In just a few nights, we will gather around the world to ring in 2021 virtually. The usual frenetic ball drop that marks Times Square in a normal year will be a much quieter, empty affair. While some of us might still decide to gather in small groups, many of us will be cozied up alone on our couches as we say goodbye to 2020. Even if this isn’t our usual NYE plan, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t celebrate our resiliency in 2020 and let loose as we head into the new year.
For our final post of 2020, we wanted to take one more virtual trip around the globe, beginning in Europe, beelining to Australia, and traversing the Pacific Ocean to arrive back home in the United States. We have a few sparkling wines to highlight but we know that not everyone loves bubbles, so we have a few other fun surprises in store for you.
João Pato (a.k.a. Duckman) is an exciting wine project from Maria and Luis Pato that expresses the maritime Portuguese terroir to thrilling effect. All of their wines, generally quite accessible in price, feature indigenous grapes like Baga, Bical, Cercial and Fernão Pires that might be less familiar to American audiences. Using minimal intervention and low sulphur, the Duckman wines feature recurring and playful duck motifs, as a nod to the often experimental nature of their wines.
Their Duck Ray Pet Nat, however, is one of their most approachable and refreshing offerings. Very dry (with only 0.4 grams of residual sugar) and 9.5% ABV, it makes the perfect holiday aperitif, particularly with a plate of oysters or soft cheeses. We loved the combination of tart green apple notes coupled with crisp lemon acidity and some lovely minerality. If you like your wines lips smacking and bright, this is the sparkling wine for you.
Though the Binner estate has been making wine in Alsace since the 1700s, the Christian Binner has helped to modernize agriculture techniques, using careful and sustainable production methods to showcase the underrated beauty and power of wines from this region. Like all of his wines, these are unfined, unfiltered, and zero sulphur is added.
Côtes Amour-Schwihr is his white blend of mostly Riesling and Pinot Gris, with some smaller additions of Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Auxerrois. It clocks in at 15% ABV, so it is definitely not a white for the faint of heart, though its balance of stone fruit, acid, residual sugar, and minerality is expertly done. We love some of the softer floral notes on the nose and, on the palette, the combination of dried apricots, white honey, and textural mouthfeel add complexity that keeps us sipping. This could stand up well to spicier foods.
After a long plane ride to Australia, we end up at the Jordy Kay vineyards, located in Seymour, about an hour and a half outside of Melbourne. His wines reflect the new world ethos that tends to define winemaking in the area. Risks are continually taken in terms of farming, blending, and bottling.
Merlot might seemingly be out of fashion, after it became the object of scrutiny in the film Sideways, but Jordy Kay’s Merlot is a little bit different than the rest. There are notes of plush black currant, cassis, and violet that are coupled with gentle earthy characteristics. But this wine is soft and easily drinkable, unlike what you might expect. It might not be traditional glou glou but it is fun. We think it would pair well with burgers, a nice steak, or lamb dish. Just avoid anything too spicy!
For our final sparkling wine, we head several hours outside of New York City to visit Bloomer Creek, who are stalwarts of natural wine production in the Finger Lakes region. This is because they have abandoned any industrial pesticides for more earth-friendly production methods, proving skeptics wrong about how expressive New York State wines can truly be.
Nowhere is this more evident than their treatment of Riesling. For their Barrow Vineyard Pet Nat in 2019, they have made this Riesling skin contact, which not only adds a vibrant and rich orange color, but also provides a nice textural depth to offset some of the sweeter peach notes that are present in this wine. If Duckman offered a zippy afternoon soirée, Bloomer Creek offers a sophisticated drawing room affair, a place where the party really starts going. We would love this with fried anything, perhaps even a plate of calamari.
Cheers to 2021! Thanks again for your support in 2020. We can’t wait to keep drinking wine with you in the new year.