Margaine is based in Villers-Marmery, unique not only for being an island of Chardonnay in an otherwise Pinot Noir-dominated region, but for having a clone of Chardonnay that is unique to Champagne. Arnaud Margaine is the fourth generation of his family to work this estate, which has been a member of the Special Club since 1977. Margaine is a quiet grower workhorse, quietly tinkering with his wines to improve them each year. He has begun relying less and less on malolactic fermentation to preserve the freshness of its fruit.
He is well-known for making one of the best Demi-Sec Champagnes, He adds 30 g/l at dosage, which gives as much richness as it does sweetness to the wine’s middle. This will please someone looking for residual sugar, but it’s not cloying, and should not scare off dry drinkers all that much. Citrus and tropical fruit with a cinnamon roll or honey butter.
Very excited to have this rare sparkling Aligote from Burgundy. Aligote is a grape known for two things - stumping sommeliers when asked "what other white grapes can you legally grown in Burgundy besides Chardonnay?" and, much more importantly, making the still white wine that traditionally wen into a Kir.]
AMI is a project that was started by the two friends Paul Perarnau and Willy Roulendes. They initially became friends while working together at Clos du Moulin aux Moines in Auxey-Durresses in Côte-d’Or, but after a couple of years their paths split when Paul decided to move to Provence to work at Domaine Hauvette, while Willy wanted to stay Clos du Moulin aux Moines, where he is today the head winemaker. However, they soon found out that something important was missing in their lives and therefore they decided to join ventures in order to be able to work together again and to keep their friendship alive. And thus AMI was born and their first vintage was released in 2014.
The two friends own about 2,5 hectares of vineyards in the Maranges Valley in the southern end of Côte de Beaune and purchase about the same amount of grapes as they produce themselves from friends from Chablis, Côte-d’Or and Beaujolais. All of their vineyards are either organic or in the process of being certified just as well as all of the négoce grapes are organically or biodynamically certified. The wines from AMI are 100% natural with no filtration and either no or very little added sulfites.
Willy is the AMI vigneron, with a long experience in winemaking and in-depth knowledge of the Côtes de Beaune terroir. Paul, on the other hand, is trained as a sommelier in Paris and London, and an extraordinary blind taster. Being a city dweller, he continues to live part time in Paris with his wife and kids, and part time in Bourgogne, where he fullfils himself as a natural winemaker.
For every vintage the two passionate and talented friends release, they keep pushing the boundaries of what’s understood as authentic Bourgogne in a more natural direction.
Arnaud Lambert is a biodynamic and organic winemaker in the Loire River Valley which oversees numerous terroir ideally suited to Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Most notably, he is entrusted with the historic vineyards of Château de Brézé, an estate whose pedigree of exceptional Chenin Blanc dates back to the 1600s.While soft-spoken and humble, Arnaud Lambert is helping to drive a revolutionary movement in the appellations of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny. This is particularly important considering 70% of the surface area in Brézé and Saint Cyr belongs to the cooperatives, where branding and blending prevail, and mass-produced crémants dominate. Brézé is a unique site due to its relatively high elevation and eminently nuanced geological profile. The significant presence of tuffeau, (a porous, chalky limestone also used in the construction of much of the Loire’s Renaissance architecture) results in finely mineral Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Clay and sand also lend themselves to the diversity of the terroirs, giving body to the reds and richness to the whites.
Domaine Arnaud Lambert, a relatively new name, was established through the merger of two labels in 2017: Domaine de Saint-Just, his family Domaine within the Saumur-Champigny appellation, started by his father Yves Lambert in 1996, and Château de Brézé, a historic Saumur estate whose enviable collection of vineyards for which the Lamberts signed a twenty-five year contract starting with the 2009 vintage.
Golden yellow in color, light in body with aromas of fresh citrus, honey and minerality. Crisp acidity, dry and elegant. Lively persistent bubbles.
In the heart of Petit Montagne de Reims, twin brothers Pierre and Philippe Aubry have shouldered a legacy dating from 1790, with 16.5 hectares from 60 individual locations. Today, Pierre holds a national diploma in enology and Philippe in biology; they run this small company in a highly innovative way. The yield is low and only “coeur de cuvée” is used for the vintage wines. The grapes are divided into five classes according to their quality, and a considerable amount is vinified in old, traditional 205-liter oak barrels. The most remarkable thing about Aubry is that, through almost archaeological search for old plant varieties, they have succeeded in making a brilliant Champagne out of three forgotten grape types: Pinot Gris, Arbanne, and Petit Meslier. Furthermore many grapevines are planted “en foule,” as they were before phylloxera.
Avinyó Cava is a premier, hand-made, artisanal sparkling wine house, which stands in stark contrast to the status quo of the industrial Cava machine. It begins with their location in the Catalan countryside in the remote village of Avinyonet del Penedès, where the Esteve family traces their history to 1597 with the building of their Masia (Catalan farmhouse) named “Can Fontanals”, the traditional family home. Faced with starting over after phylloxera ravaged their lands, Joan Esteve Marcè (grandfather of the current generation and founder of the modern winery) saw opportunity in their hardship and developed a plan to rebuild and focus their farming around the production of quality grapes for wine production. In 1889 he traveled to France in search of the new phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, from which he replanted the entire estate.
Avinyó Petillant is a vi d’agulla, the Catalan term for a prickly wine bottled with a little natural effervescence retained from the winemaking process. This vibrant and refreshing wine is the traditional summertime quaffer of the Penedès region of Catalonia. The 2020 wines are aromatic with balanced acidity, fine fruit, and very charming in their ease of drinkability. There is less of the 2020 vintage, so drink up!
Owned by the Suriol family, Cellers de Can Suriol del Castell is known for making wines and vintage Cava with personality in the organic winemaking tradition. They make wines under the Suriol brand which are all estate bottled fruit and then they make the Azimut line from purchased grapes from their neighbors, all of whom work organically. The Can Suriol vineyards and winery are situated in Alt Penedes, Province of Barcelona, Catalunya. This region is justifiably famous for producing fine wines and cava. The cultivation of the Can Suriol vineyards is done by 100% organic methods as certified by the CCPAE (until 2007 NOP certification)
Pale yellow, with fine persistent bubbles. Complex and intense aroma of mature white fruit, soft and elegant palate. Simply perfect for all kind of light meals, toasts, and celebrations.
This is the non-rosé version of the Cuvee Perpetuelle - the blend is also slightly different - it's done solera-style (hence 'cuvee perpetuelle') where the blend keeps getting topped up with new vintages and the are older and older wines mixed in over time. For now, it's a very fruit-driven style more than a yeasty beast. It goes through malolactic to give it its creamy texture, and despite being with a fancy nerd importer this is very much a crowd-pleaser style.
"As récoltant manipulant (RM), the only grapes we use to make our wines come from our vineyard, about fifty plots spread over four villages of La Montagne de Reims :
The orientation of the hills varies from south-east to north-east, creating many micro-terroirs where each grape variety has a specific place:
The 10,5 hectares of the vineyard are today planted with 3,80 hectares of Pinot noir, 3,30 hectares of Pinot Meunier, 3,20 hectares of Chardonnay and 0,20 hectares of Petit Meslier (first parcel planted in 2016)."
Very excited to get this producer. One of the top natty Champagne Houses, certified biodyanmic. Lively fruit, the Meunier weight really shines here. Jérôme Bourgeois-Diaz is a 4th generation vigneron who has been making some of the most compelling Champagne in Crouttes-sur-Marne, on the banks of the Marne River halfway between Paris and Reims.Though he has deep family roots in the area, he was not always working in the vines, having had a previous career in industrial sales before taking over from his father in 2001.
He farms 7ha of vines that average 35 years of age (3ha Pinot Meunier, 2ha Pinot Noir, and 2ha Chardonnay) in the clay and limestone soils the region is known for. Jérôme is deeply committed to biodynamic farming, having gained certification by Demeter in 2015, meaning herbicides, fungicides, and all other sprayings are strictly prohibited. He allows for native, wild plants to intersperse the rows, which make his vineyards look like an oasis of green in an otherwise conventionally farmed area. Care is taken during the harvest to adhere to Pierre Masson’s lunar calendar and all vineyard work is done by hand.
“3C” is cuvée that is made to reflect all terroirs and grapes at the domaine. A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, it has a perfect balance of fruit and minerality. 3g/L dosage.
This small negociant was founded in the village of Ludes in 1847. They own a multitude of small parcels in the Montagne de Reims and the Vallee de la Marne, including their home village of Ludes, Ormes, Mareuil Le Port and Trepail, and a small parcel in the Grand Cru Mailly. The house has been lifted to prominence by brothers Raphael and Vincent Bérêche, who learned a lot from their father, but also became relentlessly curious about the grower revolution that was happening around them. They are moving towards full biodynamics in their 9 hectares of vineyards, and have worked uncertified organic since 2003. They are meticulous in the vineyard and the cuverie, where they play with oak casks. The estate in planted to equal parts of all three major Champagne grapes.
The Brut Reserve follows that formula of one-third each. It is blended from a multitude of sources, and is composed of 70% of the base vintage of a given year. Dosage is a low 7 g/l. The wine is remarkably balanced, with each component in its place. It has great stoniness and minerality, but also generous fruit and depth. This is one of the best values we have in house right now.
Benoit Doussot, a Meursault-trained winemaker who has worked at Vouette for several years alongside Bertrand and Hélène, has opened up shop next door to Vouette with his own micro-negociant estate called Clandestin. The estate focuses on small, out-of-the-way parcels and expositions (clandestin means “hidden” or “secret”) that many traditional winemakers eschew. The parcels, Pinot Noir on Kimmeridean limestone and Chardonnay on Portlandian limestone, are farmed organically and the fruit is harvested by hand. Because of the insistence on harvesting perfectly ripe grapes (which is not generally the case in Champagne), the wines can be bottled with no dosage, giving room for the oceanic terroir to really shine through.
Coming from west-facing vineyards of Pinot Noir in the commune of Buxières-sur-Acre, Les Semblables is the first release for Champagne Les Clandestins. These sites are far cooler than most vineyards farmed in the village making for precise and intensely mineral wines lashed with bright, crunchy berry flavors. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels before aging sur latte for 15 months, Les Semblables is disgorged and finished without any dosage.
If it weren’t for an unfortunately timed decision by Marguet founder, Émile Marguet, in the late 1800’s Champagne Marguet might be more of a house name amongst wine lovers today. The family history in Champagne dates back to the 1850’s and at their peak they owned 90 hectares of vines. In 1883 Émile made the decision to graft all of his vines onto American rootstocks in the face of the impending invasion of phylloxera, he was one of the first to do so. Unfortunately because he was so far ahead of the curve he was widely ridiculed and even condemned by his peers for making this decision to the point that he was eventually forced to pull all the vines back out and replant. The cost of replanting everything twice in such a short time bankrupt the whole operation and Émile sold off his wonderful collection of vineyards to Champagne Henriot shortly after. Phylloxera didn’t reach Champagne til 1890, just a little too late to vindicate Émile’s decisions.
The current iteration of Marguet begins with Benoît’s parents who in the early 70’s created the Marguet-Bonnerave estate and then later his father started a négociant label called, Charles Marguet, which was later renamed Marguet Père et Fils. Benoît began making the wines under both labels in 1999 and by 2005 he took control of the Marguet Père et Fils label entirely.
Benoît farms a total of 10 hectares of vines, 8.5 of which are owned by him and his parents the remaining 1.5 hectares are leased plots from his other family members. The majority of the plots are located in Ambonnay, two hectares are in Bouzy. Marguet is fortunate to have some older vine material, average vine age is about 42 years old.
The Ambonnay bottling comes exclusively from all vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay. Part of Benoît’s Cru Selections series that are meant to show the overall characteristics of individual villages as opposed to single vineyards. The Crus Selections are always vintage dated cuvées and the first vintage produced of this series was in 2010.
Oudiette x Filles is the realization of a dream of third-generation vigneronne Margot Laurent with the support of her sister Charlotte and their mother, Florence. In the middle of the 20th century, Margo's grandmother Arlette, then a young widow, turned out to be a strong and ambitious woman who managed the family vineyards alone for twenty-five years. She sold her grapes to Vranken Pommery, as did Margot's mother after her. To honor Arlette's memory, the family decided to produce theirown wine in 2017.
First, Margot had to find a way to vinify her wine because Oudiette x Filles started as growers with only vines and no winery. Margot knocked on several doors before finding the Coopérative Vinicole la Grappe d’Or in Vert-Toulon, which gave the young winemaker the opportunity to vinify her wine separately while benefiting from the latest tools, including a state of the art Coquard basket press.
After 36 months of bottle aging, cuvée Uni Terre 2017, the inaugural vintage of Oudiette x Filles, was released in June 2021. One woman, one vineyard, one grape, one cuvée to honor the legacy of her grandmother and mother. The cuvée is made from two over-35-year-old chardonnay plots in her village of Beaunay. Manually harvested on September 4, 2017, grapes were taken to a state-of-the-art press house located just five minutes from her vineyards, where they are pressed in a Coquard press with an inclined plate (the latest generation of Coquard). Only the heart, or the coeur de cuvée, of the first pressing is utilized. Primary fermentation occurs in used (5-7 years) 228L oak barrels, without fining, filtration, or cold stabilization. Malolactic fermentation is natural and spontaneous. Wines are naturally stabilized and aged for ten months in oak barrels and aged a minimum of 36 months in bottle.
Alexandre Chartogne-Taillet is a rapidly rising young star in Champagne. Some say the only thing that has slowed his rise is that his family’s land is in Merfy, a very Northerly village in the Montagne de Reims that was virtually unknown. Alexandre would certain debate that, as he is becoming well-known for his single vineyard, single variety bottlings. He took over the family estate in 2006 after spending several years at the side of Anselme Selosse, whom Alexandre refers to as his “Wine Father.”
In the vineyard and winery both, he is relentlessly curious and uninterested in dogma or fashion. He works organically,and only with native yeast, but only because that is what he believes in, not because of the trend of the moment. He is also moving towards more use of oak for fermentation and aging, liking the notes that subtle oxidative winemaking brings to his bubbly. The wines go through malolactic fermentation, which tames some of the acidity of his very cool vineyards sites.
Cuvee St.-Anne is a beautiful wine, blended across several vintages and multiple parcels. I am excited to show wines that have the beauty of Selosse without the staggering price tags. The wine is remarkably balanced in its structural components, with fresh acidity and rich flavors of apple, pear, lemon pastry and brioche
First off – pronunciation: Ep-ur-un-ee-air.
The Tijou family have been involved in wine production in this region for several generations, owning both this property and the larger Chateau Soucherie, which the family sold several years ago. Mathieu and Charlotte Tijou began working here in 2007. They make three wines – a single-vineyard Savennieres, a Rose d’Anjou, and this Cremant de Loire.
The Tijous leave their wine sur latte for three years, longer than typical for this region, and that helps give the wine its layering and complexity. Dosage is low – typically 2 g/l to balance out the raciness of Chenin Blanc from this part of the Loire Valley. Small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay give the wine a little flesh. Notes here of Green and yellow apple, faint aromas of yeast and heavy cream, and wisteria and floral flavors as well.
Domaine Huet may not be one of the oldest wineries in Vouvray, but it is arguably the greatest. Their expressions of Chenin Blanc range from bone dry to dessert sweet, and also includes a couple of lovely dry sparkling wines from the Vouvray Petillant appellation. Huet farms three of the top vineyard sites, Haut-Lieu, Le Mont and Clos du Bourg. The sparkling wines are blended from all three sites from 100% Chenin Blanc. The Domaine went through some upheaval as the previous ownership went through some family illnesses. The Hwang family, which took it over, have maintained the biodynamics and high quality.
Bottled before primary fermentation is finished, resulting in a lower pressure sparkling wine - pétillant - because only a portion of the fermentation occurs inside the bottle. Yeast is added to ensure the fermentation progresses smoothly. Once finished the wine is disgorged. Dosage = 10 g/l and is made up of cane sugar and demi-sec or moelleux wines from a previous vintage. The bouquet is deep, pure and shows beautifully fruit tones of peach and quince to augment its fine base of chalky soil elements, spring flowers and an esthery topnote of bee pollen. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied and complex, with a very good base of soil, a lovely core of fruit, pinpoint bubbles and lovely balance and grip on the long and classy finish.
Henri and Paulette Mann, the parents of Jean-Louis, come from several generations (on both sides of the family) of winemakers in Eguisheim and its surrounding villages, making wine under the name "Henri Mann". Jean-Louis met Fabienne, daughter of winemakers in the area as well, and they took the reins from Jean-Louis' parents in 1982. Taking the time to hone their craft, it wasn't until 1998 when they decided to make their first wines under the name "Jean-Louis et Fabienne Mann". Today, their son Sébastien, who has worked in Champagne, Côte Rôtie, Austria, and even Australia, is integrating his way into the family domaine.
The Domaine has been certified organic since 2008 and have worked biodynamically since 2009.
The grapes are pressed very slowly and delicately. The fermentation and initial aging take place in neutral oak barrels for 60% of the wine, whereas the other 40%
is in stainless steel vats. This process took 8 months. From there, the wine is aged on the lees for two and a half years in the bottle before disgorgement. No sugar is
added at bottling. The Crémant d’Alsace is a gastronomic wine with appealing floral
aromas, complemented by its minerality.
Winemaking has been going on in Ayze since 1200 and Montessuit has been around since 2011, so a relatively young winery in a very old region. Fabrice and Nicolas Montessuit are the brothers currently in charge of the estate. They are working mostly organic and won't be certified for 3-4 more years. Domaine Montessuit makes still and sparkling wines from native grape Gringet, which is grown exclusively in a small area of the Savoie called Ayze. In the 1980's, 80 hectares of the grape were plants, and then 20 years ago it was down to 50 hectares and today it is only 20 hectares.
