Proving Natural Doesn’t Have to Mean Funky

This week’s set of wines had us deep diving into just two producers, but the three wines that we tasted were explosive in flavor, quite varied in their styles and a perfect example of what careful natural wine production can yield. Tricot is one of our favorite French producers and their rosé Pet Nat surprised us. At only 8% ABV, it picks in marriage of sweet, fruity, and herbal that dances on your tongue. With Mas Candí, you get some of the most electric wines out of Catalonia: from the mineral-forward and slightly oxidized Tinc Sect to the zippy, grippy co-fermented Cabòries. We can’t wait to see what these winemakers do with indigenous varietals and in subsequent vintages.

Tricot, Jour de Fête Sparkling Rosé (2016)

Tricot, Jour de Fête (2016)

This Pet Nat from Tricot is 100% Gamay and 8% ABV, which makes it perfect for summer sipping (though it cuts through a cold night like you wouldn’t believe). It features saline funk on the nose, and is bursting with tart, juicy raspberry as it hits the tongue, with the wine driven by the balance of off dry sweetness and acid. As it evolves, soft but textured herbal notes produce a needed structure and balance, while also highlighting the unfiltered and wild nature of this wine. Sediment spins freely in its hazy pink hue and it just the perfect mix of bawdy and contemplative.

Mas Candí, Tinc Set Metode Ancestral (2016)

Mas Candí, Tinc Set (2016)

This delightful Catalonian Pet Nat is made from the native Xarello and Parellada grapes. In the glass, it is a pale golden color and features a steady stream of tiny bubbles. On the palate, you get loads of fruit, including fresh peach and some green apple tartness. In the mid-palate, there is a noticeable bitter almond note, along with a touch of funk and a crunchy minerality that lasts through to a long finish. Both the complexity and clarity are notable for such a young wine, and it rivals any well-received Cava you’ll ever drink but only costs $20. It might be interesting to see how this wine ages and how much the more oxidized notes might emerge.

Mas Candí, Cabories (2016)

Mas Candí, Cabòries (2016)

There’s something exciting about the world of co-fermented white and red blends that are emerging out of Catalonia and parts of southwest France. This particular vintage features Mando, Sumoll and Xarello, more native grapes to the region. It is fruity and floral on the nose, underscored by an earthiness that evolves as the wine opens up. It is initially fruit forward, with a zippy acidity led by red fruits. It is medium in body, featuring some tannic grip and a pleasant dry finish. Even with these tannins, it still fundamentally has the quality of a light red (and could do well with a chill). The cleanness of the wine showcases that natural doesn’t always need to mean funky.

Join us next week for three special offers: a Pet Nat rosé from France and two other special surprises. Until next time, happy sipping! 

To France and Spain We Go

As January slowly moves forward, we’re excited that things have finally warmed up a bit and we’ve got a bevvy of new wines in stock. This week we decided to focus on three French wines and one Spanish wine, all emphasizing natural winemaking styles, many of them unfined, unfiltered and with only minimal amounts of sulphur. One is a French Chenin Blanc that screams fresh but still captures all of the tension you’d expect from the style. Another from southwest France is a Cabernet Sauvignon Pet Nat that turns up on the dial on fruit and acid. Whatever the grape varietal, all of these wines have something to say.

S. Przezdziecki Domaine PZ, Un Bout de Chemin (2015)

PZ, Un Bout de Chemin (2015)

If you like your Chenin Blanc fresh, Un Bout de Chemin is perfect for you. This 2015 vintage is high octane at 13.5% ABV, with rounded, slightly oxidated richness on the nose that follows with fresh, crisp green apple fruit on the palette. What is most memorable, however, is that as the wine decants, it features a tension between fruit, lightly honeyed sweetness, soaring acid and dry minerality that follows into a long finish. The end result is clean, precise, and exactly what you want from the varietal.

Domaine Buronfosse, Se Kwa Sa? (2016)

Domaine Buronfosse, Se Kwa Sa? (2016)

This blend Pinot Noir and Ploussard is generating a lot of buzz at the moment (and is very Instagram worthy) but having tried it we can say this: the hype is justified. It’s a ruby red in color and features pungent earthiness and a little smoke on the nose. The palette doesn’t necessarily match the nose and is quite a bit lighter. We get blackberry bramble, zippy acid, some textured herbal notes, mild tannic grip and clean, structured finish. This is not a wine you want to share and would also do well slightly chilled (though that isn’t necessary).

