Wine, Through a Nomadic Lens

Now that we’ve finally slept off our Thanksgiving food comas, we’ve been eager to catch up with all of the new offerings that have arrived in the shop, just in time for the holidays. For this week’s tastings, we’ve wanted to pick out some of our more demanding offerings. By which we mean wines from the Czech Republic, the Alpine region of Eastern France, and coastal Catalonia. From the electric lemon jolt of Nestarec’s 380 Volts sparkling wine to the decidedly nutty, salty Coufe Chien from Domaine du Perron, we’ve had our palettes tested and excited in the best possible ways. Come with us as we jump through three countries and even more wine varietals.

Nestarec – 380 Volts (2016)

We admittedly love most everything Nestarec does out of the Czech Republic but it was his 2016 vintage Pet Nat that really caught our attention with its electric label. Once we poured it, it looked like lemonade in the glass. First impressions were, “WOW that’s tart!” but the acidity seemed to settle into a lightly sweet Meyer Lemon note. What was particularly noticeable was a long dry finish that tasted overwhelmingly like prickly pears. As far as sparklers go, this is up there as one of the most wild ones we’ve tried. Despite this wildness, however, we couldn’t stop drinking it and think it would be the perfect accompaniment to any luxurious meal to wake up the palette. 

Partida Creus – CV (2016)

Few wines are hotter in Spain right now than anything made by Partida Creus. The grape they use for this rosé-ish skin contact white is the rare Catalonian Cartoixa Vermell (better known as red Xarel-lo). A vibrant orange in color, this wine smells dank and herbal out the glass, but tastes nothing like it smells. Immediate acid and orange peel notes evolve into drier, cinnamon spiced, saline and soft strawberry notes. However, at 10% it has enough delicate lift to keep it from veering into the traditional orange wine category. The overall package is unusual but delicious all the same.

Domaine du Perron – Coufe Chien (2015)

This wine is a gorgeous example of Jacquère, a rarer grape from Alpine regions of France that is known for producing lower alcohol, vibrant wines, most often consumed within the country. Though it’s not intensely aromatic, the grassy notes reflect the pale straw color as you pour it into the glass. We were impressed with the balance between tartness, lemon and green apple notes with a gorgeously bitter almond and saline quality on the mid-palette and a long, waxy and wet stone finish. Though it clocks in at 11% ABV, it offers a lot and reminds us, in a great way, of some whites produced further north in Jura.

Join us next week as we try an electric orange wine from Ambiz and other surprises. In the meantime, if there’s anything we can do to help you get prepared for the remainder of the holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help! 

Big Meals Equal Vibrant, Lively Wines

The holiday season has officially kicked off and there is no better way to start the next month and a half than Thanksgiving. Excess is the name of the game but wines and ciders should uplift any fatty rich meal. Though the selections we’ve tasted this week sit well without any kind of food, they’re particularly well-suited to all things culinary. Imagine the tart sparkling cider to kick off your feast or cherry-forward wines to balance the turkey and mashed potatoes (or whatever else you decide to cook up). Whether or not you’re cooking at home or headed over to meet friends and family, all of these choices are approachable and delicious in a variety of different ways.

Cidre Cyril Zangs’ Ciderman

Sparkling cider with a superhero on the front? Sign us up! Ciderman is an eye-popping conversation starter at any party. It also happens to be one of the better ciders we’ve tasted this year. Yeasty and funky on the nose, it manages to be off dry but still has a bracing acidity that follows for a nice balance. That pronounced French barnyard funk grows on the finish but it’s never unapproachable or unpalatable. The apples, juicy and fresh, remain the star of this perfect aperitif.

Laurence et Rémi Dufaitre Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (2017)

Beaujolais Nouveau has grown into a cultural phenomenon in recent years along with higher price points. At $16, this particular iteration is both budget friendly and complex for being so young. Deep red color, we get a lot of dark ripe dark fruit and an unmistakable floral characteristic on the nose. Immediately on the palette you’re hit with tart cherry and crunchier blackberry notes. The acid is singsong as you’d expect but even in this new release, you get that pleasant, lingering earthiness.

