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

Muscadet, Seafoam, Champagne, Beaujolais…

May 17, 2019

Jean Pascal Aubron “Cuvée Elegance Muscadet 2016

Since 1843, Jean Pascal Aubron’s family has been tending their vineyards around the town of Vallet, outside of Nantes, near the Atlantic Coast. They own 11 hectares (about 27.19 acres) of the acclaimed Grand Fief de l’Audigère, a lieux-dit which sits on gabbro (volcanic rock) deposits, allowing the full expression of the Melon de Bourgogne grape while maintaining its legendary acidity. This results in a beautiful, rich, leesy, stony, salty Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine sur Lie.

Seafoam White Wine 2017, Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Teutonic focuses on single vineyard, single varietal wines that are dry farmed and made in a precise, Germanic style.

The Teutonic MO is old vines, cold climate, high elevation, dry farmed, old wood and wild yeast. Or, as proprietors Olga and Barnaby Tuttle put it: old and cold, high and dry, wood and wild. They are inspired by the wines of Mosel, Germany, where they also happen to make wine, and they import wine from the region as well. The combination of old vines and dry farming means that vines go super deep into the earth in search of nutrients, and therefore absorb layers of terroir-driven flavors. Teutonic is a member of the DRC (Deep Roots Coalition), a group that promotes “sustainable and terroir-driven viticulture without irrigation”. 

Producer note: This is our attempt to Muscadet from Pinot Noir! This vintage our Seafoam is a bit darker, looks like a vin gris. It’s a dry, crisp wine that begs for oysters and other seafood dishes. The vineyard we used this year is Pear Blossom Vineyard located in the Columbia Gorge.

Champagne Yves Ruffin Extra Brut NV

Notes from the importer: Champagne Yves Ruffin is a tiny producer located to the northeast of Epernay, in a small town called Avenay Val d’Or, part of the Marne Valley. Their tiny holdings (2.72 hectares, or 6.72 acres) are planted 40% to Pinot Noir and 60% to Chardonnay. The densely-planted vines (7500 vines/hectare, or 1.1m x 1.1m plantings) have been certified Organic since 1971, one of the oldest domaines to do so.  In addition, all their holdings are rated Premier Cru.  Everything is done by hand, from the harvesting to the winemaking.  Grapes are pressed using a traditional vertical Coquard press, and fermentation takes place in old acacia and oak barrels.  At bottling, the wine is unfined and slightly filtered.

The house is currently run by Sylvie Ruffin, widow to Thierry, who passed in 2008.  With the help of friends and family, she has kept traditions alive and maintained the quality of the domaine’s wines.

Extra-Brut is 20% Pinot Noir and 80% Chardonnay, has a slight dosage of 2 grams, and is a blend of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages.  Light yet crisp and with a beautiful mouthfeel, it’s a gorgeous bottle of bubbly.

Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre ‘Prémices’ Beaujolais 2018

Rémi and his wife Laurence began purchasing vines around Brouilly and Cote de Brouilly in the early/mid 2000s. By 2006 they were farming organically and harvesting their first vintage. They began by selling the grapes to the local co-op, while waiting for the indigenous yeast population to be healthy and active enough to make their own wine. The first vintage under the Dufaitre name was 2010. Jean Foillard, of the original Beaujolais Gang of Four, tasted Rémi’s wines and immediately recognized his winemaking talent. He took him under his wing and introduced him to movers and shakers in the Parisian natural wine scene, where the wines gained a cult following, and are now staples on hip restaurant lists. 

From the importers website: Rémi makes wines in a classic carbonic style, using whole bunches, which are carefully sorted to avoid broken grapes or rot. He adds some carbon dioxide gas to protect the grapes at the beginning of fermentation, and does not use any temperature control. He avoids foot stomping the grapes unless he sees some volatility starting to creep in. His goal is to have as little juice in the tank as possible. He also performs routine analysis to see how the yeast is performing and whether or not there is any volatility. Remi makes all his wines with the same method, thus we can really see and taste the differences between the sites, with minor differences in the elevage of each cuvée. He tastes each cuvée before bottling, and may decide to add between zero and 2 mg of sulfur, depending on how stabile he judges the wine to be.

