March ’23 Bargain Club

dibon label

Dibon Cava
Vullien Chardonnay
Ramituell Tibouren Rosé
Castelvecchi Chianti Classico
Azul y Garanza Tempranillo
Requiem Red Wine Blend

 dibon labelDibon Cava (Organic and biodynamic)

Quick, guess what the best-selling wine is in our 20-year history?  Forgive us if the title and logo gave it away, but we tend to overlook sometimes how fricking great this inexpensive sparkler is!

Dibon Cava Brut, an organic méthode Champenoise wine Sparkling wine from Spain that is so delicious and so inexpensive that there’s always a bottle in my fridge!

Bon Appetit called the wine “a true bargain, with subtly sweet apricot flavors balanced by tart grapefruit.,” and described Dibon as  “brimming with grapefruit and almond notes, a true crowd-pleaser, ” and  The Wall Street Journal named Dibon its #1 Cava!

It’s light, refreshing, and inviting,  very food-friendly, and inexpensive enough to buy by the caseload!  

There is a reason that this is the fastest-growing Cava brand in the country – It consistently over-delivers with layers of complexity, enviable weight, and finely textured bubbles.  Composed of the three main grapes used in Cava:  Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo to produce a crowd-pleasing sparkling wine that’s perfect in a glass by itself, or as the sparkling wine component to a spritz.

The three grape varieties are sorted and fermented separately. The fermentation process is controlled at low temperatures in order to achieve the maximum expression of fruit. The second fermentation takes place in the bottle over two years. 

Brilliant appearance with the constant release of fine bubbles forming a crown on the surface of the glass. Pale straw yellow in color. Aromas of fresh baking arise from the second fermentation in the bottle, giving it a character of its own. Smooth and silky, its carbonic release gives it freshness and vivacity, resulting in a long finish. 

In the late 1800s, Miquel Tetas would travel all night to Barcelona with two 500 liter barrels strapped to horse and cart, selling his wines to a clientele who revered them for their finesse and freshness.  One year some of Miquel’s young wines spontaneously gave off small quantities of carbon dioxide, everyone loved this effect, and Miquel began to investigate how to ferment his grapes in order to preserve this carbonation.  Reynal, the first sparkling wine ever made in Spain, was the result of what were many trials and experiments.

Success and demand rapidly succeeded Miquel’s expectations. His company soon began to export outside of Spain, and by the mid-1960s his wines were a reference point for sparkling wine in Penedes. To this day wines are fermented and aged in the underground cellar of an 18th-century building that sits next door to the Villafranca del Penedes train station.  All wines are estate grown and based on the local variety of Xarel-lo. Minimal aging is 15 months, and reserve wines are aged up to 10 years. Farming is natural, and this is the first Spanish winery to have been issued a biodynamic certificate from Demeter.


The eastern French region of the Savoie is one of the most exciting wine regions on the planet, and it’s near the top of my must-see places to go once we can get on airplanes and visit other countries again.  

Savoie is blessed —a cool mountain climate on a warming planet, and about as idyllic a place to grow and make wine as one could ask for. Known more for skiing and other outdoor pursuits, the Savoie is not so well known as a wine-producing area, though within the area known as the Combe de Savoie, there are a handful of the best producers.  

With little-known grape varieties such as Jacquère, Mondeuse, and Altesse nestling alongside Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay, the world of Savoie wines begs to be explored. I was astonished at the quality of Jean Vullien’s wines, especially when compared to most other producers in the area.

How were they producing such high-quality, clean and fresh wines when so many others clearly couldn’t? It transpired that Jean Vullien learned viticulture in his native Bordeaux and his two sons, David and Olivier graduated at the renowned wine college, La Viti in Beaune.  

The region’s best comes from a boomerang-shaped string of hillside villages between Grenoble and Albertville (site of the 1992 Winter Olympics) called the Combe de Savoie (Combe is a word of Celtic origin meaning a sharp, deep valley). Jean Vullien and his two sons, David and Olivier, tend 69 acres on the Combe in the villages of Chignin, Montmélian, Arbin, St-Jean de la Porte, and their hometown of Fréterive.  

