Featured Producers from RAW Wine

RAW Wine is one of the natural wine world’s biggest annual events. Here are some producers you may have missed.

It’s hard to imagine that just a couple weeks ago RAW Wine made its way to Brooklyn. One of the biggest industry events of the year saw dozens of winemakers and distributors from around the world showcasing their latest and greatest vintages at the Knockdown Center.

While everyone knows the heavy hitters – like Frank Cornelissen, Gut Oggau and Fruktstereo – there were many producers that you probably missed because of the crowded booths or lack of time. This week we want to highlight three of these producers (and their wines) to showcase some of the underrated highlights of the fair and inform your next wine purchase.

Two Shepherds, Carignan Trimble (2015)

Two Shepherds, Carignan Trimble (2015)

Two Shepherds, like many other small California producers, leases various plots around the state to grow an array of grapes, both white and red. From Trimble Vineyard in the northern Mendocino County comes their Carignan from a 2015 harvest.

Carignan is a notoriously fickle grape, with high acidity and tannins that can make producing an elegant wine difficult. In Two Shepherds’ hands, however, they managed to find that finesse, producing a deeply purple wine that is considerably lighter on its feet than it looks. At under $30, it is also a great way to experience single varietal California wines without breaking the bank.

Driven by lovely acid, it features wispy strawberry fruit interlaced with juicier stone fruit. There is a firm, driven structure into the mid palette with a grip of tannins bringing the wine earthward but not overwhelming it. It features quite a dry finish with the hibiscus notes on the end providing a welcome, subtle tartness. It is lovely fall and winter companion to heartier fare but is also easy enough to drink on its own whenever you want just a glass or two.

Domaine de l’Ecu, Janus (2015)

Domaine de l'Ecu, Janus (2015)

When it comes to natural wine production in the Loire, Domaine de l’Ecu is one of the earliest adopters, having produced certified organic wine for 40 years and certified biodynamic wine for 20.

Perhaps best known for their Muscadet production, they also produce Chardonnay, including the Janus featured here. From a 2015 harvest, this wine is a steal among Loire vintages that can easily go for $50 or more per bottle. l’Ecu creates a biodynamic, zero sulphur delight that manages to bring out the zestier Chardonnay qualities due to its aging in concrete tanks.

Yes, there is that honeyed whiff on the nose with a complimentary saline quality. But the palette is all about the chalky minerality with lime zest and hints of soft lemon woven in. The wine is sapid with a hint of metallic iodine into the mid palette. As you would expect from a Loire Chardonnay, there is a long, coating finish that showcases the subtle power this wine holds. It obviously drinks well now but we imagine it could be aged for even longer.

2018 Kontozisis – “A-Grafo” Roditis

2018 Kontozisis - "A-Grafo" Roditis

Greek wines are increasingly becoming popular in the United States, fueled in part by the rising popularity of skin contact wines. Though many of the grapes remain foreign to American palettes, we have been excited by these challenging wines, which tend to balance delicate fruit notes with surprising depth.

Roditis is Greek grape known for its ability to maintain its acidity and vibrancy growing in traditionally warmer Grecian Mediterranean climate. Kontozisis challenges our assumptions of this grape by doing a month of skin contact aging that adds even more structure and depth than we had thought possible.

Straw yellow (verging on a light orange) in the glass, it has notes of nectarine and apple when first opened. These qualities develop on the palette with a hint of residual sugar sweetness. But the slightly candied notes soon become secondary to a driving acidity that builds into a medium bodied, almost vegetal structure. The mouthfeel is full, with the dense fruit notes and acidity lingering into the finish. This would make a great pick for a group blind tasting.

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