The Prémices is a parcel of Beaujolais-Villages vines and the grapes are fermented and aged in concrete tanks, with a very short maceration. This is an easy drinking light style of wine. The flower bud on the label represents that this wine is the first flowery taste of the new vintage. It’s easy drinking and lighter than the Brouilly and Cotes de Brouilly, but it is anything but a simple wine. The lightness and elegance of this wine is balanced with a healthy dose of minerality and complexity that make this one for serious gamay drinkers.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

April 19, 2019

-please note: we will be closed this Sunday, April 21st.

Kat Cummings from Wine Wizards will pour Frenchtown Farms.

Frenchtown Farms, Sierra Foothills, CA (mostly)

From the producer’s website

We are Aaron and Cara Mockrish.  We live, farm, and grow wines in Oregon House, California, nestled in the North Yuba AVA of the Sierra Foothills.

Both originally from the east coast, various life turns found us farming vegetables, sheep, and other things in Northern California where we were lucky enough to meet Gideon and Saron ofClos Saron.  We fell in love with winegrowing and they took us under their wing, helping us produce our first small vintage in 2015 and teaching us how to work in the vineyard and stomp grapes.  Shortly after, we were able to secure access to a large portion of the Renaissance Vineyards, where we have been growing wine since 2016.

Our farming is influenced in part by Joel Salatin, Rudolf Steiner, and Masanobu Fukuoka, but mostly by our own observations and hard lessons throughout each season.  We currently live and make our wines adjacent to the vineyards and are able to walk to work, where we are helped by our dogs, sheep, chickens, and cats.  


And more from Aaron, as supplied in an email to Olmstead Wine in MA–lightly edited for length. We are very grateful for these beautifully written notes, and for those labels. Wow! 

The vineyards: I could talk for about an hour answering these questions fully. For the most part we listened to Gideon about which blocks to farm. Apart from his memories, we are also able to taste vertical Renaissance wines from any block on the property between 1994-2006 at basically no cost to us. This is helpful. When and where we did ignore Gideon’s advice, we usually regretted it and abandoned it since then. 

We farm Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, and a small block of Grenache. There is also Semillon in our lease but we let Dani Rozman farm it along with some other blocks for his project “la onda”. The parcels are very different from each other and sometimes even from themselves. 

Exposure to the sun (north south east west etc) is the most important factor in our area due to the power of the sun and the heat-storing properties of the granite slopes. The ground is mostly granite which collects heat all day. Eastern facing slopes are 20 degrees cooler at night than western facing slopes. East = elegance, west= power, tannins, roughness. This is a general rule…again I could talk forever about this ….

Winemaking: Initially we made wines in exact Clos Saron style, however within the realm of Clos Saron there are more and less extracted wines. We never attempted to make a “stone soup” style Syrah although it’s a favorite of mine. We communicated with him early on in the process (2015) that we wanted to produce a slightly lighter, fresher, less extracted wine and he helped us to accomplish that. We typically macerate a day or two less than Clos Saron in any given situation. He (Gideon) will often say that the only real decisions in “our style” are 1) when to pick 2) when to press 3) when to bottle. Frenchtown tends to do all of these things sooner than Clos Saron. 

We follow the perfectly underripe strawberry rule rather than the avocado rule. We are just as stringent in our standards, but aim for perfectly underripe as opposed to perfectly ripe. We don’t like big wines. 

Our cellar work and timing is almost identical to Clos Saron…one big difference is that we use a basket press rather than a bladder press. There are pros and cons to both. We very intentionally use a basket press. My main reason is that it can be cleaned thoroughly and easily with water. Period. Punch downs twice a day. Gentle as possible. More like mush-downs. 

Cecilia Rosé 2017

It’s Cara’s middle name. She is a Gemini which is the constellation in the sky on the label. Every label has an animal, color, geometric shape, constellation and these all relate to our concept of the cuvée. Cecelia is about the duality of the bee and star thistle in our area. An invasive and obnoxious poison-tipped weed which is also the only food the bees have during the hot season when all the other vegetation dries up. 

The Syrah and SB are picked within a day of each other. The SB is stomped, the Syrah stomped and pressed into the SB. They coferment on the SB skins and stems for about half the time that “tickled pink” receives.  With all our whites (in the white and in the rosé) we do not macerate…they are on the skins and stems only until we see the first signs of fermentation. Then it is immediately pressed. This creates a “skin soak”. The difference between this and a normal skin contact wine or orange wine is that there is only extraction in the presence of water (juice) but no extraction in the presence of ethanol. You extract very different compounds with water than with a solvent like ethanol (juice becoming wine).

