March Wine Club Selections

Wines from the Loire Valley in France are plentiful and diverse, with eighty seven appellations. Our March Club Wines are some of the best examples from this region.

Domaine de l’Ecu 2014 Granite Muscadet

Muscadet has a reputation for being a simple wine; unless you speak of Domaine de l’Ecu in Sevre-et-Maine.  Guy Bossard is a fifth generation winemaker, and one of the first to become certified Organic (over 40 years ago) and certified Biodynamic (over 20 years ago).  Guy, “The Pope of Muscadet” as he is known by his peers, was so inspired by the three different soil types in his vineyard that his wines are named after them: Gneiss, Orthogneiss, and Granite.  The 2014 Granite Muscadet is terroir at its purest and the grape Melon de Bourgogne at its finest: the elegant citrus and bright fruit turn into a richer texture with the first sip.  The freshness in his wines belies their unmistakable age ability; his devotees sometimes compare them to Grand Cru Chablis.  

We are also pleased to announce that Frederik Niger, Guy’s protégé will join us at Soif on March 11th, offering some of their other amazing wines, those of you in the club will have a preview to this event.

Thierry Germain 2015 Les Roches

Our March red comes from the region of Saumur-Champigny, famous for its Cabernet Franc. Also passionate about Biodynamic viticulture, Thierry Germain left Bordeaux for the Loire in the early 1990’s, and he has grown to be on the forefront Biodynamic culture.  Only harvesting ungrafted rootstocks, using all natural yeasts, not allowing machinery in the vineyards (horse-drawn carts and human hands) are the things used to move this vineyard to excellence.  Proof is in the wine, and his wines are less rustic and more vibrant than other wines from this AOC.  The 2015 Les Roches is deep purple in hue, and it delivers aromas of blackberry and coriander, with softer and less vegetal character compared to typical Cabernet Franc, it has a prolonged finish that encourages another sip.  His wines are very allocated, so we are lucky to have secured most of this for our wine clubbers.
 

February Wine Club Selections

February 2017 Wine Club White Wine
2015 Coto de Gomariz "The Flower and the Bee" Treixadura -- Ribeiro, Spain

The northwest of Spain has an enchanting history and culture with strong Celtic and Roman influences that still exist today.  Much of the magic lies in it’s varied landscapes from bustling port villages to pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs (Costa de la Muerte!) and vast rivers.  There is a harmony that exists in the land and sea that Galicia embodies, so it naturally produces wines of elemental symmetry.  And what is more harmonious than The Flower and the Bee?  Our February white produced by Coto de Gomariz from the Ribeiro is made from the indigenous grape known as Treixadura, (tree-shah-Doo-rah), the prominent white grape grown there.  Organically farmed and sustainable, this winery's mission is to introduce native Galician grapes to the rest of the world.  Like it’s place of origin, the wine boasts a variety of expressions from lighter stone fruits to more weighty, herbaceous qualities.  Yellow/golden in color, it has a refreshing salinity that pairs well with seafood or even Empanada Gallega (the traditional fish pie found in several incarnations all throughout the region).  With or without food, The Flower and the Bee will find harmony at your table.

February 2017 Wine Club Red Wine
2015 Siete Vidas Tinto -- Austurias, Spain


For the February red wine we’ve chosen the Siete Vidas Tinto, a blend of four different varietals from Asturias.  
A bit of  research taught us we’ve learned that there are actually only 8 functioning wineries in this region, which sits just east of Galicia on the Atlantic.   The wine is very similar to other reds from northwestern Spain.  These are not big and juicy like the wines from the hotter regions to the south, rather they are crunchy, aromatic and wild.  
The Siete Vidas is a blend  of Carrasquín, Verdejo Negro, Albarín Negro and Mencía, all varietals that have a long history in the region.   The vineyards in Asturias are recognized as “High mountain” or “Heroic” sites due to their extreme elevation,  an exclusive designation in Spain shared only with DO Ribeira Sacra in Galicia and DO Priorat in Catalunya.  Siete Vidas even claims that due to such extremes, they cannot produce these wines every year.  2015 was a warm vintage throughout many regions in Europe, benefiting these “fringe” regions that can use little sunshine bump.   The wine, despite the crazy sounding varietals, is quite friendly.  It reminded us of a punchy Beaujolais or a juicy Cabernet Franc from the Loire valley.  The herbal peppery notes that give the wine another dimension and make it a fabulous wine to pair with food.  Try it with a braised beef or chicken stew with roasted peppers.  The savory facets of this wine are also lovely with roasted vegetables, sometimes a tricky pairing.   
 

