Unconventional Wine Week
In this week’s wine tasting, co-ferments, wild hops, and skin contact Chardonnay bring the unconventional out.
As the leaves continue to change, and two days of gloomy skies and windy rain left us stuck inside, we decided to turn to bright and unconventional wine choices to cut through the grey.
We always have a soft spot for the Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary region so it’s no surprise that two of our choices came from Slovakia and Hungary. The first is from Slobodne (who we featured in an earlier post), and used wild hops fermented along with two fun and fresh grapes for truly one-of-a-kind results. The second is from Christina Netzl, a talented female winemaker out of Austria whose skin contact Chardonnay is a deliciously hazy treat. Our third choice took us back to California for a co-ferment that showed the cooler expression of hot climate vineyards.
A Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner blend sound pretty traditional right? Yes, nothing out of the ordinary. But what would happen if you added wild hops, an ingredient traditionally used in beer making, into the mix? A wine totally unlike anything we’ve tasted before and are likely to taste on a regular basis.
Hopera, in short, is a treat. The pale yellow color intermixes with a dank and herbal nose that smells like diving into a barrel of hops flowers. As expected, a generous fruit emerges but it quickly evolves into a slightly bitter, herbal quality while mixing with lime zest and dried summer grasses. The finish provides a chalky minerality to help balance out the other flavorful components this wine possesses.
Christina Netzl started winemaking when she was young on her family’s farm. Since then, she’s helped to transform the vineyard operations to certified organic farming. Her Orange uses Chardonnay fermented on skins with a label that features insects on the label to celebrate natural processes in winemaking.
Admittedly, the wine is a bit reductive on the nose at first but if you give it time, there’s a lovely mixture of floral and tea-like qualities to enjoy. On the palette, generous citrus peel gives away to peachy stone fruit that is well balanced with acidity. Though it’s quite full bodied due to skin contact aging, it never feels flabby. It is always carried forward by playful spirit that defines these Austrian vineyard operations.
Florèz Wines, Lovebirds (2019)
Florèz Wines are one of the hottest upstart winemakers from California. Their limited releases – typically under 100 cases – make their wines a challenge to acquire. But we are excited to be sharing some of their latest releases, even if the one we are featuring is sadly sold out. (We do, however, have some of their other wines still available.)
Co-ferments are always fun in the wine world. And what is more exciting than a blend of Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir. These grapes typically thrive in the warmer weather plots where they’re grown but this wine shows the finesse of a lighter, cooler climate red. On the nose, we get smells of freshly laundered linens left on a sun-soaked clothesline to dry. On the palette, underripe strawberry and juicy mulberry connect to an ashy minerality and a generous tannic grip to balance the wine’s breezy inclinations, best served chilled.
Until next time, happy sipping! Though we’ve taking a break next week, we look forward to tasting again with you soon.