Because the SB (for both the Pearl Thief and Cecelia) is the first fruit we pick and the winery space is not yet buzzing with yeast, it can often take as long as 5-7 days before fermentation begins so it is a long soak. By the second week of harvest there is so much yeast activity in the winery that most fruit will begin to ferment within 36 hours of stomping. 

As with everything else, it goes into neutral French oak on its gross lees until it’s “when to bottle”, typically 6-8 months for Cecelia. 
In ‘17 we added 22ppm SO2 at bottling

This cellar approach was something we came up with because we wanted to make a rosé with structure and age-ability but not so tannic that we had to wait a year to release it. Partly stylistic and partly economic decision. 

Cotillion Carignan/Zinfandel 2016

The Cotillion was the first wine we ever made in ’15. It was our “payment” in return for working at Clos Saron for a full year. Gideon made it with us by our side in his cellar. It is made exactly as Gideon would make it. We use this cuvée to experiment with new vineyards, varietals, and winemaking approaches. It’s a place for us to learn. The Cotillion changes pretty drastically from year to year. 

The original meaning of the word was a four person formal French dance that was a pre-cursor to the American Square dance. A formalized way for boys and girls to interact. In America a Cotillion is a coming of age ceremony for high society girls around 10 years old where they wear frilly dresses and demonstrate their good table manners. It’s a weird east coast rich person thing. (Cara is from CT and I grew up in NYC).

The Cotillion is always cofermented. We helped Gideon make Pleasant Peasant and Blue Cheer, both of which have Carignan from Jessie’s grove from 2014 onwards. Whenever I went down with him to get the fruit I always noticed that there was a block of Zinfandel right next to the the Carignan and I always wanted to make a coferment of the two. 

3.5 to 4 days maceration as opposed to 4.5-6 for something like the pleasant peasant. Jessie’s grove is cool in the sense that the vines are super old and full of character but that’s about where the awesomeness ends in my opinion. The farming is not philosophically in line with ours and the soil is tortured for lack of a better word. I think it makes great wine but we no longer work with the fruit. 

Waypoint Pinot Noir 2016, Carlton Hill Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon

We interned at Big Table Farm In 2015 and have friends up in Oregon for many years. It was influential on us. We met David (Polite, of Carlton Hill Vineyard) through our friend of many years Jay McDonald who runs EIEIO winery up there. He and David moved out there together 30 years ago.

We made this crazy wine in order to understand our winemaking better. What would happen if we picked Oregon Pinot at 22.5 brix with our method and then applied the Gideon style to it. Base soils vs acid. Limestone vs granite etc. David allows us an unprecedented amount of control in our picking and his farming is excellent. The fruit is pristine. 

We macerate longer simply because we can. With foothills fruit and specifically renaissance fruit, over extraction is a real danger for us. The wines would be great but they would take too long to be drinkable and we would go bankrupt in the process. Kind of like what happened to Renaissance. 

Therefore with most of our wines our decision to press is based upon tannin development rather than the wine going dry and needing to protect it. 
In the case of the Pinot from Oregon we are not afraid of any level of tannin, only that the tannins are harmonious. We press when the wine is close to dry and barrel it down so that we do t have oxidation issues. 

19 Harts Syrah 2016

The ‘15 and ‘16 19 Harts are worlds apart. In ‘15 we got access to Renaissance at the 11th hour and the fruit was much riper than we would have liked. We had to “make” the wine. In ‘16 we took over the farming and we grew the wine. The ‘16 is much leaner, more angular and I much prefer it. LOL. I wish we could wait a few years to release it.  Four day maceration. Roussanne cofermented. 

Pearl Thief 2017

In ‘16 we used Viognier from Lodi (bockish) because we had to. The Renaissance vineyards were in a terrible state and we had to make drastic decisions for the future health of the vines that greatly limited yield. 
In ‘17 the vines responded to our efforts and we grew the whole cuvée at Renaissance ourselves. We used Roussanne instead of Viognier simply because that’s what is growing there. The Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne ripen almost 6 weeks apart so a typical cofermentation is not possible but the SB and Roussanne go into barrel together in the final proportions so they finishing fermenting and spend their lives in barrel together. 

In ‘18 we followed the same process as as ‘17 with very similar results…soon to be bottled. 

