Happy New Year everyone—what a year!! We’re open 11-8 today, so swing on by for your festive needs. Thanks for being a part of the fun in 2018; here’s to peace, love, drinks and understanding in 2019. 🍾💥🕊
Put on your galoshes, hop those puddles, and be thankful we don’t have to shovel! Rain or shine, we’ve got a great tasting lined up this evening with Peter from Vineyard Road. Notes are below.
We’re also having a special tasting on Sunday with Christin from Wine Bros., from 12:30 – 2pm. She’ll be pouring fizzies from Massachusetts and Maine. Swing on by, it’ll be fun!
Cheers! Merry Christmas! Safe Travels!
Hild Morio-Muskat Secco 2016
Matthias Hild farms 5 hectares of old, terraced parcels in Upper-Mosel, a place a bit more known for quantity over quality, with most of the grapes going to cooperatives. Unlike the famed slate vineyards of lower Mosel, the vineyards here are mostly on limestone. And where Riesling makes up over 60% grapes planted in Mosel, Hild specializes in underdog grapes like Elbling, and this Morio-Muskat. Hild works his vineyards responsibly and is on the way toward organic certification.
This is a lightly fizzy, subtly sweet, snacking on apps, cooking dinner, greeting guests, wrapping presents, eating leftovers, just-one-more-little-sip-before-bed kind of wine.
Champagne Christophe Mignon Brut Nature NV
Christophe Mignon comes from a long line of farmers and winemakers in Le-Mesnil-le-Huttier This area in the Vallée de la Marne is known for its high percentage of Pinot Meunier, which is particularly well suited to the deep clay and chalky Tuffeaux soils that dominate the terrain. Christophe’s approach to farming is sometimes called the Mignon Method; it combines biodynamics, phytotherapy, homeopathy, and geobiology. He describes nature as a Rubik’s Cube, always offering up new challenges, so therefore he changes up his farming approach accordingly. He’s followed the lunar calendar for 20 years, allowing the moon’s cycles to dictate his work in the vineyards and in the cellar. He says “the moon for a vigneron is like a metronome for a musician.” To ensure low yields and the highest possible quality, he employs just one person per hectare. He prefers his wines on the drier side, so grapes are picked at optimum ripeness, thus allowing little to no dosage, and he uses very little sulfur.
This 100% Pinot Meunier is a 50/50 blend of two recent vintages, aged 24 months in bottle and finished without dosage. It’s dry and mineral driven, floral, expressive, red fruit scented, balanced and elegant.
Pierre Morey Bourgogne Blanc 2014
Domaine Pierre Morey is 11 hectares in Meursault planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Aligote. The family traces its roots back here to 1793. They’ve been certified organic since 1992 and biodynamic since 1997. All of their wines are 100% de-stemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts, not fined and/or filtered for reds, rarely for whites. In addition to his duties at his own property, from 1988 to 2008, Pierre was cellar master and manager at Domaine Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet. Pierre’s daughter Anne Morey has been working with her father over the last few years and is now co-manager.
This Bourgogne Blanc is from 1.76ha of multiple parcels in Meursault (Les Millerands, En Monatine, Les Herbeux, Les Malpoiriers) on deep clay-limestone soils. It spends 16-20 months aging in older oak barrels and is bottled by gravity. This wine is floral, lightly spiced, balanced acidity, with notes of apples, pears, and honeysuckle on a classic rich Meursault palate.
Burlotto Dolcetto d’Alba 2017, Piedmont, Italy
Established in 1850 by Giovan Battista Burlotto, aka The Commendatore, presently G.B. Burlotto is a family run estate. The Commendatore’s great niece Marina Burlotto manages the winery. Her husband, Giuseppe Alessandria, manages the vineyards, and their son, Fabio, is the winemaker and in charge of marketing.
Note from the importer: Burlotto owns 15 hectares of vineyards at 280 to 360 meters elevation, located near the river Tanaro in Verduno, the northern most estate in Barolo. In the cellar Fabio works traditionally, selected wines are foot crushed, with minimal intervention, harvested grapes are destemmed, natural yeast ferments, extended skin contacts, and manual punch downs. The cooler night time temperatures of Verduno and meticulous work in the vineyards and in the cellar have enabled this estate to produce elegant, profound wines now considered among the very finest in Piedmont.
