2017’s Last Hurrah!

This is our last set of tasting notes from 2017! We were excited to go out with a bit of a bang, full of surprises from Catalonia, the Willamette Valley, Jura, and the Languedoc. Just in time for all of those New Year’s Eve parties are two Pet Nats that are perfect if you’re not willing to drop Champagne prices for high quality wines. With the other two wines – the Pomagrana and the latest iteration of Brutal – you get two light-bodied grapes whose flavor profiles emerge in unexpected ways.

All of these wines might be considered by some easy drinkers but don’t take a lack of tannins or body for a lack of complexity. Sometimes the lightest, purest (or in one case funkiest) expressions of wine best embody natural qualities of the grapes.


Lectores Vini – Pomagrana (2016)

This light red wine from Conca de Barberà is comprised primarily of the Trepat grape, indigenous only to Catolonia. Out of the glass, it’s a bright but deep red in color. You get a whiff of red fruit on the nose, and once it hits the tongue, it’s vibrant and alive: pleasant acid, fresh pepper and bright red fruit notes, including sour strawberry, and a finish which manages to a bring a bit of funk and vegetal quality into the mix without adding many tannins to weigh it down. We had it without a chill on the first night but it’s also lovely the next day chilled, depending on what you prefer. Given the whimsical label, it also makes a nice gift or conversation starter at your next dinner party.


EST – Pet Nat (2016)

A beautiful translucent straw color, this wine is fruit-forward and fresh with a little bit of funk on the nose. On the palette, there’s a great sourness from gooseberry, a little bit of lactic sweetness from lemon curd, with a dry and grassy finish that carries a pleasant heft. At 13%, this is a big Pet Nat but it never falls out of balance, with a structured acidity that holds things together. The perfect example of how the Pacific Northwest scene is yielding high quality results for increasingly affordable prices, particularly from Sauvignon Blanc, which is not typically used in Pet Nats.

Les Vins Contés, Fermentation in Vitro Pét Nat

Olivier Lemasson – Fermentation In Vitro Pet Nat (NV)

Some of the best non-Champagne sparkling wine is coming out of Jura right now. And Lemasson’s blend of Chenin Blanc, Menu Pineau and Chardonnay is no exception. Green apple and creamy on the nose, the coarse bubbles hit your tongue and give way to yuzu, a subtle sweetness, a bit of funk, and an acidity that carries through to a finish that has an unmistakable textured minerality, classic in Jura. This is perfectly quaffable but it doesn’t lack in complexity, really showcasing the terroir of the region. This is all the more impressive given that the wine clocks it at just under 25 dollars.

Le Temps des Cerises, Vin de France Fatal Brutal

Le Temps des Cerises – Vin de France Fatal Brutal (2016)

With Cinsault, you expect to find something light and easy drinking. This latest edition of BRUTAL from the Languedoc is no expectation – though with a funky twist. Before pouring, we noticed tons of sediment in the glass and the color is a deep hued pink that’s semi-opaque. There’s a fruit forward nose with dark red fruits on the palette, an initial blast of acid and floral counterbalance before it transitions into funk, expressive as it is, shifting with each sip. There are no tannins, however, and the wine finishes dry, still highlighting the unfined, unfiltered raw quality of the wine. It’s easy drinking but not for the classicist at heart.

Thank you so much for a great 2017! We look forward to tasting more on the flip side of 2018.

A Little Bit of Vino for Everyone

With just a few weeks left in 2017, we wanted to give you tasting notes on four different wines! Three out of the four are recent arrivals and the other we’ve had in stock since last month. Yet again we’ve managed to make it to three different countries; this time France, Greece and Chile. Though the climates and varietals couldn’t be more different, each one seems to embody the possibilities of natural winemaking to the fullest. Whether it’s the raspberry bomb of the No Control or the alluring floral characteristics of the Cacique Maravilla, there’s definitely something for everyone this week.

Grégory Guillaume, L'Excentrique

Gregory Guillaume – L’Excentrique (2011)

This blend of Merlot and Grenache is not what you’d expect. On the nose, you get a savory gamey quality and bright fruit dominate, but the wine itself is considerably lighter than expected. Initially there are some dark red fruit notes, quite a lot of tannins, and a savory body, but you also experience considerable acid and lift, particularly into its long finish. On the second day, we noticed more of that natural wine funk tends to show up as it gets some air. As we see it, this wine is the perfect bridge between the fuller bodied red wines and the unmistakable quirks of Guillaume’s wines.

