Berger Gruner Veltliner
SAINT-ROCH CÔTES DU PROVENCE ROSÉ
due terre Nero d’avola
La grande clotte Bordeaux
Ziereisen gutedel – Organic
Ziereisen is located in the very southern part of Baden in a town called Efringen-Kirchen, directly on the Rhine river at the border of Alsace and Switzerland. The area is called Markgräflerland; another name is the Dreiländereck – the “three-country corner”: Basel, Switzerland is the closest city, just nine miles south.
Here, Hanspeter and his wife Edel produce outstanding Pinot Noir and Gutedel (called Chasselas in France and Fendant in Switzerland) as well as a bit of Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Blanc. One hears the same mantra in this domain that we hear in all of the top estates: “Quality is made in the vineyard. We work with utmost care to create the conditions for high-class wines. In the cellar, we only do the minimum of work necessary allowing the wines to rest and time to mature. The French swear by their terroir – in this respect I am a Frenchman.” Says Hanspeter Ziereisen
“Our philosophy is that wines should reflect their provenance as purely as possible. This is why we treat our vines and wines with great care by minimizing chemical treatments and filtration. In the vineyards, we try to make use of the traditions that our ancestors passed along to us. We produce muscular wines. Not sumo wrestlers but decathletes; smooth, elegant, strong, and athletic. Strength and balance is our target. We aim to achieve a balance between acidity, tannin, alcohol, and aroma. Recipe winemaking is a horror for us. Individuality is the signature of Ziereisen.”
Chemical fertilizers and sprays are strictly avoided in the vineyard, though this estate is not certified organic. Work in these south-facing vineyards is of paramount importance. “Handcrafted work is not exceptional for the Ziereisen family, it is standard.” writes Hanspeter. After an initial selection in the vineyard, grapes are sorted again in the cellar.
Following this rigorous selection, the fruit is fermented spontaneously in large barrels and left on the lees for 19 months. The Heugumber bottling, their entry-level (Heugumber means grasshopper in German) though it’s hardly “basic” with 19 months on the fine lees.
Wine writer Terry Theise: “If you drive there, you keep going south south south until you can see the border to Switzerland, and that’s where you find Ziereisen. Look west over the Rhine valley and the Vosges have faded off to the north. A big undulating hill looms over Ziereisen’s village, and if you climb high enough upon it you are looking at the city of Basel resting in its furrow between the hills. The northernmost slopes of the Swiss Jura are behind it, and Hanspeter Ziereisen swears that “On a clear morning you can see the Berner Oberland,” with its peaks like great white giants, as if bride’s veils were rippling on the horizon. Beaune is closer than Stuttgart. To the extent Baden means anything at all to American lovers of German wine, it’s either the big names (and their big reds) from the Kaiserstuhl or perhaps the tangy volcanic whites from the impossibly gorgeous Ortenau.”
“But down here where “the buses don’t run” (in Hunter S. Thompson’s coinage) (Or was it George Carlin? Either way….) Mr. Ziereisen is creating a fine rebellion. He is also part of a group of like-minded producers who wish to wriggle free of the strait jackets of the German wine law, and simply make the best wine they can. Meeting Hanspeter for the first time, his first words were “What you need to know about me is, everything I do is forbidden.” Then we should get along just fine, I thought.”
“Hanspeter’s whites seem to look to the Jura for their paradigms, and I have sometimes thought that they’d be among the best in the Jura, were they in fact located there. This wine, seriously, is just stupid-good, and I happen to know we can all afford it and that every restaurant on earth should be pouring it. The leesy savor is addictive, the walnut-oil umami will make a slave of you, the buoyancy will have you gulping the bottle down in record time. The finish is a gorgeously weird amalgam of ginger and hay and phyllo. Even their basic level of Gutedel is only bottled after 19 months in cask on the lees. Clearly these people are nuts. I tasted the 2018 a few months ago; it was kind of them to send the new vintage. In common with most of Hanspeter’s whites, it’s decidedly leesy and shows a more or less vivid flor note. But while the bigger Gutedels are greater in effect, this one is content to be its nutty irresistible self, giving you an entirety of vinous delight with all of 11% alc. Look, I love Gutedel (Chasselas) and I’ve hardly ever had one that wasn’t delectable, bearing in mind I haven’t had them randomly but rather from good growers who resisted the tendency for the wines to be attractive but mundane. This wine is anything but mundane, though it strikes me as a teeny bit more slight than was the ’18. But what a useless cavil that is! If I ever went to a restaurant that poured this by the glass, I’d never go to any other restaurant.”
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. Fresh and expressive, with citrus, floral and mineral flavors that linger in the mouth. It practically invites you to have a second glass. A very pretty fragrance and the palate is remarkably salty and expressive, with an extra level of clarity and complexity that is sometimes missing from this category.
Dry, zingy, crisp, and clean with pure, frisky green fruit flavors of lime, melon, and pear, this is a terrific alternative for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio lovers. Sealed with a screwcap in the handy liter bottle, this pairs well with white fish, chicken and veggies, especially asparagus, string beans, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts, or veggie pâté, hummus, cheese & spring onion crackers.
SAINT-ROCH CÔTES DU PROVENCE ROSÉ – Organic
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.
