Domaine Rolet Père et Fils Cremant de Jura (organic)
“[Domaine Rolet] is run with astonishing meticulousness and care.” -Andrew Jefford, The New France
It was Désiré Rolet who in 1942 began making wine in the small region of the Jura in eastern France. In 1958, his four children all decided to stay in the family business and took over from their father. Since that time the domain has risen in prominence in the region and acquired prime old vine vineyards in the appellations of Arbois and Côtes du Jura.
From the beginning, quality farming has been the focus; today the domain is undergoing a complete conversion to organic farming, which in their steep-sloped vineyards can be quite difficult indeed. No herbicides or pesticides are ever used and the soils are constantly plowed – creating beautiful, healthy vineyards.
Bohigas Xarel·lo (Organic)
Xarel·lo is a white grape variety of Spanish origin specially grown in Catalonia. With Macabeu and Parellada, is one of the three traditional varieties used to make the sparkling wine Cava. It also makes a bracingly refreshing table wine, as evidenced in this staff and store favorite.
Aged completely in stainless steel, Bohigas Xarel·lo is a light to medium-bodied wine, with crisp, fresh acidity and hints of citrus oil and green apple skins on the nose.
Made using organically farmed grapes, grown at high elevations, the juice macerates for a few hours in contact with the skins prior to being fermented in stainless steel vats. The wine sees no aging in tank before bottling, resulting in a fresh and clean wine with bright flavors.
Since the 13th century, the same family has been farming the land around Fermi Bohigas in the northern Penedes region of Catalunya at the foot of the majestic Monserrat range, about an hour northwest of Barcelona outside the town of Odena in the Anoia river valley. Jordi (father) and Maria (daughter) Casanovas are the 35th and 36th generation living on the property since the time of the Moorish occupation when the neighboring hillside served as the final outpost for the Catalans. The 650 acre estate is split between two properties, “Can Maciá” and “Can Batllevell”. Olive trees, wild garrigue and 260 acres of grapes are grown on the two properties and the Bohigas wines come exclusively from the Can Maciá section.
The farming here is organic, and the northern and higher altitude location make for a perfect micro-climate than tends to be cooler than the rest of the region. The old farm house adjoins a century old winery which sits atop cave cellars that are still actively used for the production of sparkling Cava, which the family has been producing from only their own vineyards since 1929. The vinifications are done in modern, stainless steel vats with perfect control of temperature and cleanliness while the cellars are still used for hand riddling of the Cava bottles.
The commitment to quality viticulture extends into the cellar where they produce balanced, mineral-driven wines that can only come from the Jura. The wines always exhibit a focused purity and intensity of flavor which maintain the cool climate typicity of this mountainous region.
The crémant bottling is a blend of 20 plus-year-old 57% Chardonnay, 16% Savagnin, 16% Poulsard, and 11% Pinot Noir, from vines planted 1000- 1200 feet above sea level on gray marl with only a few feet of topsoil before hitting the mother rock.
Berger Gruner Veltliner (Organic)
Weingut Berger is in the eastern part of the Kremstal, in the town of Gedersdorf. With Erich Berger’s guidance, the winery has implemented methods to produce wines that focus on varietal character and terroir. The white wines grow on steep loess terraces that characterize the landscape of the eastern part of the Kremstal. These terraces store heat during the day and reflect it onto the vines at night producing wines with unique fruity, fresh, and bright flavors.
The red wines are grown at the top of the hills where more humus-rich soils dominate and give the wines length, body, spice, and lush fruit. Vineyards are maintained according to the latest organic guidelines. In the winery, efforts are made to preserve the fruit character by using cultured yeast in combinations with slow fermentations that are temperature controlled. The white wines are then aged exclusively in stainless steel, while the red wines are matured in traditional oak vats.
Erich’s liter bottling of Grüner Veltliner has steadily improved over the last decade. It’s a perfect foil for the infectious drinkability that this variety is known for but has an extra level of clarity and complexity that is sometimes missing from this category. Fermented entirely in stainless steel from estate-grown, Loess-dominated vineyards in the Kremstal.
Clean Slate Mosel Riesling
Good dry German Riesling is the perfect anytime drink: it’s refreshing, has complex flavors, a nice fruit/acid balance that is brimming with minerality, and goes with foods that you wouldn’t normally associate with white wines.
