age is 30 years old, with some over 50 years old. 

The estate is located in the heart of Chablis and was once the home of monks from the Abby of Pontigny. There’s a large building built in the 1800s, and a new cellar, partly underground, built in 2016. 2016 was in fact the first vintage vinified here, in the new gravity fed cellar, released in 2018. The property employs 12 people year-round, which doubles at harvest. All fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast, with finishing is in stainless and french oak of varying age. There’s minimal sulfur additions at pressing and bottling.

This Chablis is from Chardonnay vines planted between 1975 and 2005 on soils of clay and limestone. It’s citrus and mineral driven, with beautiful texture and floral notes throughout.  

Les Terres Blanches BB Rosé 2018

This is a small property in Anjou run by husband and wife Benoit and Celine Blet. The couple took over the farm from Bernard Coutel in 2004, became certified organic in 2010, and now work biodynamically / naturally. The domaine is 8.5 hectares of densely planted vines on quartz and clay. This rosé is all Gamay, grown on sandstone, fermented with wild yeast, and a miniscule touch of sulfur at bottling only. This wine, while technically “natural” is not funky. It’s clean, dry, stony, delicate (elegant even, despite the picnic table label), mineral-driven, and refreshing. When it’s allowed to warm up just a bit, the texture fleshes out and softer, riper fruit emerges. It’s a pretty wine. 

Domaine D’Ouréa, Tire Bouchon, Rhone 2015

In 2010, after apprenticing at Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy, and Turley Wine Cellars in California (not too shabby of a resumé there!), Adrien Roustan, then 24, took over 9 hectares from his father who grew and sold grapes to the local co-op. The property is now 15 hectares of Vacqueyras and high-elevation Gigondas plots (at 400 meters to 520 meters, they are the highest elevation vines in the appellation, and the yields are tiny). Farming is certified organic.  

The Tire Bouchon is a unique blend of mostly Grenache, with a balance of Carignan, Syrah, and two ancient, unauthorized varieties, Aramon Noir and Oeillade Noire, planted by Adrien’s grandfather. The vines are all within Vaucluse, but  the inclusion of Aramon and Oeillade mean that the wine can’t use the appellation designation and must be labeled Vin de France. All the fruit is de-stemmed and fermented with indigenous yeast in cement vats, and then aged for 6 more months in cement. It’s bottled unfiltered. It’s a lively, perfumed, and youthful red, loaded with fresh fruit and hillside herbs. It’s a steal at under 15 bucks. 

Domaine Heitz-Lochardet Connivence (Armand Heitz + Alex Foillard), Coteaux Bourguignons 2017

Domaine Heitz-Lochardet was established in 1857 by the Nie-Vantey family, owners of many vineyards from Santenay to Clos de Vougeot. After the phylloxera epidemic many of the vineyards were sold, but Georges Lochardet, a wine merchant, kept some of the best Cote de Beaune vineyards in the family. The estate was around 20ha when he passed away, and left half of the vineyards to his son Armand Lochardet, who went on to have three children – Bernard, Catherine and Brigitte – amongst whom the vineyards were further divided. In 1983 Brigitte married Christian Heitz, and together they founded Heitz-Lochardet, which they farmed organically, in Chassagne-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, Meursault, Pommard and Volnay. Additionally there is a small amount of Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc. For roughly 25 years, the vineyards were fully contracted to Joseph Drouhin.

In 2011, Brigitte and Christian’s son Armand returned after studying oenology, took over operation of the domaine, and began converting the property to fully biodynamic practices. He was guided by consulting oenologist Ludovic Pierrot, who had himself spent eight years at Domaine Leflaive working alongside Anne-Claude Leflaive, a pioneer in biodynamic farming in Burgundy. 2013 was their first vintage. All of the wines are fermented whole cluster, as Armand believes that a wine’s essence is “derived from the totality of the vine. Each component of the vine, from roots to leaves to stems, skins and pulp, plays an important role in a living wine.”

Each year Armand makes a wine with a good friend, as a joint-venture. 2017 it was Connivence, a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, that Armand made with Alex Foillard, son of Jean, of Beaujolais fame. This is a lovely, fresh & light red, full of charm and vibrant fruit.  

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

April 19, 2019

-please note: we will be closed this Sunday, April 21st.

Kat Cummings from Wine Wizards will pour Frenchtown Farms.

Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Foothills, CA (mostly)

From the producer’s website

We are Aaron and Cara Mockrish.  We live, farm, and grow wines in Oregon House, California, nestled in the North Yuba AVA of the Sierra Foothills.

