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.
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 (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.