Americans (and Brits) associate Riesling with sweet wines, but 90% of the Riesling grown, vinified, and drunk in Germany is bone dry. The German wine palate changed in the early 80s from sweet to dry, probably because of travels to Italy and Spain, and the wineries soon followed demand.
For the most part, American (and British) importers still believe that German wine means sweet, so 80-90% of the German Riesling imported to the USA is sweet. In fact, there are a lot of German weingut (wineries) who solely make sweet table wines for the American market!
Clean Slate is the product of a partnership between Moselland of Bernkastel, Germany, and The Winebow Group. Moselland is the largest vineyard owner in the Mosel and one of Germany’s top exporters of Riesling.
Clean Slate is sourced from selected vineyards throughout the Mosel region. Known for its steep slopes, the region’s exceptional climate and mineral-rich slate soil create the perfect growing conditions for this grape. The cool climate of Mosel’s northerly location allows grapes to ripen very slowly, while the slopes give the vines ideal sun exposure. Further protection comes with the Mosel River’s tendency to hold heat, keeping vines protected from getting too cold and creating a special microclimate for ideal ripeness levels. The thin, stony topsoil forces the vines to root deep through the rocks for water and nutrients, resulting in wines of excellent minerality and complexity. In the course of harvest,
Clean Slate makes daily decisions regarding which grapes to pick, based on ripeness and maturation in the different areas of the region. Winemaker Peter Meurer insists on the gentle handling of the grapes, which are then fermented and stored in stainless steel tanks under temperature-controlled conditions. All of this is critical to the development of the fresh peach, crisp lime, and subtle mineral flavors of Clean Slate’s wines — Peter’s exquisite expression of the region’s unique essence of Riesling terroir.
Clean Slate is evidence of Peter’s passion for the Mosel region and the Riesling grape. It has a clean, crisp taste profile with pure fruit flavors complemented by lively acidity, which is the trademark of Rieslings from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. This appealing balance of fruit and crispness works well with a wide array of cuisines, making Clean Slate an exceptionally good match with food.
Saint-Roch Côtes du Provence Rosé
Saint Roch les Vignes is not an individual domain, but rather a modern cooperative production facility in Cuers serving most of the family winegrowers in that small hillside village, as well as those of neighboring Puget-Ville and Pierrefeu northeast of Toulon. Built in 1911 with the combined effort and assets of 143 growers, the winery was upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment in recent years and now handles vinification for more than 200 local vignerons.
The wines of Saint Roch are held to a higher standard than normal French cooperative wineries, as growers must not only adhere to Appellation Controlee laws, but also meet the quality standards of the Maitres Vignerons de Saint Tropez, who oversee Saint Roch‘s international sales and marketing. This group consists of seven highly-regarded, limited production Cotes de Provence domains headed by Edgar Pascaud, proprietor and director of Château de Pampelonne.
All fruit is destemmed. Direct pneumatic press juice. Short maceration on skins to attain Provence’s signature pale pink color. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. No malo-lactic. Brief élevage on the lees in temp-controlled inox tanks before being filtered with diatomaceous earth and bottled in January after harvest.
This blend of Cinsault (50%) and Grenache (50%) has everything a Provencal rose should: delicacy, dryness, and drinkability! It smells of bright red berries, and the palate is lively and full of crisp, food-friendly acidity. Drink chilled, of course, with fish dishes. The Saint Roch les Vignes Côtes de Provence Rosé is France’s quintessential quaffer. This excellent import value is the perfect wine to share in the shade. Brisk, with a nice finish, a perfect porch pounder.
Chidaine Touraine Rouge
François Chidaine is one of the Loire Valley’s great success stories. After finishing viticultural school in the mid-1980s, François went to work alongside his father, Yves, who had only four hectares of rented vineyard land in the appellation of Montlouis, in the Touraine. When Yves retired in 1989, he passed the torch to François. Early on, François developed clever contracts with the owners of the vineyards he worked, allowing him an option to buy should the property ever come up for sale. In 1999, his wife, Manuéla, joined him and set up La Cave Insolite, a tasting room, and wine shop. Soon after, he started experimenting with organic and biodynamic farming, and by 2003, he was certified in both methods of farming. When in 2002, he and his cousin Nicolas Martin bought Vouvray’s prestigious Clos Baudoin, and in 2006 he bought several of the parcels he had been renting, this small artisan farmer became one of the Loire Valley’s most serious players.
