Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, Heatwave Edition

July 19, 2019

Tonight’s tasting is all light and summery, and tomorrow Granny Squibb is in the house with some cool cocktail creations made with Rhodium Gin & Vodka from local newcomers Rhode Island Spirits. Swing by, we’ll have the AC cranking.

Click here for newsletter and notes!

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

July 12, 2019

Shiba Wichern Auxerrois 2017, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Notes courtesy of Chris Wichern: “Our 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 (Shiba) 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…”

Auxerrois is widely planted in Alsace, where it is frequently blended with Pinot Blanc, although rarely named on labels. It’s slightly fuller, and lower acid than Pinot Blanc, and is also popular in Luxembourg, where it’s appreciated as a low acid white. This Willamette Auxerrois is leesy and yeasty, a little bit like the Shiba rosé we all know and love. It’s light and floral too, and is perfect on a table full of summery fare.

Domaine Romuald Petit, Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2018, Saint-Vérand, France

This 7-hectare estate is made up of small plots of different age & origin that are farmed without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. There are young vines planted by winemaker Romuald Petit, and others over a hundred years old. Each parcel produces grapes with very different qualities that are vinified separately & assembled just before bottling.

Old vines combined with heavy clay and fossil rich limestone soils add depth and mineral intensity to this un-oaked chardonnay. After vinification it’s left on its lees for 8 months, adding further textural nuances and preserving freshness and acidity.

Domaine Eugene Carrel Vin de Savoie Rosé 2018, Savoie, France

We tasted this wine when it first arrived back in April. We just got another stack so we’re tasting it again!

Domaine Eugene Carrel is located in Savoie, in eastern France, in the village of Jongieux. It’s situated on 59 acres of steep slopes on the Chavaz Mountain. This is where the French Alps begin, and it is a region famous for cheese, vermouth, and part of the Tour de France bike race.

Winemaker Olivier Carrel represents the third generation to run the estate. They grow all the traditional varieties here including Jacquere, Altesse, Gamay, Pinot, and Mondeuse on steep slopes they work by hand, sustainably, with the goal of fostering healthy, biodiverse vineyards. Domaine Carrel is poured in every restaurant and bistro in Savoie.

This wine is mostly Gamay with about 20% Mondeuse, which which adds juicy, peppery notes to this light & fruity sipper.

COS Nero di Lupo 2015, Sicily

COS winery was founded in 1980 by three friends, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano; the initials of their last names form the winery’s name. The winery itself dates back to the 1880s, when demand for Sicilian wine was high due to phylloxera not yet reaching the island. COS put the appellation of Cerasuolo di Vittorio on the map, and is most well known for Pithos Rosso, which is aged in amphora instead of oak. They have never used any chemicals at COS, and have been practicing biodynamic farming and winemaking since 2000, and have been certified organic since 2007.

Nero di Lupo is 100% Nero d’Avola sourced from estate vineyards of 15-20 year old vines, planted at 300 meters elevation. Spontaneous fermentation takes place in concrete tanks with indigenous yeast; the wine is further aged in concrete for approximately 1 year, and another few months in bottle before release. This is a softly fruity, balanced wine, with notes of cherry and smoke.

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

June 28, 2019

Peter Buckley from Vineyard Road pouring.

Domaine des Cognettes Clisson Muscadet 2013

The village of Clisson is a mini-appellation within Muscadet Sevre et Maine. The vines (in this case over 60 years old) grow on poor, hard, compact granite with little clay, and a lot of quartz and mica over hard granite.

Brothers Stephane and Vincent Perraud work organically on their small property, as well as patiently. This Muscadet (100% Melon de Bourgogne) is pressed in whole bunches, fermented with native yeasts and very low SO2, with fermentation and aging in underground vats for 44 months. May need decanting…

Domaine Pattes Loup, Burgundy

Notes from the importer: Domaine Pattes Loup is one of the most exciting estates to emerge from Chablis in recent years (Pattes Loup means “wolf’s paws”). Thomas Pico started his tiny estate in Courgis in 2005, just outside of Chablis, under the wing of his friends and fellow organic Chablisiens, Alice and Olivier de Moor. He inherited 2.4 hectares of vines from his family’s estate that had been producing correct, but uninspiring wines. Fortunately, most of his vines were planted by his grandfather in selection massale in the hillsides near Courgis and Preys, the two highest altitude villages within Chablis, with vineyards up to 300 meters. Motivated to take a qualitative leap in a new direction, and against the wishes of his father, he immediately began a program of strict yield control and a conversion to Organic Viticulture—a rarity in Chablis, and a feat of extreme diligence in this often inhospitable vine growing region.