Domaine Jean-Marc et Thomas Bouley Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Rouge 2015
This 8.5 hectare property in Volnay & Côte de Beaune is farmed organically by father and son team Jean-Marc and Thomas Bouley. The grapes for this Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Rouge are from just under one hectare planted in 1979, 1980, 1999, and 2002.
The vineyards are on a south-facing hillside above Volnay, at 380m altitude, on red clay (oxidized iron) and limestone soil
Vinification: 100% de-stemmed, cold maceration in concrete or stainless steel tank. 2-3 weeks’ total tank time. 1 year aging on fine lees in older oak barrels.
2015 in Burgundy was a very good vintage for reds, and this is a lovely wine to drink now or lay down for a few years. Cherry, cranberry, a touch rustic, a little bit savory…it’ll be perfect on a holiday table or as a gift for the Burgundy or Pinot Noir lover.
Come to Campus to meet Ariana Rolich and taste through some delicious wine she’s importing through her new endeavor, AR Wines.
Notes from Ariana:
RUBEN DIAZ (SIERRA DE GREDOS) Rubén Díaz is a proud son of Cebreros, the historic heart of the Sierra de Gredos, and a vital connector between the region’s most important producers and top vineyard sites. Díaz is the leading force in the Gredos for sustaining local winemaking traditions (in particular, his vinos de tonel, raised both oxidatively and biologically, some dating back to the 1800s) and for pushing the limits experimenting with the region’s unique white varieties and forgotten zones of old-vine, high-altitude red Grenache. His white wines, made from Chasselas Doré and Albillo Real, exhibit a range of styles: fresh and light, skin-macerated, sous-voile, oxidative, and many combinations thereof. His reds are pure Garnacha grown on granite and schist that exhibit the power and precision for which Sierra de Gredos is gaining fame.
Rubén Díaz 2016 Sierra de Gredos Cebreros “Finca La Coronilla” Albillo + Chasselas DoréAlbillo Real and Chasselas Doré grow side-by-side in Finca La Coronilla, a 70-year-old vineyard planted at 630m on decomposed granitic sands in the historic village of Cebreros. In 2016, a long and rainy spring gave way to a very hot summer. Albillo Real was picked first for this wine, with 7-8 days on the skins before being pressed to a single used French barrel. After 12-13 days, the Chasselas was added, following five days of skin maceration.
Rubén Díaz 2015 Sierra de Gredos Cebreros “Fiorel-la” Albillo Crianza Biologica (Saca 2017)Fiorel-la is 100% Albillo Real from two vineyards planted on decomposed granitic sands in the village of Cebreros: one is 70 years old in a zone called Las Dehesillas; the other (contributing a mere 60L of wine) is a tiny, even older vineyard in a zone called Vamoscoso. Fiorel-la was fermented with five days of skin contact, then raised in stainless steel under a light layer of flor until September 2016, at which time 300L of wine was racked into barrel to age in a special cellar that Díaz devotes to his vinos de tonel. The remaining 400L (the part that became Fiorel-la) was returned to stainless steel, where its thin veil of flor resumed. In essence, this Fiorel-la bottling is a freezeframe of one of Rubén Díaz’s long-aged vinos de tonel in its youth.
ORLY LUMBRERAS (SIERRA DE GREDOS, RIBEIRA SACRA,RIBEIRO) A sound engineer by training, Orly Lumbreras’ passion for music infuses his wine labels, his analogies for farming, and his winemaking processes alike. When Lumbreras was learning to make wine, Alfredo Maestro was his first cellar mate, and it was Maestro who introduced him to the austere, highest-elevation, outer reaches of the Alto Alberche winegrowing zone in the Sierra de Gredos. He operates on instinct in adopting vineyards, which commits him to farming extremely challenging sites in virtually untouched corners of the Gredos, including long-abandoned vineyards that may never yield fruit again. Most recently, this instinct has led him to take on the nearly impossible task of learning to farm organically in Galicia, where he collaborates with friends in Ribeira Sacra and Ribeiro to make some of his most interesting wines yet from Mencía, Sousón, Caiño, Treixadura, and more.
