Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop with Chris Wichern + German Wine; 5-8PM

Oct. 26, 2018

Hild Elbling, Mosel, Germany

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.

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.

Wine Tasting in the Shop

Friday August 24, 2018

La Boutanche Blanc (Martin Texier) Vin de France, 2015

La Boutanche is a natural wine project started by importer Selection Massale to address the issue of the shortage of natural wines in the $20-and-under price range. These liter-size, screw-top, glou glou wines are from different producers within the Selection Massale portfolio.

Martin Texier is the son of well-known natural winemaker Eric Texier. Martin was studying economics before deciding that perhaps he oughta follow in his father’s footsteps. In between he was also a DJ, and worked in a couple NYC wine shops and a record shop. Now he has five hectares in the Rhone in St.-Julien-en-St.-Alban, planted to traditional red and white Rhone varieties. This white is just one of his Boutanche offerings.

Tiberi “Il Musticco” 2017, Umbria

Tiberi is a small family winery in Umbria, at the heart of Italy. Before 2012 the family used to sell their grapes to other winemakers. Since then they’ve been making their own wines with the help of the godfather of Italian natural wine, Danilo Marcucci. Siblings Frederico and Beatrice Tiberi are fourth-generation winemakers, working vines planted in the ’70s. They do all the good things: organic farming, hand-harvesting, little intervention, no additives or sulfur, etc. Their Il Musticco is a blend of Gamay de Trasimeno (aka Grenache) and Ciliegiolo, bottled and capped before fermentation is finished, giving it a lively effervescence. It’s the color of pomegranate berries, with tart cherries on the nose and palate, balanced by a crisp minerality and a long dry finish.

Envínate

Here’s a blurb from the importer: Envínate (Wine Yourself) is the brainchild of 4 friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez. This gang of 4 formed back in 2005 while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. Upon graduation, they formed a winemaking consultancy, which evolved into Envínate, a project that focuses on exploring distinctive parcels mainly in the Atlantic-inflected regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands. Their collective aim is to make profoundly pure and authentic wines that express the terruño of each parcel in a clear and concise manner. To this end, no chemicals are used in any of the Envínate vineyards, all parcels are picked by hand, the grapes are foot-trodden, and the wines are fermented exclusively with wild yeasts, with a varying proportion of whole grape clusters included. For aging, the wines are raised in old barrels and sulfur is only added at bottling, if needed. The results are some of the most exciting and honest wines being produced in Spain today.

Envínate Benje Tinto 2017

Benje is sourced from several plots of 70 to 105 year old vines (95% Listan Prieto, 5% Tintilla) grown at 1,000-1,200 meters elevation on Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands. The vineyards are situated high on the northwestern volcanic slopes in and around Santiago del Teide, and are tended by Emilio Ramírez & Envínate. The climate is mild but winds from the Atlantic and Africa, coupled with fluctuations in humidity, present some challenges.

Each parcel is harvested by hand then vinified separately, with some going into concrete, some in small open tubs. They then go together into neutral french oak for malolactic fermentation, then are raised in the same barrels for 8 months without lees stirring or added SO2. It’s bottled unfiltered and clarified using only natural vegetable proteins.

This is high-elevation, volcanic deliciousness. The red fruit and zesty acidity combined with earthy, floral, herbal notes make it pair perfectly with grilled meats, but it can do well with some seafood too and vegetables, especially dishes that utilize smoky paprika. It can handle a bit of peppery heat too.

Envínate Albahra Vinos Mediterraneos 2017

Albahra is named for the vineyard location, and means “small sea”. It comes from a single vineyard that’s divided into 3 parcels at 800 meters elevation in the Almansa region, around the town of Albacete. Almansa is located at the southeastern tip of Castilla-LaMancha, about a four hour drive east of Madrid (and quite a hike from Tenerife). This is 100% Garnacha Tintorera from 30 year old vines. This grape is also known as Alicante Bouschet, and is a hybrid of Garnacha and Petit Bouschet. Unlike most red grapes, the juice of Garnacha Tintorera is dark (that’s what the tintorera indicates) so the wine is dark too, and in this case, soft and spicy. Albahra is fermented 50% whole-cluster in cement vats, then aged for 8 months in the same vats. It’s another versatile food wine, that can also pair well with seafood, as well as with tomatoes, olives, manchego cheese, gazpacho, fennel (raw or roasted), and a host of other mediterranean influenced fare.