Both originally from the east coast, various life turns found us farming vegetables, sheep, and other things in Northern California where we were lucky enough to meet Gideon and Saron ofClos Saron.  We fell in love with winegrowing and they took us under their wing, helping us produce our first small vintage in 2015 and teaching us how to work in the vineyard and stomp grapes.  Shortly after, we were able to secure access to a large portion of the Renaissance Vineyards, where we have been growing wine since 2016.

Our farming is influenced in part by Joel Salatin, Rudolf Steiner, and Masanobu Fukuoka, but mostly by our own observations and hard lessons throughout each season.  We currently live and make our wines adjacent to the vineyards and are able to walk to work, where we are helped by our dogs, sheep, chickens, and cats.  


And more from Aaron, as supplied in an email to Olmstead Wine in MA–lightly edited for length. We are very grateful for these beautifully written notes, and for those labels. Wow! 

The vineyards: I could talk for about an hour answering these questions fully. For the most part we listened to Gideon about which blocks to farm. Apart from his memories, we are also able to taste vertical Renaissance wines from any block on the property between 1994-2006 at basically no cost to us. This is helpful. When and where we did ignore Gideon’s advice, we usually regretted it and abandoned it since then. 

We farm Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, and a small block of Grenache. There is also Semillon in our lease but we let Dani Rozman farm it along with some other blocks for his project “la onda”. The parcels are very different from each other and sometimes even from themselves. 

Exposure to the sun (north south east west etc) is the most important factor in our area due to the power of the sun and the heat-storing properties of the granite slopes. The ground is mostly granite which collects heat all day. Eastern facing slopes are 20 degrees cooler at night than western facing slopes. East = elegance, west= power, tannins, roughness. This is a general rule…again I could talk forever about this ….

Winemaking: Initially we made wines in exact Clos Saron style, however within the realm of Clos Saron there are more and less extracted wines. We never attempted to make a “stone soup” style Syrah although it’s a favorite of mine. We communicated with him early on in the process (2015) that we wanted to produce a slightly lighter, fresher, less extracted wine and he helped us to accomplish that. We typically macerate a day or two less than Clos Saron in any given situation. He (Gideon) will often say that the only real decisions in “our style” are 1) when to pick 2) when to press 3) when to bottle. Frenchtown tends to do all of these things sooner than Clos Saron. 

We follow the perfectly underripe strawberry rule rather than the avocado rule. We are just as stringent in our standards, but aim for perfectly underripe as opposed to perfectly ripe. We don’t like big wines. 

Our cellar work and timing is almost identical to Clos Saron…one big difference is that we use a basket press rather than a bladder press. There are pros and cons to both. We very intentionally use a basket press. My main reason is that it can be cleaned thoroughly and easily with water. Period. Punch downs twice a day. Gentle as possible. More like mush-downs. 

Cecilia Rosé 2017

It’s Cara’s middle name. She is a Gemini which is the constellation in the sky on the label. Every label has an animal, color, geometric shape, constellation and these all relate to our concept of the cuvée. Cecelia is about the duality of the bee and star thistle in our area. An invasive and obnoxious poison-tipped weed which is also the only food the bees have during the hot season when all the other vegetation dries up. 

The Syrah and SB are picked within a day of each other. The SB is stomped, the Syrah stomped and pressed into the SB. They coferment on the SB skins and stems for about half the time that “tickled pink” receives.  With all our whites (in the white and in the rosé) we do not macerate…they are on the skins and stems only until we see the first signs of fermentation. Then it is immediately pressed. This creates a “skin soak”. The difference between this and a normal skin contact wine or orange wine is that there is only extraction in the presence of water (juice) but no extraction in the presence of ethanol. You extract very different compounds with water than with a solvent like ethanol (juice becoming wine).

Because the SB (for both the Pearl Thief and Cecelia) is the first fruit we pick and the winery space is not yet buzzing with yeast, it can often take as long as 5-7 days before fermentation begins so it is a long soak. By the second week of harvest there is so much yeast activity in the winery that most fruit will begin to ferment within 36 hours of stomping. 

As with everything else, it goes into neutral French oak on its gross lees until it’s “when to bottle”, typically 6-8 months for Cecelia. 
In ‘17 we added 22ppm SO2 at bottling

This cellar approach was something we came up with because we wanted to make a rosé with structure and age-ability but not so tannic that we had to wait a year to release it. Partly stylistic and partly economic decision. 