Orly Lumbreras Viñador 2016 Sierra de Gredos Navalmoral de la Sierra “MilaGritos” Garnacha100% Garnacha from three parcels (60-75 years old) planted on decomposed granitic sandy soil at 1000m altitude in Navalmoral de la Sierra (in a zone called Navamelque). Harvested at the end of September, 90% destemmed, fermented in concrete vats with soft foot-treading during the first few days, and thereafter merely keeping the cap moist. Macerated for 3-4 weeks then pressed a few days after completion of alcoholic fermentation to fourth-use 225L barrels for five months before blending and bottling. (25mg/L total SO2)
Orly Lumbreras Viñador 2016 Ribeira Sacra (non-DO) “Vertixe” MencíaVertixe (“Vertigo”) is 100% Mencía from 60-year-old vines planted on slate soils at 600m altitude, on a slope leading down to the river Sil in the village of Trasmonte (population: 11 people) in the Ribeira Sacra. Viticulturist José Aira has always worked this vineyard organically. Since meeting Orly Lumbreras in 2015, he has started incorporating biodynamic methods as well. Harvested on September 24th, fermented with 30% stems in open vats, foot-trodden, with four months in used barrel (third-use). (39mg/L total SO2)
Champagne José Michel NV Brut Tradition
José Michel Champagne has somewhat of a cult following. This small house began in 1847; five generations later José & Nicole work pretty much like 5 generations ago: by hand, traditionally, with respect for the environment. José Michel is certified “Level 3” the top level of certification in Haute Valeur Environmentale. Initiated in 2011, HVE is a global approach to preserving the environment that does not certify the quality of a product, but the environmental quality of a farm. José and Nicole are also founding members of “Tresors de Champagne”, or “Special Club” (we carry this as well). Created in 1971 the Club Trésors was the first association of wine makers in Champagne to advocate an approach to viticulture based on the utmost standards of quality.
The 11 hectares José Michel vineyards are spread throughout three villages along the Cotes D’Epernay. The upper vineyards on the summit of the hills have more clay in the soil and are planted to Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This producer is quite well-known for Pinot Meunier, and is said to rival Krug in quality (at way, way, way less money). The middle and lower vineyards on the slopes have a calcareous soil and are planted to Chardonnay (planted in 1958). Fermentations are carried out in old oak casks or enameled steel vats. The wines undergo a malolactic fermentation and the dosage “liqueur d’expedition” is minimal.
The non-vintage Brut is a blend in which the 70% Pinot Meunier forms the base and 30% Chardonnay adds complexity and finesse. In addition to the base vintage (typically 2 years old), the NV Brut benefits from being blended with reserve wines that are often 4 or 5 years old. The Champagne is typically 2+ years “sur lattes” with a dosage of 9 grams.
Lauer Saar Riesling Barrel X, Mosel, Germany 2016
We’ve been on the Lauer train for a few years now, especially Barrel X, which just landed on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list. Congrats! Florian Lauer makes dry and off-dry Rieslings with less residual sugar than some of his neighbors, like Egon Müller and Hanno Zilliken. The focus is precision, minerality, finesse, and purity of fruit. He utilizes natural-yeast fermentations, allowing his wines to “find their own balance”. Most of his grapes are sourced from small parcels and sub-parcels on the hillside of the Ayler Kupp. Lauer bottles based on “fass”, or cask numbers that are often aligned with the names of pre-1971 vineyard names. From importer Vom Boden:
Though the many vineyards of this mountain were unified (obliterated?) under the single name “Kupp” with the 1971 German wine law, it has been Florian’s life’s work to keep the old vineyard names alive, to keep these voices alive. He has been fighting this fight since his first vintage in 2005 and only with an update to the law in 2014 can he now legally use the older vineyard names such as Unterstenberg, Stirn, Kern and Neuenberg… in addition to the expanses of the Kupp, Lauer farms two other important sites, the Saarfeilser directly across the river and the precipitous, cliff-vineyard Schonfels, a bit upstream from the other two sites. Florian also recently cleared and replanted the famous Lambertskirch, just a stone’s throw from Schonfels.
