Thanksgiving picks with Peter from Vineyard Road.
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.