Cotillion Carignan/Zinfandel 2016

The Cotillion was the first wine we ever made in ’15. It was our “payment” in return for working at Clos Saron for a full year. Gideon made it with us by our side in his cellar. It is made exactly as Gideon would make it. We use this cuvée to experiment with new vineyards, varietals, and winemaking approaches. It’s a place for us to learn. The Cotillion changes pretty drastically from year to year. 

The original meaning of the word was a four person formal French dance that was a pre-cursor to the American Square dance. A formalized way for boys and girls to interact. In America a Cotillion is a coming of age ceremony for high society girls around 10 years old where they wear frilly dresses and demonstrate their good table manners. It’s a weird east coast rich person thing. (Cara is from CT and I grew up in NYC).

The Cotillion is always cofermented. We helped Gideon make Pleasant Peasant and Blue Cheer, both of which have Carignan from Jessie’s grove from 2014 onwards. Whenever I went down with him to get the fruit I always noticed that there was a block of Zinfandel right next to the the Carignan and I always wanted to make a coferment of the two. 

3.5 to 4 days maceration as opposed to 4.5-6 for something like the pleasant peasant. Jessie’s grove is cool in the sense that the vines are super old and full of character but that’s about where the awesomeness ends in my opinion. The farming is not philosophically in line with ours and the soil is tortured for lack of a better word. I think it makes great wine but we no longer work with the fruit. 

Waypoint Pinot Noir 2016, Carlton Hill Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon

We interned at Big Table Farm In 2015 and have friends up in Oregon for many years. It was influential on us. We met David (Polite, of Carlton Hill Vineyard) through our friend of many years Jay McDonald who runs EIEIO winery up there. He and David moved out there together 30 years ago.

We made this crazy wine in order to understand our winemaking better. What would happen if we picked Oregon Pinot at 22.5 brix with our method and then applied the Gideon style to it. Base soils vs acid. Limestone vs granite etc. David allows us an unprecedented amount of control in our picking and his farming is excellent. The fruit is pristine. 

We macerate longer simply because we can. With foothills fruit and specifically renaissance fruit, over extraction is a real danger for us. The wines would be great but they would take too long to be drinkable and we would go bankrupt in the process. Kind of like what happened to Renaissance. 

Therefore with most of our wines our decision to press is based upon tannin development rather than the wine going dry and needing to protect it. 
In the case of the Pinot from Oregon we are not afraid of any level of tannin, only that the tannins are harmonious. We press when the wine is close to dry and barrel it down so that we do t have oxidation issues. 

19 Harts Syrah 2016

The ‘15 and ‘16 19 Harts are worlds apart. In ‘15 we got access to Renaissance at the 11th hour and the fruit was much riper than we would have liked. We had to “make” the wine. In ‘16 we took over the farming and we grew the wine. The ‘16 is much leaner, more angular and I much prefer it. LOL. I wish we could wait a few years to release it.  Four day maceration. Roussanne cofermented. 

Pearl Thief 2017

In ‘16 we used Viognier from Lodi (bockish) because we had to. The Renaissance vineyards were in a terrible state and we had to make drastic decisions for the future health of the vines that greatly limited yield. 
In ‘17 the vines responded to our efforts and we grew the whole cuvée at Renaissance ourselves. We used Roussanne instead of Viognier simply because that’s what is growing there. The Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne ripen almost 6 weeks apart so a typical cofermentation is not possible but the SB and Roussanne go into barrel together in the final proportions so they finishing fermenting and spend their lives in barrel together. 

In ‘18 we followed the same process as as ‘17 with very similar results…soon to be bottled. 

Our general thoughts on cofermenting and especially blending varietals together that are non-traditional have nothing to do with stylistic winemaking ideas or intentional choices (ie percentage of Sauvignon Blanc vs Roussanne). They are practical results of our farming and a desire to express a particular slopes terroir. The SB and Roussanne grow on the same slope and they happened to create a 60/40 percentage in ‘17 based upon how many boxes of each we were able to pick. 

I can say that we feel our “winemaking decisions” happen mostly in the vineyard from January to May. It is human nature to want to “make the wines” or put “your signature” on them with cellar work. We try and resist that. Of course it’s tempting to deviate from what Gideon taught us and find our own style, so to speak, but so far we are content to throw ourselves into the farming and make our own decisions about when to pick, press and bottle. As time has gone by the wines are tasting more and more like Frenchtown wines, whatever that means. 

Sorry for typos. Been writing this intermittently on my phone while tying the Syrah on slope 19.