Barrel X is Lauer’s appellation level wine (his version of Bourgogne Blanc) sourced from three different villages of the Saar. It’s off-dry and full of orange-blossom, ripe citrus, precise minerality, brisk acidity…it’s a versatile food wine, happily pairing with nearly everything.
Domaine Louis Boillot & Fils, Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes 2014
This magical little Moulin-à-Vent is our spirit animal. It’s a Boillot-Barthod Beaujolais collaboration that makes you swear you’re drinking Burgundy. We bought all that was left of the 2014 vintage.
Note from the importer: Louis Boillot’s emerging position in the Burgundy firmament is not accidental. Despite having created his domaine only a decade ago, he came armed with some of the oldest and best situated vineyards in Burgundy – thanks to four generations of Boillots having acquired prime sites in Volnay and Gevrey Chambertin. In just one decade, Louis’ domaine has become one of the most admired small estates in the Côte d’Or. The turning point came in the mid-2000s, when he and his partner-the supremely talented Ghislaine Barthod-built a cave together in Chambolle-Musigny.
This brought two of Burgundy’s most gifted winemakers together – working and tasting side by side – with the alchemy you’d expect. The vineyard management was also combined, with Louis responsible for not only his own vines, but those of Ghislaine as well.
Boillot is a master with more than 30 years of experience – using no chemical fertilizers or weed killers, and meticulously pruning for balanced yields. His winemaking is equally timeless, featuring extended, gentle extractions and a limited use of new barrels. His style is marked by an inexorable march towards increasingly refined and transparent wines. At the heart of his style is a profound respect for the terroir of his old vines. The wines that Louis makes from his priceless vines are like Burgundy used to be: gentle, subtle, pure, precise and highly nuanced, their complexity and sensuality growing with age.
Charles Helfenbein, Côtes du Rhône Saint-Julien-en-Saint-Alban, 2015
Charles Helfenbein holds degrees in oenology and viticulture and has been making wine in northern outposts of Cotes du Rhone since 2007. He took over the vines and cellar work that his uncle had started in the Drôme in 2000. He has roughly two hectares of Syrah vines on the steep, southwest facing slopes of Brézème where the soils are primarily clay and limestone, and the slopes of the village of St-Julien-en-St-Alban, where the soils are poor, crumbly granite. He’s one of only three winemakers making wine here. He farms with “respect for nature and preserving the environment”, but is not certified organic.
The St-Julien-en-St-Alban (and the Brezeme, also in stock) is raised in 450L demi-muid barrels that allows the wine air to breathe without contributing excessive oaky aromas or flavors. It’s smoky, black-peppery, bacon-y, balanced, structured, utterly drinkable northern-Rhone Syrah. It’s bound to please.
Champ Divin, Crémant du Jura Zero Dosage, France (2014)
Domaine Champ Divin is a 5ha property located on the Jura Mountain’s ‘premier plateau’. It was founded in 2008 by Valerie and Fabrice Closset-Gaziaux, who both have degrees in soil and earth sciences. They worked for years as biodynamic consultants in South Africa and around France before returning home to the Jura. Here they grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Savagnin os shale, silty clay, and limestone in the village of Gevingey. Of course farming here is biodynamic, and wine-making is as hands-off as possible, with native yeast fermentations and limited sulfur use. Harvest is by hand and as late as possible to optimize phenolic ripeness.
This crémant is a co-fermentation of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. It undergoes full malolactic fermentation in steel and then spends a minimum of 12 months in bottle on the lees before disgorgement. Although it’s zero dosage, it’s full of ripe fruit like pear, lime, green apple, and peach, and delicate flowers, like honeysuckle. It’s medium-bodied and and has a beautiful, ripe texture, punctuated by brisk minerality. This is a perfect sparkler to get the party started.