Thomas Pico Blanc, Vin de France 2017

Pico Blanc is Chardonnay, Gros Manseng, and Clairette from organically farmed vineyards, fermented in stainless steel. It’s a touch creamy, with orchard fruits throughout, and fresh acidity on the finish.

Chablis Vent d’Ange 2017

Importer notes: From vines averaging 55 years old mostly selection massale plantings by Pico’s grandfather around the villages Courgis and Preys, south-west of central Chablis. Vineyards are approximately 300 meters high making these two of Chablis highest altitude villages. All vineyard work is done by hand. Yields are kept small at the domaine, approximately 28 hectoliters per hectare.

Pico uses a “champagne press” at the domaine to allow for a very slow and delicate press of the grapes. All juice moves downstairs to the vinification settling room by gravity through a drain at the bottle of the press. All wines are fermented using only indigenous yeasts and élevage is slow and long lasting up to 14 months. A combination of stainless steel and cement eggs are used for the Chablis Vent d’Ange. The juice is racked and blended and will be blended again before bottling. Each parcel is vinified separately and blended after one year of fermentation. Bottled without fining and filtration. It’s aged for 14 months on the lees in a combination of stainless steel, cement egg, and used barrique.

Elisabetta Foradori, Ampeleia Unlitro 2018, IGT Costa Toscana

Elisabetta took over the grape growing and winemaking duties at the family estate in Trentino, Italy, when her father died young in 1985. Since then she has transformed the estate from the ground up, converting to biodynamic viticulture and bringing the region back to valuing quality over quantity.

Ampeleia is a joint venture from Elisabetta and a few friends. Unlitro is a liter of glou-glou. It’s mostly Alicante (Grenache) and some Carignan and Alicante Bouschet from vineyard planted at 200-250 meters above sea level, then fermented and aged for 6 months in cement. Organic, very low SO2. Put a little chill on it, toss it back.

Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Rouge 2018

Importer notes: Romain Guiberteau is the third generation on the estate, and things have changed radically since he took over. Romain’s grandfather was a pillar in the community of Saumur before and after World War II, long serving as the head of the local growers’ coop. That coop long benefited from the grapes grown on Guiberteau’s land until Romain returned from college.

Today, Romain oversees the organic farm and does all the winemaking at the estate. His vines date back to the years just after World War II and include some of the prime sites in and around Saumur. Romain’s father Robert, a medical doctor, assisted in the transformation of the estate and you are likely to meet him at a tasting, explaining the history of the wines and the vines his mother and father planted.

Cabernet Franc from 3 parcels of over 60 year old vines grown on limestone. 100% de-stemmed, indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged for 6 months in tank.

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

June 14th, 2019

Plus Willie’s Superbrew pours tomorrow, 3-6PM

And other tastings in the shop, too…scroll to the bottom to see those.

Guilhem et Jean-Hugues Goisot, Saint-Bris “Exogyra Virgula” 2017, Burgundy

Goisot has been hit hard by frost and hail in recent vintages, and has been touch-and-go as far as availability goes (and the ability to continue producing wine). Their 2017 Aligoté vintage was 1/6 of normal. Guilhem Goisot represents the fourth generation to farm this family property (organically and biodynamically), along with his father Jean-Hughes. They are known for their risky late-harvests, made riskier by climate change and the myriad problems it brings with it. The vineyards of 15-50 year-old vines are planted on a ridge of limestone that stretches from Sancerre to Chablis and Champagne. 

This Saint Bris is from vines grown on Jurassic soil of kimmeridgien clay with fosilized oyster shells (Exogyra Virgula). Saint Bris is a small AOC within Burgundy, and the only place where Sauvignon Blanc is allowed. Apparently the grape found its way to the region after the phylloxera blight that wiped out Chardonnay. Saint Bris used to be considered part of Chablis, but geographical reassignments post-phylloxera left it to fend for itself. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, since by the 1970s the Sauvignon Blanc here was being recognized for its high quality.  

