Club Little House - September

Fravolato – Tenuta La Favola (2015) 

Grape Variety(s): Frappato Style: Dry Red

Region: Noto, Sicily, Italy

Winemaker: Corrado and Valeria Gurrieri Soil: High Calcareous

Age of Vines: 10 yrs

The estate stands upon a hill in the far right-end corner of Sicily, just outside of the town of Noto, near Siracusa. When Corrado goes down the northern side of the hill to reach the olive grove, Mt. Etna salutes him. If he goes down along the southern side, all he can see is the deep blue of the seas in front of him. The paths among the vineyards are calcareous-white and at night time with a full-moon, the land shines. He’s not completely wrong when he says he lives in paradise. He has inherited this land from his mother who left it to him, second of four brothers.

It’s no surprise that he decided to farm them organically, or when he dedicated some of his land in order to experiment on his vines. Nor was it strange when he decided to use only green energy and not to have production residuals. Every day he spends hours in the vineyards looking at his vines thinking about new methods or new utensils. If you’re puzzled about the perfectionism and maniacal attention with which he looks at his sprouts, Corrado will just look at you like saying: “How can I possibly behave differently? How else could it be?”

The 2015 Fravolato is 100% Frappato, a native grape to the area, from fairly young vines on the estate. Like their other wines, the Fravolato is raised entirely in stainless steel (no oak). It is meant to be drunk young and is just a fabulous, versatile wine that I think is perfect for the changing season. The nose is just gorgeous and the finish will have it begging for some food, think Lasagna or anything off the grill.

Rosé – Domaine Lattard (2014)

Grape Variety(s): Syrah Style: Dry Rosé

Region: Rhone, France

Winemaker: Denis Lattard

Soil: Clay and Limestone Age of Vines: 15-20 yrs

Those of you who were part of the Club back in July, may remember a juicy Summer Gamay from the same producer. Now he’s back! And hands down, no kidding, this wine is the staff favorite of our whole portfolio right now. This rosé is out of this world flavorful! Forget what you heard about rosé needing to be drunk fresh, in the year it was made. This 2014 Rosé of Syrah is something like watermelon strawberry juice that is memorable and flat out delicious. I was first introduced to this wine in New York about a year ago after stumbling into a Chinese restaurant and enjoying it with some spiciy noodles. It blew us away and now we’re so lucky to have it to sell. Now...a bit more about the winemakerJ

After finishing his degree in oenology in 1995, Denis Lattard took over his family’s chicken and vegetable farm located in the heart of Ardèche or the Drôme, in Southern France. The farm had been previously covered in vines and this signified to Denis a different potential of this special terroir. He began to plant Gamay, Syrah, Roussanne, and Viognier vines on the 15 acre estate.

Today, the certified organic vines live in a dramatic environment of limestone and clay soils at 350m elevation on chiseled cliffs. Since 2007, he has added zero sulfites to his wines. The style of the wines tend to be light and fresh, allowing his terroir and the grapes’ true characteristics to shine through. Denis doesn’t want to produce pretentious or serious wines, just tasty wine to be enjoyed every day. Certified organic the estate now produces 15000 bottles a year. 

Club Little House - August

Il Casolare Bianco –Fattoria San Lorenzo (2015)

Grape Variety(s): Verdicchio

Style: Dry White

Region: Marche, Italy

Winemaker: Natalino Crognaletti Soil: Sand and Clay

Age of Vines: 25 yrs


  Fattoria San Lorenzo is a family operation dedicated to the production of organic and biodynamic wines in the farm that Natalino Crognaletti inherited from his father Gino, whom in his turn had inherited it from his father Enrico. Enrico was also a master cooper, and Gino spent his life selecting old clones of Verdicchio from ancient vineyards called alberate.
Natalino, together with his mother, Vera Biondini, manages the vineyards
which are situated in Montecarotto where Natalino was born and raised,
and in the nearby communes Ostra, Ostra Venere, and Corinaldo. Natalino lives on the estate with his wife, son, mother and the numerous farm animals for which he names his wines!
All the vineyards are organically and biodynamically farmed, and all the agricultural operations are made by human hand in order to preserve the plants, the soil, and the environment. Natalino is also in charge of the soil management and the winemaking operations.
Il Casolare Bianco is one of 5 of Natalino’s interpretations of the Verdicchio grape. Fermented and aged in concrete tanks, it’s a the perfect ‘apertivo’ wine served just under room temperature (not too cold). Cheers!


Bourgogne Vezelay Rouge – Les Faverelles (2014)

 

Grape Variety(s): Pinot Noir, Cesar

Style: Dry Red

Region: Vezelay, Burgundy, France

Winemaker: Patrick Bringer Soil: Clay / Limestone

Age of Vines: 25 yrs


Formerly a bookseller in Paris for 20 years, Patrick and his wife now live in the north Burgundian village of Asquins where she is also the mayor. They farm 6 hectares (15 acres) of vines in the Vezelay appellation, an even split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a small amount of the ancient grape Cesar for blending. Not only do they work organically, but Asquins is also certified organic, which means no chemicals or pesticides are allowed in the village at all.
Patricks is very committed to Biodynamic viticulture, and they are also recently Ecocert certified. Grapes are handpicked, fermented on indigenous yeasts and are not chapitalized or filtered and aged 9-12 months in old oak. The cool climate of the region means that even in warmer vintages like 2009 the Bringer’s still make wines that are merely 12.5% in alcohol, retaining all freshness and delicacy.
The elegant “Rouge” is mainly Pinot Noir (the chief grape of Burgundy), with a bit of the native Cesar grape blended in. Aged in neutral barrel, this light bodied red Burgundy offers wonderful balance of fruit and acidity and drinks wonderfully now and will also mellow out beautifully with a few years.