The majority of François’ terroirs are situated in Montlouis, with more in neighboring Vouvray, and additional land in the Touraine appellation, totaling more than 30 hectares. Before Montlouis had earned its own AOC in the 1950s, it was considered the lesser part of Vouvray due to the higher quantities of gravel and sand in the soil. In truth, there is a striking minerality derived from the flinty soils of Montlouis that has since given the appellation its own reputation for excellence. While François is a darling of the organic and biodynamic movements, he is by no means interested in indicating as much on the labels. Instead, he focuses on keeping his 40- to 80-year-old vines healthy and yields low, averaging 35 hl/ha. He follows the almanac developed by biodynamic legend, Maria Thun, which looks at both the solar and lunar calendars to establish the best timing for specific vine treatments. He and his team harvest the entire crop by hand.
The grapes are pressed gently and are vinified on wild yeasts in both barrels and demi-muids. François seeks slow alcoholic fermentations that last all winter long and avoids malolactic fermentation when possible. The cold limestone cellars allow the wines to develop more layers of complexity, which are simply unattainable when the process is rushed. Slow cuvaisons produce an antioxidant blanket of carbon dioxide, which allows the winemaker to put off adding sulfur to the wine, thereby lowering the total amount needed. Many of the wines age for 12 months on their lees before bottling. The sparkling Montlouis Brut also goes through alcoholic fermentation in demi-muids for more than five months, after which it is bottled and aged on its lees for 12 months to produce a delicious Chenin Blanc likely to impress devoted Champagne drinkers.
In addition to their Montlouis and Vouvrays, the Chidaines also produce some stunning red and white wines from their Touraine vineyards just outside the Montlouis AOC. With such special care given to every step of the process, it’s no wonder that they sell out their stock within just a few months of bottling. We are lucky to receive these wines, as they remain some of the best values on the market today..
Produced from equal amounts of Côt (what Malbec is called in every region of France, except Bordeaux), Cabernet Franc & Pinot d’Aunis (a rare grape from the Loire that is the red variant of Chenin Blanc: Chenin Noir!)
From 100% estate biodynamically farmed vines located just north of the Cher river near the villages of Montrichard & Chissay-en Touraine, this is a very promising wine. Known primarily for making some of the greatest white wines in the Loire region, Chidaine has been farming these vineyards for several years. Good dark concentration of fruit where neither varietal dominates but rather complements the others. The faintly mineral nose shows notes of pepper melded with the red fruit and leads into a wine with medium tannins, good concentration and length. Not a heavy wine, it has plenty of character, and bright acidity, which makes it a classic food wine to go with difficult pairings.
As with all Loire reds, chill this down (45 mins or so in the fridge) to reveal its wonderful flavors and ease of drinkability.
Indigenous yeast fermented, stainless steel vat fermented and aged. Grapes are grown on gravelly loam, chalky limestone, and clay soils.
Situated in Malepère, the most westerly region of the Languedoc, Château Guilhem was built in 1791.
Then the property of the Marquis de Auberjon, it was bought by the Guilhem family in 1878. Bertrand is the fifth generation of his family to run the estate. The 85 acres of vineyards are planted mainly to Bordeaux varieties— Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc— with some Chardonnay.
Despite the vineyards’ proximity to the Mediterranean, the climate here actually sees quite a bit of influence from the Atlantic; in addition, the soil here is atypical of the rest of the region, with a high proportion of calcareous sandstones. These stones help the soils to retain moisture over the winter so that the vines can flourish in the summer. The grapes are grown organically, with some biodynamic parcels as well, out of respect for both the vines and for the people who work them. The cellar was built in the late 19th century; old casks and concrete tanks stand next to modern stainless steel vats. Bertrand pulls both from older traditions and modern ideas in order to produce fresh, aromatic wines.
In 2015, chateau owner Bertrand Gourdou was searching through an old desk when he came across a label that his grandfather had made in the early 1970s; that wine was called “Le pot-de-vin” which, in French, translates to “the bribe”, which for that era was an audacious play on words for a wine label!
