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.