The domain’s holdings include all of the region’s indigenous grape varieties, as well as strategically-placed parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wines range from a crisp, lemon and mineral Jacquère-based white that British wine author Andrew Jefford would categorize as “Muscadet of the Alps” to complex floral and spiced reds made from Mondeuse. In recent years, David and Olivier have also earned a reputation for their excellent Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines.  Though the Vulliens have been making wine for 40 years, the family is perhaps best known as a leader in another segment of the wine industry.

Since 1890, Vullien Pépinière Viticole (vine nursery) has been supplying young vines to growers throughout France. In fact, they were the source for about 25% of the Chardonnay planted in Chablis after the ravages of phylloxera.  

Climatically, the Savoie is more challenged than many other wine-producing areas of France, hence the different native grape varieties. Jacquère, which is widely available, drinks like a dry Sauvignon Blanc and is superb with shellfish and seafood. Gamay, which is the principal variety of Beaujolais, is comfortable in this slightly cooler climate too. They are succulent, light and full of fruit with the Gamay Rose airing more on the side of a dry rose. Both work extremely well with Savioe dishes such as raclette, tartiflette, tarte flambee (flammekueche), and cheese fondues.

The prestige bottling is fermented and aged in stainless, and goes through full malo for a rich mouthfeel.  A perfect complement for fish and fatty foods, this highly aromatic Chard is perfect with fish and chicken. 


Ramatuelle Rosé of Tibouren (Organic)

Tibouren or Rossese di Dolceacqua is a red French grape that is primarily grown in Provence and Liguria. It originated in Greece or possibly the Middle East    Intensely aromatic with an earthy bouquet that wine expert Jancis Robinson describes as garrigue Tibouren is often used in the production of rosés.

While the unique aroma and character of the wines produced by Tibouren are valued by producers, it is not a widely planted variety. This is due, in part, to the viticultural issues of the grape’s sensitivity to coulure and tendency to produce highly irregular yields from vintage to vintage. The wines produced from Rossese are a local specialty found around Dolceacqua

While Tibouren today is almost exclusively associated with the Provence wine region, French ampelographer Pierre Galet suspects that the grape probably has Greek origins or possibly Middle Eastern. Galet’s theory derives from the uniquely shaped leaves of the Tibouren vine, which include deeply incised lobes that are usually seen in Vitis families of the Middle East. He speculates that over the evolution of the grape its ancestor vines were brought to Greece and from there it was probably introduced to France by the Ancient Greeks at their settlement in Marseille.

One competing theory is that the variety was a relatively recent import to Provence that was introduced to Saint-Tropez, to the east of Marseille, in the 18th century by a naval sea captain named Antiboul (from which several synonyms of Tibouren are derived).

Ramatuelle produces a  mouth-watering wine from old-vines (40 years average, the oldest over 100 years old!), at a very affordable price.  85% Tibouren and 15% Grenache, it offers great flavor at a very affordable price!

In concert with an impressive list of sustainable-minded growers, Domaine de Ramatuelle is not actually located in Ramatuelle, but further inland in Brignoles, one of the many historic and charming villages that are peppered about the sprawling hillsides of Côtes de Provence.  The grapes come from two communes – Ramatuelle and Gassin, located just below the world-favorite destination of Saint-Tropez.

Within these two communes, Ramatuelle’s team of growers farms 35 small, unique, sandy-schist parcels that are predominately old vines mainly planted in the 1950s—with some planted in the early 1900s!

After harvesting in September, the grapes are briefly macerated before the delicate juice undergoes a temperature-controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts. It aged on its fine lees in concrete and stainless steel tanks for a few months before bottling with a very low dose of sulfur.   

In the glass, a highly reflective salmon pink with silver hues, with notes of white peach, Rainier cherry, Ruby Red grapefruit, watermelon rind, citrus blossoms, tangerine peel, crushed stones, garrigue, rose water, and steely minerality.  It’s fresh, mineral, and creamy all at once, with a historic pedigree and a deep connection to the dusty soils and fragrant scrubland of Provence. 

capotondoCastelvecchi Chianti Classico capotondo – organic

Castelvecchi Chianti was acquired by the Paladin family in pursuit of noteworthy, superior, and inimitable Chianti Classico. The estate dates back 1000 years rooting it in the history of the area and possessing a distinct terroir that can only be found in the hills of Radda. Here too, Paladin aims at sustainability and groundbreaking innovation.

