April Showers Bring Spring Wines

We unfortunately had a few corked bottles of wine this week – so our tasting notes this week aren’t quite complete! That being said, we are here to fully embrace spring, even if it’s not chosen to show up just yet. What does that mean in terms of the wines we taste? A focus on rosé, energetic whites and crunchy, light reds that tantalize the palette. These wines don’t always have to be complex (though some certainly are) but they do capture vibrant characteristics – like soaring acid, juicy red fruits, sea breeze or a structured minerality capturing the local terroir.

While the clouds and rain continue over the next few days, we think a glass or three of colorful wines are exactly what we need to will spring into existence, finally.

Domaine Rimbert, Petite Cochon Bronzé (2017)

The moment you pop the cork – pink and featuring a pig and summer umbrella – you know you’re in for a treat wit this rosé. Salmon hued, this wine has unmistakable life: juicy strawberry notes with a whiff of the salty sea air. On the palette, strawberries show themselves upfront, but these are the juicy, slightly tart, under ripe kind we love to taste. At 13.5% ABV, there is a lot of acid to structure this wine and a wet stone minerality tends to build through to the finish, where softer, wispy berry fruit notes creep back in. At only $15, this is a great steal and proof that rosé, now popularized, is still a great place to look for values.

Frenchtown Farms, Viognier Sauvignon Blanc The Pearl Thief (2016)

Frenchtown Farms, The Pearl Thief (2016)

When we first heard that they were making only 60 cases of a Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Sierra Foothills, we were a bit skeptical. But we have been increasingly excited by California attempts to grow grapes you’d more commonly find in France. We’re glad we brought it into the shop! The slightly richer yellow color gives way to lush stone fruit and green herbs on the nose and the palette. There’s a jolt of tart lemon acidity but this quickly evolves into honeyed lemon balm, creamy pineapple and apricot notes and features a dry minerality. There is an elegant balance and softness to all of the elements that makes it a recent favorite. It might be $33 but it’s really worth it for enjoying that New World experimentation.

Join us next week for one of our most eclectic tastings yet: a super fun 2017 Spanish rosé, a Riesling from California, and something special (and affordable) from 2012. Cheers!

Fresh Expressions from Natural Wine Masters

We got hit with a terrible round of colds recently that all but prevented us from tasting wine for a few weeks. Now we’re back and excited for the latest crop of 2015 and 2016 wines that have arrived in the shop. This week we go to three different locales: Northern California, Alsace and Mallorca for a taste of three winemakers gaining prominence for their natural winemaking techniques and their embrace of local terroir, often with unusual grapes or blends you wouldn’t expect. The end results? Wines of greater clarity, finesse and life, even compared to previous well-drunk vintages. From bold fruit-forward notes to clean, mineral forward zing to tea like qualities, there is really something for all of the adventurous taste buds.

Les Vins Pirouettes by Binner, Brutal de Jean-Marc (2016)

Les Vins Pirouettes by Binner, Brutal de Jean-Marc (2016)

This wild orange wine, blending Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling, is the latest in the Brutal series from Christian Binner, long known for his natural wine approach in Alsace. In the glass, it’s a hazy, pale orange in color and the nose is floral with dried apricot notes. On the palette, juicy and acidic grapefruit dominate but is punctuated by chamomile tea and crunchy earth notes. The finish is dry and manages to carry some of the tannic weight you expect from an orange wine but elegance is the name of the game. Tea like florals creep back, leaving things wispy and complex as it lingers on the tongue.

Château Paquita, Mallorca Sistema Vinari Tinto (2016)

Château Paquita, Mallorca Sistema Vinari Tinto (2016)

Mallorca is not the first place you’d go looking for wines but Sistema Vinari are pioneers in using indigenous varietals on this small, rocky island. This red blend features minimal oak gaining and some semi-carbonic maceration to highlight the best qualities of Callet, Manto Negro and Monastrell. Everything about this wine is fun: from the juicy, wild berries and salinity on the nose to the bursting red fruits on the palette to the evolving herbal and pepper notes that build into the mid-palette. What really excites about this wine, however, is the way that tannins build into the finish but are balanced by these pronounced dry floral notes and fruit that reappears. Everything about this wine seems to come full circle.