Matassa Romanissa Casot (2016)

We are big fans of Matassa and were excited to get a new red in! Out of the glass, this is a deep but translucent red color. Immediately on the palette you get an explosive cherry flavor reminiscent of a cherry candy. The acid is high and there are soft tannins but this is immensely quaffable and not at all earthy as you might expect, given some the flavor notes. It has a very long and lean finish, giving some Mediterranean minerality given its location in Calce and, as we experienced by the second day, a floral note that builds at the very end of the wine as it continues to open up.

Ca’ de Noci Le Rose (2015)

This wine is done in the Frizzante style meaning that it is a lower pressure and therefore only lightly sparkling. Le Rose is a bit of a surprise stunner: remarkably floral aromatics on the nose, slightly sweet, with soft bubbles to hug your month. Stone fruit is the predominate flavor, reminding us of a fuzzy apricot, though there is enough elegant acidity to bind everything together. The finish is clean and the fruit lingers on the tongue for quite some time. This is a wonderful alternative to more conventional wines and will have guests, especially discerning ones, wanting more.

Join us next week, after you’ve let your stomach rest, for a slew of new releases from around the world.

Conventional Varietals But Unexpected Results

Some weeks we’re in for a bit of adventure when it comes to our wine tasting. Adventure doesn’t necessarily mean trying unusual varietals or tasting wines we haven’t had before. Instead, adventure is all about exploring the efforts of younger wine makers, different continents or pure, soft expressions of grapes that can be particularly robust, flabby or unexciting. For this week’s adventure, we review a Cabernet Franc from the Russian River Valley, an Australian Syrah from the Hunter Valley north of Sydney, and a Chardonnay stunner from Auvergne in central France. Each wine offers vibrancy and life that reflects these winemakers’ passion and respect for terroir.

Methode Sauvage Alegria Vineyard Cab Franc (2016)

A rich purple in color, this wine has initial very fresh pepper and spice notes. It’s quite dry on the palette but still has a lot of acidic dark red fruit, earthy forest floor notes and the slightly complex herbal notes that round out the finish. Quite a delight in terms of the lively harmony between fresh acidity and more vegetal, earthy qualities. On the second day, fresh pepper aroma remains on the nose but it’s much rounder upfront while still capturing the earthiness and the herbal lift on the finish. Though winemaker Chad Hinds has only been making wines since 2013, his commitment to Cab Franc across California vineyards shows great understanding of the grape varietal.

Harkham Wines Aziza’s Shiraz (2013)

When the temperatures plummeted on Friday and Saturday, we know we needed to pick out a wine with some heft, and this 2013 Syrah from Australia did not disappoint. When we first poured the wine, we noticed a deep ruby color. The first aromatics were quite robust and smoky with flint and pencil shavings standing out. Over time, we noticed how the aromatics tended to get more relaxed and mineral forward the day after opening. Initial tasting notes were that it was quite broad driven by a touch of oak and tannins, with sweeter dark fruit, like blackberry. Despite this heavier initial taste, we were happy to taste an acidity that builds through the finish, which is quite long and lively with some peppery spice and floral notes.

Tricot Escargot Chardonnay (2016)

Of our tastings this week, the Tricot Chardonnay is one of the our favorite Chardonnays we’ve tasted in 2017. Unlike most Chardonnay, it is unfined, unfiltered and without SO2 and really a wholly unique take on the grape. It is a very light yellow in color, and though the nose is rich and buttery like a more classic Chardonnay, the wine itself drinks very pure, decidedly mineral and saline forward, silky, with a lovely bracing acid that structures the wine. Particularly notable is the long finish with building flavor notes of pear, citrus and white flowers. The soft finish is so pleasant that it would pair so well with most foods but has the ability to really stand alone and delight the palette. Priced in the low 30s, this wine is also a great value if you’re looking to impress dinner guests.

Join us next week as we celebrate one of our favorite wine drinking holidays of the year: Thanksgiving! Bring on the light reds, Pet Nat sparklers and energetic, acidic whites.

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