January 2017

January Wine Club Wines

DOMAINE DE LA CADETTE 2015 La Châtelaine A winter white to satisfy all comers?  A blissful Bourgogne that expresses itself truly, deeply?  The very Vezelay that some of you have seen in our shop, on our list, is here.  Vezelay?  Bless you!  Centuries of taking the back seat to other AOC, Vezelay finally achieved it’s appellation status in 1997, and the Montanets were given their due.  First planting vineyards in 1987, they eventually realized that farming organically and splitting off from their cooperative was the best for their future.  Their land lies west of the Cote d’Or, neighboring Chablis, and as such the grapes express themselves in similar fashion of freshness of fruit and true minerality.  These wines that will continue to grow in complexity and status (and cost!) as the years progress, and are best served . . . Period.  ________________________________________________________________ WETZER 2015 Kekfrankos The thought of drinking bull’s blood might have one imagining some sacred, pagan ritual, dark figures in shadowed robes chanting in ancient tongues and the red chalice passed to every patron for their sacramental sip.  Some are very familiar with the reality of said sanguine fluid in the form of Hungary’s famous Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Blood), a rich, red wine from Eger whose main varietal is locally known as Kékfrankos.  This January’s red hails from the neighboring region of Sopron, an area becoming more known on the world’s wine stage.  Also known in Europe as Blaufränkisch and Lemberger, to name just a few aliases, Kékfrankos is an ancient grape that has been a regional favorite for centuries, and up until recently it was believed to be a clone of Gamay.  Understandably, as it is similar in style and savor to Cru Beaujolais, yet still very much its own ‘beast’.  Peter Wetzer is the 5th generation son of Sopron behind this delightful red, guiding his homeland specialty away from any commercialization practices and allowing for the true, natural, and yes organic qualities to shine.  It balances between unrefined and graceful, dark, richer fruit components working into the kind of spice blend that can only make one hungry (Hungary!) from the first sniff. To continue the appetite appeal: Gulyas (Goulash) Soup            Serves 6 Ingredients: ½ cup oil        1 large onion (chopped)            1 tsp caraway seeds        4-5 cloves garlic (minced or grated)            2 med sweet wax or bell pepper (diced    2 fresh tomatoes        2 tbs Hungarian paprika powder    1 lb beef (cut to ½” cubes)    2 carrots (peeled and chopped)    1 med celery root (peeled and diced)      1 bunch fresh parsley leaf (bunched like a ball)        salt Dumplings: 1 large egg 1 ½ cup flour 2 tbs oil Pinch of salt   Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion; saute until soft and translucent but not brown, about 5 min.  Add garlic and caraway seeds; cook about 1 min.  Add diced pepper; cook for 3-4 more minutes.  Add tomato and cook 5 min longer.  Add meat and sprinkle paprika powder on top and stir.  Cook it covered for about 15 min, stirring frequently not allowing it to stick to the pan.  Add enough water to cover the meat.  Bring to a boil and simmer slowly about an hour or until the meat is soft.  Add more water, carrots, celery root and potato and simmer.  Beat the egg with salt and ½ cup of water, then add enough flour to make a smooth, viscous dough.  Push the dough through a dumpling strainer into the boiling soup.  Add bunched parsley leaf and cook for 10 more min.  Salt to desired amount and serve.

DOMAINE DE LA CADETTE 2015 La Châtelaine

A winter white to satisfy all comers?  A blissful Bourgogne that expresses itself truly, deeply?  The very Vezelay that some of you have seen in our shop, on our list, is here.  Vezelay?  Bless you!  Centuries of taking the back seat to other AOC, Vezelay finally achieved it’s appellation status in 1997, and the Montanets were given their due.  First planting vineyards in 1987, they eventually realized that farming organically and splitting off from their cooperative was the best for their future.  Their land lies west of the Cote d’Or, neighboring Chablis, and as such the grapes express themselves in similar fashion of freshness of fruit and true minerality.  These wines that will continue to grow in complexity and status (and cost!) as the years progress, and are best served . . . Period. 