Haarmeyer Petillant Naturel Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg (2015)

Thanks to Pascaline Lepeltier, the United States is undergoing a renewed interest in all things Chenin Blanc but so little of the grape is actually grown domestically. Producers like Haarmeyer in North California are starting to change that, embracing the grape’s ability to structure Pet Nat sparklers. This vintage has generous, frothy bubbles in the glass, a crystalline straw color and features a fruity, floral nose. Upfront, you get a citric acidity but the wine quickly softens up, featuring pear and guava notes filtering in with a mineral backbone. The finish is clean dry, and the overall package is effortless.

Join us next week as we break taboos by drinking lip smacking rosé in the middle of a snowstorm to a Viogner/Sauvignon Blanc blend that only had 60 cases produced.

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful… and Quaffable!

March has surely arrived like a lion, with whipping winds, two Nor’easters and colder temperatures than last month. March is one of those months in New York City that always gets you imagining which tropical paradise you can jet to today. If you don’t have any trips planned to Palm Springs, Mexico, or the Caribbean, we might have some good wine alternatives that bring energetic youthful notes to these otherwise dreary environs. This week we’ve tasted a bit of a unicorn rosé made from the Savagnin grape, which tends to be rendered into a more richer oxidative style (but not here!); a white wine from Abruzzo that’s getting that Instagram buzz for its cute label and fruity fun; and low ABV Grolleau that cannot be passed up. Enjoy!

Domaine Rietsch, Pas à pas (NV)

Domaine Rietsch Pas à Pas (NV)

A Savagnin rosé made using the solera method?! Say what? It pours almost an orange color in the glass, similar to a skin contact white (and what is expected of the Savagnin style). This is definitely a wine that needs a bit of time to open up, fully realizing its potential the next. Fruit wise, you get tart cranberry, and some generous acid, but the wine is underscored by some bitter earth, a rounder mouthfeel that catches some of the aromatic funk, and a dry minerality that builds through the mid palette, with some dusty strawberry creeping into the finish. This is unlike any other rosé that you’ve had but has a definite lightness that doesn’t generally feature into Savagnin.

Cantina Indigeno Bianco (2016)

Cantina Indigeno Bianco (2016)

This white wine from Abruzzo, Italy is gaining all of the buzz at the moment, and for good measure. It’s uncomplicated fun that hints at the potential of this producer to evolve and produce more exciting wines in the process. On the nose, there is a noticeably savory layered quality. On the palette, you get tart green apple upfront with a punch of acid. As the wine evolves, it softens up considerably, turning into rounder fruit-forward apple and pear notes that coat the inside of your mouth without being cloying. The finish ends up really dry and clean, with some of those lingering fruit notes. It’s a joy to drink!

La Coulee D'Ambrosia Le Boit Sans Soif (2015)

La Coulee D’Ambrosia Le Boit Sans Soif (2015)

Call us skeptical when we see an 8% ABV wine but this one was a true winner. It pours a deep red in color and captures fresh fruit juice and funk on the nose. We get a ton of Black Cherry Cola upfront with a touch of effervescent and acidic zing but the wine, its turns out, isn’t all about the fruit. An intense and funky earthiness slowly begins to creep in and some subtle tannins had a grip that turns a sour beer solidly into a wine with its balance. This stuff has been flying off the shelves because it’s glou glou good and pairs well with Roberta’s or Archie’s pizza. (Even though, sadly, we can’t provide a pizza with each bottle.)

Join us next week as we dive into two Nouveau wines (one red, one rosé) and a Pinot Noir from our longtime favorite producer Domaine de Saint Pierre. 

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