Bodegas Olarra Reciente Rioja Reserva – sustainable
Bodegas Olarra is located on the outskirts of Logroño, in the heart of the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin, and within the highly regarded sub-area of Rioja Alta. Since its establishment in 1973, Olarra has been noted for the beauty and complexity of its unique premises thanks to its Y-shaped ground plan and its 111 hexagonal domes. Bodegas Olarra is commonly known as the Cathedral of Rioja. This winery tastefully merges cutting-edge wine-related technologies with the traditional winemaking methods of La Rioja, and as a result, it creates wines with the strictest parameters of quality.
The 2017 Reciente Rioja Reserva, made from 90% Tempranillo with 10% Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano, was aged for 16 months in French and American barriques, followed by 20 months in bottle to seamlessly integrate the aromas and flavors.
Today, all the gorgeous spice, leather, and toasted-coconut notes of a great Reserva are deepening. It’s drinking perfectly now, but will stand up in the cellar for years
Fresh and lively, this delicate Rioja delivers flavors of black currants and blueberries in a minor key. The fruit is soft and sweet, while the acidity has a crisp apple edge, giving the wine a plaintive voice, “like a sad love song,” one taster said. The flavors are lasting, ready to pour with roast goat. 91 points. (reviewed at $28)” – Wine & Spirits
“Dark ruby. Ripe red and dark berries, cola, candied licorice and a floral nuance on the perfumed nose. Fleshy red fruit preserve, mocha, vanilla and spicecake flavors spread out steadily though the midpalate, showing good depth and supple texture. Velvety tannins build on a supple, warm finish that echoes the ripe red fruit and floral notes. 91 points.” -Vinous
“Aromas of cardamom and other baking spices blend with peppercorn and blueberry accents to form a unique nose. On the full-bodied palate, flavors of berries and toast carry to the finish. 90 points. (reviewed at $28).” – Wine Enthusiast
Due Terre nero d’avola (Organic, Biodynamic, following Natural practices)
This super fresh, certified organic Sicilian bottling is made of 100% Nero d’Avola, one of Sicily’s signature grape varieties. Grown at a very high elevation, this is a crisp, crunchy, vivid expression of Nero d’Avola that shows exceptional purity and chalky minerality. Expect a bright purple, floral palate full of lush boysenberry and blueberry fruit. The grapes undergo a 24 hour maceration at low temperatures to preserve freshness and aromatics. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in concrete tanks for eight months. Plump and juicy. Loads of red and black fruits, licorice, tobacco, and dried flowers. It’s like Cab and Syrah had a love child. Some Neros can be big and bold, but this version is all about purity and freshness.
“Due Terre Wines is a collaborative effort between friends and we are happy to present our first line of wines made from the indigenous grapes of Italy – delicious, economical, well packaged, and certified organic. All the wines are produced as 100% pure varietals with minimal intervention and winemaking in order to allow the characteristics of the grape to shine through. There could not have been a better place than Sicily to produce these first wines for our project – the island has the largest number of organic vineyards in Italy and produces more grapes of quality than have a home in IGT and DOC bottlings and is often sold off as bulk wine to the north. We cannot bear to think of these delicious native grapes disappearing into another anonymous bottle and are very happy to give them a home at Due Terre Wine.”
“We chose to use drawings of the traditional marionettes used in Orlando Furioso and other plays in the Opera dei Pupi (the roots of which stretch back to at least the 15th century). Puppets and marionettes were a popular form of entertainment throughout Medieval Europe for all classes of people and it is probable that the earliest performances involved local history and folklore and with each new conqueror of the island, a new group of people would leave their own cultural stamp upon the emerging folk tradition. In Sicily, this form of entertainment uses wooden marionettes on strings and metal wires instead of hand puppets made of cloth. Although the tradition is becoming less common, the Opera dei Pupi has not died out completely and there are now actions being taken to preserve this unique folk-art. UNESCO has designated Sicilian Puppet Theatre as part of humanity’s “oral and intangible heritage” and has devised a plan to save it from extinction. We hope that by bringing them to our wine labels we can help in some way to preserve this tradition.”
La Grande Clotte Lussac-Saint Emilion Rouge – Sustainable
In the 1990’s, Château La Grande Clotte was rented to Michel and Danny Rolland. Since 2016, it’s been the property of Julie and Mathieu Mercier, a young couple of oenologists from Bordeaux. The vineyard of the domain is in one piece of land, located on a clay and limestone soil typical of the Lussac Saint-Emilion appellation. 20 acres are dedicated to growing red wine grapes which receive all the attention and care they deserve from the vineyard to the cellar in order to produce a high-quality wine that reflects the savoir-faire and environmental care of the region.
90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc on vines that are approximately 25 years old. Tank vinified and finished in tank and barrique for about a year.
Decanter: Bright, bold, perfumed, and softly sweet blackcurrant notes on the nose. The palate has pleasing initial juiciness to it but chalky tannins are still at the fore with the fruit aspects having spiced edges presently. Licorice, cloves, mint, and a nice wet stone, mineral aspect all combine to add interest, spice, and freshness.
91 points, James Suckling: A solid and fruity red with chewy tannins and lots of fruit. Medium to full-bodied, it has a velvety texture with just enough freshness and an earthy finish. Extremely well done for this appellation. 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.