AN ESOTERIC SECOND SATURDAY!
Les Capriades Pet Sec Pét-Nat 2016 - ORGANIC, NO SULFUR
Country: FRANCE / Region: LOIRE VALLEY / Appellation: VIN DE FRANCE / Varietal(s): CHENIN BLANC+CABERNET FRANC --- Located in the Touraine, Pascal Potaire and Moses Gadouche are among the top producers of pét-nats in the Loire, possibly in all of France. Their setup resembles that of a Champagne house (albeit a very small one!), buying most of their grapes (which they harvest themselves from a small bunch of organic growers near Faverolles) and keeping a laser-like focus on the winemaking. Pét-nats made using the méthode ancestrale are simultaneously incredibly simple and incredibly difficult to do well. Because the wines are made without sulfur, the grapes have to be as perfect as possible to avoid flaws in the wine. The juice begins to ferment in tank, and the wines are bottled mid-fermentation to complete their fermentation under a crown cap, trapping carbonic gas and giving them their soft, frothy bubbles. Everything is disgorged and this bottling is sealed in a slightly bizarre (but resealable!) plastic closure of German invention. Their wines get a longer-than-usual time on their lees, which increases finesse and character. Dry and mineral-driven, "Pet Sec" is made primarily from chenin blanc along with a small percentage of cabernet franc. Crushed seashells and lemon zest on the nose introduce a body sizzling with tart, vibrant acidity. Intense limestone minerality accompanies juicy citrus into a powerful finish with a subtle, elegant sweet note. A seductive choice with oysters!
Forlorn Hope Ribolla Gialla Napa Valley Vare Vineyard "Sihaya" 2014 - SKIN FERMENTED
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: NAPA VALLEY / Varietal(s): RIBOLLA GIALLA --- Matthew Rorick is a man of seemingly boundless energy, a supreme experimenter. He worries little about exactly how the wines will turn out, focusing more on the process, and allowing the wines to reveal their individual personalities along the way. He often chooses sites with lesser known varieties, like ribolla gialla, which is grown primarily around the border regions of Italy and Slovenia. Here, Rorick pays tribute to the iconic winemaking style of Friuli-Brda producers by employing a 20 day skin maceration before pressing the wine and aging in old barrels for 20 months before bottling. With notes of ripe orchard fruit, dried lemon peel, fragrant wildflowers, and sweet freshly turned earth, this is an elegant alternative to grippy Georgian wines. Excellent depth and complexity, and a fine balance of lively acidity and gently persistent tannins make this an unexpected choice with moules marinières.
Broc Cellars Old Vine Carignan Alexander Valley 2016 - SUSTAINABLY GROWN, LOW INTERVENTION
Country: USA / Region: CALIFORNIA / Appellation: ALEXANDER VALLEY / Varietal(s): CARIGNAN+ALICANTE BOUSCHET+ZINFANDEL+PALOMINO --- Chris Brockway makes fantastic natural wines in his Berkeley-based urban winery by utilizing low-intervention winemaking methods and sourcing sustainably and organically farmed fruit from lesser-known vineyards all over California. In the winemaking process, he uses low-tech equipment and very little to no sulfur until bottling. This truly unique cuvée comes from a vineyard of rugged 130+ year old vines, saved from "Cabernetification". An original field-planted block, this is mostly carignan, interspersed with small amounts of palomino (a white variety from Jerez), zinfandel, and alicante (a rare black-fruited varietal that produces some of the darkest juice found anywhere). The decomposed sandy soils make it impossible for the phylloxera pest to survive, leaving these as some of the last remaining self-rooted vines in California. From this remarkable vineyard, whole clusters are put into large concrete tank, with berries remaining intact and protected by a blanket of CO2 until their native yeasts begin to ferment the grape sugars from the inside out (a process known as carbonic maceration). When fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed back into concrete vessels for aging, and bottled after six months. Medium-bodied and intensely aromatic, this is bright and juicy, with energetic notes of blueberries, boysenberries, black currants, violets, lavender, and wild mushrooms. A delicious match for blueberry balsamic glazed pork tenderloin!
Androvic Plavac Mali Pelješac Peninsula 2015 - ORGANICALLY GROWN
Country: CROATIA / Region: SOUTHERN DALMATIA / Appellation: PELJEŠAC PENINSULA / Varietal(s): PLAVAC MALI --- From Dalmatia on the Pelješac Peninsula of southern Croatia comes this unusual bottling, made from the native grape varietal plavac mali, which is a relative of zinfandel. The golden jackal pictured on the label makes reference to the wild "cagalj" dogs which roam the hillside vineyards of the peninsula where this wine is grown. Winemaker Mario Androvic proudly utilizes the traditional winemaking techniques he learned from his father, having taken over both growing and selling the family's grapes at the age of 15, when his father became ill. He uses wild yeasts for fermentation and only uses old barrels, some dating back to the 50s. This was aged in neutral barrel for 12 months, then bottled unfiltered and unfined. Impressively stuctured, boasting outstanding density and length, this is a truly unique arrival. Exotic aromas of dried açai fruit, mulberries, baking spice and incense turn to a robust palate redolent of concentrated dried dark fruit (blackberries, blueberries, black plum and licorice!) and an earthy, chewy, grippy texture. Perfect with Sichuan tea-smoked duck.