This wine is made entirely of the grape Gringet. This wine stays on the lees for 24 months and is made at their own facility in Ayze as one of the brothers is an ex engineer and knows how to repair the equipment if anything goes wrong. It has 5 grams of RS and is made in the Methode Champenoise style. These wines are stunningly fresh and have just amazing clarity of fruit and mineral at the same time as a result. The nose on this just rocks. Mineral, iodine, pastry and baking spices and just so so evocatively mineral. After some air there is pomegranate. An elegant and beautiful mouthfeel. Complex and juicy with wonderful texture, acidity and unreal freshness. Sappy and structured with terrific fruit. Lean green fruits. Again, so unique and why I love Gringet. Brilliant minerality. Delicious wine and so so long with great balance and purity. This is such a cool discovery and really blew me away. This is a wine, that I predict will become a Fass Selections staple. For all it's complexity and uniqueness it is ridiculously easy to drink. It finishes so mineral with tangerine and orange zest. To have an almost creamy mid palate and then to zest up on the finish is truly the most remarkable thing about this wine.
In the early part of the 20th century, most of Vouvray was worked by farmers in polyculture. Cows, sheep, and grain were raised alongside vines. Such was the case for the land belonging to Lionel and Francoise Gauthier, the owners of Domaine du Viking. Francoise’s grandparents owned just 2 hectares of vines in the early 1940s, along with animals and cereals. Winemaking was something that was done for family and local consumption. All of that changed on August 11, 1944, when Francoise’s grandfather, Maurice, was killed by Nazi soldiers after being caught trying to blow up some train tracks. His young son, Francoise’s father, was suddenly in charge and, to keep the family afloat, converted all of the land into vineyards. The rest, as they say, is history.
Most of Lionel and Francoise’s 13 hectares are on the hard silex soils of the northern tip of the appellation. This silex produces crisp, mineral, and long-aging Vouvrays that bring to mind great Riesling. The Vovuray Brut is made from 100% Chenin Blanc from the flint soils in Reugny. Harvested by hand in small baskets and fermented and aged in tank for at least 12 months before bottling. Secondary fermentation in bottle and an additional aging for two years before disgorgement and minimal dosage.
Franck Peillot’s small winery is based in Bugey, an obscure wine region that bridges the Jura and the Savoie regions of France. Peillot is an iconoclast in an already somewhat iconoclastic region, as he is one of the few growers who still works with the Altesse grape, which is capable of occasional greatness, but is fragile and difficult to grow. Peillot also works with Mondeuse, a Savoie grape that bears a passing resemblance in flavor, if not parentage, to Pinot Meunier.
Most of the sparkling wines of this region are made from Chardonnay, which Peillot uses for his bubbly, but it is his sure hand with Altesse and Mondeuse that make this a delightful and unique sparkling wine (one that has been on our list since opening night). The flavors reflect the mountain nature of the wine, with bright lemon and lime, golden apple with shimmery, mineral notes.
From a very early age, Francis knew he’d follow in the family tradition of tending Pinot Meunier vines on the sandy, clay-rich soils of the Marne Valley. Indeed, after finishing his enological studies at the ripe age of 19, he joined the family business, imbued with a generations-deep passion for making pure Pinot Meunier wines.
Too long seen as “just” a blending grape in other Champagne regions, Pinot Meunier has pride of place in the Marne Valley. Nearly 90% of Francis’ vineyards are dedicated to this singular grape, as it is here where Pinot Meunier reaches its full potential.
Above all, when allowed to shine as a single-varietal Champagne, Pinot Meunier delivers a vinous wine full of fresh fruit and lightly spiced with notes of vanilla and pepper. Full-bodied, vivacious and pure, it is a Champagne for true gourmands, who appreciate its flexibility at the table.
Crucially, Francis adds some 50% reserve wine from recent vintages to his non-vintage Champagnes, for wines of incredible character and flavorful depth.
Franck and Isabelle Pascal are among some of the most promising Champagne producers today. They make their grower Champagnes biodynamically, which is rare in a region where just over 1% of the winemakers make their wines organically. They experimented with conventional, organic, and biodynamic farming simultaneously and found that biodynamic farming allowed the best expression of their terroir in their wines. In fact, they are so adamant about the quality of their biodynamically grown grapes, that they will sell all of the grapes that border other vineyards that may have been treated with pesticides so that it does not contaminate their wines!
The Non-Vintage Champagne, "Réliance" is a blend of the three main grapes of Champagne (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay) and consists mainly the the 2010 vintage with a little bit of 2009. This is a Brut Nature, which means that they added zero sugar at corking. The bouquet is deep and complex, wafting from the glass in a vibrant blend of apple, lemon, an exotic touch of menthol, salty minerality and a topnote of wild flowers. On the palate the wine is pure, fullbodied, crisp and focused, with a fine core of fruit, lovely backend mineral drive, snappy acids and excellent length and grip on the very well-balanced finish. One can sense the ripe fruit and low yields here, as the acids are beautifully buffered with absolutely no dosage.
The wines of François and Julien Pinon are considered among the finest of Vouvray. François, a former child psychologist, took over the estate from his father in 1987, and has steadily made a name for the estate. He is a serious winemaker whose main focus is "to keep the typicity of both the appellation and the vintage" in all his wines. Julien's arrival has cemented the family's dedication to organic viticulture and minimal intervention winemaking.
Pinon makes two brut sparkling wines, both méthode champenoise from estate parcels of flinty clay soils over the classic Vouvray tuffeau (soft chalky limestone). The earlier-harvested fruit goes into this bottling since it receives a dosage in the end--with the riper, later-harvest grapes going into the eventual Non-Dosé Brut. The vines for both average 45 years old and have been certified-organic since 2007. The fruit is harvested manually and goes through a rigorous three-step sorting process. The clusters are gently and slowly pressed whole,and juice flows by gravity to tanks below. Fermentation is spontaneous with indigenous yeasts in tank and lasts 4 to 6 weeks. The wine is racked into old tonneaux and steel tanks for 2 to 3 months of aging on the fine lees. The wine is then lightly filtered and bottled for its second fermentation. The 2017 Brut spent two years on its lees before disgorgement and a 6-gram dosage.
"The 2009 Brut Carte d’Or is 60% Chardonnay from Dizy (Cerisie?res lieu-dit) and 40% Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-AyThe 2009 Brut Carte d’Or is 60% Chardonnay from Dizy (Cerisie?res lieu-dit) and 40% Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Ay? 1er (Mutry and Bourdeleuse lieux-dits) is just beginning to show signs of aromatic nuance in its bouquet, the 2009 is a terrific choice for readers who want to drink a Champagne with a bit of age. Dried flowers, chamomile, lemon confit, almond, pear and spice all develop with a bit of coaxing. The 2009 is not an overt or big wine as its vintage might suggest, but is rather a Champagne of total class and sublime beauty. I loved it. Disgorged: July, 2019."
This estate is a relatively new one, though the two namesake families have been around Champagne for
many years. Anne and Philippe married, then founded the estate in 1986, with Gimonnet holdings in top
Chardonnay sites of the Cote de Blancs forming about half of the 13.5 hectare property, with the other
half formed of Pinot Noir and Meunier sites in the Vallee de la Marne. Their son Charles took over the
estate in 2012, and he is making some of the best values in Champagne today.
The Tradition Brut relies more heavily on red grapes than any other G-G wine, The base wines go through
full malolactic fermentation, producing a richer, softer style. Dosage is moderate at 8 g/l. The Tradition is
a super-friendly, vin de plaisir, a Champagne for enjoyment more than contemplation.
South Africa’s wine culture roared to life in the post-apartheid era, and Graham Beck is one of their great success stories. The foundations for the success of the Graham Beck brand were laid in 1983 when the late Graham Beck purchased Madeba, a farm located outside the Western Cape town of Robertson. It was his ardent ambition to establish a world-class winery in this area that saw the erection of a state-of-the-art cellar and groundbreaking tasting facility, ensuring the growing reputation of Graham Beck Cap Classique as a leading international wine destinationThis label, along with the partnered still wine producer, Robertson Estate have high reputations, with the Graham Beck Brut being served at Obama’s inauguration.
This delightful sparkling wine exudes light yeasty aromas, limey fresh fruit on the nose, and rich creamy complexity on the palate.
Jean-Marc Seleque’s story is that of a young man who went around the world of wine to learn what he didn’t want to do before returning home. Upon his return to Champagne in 2008, he took over his family’s estate and promptly began converting their 7.5 Hectares of vineyards to organic and biodynamic practices. He halted the sale of fruit to negociant, and began to experiment with small amounts of oak in the cellar to age the base wines. As the fruit began to come in more healthy, Seleque stopped the practice of inducing malolactic fermentation, though depending on the year and the batch, some base wines will still go through it.
Seleque is based in the village of Pierry, where the soils mix some of the Chardonnay friendly chalk of the Cotes de Blancs and the more red grape friendly soil of the Vallee de la Marne. All the grapes are planted here.
Solessence represents nearly half of the total house production, coming in at some 3,500 cases. It also roughly mirrors the house plantations, orginating in all seven communes where Jean-Marc grows vines. The grapes for this wine come from the domain’s younger vines, which average 40 years of age (that, it must be said, would constitute the old vine selection for most Champagne properties!) Half the blend comes from a perpetual reserve, so-named because 50% of this older wine goes into the blending tank with the new harvest, and then 50% of that new blend is returned to the 20-hectoliter foudre to replenish the perpetual reserve.
Anselme Selosse is considered one of the top winemakers of Champagne, and also a bit of a controversial one, as he uses more oxidative winemaking techniques than most prominent Champagne Houses (English wine writers in particular frown on the Fino Sherry note his wines display). When he took over for his father, he promptly and drastically cut the yields of the family vines to the bone, and began farming organically at a time when this was almost heresy in Champagne. He focused on his family holdings in Avize, Oger and Cramant, and began to release a series of Champagnes that captivated many Champagne lovers. They are in massive demand and produced in relatively small quantity, and we are one of only a couple of accounts to be allocated any of the wines.
The Brut ‘Initial’ bottling is blended from Chardonnay from three different vintages and three different Grand Cru villages - Oger, Avize and Cramant. The current release, disgorged in 2016, is composed of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages. Dosage is 1.5 g/l. This disgorgement is showing more youthful accessibility than is typical for the Initial bottling. The quality of the vintages in the blend is high, and it has complex layers of citrus and bright tropical fruit, fresh herbs, chalk and a complicated mix of very subtle oxidative notes and baker’s yeast.
Anselme Selosse is considered one of the top winemakers of Champagne, and also a bit of a controversial one, as he uses more oxidative winemaking techniques than most prominent Champagne Houses (English wine writers in particular frown on the Fino Sherry note his wines display). When he took over for his father, he promptly and drastically cut the yields of the family vines to the bone, and began farming organically at a time when this was almost heresy in Champagne. He focused on his family holdings in Avize, Oger and Cramant, and began to release a series of Champagnes that captivated many Champagne lovers. They are in massive demand and produced in relatively small quantity, and we are one of only a couple of accounts to be allocated any of the wines.
Substance is one of his great wines - only 3,000 bottles are disgorged at a time, and it is his tribute to the terroir of Avize. It is made in a “solera” style, a technique borrowed from Sherry in which older wines are gradually blended with newer wines - as a given disgorgement is bottled, the solera is “refreshed” with new wines. Selosse began the solera for Substance in 1986. The wine itself is haunting and complex, with the mildly oxidative and nutty note of Sherry, plus the golden complexity of aged Champagne, plus the freshness of young bubbly, plus minerality, plus the haunting depth of Grand Cru Burgundy. This is a Champagne to be savored, slowly.
Jean-Hervet and Laurent Chiquet oversee this old and small negociant. Under their stewardship, this house that was founded at the dawn of the French Revolution in 1789 now stands at the cutting edge of Champagne. In some ways that’s not surprising - even in the 18th century they were contributing to innovations like Guyot training of vines in the vineyard, determining the proper base level of sugar to induce fermentation, thereby reducing bottle explosions. Adolphe Jacquesson even patented the Champagne cage, which we untwist to this very day.
The Chiquets acquired the winery in 1974. They own significant holdings (69 acres) and contract farm 7 more, with options on up to 20 more acres. Instead of expanding production, they have actually shed some of their purchase options. Fruit is sourced from the grand cru villages of Aÿ, Avize, and Oiry, and in the premier cru villages of Hautvillers, Dizy, and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ
The Cuvée 7xx is the “basic” wine of Jacquesson. The number signifies the official NV disgorgement since the House’s founding, and each wine is formed from the core of one vintage, with select older vintages blended in (this also led to changing from a vintage wine in special years to producing select single vineyard vintage wines and improving the 7xx series).
2016. Our harvest from Ay, Dizy and Hautvillers (55%), Avize and Oiry (45%). Winter and Spring were extremely wet; mild to start with but temperatures fell at the beginning of February and remained low with some serious frosts in late April. The end of Spring was sunny but cool, followed by a Summer which was very hot and very dry. Picking began on 19 September and ﬁnished on 6 October, including a break of several days to make allowance for some late ripening parcels. The fruit of our labours was a crop of healthy, mature grapes with particular mention for the Pinot Noirs which were super successful. Reserve wines from previous 700 Cuvées complete the blend.
Champagne Jean Michel has been a family-owned operation since 1857. The current generation consists of Olivier Michel and his wife Florence. The Domaine’s holdings consists of 12 hectares in the village of Moussy, found in the Vallée de la Marne.Viticulture here is sustainable (4 hectares) or organic (8 hectares). The Michels do the initial aging of their wines in old barriques, and use malolactic on some, but not all of the base wine. The Michel family feels this gives a good balance between richness and freshness.
The Vallée de la Marne’s soils are better for red grapes, and Pinot Meunier is particular can shine here in a way that it rarely, if ever does around the Montagne de Reims or the Cote de Blancs. The Michel family has relied heavily on Meunier through their history, even making a vintage wine that uses 100% Meunier. Notes of bruised apples, lemon peel, brioche.
This is a new appellation (since 2015) and one I am thrilled to finally see. Savoie is a mountain area in Southeastern France that produces beautiful bright still white wines from grapes like Jacquere. It's a natural for good Cremant, but they only just seem to have figured that out.
"Founded in 1853. Gilbert Perrier and his son, Gilles, are the fifth and sixth generation to make wine in this picturesque Alpine region. The domaine has slowly expanded over the generations and today they own sixty hectares. Maintaining quality has always been the priority and vineyard work is sustainable, certified by HVE. Grapes are hand-harvested and gently vinified in stainless steel tanks. The wines are classic, crisp, and a pure expression of Savoie character."
VARIETY: 100% ARENI
AGING: 36 MONTHS ON LEES THEN DISGORGED
DOSAGE: BRUT NATUREDISGORGED: 09.21
LIMITED TO 900 CASES / YEAR
KEUSH - BLANC DE NOIRS ULTRA
Keush is a sparkling wine project from Vahe Keushguerian. Born in Syria and raised in
Beirut, Vahe immigrated to Italy right during the Lebanese Civil War. As a young adult
in Italy, he discovered wine and began working with US importers to introduce Americans
to the wines of Piedmont and eventually started his own winery in Tuscany. But as a
member of the Armenian diaspora, Vahe longed to return to his homeland. In the
mid-2000s, he moved to Armenia. In 2013, Vahe started Keush to showcase Armenia’s
indigenous varieties and viticultural heritage.\
REGION: VAYOTS DZOR
PRODUCER: VAHE KEUSHGUERIAN
SOIL: LIMESTONE, VOLCANIC MATERIAL
ELEVATION: 1400-1800 METERS
PRUNING: PREDOMINANTLY BUSH VINES
VINE AGE: 60-120 YEARS, OWN-ROOTED
FARMING: HAND-HARVESTED, SUSTAINABLE
Keush is a traditional method sparkling wine made from fruit sourced from Khachik
Village, a mountainous village with a population of less than 900. The own-rooted
vineyards range are situated 1,750 meters elevation and are farmed sustainably by
multi-generational families, many of whom used the grapes for raisin production
during the Soviet era, when winemaking had fallen out of favor. These are among
the highest elevation vines in the northern hemisphere, and among the highest in
the world to produce Méthode Traditionnelle.
Keush Ultra Blanc de Noirs is made from 100% Areni grapes sourced from various
growers in Khachik. Aged on the lees for at least 36 months before release,
this wine is expressive and complex, with notes of fruits and autolysis balanced
by mineral notes and refreshing acidity.
This property was acquired by the Hwang family, the newest owners of Vouvray’s Domaine Huet. Tokaji was the most famous wine region of Eastern Europe, renowned for majestic dessert wines, though there was some fine still wines produced before the rise of the Iron Curtain. The region began to come back to life in the 90s with a lot of outside investment, and Tony Hwang has been responsible for elevating this property to the top ranks.
This petillant, modeled after the gently sparkling, traditionally-made Vouvray. The base wine is fermented in old oak, then transferred to bottle. The resulting wine shows exotic fruit, citrus and white flowers. The dosage comes from a beautiful Tokaji Aszu Essencia which gives this a sneak hint of noble rot and raisins.
Not a lot about the producer online. It's organically grown, and made in the tank method (a relatively rare combination). Greek wines are often delicious, but they are relatively rare in the U.S. because shipping from the Eastern Med is challenging, and a lot of the wine production is consumed locally. The grapes are often indigenous (as here) and often a little difficult to pronounce (also as here). Mos-ko-fill-air-oh is a bit like Chardonnay in that it in its unoaked forms it produces a neutral, slightly aromatic grape that lends itself to refreshing still wines and interesting bubbly.
Franciacorta is Italy's best sparkling wine region, and is probably the only region anywhere in the world that can somewhat regularly compete with Champagne for quality. This part of Lombardy has a near-perfect climate for sparkling wine grapes, with a cool climate tempered by mountain elevation and the large lake nearby.
Because it is a relatively small DOCG, and because Prosecco is so common, Franciacorta can be a tough initial sell, but get it in someone's glass and it's basically Champagne for less.