Club Little House - July

Clisson – Domaine des Cognettes (2010)


Grape Variety(s): Melon de Bourgogne
Style: Dry White, Sur Lie
Region: Clisson, Musadet, Loire Valley, France
Winemaker: Stéphane and Vincnet Perraud Soil: Weathered Granite
Age of Vines: 60-80 yrs


   It was pretty cool how it happened, we had visited other wineries earlier that day and had an Airbnb in the town of Clisson. We arrived at dusk...greeted by our host and when we told her we were going around visiting vineyards, especially those working naturally, she stopped and said we MUST walk over (literally next door) to her neighbor who had a winery and talk with him. It was during harvest so we really felt like we wanted to set up appointments since everyone was so busy but she insisted and went inside his tank room and he out and greeted
us. We talked a bit and then offered to come in and taste through some of the
wines. Before we tasted, I was positive I'd bring start to import the othes we had tasting that day..as I enjoyed the wines for sure, but it was undeniable that these “surprise wines” in my hand were superior and on par with some of the best Muscadet wines I had tasted.
3rd generation Muscadet winemakers, brothers Stephane and Vincent Perraud work together just outside of the historic, medieval town of Clisson on 28 hectares. As of 2010, they work all of their vineyard in organic agriculture, harvesting by hand and vinifying their wines naturally, with only native yeasts and minimal sulfur usage. The soils are mainly composed of weathered granite, gabbro (extremely dense and heavy volcanic rock), along with sand, clay, and quartz pepples.
Taken from select parcels on weathered granite from the older vines, with extended lees aging for an impressive 51 MONTHS in underground glass-lined tanks, the Clisson is the Estate’s top cuvee. This wine is only made in ideal vintages. A dream with fish or almost any seafood. I just had it with a whole Rockfish this weekend!


Gamay – Domaine Lattard (2014)

Grape Variety(s): Gamay Style: Dry Red
Region: Rhone, France
Winemaker: Denis Lattard Soil: Clay and Limestone Age of Vines: 15-20 yrs


 After finishing his degree in oenology in 1995, Denis Lattard took over his family’s chicken and vegetable farm located in the heart of Ardèche or the Drôme, in Southern France. The farm had been previously covered in vines and this signified to Denis a different potential of this special terroir. He began to plant Gamay, Syrah, Roussanne, and Viognier vines on the 15 acre estate.
Today, the certified organic vines live in a dramatic environment of limestone and clay soils at 350m elevation on chiseled cliffs. Since 2007, he has adds zero sulfites to his wines. The style of the wines tend to be light and fresh, allowing his terroir and the grapes’ true characteristics to shine through. Denis doesn’t want to produce pretentious or serious wines, just tasty wine to be enjoyed everyday. Certified organic the estate now produces 15000 bottles a year.
The Gamay is a light and refereshing red, enjoyed chilled and consumed fairly soon after opening. Wonderful with pork or a steak tartare.

Club Little House - June

Piak! – Domaine Bobinet (2015)

  • Grape Variety(s): Cabernet Franc
  • Style: Dry Red
  • Region: Saumur Champigny, Loire Valley, France
  • Winemaker: Sébastien Bobinet + Emeline Calvez
  • Soil: Clay and Limestone
  • Age of Vines: 20 – 30 yrs

he natural wine movement is coming of age in the Loire Valley, thanks in part to upstart Sébastien Bobinet and his partner, a professional dancer-turned-vigneronne, Eméline Calvez. Heavily influenced by the godfather of natural winemaking, Jules Chauvet of the Beaujolais, and under the guidance of the Loire’s renowned Foucault brothers of Clos Rougeard, the two have added momentum to the revitalization of the AOC Saumur-Champigny. While Sébastien has long been regarded as a rising star of the region, his collaboration with Eméline since 2011—a talent in her own right—has cemented the cult status of the domaine’s wines.
Their winemaking approach is strongly influenced by the Beaujolais, generally characterized by lighter body wines made with little or no skin maceration (less tannins) and an emphasis on drinkability. A unique approach indeed in Cabernet Franc driven Saumur Champigny, known for astringent, almost harsh tannin and
earthbound wines. The philosophy is a treat and we were able to experience it first-
hand in a visit to the Domaine last Fall, seeing how much care and passion goes
into the vineyards and the winemaking process. 2015 Piak! is a new project wine from the couple. The name comes from the sound your mouth makes when it’s thirsty and your tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth...PIAK! This was a standout vintage for the region, more full and fruity than normal. Still a hint of astringency known to Cabernet Franc, Piak was fermented in Concrete, sees a brief neutral oak treatment, and is released only about 4 motnhs after harvest. Delicious with roasted or smoked chicken!

Rosa Luna – La Collina Cooperative (2015) 

  • Grape Variety(s): Lambrusco Salamino
  • Style: Rosé Sparkling
  • Winemaker: Co-op of 12 winemakers
  •   Soil: Sand and Limetsone
  • Region: Emilia Romagna, Italy
  • Age of Vines: 15-20 yrs


The story of “La Collina” began in 1975 when 12 young lads, full of dreams, started a new and a very unusual project and experience. They started an agricultural cooperative in order to live like an extended family. They also dreamt about helping the less fortunate struggled with drug addictions.


The cooperatives main activities are:
1)In the farm they grow vegetables, vines, fruit, cereals, fodder; we also have livestock: oxen and pigs. They process all these product to obtain wine, flour, pasta, meat, poultry, sausages and honey.
2)They organize educational fieldtrips.
3)They realized the dream to have a rehab community for young adults with drug addictions.

It seems Lambrusco is making a comeback, and for good reason... the acidity of this wine, combined with the bubbles can wash down perfectly the buttery sauce of any pasta, and stand up to rich meats at the same time. It is a perfect food wine... and has existed more or less as we know it today since 1567.