________________________________________________________________

WETZER 2015 Kekfrankos

The thought of drinking bull’s blood might have one imagining some sacred, pagan ritual, dark figures in shadowed robes chanting in ancient tongues and the red chalice passed to every patron for their sacramental sip.  Some are very familiar with the reality of said sanguine fluid in the form of Hungary’s famous Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Blood), a rich, red wine from Eger whose main varietal is locally known as Kékfrankos.  This January’s red hails from the neighboring region of Sopron, an area becoming more known on the world’s wine stage.  Also known in Europe as Blaufränkisch and Lemberger, to name just a few aliases, Kékfrankos is an ancient grape that has been a regional favorite for centuries, and up until recently it was believed to be a clone of Gamay.  Understandably, as it is similar in style and savor to Cru Beaujolais, yet still very much its own ‘beast’.  Peter Wetzer is the 5th generation son of Sopron behind this delightful red, guiding his homeland specialty away from any commercialization practices and allowing for the true, natural, and yes organic qualities to shine.  It balances between unrefined and graceful, dark, richer fruit components working into the kind of spice blend that can only make one hungry (Hungary!) from the first sniff.

To continue the appetite appeal:

Gulyas (Goulash) Soup            Serves 6

Ingredients:

½ cup oil        1 large onion (chopped)            1 tsp caraway seeds        4-5 cloves garlic (minced or grated)            2 med sweet wax or bell pepper (diced    2 fresh tomatoes        2 tbs Hungarian paprika powder    1 lb beef (cut to ½” cubes)    2 carrots (peeled and chopped)    1 med celery root (peeled and diced)     

1 bunch fresh parsley leaf (bunched like a ball)        salt

Dumplings:

1 large egg

1 ½ cup flour

2 tbs oil

Pinch of salt

 

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion; saute until soft and translucent but not brown, about 5 min.  Add garlic and caraway seeds; cook about 1 min.  Add diced pepper; cook for 3-4 more minutes.  Add tomato and cook 5 min longer.  Add meat and sprinkle paprika powder on top and stir.  Cook it covered for about 15 min, stirring frequently not allowing it to stick to the pan.  Add enough water to cover the meat.  Bring to a boil and simmer slowly about an hour or until the meat is soft.  Add more water, carrots, celery root and potato and simmer.  Beat the egg with salt and ½ cup of water, then add enough flour to make a smooth, viscous dough.  Push the dough through a dumpling strainer into the boiling soup.  Add bunched parsley leaf and cook for 10 more min.  Salt to desired amount and serve.

December Wine Club Wines

Our relentless endeavor to find our ‘Wine Clubbers’ the utmost examples of wines that speak of type and topography invariably bring us to Europe or older worldly locales, so it is exciting to discover something from just around the corner.  December has two picks ripe for whatever holiday you have planned.

2011 Madame Elke Vintage Brut Sparkling Wine - Mendocino, California

Two hours north of San Francisco stretches a mere fifteen mile lateral terrain known as the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.  From the majestic Pacific Ocean’s shore to the charming town of Boonville, this is California country in its truest form.  The diurnal shift from cool mornings to sunny days to foggy nights creates ideal climactic conditions for specific wine grapes.  Pinot Noir stands tall here, with quite a few superb Alsatian offerings - some Gewürztraminers are delightful - and the conditions reflect Champagne; best for sparkling wine.  
The Elke family have been farming here for more than three decades, originally with apples (Mary Elke was renowned for her organic apple juice), planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Most of their production had been procured by Mumm and Roederer Estate, sparklers that have arguably put California on the world class bubbly list.  In 1997 they began to hold some of their favorite parcels to make their own wines.
Named after the Madame of the Elke Estate, this method traditionelle sparkler represents a lifetime of working the Mendocino landscape, understanding each vine and it’s environ, forming a California sparkling that everyone can toast to and toast with.   [52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot noir], the wine dances with life, showing aromas of Asian pear, lemon zest and a touch of marzipan, resting into a wonderfully satisfying finale.  
Bring a bottle of this to celebrate anything you want to raise a glass to!

2015 Lieu Dit Cabernet Franc - Santa Ynez, California

This month we’re stickin’ with Cali for both the white and red selections.  No obscure varietals none of us have ever heard of this time…
This month we’ve selected a Cabernet Franc from sunny Santa Barbara from the Lieu-Dit Duo, Eric Railsback and Justin Willett.  These guys are kind of a big deal in the wine world these days, Eric was connected with the fancy-schmancy Burgundy-centric RN74 in SF, among countless other notable California restaurants and Justin is the winemaker behind “Tyler”  a high-end Pinot Noir and Chardonnay project out of Santa Barbara.  They started Lieu Dit in 2011 to focus on varietals found in the Loire Valley, made in a style that showcases the unique micro-climates and marine based soils of Santa Barbara County.    