Marenas Viñedo & Bodega, Cerro Encinas (2016)

Marenas Viñedo y Bodega, Cerro Encinas (2016)

Monastrell (aka Mourverde) is typically known for being full-bodied and rustic. This expression from Spain is considerably lighter, though the richness is laced in the wine subtlety. It is ruby red in color, bursting with plum, red berry, deep earthiness and smoke on the nose. On the palette, it’s an explosion of raspberry and dusty strawberry. What is unique is the wild mineral streak that builds in the mid-palette, giving it texture before finishing with soft tannins to round everything out. At under $20, it’s a real steal as far as Spanish wines go – approachable but still expressive as far as terroir goes.

Lestignac Copains Comme Cochons (2016)

Lestignac, Compain Comme Cochons (2016)

This Pet Nat sparkler from the southwest France is everything you want in an effervescent style that is lighter on the bubbles. It features fresh fruit on the nose, juicy, tart cranberry and gooseberry on the palette, sing song acid and a finish that reels the high-octane fruit in with a little bit of funk, particularly as the sediment enters into the glass with the later pours. What is surprising about this wine is that it is 13% ABV but drinks much lighter, as if it were 10-11%. It’s hard not to enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

Join us next week as we feature two mouthwatering Pet Nats and a few other surprises up on sleeve that we can’t tell you about – yet.

Unconventional Wisdom for that Winter Chill

Since we can’t detox while working at wine shop, we wanted to keep things bright and fun as we moved into the new year. Lighter reds, sparkling rosés and white blends are typically not imagined as perfect for the height of a polar vortex, but we think otherwise. They cheer us up and transport us to that #tbt place, like long Saturday afternoons in McCarren Park, hiking upstate or sipping Feik and inhaling the sea spray at Riis Beach.

With two selections from France – one a lip smacking sparkler and the other a fruity Ploussard – and a tropical white blend from our longtime favorite in the Czech Republic, we wanted to show that January isn’t just a time for the Syrahs and Merlots of the world.

Les Capriades – Vin de France Piège à Filles Rosé (2016)

This Pet Nat is made using mostly Gamay, is a gorgeous transparent coral color in the glass, and features floral, raspberry and soft earthy notes on the nose. The bubbles are delicate on the tongue, with juicy raspberry and strawberry notes showcasing a subtle sweetness. Yet it’s still very clean and precise, owing to briny mineral notes that follow and finish that captures some spiced qualities. It’s balanced and refined but at a price point under 25 dollars, which is precisely why it’s going to fly off the shelves and disappear in a single sitting. (Trust us: you won’t want to share!)

Milan Nestarec, Bēl (2015)

NestarecBel (2015)

A blend of Gruner Veltliner, Muller Thurgau and Welschriesling? Check. 1 Liter? Check. Another hit from the Nestarec “table wine” series? Check. This is a great example of how table wine doesn’t deserve the bad rep it sometimes gets. There are tropical and floral notes on the nose, with a juicy, rounded initial palette featuring pineapple notes. This is balanced with a great pop of acidity and clean, dry finish. It is perfect on its own but it also would be well suited for a night in with a spicy Thai dish from Seamless.

Domaine de La Tournelle, UVA Arboisana Poulsard

Domaine de la Tournelle L’Uva Arbosiana (2016)

Easy, breezy and mouthwatering are the best descriptors for this light-bodied, 11% Ploussard from Jura, which is making some of the most exciting wines of the moment. It’s a rich red in color with vibrant fruit and funk on the nose. On the palette, it’s bursting with fresh flavors: red currant, pomegranate, and blood orange, with a tangy acidity and some fresh spices that emerge in the mid palette. By the end, you have some mild and pleasant tannins to round things out, which veer this wine away from what could easily be a rosé. This wine could age for a few more years but it is best drunk young.

Join us next week as we dive into four different wines: including a buzzy French Syrah, a unique Pet Nat from southwest France, a delicious and affordable Chenin Blanc and a fresh Monastrell from Spain.

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