   

Club Big House - June

Quarterons – Sébastien Riffault (2013)

  • Grape Variety(s): Sauvignon Blanc
  • Style: Dry White
  • Region: Sancerre, France
  • Winemaker: Sébastien Riffault
  • Soil: Clay and Limestone
  • Age of Vines: 30 yrs


   His wines are unique in the Sancerre world, but a strong reflection and true test of his vineyards and soil. Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc is known for its intense minerality, crisp texture and citrus quality. Riffault’s Sancerre wines are not like the mainstream ones, but none the less delicious, while showcasing his 2 hectares near Sury-en-Vaux. Sebastien Riffault, son of winemaker Etienne Riffault, began his own label in 2002. The big difference between him and the rest of Sancerre is his belief in biodiversity and biodynamic principals and natural winemaking. These principals are rare to find in Sancerre where many vines and wines are made with chemicals and manipulation.
The Vineyard: An array of plants, flowers and grass are planted in his vineyards to increase biodiversity and encourage good insects. He uses horse to plow, so the soil is carefully tilled and in the right places, which increases the amount and variety of life in the soil. Absolutely no fertilizers or chemicals are used, and his wines are certified organic by l’intégralité du Domaine en Culture Biologique, certifiée par Bureau Veritas Certification. He is a member of The Association of Vins Naturels and The Renaissance Group of Appellations.
The Winemaking: Riffault takes the natural approach here as well. Riffault leaves his grapes on the vine extremely late in order to get them completely ripe usually affected by botrytis. The wines are fermented in large, old barrels with wild yeast (except Les Quarterons is fermented in stainless steel). In spite of the crisp, intense acidity, all of the wines undergo complete malolactic fermentation. The wines are aged on their lees. They are never chaptalized or acidified. His wines are not filtered or fined. A tiny amount of sulfur is added to Les Quarterons at time of bottling. Wines are bottled by gravity. Drink with a rich, fatty dish!

Merlot – Roark Wine Co (2014)

 

  • Grape Variety(s): Merlot
  • Style: Dry Red
  • Region: Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard Canyon
  • Winemaker: Ryan Roark
  • Soil: Sand
  • Age of Vines: 25 yrs

 Ryan grew up in Texas. After attending Texas A&M, he apprenticed in several wineries in New Zealand before settling in Central California working with a vineyard management company. After a few years, Ryan started buying fruit from some of his favorite vineyards to make tiny batches of wine in what would become Roark Wine Company. Now six years in and full time with his winery, Ryan and his wife Jenn still only produce about 1,500 cases of wine per year from a combination of purchased fruit and from vineyards they organically farm themselves.
The 2014 Merlot is made with fruit that Ryan and Jenn farm themselves on a vineyard located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, CA. Given Ryan’s background, he places a special emphasis on particulars in the vineyard, especially when it comes time to harvest. Rather uniquely, they will harvest in 3-5 stages, cluster by cluster, in order to achieve the desired balance of ripeness and acidy NATURALLY, so that there is no need for manipulation in the cellar. This Merlot is aged for 16 months in neutral oak and is absolutely delicious with just about anything off the grill.

Club Little House - May

Rossore – Iuli (2012) 

Grape Variety(s): Barbera
Style: Dry Red
Region: Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy
Winemaker: Fabrizio Iuli Soil: Calcarious Clay
Age of Vines: 20 – 40 yrs


The blend of hospitality learned and inherited from his mother and 40 years in the family restaurant, combined with his love of agriculture and the land fed by his father and grandfather – finished with the touch of his artistic hand, Fabrizio Iuli alone along with some help from Dad driving the tractor, creates wines that are like he is; warm and intelligent, easy going, a friend everyone wants to have, and that do not cease to invoke a smile!
The winery is located in a small little town called Montaldo which is in the somewhat undiscovered region of Monferrato in Piedmont. To name only a few of the many varieties, Monferrato is home to Moscato, Fresia, Grignolino, Dolcetto and of course Barbera. Fabrizio calls himself a “barberista,” for his love, focus, and dedication to the Barbera grape. In addition to the mixed and poor soil type in the vineyards (which helps the strength and vigor of his vines), there is more importantly a vein of limestone that runs directly through his property – which gives an amazing acidity and special character to his wines.
Aged as long as it needs to in used barrel, Fabrizio lets the wine tell him when it’s ‘done.’ Natural yeasts, and Fabrizio has also recently stopped topping the barrels as much, letting the wine go into slight reduction which he believes adds to the complexity in the finished wine. No recipe to aging time, each vintage is different and hence each ‘child’ will be given the time he needs.


Rosé – Bodegas Vega de Tera (2015)


Grape Variety(s): Prieto Picudo Style: Dry Rosé
Region: Castilla y Leon, Spain
Winemaker: Xavier Iturria Soil: Sand and Clay
Age of Vines: 80 yrs


A fairly new project from a Spanish engineer and his father-in-law, Miguel Rigil has set out on a mission to make affordable quality, organic and biodynamic wines in central Spain.
The vineyards are located in Toro and Brime of Urz. The origin of Toro wine is said to be pre-Roman, with references in several literary works, including by Góngora, Quevedo, and the Archpriest of Hita. As they were spared from phylloxera, the old vineyards have been preserved and Vega de Tera is able to work with ungrafted plants, making the wines true to type.
The 2015 Rosé is made with local variety, Prieto Picudo, and sees 4 days on the skins and a few months aging in Stainless Steel. Save it for a hot day!

Club Big House - May

Malidea – Iuli (2010) 

Grape Variety(s): Nebbiolo
Style: Dry Red
Region: Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy
Winemaker: Fabrizio Iuli Soil: Calcarious Clay
Age of Vines: 15 yrs


 The blend of hospitality learned and inherited from his mother and 40 years in the family restaurant, combined with his love of agriculture and the land fed by his father and grandfather- finished with the touch of his artistic hand, Fabrizio Iuli alone along with some help from Dad driving the tractor, creates wines that are like he is; warm and intelligent, easy going, a friend everyone wants to have, and that do not cease to invoke a smile! The winery is located in a small little town called Montaldo which is in the somewhat undiscovered region of Monferrato in Piedmont.
Malidea means, ‘bad idea’ in Italian. Fabrizio has a sense of humor that he brings with him in the vineyard and cellar, and when he found out the name of the hill seperating his Barbera vineyards from this Nebbiolo vineyards was named such, he thought it would have a great double meaning, in his words; ‘Whats a better name for a wine to share on a first or second date!’
The Nebbiolo vineyard was planted in 2003, so Fabrizio’s idea was to add his old vine Barbera to this young fruit to give it some backbone and strenght. The marraige of Nebbiolo and Barbera is also nothing new. The acidity and powerful bright fruit that the Barbera brings, together with the Tannins and aromatics of the Nebbiolo makes for a perfect wine marraige... and an ageing potential ‘di paura.’
After 4 vintages of blending these two varieties, we will finally see Fabrizio’s dream of producing a 100% Nebbiolo from Monferrato come true with the 2010 vintage.

