Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

March 1, 2019

Patricia Green Cellars, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Patricia Green Cellars is located on a 52 acre estate in the Ribbon Ridge Appellation of the Willamette Valley. It was purchased in 2000 by Patty Green and Jim Anderson, a duo with over 50 years combined winemaking experience, with the intention of assembling “the strongest collection of well-farmed, high-quality sites with great reputations in the entire state”. Emphasis here is on a broad selection of vineyard designated Pinot Noir from across Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills, and the Chehalem Mountain appellations, as well as some experiments in Sauvignon Blanc, and the dry Muscats we’ll be tasting. Unfortunately Patty passed away unexpectedly in 2017, so Jim Anderson, a Maine native, is now sole proprietor. He’s also the winemaker, along with Matthew Russell, who joined the winery in 2007.

From the winery: “Patty wanted to make things naturally. That is not to say that we make natural wines or are seen in any way as a natural wine winery even though we probably operate in a way that would easily include us in that spectrum (for whatever that is worth). She felt that from the right sites everything was already available to make wines that were interesting, unique and soulful. She wasn’t a technocrat on wines and never felt like math and science were the answers to getting from fruit to wine. They helped in the process but you needed to enter with a feeling for the vineyard so that you could allow that expression to be revealed in the resulting wine. If you go in with the idea that you know how to “make” the wine or even really have a conception of what you want that wine to be like stylistically then you aren’t going about things the correct way to begin with.”

Dry Muscat Ottonel, Oak Grove Vineyard 2016

Winemaker’s notes: Muscat Ottonel is a white wine grape variety that is a member of the Muscat family. It is most notable for its use in dessert wines from Austria, Romania, Croatia and Serbia as well as dry wines from Alsace and Hungary. We have produced this exotic varietal in a bone-dry style showcasing its elegance and fragrance of pear blossoms and white flowers. This is generally a lower acid grape and while it is far from high in acid it has a nice lift and snap to it that makes for a refreshing, almost thirst-quenching sort of beverage.

Dry Muscat Ottonel “Marie” 2016

This is another dry muscat, but this time fermented on the skins and aged in concrete. As the label implies, it’s like a rock wrapped in orange peels. It’s low-alcohol, but not sweet. It’s mineral-driven, flowery, unique, and intriguing… Marie was Patty’s middle name, and this wine is a tribute to her.

Weingut Beurer, Rot Trocken 2017, Württemberg, Germany

The Beurer family has farmed land just outside of Stuttgart for generations, growing grapes and making wine that ended up in local co-op productions. In 1997, Jochen Beurer, his wife Marion, and father Sigfried struck out on their own, making and bottling wine for themselves––the first two years were out of a garage. In 2003 Jochen started experimenting with organic viticulture and spontaneous fermentation. Over the next few years he converted to fully biodynamic farming and natural winemaking. Relying upon spontaneous fermentation means that Jochen is usually the last to pick his grapes in cooler years. His wines take their time, and decide what to do and when, and usually include malolactic. Often fermentations are still ongoing in February or March, having gone dormant during the winter, and waking up again in spring. We brought in four of these wines (Riesling, Weiss, Trollinger, and this Rot Trocken) and they are all singularly delicious.

Rot Trocken is a blend of Spätburgunder, Cabernet Dorio, Dornfelder, and Portugieser vinified separately then aged in small oak barrels for seven months. It’s another low abv, at just 11%, but it’s got so much character: dark, spicy fruit, soft & velvety texture, long & savory finish. It’s a bottle you’ll slurp down too quick if you’re not paying attention!

Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Paso Robles, CA

From the producer: Broadside produces wines focused on purity and true varietal expression. We favor balance and simplicity, giving consumers a window to the promise of the central coast and varietal character. Our winemaking employs a natural approach in that our wines are minimally handled to best express the grape, site and vintage. We harvest at lower sugars and use little to no new oak to create wines of balance and finesse that make sense on the dinner table.

Founder/viticulturist Stephanie Terrizzi holds degrees in enology, chemistry, and Plant science. Stephanie manages vineyard operations and is a prominent force for bio-organic viticulture in Paso Robles and the central coast, recently nominated for winegrape grower of the year in San Luis Obispo County.