No Control – Bullette dans ta Tête (2016)

No Control – Bullette dans ta Tête (2016)

A Gamay Pet Nat from the Auvergne is the thing dreams are made of for a Pet Nat. For this example from No Control, it’s really all about the fruit. Both on the nose and on the palette, a juicy but still tart raspberry swings at you with full force. Though the acid is restrained, it adds a nice with the funk that comes from 6 months fermentation on lees. On the finish, it’s clean and very dry, so you won’t get any of that yeastiness you might expect. Because this wine is unfiltered, we also enjoyed that hazy pale red hue in the glass. It would pair well with richer foods, though we have to admit that it’s hard not to finish a bottle on its own.

Domaine Ligas, Xinomavro Xi-Ro

Ktima Ligas – Xi-Ro, Xinomavro (2015)

Wines from Greece have only recently started to show up on our shelves but we’re glad they have. Jason Ligas shows us that unique wines can come out a region that generally isn’t prized for its winemaking. This particular vintage manages to have a great balance of characteristics we want in a red wine. It is a translucent but deep red color featuring smoky aromas on the nose. On the palette, we get tastes of both dried and fresh red fruit and some subtle spices before before settling into a long, dry finish. Toward the end, we also appreciated the pleasant but complex herbal and pine notes.

Cacique Maravilla, Gutiflower (2017)

Cacique Maravilla – Gutiflower (2017)

The first crop of 2017s have arrived from Chile and what a delight they are! This unfiltered white blend featuring Moscatel, Corinto and Torontel is about as fresh as it gets. A beautiful pale yellow in the glass, the aromatics are vibrant, immediately hitting your nose with orange peel and floral characteristics. Upfront is a juicy mandarin flavor profile, with just the right balance between acid and sweetness that lingers into a soft finish, reminiscent of floral petals. Perfumed, fruit-forward and quaffable – this might seem like the best summer pool wine but it also just the thing we want to brighten up this stretch of grey winter days.

Stay tuned next week as we have some surprises to celebrate the end of 2017 and ring in 2018. 

Warm Up in Winter

Winter is finally starting to settle in, as we hobble outside, bracing ourselves against an Arctic wind. But there is a decided advantage to this: many more nights in, watching Netflix, playing games and especially drinking wine! As we’ve flown past Thanksgiving, we’re in the thick of the holiday season, which means a ton of new offerings. During any month, there’s never a bad day for a Beaujolais but nothing screams December festivities quite like a French Gamay. Despite our love for the classics, we also wanted to branch out a bit into rare Sicilian and Slovak grapes, in orange and sparkling form. Though all of the wines were great in their own right, they all did the trick at warming us up.

Jean Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages (2016)

Beaujolais-Villages – Jean Foillard (2016)

As far as a Gamay goes for $24, this one is an unabashed light and lively delight. Generous dark fruit and soft earth are present on the nose. Acid hits you initially but it’s a bit softer, defused by tart but round cherry notes. There are some tannins, but the wine is more about the juicy fruit and, for such a young wine, quite a long and clean mineral finish. When it comes to these wines, you want precision of classic flavor elements with just enough intrigue so that you don’t feel like you’re tasting the same wine over and over again. This delivers on that expectation and we would be excited to see it age a few more years.

Bosco Falconeria – Falco Peregrino (2016)

Whenever we end up in Sicily, things are sure to be delicious and this skin-contact white using the Catarratto grape is no exception. A cloudy orange color in the glass, the nose is decidedly tame but showcases tannic, bitter and green notes. It has a pronounced acid and citrus bouquet upfront with some pleasantly floral notes but it quickly turns tannic, which evolves into more pronounced bitterness and earthy qualities that are typical of orange wine. There’s nothing delicate about this wine, which is why we love it. It’s a great wine to compare to their Catarratto, which doesn’t undergo the skin contact fermentation, making it decidedly light on its feet.

Strekov 1075 Crème #1

Strekov 1075 – Crème #1

This Pet Nat is made from the Devín grape, a rare Eastern European varietal we haven’t had much of, so we were excited to try it, particularly from one of our favorite Slovak producers. And oh, did it deliver! There is a decided amount of earth and funk, and a slight bit of oxidization on the nose. We loved the great balance of acid, stone fruit (predominantly apricot) and the broader honeyed characteristics. As the wine opened up, we tasted some fresh herbs, a mineral dryness and, of course, that quality of lactic creaminess coating the palette. It’s quite complex and a bit wild to wrap your head around but it’s never unapproachable, making it perfect on its own or with food.

Join us next week as we try a French Pet Nat, a red from Greece and a unique white blend all the way from Chile. Until next time, happy sipping!

enter your email below to sign up for our newsletter