Arnaud Lambert ‘Brézé’ Clos du Midi Saumur Blanc, France (2017)
Château de Brézé has been around since at least the 15th century, when it was served to royalty and held in the same regard as Château d’Yquem. In the 1600s, the white wines of Château de Brézé were known throughout Europe as Chenin de Brézé.
In 2009, the new owner of the estate asked Yves Lambert and his son, Arnaud, from Domaine de Saint-Just, to manage the estate. They got a 25 year lease and began converting the estate to organic farming. In a little less than a decade, they’ve restored the wines to the heights they achieved centuries ago.
‘Clos du Midi’ is 100% Chenin Blanc from the colder sites on on the Brézé Hill. The upper section of the hill is sandy, while the bottom is richer in clay. Both are atop tuffeau, the chalky limestone rock made up of compressed marine organisms that lived in floating colonies in the prehistoric Turonian era. The differing soil types, coupled with the limestone, create a wine of great tension and depth, with a rounded palate punctuated by lively acidity, and balanced with notes of honey, dried fruit, and touch of lemon…it’s a gorgeous wine that always over delivers.
Anne-Sophie Dubois, ‘Les Cocottes’ Fleurie, France (2017)
Anne-Sophie Dubois comes from the Champagne region in France. Her parents have 3 hectares in Sezanne, but when they wanted to expand and offer their two kids more opportunities, they purchased an 8-hectare plot in Fleurie, where most of the vines had quite a bit of age on them, some exceeding 60 years old. Anne-Sophie took over this domaine in 2007, after internships at Roblet-Monnot in Volnay, and at various Champagne producers. Her early years here were marked with difficulty due to hail decimating her vines. But she persisted. She farms organically, and has a delicate touch in the cellar, with an emphasis on elegance and purity of fruit. Her wines undergo long macerations, fermentations are with wild yeasts, and there is no new oak, no filtration or fining, and no pumping – just gravity.
Les Cocottes is the only cuvée Anne-Sophie Dubois vinifies whole cluster *with* carbonic maceration (the remainder are traditionally fermented, in the Burgundian style, without carbonic). “Les Cocottes” means “the chicks”, and this is what Anne-Sophie drinks when she’s kicking back with her friends. It’s a fruit-forward style that doesn’t sacrifice any character; it’s full of raspberries, cherries, and other red berries, along with crackling minerality, earthy pepper notes, and fresh & zesty acidity. It’s fun and gluggable.
Bichi, La Flama Roja, Mexico (2017)
Notes from the importer: Mexico has a centuries-long history of winemaking that has mostly gone under the radar. Spanish conquistadores planted vines in the early 1500’s, before both Chile and Argentina, and Baja California represents about 90% of the vines in the entire country due to the ideal climate and geography. Brothers Noel & Jair Tellez, with the help of Chilean (by way of Burgundy) winemaker Louis-Antoine Luyt, are producing amazingly fresh and energetic wines from very old, recently recovered vineyards of Misión (aka Listán Prieto), Rosa del Peru (aka Moscatel Negro), Tempranillo and Carinena, among other varieties. Bichi means “naked” in some parts of northern Mexico, and for Téllez and Luyt, it thus seemed like an appropriate name to give their new natural wine project. Based at the Téllez family ranch in Tecate, just over the border from California, Bichi farms 10 hectares of their own Tecate vineyards biodynamically and collaborates with a growing family of organic farmers working vineyard land in Tecate and around Valle de Guadalupe. The majority of the vines are head-trained and all are dry-farmed, handharvested, fermented with native yeast, and aged in neutral barrel or vat so that the emphasis is on each wine’s Mexican terruño.
Flama Roja comes from the Téllez family’s high elevation (2500 feet) home vineyard in Tecate – young vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Nebbiolo, which they planted themselves in 2004 and farm biodynamically, just like their vegetable and herb gardens. The grapes were harvested by hand, de-stemmed and co-fermented in locally made concrete tinajas with 30 days of maceration, raised in a mix of steel tank and used French barrels over winter, and bottled without fining or filtration and only 10ppm of added SO2. Flama Roja is a well-structured, medium-bodied Pacific red wine with bright acidity, red/black fruit and firm tannins. 333 cases produced.