Founder/winemaker Brian Terrizzi made wine in Italy for several years, then in Sonoma, and Santa Barbara County. Brian and Stephanie settled in Paso Robles to start their own production. Along with the Italian-inspired wines under their Giornata label (also in Paso Robles), Brian approaches winemaking at Broadside with a minimalist, refined touch.

The grapes are from Paso Robles Santa Margartia Ranch, Estrella, and San Juan District AVAs. 2016 brought near-normal precipitation for the first time in years, following a substantial drought throughout California. Healthy soils and reinvigorated vines produced a balanced crop of flavorful fruit across all of our vineyard sources. The 2016 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon highlights the strong vintage with plenty of dark berry-focused fruit, earthy notes and toasty mocha/caramel oak.

Domaine de Piaugier Gigondas 2014

Jean-Marc Autran, took over the winery from his father Marc in 1985, who had previously inherited it from his father, Alphonse. Jean-Marc acquired more vineyards and, with the assistance of his wife Sophie, developed the sale of his wines in bottle. The winery soon became too small and they extended it in 1995 to enable them to mature and store the wines in the best possible conditions. Today, Sophie and Jean-Marc cultivate 3.5 hectares within the Gigondas AOC, 12.5 hectares in the Sablet AOC and 14 hectares of Côtes du Rhône vineyards. Farming is organic.

Only about 250 cases were made of this wine, and we grabbed what was left in RI––just under a case and a half. 2014 was a difficult year that demanded a lot of attention and selection from growers. The cool summer resulted in some under-ripe Grenache in some vineyards, and rain in September led to botrytis elsewhere. While this Gigondas had the challenge of being from grapes grown in vineyards on the cooler side of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the wine itself is a beauty, which is a testament to the skill of the producer. It’s a blend of mostly Grenache, followed by Mourvedre, then Syrah, from 40-45 year old vines planted on limestone, clay, and sand. The grapes were hand-harvested and vinified with natural yeast in oak, then aged in a combo of foudres and barrels. It’s an elegant wine, not all about power (like the ripe 2015s) but instead about structure, finesse, texture, and terroir. It’s in a beautiful spot right now, and while it still has time to develop, it’s one to drink sooner rather than a decade from now. We love it.

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

February 8, 2019

Peter from Vineyard Road pours this tasty selection…and perhaps a surprise or two…

German Gilabert Cava Brut Nature, Catalonia, Spain

German Gilabert Cava is part of a José Pastor project called Vinos de Terruños, which was established in 2003 with a philosophy of bringing to market handmade wines of native Spanish varieties, from old, organic, and sustainable vineyards and authentic Spanish wine terroirs. They are usually very reasonably priced.

The grapes used for German Gilabert come from the subzone Alt Penedès, where the highest elevation plots are located. Only native grapes are used (in this case Macabeo and Parellada) and the wine is bottled without added sugar, or Brut Nature. It’s left on the lees for 18 to 20 months before disgorgement.

It’s medium-bodied with tiny bubbles and a citrus-driven character. The finish is dry and elegant. Have it with salty Spanish food.

Angelo Negro & Figli, Roero Arneis Unfiltered 2017, Piedmont, Italy

Importers notes: Since 1670 the Negro family has cultivated vineyards in the Roero hills (northwest of Alba), working to increase the value of this wonderful corner of Piemonte and dedicating wines to the prestigious native vines: Favorita, Arneis, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Bonarda, Dolcetto and Brachetto. Today the estate is run by Giovanni Negro and his family. With some of the best vineyard sites in Roero, Angelo Negro is one of the indisputable legends of the region. Giovanni Negro, the estate’s present owner, produced the first dry Arneis on record in 1971.

This unfiltered Arneis is from 20 year old vines grown on sandy soils at altitudes of 280-320 meters above sea level. The grapes are hand-harvested, macerated for 24 hours, then fermented (no malo) and aged for 6 months in stainless steel, on the lees. The wine is bottled with just a dash of sulfur, and is a unique expression of Arneis. It’s lightly peachy & grapefruity, with a touch of sour apple, and a leesy, mineral-driven finish.