Du Rififi A Beaulieu – Bruno Richard (2014)


Grape Variety(s): Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay Style: Dry Petillant Naturel
Region: Saumur Champigny, Loire, France
Winemaker: Bruno Richard Soil: Clay and Limestone Age of Vines: 20 yrs


A wonderful treat distributed by our friend Sebastien Bobinet and Emeline Calvez. This Petillant Natural (aka “PetNat”) is produced by their neighbor in Saumur, Bruno Richard. The “PetNat” style has become popular in recent years within the Natural Wine scene as this sparkling method avoids the need for “dosage” (sugar additions) as it is fermented in the bottle before all the sugars are consumed by yeasts (remember, the bioproduct of fermentation is CO2 -aka bubbly!!).
Du Rififi a Beaulieu is an even blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, a subtle hint of residual sugar nicely balances the minerality of this sparkling. Super clean and zero SO2 additions. Enjoy with a nice plate of Charcuterie!

Club Little House - April

Bourgogne Blanc – Fanny Sabre (2014) 

Grape Variety(s): Chardonnay Style: Dry White
Region: Burgundy, France
Winemaker: Fanny Sabre Soil: Limestone, Clay
Age of Vines: 25 – 40 yrs


  With only a handful of solo vintages under her belt, Fanny Sabre is already breaking a few rules in Burgundy and turning the region’s notorious old-boys’-club on its head. When her father passed away in 2000, Fanny’s mother wanted to continue running the property she had been working with her late husband since the 1980’s. Then only 16 years old and without any formal training in enology, Fanny began to work under the guidance of natural winemaking visionary Philippe Pacalet, who had come on board to assist the family. Her trial-by-fire paid off and spun the vineyards and wines in a whole new direction.
Fanny ferments in stainless steel, older wooden foudres, and tronconic Austrian vats and she allows most cuvees to mature in older casks. With barely enough space to vinify and age her wines, she has stacked her ancient cellar full while maintaining an impeccable hygiene necessary for successful natural vinifications.
We enjoy the bright acidity and green apple notes of the 2014 Bourgogne Blanc. It’s fabulous with paté and cream sauces!!


Cheverny Rouge – Domaine Tessier (2014)

Grape Variety(s): Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cot Style: Dry Red
Region: Cheverny, Loire Valley, France
Winemaker: Philippe Tessier
Soil: Sand, Poor Clay and Limestone Age ofVines: 15 yrs


 As a reminder...Domaine Tessier was founded in 1961 by Roger Tessier, with his son Philippe taking the reins 20 years later in 1981. They are located in the heart of the Cheverny and Cour Cheverny AOC’s and currently have 23 hectares of vines. This producer should be familiar to you, since we included his Cheverny White in last month’s club!!
The Cheverny Rouge 2014 is a real fruit bomb and just simply delicious. It’s serious and complex enough to be sipped, but so delicious and drinkable that you’ll want more than a glass. This wine is composed of 60% Gamay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 10% Cot (Malbec). The gamay fruit undergoes carbonic maceration, a whole-cluster fermentation aimed less at tannin extraction and more at juiciness. However, the Pinot and Cot are both destemmed and add a nice structure. After fermentation, the wine was aged in tank for about 8 months. 2014 was a nice vintage! This wine was made for a pork chop!

Club Big House - April

Ste Genevieve Extra Brut – Clos de Vignes du Maynes (2012)

Grape Variety(s): Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay Style: Brut Sparkling
Region: Macon Cruzille, France
Winemaker: Julien Guillot Soil: Clay/Limestone
Age of Vines: 25 – 40yrs


You just learned about about Julien and his operation last month when we brought you a wonderful natural Beaujolais from purchased fruit near his village. This time, it’s one of favorite wines in the entire book, Julien’s sparkling Burgundy, with all fruit from his Clos.
As a reminder, Julien is the 3rd generation winemaker in his family based in an area in southern Burgundy near the town of Macon. His farm was originally started in year 910 by Cluny Monks and was long since a location for growing grapes. Almost incredibly, the land has never been treated with chemicals, leading Julien to believe that he is based on the oldest organically farmed vineyard in France!
The Ste Genevieve Extra Bruit is a masterpiece. I could say it is “Champagne-like,” which it is, but at the same time it is very much its own wine, a sparkling wine from Southern Burgundy that’s incredibly delicious and complex. The fruit is a blend of Chardonnay, Gamay, and Pinot Noir...not exactly a conventional sparkling wine blend! All from the 2012 vintage, the fruit direct pressed, is aged in barrel for about a year, and then without any sugar additions, goes into the bottle and ferments and ages on the lees (dead yeast cells) for another 30 months...making for flavor depth, a creamy profile, and more structure. The wine was then disgorged (yeasts and sediment removed from bottle) earlier this year. Drink this wine with anything...I like it with Charcuterie...or anything. So delicious.


Poudre d’Escampette – Casot des Mailloles (2014)


Grape Variety(s): Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre Style: Dry Red
Region: Trouillas, Roussillon, France
Winemaker: Alain Castex Soil: Schist
Age of Vines: 75-100+ yrs


A magical wine of which we receive only a few cases each year. Alain Castex was producing some of the most interesting wines in the Roussillon. Unfortunately, he temporarily retired after the 2014 vintage due to family issues. That said, he went out on an extraordinary high note.
With old vines perched on steep cliffs high above the blue waters of the Mediterranean, farming is done all by hand, not by philosophy, but out of necessity. The work is slow, tedious, and extremely inefficient. On top of that, Alain’s near 100 year old vines are sparsely planted and yield extremely little fruit. Where most vigernons would have long abandoned the site or replanted new vines, Alain (and we!) find the wines made as a result of the unique terrior along with organic and hand tended vineyard are rich in expression and character.
The 2014 Poudre d’Escampette is aged for one year in old barrels and then bottled unfiltered and unfined. Lots of spice notes and dark fruit highlight this special wine. Enjoy with any kind of beef...I’m thinking burgers or braised short ribs with a rich sauce.