Who needs wine and pleasant diversions?! We do!! Tonight in the shop, Alvaro de la Viña will be here with not one, not two, but THREE of the winemakers he represents through his importing company Selections de la Viña. We first came across Alvaro back in late 2012 or early 2013, but it took far too long to get his delicious, place-driven, honest wines into little Rhody. Now we have a bunch! Swing by tonight to swirl, sip, and meet the people who make what’s in your glass. You’re bound to find something that would be just right for your holiday table, too.
Our Friday wine tasting is still happening tomorrow, 5-8PM, so save room in the schedule. Nick Zeiser from Wine Wizards (who also reps Selections de la Viña in RI) will be pouring a line-up of Hermann J. Wiemerwines from the Finger Lakes, NY. These too, will pair quite well with the cornucopia of flavors that pile up like autumn leaves on Thanksgiving tables.
And this Saturday in the shop, 3-6PM, Matt Thomas from Sierra Nevada will host our beer tasting.
Christin from Wine Bros pours this fun and funky line-up!
Fable Farm Fermentory “Leo” 2017 Barnard, Vermont
Fable Farm Fermentory is a farm-based winery producing aged wines and vinegars, among other herbal elixirs. It’s a collective effort of many folks, including Christopher Piana, Andrew White, and Jon Piana, located in the foothills of the Green Mountains in Barnard, VT. Their farm is a mosaic of fields, forests, and gardens rich with ecological diversity situated at 1700 feet, atop the Broad Brook watershed. They work cooperatively with partner farmers and advocates to steward the historic Clark Farm. Now conserved by the Vermont Land Trust, this 450 acre haven is a living legacy of the european settlers who sculpted small farms out of an old-growth wilderness back in the late 1700’s. Over the last five years, Fable Farm has grafted and grown hundreds of cider-specific apple and pear trees in nursery beds peppered around Barnard. Fable Farm is a fermentory, a venue, and a culinary company providing farm fresh prepared foods for various cultural events held on the farm.
Leo is a dry, sparkling, orange wine made from 40% Le Crescent grapes & 60% cider apples. Half of the grapes were placed into an open top vessel directly from the destemmer for a partial whole berry maceration and the other half was pressed immediately. This “orange” wine contains both the macerated and non-macerated La Crescent grape fermentations, blended with a carefully selected multi-year entourage of cider barrels. They dissolved in Barnard-bred maple syrup at bottling for a traditional method sparkling at 9.5% abv.
Domaine de Grisy Bourgogne Blanc 2016, Burgundy
(late addition, not pictured)
Domaine de Grisy is a 22 acre vineyard located in the northern part of Burgundy near Chablis in the town of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux. Way up north in the Côtes d’Auxerre, Pascal Sorin’s family has been making wine here for 18 generations. He currently runs the estate with his wife. Fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. Sustainably farmed Chardonnay vines located just south of Chablis in Côtes d’Auxerre. Chalky soil. Aged in stainless steel and bottled with minimal additions. Soils are Kimmeridgian clay and limestone. The 2017 vintage has a pale yellow color, with aromas of white flowers, almonds and toast. On the palate the great minerality brings out the typicity of our soils with a creamy side, then finish on the flavors of honey.
Domaine Mamaruta Fitou, France
Domaine Mamaruta is a small estate situated near the Pyrenees mountain range, facing the Mediterranean Sea. Producer Marc Castan describes this area as looking like paradise, and is determined to make the best wine he can with as little impact on the environment as possible. Marc inherited vines from his grandfather, and at first worked for the village cooperative. He quickly learned that this kind of intensive farming wasn’t for him. In 2009 he started his own winery, with the objective of bringing the vineyard back to life after years of industrial farming. Nowadays Domaine Mamaruta is 14ha and is entirely located near the shores of the villages of La Palme and Leucate. Many different terroirs can be found in the area with a mix of sand and pebbles at water-level, and dry, compact lime-stone soils on the cliffs’ plateau. Yields are very low, partly due to pruning style, and partly due to the harsh, dry environment. Varieties planted are Carignan noir and blanc, Mouvèdre, Syrah, Grenache noir and gris, as well as Macabeu and Muscat Petit Grains. There is usually more than one grape variety in the same plot because the preference here throughout generations has been to replace a dead vine with another vine, whatever the variety, rather than leave a hole in the row.