Ampeleia Kepos 2017, Tuscany, Italy

Ampeleia is a joint Tuscan venture by Alto Adige’s Elisabetta Foradori (known for putting Toraldego on the map) and friends Giovanni Podini and Thomas Widmann. Ampeleia is a total of 150 hectares in Maremma, 40 of which are planted with vines at altitudes of 200-600 m above sea level. Farming is biodynamic and wines are made with minimal intervention.

Kepos is a blend of Grenache, Carignano, and Alicante Bouschet from vineyards closest to the sea. The grapes were hand-harvested from mid-September to early October, then fermented and aged in cement for 11 months. It’s medium-weight, precise, dried-herb-scented, floral, complex, and well-structured.

Luigi Giordano Langhe Rosso 2017, Piedmont, Italy

Distributor’s notes: A stone’s throw from Barbaresco’s village centre among the hills that frame the Tanaro River’s sinuous course, at the very heart of Piedmont’s wine country, the winery and its vineyards were founded by Giovanni Giordano in the 1930s during a time of profound crisis in the Italian wine world. After a period of growing and selling grapes, Giovanni’s son, Luigi, made the bold decision to vinify his own grapes in 1960. Luigi Giordano is now a fourth-generation winery whose vineyards are planted in some of Barbaresco’s most prestigious crus, including Asili and Montestefano. One particular Barbaresco bottling from the cru of Cavanna showcases the winery’s elegant, hands-off style of winemaking and currently represents the only single-vineyard cru of its kind on the market. Since 2000, Luigi has been aided in the running of the winery by two of his daughters, Laura and Silvia – both of whom are as passionate about wine making as their dad and grandad before them.

Langhe Rosso is Nebbiolo and Arneis from vineyards situated within the Barbaresco zone. After fermentation the wine ages for 3-4 months in oak casks. It’s full-bodied and balanced, lightly spicy and full of cherries, dried plums, and dried flowers.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

February 1, 2019

Monteversa Primaversa 2015, Veneto

Filippo Voltazza runs his small family vineyard in the Euganean Hills, just west of Venice. Vineyards here are packed into terraced rows, at heights up to 600 meters. Filippo’s family used to sell their grapes to local wineries, to be used in their best bottlings, until they took back all their vines in 2006. Now their 17 hectares face in all four directions to maximize exposure. The vines are densely planted to 4,000 per hectare on chalky-clay volcanic soil. Farming is organic, harvesting is by hand, and most of the wine is fermented and aged in cement, then bottled unfiltered and unfined. 

Primaversa is a gently fizzy pet-nat of Moscato Giallo fermented in stainless steel. It’s dry and herbal, a bit honeyed and nutty.  

Cantina Marilina & Federica Paternò Sikele Bianco and Sikele Rosso, Sicily, Italy

Angelo Paternò worked for 25 years as the winemaker and technical director for the Sicilian wineries Cantine Settesoli and Duca di Salaparuta before purchasing 60 hectares of his own on a hill in the southeastern Sicilian province of Siracusa. He thought this land represented one of the best viticultural areas in Sicily.

Angelo’s daughters Marilina and Federica are now in charge of the property, although Angelo still helps in the cellar. They grow organically and favor minimal intervention and no additives in the winemaking process. They are influenced by local natural winemaker Frank Cornelissen. 35 hectares of their vineyards are planted to grape varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Grecanico, Muscat Blanc, Moscato Giallo, Insolia, Merlot, Tannat, Viognier, and Chardonnay. The rest of the vineyards are various flora to encourage a diverse ecosystem. 

Sikele Bianco Terre Siciliane IGP 2016

Sikele Bianco is 100% Grecanico (aka: Garganega, of Soave) that’s macerated on the skins for 13 hours before pressing, followed by fermentation and six months’ aging in concrete. It’s unfiltered, unfined, and is bottled with just a dash of SO2. 

This orange (in color) wine is quite aromatic and actually smells a bit like oranges, and nuts, with a brisk, salty-air influence wound throughout. It has a beautifully rich texture, and is full of sweet & savory spices, peaches, and the same brisk-salty sensation that’s on the nose. 