Club Big House - March

Haut de Balmont – Clos de Vignes du Maynes (2013)


Winemaker: Julien Guillot
Soil: Granite
Age of Vines: 90 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Gamay
Style: Dry Red
Region: Beaujolais Leynes


Having just spent this past weekend with the energetic Julien Guillot, I am reminded of his intense passion for the craft as well as the almost unbelievable history his vineyard. With remnants of an old Roman wall on his southern Burgundy property, an 1100-year-old winemaking heritage dating back to the powerful medieval monks of Cluny, and nothing but selection massale to replant the vineyards (no clones), the Guillot family has every reason to believe that they are the oldest organically farmed winery in France. Julien Guillot is the contemporary steward of this land, worked by his family since 1954. Julien takes his role quite seriously. In 1998, he took the farming practices one step deeper into biodynamic viticulture. He is such an enthusiastic student of history that in 2009 and 2010, he reenacted a medieval harvest and the transportation of the barrels by oxcart to Cluny 9 months later. The grapes are harvested by hand and fermented in old oak foudres. Fruit undergoes partial wholecluster
fermentation, without any additional sulfur or foreign yeast cultures, and Julien leaves the finished wines unfined and unfiltered to showcase the layers of fruit. The 2013 vintage was cold, rainy and results and a unique extremely low alcohol, yet intense wine, coming in at just 10.5%. The Beaujolais Leynes comes from a small, high altitude parcel of old vines farmed just a few miles from Julien’s Clos. Serve cool and enjoy with charcuterie, chicken, and pork dishes. Zero sulphur!

Bourgogne Vezelay Blanc – Les Faverelles (2014)

Winemaker: Patrick Bringer
Soil: Clay / Limestone
Age of Vines: 25 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Chardonnay
Style: Dry Red
Region: Vezelay, Burgundy, France


Formerly a bookseller in Paris for 20 years, Patrick and his wife now live in the north Burgundian village of Asquins where she is also the mayor. They farm 6 hectares (15 acres) of vines in the Vezelay appellation, an even split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a small amount of the ancient grape Cesar for blending. Not only do they work organically, but Asquins is also certified organic, which means no chemicals or pesticides are allowed in the village at all. Patricks is very committed to Biodynamic viticulture, and they are also recently Ecocert certified. Grapes are handpicked, fermented on indigenous yeasts and are not chapitalized or filtered and fermented 9-12 months in old oak. The cool climate of the region means that even in warmer vintages like 2009 the Bringer’s still make wines that are merely 12.5% in alcohol, retaining all freshness and delicacy. Of the beautiful 14s, the Blanc especially stands out. Fermented and aged in oak, this Chardonnay offers wonderful balance of fruit and acidity and drinks wonderfully now and will also mellow out beautifully
with a few years.

Club Little House - March

Petit Jo – La Roche Buissiere (2013)


Winemaker: Antoine and Lawrence Joly
Soil: Limestone, Clay, and Silt
Age of Vines: 25 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Syrah / Grenache
Style: Dry Red
Region: Rhone, France


Located northeast of Vaison-La-Romaine in the southern Côtes du Rhone, Antoine and Lawrence Joly work 18 hectare of organic vineyards making some of our favorite wines in the region. They maintain a freshness and lightness in their wines by dedicating themselves to very intense vineyard work that allows them to harvest earlier than several other producers in their area, resulting in less concentrated and lower alcohol wines.
Antoine's family has run the estate since the early 1970's (his grandfather was a beekeeper in the area and his father Pierre returned to live a more simple life after his involvement in the Parisian student riots of 1968). Pierre was a pioneer of organic viticulture in the Rhone and the vineyards have been certified since the 1980s, although he sold most of the grapes to the local co-op when he started. Antoine and Lawrence took over in 1999 and, since 2003, have vinified 100% of the harvest themselves.
Petit Jo is a wonderfully juicy and surprisingly refreshing (given that it’s from the Rhone). The grapes are fermented in concrete and aged for about 8 months, also in concrete. Only about 10mg/L of SO2 (extremely little) was added to the wine at bottling. This is one of our current favorites!

Cheverny Blanc – Domaine Tessier (2014)


Winemaker: Philippe Tessier
Soil: Sand, Poor Clay
Age of Vines: 20 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Menu Pineau
Style: Dry White
Region: Cheverny, Loire Valley, France Domaine Tessier was founded in 1961 by Roger Tessier, with his son Philippe taking the reins 20 years later in 1981. They are located in the heart of the Cheverny and Cour Cheverny AOC’s and currently have 23 hectares of vines. 

The vineyard exists in a microclimate that keeps the vineyards cool, situated between the Loire River and the forest of Cheverny, Chambord and Solange and has been Ecocert certified since 1998. Philippe believes that a wine should be the expression of the place from which it comes and should reflect the climatic conditions of the year as well as the vigneron that produces it, while also respecting the life of the soil and the environment. He believes that it should give pleasure but must also be sound and healthy, alive and digestible and above all, it should be a natural wine.
The Cheverny Blanc is fruity and zippy with a great acidity! Aged in tank for 6 months, the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, yielding a creamy texture. We love this wine with skin-on chicken or any cream based dishes!
 

Club Little House - February

Riesling – Dirler-Cadé (2011)


Winemaker: Jean and Ludivine Dirler
Soil: Clay
Age of Vines: 30-40 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Riesling
Style: Dry White
Region: Alsace, France


Certified Biodynamic since 1998, Jean and Ludvine Dirler are 5th generation grape farmers and
winemakers, producing mainly dry Rieslings from super steep slopes in the upper Alsace. 2011 was a difficult year and with very low-yields resulting in extraordinary wines for the vintage. As a bonus, this "basic" Riesling was supplemented with juice from the Grand Cru of Kitterlé as they did not feel it was good enough to be labeled as Grand Cru this vintage.
Pale straw-green. Fresh aromas of apricot and green apple. Then bright and fresh in the mouth, with suave flavors of apple and pear leading to a persistent, spicy finish. This has above-average texture and depth for entry-level Riesling.