I love that this wine actually tastes like Loire Cabernet Franc.  This is no big inky bruiser, it’s bright, juicy and has a peppery quality that’s found in the classic wines of the Loire.   The Santa Barbara sunshine brings a nice core of fruit that makes it (maybe too) easy to drink.   

Maybe It’s cause I’m dreaming of warmer weather on this chilly December night, but this wine makes me want to picnic at the beach.  A deli sandwich, maybe some pate and a very full glass of Cabernet Franc sounds like a great plan.   It’s unfussy, easy to drink and darn tasty.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

November Wine Club Wines

2013 Marangona Lugana "Tre Campane" - Veneto, Italy
 
            Soif is blessed with a great diversity of customers, testimony in some measure to our selection, but more likely attributable to the varied manifestations of curiosity and experience held by our customers.  People drop in and ask for Vin Santo and Lambrusco and Amontillado and “Natural” Wines and sulfite free wines and local Pinot Noir and the occasional “What do you have in Petillant Naturel at the moment?”  There is much at Soif that evokes memories of Monty Python and Leonard Cohen, though in this instance we do have all the cheeses in the cheese shop routine.  Let us take a moment to celebrate Leonard Cohen funky sparkling wines and praise “Halleluja!!  Periodically a customer will stop by looking for a nice inexpensive white wine, but without great familiarity with the broader wine world.  “What sort of things typically attract you?” we ask.  “I really like Pinot Grigio” is not an uncommon response.  “What do you like about Pinot Grigio?” we continue with the interrogation all the while smiling.  And here the conversation breaks down.  For many consumers begin their wine drinking experience with a technically correct, if reasonably soulless bottle of innocuous Pinot Grigio and medium acidity marked up in price six times at their neighborhood Italian restaurant. 
 
            What was all that about?  There are very few exceptional examples of Pinot Grigio.  There are however a large number of delicious, non-flamboyant, crowd-pleasing [which should not be confused with boring though there is an alarming correlation], medium-bodied, medium acid white wines which are excellent sippers and versatile at the table. 
 
            To read tasting notes for the Marangona Lugana, one might conclude there is little exceptional to be found here.  Pomme fruits, medium acidity, lightly creamy, modestly aromatic.  Indeed making a wine which is entirely friendly to the novice while being distinctive and vivacious to the professional is no mean feat.  This delightful wine manages to slip effortlessly slip into any imbibby situation and perform brilliantly without stealing the scene, sort of like J.K. Simmons before he blew up.   Close inspection will also reveal a lovely persistence, spatial completeness and a real energetic quality on the palate. 
 
            Marangona is run my Alessandro Cutolo on the south shore of Lake Garda, on the eastern edge of Lombardia.  The grape here is Turbiana aka Trebbiano di Lugana, though often thought to more closely related to Verdicchio than Trebbiano.  Tre Campane, meaning Three Bells and signifying the three best communes of Lugana from which the grapes derive, is Marangona’s special cuvée.  A portion of the grapes are picked in September, and a portion of month later in mid-October, accounting for the freshness and brightness [September fraction] and creaminess [October fraction]. 


2015 Kalleske GSM - Barossa Valley, Australia

The Barossa Valley is in many ways Australia’s equivalent of Napa Valley – a not terribly large swath of dreamland viticulture of outsized reputation which is subject to admiration and derision [a consequence of envy?] from those not fortunate enough to own a small slice.  Grapegrowing in Barossa began in the early 19th century with the arrival of several German-speaking immigrant families from Silesia, then part of Prussia and now part of Poland.  Johann Georg Kalleske , the first of seven generations of the family to run their prosperous farm, arrived in Australia from Prussia in 1838 and established the Kalleske farm in 1853, in the northwestern corner of the Barossa.
 
            The Kelleske estate, now overseen by Troy Kalleske, practices a very orthodox form of Biodynamics.   That is, they view the farm as a holistice organism, requiring few if any inputs from the outside.  Preparations 500 through 507 are applied according the principles elucidated by Rudolph Steiner, and most grapegrowing and winemaking operations are informed by lunar, planetary and stellar rhythms.  To read more from Troy Kalleske on their practice of Biodynamics, click here.
 