Marc works methodically, by hand, and makes biodynamic tinctures from plants like chamomile, lavender, rosemary, dandelion or nettle, which are planted amongst the rows, along with other flowers and beneficial plants. These are used along with clippings from the vines to make compost. The property is also home to Marc’s dozen or so Highland cows, and two donkeys, which are referred to as the “lawnmowers”. The animals graze between the rows and provide natural fertilizer to the ecosystem.
Un Grain de Folie Rosé 2017
A rosé made from 60% Syrah and 40% other varietals from the estate. (In 2017 it was all Carignan.) Soils are rich in limestone. Direct press into stainless steel. Native Yeasts. Kept on lees with no stirring and aged in tank for 6 months. No temperature control. Unfined and unfiltered. No added sulfites during fermentation. Vegan. 36 mg/L SO2 added at bottling. Fresh and clean, with great texture. All strawberries and minerals. Absolutely delicious.
Razzia Fitou 2017
AOP Fitou. 40% Carignan noir – 20% Grenache – 20% Cinsault – 20% Syrah. Native yeasts. Whole bunches macerated for just 7 days. After a very gentle pressing, the juice is moved to barrels to finish fermentation and rest on the lees for 5 months. Blackcurrants and dark cherries, leather, and spices characterize this wine. Unfined. Filtered. Total Sulphites: 10 mg/L
Fattoria San Lorenzo Marche “Il Casolare” Rosso 2017
50% Sangiovese / 50% Montepulciano fermented in concrete tanks with native yeasts. Il Casolare Rosso is Natalino’s ‘red wine for the people.’ Natalino, the wine maker declassifies this ‘Piceno’ as an IGT in order to save on costs, keeping the price as low as possible. The wine is fresh, clean, balanced, easy to drink, and certified organic. Fattoria San Lorenzo is a third generation family winery that is completely organic and biodynamic. Enrico Crognaletti was a master cooper who founded the estate, and handed it down to his son Gino, who spent his life filling the vineyards of his estate with the best clones of Verdicchio from around the area. Gino left the estate to Natalino Crognaletti, who’s been running things ever since. Under Natalino’s guidance, the estate has seen its wines imported to all corners of the globe, and developed to become standard bearers for the Marche. All the vineyards are organically and biodynamically farmed, and are certified organic for wine and olive oil production. All of the farming is done by hand to best preserve the soil, vines and the larger environment.
Matthias Hild farms 5 hectares of old, terraced parcels of Elbling in Upper-Mosel, a place a bit more known for quantity over quality, with most of the grapes going to cooperatives. Elbling is an ancient grape (one of Europe’s oldest) that is still planted in this region, though not much anywhere else. Its history isn’t known for certain, but it’s either indigenous to Germany, or was brought there by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. DNA testing links it to Gouais Blanc, an ancient variety of white grape planted in Northern and Central France throughout the Medieval era. It grew where Pinot and Chardonnay didn’t do well, and made simple acid-driven wines for the peasantry. It is also a descendant of Traminer, a finicky, green-skinned grape from a German speaking area in what is now northern Italy. This parentage links Elbling to Riesling, Chardonnay, and Furmint. It makes high acid, tart, low alcohol, wines and it is particularly well-suited to sparkling wines.
Unlike the famed slate vineyards of lower Mosel, the vineyards here are mostly on limestone. And where Riesling makes up over 60% of grapes planted in Mosel, Elbling is the least planted, at just under 6%. It’s more a labor of love for Hild than a successful financial venture. Hild works his vineyards responsibly and is on the way toward organic certification.
Here’s what the importer has to say: The fact that Matthias is single-handedly trying to save the old, terraced parcels of Elbling is a move that is equal parts romantic and completely insane. The financial realities of working these vineyards by hand while accepting their lower yields simply do not add up. This is an act of cultural preservation more than anything else. He calls the wine “Zehnkommanull” which means simply 10% — the wine always ferments bone dry and is 10% ABV or less. The few cases that I’m able to get of this wine are, to me at least, semi-sacred voices of a time long past. Sacred voices that end up on the $20-and-under table and most often overlooked.