Varetuo – Barranco Oscuro (2013)


Winemaker: Eddy Oosterlinck
Soil: Stony Schist and Clay
Age of Vines: 20 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Tempranillo
Style: Dry Red
Region: Andalucia, Spain


Manuel Valenzuela has been a pioneer in Spain producing natural wines. He arrived with his family in 1979 to Barranco Oscuro, a cortijo (farm) in La Alpujarra, one of the poorest places of Spain with the sole motivation of doing a new life in the countryside after become tired of the big city. At that time, the land was covered mainly with almond trees, but the cellar was full of wine from the owner before, who kept the vineyards for himself. Manuel had to plant a new vineyard to keep making wine. The land was never worked with chemicals and keep so was the aim of Manuel who became a respected leader in organic farming.
The 12 hectares of vines are located on the top of the Sierra de la Contraviesa, the viticultural region at a highest altitude in Europe, between Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean sea. All of them growing organically and unirrigated. The altitude, with the summit being 1368 meters above sea level, a mediterranean mountain climate, the low rainfalls and poor soils of schists and clays result in very low yields and very rich juices.
The 2013 Varetuo is fresh, smooth, and a bit spicy, with tangy, herbal falvors of strawberry, crabapples, juicy tomato, and sea salt, with delicate tannins. Fermented with whole clusters and native yeasts and aged in old French Oak barrels for 12 months. The vineyards sit at 1,250 meters in elevation. No sulfur additions...super delicious!

Club Big House - February

Contadino – Frank Cornelissen (2014)

Winemaker: Frank Cornelissen
Soil: Volcanic
Age of Vines: 40+ yrs
Grape Variety(s): Mainly Nerello Mascalese
Style: Dry Red
Region: Mt. Etna, Sicily
Frank Cornelissen is the owner of 12 hectares of vines rather high up on Mount Etna. Uniquely, he has been involved in wine his entire life. As the son of a wine broker in Belgium, he had the opportunity to be immersed in wine on a professional level from a very young age. Frank went on to produce his first wine in 2001 when he started with only 1.5 hectares of vines.


Zev Rovine says, "Frank is obsessive over details in an effort to make wines that truly express terroir with perspective. He is a meticulous vineyard worker and keeps an extremely clean and organized cellar. The evolution in his wines are intriguing as well. Earlier vintages were linear, angular, precise, and full of minerality. He has often said that in the early days his goal was to create liquid stone. His wines have softened with time now striking balance between fruit and dynamic minerality."


"Our farming philosophy is based on our acceptance of the fact that man will never be able to
understand nature s full complexity and interactions. We therefore choose to concentrate on observing and learning the movements of Mother Earth in her various energetic and cosmic passages and prefer to follow her indications as to what to do, instead of deciding and imposing ourselves. Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be." – Frank Cornellisen


Carignan – Broc Cellars (2014)


Winemaker: Chris Broc
Soil: Sand
Age of Vines: 120 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Carignan
Style: Dry Red
Region: Alexander Valley, California


The grapes for this wine come from a very special vineyard site. Chris is proud to say that he saved this vineyard from “Cabernetification” by preventing the now 120 year old Carignan vines on the site from being ripped up. These are vines that are planted on their original root stock – a true rarity as the majority of vines in the world today have been grafted due to phylloxera.

Club Little House - January

 

Les Quartz – Domaine de Juchepie (2010)

Grape Variety(s): Chenin Blanc
Style: Noble Sweet
Region: Coteaux du Layon-Faye, Loire Valley

When the magnificently mustachioed hardware merchant, Eddy Oosterlinck-Bracke, and his wife, Mileine, moved from Belgium to buy a small farmhouse in the Coteaux du Layon of the Loire Valley in 1985, they had no intention of making wine anything more than a hobby. It didn’t take long before they caught the bug, and over the course of 15 years, they converted their vineyards to organic farming and expanded their holdings from a few vineyard rows to 6 hectares of land. In 2007, they started to work with biodynamics as well. But these late-in-life vignerons have also brought the wisdom of their years and a good spoonful of skepticism to their new-found path. Although they have adopted these strict farming practices after testing the results on their vines, they still treat the organic movement with some apprehension. For Eddy, it’s not about the hype—it’s about simply making the best of what his terroir has to give. 

Quite unique to their area is the annual occurrence of the botrytis fungus.  With grapes hanging on the vines late into the fall, the grey mold called botrytis infects the clusters, and over the course of several weeks and months leaves the berries shriveled with an extremely concentrated, sweet and complex juice.  When we visited Eddy in late September of 2015, the fungus was just beginning to appear on the fruit (see picture). A more well-known area where botrytis occurs is Sauternes.     

Juchepie’s “Les Quartz” is from botrytized Chenin Blanc from the 2010 vintage, then aged for two and a half years in barrel.  It is best served chilled and pairs extremely well with blue cheese, savory dishes, vanilla ice cream, and foie gras.  This is hands down one of our favorite wines and a real treat.  

Sur La Root – Lilian and Sophie Bauchet (2013)

Winemaker: Lilian & Sophie Bauchet

Soil: Sandy Granite

Age of Vines: 30-40 yrs

Grape Variety(s): Gamay

Style: Dry Red

Region: Fleurie, Beaujolais, France

This may sound like a similar story for those of you who recall Laureano Serres from the October Club Wine.  Alas, the dream of making natural wine consumed yet another big city IT worker.  After laboring for years in Paris, Lilian and Sophie Bauchet relocated to the Beaujolais region, where they found a lovely 8 acre vineyard plot in the hills of Fleurie.  They grow only the Gamay grape, which is farmed organically and then also vinified naturally.  

Sur La Root is Lilian and Sophie’s first cuvee with zero sulphur additions, which allows the wine an uncompromised freshness and lift.  The grapes are fermented whole cluster in concrete vats with native yeasts, gently pressed, and then aged for a year in barrel.  This wine is crying out for cured meats!