This label inspired Bertrand to make a simple, natural wine: biodynamically grown fruit, fermented with native yeast and with a negligible dose of SO2, made in concrete tanks built by his grandfather. The word “pot” also references the old-style bottle shape!
100% Merlot from the IGP Pays d’Oc, made with no oak in a light-to-medium-bodied style with gloriously fruit, freshness, and length. It is, simply put, the quintessential French bistro red.
Viu Manent Cabernet Sauvignon Secreto
After working as a wine merchant alongside his father and brother since the 1930’s, Miguel Viu Manent made the decision to branch out on his own in 1965, purchasing a historic vineyard and winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. The estate was and still is one of the most well-exposed sites in the region, and it included 150 hectares of pre-phylloxera massal selections from France. This company provides us with wines we consider the best value wines in the country (see “Reserva line), forward/experimental options (see “Secreto” line), some of the most solid “under $20” varietal wines you’ll find anywhere in the world (see “Gran Reserva” line), site specific/terroir driven releases.
After nearly 100 years this firm is still family-owned and operated (a rarity in Chile, especially for a winery of this size), all farming is certified sustainable, and two of Chile’s top names consult with the winery on a permanent basis – Roberto Pizarro (vineyard management) and Paul Hobbs (winemaking).
Vines that are more than a century old supply the fruit for this hugely drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon, which contains 15% of other grapes in a field blend. Rich, scented, and lightly oaked, it has some aromatic spices and smooth pastille fruit.
Intense cherry red in color. The nose stands out for its fruitiness and primarily offers aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries along with a light note of spices. The palate is intense, with good volume, silky tannins, and rich acidity, ending with a long and pleasing finish.
Domain Natalie et Gilles Fèvre (Sustainable with some Organic farming practices – in transition)
One of Chablis’ most recognizable names, branches of Fèvre family have been producing wine in the region since the early 1800s. Nathalie and Gilles Fèvre base themselves in the village of Fontenay-Pres-Chablis, where they operate a Domaine that is impressively large by Chablis standards with over 100 acres under vine in total including a large proportion of classified holdings (Grand Cru Les Preuses, 1er Cru Fourchaume, and 1er Cru Mont de Milieu).
It is worth noting that their basic “AC Chablis” holdings are unusually strategic, as most of their acreage sits on the Côte de Fontenay just northeast of the region’s coveted Grand Cru slopes. Nathalie and Gilles are putting the final touches on a new winery that you must see to believe – An impeccably efficient gravity flow setup cut into the side of their main vineyard site in Fontenay. If this is the future of Chablis then the future looks delicious. Gilles’ Grandfather and father both held the position of President at the leading cooperative La Chablisienne, and Nathalie was the head winemaker at La Chablisienne for 12 years (until recently all of their harvest was delivered to La Chablisienne).
The AC bottling is 100% Chardonnay, farmed on Jurassic soils (mostly Kimmeridgian limestone), vinified and aged in stainless steel. This is a bracingly crisp Chablis and will complement many lighter foods, cheese and charcuterie plates, and is a perfect aperitif wine (or as we say in the trade, a porch pounder).
La Fouquette Côtes de Provence Rosé (Organic)
No longer inspired in their former vocations, Isabelle and Jean-Pierre Daziano decided to follow their shared passion and agreed to take over the 35-acre vineyard and farm of Isabelle’s family. Nestled into a forested plane amid the Massif des Maures mountains, Domaine de la Fouquette sits in the heart of the Côtes de Provence appellation. With the skillful guidance of consulting oenologist Bruno Tringali, Jean-Pierre has established an environmentally friendly, but labor intensive regimen in the vineyard that includes green harvesting in early summer to limit yields, working the soil without the use of chemicals, and harvesting by hand. In the cellar, the philosophy is minimal intervention. The results have been impressive.
This cuvée is special for the American market, with fruit coming from a neighboring farm, all farmed organically.
This wine is comprised of the classic cépages Grenache and Cinsault, and accented with the white variety, Rolle (aka Vermentino). This crisp, dry rose is the quintessential Provencal style offers lovely citrus and strawberry aromas and flavors, with punchy watermelon notes on the palate accented by currant and garrigue spice on the finish.