Sikele Rosso Terre Siciliane IGP 2012

Sikele Rosso is 100% Nero d’Avola, fermented and aged in concrete for 9 months, also bottled unfiltered, unfined, and with just a dash of SO2. 2012 was a very hot and dry vintage across southern Italy and Sicily, but it was saved from producing hot clunkers by cooler temps and rain right before harvest time. This wine is aging quite nicely, with the red fruit becoming less primary, tobacco notes emerging, and a stony-minerality throughout. 

G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2016, Piedmont, Italy

G.D. Vajra was officially established in 1972 but the family roots in the region go back over two centuries. The estate, well-known and respected for Barolo, sits 400 meters above sea level in the village of Vergne, in the commune of Barolo. Today the estate is over 40 hectares, 10 of which are planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo production. Farming here is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and aging is done in traditional Slavonian casks.

The Langhe Rosso is a blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Freisa, Pinot Noir, and Albarossa. Grapes are fermented separately in stainless steel, then aged for 12-16 months before blending, followed by 3 months in bottle before releasing. It’s fruity, floral and spicy, with a touch of brambly underbrush and black pepper. It’s lively and bright, and a perfect dinner party wine. 

Wine Tasting in the Shop!

¡Hola!

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. Wiemer wines 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.

¡Salud!

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

Nov. 2, 2018

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.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

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!

The wine:

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.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

October 5, 2018

~notes from Wine Traditions

Domaine des XIII Lunes Vin de Savoie Apremont 2017

Winemaker Sylvain Liotard has been farming a little village in the alps at the foot of Mont Granier since 2014. He is dedicated to biodynamic farming practices, using buried composts and silica, plant based tinctures, closely guarding the health of the soils, keeping use of copper to a minimum. He practices minimal intervention during vinification, with indigenous yeast and very small amounts of sulfur at bottling. Sylvain has been certified organic and Demeter certified for 2 years.

Domaine de XIII Lunes produce 6 cuvées, 4 white and 2 red, from local indigenous grape varieties. The white grapes are Jacquere, Altesse, Velteliner, red grapes are Mondeuse, Gamay.

Savoie consists of many isolated sub-regions and plots of vineyards scattered across four French departments: Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Ain. Savoie neighbors Switzerland (to the East), the Jura region (to the North) and the little-known Bugey region, which is west across the Rhône river. All told, the region is under 5,000 acres (2000 ha) accounting for a mere 0.5% of French wines. 70% of the wine produced in Savoie is white.

The Domaine des XIII Lunes Vin de Savoie Apremont 2017 is made of 100% Jacquere grown on clay and limestone within the Savoie sub-appellation Apremont. It is a lovely, high-toned wine, with good acidity, deliciously fresh and fruity with refreshingly low alcohol at 10.5%.

Domaine du Crêt de Bine “Cuvée Bio’Addict” 2017 Beaujolais

François and Marie-Therèse Subrin farm 5 hectares of land in the village of Sarcy, a village situated on a high plateau tucked between the Monts Beaujolais and the Monts Lyonnais in the southwest corner of the Beaujolais appellation. The Subrin’s vineyard is planted on granite soils with significant deposits of quartz and feldspar. On average, the vines are 40 years old. François and Marie-Therèse farm organically and biodynamically. To insure maximum health and ripeness for their grapes, they severely limit the yields and harvest late into the growing season.

Cuvée Bio’Addict” is from hand-harvested grapes that are partially de-stemmed and fermented with indigenous yeast at low temperatures. NO SO2 is used in the fermenting process, and only a dash is used at bottling–less than 20mg. This is a smooth and spicy Beaujolais, accented with red fruit and stones.

Château Les Vieux Moulins “Pirouette” Cote de Blaye 2017

Château Les Vieux Moulins is the property of Damien Lorteau. He took over in 2010 from his parents and grandparents. He inherited 20 hectares, 11 in the village of Reignac and 9 in the village of Anglade. In acknowledging the difference between the terroirs, Damien produces two wines, one from each village. His vineyards are certified organic and Damien has increased the density in his vineyards so that nearly all the parcels have 7,000 plants per hectare. His winemaking philosophy is non-interventional. He allows the indigenous yeasts to ferment the juice and uses very little SO2 throughout the process. Fermentations are carried out in small cement tanks and Damien avoids both pump overs and moving the wine by pump after fermentation. The labels were designed by a Swedish artist named Madlen Herrstrom.