            Biodynamics is viewed with great suspicion, doubt and even hostility by its many detractors.  Indeed many sincere practitioners will admit they have no idea why or how it works.  What is apparent is the strong correlation between the practice of Biodynamics and the quality of wines produced by those practitioners. Among the iconic properties which incorporate Biodyamic practices in their winegrowing are:  DRC, Leroy, Dujac,  Lafon, Rougeard, Nikolaihof, Pingus, Dagueneau, Leflaive,  Zind-Humbrecht, Ostertag, Deiss, Beaucastel, Huet, de Montille, Cayuse, Araujo to name but a few.  In short, many of the very greatest wine estates on Earth. 
 
            Like most Barossa producers, the Kalleskes concentrate on Rhône varieties.  The “Clarry’s” bottling is a blend of shiraz, mourvèdre and old vine grenache.  If there is one recurring [and valid] complaint regarding Barossa wines, it is their inherent ripeness and scale and sometimes careen toward 11.   While lush and juicy, this wine’s consumption requires neither scheduled naptime following, nor fire suppressing equipment during.  Four months in barrel refine Clarry’s nicely without encumbering it with a gruesome, oaken vaneer.    
 
            We have always loved grenache-based wines not merely for the exuberant, liqueur like fruitness, but also for their universal solvent character at the table.  If a red wine seems appropriate for what your are contemplating at the moment, this Clarry’s will likely not disappoint.  
 

 

 

 

October Wine Club Notes

 

Chateau Thivin Beaujolais Blanc “Clos de Rochebonne”

This month’s white wine comes from one of our favorite regions in all of France, Beaujolais.  If you’ve been in the club for a while, chances are you’ve had a bottle or two of the red version, made from the Gamay Noir grape.  But unless you ‘ve come in to the shop asking for one of the geekiest bottles around,  it’s a lot less likely that you’ve tasted Beaujolais Blanc.  
Yep that’s right there is such a thing—though it is a rarity.   Beaujolais Blanc constitutes only about 1% of the region’s total production.   The grape here is Chardonnay, which is not too surprising considering Beaujolais is sometimes considered part of Burgundy, home to some of the fanciest Chardonnay neighborhoods in the world.  
Vineyards were planted in Beaujolais as early as the roman times, the most notable of which was in the southern part of Beaujolais on Mont Brouilly, an extinct volcano that has been home to the Thivin Estate since the 1500s.  Travel about ten miles south of the domaine and you’ll hit the quaint town of Theize, home to the Chateau de Rochebonne, a grand 14th century chateau that is definitely google-worthy.   The “Clos de Rochebonne” is a walled vineyard that was historically attached to this chateau.  The soils here are limestone and clay, quite different from the granitic soils on Mont Brouilly, but exceptional for Chardonnay production.   
I recently poured this wine blind (unfairly) for some fellow wine nerds.  Needless to say they were stumped, because it doesn’t fit in a traditional Chardonnay box.  It’s not oaky or fruit driven like a ripe California example.  It’s not chalky and lithe like a classy Chablis nor structured and crunchy like white Burgundy from the Côte de Beaune.  It’s decidedly old-world with no oakiness (the wine is aged in neutral wood) and ample acidity, but it’s also soft and gentle with notes of white flowers and cream.    In Beaujolais they have a word to describe the way the best wines of the region effortlessly slip down one’s throat—Gouleyant.   Damn, whatever that is, we want it!     

This wine definitely applies.   Go all out and drink it with some delicate white fish and new potatoes with butter or cream.  Whole thirty can wait.


Pecchenino Dogliani Dolcetto “San Luigi”