Gilles farms 22 acres of vines, more or less the same as his friend Jean-Marc over in Pierry. Gilles’ base is in Cramant, and his 55 parcels are spread along the northern sector of the Côte des Blancs, dip into the Côteaux Sud d’Epernay, and reach into the Marne Valley. The breakdown is as follows:
• Côte des Blancs: 6 acres of Chardonnay in Cramant, Chouilly, Avize and Cuis.
• Côteau Sud d’Epernay (in the villages of Monthelon and Mancy): 4.2 acres of Meunier; 4 acres of Chardonnay; and 1/2 acre of Pinot Noir.
• Montagne de Reims (village of Bisseuil): 1 acre of Chardonnay.
• Vallée de la Marne (village of Boursault): nearly a half-acre of Chardonnay; 4 acres of Meunier; and 2 acres of Pinot Noir.
The varietal breakdown is 60% Chardonnay, 30% Meunier, and 10% Pinot Noir. The oldest vines are 60 years old and the average is 40. As with everything, Gilles is careful with his labels, and each back label is concise with information specific to its cuvée. Annual production averages 70,000 bottles, or just south of 6,000 cases.
He comes from a long line of growers. His great-grandfather cultivated his own grapes in Cramant in the post Great War years while working as Mumm’s vineyard manager, a connection that explains how Gilles was able to buy the old Mumm winery in Cramant early in this century. His grandfather began domain-bottling his Champagne in the post WWII years. In 1967, his father married Brigitte Pienne from Chouilly and the two domains merged. Gilles himself officially took the reins of Lancelot-Pienne in 2005 following his enology studies and after working at his father’s side since 1995.
Accord Majeur NV70% Pinot Meunier, 15% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir
The wine comes from 40 parcels with an average age of 50 years. It’s an accord (“major agreement”) between three grapes and three terroirs—Chardonnay and Meunier from the Côteaux Sud, and Pinot Noir from the hills around Boursault in the Marne Valley. The wine is bottled in March after the harvest and aged for five years on the lees before disgorgement. It’s dosed at 5 grams.
This is one of the youngest Domaines that we feature, and it has been on our list since we opened. Xavier Weisskopf bought 22 acres in Montlouis, the lesser known region across the Loire River from Vouvray in 2005 and has quickly become one of the stars of France. The primary difference between the two regions is a more sandy, less clay-oriented soil in Montlouis, which tends to produce fresher, more linear wines. Weisskopf is a passionate advocate for Chenin’s greatness is all its forms, dry, semi-sweet and of course, sparkling.
Weisskopf was one of the charter members that helped organize the Petillant Originel rules and regulations - it is one of the only codified Methode Ancestrale/Pet-Nat wines - most of these are simple Vin de France. The regulations cut yields and require higher ripeness levels than usual and a minimum of 9 months lees age. Xavier ages his for a minimum of 24 to 36 months, and does not make the wine if the year is not up to snuff. In 2013, he labeled the wine Petillant because the ripeness was not quite at legal level.
The wine itself is a beautiful example of Pet-Nat, with clean, bright minerally flavors stretched over a spine of fresh acidity and sneaky depth from extended lees aging.
he written record has the Lilbert family cultivating vines around its hilltop village of Cramant in 1746, and it’s probably a fair bet that they were there sometime before that (the oldest part of their 23-foot-deep cellar dates from 1712). The record further shows that as early as 1907 the family bottled its own wine for commercial sale. Despite such longevity, the house of Lilbert is tiny: it farms a mere 3.5 hectares of vines (this figure translates into 8.6 acres, and unfortunately our old back label erroneously states 9.4 acres).
Bertrand Lilbert and his father Georges make only grand cru blanc de blancs from 100% Chardonnay. Their annual production averages 2,300 twelve-pack cases. To put this in perspective, the house of Moët & Chandon pumps out 25 million cases each year. Unlike Moët, the Lilberts make all of their wine from their own vineyards, which break down into 15 parcels in the grand cru villages of Oiry (10% of their total plantation), Chouilly (30%), and Cramant (60%) on the Côte des Blancs. The vine age average is 45 years old.
Note that Cramant should not be confused with crémant. Crémant once used to be a term reserved for a style of Champagne with less pressure–and indeed the village of Cramant has a tradition of making wine in such a style, so much so that Lilbert’s Perle was once labeled as Crémant de Cramant. But those days are gone and now crémant legally refers to all méthode Champenoise wine made within France but outside of the Champagne appellation.
The Côte des Blancs is a ridge that begins just outside of Epernay and runs north-south. Vineyards grow primarily on its east-facing escarpment, making the resemblance to Burgundy’s Côte d’Or a rich parallel (although here the soil is tuffeau and chalk rather than marl and limestone, and the ridgeline is much shorter). Bertrand Lilbert began working with his father in the 1990s and made one change. The flanks of Cramant have long been known as one of the truly great terroirs of the Côte des Blancs, known for full-bodied, chalk-rich Chardonnay. The very name Cramant refers to Mont de Craie, or mount of chalk, so why not, Bertrand thought, honor this legacy? Moreover, Cramant and its neighboring village of Avize, immediately to the south, are the historic heart of the Côtes des Blancs. Thus he made the 1995 vintage Champagne from 100% Cramant fruit, saving the fruit from the other village parcels for the two non-vintage wines. The result was superb, and he has made the practice standard for his vintage wine.
The farming culture here is lutte raisonnée, i.e., sustainable. All of the wines are made in steel vats and all undergo malolactic fermentation. The bottles are riddled by hand (Bertrand turns 4,000 each morning; takes him 30 minutes!) in a deep, hand-dug tuffeau cellar, and the wine is disgorged without freezing. The house style emphasizes fine mousse and fragrant aromas of lime, yellow orchard fruits, and hay. These are beautiful expressions of intensely mineral, chalky Chardonnay, with gorgeously rich Cramant fruit wrapped in elegance and nuance. As Andrew Jefford observes in his book, The New France, “This tiny 4-ha Cramant domain is the source of some very fine and long-lived Blanc de Blancs made by Georges Lilbert and his son Bertrand. The style is less soft, creamy, and flowery than the Blanc de Blancs of most large houses might leave the drinker expecting: Cramant here has a taut, steely, rigorous quality….”
As the voice of the new generation at the Chéreau Carré winery in France’s Loire Valley, Louise Chéreau is shaking things up by creating fresh new expressions of traditional grapes and terroirs with her new line called Vices & Vertus. In this spirit, she’s releasing a bottle-fermented sparkling wine made with melon de bourgogne, the traditional grape of Muscadet. The fruit comes from 40-year-old vines at the winery’s Chasseloir estate, a prime location on the Maine river on schist soils. This wine shows off a different side of muscadet and hints at the immense potential of this region for sparkling wines.
Vinification – This sparkling wine is made entirely in-house using the méthode traditionelle. After initial fermentation in underground cement tanks, the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in bottle and is aged on the lees for nine months. The dosage of 7g/L (Brut) was chosen to accent the freshness and aromatics and was done with grape must from estate fruit. The grapes all come from the 2018 harvest in the inaugural release of Orgueil. Disgorgement was done by hand at the winery on November 4, 2019. The liqueur de tirage is made from an older vintage of their Comte Leloup Muscadet.
Jean-Paul Hébrart took over the operations of Marc Hébrart Champagne in the Vallée de la Marne from his father Marc in 1997. This estate is not exactly new: Jean-Paul’s father has been producing champagne under the Marc Hébrart name since 1964 and has been a member of the Special Club since 1985. Hébrart farms 14 hectares of vines on 65 different sites in 6 villages: the 1er cru vineyards of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Avenay, Val d’Or and Bisseuil and the grand crus villages of Aÿ as well as Chouilly and Oiry in the Côte des Blancs. Hébrart’s wines have a broad appeal: if you like to think about your wines, they’re intellectually engaging enough to satisfy you; on the other hand, if you’re just looking to drink, they’re simply delicious. The wines are full and generous without being weighty, complex and soil-driven without being demanding.
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from Grand Cru villages Oiry, Chouilly, and Avize; and from Premier Cru village Dizy. It does see malolactic fermentation, and is aged sur latté for 36+ months. The Champagne region experienced a difficult Spring in 2017, as late April saw an unlikely combination of severe frost and thundery showers. Rain began falling again half way through the harvest. In concert with the elevated temperature, Botrytis became established in the unpicked grapes. Chardonnay was the best variety by far (primarily because Chardonnay was picked early before the defining weather event).
Yellow fruits now emerging on the nose, the palate feels more complete, finely balanced, with obvious mid-palate density.
Michel Nartz is a family winery established in the picturesque and medieval village of Dambach-la-Ville. The family possess five sustainably farmed hectares divided into multiple small parcels all around the village of Dambach-la-Ville, but also in in the nearby villages of Scherwiller and Châtenois. They are very proud to have vineyards located in the heart of the Grand Cru Frankstein, one of the 51 Grand Crus in Alsace which has a particular granitic soil that gives an intense minerality to the wine.Today, Gaby & Michel Nartz, have decided to give the reins of the wine-making to Michel’s daughter, Laurence. She is a great winemaker, well known for her creativity and passion for the wine. She defines a great wine as the sum of small actions, from a respect for nature and its energies, to the development of the vineyards.
Though the Jura is one of the oldest recorded wine producing regions in France, dating back to at least the time of Pliny the Younger in 80AD. It is situated between Burgundy and Switzerland and sits on very similar, complex soils to Burgundy’s Cote d’Or. Phylloxera shrank the region from 50,000 to 4,000 acres, and the rare and exquisite wines have become sommelier darlings in the 21st century. Jean-Luc Mouillard is a native to Chateau-Chalon in Jura, and founded his small Domaine in 1991.
Mouillard makes a tiny bit of Cremant from the Burgundian varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He now produces this wine after the property, and adds about 6 g/l of dosage. The wine spends about 12 months on lees before release. The wine itself shows the freshness and bright acidity of this cool climate region, with pear, apple, stones and bread dough notes. This is very close the NV Champagne in quality.
Moussé Fils owns vineyards in several of the best villages for the Pinot Meunier grape. In their corner of the Vallée de la Marne, the grape steps out of its typical supporting role and takes on a star turn. Cedric Mousse works organically, uses stainless steel for fermentation and puts all his wines through malolactic fermentation. Cedric uses a perpetual reserve method to strike a masterful balance between the freshness of the new vintage with the complexity and depth only “old wines” can bring. Slightly different than a solera, in a perpetual reserve you can imagine 2 barrels. 1 full and 1 empty. You transfer half of the full one in the empty, so both are at 50%. Then, you add 50% of the new harvest in each one. You’ll bottle one of the tank, and you keep the other one to star again the next year!
The non-vintage Champagne is primarily Pinot Meunier, and it shows rugged, rich tropical notes, with a hint of cherry and rye grain and yeast notes
Melanie Pfister is a winemaking dynamo! She took over the reins from her father, who still helps in the vineyards, in 2006, and continues a family tradition of great Alsatian wines dating back to 1780.
Cremant d’Alsace AOC (or AOP) was codified in the mid-70s. Melanie’s Father began making Cremant in the 80s, and she continues the family tradition of making a small amount (800 cases) of top bubbly from a three grape blend. The wine is a single vintage wine, though that is not noted on the main label. Melanie disgorges the wine several times throughout the year, so the time spent on the lees will range from 24 to 36 months - the legal requirement for Cremant is only nine months, which is one of the reason the Pfister wine is so good.
It has flavors of green and red apple, pear and peach, with more doughy, yeasty notes than the typical Cremant. This is very, very close to Champagne quality.
In 1889 Pierre Moncuit and his wife, Odile Moncuit-Delos, established the house of Champagne Pierre Moncuit. Since 1977, Nicole Moncuit has managed the vineyards and made the wine, while her brother Yves has managed the sales. More recently, Nicole’s daughter Valérie has been actively assisting in the cellar.
Mesnil lies smack in the middle of the Côte des Blancs and is its most celebrated village, in no small part because of the vintages of Salon Champagne and the single-vineyard Clos du Mesnil, owned, of course, by Krug. The wines of Mesnil are known above all for steely elegance and minerality, and those from chez Pierre Moncuit—which has some of the oldest vines along the entire Côte—superbly reflect these qualities.
The house farms 25 parcels totaling 37 acres in the grand cru-rated vineyards surrounding the village. These vineyards face east as they climb the Côte’s chalk-infused flank. The majority of Moncuit’s vines are 50 years or older, and two parcels, used in the best years for the vintage-dated Cuvée Nicole Moncuit, are just shy of their centennial birthday. In a region known for replanting vines before they reach their third decade to ensure vigorous production, these old vines represent a rare patrimony.
Another unusual bent in the Moncuit way of doing things is that no reserve wine is used in its production. All of its wines are made from a single year, regardless if they are labeled non-vintage or labeled with a vintage. The non-vintage wines spend three years on their lees before disgorgement; the vintage wines spend between six and eight years on their lees. After disgorgement, the former age another three months before release while the latter spend another six months in the house’s cellar before going to market.
In order to keep focus on purity and minerality, no wood is used during the élevage. Malolactic fermentation is the norm here. At bottling, the usual dosage for the classic range is normally 6-7 grams of sugar per liter (which stands in contrast to the more standard 12 grams employed by the majority of the Côte’s growers, who tend to disgorge earlier). In addition, the family has been producing more extra brut cuvée Delos and non-dosé vintage wine–something Nicole has long favored but felt that the market had wanted the classical wines. Now, you have the choice. Annual production averages 180,000 bottles, or 15,000 12-pack cases, and includes roughly 10,000 bottles of rosé Champagne. No business is conducted with négociants either to purchase or to sell juice.
The Champagne House of Roederer (producers of Cristal) are probably my favorite of the big-name Champagne producers, because they have incorporated many of the lessons from the grower movement. They also happen to produce of the finest sparkling wines made in the U.S. In the 70s and 80s, many of the big name houses raced to make sparkling wine in California, and most of them landed in Napa and Sonoma. Roederer came a litte later, but had the foresight to see that the virtually unknown Anderson Valley had the right climate to grow grapes for sparkling wine, and built a state-of-the-art facilty in this sleepy region.
After a career in the wine in the USA, Sabine GODMÉ and her husband Jean Marie GUILLAUME represent since 1994 the fourth generation of winegrowers of the GODMÉ House located in Verzenay (village classified Grand Cru).
100% Chardonnay from the Premier Cru Village of Villers-Marmery (classified at 99%); dosage 8gr/l ; 50% reserve wine; 2 years minimum ageing on the lees. Villers-Marmery is a Chardonnay dominated village with chalky soils, and many experts believe that it would have been granted Grand Cru status if it had been planted to at least 90% Chardonnay when the Échelle des Crus classification was created in 1919. Chalky, pointed nose; laser beam precision with quince, lemon, toast and tons of mineral.
Today, Johannes Selbach and his wife Barbara, with the increasing help of son Sebastian and daughter Hannah, manage their vineyards and winery with passion and respect for the estate’s long held traditions. 55% of their 24 hectares of vines are on their original rootstocks, in Zeltinger Himmelreich, Schlossberg, and Sonnenuhr; Wehlener Sonnenuhr; and, Graacher Himmelreich and Domprobst. These vineyards of weathered Devonian slate are on a steep, contiguous slope facing south-south west and represent some of the most prestigious sites in all of the Middle Mosel, in fact 85% of the Selbach’s vines are on steep slopes. The Selbach family’s heritage in the wine business dates to 1660: Selbach’s ancestors shipped wines down the Mosel in their own ships, the wine carried in oak barrels made by cooper Matthias Oster, the great-grandfather on the paternal side of the family. Thus, the winery developed as both a top estate producing some of the region’s best wine, and also as a négociant and brokerage firm, consolidating the production of smaller growers.
Johannes, like his late father Hans, has continued the use of traditional oak fuder in his cellar, bringing in new large casks every few years. Vinification is carried out in a combination of fuder and stainless steel, in a hands-off manner with no fining, and predominantly with wild yeasts. The focus is on meticulous work in the vineyard with the aim to produce and bring home perfect fruit. In 2016 Christian Vogt, winemaker at Kartauserhof for many years added even more talent to the winery.
The hallmark of the estate is 3 old parcels that Selbach-Oster harvests en-bloc; or, as single pickings, with no selections pulled from the vineyard prior to harvesting. The Rotlay (in the Zeltingen Sonnenuhr, rich in iron ore), the Schmitt (in the Zeltingen Schlossberg), and the Anrecht (in the Zeltingen Himmelreich) are all old parcels high on their respective slopes and post trained on their original rootstock. Typically, Auslese is selected by successive passes through the vineyard—picking fruit for Kabinett and Spätlese first and leaving the healthiest berries on the vine to concentrate. For the en-bloc wines selection of this type is avoided, in order to maintain a holistic flavor profile that contains that of ultra-ripe grapes, optimally ripe, and of lesser-ripe ones which have the ability to reflect a complete terroir of both place and moment. Because his approach in winemaking is minimal, Johannes Selbach will allow his wines to ferment naturally, as slow or as complete as manifest, resulting in dry wines in some vintages and fruity in others.
Stéphane Coquillette is a fourth-generation winemaker in Champagne. His father, Christian, has been running the Saint Chamant Champagne house since 1950, and he lovingly sent his son out to start his own estate when Stéphane was 25. Though mentored by his father, Stéphane developed a very different style of expression at his own house, creating leaner, drier Champagnes, primarily from Chouilly (Grand Cru), Cuis (1er Cru 99%) for Chardonnay, and d’Aÿ (Grand Cru) and Mareuil/Aÿ (1er Cru 99%) for Pinot Noir.Meticulously committed to organic practices, Stéphane avoids herbicides at all costs. Everything is done by hand, including trellising and pruning, which helps avoid disease and allows for a healthy crop.
A blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru. There is 2/3 of Pinot Noir from Aÿ and Mareuil/Aÿ and 1/3 of Chardonnay from Chouilly and Cuis.Pale, pale straw color with fine bead. The nose is pretty and floral. Delicate in body, laced with berry, apple and citrus fruit, with a floral finish.