This wine is a delicious, savory, snappy Sauvignon Blanc that weaves garden-green notes with smoke, apple, walnuts, and a slightly oxidative bouquet. It’s a fun Sancerre alternative, and makes for a conversation-piece aperitif, and of course works very well with shellfish, like oysters.

Domaine les Capréoles, Gamay Rosé Cossinelle 2018, Beaujolais

In 2014, Cédric and Catherine Lecareux produced their first vintage on this old property of 3.5 hectares in Regnie-Durette. Two years later they added an additional 2ha of vines. Cédric is a trained agronomist and oenologist who spent 15 years working in the business before acquiring his own property. Everything here is done by hand, naturally, without chemicals, and very little SO2. They are currently working toward Demeter certification, and their wines are vegan-friendly. 

This rosé is fruity, youthful, and aromatic, punctuated by red fruit, and zesty acidity.

Chidaine Touraine Rouge 2017, Loire

Francois and Manuela Chidaine operate this second generation estate in Montlouis. The couple has been leaders in the natural wine movement, farming organically and biodynamically for decades. They have embraced no-till farming, known in the US as ”Carbon Farming”, (based on Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution) which involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted into plant material and soil organic matter. In addition to a range of blended and single-parcel Montlouis, they also produce a couple of wines from top vineyards in Vouvray, as well as several easy-drinking value wines from purchased grapes from nearby vineyards.

This red is a blend of Cot (Malbec), Cabernet Franc, and Pineau d’Aunis from organic and biodynamically farmed vineyards throughout Touraine. It’s fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral barrels. Only 350 cases were made of this soft and spicy red. It’s a beautiful deep purple, and has an intriguing nose that hints at violets, cherries, tobacco, and fresh green onions. On the palate there’s ripe dark fruit, black pepper, cassis, and herbs. The finish is pleasantly astringent, with light tannins. This new arrival to our Best Buys table is a versatile crowd-pleaser, with a price-tag to please a crowd as well.

Azimut Negre 2015, Penedes, Spain

Azimut is a project of the Suriol family, known for making estate-grown and bottled organic wine and vintage Cava in the Alt Penedes province of Barcelona, Catalunya. Azimut comes from grapes they purchase from their neighbors, all of whom also farm organically. 

The grapes for this wine come from one 5-hectare vineyard situated at 250 meters altitude, on a slight slope with southern exposure and morning and afternoon Mediterranean breezes. It’s a blend of 40% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), 20% Garnatxa, 20% Monastrell, 10% Syrah, and 10% Samsó (Carignan). It’s fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts, then goes into concrete tanks for 8-15 months for malolactic fermentation and battonage for 3 months. It’s unfined, filtered through soft-paper, and only lightly sulfured at bottling. 

This is a medium-bodied, dark-fruited, earthy, lightly herbal, BBQ-friendly red. Pairs well with a fire pit. 

Friday, June 21st, 5-8PM: Leigh Ranucci will pour a selection of wine from the Wine Traditions portfolio, including a Cret de Bine Beaujolais blanc that we tasted with the producer as a barrel sample a few months back. It’s delicious! 

Tuesday, June 25th, 4-6:30PM: Ian Augustine pours for the Daylover CSA pickup (see below for info). 

Wednesday, June 26th, 5-7PM: Ismael Gozalo of Microbio and Ariana Rolich will pour wines they make (Ismael) and import (Ariana). 

Friday, June 28th, 5-8PM: Peter Buckley will pour a selection of wines from the Vineyard Road portfolio. 

Pop in to one or all of these tastings, the cool stuff will be flowing! 

Tuesdays, 4-6:30PM, through October

Daylover is a food and wine project by Ian Augustine that is anchored by a curated, experimental CSA. Vegetables, flowers and herbs come from a garden that is located at Osamequin Farm in Seekonk, MA, which is host to an emergent cooperative farming project. Every Tuesday from 4-6:30PM, Ian will offer a tasting of a few wines alongside the CSA pickup. The wines will aim to compliment that week’s CSA share, but also the garden/market hauls of those not participating in the Daylover CSA. From time to time he may also have some extra flowers or vegetables for sale. Come taste! And follow on Instagram @day_lover

Don’t forget: Father’s Day is this Sunday; if you’re in the market for a drinkable gift, we’ve got something for every taste and price-point, from traditional, to nerdy, to fine and rare. We’re here and happy to help you find the perfect present!