We’ll pour the 2017 Elbling Trocken and the NV Brut Sekt. These are spirited, zippy, start-the-party wines.
Eva Fricke Rheingau Riesling Trocken 2017
Eva Fricke is not from Rheingau and she is not from a winemaking family. But she went to oenological school, and after finishing her studies she did wine stints in Bordeaux, Piedmont, Ribera del Duero, and Australia. She settled in the lower Rheingau area of Lorch, where she is biodynamically farming steep-sloped, low-yielding plots that were forgotten (or intentionally avoided) by the larger producers because they’re so difficult to work. The vineyards are on loess, clay, slate, and quartzite soils.
This Riesling has the touch of richness that Fricke’s wines tend to exhibit, along with peaches, lime-zest, and mouth-watering, precise minerality. Here’s more on Eva Fricke.
Shiba Wichern Willamette Cuvée Pinot Noir and Havlin Pinot Noir
All notes from Chris: The main goals are balance and elegance. As it turns out a great way to do this is via minimal intervention during ferment and cellaring. On the other hand it requires that we spend a lot of time in the vineyard during the growing season and during harvest for field sorting. One thing that Akiko insists on doing differently from a very big portion of the industry -big or small- is actually work the vineyards ourselves. Our grapes don’t grow in picking bins on flatbed trucks. She refuses to hire a crew to do the field work. Almost every step is done by Akiko, friends & family and me. This gives Akiko such a high level of control and understanding of the grapes, the importance of which should not be under estimated.
Finally, Akiko much like the Japanese cliché, observes, learns and collects what she deems to be the best practices for wine-making. Implementing what she learns is not always easy and sometimes doesn’t work out as we expect, but that is also key to the learning process. Over the past 5 harvests we have worked out a lot of kinks. Give us about 20-25 more years and we might actually admit to knowing what we are doing…
2014 Willamette Cuvée
Our goal with the Willamette Cuvée is to offer an excellent quality Pinot Noir at a very approachable price. At the same time we try to capture a little bit of character from each of our three vineyards and present them as a well-balanced package. Mild red and black fruits from the Havlin Vineyard, smells of summer-forest and black tea from Barrett Hill Vineyard and powerful dark fruits and spices from Eola Springs Vineyard all play well together to make the Willamette Cuvée complex, but not muddled. As the wine breathes the character continues to expand and present more depth.
Food pairings with the Willamette Cuvée are easy, because it goes well with everything. That statement isn’t very useful. So, try it with roasted pork, which is the go-to-meal for Pinot Noir. Try it with Asian food like Korean Barbeque or Japanese Pizza (okonomiyaki). For Sushi, however, it’d be better to stick with our Rosé. You can also drink the Willamette Cuvée with no more accompaniment than the glass you poured it in.
Willamette Cuvée was blended after barrel ageing in 12% new French Oak for a little over 18 months and has been in the bottle since May 1st, 2016. Details about cellaring and grapes can be found in the single vineyard descriptions.
2014 Havlin Vineyard Pinot Noir
Havlin Vineyard is in Perrydale directly in the so-called Van Duzer Corridor, which is known for bringing cold coastal winds to the Willamette Valley in the afternoon and evening. These winds are exactly what Pinot Noir grapes need for balanced ripening, in other words developing sugar and flavor while retaining acidity. We made 137 cases of Havlin, which is 5 and one half barrels.
The 2014 Havlin retains a lot of its Havlin-ness (strong black and red fruits), but is at the same time very different from the 2013. In 2013 Havlin was our burliest wine –in as much as our wines are ever “burly.” In 2014 Havlin is feminine, subtle and almost delicate, but It still shows the very punchy red fruit that we had in 2013. And the red fruit still evolves with time into the typical Oregon Pinot Noir black fruit and lavender, but now the amplitude of the fruit is more balanced with the tartness and other non-fruit tones.