** We do occasionally have the 375mL bottling of this wine as well**
Pinot Blanc. Arbanne. Petit Meslier. BAM!
It’s a little known fact that, outside of the three major grapes of Champagne, there are several others that are legally permissible, but seldom seen, as they were almost all uprooted and discontinued during the phylloxera epidemic. Three of these grapes compose the special ‘BAM!’ Cuvée from Tarlant (the fourth is Fromenteau, aka Pinot Gris).
The grapes for thus Champagne, a relatively new cuvée for the house, come from a single-vineyard in Oeuilly called ‘Four a Chaux - Les Sables’. It is unique Champagne - it is clearly Champagne, but it doesn’t taste like any you’ve ever had, the way a dream can turn a familiar place into something completely new.
This is a rare and remarkable Champagne made from a unqiue terroir, a small outcropping of soil dating back 45 million years that is impervious to the phylloxera louse, and is consequently the only place in Champagne where Chardonnay can be planted on its own roots. Own-rooted wines have an extra layer of depth and complexity - something beautiful was lost forever at the end of the 19th century, but there are a few wines that are both throwbacks and a hint of the lost greatness.
The 2002 vintage is a recent release. The name of the wine translates to ‘The Vines of Yesteryear.’ It is a dream of a Blanc de Blanc, not quite mature (this would take well to decanting), with an orchard full of apples of all colors, butter, spice, bread dough and then a wild minerality that is special.
This cuvée makes up 70-90% of Tarlant's production and "is my daily obsession", says Benoît Tarlant. Zero reflects the Tarlant emphasis on unadorned terroir, with no selected yeasts and no dosage The compostion is generally 60% of the base vintage--in this case 2012--plus 40% reserve wine--here from 2008-2011. The organically farmed, hand-harvested fruit comes potentially from all 62 of Tarlant's parcels from across 4 villages (Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé), and incredibly, each is vinified separately to give maximum flexibility in dialing in the blend.
The wine offers up a beautiful bouquet of apple, pit fruit, brioche, hazelnut, a complex base of soil tones, gentle smokiness and a topnote of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a lovely core and soil signature, refined mousse and excellent length and grip on the beautifully balanced finish. There are not many non-dosé bottlings that can offer such marvelously buffered acids, but Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant age their wines far longer on their fine lees than most producers these days!
Pleasantly aromatic, slightly soft but at the same time crisp and fruity. Delightfully sparkling, easy to drink. A sparkling wine to be enjoyed as an aperitif or to end a meal. Great with antipasti and delicately flavoured starters. Prosecco in a keg is not technically prosecco because similar to have Champagne has to be from Champagne. Prossecco has to be in a bottle to be considered prosecco. So, we are breaking the rules a little with this one in order to list the wine in a way that guests will be familiar with. If anyone asks, feel free to explain that while it is technically not a Prosecco, it is made in the same style, and from the same grape (Glera).
Deinhard (previous name) is one of the great old and storied properties of Germany. New ownership has returned it to its rightful place not only as a leading in the light in the Pfalz/Palatinate region, but Germany itself. The vineyard sources here are impeccable – old vines in the best sites in Deidesheim, Forst and Ruppertsberg. Viticulture here is practicing organic. The estate’s premium wines are treated with a minimalist approach and with the highest respect in the cellar. Gentle clarification, a natural and spontaneous fermentation and the abandonment of fining agents create wines with a distinctive indigenous and very elegant style.
Coming from the base vintage of 2017 and grown on a selection of different vineyards in and around Deidesheim on chalky, loess-clay soils and red sandstone. A soft citrus aroma and elegant spiciness are the outstanding features of this sparkling wine. The more Southern climate of the Pfalz produces Riesling with a little more ripeness and tropical fruit.
Artomaña Txakolina was founded in 1988, becoming the first producer in the region when twelve growers began recovering the tradition of producing Txakoli wine in Álava and established the denomination of Arabako Txakolina in 2002. Up to this point, the tradition of making txakoli was mostly lost throughout many of the Basque provinces (except for Getaria, where the culture never died), and their historical vine material was used to replant Álava.
In Spain’s coastal Basque Country, “Xarmant” (char-mant) means ‘charming’ and txakoli is the joyous, light, white wine shared amongst friends with northern Spain’s legendary cuisine. Xarmant is made from the highest quality, sustainably-farmed, estate vineyards from the verdant Amurrio valley in the Basque Country, close to the Bay of Biscay on Spain’s rugged, green northern coast. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean creates a unique, ideal microclimate to produce this ‘charming’ wine.
2020 was an extremely challenging and strenuous vintage for everyone, particularly for artisan producers in northern Spain. It was a year where the skill and experience of the producer’s work in the vineyards was paramount, as was the case with Artomaña. A rainy spring set the conditions for outbreaks of mildew, resulting in the loss of many grapes and lower yields; however, the bunches that were unaffected were of excellent quality. The summer was quite hot and dry, which pushed the harvest forward to early September, but some relief did come in the form of sporadic rainstorms, which provided much-needed relief for the drought-stressed vines. Overall, 2020 is more balanced than 2019, with excellent, fully developed fruit, good structure, and refreshing acidity.
Since 2000, Else Zuschmann and her husband Peter Schöfmann have together managed their wine estate in the tranquil village of Martinsdorf, and done so with devotion and commitment. Sixteen hectares of vineyard will be certified organic as of 2014. Here the focus clearly lies on the white varieties (70%), primarily Grüner Veltliner, which accounts for slightly more than half among them. However, the couple exhibits a deft touch as well with the vinification of their red wines, which constitute 30% of the area under vines. The most important red grape varieties are Zweigelt and St. Laurent.
When we were first starting out, we quickly became disappointed with the lack of good natural wine in the $20 range. Not being the kind of people to say ‘well, it is what it is’, we got to work thinking about how we could remedy this situation. So, we started talking with our producers and, already knowing what we wanted - native yeast fermentations, low or zero SO2 additions, and the like; basically pure unadulterated glou glou that we could put into a liter-sized screw-top bottle and would be a great introduction to natural wine - it didn’t take long for us to find winemakers who were willing to partner with us on this project. All it needed was a name.
100% certified organic cinsault from Domaine Puech Redon on clay/sand/limestone, whole cluster all done in fiberglass tanks (multiple vintages make the blend, majority 2019, 2020, and some 2018) no sulfur vinification, 15ppm at bottling.
Though you might associate gamay most closely with Beaujolais, the growing conditions and soils of the eastern Loire region also suit that light, relatively acidic grape. “Terres Blondes” is a release from Jean-Sébastien Marionnet (son of famed Touraine winemaker Henri Marionnet): the estate contracts with growers from the region to assemble a reasonably-priced blend. After being harvested by hand, the grapes are carbonically macerated and aged without oak. The profile is a touch earthier than the fruitiest Beaujolais, with minerality and tang to back up a floral nose. Sustainably grown.
Argyle began producing wine in 1987, including sparkling wine, which rank among the very best produced in America. Fruit for their sparkling wines are sourced from the highest elevations of the Knudsen Vineyard, which is planted to an assortment of older vines and newer, high density plantings.
The Argyle Rosé relies heavily on a block of Pinot Meunier at the highest point of Knudsen Vineyard. The wine has aromas of white flowers and red berries, and flavors of raspberry, red cherry, a hint of vanilla from the oak-aged red wine addition and subtle yeast.
A blend of the naitve Catalan varieties Garnacha and Monastrell, given a very short maceration for a pale pink hue and some fine berry aromas. Dry and crisp, with no dosage added. Indigenous yeasts, no fining.
Raphaël Bartucci is a self-taught winemaker. His parents fled fascist Italy and moved to the Moselle in the 1950s. They came to the Bugey region during summer vacations, and this gave Raphaël the desire to become a farmer. He bought a house in ruins in the town of Mérignant where he still lives.
Raphael began planting some vines, but didn’t like what seemed to be the general way of doing things with chemicals and additives. Through friends, he met Pierre Overnoy and Marcel Lapierre, who told him that he was right to want to make wines differently than his neighbors.
Each year he planted a few vines, and today he has reached 2.10ha on 10 different plots! Until 1992, he worked during the day and took care of his vines part time during the evenings and weekends. But since 1992, he worked full time with his vines, making and selling them.
We got the one case of this wine for the moment - it's done solera-style (hence 'cuvee perpetuelle') where the blend keeps getting topped up with new vintages and the are older and older wines mixed in over time. For now, it's a very fruit-driven style more than a yeasty beast. It goes through malolactic to give it its creamy texture, and despite being with a fancy nerd importer this is very much a crowd-pleaser style.
Very excited to get his producer. One of the top natty Champagne Houses, certified biodyanmic. Lively fruit, the Meunier weight really shines here. Jérôme Bourgeois-Diaz is a 4th generation vigneron who has been making some of the most compelling Champagne in Crouttes-sur-Marne, on the banks of the Marne River halfway between Paris and Reims.Though he has deep family roots in the area, he was not always working in the vines, having had a previous career in industrial sales before taking over from his father in 2001.
He farms 7ha of vines that average 35 years of age (3ha Pinot Meunier, 2ha Pinot Noir, and 2ha Chardonnay) in the clay and limestone soils the region is known for. Jérôme is deeply committed to biodynamic farming, having gained certification by Demeter in 2015, meaning herbicides, fungicides, and all other sprayings are strictly prohibited. He allows for native, wild plants to intersperse the rows, which make his vineyards look like an oasis of green in an otherwise conventionally farmed area. Care is taken during the harvest to adhere to Pierre Masson’s lunar calendar and all vineyard work is done by hand.
“RS” stands for Rosé de Saignée. Made from 100% old-vine Pinot Meunier harvested a bit later than his other parcels with 24 hours of maceration on the skins. 30% of the juice is pressed into barrel and the rest stainless steel tank for fermentation. Deep and darker in color; savory, vinous, and long, this is an incredible wine.
Cantina Fratelli Carafoli was founded in Ravarino, a small village in Modena by Mauro Carafoli in 1919. Kilometers away from the town of Sorbara, Carafoli has excelled in the production of Lambrusco di Sorbara and Lambrusco di Modena. Cantina Carafoli is thriving under the third generation with advancements in technology, methods and viticulture. Carafoli elevating the quality of their wines with the purchase of 20 hectares in Sorbara in 1965. These 20 ha are in a thin strip of land between the Secchia and Panaro rivers. There the soil is relatively rich in nutrients for vineyard soils but the soils are loose and permeable, providing excellent drainage.
100% destemmed grapes, with brief skin contact to minimize full color extraction. Sparkling dry wine, with a characteristic bouquet of violets. Ruby-red color with a dry but gentle finish, light and crisp. This fruity (yet dry) Lambrusco is perfect with cheeseboards!
The Cave de Bissey is a smaller grower co-operative in the Macon region of Burgundy. Unlike many co-
ops, it is small (40 growers and 5 employees) and quality-oriented. Most of the wine they make is
purchased ex-cellar, so the wines are not even well-known outside of the Macon. The co-op also controls
its sparkling wine production from vineyard to bottle.
This is beautifully balanced with yeast and pastry layering blended with its lively red fruit notes
The rosé Shaman bottlings is made with same philosophy as the blanc bottlings. All Grand Cru Vineyards, a roughly 2/3rds Pinot Noir to 1/3rd Chardonnay blend with the number next to “Shaman” on the label dictating the base vintage of each release, in this case being 2018. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine mousse offering red fruit strawberry, cherry stone, with a pleasing bitterness on the finish. This has good length, fine mineral detail, and a nice herbal uptick on back end.
The company specializes in sparkling wines, buying grape must or juice direct from surrounding domains. This must is vinified, blended, and bottled at Bove. The intrinsic qualities of the different wines are optimized by blending them together in one single vat. Reserve stocks allow them to offset variable weather conditions. At the end of the bottling operation, during which the wine is topped up with liqueur de tirage, the bottles, capped with metal temporary caps, are stored in the chalk cellars. They are “laid” on “lathes”, that is to say stored horizontally, with each layer separated from the previous one by a thin wooden lathe. Over a period of about 4 months, a second fermentation occurs.
"When I drink wine, I want to taste its terroir – this is what I’m in it for. I want to see the personality of the place where it was born, I want to be moved, to create emotion,” Vincent Charlot explains with so much passion. A passion that’s easy to fall for, especially once you discover the natural richness that he’s the shepherd of: the Charlot estate consists of no less than 39 different plots with extremely diverse soils and expositions. “The heavier clayey soils give wines of exotic, vinous generosity; silex translates into tangy gunpowder notes. And the chalk-borne cuvées, such as the L’Or des Basses Ronces, can transport you to the beach at low tide, so strong is their iodine grip and mineral energy,” Charlot poetically praises the virtues of his variegated vineyards.
His dedication to this mosaic leads him to vinify each parcel separately and release up to 27 (!) different cuvées each year, with quantities ranging from one single barrel (~300 bottles) to 5,000 bottles per wine. In a region where the grandes marques count their nonvintage bottles in millions, Vincent firmly stands on the geeky grower side, releasing only vintage wines. An essential step on this terroir-showcase route is farming: Charlot proudly calls himself “the peasant of terroir” instead of winemaker and all of his plots are cultivated organic and biodynamic. (Only 2% of the Champagne vineyard are farmed biodynamically, btw.) Given his precious natural material, the cellar work is kept to a minimum in order to showcase it: the grapes are harvested manually at optimum ripeness, and then spontaneously fermented, since Vincent believes that the yeast is like a “little mushroom selected by the terroir to express it”.
Some of the wines are released as “Charlot-Tanneux”, a family label that Vincent uses for wines coming from smaller parcels that aren’t officially certified due to their small size (and proximity to conventionally farmed vineyards of his neighbors) but enjoy the same biodynamic care and minimal winemaking as the Vincent Charlot wines. This rosé is mostly Pinot Meunier (90%) with a little Pinot Noir (10%) from a blend of several clay-limestone plots in Moussy, a village south of Epernay dedicated to Pinot Meunier. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and macerated for around 14 hours on skins. Once pressed, the wine ferments spontaneously in neutral barrels. It is a pleasant, easy-drinking, fruity style of rosé, very aromatic and long.
The Chateau du Petit Thouars has an extraordinarily long and rich history. Built in the early 1500s as a sort of “low-key hunting lodge” (an amusing notion, given the house’s immensity and grandeur) for a wealthy family from the town of Thouars, hence the name “Petit Thouars”. Though records and physical evidence exist of wine having been made on the property centuries ago, it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the enterprise was revived—this time, by Sebastién’s father, who gradually planted fifteen hectares of Cabernet Franc (plus a little Chenin Blanc). Chateau du Petit Thouars is located in the commune of Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, in the southwest part of the Chinon appellation, along the south bank of the Vienne River (a tributary of the Loire), and immediately east of Saumur-Champigny—in fact, the limit of the Saumur-Champigny appellation is visible from the estate’s westernmost holdings.
This is a sparkling rosé of Cabernet Franc made with two fermentations. The wine spent 9 months aging on the lees before disgorgement. This sparkling rosé sparkling is fresh and lively, with crisp cherry and spiced plum flavors that glide along the long, balanced finish.
Clos Cibonne is one of Provence's, and France's top estates. They are the champions of a rare grape called Tibouren, and make some very special roses exclusively from this grape. Tentations is their introductory level wine, but made with the same care (except for the barrel aging) as their Cuvee Speciale, and is an incredible value from France's most famous rose region.
from their importer: In 1930, André Roux (son of Marius) was the great architect of the modern winery…
in order to pursue his goal of producing top-quality wines at the estate. It was André Roux who planted the estate exclusively to the rare tibouren grape, creating the iconic labels which remain unchanged to this day. This revival ignited an era of fame for the rosés of Clos Cibonne, which led to their inclusion in a 1950’s classification of 18 Cru Classés in Côtes de Provence. André Roux was also instrumental in the creation of the Côtes de Provence appellation in 1973 and responsible for the inclusion of his beloved tibouren grape into the region’s list of accepted grape varieties.
In the 1980s, hard times fell upon the estate and it drifted without clear direction until Brigitte, André Roux’s granddaughter, and her husband, Claude Deforges, took over the family property in 1993. Their immediate goal was to bring the estate back to its former grandeur. By renovating the cellars while preserving the tradition of ageing in their large old foudres which are more than 100 years old at this point, the family began to reestablish the vaunted reputation of the domaine. Fifth-generation winemaker Olivier Deforges has taken over as both vineyard manager and winemaker (the winery currently has only one other employee, otherwise the family still does all of the work themselves). Olivier has focused his energy on impeccable viticulture, after transitioning to organic viticulture for the last decade, they are now certified organic since the 2019 vintage. Thanks to Olivier and his family efforts, Clos Cibonne once again occupies one of the most respected positions in Provence.
The heart of the estate is their traditional, goblet-trained tibouren, which is believed to be a very old grape variety, originally grown in Mesopotamia, propagated by the Greeks, before being transported by the Romans to Italy in the Liguria region, where it is known as rossese. Tibouren is a very fine, thin-skinned grape which requires a lot of ventilation to be successful and needs to grow close to the ocean, with lots of ventilation to be successful and avoid issues with rot. All of these requirements make Clos Cibonne the perfect terroir for tibouren, as they are walking distance to the ocean and constantly blasted with the drying winds from the mistral. André Roux was a great fan of this native variety and understood its potential to be the ideal grape for the region. As part of his revitalization, he replaced all of the estate’s mourvèdre with tibouren. Clos Cibonne soon became synonymous with tibouren and received special permission from the A.O.C. to list the grape on its labels.
