October 19th, 2018
Il Farnetto Rio Rocca Spérgle, Emilia-Romagna, Italy 2016
Il Farneto was established in the 1990s by Marco Bertoni. It’s a 34 hectare bio-diverse farm located between the hills of Scandiano and Canossa, with 8 hectares planted to vineyards. Although it is close to two residential areas (Castellarano and Sassuolo) it sits at high elevation and is somewhat isolated. Farming is organic, no chemicals or additives are used, and the wines are unfiltered and unfined, and bottled with little to no SO2.
The name Rio Rocca comes from a valley in the province of Reggio Emilia. Spergle (or Spergola) is an old grape variety (dating back to at least the 15th century) from the Scandiano Hills in Emilia Romagna. It was on the verge of extinction until a farmer decided to resurrect it.
This wine is a perfect white for cooler temps. It’s honey-hued, low-toned, and punctuated with orchard fruit. The palate is broad, but fresh. Think root vegetables, creamy bisques, figs & prosciutto, tortellini in creamy sauce or chicken broth…
Vincent Wine Co. Willamette Pinot Gris “Noir” 2017
Notes from Vincent: “This is Gris made like a red wine, inspired by Cameron Winery locally and Josko Gravner from afar. Natural fermentation on the skins for 18 days, pressed at dryness, settled and racked into older French oak barrel and puncheon (500L casks) for a year. No filtering. The result is a light red wine with tons of peppery personality, it honestly makes me think of old school Grenache-based Cotes du Rhone, with some grip and pepper earthy notes amid red cherry fruit. Not the heat of Grenache and with more acidity, but it’s fun and gluggable.”
Owner and winemaker Vincent Fritzsche launched his winery in 2009 after years of working at other wineries in Oregon and California. He sources fruit from several sustainably farmed vineyards in the Willamette Valley. The name, Vincent, is of course the owner’s name, but also the name of his uncle and maternal grandfather, and pays homage to the 4th century Saint Vincent of Saragossa, Spain, the patron saint of vintners. Formerly a member of Portland’s Southeast Wine Collective (tasting is still available here), the winery is now located at Grochau Cellars in the Eola-Amity Hills near McMinnville. All of the wines are fermented using native yeast. Vincent sulfurs minimally, with the view that SO2 is similar to a camera lens. “It can help bring what’s there into better focus and clarity, rather than adding something that doesn’t need to be there. I don’t use it as an extractive or color stabilizing device.” All wines are bottled unfiltered.
This is a versatile food wine, and will be a lovely Thanksgiving pair should we have any left by then!
I vini di Giovanni ‘il Chiaretto’ Umbria 2017
Giovanni Battista Mesina is known locally as “the shepherd who makes wine”. 2017 was the first vintage he bottled, before that his wines were for local consumption only. His family is originally from Sardinia, where they go back generations, but they relocated to central Umbria when Giovanni was a child. They family business has always been raising sheep; from a flock of over 1,000 sheep on their tiny hilltop farm they make milk, cheese, wool, and pasture-raised meat. Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, Montelpulciano, and Vernaccia Rossa are the primary red grapes, while Vermentino, in a nod to the family’s Sardinian roots, is the white grape of choice here. These are minimal-intervention wines, with no chemicals or additives.
Notes from SelectioNaturel: ‘Chiaretto’ is to Sardegna what ‘Cerasuolo’ is to Sicily….often a lighter, fresher blend of bright, acidity-driven grape varieties. In this case, being in Umbria, the wine is 90% Vernaccia Rossa with 10% Ciliegiolo. The blend will vary from year to year but bright, fresh and spicy is what this one is all about. Serve chilled. Made in stainless steel/cement, no sulfur. ~1000 bottle production.
Scholium Pergamos Red 2011
Notes from the producer’s website:
We are small. Our hands, our feet, our minds are in the wine. We make wine from vineyards that are distinguished sometimes by being ignored. Our wine often does not resemble other wines, but we are not renegades. We are students. Our projects are not always experiments– sometimes we know what we are doing– but they are always acts of emulation, looking up at the work of others we admire.
Thus, “scholium,” from the Greek <<scholion>>, which shares the same root as “school, scholarship.” It signifies a modest project, not a preeminent one, undertaken for the sake of learning, understanding– hence a commentary, an essay, a study. But no matter how much we learn, no matter how interesting our studies, if the wines do not bring pleasure, they are worthless.
We are about to commence on our greatest undertaking yet: to build a winery in Los Angeles, on the banks of the river. On land that nearly one hundred years ago was a vineyard. You may read more about it and offer to support us here.
Campus interjection: It kinda feels like we should insert some Stravinsky-esque music here, doesn’t it? Such drama!
This hilltop vineyard (Dick Vanderkous Paradise vineyard) in Martinez, not far from the San Joaquin delta, did not have problems with rot or ripening in 2011, as many of the vineyards in northern California did. Perhaps it is the constant wind blowing off the water. We picked the grapes late in the year– on the 26 and 29 of October– it was our last fruit of the year– and made twice as much wine as we did in 2010.
The wine is predominately merlot with 25 percent sangiovese. We co-fermented about half of the fruit, all in puncheons, with foot treading four times per day. Punishingly intense, extracted, with amazing tannic structure.
Click here for more on Abe Schoener, Scholium’s founder.