 

Club Big House - January

Bandol Rouge – Chateau Sainte Anne (2012)

Winemaker: Jean Baptiste Dutheil
Soil: Granite
Age of Vines: 25-75 rs
Grape Variety(s): Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache
Style: Dry Red
Region: Bandol, Provence, France


Spanning nearly two centuries, the Dutheil de la Rochere family’s stewardship of Chateau Sainte Anne traces the modern evolution of viticulture in Provence. In the 1940s, the family was active in efforts to establish the Bandol AOC, part of a broader political effort to convert the generally high-yielding and disorganized vineyards of the South into codified and protected terroirs.  But by the 1970s the growing popularity of agro-chemicals presented itself as a new problem for the family. Parting ways with the majority of other growers in the appellation and region, Francois Dutheil (father to current proprietor Jean-Baptiste) rejected the use of fertilizers and pesticides, just as his father had, believing that micro-biological diversity in the soils was a precursor for good wine. He joined other household names of the time such as Gramenon and Overnoy to champion the budding natural wine movement. From the 1990s onward, Jean-Baptiste has been tasked with steering the domaine through the vexing currents of an “americanized” international wine market while doing justice to his father’s legacy. In this respect, he has thrown in his lot decidedly with the traditionalists, continuing to turn out extraordinarily cellar-worthy mourvedre at 12.5% alcohol, fermented native, aged in very old foudres in the domaine’s 400 year-old cellar and cautiously sulfured only at bottling.

Terra Incognita – La Lunotte (2011)

Winemaker: Christophe Foucher
Soil: Clay/Limestone
Age of Vines: 40-50 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Sauvignon Blanc
Style: Dry White
Region: Touraine, Loire Valley, France

This past September, my wife and I would be over three hours late for our first meeting with Christophe Foucher at his home and winery in the tiny town of Couffy, just outside of Tours.  We arrived well after dark, immediately seeing the winemaker still working, pressing juice from the white grape harvest that week.  Without hesitating, Christophe invited us not only to hang around with him as he worked in the cellar, but take up a couch in his house for the night!  We watched as the former engineering professor and his assistant, Stéphane finished up their busy day by pumping freshly pressed juice into large oak barrels meant for extended élevage.  Despite it being one of the busiest weeks of the year, Christophe and his crew explored many of his wines and others with us late into the morning hours accompanied by the ever-present and eclectic mix of French pop music.  

I had tried Terra Incognita some months before and that wine was always a mystery to me.  Delicious Sauvignon Blanc aged for three long years in barrel from old vines yielding so little juice that almost every other vineyard in the area has long done away with; this just didn’t make much sense to me.  Wanting to know more about this mystery wine, I asked Christophe to tell me more about it, we he made a wine like that, etc..  The seemingly always carefree Foucher became instantly quiet and took on a stern tone in response to my question.  “It is a special wine,” was his complete answer.  Nothing else needed to be said.  

Club Little House - December

Lambrusco Frizzante “Salamino di S. Croce” – Vigneto Saetti (2014)


Grape Variety(s): Salamino di Santa Croce
Style: Sparkling
Region: DOC Lambrusco
Winemaker: Luciano Saetti
Soil: Limestone/Clay
Age of Vines: 40 yrs

Luciano bought his vineyards and house in 1988, after a successful first career as an egg distributor in the city of Modena. He made a good amount of money and originally planned on buying a nice apartment in the city, but the reality of spending the rest of his life there quickly lost its appeal.

Luciano organically farms about seven acres on clay/limestone soils in the sub region of Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce within Emilia-Romagna, located in alongside Tuscany in north-central Italy.  The grape variety used here is also called Salamino, which earns its name due to the grape clusters resemblance to a sausage of salami.  

After harvest, Luciano allows a natural yeast fermentation takes place in steel tanks at a uniform temperature of 21° degrees Celsius. Maceration (skin contact with the juice) lasts three days and Fermentation occurs in bottle by spring.  Luciano uses zero sulphur additions (or anything else) in his wines. 

We thought this would be the perfect time of year to introduce another sparkling wine.  We get notes of fresh black cherry fruit and bitter dark chocolate with this wine and would recommend it as an excellent compliment to any foods traditionally eaten in the Emilia-Romagna region (Prosciutto, Parmesan, Bread/Oil, Pizza, etc).  Cheers!

 

Les Grimaudes – Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss (2014) 

Grape Variety(s): Carignan, Syrah, Grenache
Style: Dry Red
Region: AOC Costieres du Nimes, Rhone, France
Winemaker: Marc and Emmanuelle Kreydenweiss
Soil: Clay/Limestone
Age of Vines: 50+ yrs
Marc and Emmanuelle Kreydenweiss had built a solid reputation making biodynamic white wines in the Alsace region of France before turning over that operation to their son and setting out on a new adventure in the Rhone Valley.  In 1999, they purchased a property in the region of Nimes, which with its climate, soil, and terrior, quickly emerged as the ideal place to satisfy their passion for red wines.
 
They take particular interest in the three grape varieties in this wine: Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache, especially given the fact that Carignan, a wonderful grape, has become on the verge of extinction. 
 
This wine is medium body with notes of cherry, barnyard, and fennel and a wonderful pairing with braised meats and other hearty dishes.  Certified biodynamic.  

Club Little House - November

Syrah – Roark Wine Company (2013)

Winemaker: Ryan Roark

  • Soil: Sand
  • Age of Vines: 15 yrs
  • Grape Variety(s): Syrah
  • Style: Dry Red
  • Region: Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard Canyon

How about some New World Syrah?! This wine comes from the only California producer we work withat the moment, Ryan Roark. We’d love to source more domestic wines, but to be honest, it’s EXTREMELY difficult to find wines that are both farmed organically and especially those that are made naturally. Ryan Roark is an exception and we are grateful! Ryan grew up in Texas. After attending Texas A&M, he apprenticed in several wineries in New Zealand before settling in Central California working with a vineyard management company. After a few years, Ryan started buying fruit from some of his favorite vineyards to make tiny batches of wine in what wouldbecome Roark Wine Company. Now six years in and full time with his winery, Ryan and his wife Jenn still only produce about 1,500 cases of wine per year from a combination of purchased fruit and from vineyards they organically farm themselves.

The 2013 Syrah starts with fruit that Ryan and Jenn farm themselves at a sandy site vineyard in Ballard Canyon, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, CA. Given Ryan’s background, he places a special emphasis on particulars in the vineyard, especially when it comes time to harvest. Rather uniquely, they will harvest in 3-5 stages, cluster by cluster, in order to achieve the desired balance of ripeness and acidy NATURALLY, so that there is no need for manipulation in the cellar. This Syrah is aged for 16 months in neutral Oak and is absolutely delicious with just about anything.