The estate’s 15 hectares of vineyards are located a mere 800 meters from the coast and are surrounded by hillsides in the base of a bowl that faces the sea. This topography creates air circulation which allows for ideal maturation of the grapes. After harvesting by hand, the wines are directly pressed and fermented in stainless steel. The wine is then aged under fleurette (a thin veil of yeast, similar to the process in Sherry or Jura wines) in 120-year-old, 5,000L foudres for one year. Clos Cibonne crafts a wine that is completely its own through combining a rare grape with a unique aging process. The resulting wines have impeccable balance & freshness, with incredible structure and superb drinkability over many years.
Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé 2017 Domaine Durrmann
Winemaker: Yann Durrmann
Region: Alsace, France
Grapes: Pinot Noir (100%)
Profile: Bright and exciting. The acidity on this wine is quite surprising and it is definitely a stand out in the other wines of this style from the region. There is a beautiful cranberry and sour cherry profile on the nose that also ties in apple blossom, rose petal, and a lot of wet stone notes.Grape Growing: The Durrmann estate farm has been certified organic since 1998. The best description of their philosophy is “agro-ecology.”The vineyards are settled on steep and rocky hills, so their soils are left covered in grass to prevent erosion and to help maintain their natural fertility. André has also planted trees in and around the vineyards to actas a natural umbrella to shade the vines and Yann introduced sheep into the vineyards in 2004. Yann cultivates his vines without cutting branches during the summer because it hurts the plant and goes again the natural character of the vine. He rolls up the branches to have an expanded surface area to receive sunshine. This vitality allows them to harvest fully ripened grapes and have a natural ripe fruit character in the wines.
Winemaking: The grapes are hand-picked as usual, and the go through a natural fermentation with native yeasts in inox tank. The color is derived from 8 hours of skin contact during a slow press. It picks up color,but not the undesirable tannins. The wine was aged on its lees for one year in tank and then two more in bottle after a second fermentation.The second fermentation is started with the addition of organic cane sugar.
The family property in the Côte Roannaise, a seldom-seen appellation of the Loire Valley (near the river’s source), dates back to the 17th century, and was passed from generation to generation. When Stéphane Sérol took over in 1996, the domaine totalled 12 hectares. Very attached to the Côte Roannaise, he cleared new plots on the finest hillsides to replant. With his wife, Carine, they converted the domaine to organic and then to biodynamic viticulture, with the aim of preserving and valorizing the terroirs. The granite-based soils here are perfect for local grape Gamay.
Turbullent is their Pet-Nat of 100% young vine Gamay. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented in cement tanks at a cool temperature, with indigenous yeasts until the wine reaches 7% alcohol. The wine is then bottled and fermentation continues until the wine reaches 8 % alcohol and 5 bars of pressure. The bottles are then disgorged to remove the deposit, leaving a clean wine. The wine is an exuberant strawberry and cherry jewel.
With a singular concentration on the Piedmont region of Italy, The Piedmont Guy has championed a select group of passionate winemaking families for nearly a decade. Ercole is our line of everyday wines upholding our commitment to honoring the work of the unsung heroes of Italy—the grape growers themselves.
Ercole, whose English translation is Hercules, is only made possible by a generations-old cooperative of local growers in the Monferrato area. Every fall, these men and women cultivate pristine and sustainably farmed fruit, allowing us to make authentic wines that are transmitters of time and place. Small, independent cooperative wineries like this are not only the lifeblood of thousands of small growers across Italy but also repositories safeguarding the native grape varieties and winemaking traditions of their respective regions.
The cooperative behind Ercole works predominantly with old vines ranging from 30 to 50 years old. All participating growers adhere to the European Union rule for sustainable farming known as lotta integrata, or lutte raisonnée, though many are now certified organic. None of these growers use systemic treatments or chemicals, employing only minimal copper and sulfur. Both vinification and bottling are certified vegan.
The place, Monferrato, ranks among the most historic grape-growing areas of Piedmont and is the confirmed birthplace of the Barbera grape. For these reasons, we work primarily with Monferrato’s indigenous grape varieties.
Gaspard is a Jenny & François house label. The grapes are sourced from a winemaker in the Loire Valley who makes the wines to our specifications. Jenny met a Parisian artist and asked her to create labels for this project. They put their heads together and came up with the name “Gaspard,” and a joyful label for lovely Loire-Valley creations.
Methode Champenoise, aka secondary fermentation in bottles with lees, for 12 months. The wine is disgorged and topped up with more wine, zero sugar added.
“Bulles” means bubbles in French and that's exactly what you'll get here: a fruity rosé sparkle of life and red berries! This J&F exclusive is a refreshing blend of Pineau d’aunis and Grolleau (both typical grapes for the area), delicately fizzy thanks to its year-long ageing on fine lees.
This wine is a unique first for South Africa in that the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were pressed together in the same press. Fractional recovery from the whole bunches ensured that only the best quality juice went into fermentation. After fermentation the wine was lightly fined and bottled for the secondary fermentation, after which the wine underwent five years of lees contact time before disgorging. This bubbly has a beautiful salmon pink hue. Noticeable ripe blueberries and a subtle spiciness from the Pinot Noir with creamy complexity from the Chardonnay. An explosion of raspberry fruit and slight honeysuckle flavours on the palate, with a persistent yet delicate mousse.
Medium-bodied, very dry, gently fizzy. A traditional-method blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay from Valle d’Aosta in northwest Italy. Grosjean does everything old-school, so this pale pink sparkler gets 15 months of elevage in cool cellars until disgorgement in 2020. Wild strawberry, currant, raspberry, and mountain flowers.
Laetitia Billiot is the fourth generartion to estate bottle Champagnes at this domaine in the Grand Cru Village of Ambonnay. Her Great Grandfather Louis Billiot bottled small amounts of wine, but it was his son and Laetitia’s Grandfather Henri that created estate today. Laetitia’s father Serge took over in 1954 quickly establishing himself as a top producer, producing a range of wines from his Grand Cru holdings in Ambonnay. Today, Laetitia continues the tradition, working 5 hectares in Ambonnay. Of the 18 parcels that Billiot works, all but one of them are mid slope, in the most desirable sections of this famous village. “The wines of Ambonnay are very vinous, with a lot of strength,” says Laetitia Billiot,“but they are also very fine, with delicacy and finesse. They stay fresh for a long time.”
The wines are pressed in traditional vertical basket presses and vinified in stainless steel, Apart from one barrel fermented vintage wine, called “Cuvee Julie”. The wines don’t see Mal: “We have 100-percent grand cru vines, which always give a high degree of maturity, so we don’t need the malo.” Says Laetitia. The wines are also never stabilized or filtered prior to bottling.
Henri Milan has been producing organic wines since 1988, only two years after he took over the land from his father Robert. This is far before the recent surge in organic production over the last few years (and still only 9% of France's winemakers are making organic wine today!). Biodynamic principles are followed in their winemaking as well.
After harvest, the grapes are pressed directly. The juice co-ferments in a large cement vat until the fermentation is finished. The wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle for 9 months. Zero sugar is added at bottling, making this a brut nature. This wine could be drunk on its own, though it could be paired with an entire meal- starter, main course, and dessert!
Located in Saumur on the Loire River, Henry Varnay sits between the cities of Angers and Tours. Sourced from a variety of Loire Valley vineyards, the Varnay house looks for consistency from each vintage and achieves a bright red fruit sparkler with a hint of sweetness to play off the vibrant acidity that comes from younger vineyards and early picking. Aged in the famous ready-made wine cellars of Tuffeau, Saumur's local calcareous rock, there are approximately 10,000 cases of Henry Varnay produced each year.
The Rosé Sec NV from Varnay is a Charmat Method sparkling wine made from a vast majority of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Pineau d’Aunis - the last of these three is a cool rarity used for sparkling rose and chillable, light reds.While this is still a dry wine, it would also appeal to people looking for something a little more fruity.
This family estate in Alsace is over 400 years old. Jean-Baptiste Adam V took over in 1996 and began managing the winery. Soon after taking charge of the company, he modernized the winery and expanded it to create a processing and storage facility for the production of Crémant. In 2003, he embraced the practices of biodynamic agriculture.
The house rosé is 100% Pinot, from six acres of vines. This has a deep nose of red cherry, herbs and baked bread. Those flavors follow through in the mouth along with a rich, ripe texture.
The Haton family are a fourth-generation, family-owned Champagne House that owns 20 hectares of vineyards scattered around Champagne in 8 different Crus. While Haton began life as a recoltant-manipulant, demand for the house's wines made the decision to begin supplementing their own land with purchased grapes an easy one. Besides the estate's vineyards, Haton sources fruit from an estimated 75 hectares from over six dozen different crus. They are actually in the top 30 Champagne producers by size, though their relative anonymity in comparison the Grand Marques is notable.
The Brut rose is composed of 35% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir (10% still wine for color). It has classic rose Champagne notes of bright bing cherry, strawberry, spice and yeast. It's a middleweight wine, more about freshness and intensity than depth and richness.
Today, Stellios Boutaris, member of the fifth generation of winemakers, leads Kir-Yianni into the next phase of its history, by dynamically exploiting the cornerstones of the Kir-Yianni philosophy: desire for innovation, respect for tradition and true knowledge of the wine, from the grape to the end consumer.
This wine is made from 100% Xinomavro, the most famous red Greek grape. An intense mousse and a bright cherry colour, pronounced aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry and an elegant acidity adding freshness while pairing harmoniously with the discrete presence of sugars create a wine that is at the same time dynamic and balanced.
The Kruger-Rumpf estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim, a small village on the western side of the Nahe River, in the most northern section of this region. Paradoxically, though it is the furthest point north and where the Nahe meets the Rhein River, it is the warmest area of this region. Geographically unique, this area represents the intersection of four major German wine regions: the Nahe where the winery is located, the Rheingau and Mittelrhein to the north, Rheinhessen to the east.
The majority of Kruger-Rumpf’s holdings are located on the western side of the Nahe, though they also own parcels directly across the Nahe River in Binger Scharlachberg, which is part of the Rheinhessen. Standing in Kruger-Rumpf’s parcels in Rheinberg (Nahe), one can look out to Scharlachberg across the Nahe River in Rheinhessen, as well as the southern bend of the Rheingau and the Rudesheimer Berg, one of the most famous parts of the region, visible to the north.
Kruger-Rumpf’s holdings represent some of the greatest terroirs in the region with south-facing exposures and classic Nahe soil compositions, though each is uniquely arranged. The Grosses Gewächs sites are the jewels of the estate: the steep slate vineyard Münsterer im Pitterberg while the Münsterer Dautenpflänzer, a tiny parcel within Kapellenberg is quartzite and loess-clay based. Both sites are south-facing allowing for the production of high quality Grosses Gewächs (dry) styled wines. Binger Scharlachberg located in Rheinhessen, is composed of quartz and red sandstone soils and produces a Grosses Gewächs of power and finesse. The 2 hectare Dautenpflänzer is rarely affected by frost and the top layer of soil is nutrient rich, both factors are important in cultivating young vines. The name Dauten means “shoot” and pflanzer means “planter,” a nod to its previous life as a vine nursery The Münsterer Rheinberg. Located behind the village, Dautenpflänzer is made mostly of quartzite with sandy loam and a south/south-east exposure.
Georg is committed to organic viticulture and while they have been practicing organic for several years, they have started the transition for certification. Bees are kept nearby to facilitate pollination and aid in overall bio-diversity. Periodically sheep are allowed to roam the vines helping to control underbrush. All vineyards are hand harvested to ensure that only optimally ripe grapes are selected. Stefan believed that “you can’t improve wine in the cellar, only make it worse,” and Georg has continued his cellar work with this philosophy in mind. Fermentations occur spontaneously with ambient yeast for the fruity wines. Ambient yeasts are preferred though sometimes a neutral strain of cultured yeast is required to complete its fermentation. Often the wines stay on their gross lees well into spring. The wines produced to show the best of Kruger-Rumpf’s renowned vineyard sites, with brilliance, concentration, and extract.
This popular rosé comes from the small grower’s co-operative in the Grand Cru village of Mesnil. The co-op was founded in 1937, but was relatively anonymous until recent management decided to cut the volume produced and focus the co-ops members on providing quality fruit.
Sublime rosé is a bright, intense Champagne, with orange, apricot, strawberry and marzipan notes.
Entirely sourced in Mareuil-sur-Ay, the NV Brut Rose Premier Cru is a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, of which 7% is added as serious, barrel-fermented red wine to give the color. Assembling the 2012 and 2014 vintages, it is dosed with seven grams per liter and comes on the palate as a very clear, delicate, fresh and remarkably elegant rose with lovely purity and precision. It`s a great mix of generous fruit and chalky finesse. Aromatic, with ripe cherry and berry fruit and abundant spice notes, this creamy rosé is framed by firm acidity, offering a finely balanced mix of raspberry gelato, toasted brioche, chalk and grated ginger. Mouthwatering finish.
Twenty years into building an outstanding range of vintage dated sparkling wines, the Davies family set out to master the non-vintage or “multi-vintage” traditional method technique. A few years of experimentation would ultimately lead to the successful launch of Mirabelle Brut and Mirabelle Brut Rosé in 1992. The counterpart to our Mirabelle Brut, the Mirabelle Brut Rosé is a specially crafted blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Schramsberg’s select cool-climate vineyards in the Napa-Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley and Marin County areas of Northern California.
The Moutard family have a hand in two of France’s most prominent wine regions - Champagne and Chablis, both. In fact they are located in the Cote de Bars, Champagne’s warmest region, closer both in proximity and soil type to Chablis than to the grand Champagne regions of the North. Lucien Moutard took the family to local prominence in the 50s, and was a passionate advocate for what could be accomplished with sparkling wine is his beloved Cote de Bars. Two generations of the family currently operate the winery.
The Rosé Prestige is one of their entry-level NV Champagnes. Made from 100% Pinot Noir from younger vines, this is a strawberry, peach and stone-fruited wine, with hints of smoke and spice. It is a killer value rosé.
For more than 100 years, the Scammacca del Murgo family has cultivated vines and olives under the fiery gaze of Mount Etna in Sicily. More than once this active volcano has destroyed vineyard plots and covered their family home under ash—events that would rattle the nerves of even the most daredevil winemakers. Yet for the Scammacca del Murgo clan, it’s just the price one pays for the privilege of growing vines in one of the more dynamic and breathtaking wine regions on earth.
Up until the 1970s, Baron Emanuele and his family produced wine for locals in Santa Venerina. Friends and extended family would visit the estate, chatting with the “baron” while filling up their damigiana with wine for the week. It was in 1981 when Emanuele decided the time was ripe to move away from bulk production to focus on Etna’s exceptional volcanic terroir and its native grape, Nerello Mascalese. The family produced its first Etna Rosso in 1982 and then in 1990, they bottled their first estate sparkling dry wine from Nerello Mascalese, crafted according to the Méthode Champenoise.
Caring for vines and crafting wine has always been a family affair; the baron’s eight sons—Michele, Pietro, Matteo, Filippo, Alessandro, Bernardo, Manfredi and Costantino—all have a role, either in the fields or in the cantina, with the singular goal of ensuring that their father’s pioneering work in redefining the face of Etna wine continues.
The first artisans to champion Nerello Mascalese as a sparkling wine and certainly one of Sicilia’s oldest winemaking clans, the Scammacca del Murgo family has for more than a century cultivated grapes as well as olive and fruit trees in Santa Venerina. Grown exclusively on the fiery volcanic slopes of Mount Etna, Nerello Mascalese produces not only world-class red wines but also elegant sparkling wines—and is unquestionably one of Italia’s most distinctive grape varieties. Antique rose color, fine bubbles. Wild strawberries; cherries; pomegranate. Mineral, with notes of white pepper.
We met John Keller in the parking lot at Third Coast Soif when he was just getting started and were instantly blown away by how unique and natural his wines tasted. John used to work in a lab at Ravenswood in CA but wasn’t into industrial winemaking so he quit and started the Neu Cellars project with his Dad. Neu in German means new, fresh, or young and all his fruit hails from the Old Mission Peninsula. In the cellar, everything is fermented spontaneously and there are zero additions or subtractions. If there was an ingredient list on the label, it would read simply– grapes.
Michigan agriculture is the second most diverse in the nation next to, of course, California. There are 112 operating wineries in Michigan and the wine scene dates back to the 1800s. The Great Lakes, specifically Lake Michigan make the difference for growing here. The giant lake tempers the air along shoreline regions, protecting fall crops from harsh, early frosts, and preventing spring crops from blooming too early. Lake effect snow is important too, as it insulates vines from extremely cold temperatures.
In early October, the Pinot Meunier was hand-harvested, lightly foot trod and pressed with stems into neutral oak barrel. It completed primary fermentation in 4 weeks (native yeast only). At this time, freshly-pressed, direct press Pinot Meunier was added as liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle-aged for 5.5 months on the lees before it was disgorged by hand in mid-April. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.
Wine has been made at the Castillo Perelada since the Middle Ages, as shown in several documents and parchments from the period to be found in the library. When Miguel Mateu bought this ensemble of monuments in 1923, one of his primary objectives was to revitalize the wine producing tradition, a tradition that is more alive than ever these days and which has incorporated the most modern technology to create wines that make full use of the nuances of the soils and vines of the Empordà.
Flushed pink color. Clean and bright. Its generous stream of fine bubbles forms a crown. It has a sweet aroma that recalls little wild strawberries with rich overtones. This wine has a complex and fruity taste, full and with a good balance in the mouth.
Ployez-Jacquemart is a family champagne house, founded in 1930 by the husband and wife team of Marcel Ployez and Yvonne Jacquemart. The soul of the house, characterized by a continual search for excellence, is now represented by Laurence, third generation of the family, who succeeds her parents Gerard and Claude Ployez. Perpetuating the founding values of the house: Passion,Tradition and Dedication, she has committed herself to make the most of each harvest and produce great prestige wines.