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

May 31, 2019

Gramona “La Cuvee” Gran Reserva Brut Cava 2013, Penedes, Spain

The Gramona family winemaking history goes back to 1816 in Penedes; in 1921 the Gramona name began to appear on bottles of Cava. Today they are one of the few remaining family owned estates, most others have been purchased by large corporations over the last 50 or so years. Jaume Gramona is in charge of viticulture and winemaking. Grapes are sourced from 124 hectares of vineyards that are farmed biodynamically – 60 hectares that the Gramona family owns and 64 hectares of purchased fruit from growers that are practicing biodynamics under the Alianzas por la Terra, an organization created by Gramona to promote biodynamics in the Penedès.

Wines here receive long aging. Almost 90% of Cava in general is aged for just 9 months before release; at Gramona, wines are aged for a minimum of 30 months, and one, Enoteca, is aged for 12-15 years. This 2013 Gran Reserve was aged for 43 months before being disgorged. It’s 70% Xarello, 30% Macabeo bottled with 5 grams of sugar. It’s medium-bodied, lively, with notes of stone fruit, lemon peel, butter, and spices.  

Teutonic Foiled Cucumber and Candied Mushroom

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 notes: 

2018 Foiled Cucumber, White Wine, Pear Blossom Vineyard, Columbia Gorge

Foiled Cucumber is our gateway wine. Once you try it, you’ll need more of our wines. It’s crisp, light and refreshing and beautifully aromatic, with notes of honeydew melon. What is this white wine? It’s 100% Gewurztraminer! Why “Foiled Cucumber?” Watch Spinal Tap (again).

2018 Candied Mushroom, Willamette Valley

This wine is 100% Riesling from Crow Valley Vineyard. The fruit arrived toward the end of harvest with 100% botrytis (aka Noble Rot). We macerated it on its skins for four days before pressing it off. Then the wine was inoculated with a flor yeast. It’s medium dry in sweetness level and off-the-charts in flavor! We don’t know when we can make something like this again.

Sesti Rosato 2018, Tuscany, Italy

Giuseppe Maria “Giugi” Sesti is a Venetian who studied music, art, and astronomy, the last becoming his profession. He met his wife Sarah in North Wales, and in 1975 moved to Tuscany, where they bought the abandoned ruins of the hamlet and castle of Argiano. They slowly cleared the land and restored the buildings, had four children, and Giugi continued to write books on astronomy and act as vice-director of a local Baroque opera festival. At the same time he spent his spare time in local wine cellars and vineyards, absorbing knowledge wherever he went. In 1991 he planted his own vineyards. In 1999 Giugi and Sarah’s only daughter Elisa joined the estate full time, working in the vineyards and making wine. They work organically and biodynamically, and produce about 5,000 cases annually.

The Sesti Rosato is 100% Sangiovese from Brunello di Montalcino grapes, but picked earlier than grapes destined for Brunello. Think of this like a chillable light red, or a more serious, substantial rosé. It’s dry, a little grippy, with dusty earth aromas, and a bit of cherries and violets. Bright acidity makes it a perfect pair for salty cured meats, olives, and hard cheeses.  

Gaspard Cabernet Franc 2017, Loire Valley

Gaspard is a Jenny  & François house label. The grapes are sourced from a winemaker in the Loire Valley who makes the wines to their specifications. 

This is 100% Cabernet Franc from 25-60 year old vines planted on clay and limestone. Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The juice remains in contact with the skins for 5-6 weeks. Elevage takes place in cement tanks for a gentle introduction of oxygen to soften the wine. The wine is bottled lightly filtered with a small addition of sulfur. 

Beer Tasting Saturday, 3-6PM

We’ll pour Whalers Blockstar and Foolproof Mango Vango, along with another summer-friendly brew. 

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

All organic French wines with Vineyard Road.

April 26, 2019

Domaine de l’enclos Chablis, Burgundy 2017

Domaine de l’enclos is a 29 hectare property (partly certified organic, and in conversion) run by brothers Romain and Damien Bouchard. Romain and Damien grew up working in the cellar with their father, Pascal Bouchard. In 2005 they bought the tiny, defunct Domaine de la Grande Chaume, and started making certified, organic Chablis in a small corner of their father’s cellar. Roughly 10 years later Pascal sold his winery, passing along the proceeds of the sale to his two sons, who then had to find a new winery and equipment. Two years later they purchased this property. The average vine age is 30 years old, with some over 50 years old. 