The Pirouette cuvee is produced from eight parcels in the village of Reignac, mostly in the lieu-dit Freneau. The largest parcels sit on the summit of a small hill and benefit from frequent wind which certainly helps with organic farming. The soils range from a sandy clay (80%) which is planted to Merlot, to a sandy gravel ( 20%) which is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon. After harvest the grapes are destemmed and then put in a tank for three to five days at a low temperature to have a pre-fermentation maceration. The fermentation and extended maceration lasts typically 20 days and an assemblage is made from the different tanks before the malo-lactic fermentation. The wine is matured in cement tanks for 12 months before bottling.

Domaine de Clovallon “Les Indigènes” 2016

The Orb River runs for 135 kilometers from the Larzac Causses in Haut-Languedoc down to the Mediterranean Sea. Domaine de Clovallon is situated in the Haute Vallée de L’Orb which refers to a small stretch of the river valley that runs east to west with exposed hillsides and excellent southern exposure. Spanning geological periods from the primary to the quartenary, the Haute Vallée de L’Orb contains virtually every soil type found in France, and many of them are present in Clovallon’s 10 hectares.

To be in the company of Catherine Roque and her daughter Alix, is to be in the company of and feel the energy of passionate farmers. Catherine says that seeing the results of her bio-dynamic farming practices has greatly inspired her. In the vineyard, the Roques use fertilizer from their neighbor’s cows along with a mix of valerian and dolomite. In between the rows, the natural grasses are left to grow and Alix is contemplating buying a few sheep to help with the “mowing”. They already employ the help of their chickens. As non-interventionist winemakers, their wines naturally convey their respect for and delight in their land and vineyards.

The cuvee “Les Indigènes” is produced from a single “clos” of less than a hectare that was planted around two hundred years ago and retains pre-phylloxera vines. As was the custom “back in the day” the vineyard was co-planted with a wide variety of grape types both white and red. Most of the grapes have been identified and include Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Grenache Blanc. Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Malvasia, Muscat a Petits Grains, Ugni Blanc, Aramon, Terret, and Jacquet. The clos itself sits high above the town of Bedarieux and is accessible only by a narrow lane that winds its way up from the town to the vineyard at the top of the hill. It is hidden from the eye because it is both walled and shielded by fruit trees.

To gain entrance to the small vineyard one has to pass through an entrance gate and then a bit further on pass through a doorway framed by a stone arch giving the whole experience a “secret garden” quality.

All varieties are co-fermented in old oak foudres using indigenous yeasts and without temperature control. The wine is unfiltered and unfined.

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

September 28, 2018

Bohigas Catalonia Xarel-lo 2017

The Bohigas family traces its roots back to the 13th century at this site in Catalonia. In the 1930s the great-uncle of the current owner (Jordi Casanovas Bohigas) started making Cava, for which they became well-known. The 110 acres are planted to 10 varieties and are farmed organically, and grapes are harvested by hand.

This Xarel-lo is an easy drinking wine, with mango, lime, apples, and a leesy, stony finish.

Garo’Vin Vin de France “Lunatic” Chenin Blanc 2016

Cedric Garreau is a “micro-vigneron” with just under 3 hectares of vines around Beaulieu-sur-Layon. He makes tiny amounts of wine in a small stone building across from his home at the edge of the vineyards, which are all certified organic. Cedric’s winemaking is traditional, with mostly old, used equipment that he gets from his larger neighbors when they buy the new stuff.

The Chenin vines from this parcel are 35 years old and grow in purple schist soils. The wine is just grapes, nothing added, no sulfur at any point. Aging is 10 months in barrel. This is a big, aromatic, dry Chenin Blanc that’s full of honey, herbs, citrus and smoke.