We produce our Rosé in very good year for quality black grapes. They are all developed with this base: the assembly of Champagne Extra Quality Brut (blend of the first presses of premier and grand crus wines with a majority of black grapes) to which we add a small amount of champagne red wine from Avenay or Mailly Champagne vinified in oak. Each vintage brings structures and intensities of different colors. The chance to work with the addition of red wine allows us to be more stable and accurate in color. It contributes to create an expressive blend delicately combining the expression of red fruit aromas with richness and long finish, keeping things lively. Our red wines are made in our oak barrels unveiling an elegant touch lightly wooded. We use only very low dosages to let express all fruits and aromas of the wine
The Eyrie Vineyards is rightly regarded as one of the most important, historic producers in the US, and more specifically in Oregon's Willamette Valley. David Lett pioneered Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in the region, and he also set the tone for the Valley being a home for quirky, artisinal, quality-minded producers. His son Jason has taken over and maintained the quality they have always been famous for, and if you want to see people turn reverent in Oregon wine circles, bring up their names.
Spark is a relatively new wine for this property. Though it is finished under a crown cap, it gets the traditional method treatment. It is a lively blend of Pinot Blanc and Noir, with a lesser known Alsatian grape, Chasselas, mixed in to round things out.
This méthode traditionelle sparkling wine is made with organically-farmed, estate gamay and mondeuse. As an Extra-Dry, it has an exceptional balance that will play well at the beginning and end of the meal (or throughout your picnic!). Céline and Thierry Tissot are showing that top quality méthode traditionelle sparklers can be made in Bugey, transmitting a clear and unique Bugey identity. The Tissots have been pushing the envelope with the development of their traditional method sparkling wines with a long lees-aging regimen.
The wine rests on the fine lees until the following February when it is bottled and begins its secondary fermentation. It ages on the lees for around 16 months before being disgorged. A dosage of 12g/L emphasizes the friendly and convivial aspects of this cuvée.
VINEYARD AND TERROIR: Nostra Signora Della Neve is the most importan tvineyard in the blend of this Metodo Classico. It is located in Roddino, at the confluence of the Barolo area and the Alta Langa. A magnificent vineyard, steep,entirely worked by hand from pruning to harvest. The soil, calcareous and poor,forces the vines to dig deep, giving the wine an extraordinary minerality.
HARVEST AND WINEMAKING: Harvest takes place between the second half ofAugust and early September. The harvest, as well as the transport in small crates,are manually carried out to preserve the whole fruit. Nostra Signora Della Neveis a rosé de saignée. The wort is drained after a short maceration that allows usto obtain the delicate pink color. In the spring following to the harvest begins thesecond fermentation, followed by a rest on the lees of around 48-60 months.
TASTING NOTES: A fragrant sparkling wine, unveiling in the nose and palate the decisive character of the Nebbiolo and the gentle elegance of Pinot Noir.
As one of the oldest wineries in Austria, Schloss Gobelsburg has several historical vineyard sites around the castle. Every site has its specialties and particularities with different soil and micro-climatic conditions. From the sun-exposed terraces on Zöbinger Heiligenstein and the Gaisberg mountain to the extensive garden facilities around Gobelsburg castle, the vines are subjected to a wide range of conditions. In accordance with their respective potential, the best possible development conditions are established for every grape variety.
At Schloss Gobelsburg, ecological winegrowing is not just simply en vogue at the moment. The monks of the Zwettl Monastery, who managed the winery until 1995, used organic fertiliser, abstained from employing herbicides, and aimed to reduce the use of plant protectants.
In 1996, the Schloss Gobelsburg Winery was granted membership into the renowned Verein der Österreichischen Traditionsweingüter (Association of Austrian Traditional Wineries). This association was the first in Austria to classify vineyard locations in Kamptal and Kremstal. Many of these vineyards – usually locations with a long history – produce wines with great potential year after year and stand out from the other conventional vineyards.
The valley of the Danube and its side-valleys belong to the ‘Cool climate’ areas of Austria. Some vineyards are even too cold for red wine making. Zweigelt, St. Laurent and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the cooler sites of Gobelsburg and Langenlois are used for this wine.
In the rugged mountains of Mexico’s Baja California Norte, Bichi has put together one of the most exciting projects in the world of wine.
Spanish conquistadores first planted vines in Coahuila in the late 1500’s, pre-dating vine growing in both Chile and Argentina. The region was so well-suited and successful, that the Spanish Crown ordered production halted in fear of New World wine becoming more popular than their Iberian producers. Bichi was founded in 2014 by the Téllez family, who moved to Baja from neighboring Sonora, hence the name Bichi, which means “naked” in the Sonoran Yaqui dialect. Noel left his day job as a lawyer and is now the sole proprietor of Bichi, overseeing all day-to-day operations of the winery. Helping out with winemaking duties is Beaujolais-trained Yann Rohel. Noel is continuing to grow and learn and is regularly seeking out new vineyards and evolving the Bichi winemaking style.
It’s hard not to talk about Bichi without mentioning the labels, which are uniquely Mexican and represent the Téllez family's whimsical sense of humor. Inside the bottles are incredibly vibrant and transparent wines that evoke the nearby Pacific Ocean, the granite soils, and rugged mountain vineyards of their region. Through the persistent work of the family and their farmers and collaborators, lively Baja wine is officially on the map.
Pet Mex comes from a single, dry-farmed, and own-rooted 69-year-old vineyard comprised of a mysterious grape variety that remains unidentified. The vines are planted close to the Pacific Ocean at 1,066 ft above sea level on sandy loam and granite soils in the area of San Antonio de las Minas in Ensenada, Baja. The grapes are hand-harvested, de-stemmed, and pressed after a few hours on the skins. Fermentation is with wild yeasts, and the wine is bottled before fermentation is finished, where the wine went through secondary fermentation, a la metodo ancestral. No filtration or added SO2.
Mizany Vineyard is a 16-acre vineyard in the famous Cortina Gravel of Dry Creek Valley. Breaking Breadpurchased the vineyard in 2011 and named it after the father-in-law. When planting the Zinfandel Vineyard they took a heritage approach and planted a field blend much like the first vineyards planted in the area. The Zinfandel for our Pet Nat was picked at 20 brix, which translated into 11.3% alcohol and a zippy acidity
Passion fruit and Bing cherry come off the nose of this wine with a distinctive, wet gravel minerality. As you look at the wine in your glass it continues to dance and open up to its more complex flavors and aromatics. The palate on this wine evokes a traditional Champagne in weight and fineness of bubbles; however, the easy-drinking, fruit forward youth of the wine makes it very quaffable.
Christoph Hoch is the twelth generation, since 1640, to make wine in his town of Hollenburg, on the south side of the Danube. Historically, vines were planted on this side of the Danube and the north side was for food crops. In 2013, Hoch split from his parents winery, starting with five hectares that would have been his inheritence eventually. Today (Sept. 2019), Hoch has 12 hectares total, all in Hollenburg, and all farmed biodynamically and certified by Demeter. The subsoil is Hollenburger conglomerate, which was formed by the Traisental and Danube rivers crashing together and compacting chalk and river stones together. The chalk is equally as active as the Côte des Blancs in Champagne, bringing minerals to the vines. This similarity in soil inspired Christoph to make sparkling wine. Although, the source of chalk is completely different, in Hollenburg it’s from the Alps and in Champagne it’s maritime chalk, or what is called muschelkalk in German.
Throughout all of Hoch’s vineyards, you find a mix of mustard, rye, and phacelia. He considers all of his parcels by four categories: dry, chalky, nutrient rich, or holds water. Depending on the category, he will plant the herbs and grains accordingly. Mustard brings sulfur to the soil, which protects the plants and transfers it naturally to the wines, so that he can use as little as possible at bottling. Rye brings carbon to the soil. He knocks it down after it has grown and it creates a natural humus. The carbon from the rye works with the phacelia and creates nitrogen. Hoch is an instructor for the wine school in Krems, specialized in teaching biodynamic farming.
Christoph has very active, chalky soil much like what is found in the Côte des Blancs in Champagne. Upon learning this, he wanted to try out making a pet-nat. In an effort to learn about sparkling wine, he spent time in Champagne with De Sousa, Laherte, and LDM’s Champagne Tarlant; Benoît Tarlant made a bet with Hoch that it would be nearly impossible for him to make a stable pet-nat. The bet was that if he succeeded, then Tarlant would give him twelve barrels to use. After his first bottling, Hoch sent him twelve bottles to try and after trying the bottles, Tarlant conceded that he lost the bet and Hoch drove to Champagne to collect his barrels! The Kalkspitz (kalk = chalk, and spitz = acidity) is made of 70% Grüner Veltliner, blended with Zweigelt pressed white, Sauvignon Blanc fermented on the skins, Blauer Portugieser and Muskat Ottonel. It’s dry with a maximum alcohol of 11% and a maximum pressure of 3atm’s. It’s savory with a refreshing acidity and creaminess on the palate.
Since 1843, Jean Pascal Aubron’s family has been tending their vineyards around the town of Vallet, outside of Nantes, near the Atlantic Coast. Jean Aubron uses traditional vinification methods, transferring the wines midway through the fermentation process to underground glass-lined tanks, where they finish and sit on their lees for between 6 to 10 months, depending on the year’s quality. The primary focus of winery is Aubron's classic, brisk Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine sur lie from the acclaimed Grand Fief de l’Audigère, a lieux-dit which sits on gabbro (volcanic rock) deposits. In 2000, Pascal began employing sustainable practices in the vineyard, practicing lutte raisonnée** and avoiding chemical usage. Then two years later, Pascal began letting cover-crop grass grow between his rows to help fight mildew, which is a persistent issue, due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
**The proliferation of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides in the 1950s has made France the single largest consumer of phyto-chemicals in Europe today. The subsequent degradation of the soil has ensued, killing off the necessary microbiotic life forms that support healthy soils. Lutte raisonnée, literally “reasoned fight” (in French), or “supervised control” (in English), is a reaction to the use of such chemicals, regarded as a pragmatic approach to farming, where chemical treatments are used only when absolutely necessary. Biodiversity in the vineyards is encouraged through the planting of cover crops, rigorous plowing of the soils, and the use of manures and natural composts to fertilize the vines. Some growers use this as a first step towards full organic farming. Others find it a happy medium between conventional methods and the stricter demands dictated by organic certifying agencies. There is a wide berth of interpretation concerning these methods. Some farmers work through certifying agencies such as Terra Vitis, following a specific set of specifications and requirements. Others farm independently, following organic methodologies, and reserving treatments only when conditions are optimal (for example, when there is no wind). Zoologists have introduced more environmentally-friendly concepts such as integrated pest management, or hormone confusion, which prevents the reproduction of certain pests that may threaten the vines. The reduction of sprays not only contributes to the health of the vines and the greater ecosystem, but also to the health of the winegrowers (who account for the largest percentage of cancer cases among farmers).**
Jean-Pascal Aubron Les Bulles Pet Nat is a methode ancestrale sparkler made from Melon de Bourgogne, the grape made famous for producing Muscadet. Soft lemon fruit and a hint of salinity.
A man of true conviction in viticulture and viniculture, Angiolino Maule actually started his working life as a pizzaiolo, or pizza maker, of some renown in Italy. But the earth and the vines were calling him all the while. Through his hard work and sterling reputation, Angiolino was able to save enough money to start his winery. He chose Gambellara and, principally, the Garganega grape to make his magical music in a glass. Gambellara is ostensibly the extension of the Soave foothills in Veneto into the adjoining province of Vicenza where the wine changes its name, but not its general composition. The principal white grape is Garganega backed up with small amounts of Trebbiano. For decades now, he has plowed in his vines and not used any soil treatments, chemical or otherwise. Using biodynamicviticultural practices, Angiolino has created an organic, living soil and ecosystem for benefiting the health of the vines and their resistance to any form of malady.
Produced with Garganega and vinified in stainless steel, Garg’n’Go is a fun, approachable sparkling wine.Fresh, exuberant and refreshing, this tastes like a summer cocktail but in wine format. Infinitely gluggable and so fruity you could almost mistake it for pear juice.
Meinklang is an original, family-run mixed farm, set in the middle of the World Heritage Site of the National Park Neusiedlersee, on the Eastern side of the Neusiedlersee Lake, bordering directly on the Hungarian lowlands, where life’s diversity and complexity are celebrated. This farm functions much like an organism, relying not only on the people but also on the local herd of cows which contributes in an essential way with their natural and invaluable fertiliser. The farm’s diversity is enriched by ancient grains such as spelt, farro and Einkorn wheat, as well as the fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, meadows of wild herbs and flowers and the elegant charm of the grapevines.
Foam Vulkán from Meinklang has everything you need in a Pet Nat: it’s dry, light, summery, bit floral, bit herbal and fair priced! You can detect some grapefruit, yellow apple, lemongrass and peach aromas plus lovely saltiness too.
In the mid-12th century French Carthusian monks settled in this northeast region of Slovenia and planted it with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. The Podkubovšek family, starting with Vlado and his son, Marko, has always cherished and been proud of this local heritage, hence the fact that all of their wines are made in a traditional style, where the vines and the microclimate speak for themselves.The owner of Santum is Mr. Marko Podkubovšek, a worldly man and a wine lover, who believes in local tradition and in hand produced wines. Our vineyards span the steep southern slopes of hills and hillocks over the town Loče, which boast a rich viticulture tradition as grapevines were grown here as early as the 12th century by Carthusian monks.
This is a new wine, made for the first time in 2020. Embracing the minimal tasting notes: intervention approach in the cellar, hand-harvested grapes were destemmed, macerated on the skins for 5 days, then pressed into a stainless steel tank to undergo spontaneous fermentation. Before fermentation was finished, the wine was bottled and left for 5 months on the less. Roughly disgorged; no sulfur added. These bubbles are bursting with aromas of fresh meyer lemon, minerals, and Asian pear and on the palate, juicy green grapes, lemon zest and a subtle herbaceousness. This wine will play amazingly alongside salads, fish, or any seafood.
This is a new wine, made for the first time in 2019. Embracing the minimal intervention approach in the cellar, hand-harvested grapes were destemmed and spontaneously fermented in stainless steel tanks. 2 day maceration. Still fermenting wine was bottled in October and then roughly disgorged in February. All of the pinot noir grapes that would normally be reserved for rose were used to experiment with the first ever Sanctum winery pet nat. The resulting wine is a yeasty sparkling rose with some cloudy sediment and lively bubbles. Juicy and bright, with aromas of cranberry and raspberry, this pet nat is a refreshing treat. The sugar level is in check and the fruit is subtle enough that you can certainly enjoy it with food like charcuterie and salads, or a forest berry dessert. But be sure to chill it well and do not shake before opening! This wine is alive.
In the already complex and insider-y world of German wine, Franconia is a truly insider region. 2Naturkinder is the natural wine project of Micheal Voelker and Melanie Drese, who traveled the world, working in various vineyards before returning home to focus on their small corner of Bavaria. Voelker’s father owns a winery, and even sits on the quality control board of the appellation, but supports his son’s work that falls outside of the local requirements.
Bacchus is one of the many German crossbred varieties produced between the world wars, this one by the noted viticulturist Peter Morio. Morio crossed an already existing experimental cross of Silvaner x Riesling with Muller-Thurgau. The result was a relatively low-acid white grape that was somewhat unique amongst the typically high acid Germanic varieties. It is primarily used in Franconia, and 2Naturkinder transforms their harvest into a natural, undisgorged Pet-Nat.
We are small boutique winery from the northeast Slovenia, near Austrian border, Styria region, situated near the town of Ptuj in Haloze sub-wine region, the wine culture in our town has almost 2000 years of history. We specialize in white wines, which suite our terroir. Producing Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Furmint, Yellow Muscat, Traminer, Chardonnay, Welschriesling, Blaufrankisch and also blends of white wines. With our wines, we want to present the purity of terroir and varietal expression, with pronounced body and long aftertaste.
Haloze is one of the oldest and most traditional wine regions in Slovenia and Europe. The culture of vinegrowing dates back 2000 years, to Roman times. In the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was one of most prestigious wine regions in the Empire; from here, the wines were sold not only to Vienna, but also worldwide. The town of Ptuj, which is the center of the region and the oldest Slovenian town, was basically built on wine trade.
This small wine region is about 20 km wide. All vineyards are on the southern exposure at a high incline so most of the vineyards are terraced. Soil composition is predominantly marl or clay over marl. The vineyards extend on top vinegrowing sites, on the hills surrounding the town of Ptuj.
Wines made with extended warm maceration of 1 month.
Fermentation with wild yeast.
Still wines matured in French oak for two years.
Raw cloudy wines, to show purity without human intervention during maturing
Pétillant-naturel or natural sparkling wines (pét-nat), made with one step fermentation, with endemic wild microflora at the end of fermentation. Bottled to keep the bubbles and finish fermentation in the bottle.
Chris Brockway came to call Berkeley home (for his cellar anyways) by way of Omaha, Nebraska, where he was born and raised, Seattle, and finally Los Angeles, with a couple short stops in between. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, he began working in restaurants around the city before decamping to the Pacific Northwest, where he ultimately became interested in wine. After a friend joked that he should learn how to actually make it, he packed his things and enrolled in winemaking courses at UC Davis. Before finishing, he made the move to Cal State Fresno, which has its own functioning winery, and this is where he became an expert, as he says, in everything he does not use. He finished his studies and quickly landed a job at JC Cellars, by all means a conventional winery. At the same time he began to frequent Terroir, San Francisco’s first natural wine bar, and began to think a lot about experimenting with the wines he liked to drink. And so, with a few small experiments, Broc Cellars was born.
His facility comprises two warehouses, one with multiple stainless steel, concrete, and wooden tanks, the other a dedicated barrel and concrete egg room. All fermentations are done with native yeasts, and for the most part he forgoes the use of sulfur. If needed, he will add a few milligrams about four weeks before bottling so that it fully integrates into the wine.
Manuel is the 7th generation winemaker at his vineyard. Yes, 7th generation! His ancestor was a conquistador that actually had a wonderful relationship with the local people who gave him the nickname Cacique Maravilla, wonderful leader. His Pais vines today are original, over 250 years old! Today Manuel still farms the land and makes wine in an old school way. In a time that natural winemaking is becoming popular, Manuel is just doing what he always has.