Wine Tasting in the Shop

Friday August 3, 2018

We got a small drop of new Louis/Dressner and we’re tasting some of it tonight. We also got a tiny amount of 1996 Peter Lauer Saar Riesling Sekt (not Dressner) disgorged in May of this year. This Champagne method bubbly is left on the lees for over 20 years, is hand-riddled and disgorged, and is pretty special. Read more about Lauer here. We also got some 2013 Sekt, if you can’t get enough fizzy Lauer. Here’s the tasting line-up:

Immich-Batterieberg Detonation Riesling 2016 Mosel, Germany

This is one of Mosel’s oldest estates, established in 911 by a Carolingian monastery, which the Immich family took over in the 1400s. Sometime during the 1800s, Carl August Immich wanted to expand into the barren hillside. So doing what people do, he blasted it with a cannon. It took 5 years, but finally the terraced “Batterieberg” (“Battered Mountain”) vineyard was born, and the estate gained its current name: Immich-Batterieberg. Sadly in 1989 the property was sold off and the winery’s traditional approach was abandoned for a modern style. Almost 20 years later, in 2007, Immich-Batterieberg filed for bankruptcy. But! Cue the trumpets: Bahmp Bah Baaahhh! Enter Gernot Kollmann (and two investors) in 2009, who restored the estate to its former glory. Gernot’s winemaking emphasizes terroir, utilizes little to no manipulation, and focuses on dry riesling. 2016 is the first vintage of Detonation and is an homage to Carl August Immich. While some of the fruit is from estate vineyards, more is handpicked and purchased from steep, sustainably farmed growing sites around the towns of Drohn and Oberemmeler. In the winery the grapes ferment via indigenous yeast and age on the lees in large neutral oak casks, and a little bit of stainless steel, and the wine is bottled with very little sulfur. Terry Thiese says “2016 does not appear to have a dark side…it is almost never not delicious, almost never ungainly, unbalanced or unappealing. I can hardly remember a more adorable vintage.” We’re down with that.

Éric Texier “Adele” Cotes du Rhone Blanc, 2017, France

Éric Texier came to wine without any family connection or romantic, multi-generational story. In 1992, after years as a nuclear scientist, he opted to follow his passion for wine and formally study viticulture and oenology at Bordeaux University. He read a lot, visited winemakers around the world, and worked in Burgundy with Jean-Marie Guffens, at Verget. There he learned the benefits of minimal-intervention wine-making: native yeasts, little to no herbicides, no machines, etc…

As a beginner, he was unable to afford his own vineyards, so he became a négociant, buying only from small growers philosophically aligned with himself. He has since acquired plots in Côte Rôtie and Condrieu in the northern Rhône, and replanted several hectares in long-forgotten Brézème with Syrah and Roussanne. All of his wines are aged in the underground 16th-century cellar at his home in Charnay-en-Beaujolais.

Adele is mostly Clairette with the remainder Marsanne, fermented in cement tanks with native yeasts. It rests for about 8 months on its lees, without sulfur, and is bottled unfiltered and unfined, with very little sulfur at bottling.

La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso 2016, Emilia-Romagna

La Stoppa is a 50 hectare property founded in the late 19th century by a lawyer named Gian-Marco Ageno. Of the 50 hectares, about 30 are planted to vines, and the rest is forest (and the remains of a medieval tower). In 1973, with no winemaking or growing exerience, Elena Pantaleoni’s father purchased the property. In 1991 Elena joined her father in working the estate, and at that same time began farming organically (they were certified in 2008). The previous owner had planted non-native varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Tokay, Pinot Gris, Grechetto, and Pinot Noir which were not suited to the soils or the climate of the region; it wasn’t until 1996 that these were ripped up and replanted with Bonarda, Barbera, and Malvasia.

Elena Pantaleoni now works with winemaker Giulio Armani to make minimal intervention, real wines true to place and grape. Fermentation is with native yeast with no added sulfur, skin-contact is lengthy, and the wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. Fermentations and aging take place in stainless steel (for entry level wines like this Trebbiolo), concrete, and Slavonian and French oak barrels (not new). Elena has chosen to use IGT classification instead of DOC so that she has freedom to work around the regulations regarding varieties, geography, and production techniques.

Trebbiolo Rosso is Barbera and Bonarda (AKA: Croatina, NOT Bonarda Piemontese, or the Bonarda from Argentina) from younger vines of 5-20 years that grow on heavy clay soils. The grapes are destemmed and fermented on the skins for 20 days in stainless steel, and further aged in stainless. The name Trebbiolo comes from the nearby river and valley known as Trebbia. This wine is lovely and lively, with fresh red berries and ripe cherries throughout.

Éric Texier A.O.C Côtes du Rhône “Brézème” Red 2016

-see producer note above.

100% Syrah from 25 year old vines on rocky southwest facing slopes of clay and limestone. It’s vinified whole cluster and aged for 15 months in concrete vats. This wine is lush and full with notes of cocoa, black cherries, brambly earth, and dashes of citrus.