I recently had the pleasure of dining at a very fancy, Michelin-starred restaurant.   Every very bite was intentional, thought out to the minutest detail.  Every sip was expertly paired, and there was an army of people making sure I had a fresh napkin every time I left the table.  It was spectacular.  My brain was on overload trying to keep track of exotic salts and fish I’d never heard of and invisible mozzarella.   Though an incredible thing to experience, it was not something I could do every night.    
Wine is the same for me.  I love a beautiful bottle of fancy Barolo just as much as any wine geek, but sometimes I want a bottle just to drink without any fanfare.    Sometimes I don’t want to think about the secondary and tertiary aromas, what percentage is aged in new oak, or if it’s in the proper drinking window.  That being said, I still want to drink something GOOD.  
It’s like the scene in Chef when John Favreau makes the perfect grilled cheese.  It’s not a fifteen course tasting menu, but it’s still delicious.  
Dolcetto is important for similar reasons.  It’s a wine drank nightly in Piemonte, while Barolo and Barbaresco age in the cellar.  Dolcetto literally means “little sweet one” and while there are differing ideas about how it got this name, when tasted next to the fiercely acidic Barbera and Nebbiolo wines of the region it makes sense.   Its natural tendencies toward lower acidity can amplify its bright fruitiness giving the impression of sweetness.  
Needless to say, we all need a little more Dolcetto in our lives.
This month’s wine is from the Pecchenino estate (stop what you’re doing right now and check out their website!  It’s probably what Piemonte looks like right about now).    This family-run estate is based in the commune of Dogliani, an area especially suited to Dolcetto production.   Records indicate that Dolcetto has called these rolling hills home since the 1400s.  At Pecchenino, 70% of the production is devoted to Dolcetto, and they are recognized as a specialist in the area.  The “San Luigi” is their entry-level wine, and consistently one of my favorites.  It’s raised in stainless to preserve the ripe blue fruit and licorice-y herbal aromas making it the perfect accompaniment to pasta, pizza, or even exotic cuisines like Moroccan foods. 

September Wine Club Wines

2015 Cataldi Madonna “Giulia” Pecorino – Abruzzo, Italy


This month’s white wine comes from the ancient hamlet Ofena, a picturesque mountain town perched at the base of the Appenine Mountains in central Italy.   It’s confusing, but Pecorino is actually the name of the grape (no, we are not offering you a salty cheese in lieu of a tasty white wine).   Like Pecorino cheese, the name derives from “pecora,” the Italian word for sheep—fitting, as legend claims that the sheep that were herded through this region had a particular affinity for these sweet crunchy grapes.    

Though the varietal’s roots can be traced to Abruzzio centuries back, actual wines made from Pecorino didn’t appear on the market until the 1990s.  Before that time more prolific grapes like Trebbianno were preferred, while the low-yielding Pecorino became painfully uncool and all but extinct. Thankfully, wineries like Cataldi Madonna  championed for the local varietals and are now making serious wines worth seeking out.  The Pecorino has been a favorite at Soif for the past several years; It’s just immediately good.  The winery is located below the town of Ofena in an area locally known as the “Oven of Abruzzo,” thanks to an amphitheater at the foot of the Appenine Glacier that collects heat.  The natural sweetness of the Pecorino grapes and the warm days give the wine a lovely fullness, while cool evening temperatures and salty breezes from the nearby Adriatic keep the wine briny and refreshing.  

Though the options are endless for a versatile white wine like this, we challenge you to attempt some traditional central Italian dishes: fried Castelvetrano olives stuffed with sausage, grape-studded focaccia or chitarra pasta with lamb and sweet pepper ragout.

 

2015 Mateo Correggia “Anthos” Brachetto Roero – Piemonte, Italy

This wine has been a “Soif wine” since the very beginning (14 years ago now)!  Brachetto, an aromatic varietal from Piedmont, may never achieve world domination, but in our minds it’s important and it has a place at your table and in your glass.
 Sweet, sparkling versions from the Brachetto d’Acqui DOC are probably the best known, but it also has a history as a still, dry wine like this month's red selection.  The “Anthos” Brachetto from Matteo Correggia shows the varietal's more serious side with bright notes of red strawberry, dried rose petals and pink peppercorns.  The grapes come from the Roero region, just across the river from Barolo and Barbaresco.  The sandy soils allow for wines with bright juicy fruit and perfumed aromatics--Brachetto shines here. 

Matteo Correggia inherited his family’s vineyards in 1985 at the ripe old age of 23.  With the support of several great producers in the area, he continued his family’s tradition of farming excellent fruit, established a winery and began to make serious wines from Roero--an area that did not have much acclaim at the time.  Thanks to Correggia and several other forward-thinking producers, Roero has been elevated to the highest quality level, DOCG.  Sadly, in 2001, Matteo passed away in a tragic accident, but his wife Ormella is now carrying on his legacy.  She farms the grapes according to organic and biodynamic practices and is committed to low intervention in the cellar.  If this is not a club candidate, we aren’t sure what is.  

If you’ve never had this wine, you’re in for a treat.  