The vineyard’s soil is characterized by the predominant presence of galestro and alberese stones with a small percentage of boulder and sandstone. A rich red color chock full of pleasant purple tones.  A good body, balanced acidity, and freshness, with prevailing floral notes, with hints of red rose and violet. Body, acidity, and freshness, with aromas of red rose, violet & red fruits prevailing into a full-bodied palate of blueberry, cherry, and plum, with a light spice note.

90 points, Wine Enthusiast:  This blend of 88% Sangiovese and 12% Canaiolo opens with aromas of violet, spice, and a hint of eucalyptus. The succulent palate offers blackberry, star anise and white pepper alongside polished tannins. Drink through 2025.


Azul y Garanza Tempranillo 1L Front LabelAZUL Y GARANZA VIURA (ORGANIC)

At Farmstead, we believe the only thing better than a bottle of wine is a bigger bottle of wine. That’s just one of the many reasons why we are so fond of the Azul y Garanza Viura, coming to you in a 1 liter party-size bottle. We have featured their Viura and Rosado many times in the clubs, but strangely, this is the first time featuring their outstanding, fresh Tempranillo

Founders Dani Sánchez, María Barrena, and Fernando Barrena set out on no easy task when they established Azul y Garanza, located on the outskirts of Europe’s largest desert in Navarra, Spain. The vineyards are planted within Bardenas Reales Natural Park, a badlands nature reserve reminiscent of a sci-fi lunar terrain. The trio’s goal is to focus on “landscapes” versus vineyards. They incorporate as much biodiversity within the plots as the environment will allow, incorporating other flora, fauna, animal, and insect life. Creating these harmonious microcosms contributes to the health and prosperity of their vines. The Bodega, acquired by the team in 1999 but built in the 1940s, is partially underground and the perfect location for their gentle and delicate fermentations, resulting in elegant wines.   

The grapes undergo a 10-day, wild yeast fermentation in concrete tanks and 10 day maceration period which is followed by brief aging in concrete tank until bottling and release. 

Fresh, dry, and delicious, making the case for bigger is better (at least in terms of volume). Bright aromatics of red cherries and raspberries give way to copious amounts of strawberry and hints of cedar on the palate.  A perfect party wine.


Requiem Red Blend Front LabelRequiem Red Wine Blend – Sustainable

A select blend of 50% each  Merlot and Syrah from four sites in the Columbia Valley, mostly the Yakima Valley AVA.

Yakima Valley is the state’s oldest AVA (in fact, the first federally recognized area in the Pacific Northwest), and is home to some of Washington’s most storied and historic vineyards. It also is the largest sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley, both in total size and planted acreage, with the valley home to over one-quarter of Washington’s total grapevine acreage.

Soils are strongly influenced by the Missoula Floods, which were a series of dramatic cataclysms in prehistoric times. Moderate to deep silt-loam is layered over gravel or directly onto basalt bedrock. This foundation creates well-drained soils that are ideal for irrigated viticulture. The 2020 vintage was a relatively warm, dry year marked by a significantly smaller crop than average. Though in short supply, the grapes were outstanding in quality with small, concentrated berries that benefitted from extended hang time for optimal phenolic ripening and color.

Fruit was harvested (Merlot in late August/early September and Syrah in late September) and completely destemmed. Vinification stainless steel fermenters followed by elevage in tank – no oak.

This is a sassy blend with swagger – full and juicy with ripe, gushing, velvety black fruit flavors. You may find blackcurrant, dark cherries, briar patch fruits, blueberry jam, licorice, and dark chocolate – or maybe not. You will find it to be delicious. Robust, spicy, and warm, this is a great companion for a workday wind down, roasted dishes at the table, and lively conversation into the wee hours of the night.



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