The estate is located in the heart of Chablis and was once the home of monks from the Abby of Pontigny. There’s a large building built in the 1800s, and a new cellar, partly underground, built in 2016. 2016 was in fact the first vintage vinified here, in the new gravity fed cellar, released in 2018. The property employs 12 people year-round, which doubles at harvest. All fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast, with finishing is in stainless and french oak of varying age. There’s minimal sulfur additions at pressing and bottling.

This Chablis is from Chardonnay vines planted between 1975 and 2005 on soils of clay and limestone. It’s citrus and mineral driven, with beautiful texture and floral notes throughout.  

Les Terres Blanches BB Rosé 2018

This is a small property in Anjou run by husband and wife Benoit and Celine Blet. The couple took over the farm from Bernard Coutel in 2004, became certified organic in 2010, and now work biodynamically / naturally. The domaine is 8.5 hectares of densely planted vines on quartz and clay. This rosé is all Gamay, grown on sandstone, fermented with wild yeast, and a miniscule touch of sulfur at bottling only. This wine, while technically “natural” is not funky. It’s clean, dry, stony, delicate (elegant even, despite the picnic table label), mineral-driven, and refreshing. When it’s allowed to warm up just a bit, the texture fleshes out and softer, riper fruit emerges. It’s a pretty wine. 

Domaine D’Ouréa, Tire Bouchon, Rhone 2015

In 2010, after apprenticing at Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy, and Turley Wine Cellars in California (not too shabby of a resumé there!), Adrien Roustan, then 24, took over 9 hectares from his father who grew and sold grapes to the local co-op. The property is now 15 hectares of Vacqueyras and high-elevation Gigondas plots (at 400 meters to 520 meters, they are the highest elevation vines in the appellation, and the yields are tiny). Farming is certified organic.  

The Tire Bouchon is a unique blend of mostly Grenache, with a balance of Carignan, Syrah, and two ancient, unauthorized varieties, Aramon Noir and Oeillade Noire, planted by Adrien’s grandfather. The vines are all within Vaucluse, but  the inclusion of Aramon and Oeillade mean that the wine can’t use the appellation designation and must be labeled Vin de France. All the fruit is de-stemmed and fermented with indigenous yeast in cement vats, and then aged for 6 more months in cement. It’s bottled unfiltered. It’s a lively, perfumed, and youthful red, loaded with fresh fruit and hillside herbs. It’s a steal at under 15 bucks. 

Domaine Heitz-Lochardet Connivence (Armand Heitz + Alex Foillard), Coteaux Bourguignons 2017

Domaine Heitz-Lochardet was established in 1857 by the Nie-Vantey family, owners of many vineyards from Santenay to Clos de Vougeot. After the phylloxera epidemic many of the vineyards were sold, but Georges Lochardet, a wine merchant, kept some of the best Cote de Beaune vineyards in the family. The estate was around 20ha when he passed away, and left half of the vineyards to his son Armand Lochardet, who went on to have three children – Bernard, Catherine and Brigitte – amongst whom the vineyards were further divided. In 1983 Brigitte married Christian Heitz, and together they founded Heitz-Lochardet, which they farmed organically, in Chassagne-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, Meursault, Pommard and Volnay. Additionally there is a small amount of Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc. For roughly 25 years, the vineyards were fully contracted to Joseph Drouhin.

In 2011, Brigitte and Christian’s son Armand returned after studying oenology, took over operation of the domaine, and began converting the property to fully biodynamic practices. He was guided by consulting oenologist Ludovic Pierrot, who had himself spent eight years at Domaine Leflaive working alongside Anne-Claude Leflaive, a pioneer in biodynamic farming in Burgundy. 2013 was their first vintage. All of the wines are fermented whole cluster, as Armand believes that a wine’s essence is “derived from the totality of the vine. Each component of the vine, from roots to leaves to stems, skins and pulp, plays an important role in a living wine.”

Each year Armand makes a wine with a good friend, as a joint-venture. 2017 it was Connivence, a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, that Armand made with Alex Foillard, son of Jean, of Beaujolais fame. This is a lovely, fresh & light red, full of charm and vibrant fruit.  

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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