It is fruity yet delicate, perfect to enjoy with classic Provencal dishes like bouillabaisse, avocado and lobster salad, or crusty bread with a traditional Provençal tapenade. All fruit is destemmed. The rosé is made entirely from direct pneumatic press juice. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. No malolactic. Aged five months in temp-controlled inox tanks before filtration and early bottling (February) to capture and preserve freshness.
Riviera Ligure di Ponente Rossese
Four generations of the Basso family have lived and worked in the mountains above the Mediterranean sea—less than three miles away as the crow flies—struggling with the elements to care for older vines grown in garden-sized plots more suitable for gnomes. Liguria’s vibrant patchwork of vines, fruit trees, and wild scrub has one particular star: Pigato. This family estate is unquestionably a pioneer in exploring the seemingly infinite potential of Pigato on these rocky slopes, not only through their selection of single-vineyard bottlings but also through sparkling wines, stored for years in the Grotto di Toirano, an ancient cave with near-perfect humidity and temperature for extended wine aging.
The Basso family over generations has expanded their small holdings—literally some 259 separate vineyards, most just a handful of vine rows—in the plains around the village of Ortovero and coiled around the region’s terraced and steep hillsides, cut over the ages by the Centa and Arroscia rivers. Vineyard altitude ranges from as low as 150 feet to as high as 1,400 feet; soils are equally varied, from dark, fertile patches to ruddy, iron-rich soils, to the “terra bianca” mix of white clay and sand. The valley channels the cooler winds that sweep south from Piedmont, moderating the summer’s warmer temperatures; a boon for the cultivation of balanced white grape varieties. The family’s ‘Taverna’ vineyard, planted in the village of Onzo and exclusively to the Pigato grape, is a 17-acre plot and as such, is the largest in the region. Many of the estate’s Pigato vines were planted by Antonio Basso’s grandfather, and are now 70 to 80 years old.
Harvest is as a rule by hand, and grapes are cared for as naturally as possible. In general, white grapes are macerated in tank for one day then pressed; juice is fermented on indigenous yeasts at low temperatures. Reds are fermented and aged in tank.
The rare Rossese grape (known as Tibouren in nearby Provence) is much beloved and greatly respected by the tiny number of producers who work with it and understand it. The labor of love required to farm Basso’s vineyard sites results in one of the world’s most charming, saline, sea-kissed, transparent red wines.
Durin’s Rossese is limpidly garnet in color followed by an exotic, orchard-fruit nose of wild cherries, apricots, persimmons, lilac, and pink peppercorns. Juicy and bursting with tart cherry, fig, and strawberry fruit, the wine adds notes of rhubarb, lavender, sandalwood, and cinnamon-scented potpourri. Lingering impressions of sweet cherries come to the fore on the wine’s brilliant red-fruited finish. Joyful, distinctive, and a wonderful choice for a late summer or early autumn red, enjoy Durin’s Rossese now and over the coming two years with grilled anchovies, fritto misto, pizza, dry-rubbed baby back ribs, and sautéed squashes.
Desire Lines Winds of Change Red Blend
Desire Lines is the project of Cody and Emily Rasmussen, who made California their home in 2011, three months after graduating college and two months after getting married. They made the first wine of our very own in 2014, and so began Desire Lines Wine Co. Cody started working for Morgan Twain Peterson’s Bedrock Winery with zero wine experience; he’s now their Assistant Winemaker. The wines are all made at Bedrock.
The wine is the Rasmussen’s ode to California’s cool and windy places, where Syrah becomes lithe and perfumed, Carignan becomes vibrant and rich, and Mourvèdre smells like a strawberry pie cooling on the windowsill on a sultry summer night.
The 2019 is a delightfully approachable blend built around Syrah (73%), with the addition of Mourvèdre (10%), Carignan (8%), Grenache (6%), and Petite Sirah (3%), Strawberry and red cherry fruit compote on the nose complemented by savory notes and a subtle spice, with fine-grained tannins on the palate and a terrific juiciness and succulence.
The blend is pulled from barrels that show a little softer and less tense than those selected for the vineyard designates, rendering a wine that is both fresh and rich, textured and round.