Domaine Thillardon “Raisin Libre” Beaujolais 2017

Paul Henri Thillardon biodynamically farms nearly 6 hectares of vines in Chenas, the smallest of the ten Beaujolais Crus in the far north of the region, situated west of Moulin-A-Vent. His vineyards are located on a plateau of pink granite around the Castle Boccards in the town of La Chapelle-de-Guinchay. Raisin Libre is Gamay fermented with indigenous yeast and via 100% carbonic maceration. It’s fresh, fruity, and gluggable.

Domaine du Chapitre “Mon Plasir”, IGP Coteaux de l’Ardèche 2016

Frédéric Dorthe runs his family’s 20ha of vineyards located on the right bank of the Rhône River in the town of Saint-Marcel d’Ardèche. His family has had long-standing contracts to sell most of the fruit to negociants and other winemakers, but Fred keeps some grapes for himself, from which he makes tiny amounts of drinkable, humble little wines, like “Mon Plasir”. All wines here are aged in cement with no additives except a dash of SO2 at bottling.

Mon Plasir is 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 10% Syrah from vines at least 40 years old. It’s another easygoing wine, light, and fruity, but earthy too. The producer’s website calls it a “Wine of conviviality” which sounds about right. Only 440 cases produced.

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

September 14, 2018

Tetramythos Winery, Patras, Greece

Tetramythos was founded in 1999 by brothers Aristides and Stathios Panos. The winery is located on the Peloponnese peninsula on the southernmost part of the Greek mainland, near the tiny town of Ano Diacopto (population 300ish), while the vineyards are in Ano Diacopto and amongst the nearby villages of Aegialia. The brothers grow both indigenous and international varieties on limestone-rich vineyards planted at up to 1,000 meters elevation on the slopes of Mount Aroania. This high elevation ensures great swings in diurnal temperature, which in turn ensures ripeness balanced with freshness and acidity. Tetramythos is certified organic, low-intervention, and low sulfites.

Roditis Natur 2017

Roditis Natur is from a single vineyard of 46+ year old Roditis vines planted at 850 meters in the village of Ano Diacopto. The vines are dry-farmed and low yielding. The wine is made using only the free-run must (juice from the first gentle pressing) and fermented for 5 months with wild yeasts, and undergoes spontaneous malolactic fermentation. It’s bottled unfiltered with just a touch of SO2.

This wine is a mouthful of delicious, minerally, leesy, limestone-lemon, crisp apple, dusty chalk, leesy again…bone-dry, just keeps giving. You don’t need food with this, but if you wanted it, seafood is a natural pair, or poultry with salty, crispy skin, sheep or goat cheese, an olive plate, stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki, vegetables grilled and drizzled with oil and vinegar…there are options!

Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc 2016

Jean-Paul Brun’s domaine is located in Charnay, a village in the Southern Beaujolais in an area known as the “Region of Golden Stones”. Brun is the owner and winemaker at this 40-acre family estate and is well known for his Beaujolais, which he makes with minimal intervention, minimal sulfur, and without the use of industrial yeasts, leading to wines that are elegant & delicate, with purity of fruit, and great character and depth.

This chardonnay is from vines planted in 1983 on sandy, limestone-rich clay soil. The grapes are hand-harvested, de-stemmed, and fermented in vat via natural yeasts. It goes through full malo and is aged on the lees in stainless and concrete until the spring following harvest. It’s bottled with just a touch of sulfur. This wine is like a bottle of sunshine. On the nose you’ll find apples, pears, beeswax, and that precise, limestone minerality. On the palate it’s full-bodied but crisp, with apples again, as well as dried flowers, on a long, mineral-driven finish. This is another versatile white that can be drunk with or without food. There probably won’t be any left by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, but this would be that kind of crowd-pleasing, food-friendly wine.

Domaine de l’Aumonier Touraine Cuvée Louis 2014

Sophie & Thierry Chardon farm their 47 hectares in the village of Couffy organically (certified). They started in 1996 with 10 hectares purchased from retired winemakers. Their vineyards are now split between 26 hectares on the slopes around Couffy, on soils of clay and flint, and 21 hectares around the village of Mareuil sur Cher, on soils of chalk and clay.