If you already know and love this wine, you’ve already popped it in the fridge (it’s delicious slightly chilled) and stocked up on some salumi from el Salchichero to munch on while you sip on this aromatic stunner.  Cured meats are divine with this wine, but for something more adventurous, try pairing it with exotically spiced Thai red curry.  
  

 

August Wine Club Wines

2013 Denis & Didier Berthollier Chignin Bergeron “Exception” -- Savoie, France

I’m pretty excited about this month’s white wine.  It’s an obscurity for sure, but not the least bit challenging flavor-wise.    One thing that we constantly search out when tasting and analyzing wines for the shop is tension.  Verve, electricity, energy, whatever you want to call it, we’re drawn to wines with some snap, crackle and pop.   For those of you who have been in the wine club for some time, this may not be new information...

Following our love for tension, we chose a Chignon-Bergeron from the mountainous Savoie region south of Lake Geneva on the eastern edge of France.  The wine is called Chignin-Bergeron, referring to Chignin, the village it comes from, and Bergeron, the local name for the Rousanne grape.  It’s labeled under the larger Vin de Savoie appellation, which is a widespread patchwork of vine growing areas southeast of the Jura.     Chignin-Bergeron, is an oddity in that it’s the only cru in the Vin de Savoie appellation allowed to bottle the Rousanne grape. 

 Rousanne is probably best known in the Northern Rhone Valley, where it produces opulent, almost oily white wines, travel a bit east to the mountainous region of the Savoie where the vines in Chignon are planted on the slopes of the towering Montgelas mountain, however, and the grape takes on a different tone.  Though the area is actually quite cool (France’s most fashionable ski resorts are not far away), the vines get plenty of sunshine hours thanks to a southwest exposure.   70% of the wines produced in the Savoie are white, most from the Jacquere grape with a crisp and distinctive alpine quality.  Bergeron is by far the most opulent, thanks to the natural richness of the Rousanne varietal, but the cool-climate acidity helps keep a lovely balance to the wines.  

This particular expression comes from the Bertollier brothers, who come from a long line of Savoie wine making tradition.  Their grandfather was one of the first to bottle Savoyard wine for the mass market in the 1970s.  They farm their 10 hectares of vines without the use of all the bad stuff…no insecticides, herbicides or fungicides.  Natural yeasts and low SO2 might put them in the sometimes funky natural wine category, but the wines are clean, bright and elegant.  The “Exception” bottling is floral like chamomile tea, has a rich mouthfeel, and is tangy like fresh ginger.  It’s a wine you can’t quite pin down-- complex and yet so simply pleasing.   Try it with cheeses or exotic cuisines.  

2009 Brigatti "Mot Frei" Colline Novaresi -- Piemonte, Italy

People often ask me what type of wine is my favorite.  I rarely give a straight answer, there’s just too many to choose from, but a look at my sales history reveals a different story.  I naturally gravitate towards Italian wine, specifically Piedmont and specifically Nebbiolo.   I just can’t seem to get enough of that rosy, cherry, leathery, licorice-y goodness.    

This month, we are heading to Piedmont, but breezing past the more well-known Barolo and Barbaresco and driving about an hour and a half North to the Colline Novaresi.  These gentle rolling hills about 30 miles west of Milan have been home to Nebbiolo for centuries.  MötZiflon is the local dialect for the name of the hill where this month’s red is grown, and literally means “hill of singing birds.”  Say no more--the birds are happy and so are we.  

The wine is a blend of Nebbiolo (called Spanna), and local grapes Uva Rara, and Vespolina.  If you’ve never heard of the last two, don’t worry, they’re rarely seen outside of this region and are typically only used in small amounts as a part of a blend with Nebbiolo.   

At Brigatti, the yields are low, allowing for nice concentration, the vineyards are cultivated with maximum respect for the environment, no chemicals are used, and all fruit is had harvested—a perfect club candidate.

The wine itself is bright and fragrant with notes of red cherries, dried rose petals and fennel seeds.  The vintage is 2009, but even with seven years of age, the wine is still a beautiful ruby color and very fresh and youthful on the nose.  The age helps soften some of the otherwise angular qualities of the wine resulting in nice integrated tannins and mellow acidity.  

This is a food wine.  While delicious on its own, it will really shine alongside a hearty bowl of pasta. Go to the farmers market, buy some juicy early girl tomatoes, some aromatic licorice-y basil and find a recipe for a simple tomato sauce.   pour yourself a glass while your sauce is simmering and finish with a small spash...not too much though,  you're gonna wanna drink it.