Our general thoughts on cofermenting and especially blending varietals together that are non-traditional have nothing to do with stylistic winemaking ideas or intentional choices (ie percentage of Sauvignon Blanc vs Roussanne). They are practical results of our farming and a desire to express a particular slopes terroir. The SB and Roussanne grow on the same slope and they happened to create a 60/40 percentage in ‘17 based upon how many boxes of each we were able to pick. 

I can say that we feel our “winemaking decisions” happen mostly in the vineyard from January to May. It is human nature to want to “make the wines” or put “your signature” on them with cellar work. We try and resist that. Of course it’s tempting to deviate from what Gideon taught us and find our own style, so to speak, but so far we are content to throw ourselves into the farming and make our own decisions about when to pick, press and bottle. As time has gone by the wines are tasting more and more like Frenchtown wines, whatever that means. 

Sorry for typos. Been writing this intermittently on my phone while tying the Syrah on slope 19.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

March 22, 2019

Pearl Morissette Chardonnay “Cuvée Dix Neuvième” 2013, Ontario, Canada

This Chardonnay is from the 19th Street Vineyard, planted in 1999, in Ontario’s Twenty Mile Bench appellation. The vines are planted on loam over limestone and the wine was was fermented and raised with very low SO2 in a combination of cement egg, demi-muid, and new-barrique. 

Here’s an excerpt from an Eric Asimov piece on the producer last year in the NYT: 

Mr. Morissette, whose wines are both idiosyncratic and remarkable, never imagined he would be making wine on the Niagara Peninsula. He grew up south of Montreal, “in one of the worst places in the world, a suburb,” he said. His family did not drink wine, but he was inspired by novels and old French movies in which joyful, witty scenes set around meals always seemed to include wine.

After traveling around Europe and spending several years in New York, he returned to Montreal, where he learned to be a sommelier at Laloux, a longtime bistro with an excellent wine list. There he was introduced to the Beaujolais of Marcel Lapierre, the Sancerres of Vatan and Cotat, the Cornas of Clape and the Hermitage of Chave.

“I call these wines my liquid mentors,” he said.

Tired of restaurants, he found work in Burgundy with Frédéric Mugnier at Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, known best for its ethereal Chambolle-Musignys, just as Mr. Mugnier was taking charge full time. He also worked with Christian Gouges of Domaine Henri Gouges, which makes austere, long-lived Nuits-St.-Georges.

Read the whole article here.

Charles Joguet Chinon Rosé 2018, Loire, France

Charles Joguet left his life as an artist and sculptor to take over his family’s domain in 1957. Until then, all the grapes were sold to negociants; Charles ended this practice, and dedicated himself to producing single vineyard bottlings from what he knew would be considered premier cru and grand cru vineyards in other regions. He made a name for himself and became one of the most highly regarded producers in the region. 

Today Kevin Fontaine is the producer, closely following Charles’ path and philosophies. He still vinifies plots separately, and farming is organic. This rosé is 100% Cabernet Franc from roughly 30 year-old vines planted on sandy soil. It’s fermented in stainless steel and does not undergo malolactic fermentation, in order to retain the freshness of the fruit. It just came in, and we haven’t even tasted it yet, so we’ll open it up together and see what it’s got! 

Château La Hase Bordeaux 2016

Owned by Jean-Yves Millaire, this is a one hectare property planted to mostly Merlot (60%), then the rest Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon. Farming is organic, and weeding is by horse and plow. All the grapes are hand-harvested, and this wine is fermented and aged in French oak for 10 months. 

This is a satisfying and inexpensive everyday Bordeaux. It’s medium-bodied, a touch earthy and smoky, dark-fruit and iron flecked, and a little bit of tannins on the finish. 

Heinrich RED 2015, Neusiedlersee, Austria

Gernot and Heike Heinrich founded their winery in 1990 with just one hectare, steadily growing to the 90 they have today. They farm biodynamically, and were certified (via Respekt) in 2006.

All the wines here are fermented spontaneously and often left on the skins for several weeks, followed by extended time on the lees, usually in neutral oak casks. Gernot says, “we give the wines plenty of time to mature, the time that hardly anyone has today; it is above all else time that shapes our wines.”

RED is their entry level wine and is a soft, fruity blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St. Laurent that’s aged for 12 months in 500 litre oak casks. It pairs nicely with roast chicken, eggs and veggies with paprika, earthy mushrooms….

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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