Cuvée Louis is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Malbec from 3 hectares of hillside vineyards on clay-limestone and flint. Up to 3 weeks of carbonic maceration gives the wine a fresh, fruity, and juicy personality. This is a gluggable, easy-drinking little red. You can put a slight chill on it, but the aromas and flavors will easily take this wine through the fall, and it will happily sit on a table of roasted chicken and veggies, and other casual fare.

Tetramythos Agiorgitiko 2017

-see producer notes above-

The grapes for this wine come from a north-facing single vineyard of young vines that are low-yielding and dry farmed. It’s a dark, plummy, aromatic red that pairs well with grilled meat and vegetables, pizza & pasta, and traditional Greek food like Pastitsio and Moussaka. Agiorgitiko is sometimes called St. George and is Greece’s most widely planted and commercially successful grape. It does best at high altitudes, and is used for everything from rosé to dark, robust reds.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop

August 31, 2018

Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2017, Kamptal, Austria

The estate and Castle Gobelsburg has been controlled by 19 different families between 1074 (when it was created by the Monks of Zwetti) and 1786, when it was absorbed into the Kammern Winery. Two hundred years later, in 1996, Eva and Michael Moosbrugger were granted the winemaking and viticultural contract; with Willi Bründlmayer’s assistance, the winery soon became a leader in quality, and Michael Moosbrugger was recognized as a top German winemaker. Farming here is organic, a practice the monks of Zwetti began in the 1950s.

This Gruner is dry, leesy, and elegant, with notes of white pepper & green pears.

La Boutanche Rosé (Andi Knauss) 2017, Wurttemberg-Remstal, Germany

La Boutanche is a natural wine project started by importer Selection Massale to address the issue of the general lack of natural wines in the $20-and-under price range. These (mostly, but not this one) liter-size, screw-top, glou glou wines are from different producers within the Selection Massale portfolio. They’re what you’d expect: organic, low intervention, native yeast fermentations, low-to-no sulfur, super-drinkable.

Andi Knauss is the first to seriously pursue winemaking at this domain in the Baden village of Strümpfelbach. The domain has been in his family for generations, but most of the winemaking was done here as a hobby, after finishing shifts at the local Mercedes Benz factory. Andi has upped the game and dedicated himself to the craft full-time. The property is 14 hectares planted to Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Kerner, Muller Thurgau, Trollinger, Lemberger, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Andi works organically and minimally in the vineyards and the cellar, with natural fermentations, and little to no sulphur. This rosé is tangy, zesty, clean, and refreshing.

Château Combel la Serre Cahors ‘Le Pur Fruit du Causse’ 2017, Cahors, France

Julien Ilbert’s family has had vines in Cahors for many generations, but they always sold off their grapes to negociants, and grains took up a lot of their property, so wine was not the focus of their endeavors. In 1998 Julien struck out to start his own estate, but got sidetracked when he became Mathieu Cosse’s main source for high quality Malbec, known locally as Auxerrois, or Côt. Julien’s Château Combel la Serre was created in 2005, with 25 hectares of Malbec on a clay-limestone plateau. Cahors appellation requires that the wine be 70% auxerrois, but Julien believes it should be 100%, so he’s chosen not to plant Negrette and Tannat (the other traditional varieties). The property is certified organic since 2015, but has been practicing organic since its creation.

Le Pur Fruit du Causse is vinified and aged in cement and is juicy, approachable, fruit-forward, and delicious.

Slavcek Črno Red Cuvée 2016, Vipava Valley, Slovenia

The history of the Slavcek family winery goes back to 1769, when records indicate that it was called “Slavčevih”, or Nightingale. The family runs a farm and an inn, and they only serve what they grow. They have 10 hectares on terraced banks on the edge of the Vipava Valley. They are uniquely situated in an area that is influenced by the Alps and the Mediterranean, and surrounded by forests full of birds (including the nightingale, hence the label). The hilltop vineyards are close enough to the sea to benefit from cool Mediterranean breezes. The farming is biodynamic, and the winemaking is vegan (no animal proteins are used in the fining process), and barrels used for aging are made of local acacia and oak.

Črno is 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Refosco, and 10% Barbera from vines planted in 1994. The wine is fermented and aged for 12 months in 50% oak / 50% stainless steel. It lively and spicy, with red berry juiciness, and a little bit of smoky earth.