Very little is done in the vineyard. Minimally and organically farmed, not much pruning, no tractors. In fact the vines are so wild you can barely walk through the vineyard, let alone get a tractor through there! His Pais is bottled just before fermentation is finished giving the wine a slight fizz, the definition of the style of Pipeño. The moscato goes sulfur free and is delicious in a crazy, rustic, slightly funky way.
Juan Sojo and Ángel Luis González started Cerro la Barca in 2003. The two met in oenology school and bonded over their desire to revive the reputation of their native Extremadura, in western Spain near the Portuguese border. While it’s history can be traced to 550 BCE, phylloxera and powdery mildew hit the region hard in the 19th century. Winemaking started a gradual revival after the Spanish Civil War and has been picking up steam ever since. The majority of the wine currently produced in the region is bulk Vino de Mesa (table wine).
Cerro La Barca is the only 100% organic winery in the whole Extremadura region. The vineyard is located in the area of Vegas Altas, just east of Mérida, on the banks of the Guadiana River. The quality of the terroir and the high level of biodiversity promoted in the vineyard makes human intervention almost unnecessary. The proximity to the river creates a special microclimate with humidity that decreases the irrigation needs and favors the elaboration of wines with excellent quality.
This is their ancestral method bubbly, made of two indigenous white grapes and some Cabernet Sauvignon, the red skins of which give the wine it’s gorgeous rose-gold hue. The wine is disgorged, leaving a beautifully clear rosé. Clean and expressive, it tastes like spring at the seashore, all bright and salty, sunny and zesty.
Chateau Barouillet has been a family business going back at least 8 generations. Vincent Alexis works alongside his father and grandfather to cultivate the land and has pushed the winery into Organic viticulture, starting to convert the soil in 2010 and fully converting all the vineyards by 2014. The domaine controls 45 hectares of vines throughout Monbazzillac, Bergerac Pécharmant, and Cotes de Bergerac.
Semillon is a relatively rare white grape found most often in Bordeaux and Bergerac. Alexis makes his Pet-Nat with no sulfur and leaves it undisgorged. The wine is funky, with waxy tropical fruit notes.
Ferran Lacruz farms 8 hectares of vines in Catalonia, in the small village of Sant Marti Sarroca, in the heart of the Penedès wine region. Ferran started this project with his first vintage of 2018. He works completely outside of any appellation, farms the grapes organically, and is not adding anything to any of the wines. All the grapes are hand-harvested, and nothing is filtered or fined. Ferran grew up in this part of Catalonia, and since being a small child was seduced by the landscape, natural beauty, and the important of wine producing in the culture. He studied tourism in college, which left him feeling unfulfilled. So, with a friend, he began to embark on the journey of becoming a winemaker, looking to produce clean natural wines that express his homeland with honesty.
This ancestral method Sparkling represents a Xarel·lo vineyard of 53 years old. By making this ancestral sparkling wine, Lacruz wanted to show the potential of ageing and gaining complexity that this profile of wines has. Specifically, this wine has been 10 month ageing with the lees, with the objective of gaining mouth volume and certain yeast influence. After this lees ageing, the winewas disgorged in orther to keep on evolving more, nevertheless, without giving more yeast profile and making the fruit the main character of this interesting sparkling wine.
Croci is a small estate in the westernmost winegrowing sub-zone of Emilia-Romagna, the Colli Piacentini. Massimiliano Croci is the current generation of vignaiolo running what started as his grandfather’s property in 1935. His focus is the traditional wine of the area: white and red sparkling wines re-fermented in the bottle. Currently 8.5 of the total of 16 hectares are planted to vine, and the rest of the acreage support Croci’s dairy cows and the feed grain, hay and pasture for the animals. In fact, milk was the main production of the farm until 1970.
Gutturnio is a mix of Bonarda and Barbera. The vines are farmed organically, and everything is done by hand, including weeding and harvest. The grapes are co-fermented spontaneously in open vats with an approximately 8-day maceration with frequent pump-overs. The wine then rests in foudre through the winter before bottling; as the spring air warms the cellar, re-fermentation kicks in. The wine spends a minimum of 10 months in the bottle, finshing fully dry, and is not disgorged or filtered before release. It’s deep, dry, and acidic, full of dark ripe cherry and earth. Bold and untamed but really food-friendly.
Devoted to producing pure and integral wines, with the lowest intervention and the highest respect for its natural and energetic origin, the climate, and the land.The wines are consistently high in energy and very festive. Located 300 metres above sea level, about 20 km in from the Mediterranean, this first vineyard Salvador "Salva" Batlle rented is one of the highest in Empordà. It is planted with Cariñena Blanca, a local variety that needs poor soils without clay or humidity and which is one of Cosmic's greatest treasures. It's existed in the area for around 300-400 years and is a fresh variety, with a lot of acidity and structure but it has always been ill-treated. In the eyes of Salva, looking after abandoned varieties is viewed as critical for maintaining the area's identity and follows biodynamic practices in the vineyard alongside pure practices in the cellar.
Winemaker Salva's aim was to create a revitalising, electric, fresh and festive sparkling wine, giving value to the Catalan autochthonous varieties with a renewed look. They have done this and more. A gluggable Pét that drinks more like natural Cava. Made mostly from Parrelada with bits of Muscat. 3 days of skin contact, ending fermentation in bottle. Blossom, green apples and elderflowers. Light, fresh and creamy.
Côme is a négociant-winemaker who has spent more than a decade working in the world of organic agriculture. He began to produce his own organic wines in 2013 in Saumur, producing around 6,000 bottles per year.
He buys his grapes from 4 different organic growers, and from there he manages everything- from the picking of the grapes to the bottling of his wines, not to mention the sales! Grapes, apples, and pears are macerated separately, then blended together to continue fermentation in the bottle
Winemakers all over France have found the need to be a bit creative over the last few years due to uncooperative weather conditions, such as frost, hail, or lack of rain. Côme had the idea to combine apples, grapes, and pears, to make this drink, which is reminiscent of France’s best ciders. Bottled as a Pet Nat at 20g/L RS. Disgorged by hand in march 2018. Rich cider with nice refreshing bubbles and a salty finish on the palate.
Xavier Courrant, a former Parisian caviste, decided to get closer to the source by founding Domaine de L'Oubliée in 2009. After studying viticulture/oenology and working with famed vigneronRomain Guiberteau for a year, Xavier managed to purchase three plots of Cabernet Franc and a small parcelof Chenin Blanc to form a 7.14 hectareestate in the commune of Saint-Patrice. After many years of conversion, the estate is now certified organic. In the cellar, native yeasts have always been used, the wines are never fined or filtered and sulfites are only added in very low doses at bottling.
This Pét-Nat is made from his small parcel of Chenin Blanc planted in clay, flint and limestone soils. Xavier Courant gives us this rendition showing a deep golden hue, aromas of honeysuckle, lemon candy, and flavors of honeycomb and melon. No sulfur is added, it’s fermented with ambient yeasts, and it's farmed using biodynamic methods. All of Xavier's wines are named after films from Bertrand Blier. Les Valseuses, or "the dancers", is a reference to the playful character of the bubbles on the palate.
Magali Terrier, originally from the Beaujolais, worked in diverse wine-growing regions throughout France. In the late 1990’s, she began to seek out a terroir where she could freely express her passion for making extraordinary organic wine and that search led her to the Languedoc. Magali Terrier first set her eyes on Peyriac de mer, a diamond in the rough with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea, and it was love at first sight. She started the 2 Anes winery in the year 2000, the same year Jenny & François was founded.
Being byodynamic, the winery is a diverse farm with many different animals, including of course, donkeys, but also sheep and many other animals. The donkeys are allowed to wonder amongst the vines, where they eat the garrigue and other herbs growing everywhere on this property. When Magali begins to prune in the spring, she often discovers that the donkeys have done a “pre-pruning,” having eaten some of the shoots and canes along with the garrigue.
Medium-bodied, dry, gently sparkling. A cloudy color of guava nectar in the glass and cider on the nose, this Carignan-based Pet-Nat has notes of fresh figs, persimmon, mulberries, and a hint of Rainier cherry on a finish of lees and sediment. An absolute joy to drink and low on the funk factor.
Latour-de-France is another one of those picturesque villages you find in the Pyrénées-Orientales, with its tiled rooves and surrounding vineyards you could very well think you were looking at a postcard instead of a real place. Latour-de-France is real though, not only is it real, it's also super old. Bosting a castle dating back to the 11th century and a chapel from the 13th, the past is never far here. Perhaps it’s fitting then that Latour-de-France has found its second act as a Natural Wine haven, after all isn’t Natural Wine an attempt to rediscover the past? Standing in the vineyards, many of which are over 100 years old, it’s easy to see why so many foreign Natural Winemakers have begun to call this place home and it makes complete sense it’s where we found Aline Hock and her Domaine des Mathouans.
Originally from Belgium, Aline might not be from Latour, but it is certainly in her blood now. Aline does things the old way, her vineyards are all biodynamically farmed, plowed by horse, and grazed by sheep to increase biodiversity. She works mainly with the indigenousness varietals of the valley, which include Macabeu, Grenache, Lledoner Pelut, and Carignan, always allowing the pureness of the fruit and soil to shine through. Nothing is added to these wines, no fancy winemaking, just wines the way they should be. Aline’s wines will make you think, mainly about how delicious some of these varietals are and why the hell aren’t we drinking more Macabeu and Carignan!
Vincenzo de Conti along with his wife & children settled down in South-West France in 1925. In 1956, his son Primo de Conti took over the family agricultural business with his wife Michelle, who looked after a couple of horses, and with his brother Albert. Luc, the 3rd generation, settled down at the farm in the early 80s following his passion for horses. He inherited a number of old vines, and planted more plots later on, while his wife Martine started managing the receptive side of the business.
His cousin Francis, with whom he grew up with in this large family, joined Luc, Martine & the business in 1990. He brought with him 20 hectares of vines planted in the Saint Julien d’Eymet and Grand Caillou areas, and took charge of the vines.
This Pet Nat is the first sparkling wine they have ever made.
Field Recordings is winemaker Andrew Jones’ personal catalog of the people and places he values most. Our wines are all about the flavor — with none of the pretension. Spending his days as a vine nursery fieldman planning and planting vineyards for farmers all over California, Andrew is sometimes offered small lots of their best fruit on the side. Having stood in just about every vineyard on the Central Coast, he’s all about finding those underdogs with untapped potential. As friendships are made and opportunities are embraced, Andrew produces small quantities of soulful wine from these unusual, quiet vineyards.
Salad days is a blend of the 3 white grapes Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Colombard. Colombard is a fairly neutral grape, once preferred solely for brandy production (notably Armagnac) is planted globally. Generally blended with other grapes, easy-drinking table wines result. The final wine here is tangy and zippy, classic pet-nat, with more tart vinaigrette notes than deeply earthy ones. Pair with fresh cheeses and salad.
François Pinon was a former child psychologist before returning to his family estate. He is now joined by his son Julien, a dapper dresser and maybe the only person we know who smokes the pipe.
Pinon works vineyards organically. This wine, made from 50/50 Cot (aka Malbec) and Grolleau, is the only non-Chenin wine produced at the estate.
Nick has been working with this vineyard since he started out on his own in 2010 and in 2018 started producing Janko’s wines. The focus of the Gabernik ‘pikolas’ (or piquettes) is to make that perfect summer/post-harvest thirst-quenching drink. One that is low in alcohol but carries just enough to make things interesting! This pikola is literal by-product of the Gabernik rosé, however there is more attention to detail than just that. In making a pikola, Nick feels that nailing the cleanest fermenting conditions is paramount to a precise and expressive drink. He is also focused on finding that perfect amount of additional fermenting juice to carry the ferment through is the tipping point of the ‘wine’ being too much or too little.
Nick took the pressed skins of the red blend he produces, which includes Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and a bit of Riesling, then added a bit of water back to the pressings to extract any remaining sugar. The water-laced must began to ferment naturally and after nine days was pressed to tank. He then blended 1/2 of the total volume of fermented juice with unfermented juice to continue the fermentation. When the ferment approached the final stretch it the wine was bottled to finish the fermentation in bottle, giving the brilliant light-sparkling nature of the concoction.
Nick took the pressed skins of the still rosé he produces, which includes Blaufrankisch, Riesling and a bit of Pinot Noir, then added a bit of water back to the pressings to extract any remaining sugar. The water-laced must began to ferment naturally and after nine days was pressed to tank. He then blended a little less than 1/2 of the total volume of fermented juice with unfermented juice to continue the fermentation. When the ferment approached the final stretch it the wine was bottled to finish the fermentation in bottle, giving the brilliant light-sparkling nature of the concoction.
Nick has been working with this vineyard since he started out on his own in 2010 and in 2018 started producing Janko’s wines. The focus of the Gabernik ‘pikolas’ (or piquettes) is to make that perfect summer/post-harvest thirst-quenching drink. One that is low in alcohol but carries just enough to make things interesting! This pikola is literal by-product of the Gabernik white blend, however there is more attention to detail than just that. In making a pikola, Nick feels that nailing the cleanest fermenting conditions is paramount to a precise and expressive drink. He is also focused on finding that perfect amount of additional fermenting juice to carry the ferment through is the tipping point of the ‘wine’ being too much or too little.
Nick took the pressed skins of the white blend, which includes Muskat Ottonel, Riesling, Rizvanec and Yellow Muskat, then added a bit of water back to the pressings to extract any remaining sugar. The water-laced must began to ferment naturally and after five days was pressed to tank. He then blended a little more than 1/3 of the total volume of fermented juice with unfermented juice to continue the fermentation. When the ferment approached the final stretch it the wine was bottled to finish the fermentation in bottle, giving the brilliant light-sparkling nature of the concoction.
Hervé Villemade has been working his family's vines in Cellettes since taking over from his father in 1995. When Hervé first took over, everything was farmed chemically and vinified conventionally. Unaware of an alternative, he followed in his parents' footsteps but quickly found his work "uninspired and bland." Around 1997, Hervé was introduced to the wines of Marcel Lapierre and Clos du Tue-Boeuf. Both immediately struck a chord with him.
Coincidentally, at the exact same time that he was discovering these wines, Hervé started developing a very serious allergy to sulfur. He decided to eliminate it from the cellar, but his first sans souffre vinifications quickly led to the conclusion that to make wine this way, you needed the hightest quality grapes. So in 2000, Hervé decided to convert the estate to organic viticulture.
This pet-nat is made from 3 red Loire grapes, Gamay, Grolleau, and Pineau d'Aunis. It is direct-pressed before undergoing two rackings & 10 months of elevage sur lattes; the end result is a spunky watermelon zinger, fresh and very glow-glow. Some nice river stone minerality & sweet strawberry whiff to finish.
‘Il Mostro’ was conceived as a new experimental project from Poggio Anima, a more traditional line of wines from famed Tuscan winemaker Riccardo Campinoti. The grapes come from the Monteodorisio Vineyard in Chieti, Abruzzo. The Marchesani family has been farming this since the mid-1960s and following the marriage of Sebastiano Jasci to Lucia Marchesani, the newly married couple embarked on a new frontier of higher quality farming. Sebastiano pushed for organic farming and became one of the first certified organic vineyards in Italy in 1978and today their son Nicola has taken over the winemaking. ‘Ragana' is an ancient pre-Indo-European spirit and a powerful prophetess who reveals the future. She is best known in the Baltic states and is thought to rule over fertility and regeneration and is the guardian of nature's cycles: creation, growth, decline and destruction.
The Pecorino and Riesling were hand-harvested from two blocks that sit in an amphitheater that wraps around from southeast to northeast and ascending from 750 to 850 feet in elevation. The majority of the grapes were cooled down at the winery and fermented at a cool 60ºF with the remaining grapes being whole-bunch pressed to tank and chilled very cold to prevent fermentation and held in tank. Primary fermentation occurred naturally in a sealed stainless-steel tank and when the wine reached 15 g/L residual sugar the tank was cooled down in order to hold the ferment at 10 g/L. The wine was bottled, secondary fermentation occurred over the next 2-3 months and the wine was released without disgorgement.
Keltis wines attest to the artisan’s approach in the vineyard and the cellar, they express their terroir, and contain minimum quantities of sulfites. A big share of our wines is unfiltered and that is why our wines carry inside them life and the potential for further development. Marl, which is the main rock of our terroir, provides our wine with minerality, especially felt in the macerated wines.As dictated by our philosophy, our work with wines is done at the time of the full moon, when the wine is at its peak and can fully express its potential. Since we only follow its development and do not monitor it artificially, the wine arrives on the market when it is ready and thus every vintage shows its character in its own moment.
Vineyards of the Keltis wine cellar encompass 5 hectares of land and stretch over the south and south-western positions as well as northern slopes of the Bizeljsko area. Western winds blowing from neighboring Orlica take care of the ventilation and are our natural ally in the fight against diseases. Soil composition includes marl, sandstone with quartz binder, clay, Lithuanian limestone, and limestone with the application of chert.
The sparkling wine is pale lemon in color. The bubbles are tiny, active. Pronounced medium bouquet reminds of flowers, yellow fruit, peeled apples, and somewhat of yeast. Very dry sparkling wine, the taste of peeled apples predominates in the mouth, followed by a long aftertaste.
Marine Leys farms 5 hectares of hillside vines planted to Duras, Syrah, Braucol, Mauzac, Loin de l’oeil and Gamay. Before starting the Vignereuse, she had worked for years behind the camera in film production across Europe, where she then moved to Canada, Ireland and eventually, Turkey. It was there that Marine found herself helping her employer plant a vineyard. She worked in the cellar and eventually handled the winemaking after studying in Beaune. In 2012, Marine made her way to Gaillac to work and learn under the guidance of her friends, the legendary Plageoles family. In 2014, she found 5 hectares of vines in Andillac and the Vignereuse project was launched. Her first vintage delivered precise, flavorful and refined wines that speak both to the quality of the Gaillac as one of the most underrated AOP in France, and to her skills as a young winemaker.
Grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, and fermented in fiberglass tanks. The wine macerates on the skins for about 3 days. Beautiful light pink bubbles carry soft red fruits, absolutely perfect for the hotter weather.
Braucol is a rare grape indigenous to Gaillac. A few natural winemakers have begun to replant it and make still reds and rose Pet-Nats - it is a middleweight, spicy, smoky grape
Marine Leys farms 5 hectares of hillside vines planted to Duras, Syrah, Braucol, Mauzac, Loin de l’oeil and Gamay. Before starting the Vignereuse, she had worked for years behind the camera in film production across Europe, where she then moved to Canada, Ireland and eventually, Turkey. It was there that Marine found herself helping her employer plant a vineyard. She worked in the cellar and eventually handled the winemaking after studying in Beaune. In 2012, Marine made her way to Gaillac to work and learn under the guidance of her friends, the legendary Plageoles family. In 2014, she found 5 hectares of vines in Andillac and the Vignereuse project was launched. Her first vintage deliveds precise, flavorful and refined wines that speak both to the quality of the Gaillac as one of the most underrated AOP in France, and to her skills as a young winemaker.
Les Vins Pirouettes” is a collective project launched by Christian Binner, the renowned Alsatian winemaker (part of our book, of course), who’s been making legendary zero-zero wines in his Ammerschwihr winery for more than 20 years. Saddened by the sight of organic and biodynamic grapes being sold for little to cooperatives, Christian decided to encourage these growers to make wine under their proper name instead, thus promoting the idea of soulful terroir wines made with zero nonsense both in the vineyard and the cellar.
Alsace is a great region for this goal, btw: thanks to the Vosges range protecting it from the West, it’s a sunny and dry area, exercising lower disease pressure on the sensitive Vitis Vinifera. And, given its colorful geology, the region is a true patchwork of soils and subsoils ranging from granite to limestone and volcanic plots. Combine it with the 13 typical local varietals and you have the ideal hotbed for a breathtaking span of flavors and styles, especially when respectfully grown; it would be a sin to let them disappear in some insipid cooperative wines.
Hence Pirouettes! A friendly, open association of an ever-growing number of like-minded vignerons. As we’re writing this, it consists of 14 organic and biodynamic small growers whose first names you’ll always find on the bottle, along with a title referring to the method (Pet-nat, Crémant…), cru (Bildstoecklé, Frankstein) or style of wine. The Glou Glous are—surprise surprise—highly drinkable, Tutti Frutti connotes a white blend of multiple grapes, Eros serves flamboyant macerated whites… All the wines are made with zero-additions in the winemakers’ own cellars, with the gentle helping hand of the project’s enologists Xavier Couturier and Pierre Sanchez. “It’s important to say that Pirouette is by no means a négoce,” the team explains. “On the contrary, each cuvée is vinified at the winemaker’s own place, respecting its history and character.” And since selling the wine is equally important yet not easy (it’s difficult to be a brand manager when you’re a full-time vineyard person), Rémi Ségura has joined the project to spread the word and is supported by Christian Binner’s reputation.
Pirouettes » is the name they chose to symbolize the fun they’re having, but also because “these wines are like beautiful artistic figures, the result of certain know-how and mastery. Pirouette is a gesture of freedom, emotion, and joy,” Christian explains. Indeed, it’s an appropriate name for this liberated movement of skillful artisans, and a beautiful legacy for the winemaker who pushed it forward.
“Les Vins Pirouettes” is a collective project launched by Christian Binner, the renowned Alsatian winemaker (part of our book, of course), who’s been making legendary zero-zero wines in his Ammerschwihr winery for more than 20 years. Saddened by the sight of organic and biodynamic grapes being sold for little to cooperatives, Christian decided to encourage these growers to make wine under their proper name instead, thus promoting the idea of soulful terroir wines made with zero nonsense both in the vineyard and the cellar.
« Pirouettes » is the name they chose to symbolize the fun they’re having, but also because “these wines are like beautiful artistic figures, the result of certain know-how and mastery. Pirouette is a gesture of freedom, emotion, and joy,” Christian explains. Indeed, it’s an appropriate name for this liberated movement of skillful artisans, and a beautiful legacy for the winemaker who pushed it forward.
Pet-Nat d'Eric is cultivated and vinified by Domaine Jean-Louis et Eric Kamm, Dambach-la-Ville. A gentle sparkle, floral nose, zesty mouth.
This small Domaine is the kind of success story that has made some of the lesser known corners of the Loire Valley some of the most fashionable with young winemakers and wine lovers. Bertrand’s winegrowing experience began when he joined a viticulture program in Amboise after a stint in the military. Lise, originally growing up on a dairy farm south of Nantes, came to wine as a server in the UK and France, then as a sommelier in Paris. The two moved to the left bank of the Loire, seeking the freedom and reasonable cost of land that Touraine afforded to aspiring vignerons.
The fruit for Éxilé is sourced from an organic vineyard in Touraine. The Joussets fall into the “natural wine” category, using native yeasts and minimal sulfur. The finished product falls more on the “classic” side of the category (rather than “weird”), as the Joussets work diligently to ensure their wines are without flaws.
Céline Oulié is fortunate to possess an ideal environment for her vines. While she has 20 hectares of land, vines only take up 5 of those hectares. The other 15 hectares are comprised of 10 hectares of cereal fields, 2.5 hectares of forest, and 2.5 hectares of prairies (also one lake and two ponds). As a result she is able to forage most of the ingredients needed for her biodynamic preparations on her own property!The property has been in Céline's family since 1924, and it was her great-great-grandmother who started a working farm there, and then her great-grandmother that carried on the tradition from there. Céline's father planted vines 40 years ago, and after a change in career, it was Céline's mother who took over as a winemaker. The name of the domaine "Les Mets d'Âmes" is a play on words that pays hommage to the women who have been in charge of the domaine over the years (Les Mesdames) and also to the soul (Âme) that they put into their work.Her whites are classified in the appellation of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, while her reds are included in the appellation of Madiran. She is the only producer in these appellations to be certified biodynamic!
Making of: In mid-October, the Riesling was hand-harvested, lightly foot trod, and pressed with stems into neutral oak barrel and left to ferment with native yeast. It completed primary fermentation in 5 weeks. At this time, freshly-pressed Riesling was added as liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle-aged for 5 months on the lees before it was disgorged by hand in mid-April. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.
Carefully harvested from the stunning sustainably farmed vineyards at Hunter’s. The fruit was pressed and allowed to settle naturally, before fermenting in stainless tanks until ready for bottling. The wine was bottled at about 14g/L sugar, which is 30% lower sugar than you would bottle a traditional sparkling wine. The sediment in the bottom are yeast lees along with a few tartrates as the juice was not cold stabilized or disgorged. The wine was unsulphured at bottling so that the ferment could finish.
Until the past 10 years, Lambrusco has been regarded as a decidedly unserious wine. Producers like Paltrineri, a winery founded in 1926, have managed to find all the same joy in the wine, but instead of taking an industrial approach, the family decided to emphasize quality and natural production methods. They make a range of frizzante and ancestrale red and rose wine from Lambrusco Sorbara, considered the finest clone in the Lambrusco family. Radice is a rose pet-nat and considered one of the finest examples of the region.
This 16-hectares estate is situated on well-drained soils (the literal translation of Poggiosecco is ‘dry slope’) of the Montalbano Hills, where it cultivates the classic Tuscan combo of vines (12ha) and olive trees (4ha). Both the olive and the grape are treated to a meticulous biodynamic regime, something the owners Marco and Guiseppe consider “the only possible way of farming considering the historical context in which we live. They set on this path in 2001, gaining organic certification in 2004 and biodynamic in 2009, and not looking back ever since. “Biodynamics establishes a unique balance in the soil and allows for the maximum expression and independence of each plant, making use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, etc. completely unnecessary,” they explain how they manage to steer clear of systemic treatments or irrigation.
Vermentino is a beautiful Mediterranean grape, full of lemony sap, aromatic herbs and nice marine touch - and this lively pet-nat, unfiltered, unsulfured and undisgorged, offers a charming picture of it. Hand harvested, grapes are destemmed and fermented with the skins for 1 hour in 25-hectoliter Cement tanks for about 25 days with indigenous yeast. The wine is transferred to bottle before fermentation is complete to finish in bottle as a pet-nat. The wine is unfined unfiltered, has zero sulfur added and is not disgorged. Serve on its own, or pair with simple fish dishes.
This was a feature at WWW that went over really well, so we're bringing it in. This is, IIRC, the first Croatian wine we've poured. Croatia and Slovenia are hotbeds for natural wine and Pet Nats both - land is relatively affordable, and they both rely heavily on indigenous grapes that we seldom see.
Winery: Pomalo Wine Co.
Classification: Dry sparkling Rose Pet Nat wine
Varietals: 100% Plavina
Appellation: Dalmatia, Croatia
Annual Production: 10,000 bottles
Climate: Mediterranean, with dry and hot summers, and mild winters
Terrain: Inland locations near the beautiful and historic town of Šibenik. A terrain made up of various vineyard locations on slopes or semi-slopes, with an altitude of 50 to 300 meters asl. The vineyards see some of the warmer temperatures in Northern and Central Dalmatia, with interestingly cooler nights and constant breezes. Mostly fertile red and brown topsoil with finer brown clay stones, and a rugged and tough limestone foundation.
Farming: Practicing organic, no irrigation
Vinification: This is a new wine, made for the first time in 2021. Embracing the minimal intervention approach in the cellar, hand-harvested grapes were destemmed and direct pressed to into a stainless steel tank to undergo spontaneous fermentation. Before fermentation was finished, the wine was bottled and left for 6 months on the lees. Roughly disgorged; no sulfur added.
Tasting Notes: Often overlooked in Dalmatian reds for its more robust peers like Plavac
Mali and Babić, Plavina is an incredible coastal red varietal that delivers Dalmatian terroir while maintaining freshness and elegance.
The whole point of Pomalo is to take it easy and not take things too seriously. So, nothing too technical here, except that you may find yourself with a serious obsession with this wine! This wine is so refreshing, fun, and packed juicy and refreshing pink and red fruits. This Pet Nat that captures everything about the pomalo lifestyle on the Dalmatian coast. Pair with sunsets, hammock naps, and straight fjaka (aka doing nothing).
Chateau de Gaudou
Located in the town of Cahors, this Chateau pushed the envelope of what Malbec can be. They produce wines with great strucutre and capture that black pepper core of the Malbec grape, even when they are making it into a sparkling Pet Nat! They show mastery of the Malbec grape in every sip of this amazing wine!
Gaillac is the second oldest known vineyard area in France after Narbonne. Our friends Nathalie and Rémi Larroque, who also make our Gaillac Perlé, have an ancient winery here which has been in Nathalie’s family since 1540. They tend to old indigenous grape varieties such as Prunel’Art, Fer Servadou (also known as Braucol), Duras, Loin de L’Oeil, and Mauzac, from which this wine is made.
The Gaillacoise Pétillant Naturel is made in the méthode ancestrale: an ancient, artisanal method of making sparkling wine which consists of a single fermentation. The grape must is bottled before it is fully fermented, and as the grapes’ natural yeasts consume the remaining sugars, bubbles are produced and trapped in the bottle. The wine is bottled in November after harvest and is disgorged in March the following year.
Mauzac is a late-budding, late-ripening, and slow-fermenting grape, making it perfect for méthode ancestrale wines. It completes fermentation and rests on its lees over winter, developing its signature notes of dried apple peel – at once rustic and alluring.
The estate makes just 90,000 bottles (3,000 bottles of Gaillacoise) and all farming is sustainable, HVE Level 3-Certified. Vines are planted on clay and limestone (facing north-northeast for the whites), and are pruned in the simple guyot method with grass growing in every other row. The vineyards sit atop a 360-degree hill with the farmhouse on the top, and birds, bunnies, bees, clover grass and fava beans peek out from between the rows. The grand crus of ancient Gaul were once planted here, as Gaillac has an ideal climate with the convergence of winds from Mediterranean Africa and the cool Atlantic.
Joanna Foster and her husband Ernesto Catena started to farm biodynamically in 2002 when they planted their vineyard in the Vista Flores subregion of Tunuyan in Argentina’s Uco Valley. Fifteen years later, Stella Crinita was born. Joanna’s family is from Malaysia, India and the UK. Ernesto Catena's family is a multigenerational winemaking family that is well entrenched in Argentina. The couple met in 1995 when Joanna's Social and Environmental work brought her to Argentina. They married in 2004 and now have three children. Together they became interested in Natural winemaking in the early 2010’s which ultimately became a driving passion for the couple. All fermentation is spontaneous, using nothing more than the native yeasts that are present in harvest. No additives or invasive procedures are used in vinification and no SO2 is added at any stage. The winery is all estate and they do not fine or filter any of the wines. The vineyard has been Demeter certified Biodynamic since 2012 and production remains extremely small. The young Alejandro Kuschnaroff is the head winemaker at Stella Crinita and he lives close by the estate. Joanna and Ernesto split their time between Argentina, Tuscany and San Francisco.
This PetNat is all hand harvested Cabernet Franc from the Demeter certified biodynamic estate vineyard in the Vista Flores region of the Uco Valley. The wine is made in the ancestral method finishing fermentation in the bottle with 9 months on the lees. The fruit driven nose has notes of raspberry jam and delicious red apple with a touch of pink bubblegum on the edges. Bright, fresh, and crisp on the palate with juicy red fruit and a hint of freshly baked bread.
Ryan Stirm chose to go to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo because it had a great wrestling team and Cal Poly offered a degree in Wine and Viticulture. His interests escalated into minors in soil science, sustainable agriculture and plant protection science, taking an internship at Saucelito Canyon Winery in Arroyo Grande, CA where I learned to work with ancient, dry-farmed vines. He met my mentor, Justin Willett of Tyler Winery, while rock climbing in remote Santa Barbara County, which led to a four year endeavor as the assistant winemaker at both Tyler and Lieu Dit Winery. In between harvests at Tyler, Ryan traveled to work abroad in Margaret River, Western Australia and in Austria (Wachau, Weingut Tegernseerhof) before moving up north to work for the classic Santa Cruz Mountain winery Thomas Fogarty. Stirm Wine Co. is now located in southern Santa Cruz County near Watsonville; central between the key appellations we work with.
Stirm is another young California winemaker playing in the Central Coast with some of the oddball, cool climate plantings of less famous vinifera grapes (the vine species indigenous to Europe that makes the best wines around the world). Though his first love is Riesling experiments with other varieties, and his first foray into making sparkling wine uses the Spanish grape Albarino, which bears a resemblance to Riesling. Stirm made a dry, light, refreshing Pet-Nat in a totally natural style.
Though light-bodied and spritz in previous years, Stirm has allowed for some skin contact this time, and the wine is much more extracted. The wine showcases a medium-full body with heavy notes of tart white grapefruit, alongside a saltiness like ocean water. For weird wine lovers!
The Domaine des Terres Dorées is located in the Southern Beaujolais, just north of Lyons, in a beautiful area known as the “Region of the Golden Stones.” Jean-Paul Brun is the owner and winemaker at this 40-acre family estate. Brun has attracted the attention of the French and American press for the wonderfully fruity and delicate wines he produces. Brun wants to make “old-style” Beaujolais and his vinification differs from the prevailing practices in the region. He believes that the charm of the Gamay’s fruit is best expressed by the grapes’ indigenous yeast, rather than by adding industrial yeast.
From organically farmed estate Gamay on limestone clay soils in the southern Beaujolais around Jean-Paul's home village of Charnay, the FRV 100 is made by the méthode ancestrale: the hand-harvested fruit is destemmed and fermented in vat until it reaches around 6% alcohol. It is then lightly filtered and bottled and finishes fermenting with indigenous yeasts in the bottle. The result is a light-bodied, gently sparkling, gently sweet, low-ABV vin de soif, reminiscent of a Cerdon de Bugey. The vintage never appears on the label (there is no allowance for sparkling Gamay in Beaujolais) but it is always a single-vintage wine.
Testalonga was started by husband and wife, Craig and Carla Hawkins, in 2008. After many years of traveling the world making wine (Matassa, Terroir Al Limit, Dirk Niepoort, and many others), they settled in the Swartland region of South Africa. In 2015, they purchased land on the Northern mountains of Swartland and they started planting vines in 2018. The farm is called Bandits Kloof (kloof means ‘ravine’ in Afrikaans).
This is a light, thirst-quenching sparkler Lower ABV with a touch of RS, high-acid citric elements (think pulpy lemons into sparkling lemonade). A true(-true) glou-glou. Creamy.
Troon Vineyard estate wines, from Oregon’s, are inspired by the wines of the Mediterranean coasts of Southern Europe. Troon Vineyard is dedicated to regenerative agriculture and practices Biodynamic® agriculture in a quest to put back more than they take from the plants and soils. A focus on wines that reflect the terroir of where they were grown, is to be found in the healthy soils and vines that are the foundation of Biodynamic® agriculture. This philosophy continues in the cellar where winemaking is minimalist and only native yeasts are used, with no additives to ferment wines and eschew the use of new oak barrels to reveal each nuance of wines grown in Oregon's Applegate Valley.
Our Pét tanNat is a distinctive pét nat crafted exclusively from our Estate Tannat, this naturally bottle-fermented sparkling wine is made in the ultra-brut style — the driest of the dry. Richly flavored and complex with just that touch of rustic, authentic charm that defines pétillant natural. Pét tanNat is bright with high acidity and creamy mouthfeel with notes of tart quince, granny smith and golden delicious apples.
Blend: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling
Aging: 5 months in stainless steel
A light amber color with an aromatically rich nose of ripe golden apple, quince, sweet brown spice, and hints of honey. On the palate, the wine is round with flavors from the nose and a good minerality. The finish is smooth and lingering with highlighted notes of sweet brown spices.