Cuvée Domaine – Domaine Guion (2013)

Winemaker: Stephane Guion

  • Soil: Clay/Limestone
  • Age of Vines: 25-45 yrs
  • Grape Variety(s): Cabernet Franc
  • Style: Dry Red
  • Region: Bourgueil, Loire Valley

Stephane Guion again shares with us one of his masterful vintages from the heart of the Loire Valley in France. Earlier this summer, we featured his Cuvée Prestige…now we’ll learn (and taste!) about the Cuvée Domaine. One of the pioneers of organic viticulture in his region, Guion and his family have been organically farming just under 20 acres in Bourgueil since 1965 (wow!). Stephane’s craft is dedicated entirely to one grape: Cabernet Franc. Quiet and meticulous, he typically produces only two wines a year that make it to the US (Domaine and Prestige). Grapes for “Domaine” are crushed, largely destemmed (note the wonderful tannin in this wine) and fermented with native yeasts naturally present on the fruit. After fermentation, the grapes are pressed and transferred to steel tanks, where they will age for about a year. Wines are then bottled with a small amount of sulfur added just at the bottling stage.

We’ve held on to the 2013 Domaine since Spring and it is showing wonderfully at the moment. Almost straddling the line of Green Bell Pepper and Rose, “Domaine” pairs beautifully with raw vegetables like Brussels Sprouts and also is a nice compliment with pizzas.

Club Little House - October

Big Trouble in Little Chenás – Clos des Vignes du Maynes (2013)


Winemaker: Julien Guillot
Soil: Granite
Age of Vines: 30 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Gamay
Style: Dry Red
Region: Chenás, Beaujolais, France

Operating on a historic estate founded by Cluny Monks in existence since year 910 (yep, over 1,000 years!), Julien Guillot is producing some of the most beautiful and interesting wines in southern Burgundy. A former professional actor, Julien took over as winemaker for his father, Alain, about 10 years ago. During our visit two weeks ago, we caught Julien at the tail end of his harvest season, which meant the opportunity to taste through young juice finishing fermentation as well as some of his more aged cuveés, a wonderful education on how his wines evolve over time. The setup is an ideal stage for the curious, enigmatic Guillot, with beautiful limestone caves housing his barrels at ideal temperature and secret Roman-era passages leading to hidden tasting room.

Big Trouble in Little Chenás is 100% Gamay vinified in Julien’s cave in neutral oak barrels for 10
months. For the fruit, Julien works closely with an organic vineyard in the village of Chenás (one of the Cru Beaujolais villages), about 30 minutes from his estate. The 2013 vintage was a cooler year in the area, resulting in a wine driven by acidity and texture. The light-bodied Burgundian funk and juiciness of this wine make it one of our favorities. We prefer to enjoy “Big Trouble” with a pretty good chill on it…zero sulphur additions and quaffable! In case you were wondering, the name of the wine is an intentional play on the cult classic film “Big Trouble in Little China.”


Adele – Eric Texier (2014)


Winemaker: Eric Texier
Soil: Granite
Age of Vines: 40 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Clairette
Style: Dry White, Sur Lie
Region: Northern Rhone, France
Eric Texier became a winemaker after a prior career and without any background in vines or wines. As such, his methods developed not from years of schooling, but from his readings and visiting winemakers around the world. After giving up the idea of buying vineyards, which was too costly a proposition for a beginner with his ambitions, he started a small negoce where he selected interesting vineyard plots from hard-working farmers who grew the healthy grapes he wanted to buy and vinify. He re-discovered nearly forgotten areas of ancient fame, like the new St.-Julien en St.-Alban, a heretofore unknown plot of ancient Syrah vines on the west bank of the Rhone that had been tended by protestant monks and has never seen artificial fertilizers or pesticides. Eric’s goal is always to provide the grapes, musts and wines with the best environment and intervene as little as possible.

 

 

 

Club Little House Wines - September 2015

Espartal Cabernet Sauvignon – Mendall (2013) 

Grape Variety(s): Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Terra Alta, Catalonia, Spain 

Winemaker: Laureano Serres 

Soil: Calcareous Clay

Age of Vines: 10-15 yrs

Laureano Serres is not your typical winemaker.  After a career in IT spent in Madrid, Laureano moved back to his native village, Pinell De Brai, in Catalonia, just about two hours South of Barcelona.  He initially served as President of the local grape COOP, but after a few years, began making his own wine from family owned vineyards.  Gradually, Laureano and his family rented other plots and currently organically farm about 15 acres of fruit.  The majority of the vines are quite old and offer extremely low juice yields.

Serres strictly adheres to natural winemaking principles and makes some of the most interesting and memorable wines we have tasted.  He uses zero additions in his winemaking…no sulfur, no acidity treatment, no commercial yeasts, NOTHING.  The wines are not filtered or fined and are bottled, corked, and labeled by hand.

Espartal CS comes from his “Espartal” property near his home village, which sits at a relatively low elevation about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea.  Espartal CS is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in stainless steel tanks for about a year.  Big, juicy fruit is balanced with a surprisingly firm acidity.  Refreshing and clean, this is unlike any Cab Sauv you’ve had.  Serve slightly cooler than room temperature.  Only about 100 cases made.  

Cuvée Aurore – Château du Coing 

Grape Variety(s): Chardonnay

Region: Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet, Loire Valley 

Winemaker: Véronique Günther-Chéreau

Soil: Mica and Granite (Metamorphic)

Age of Vines: 20 yrs 

Owner and winemaker Véronique Günther-Chéreau brings us beautiful wines from her estate in the Muscadet region of the Loire Valley, France.   Set at the intersection of the Sèvre and Maine rivers, Véronique’s family has been making wine at Saint Fiacre since 1421! Château du Coing is family run and uses solely estate grown fruit.  The style used here, “Sur Lie” refers to the process of aging the wines on the dead yeast cells, or lees, for an extended period of time.  This not typical for most white wines, which are usually racked, or taken off, of the lees.  Sur lie aging creates for more body, structure, and arguably more complexity. The Cuvée Aurore is 100% Chardonnay which is aged on its lees for 6 months in steel.

 

Notes of locust tree flower and white flesh fruit, “Aurore” is an aromatic wine with a beautiful structure and mouthfeel.  It pairs excellently with fish and pork, but also works great as an aperitif!