New Releases from Mas Coutelou

In Puimisson, just north of Béziers in Southwest France, Jean-Francois “Jeff” Coutelou is making natural wines at Mas Coutelou. The winery was one of the first to get organic certification in the Languedoc back in 1987 after a roughly 50 acre parcel had been converted from conventional farming methods. Today these organic and manual farming methods try to reduce environmental and ecosystem impacts in a way that is inspiring for the region.

We are excited to have received four new bottles recently. Today we’ll feature three bottles including: the Le Blanc (2018), which is 80% Macabeu and 20% Grenache Gris; the 5S0 (2019), which is 100% Cinsault; and Couleurs Réunies (2019), which is a field blend of many different red grapes. All three wines are expressive, offering great fruit forward notes but also textural depth. If you haven’t explored Languedoc wines recently, these are a great entry point into the region.

Mas Coutelou, 5SO (2019)

Mas Coutelou, 5SO (2019)

Of the three wines that we tasted, the 5S0 is the lightest and most approachable, made up of 100% Cinsault. It’s a deep red in color with cherry and white pepper on the nose. On the palette, tart cherry and raspberry flavors mingle together in a playful harmony. There is a little bit of earthiness to this wine but it’s more glou glou than it is serious. Sometimes all you need is playful wine to pair with a platter of salami, cheeses, and bread or an array of appetizers, like a winter puntarelle salad. If you’re just looking to inject a little fun into this dreary, snowy weather, this is the right bottle for you.

Mas Coutelou, Blanc (2018)

Mas Coutelou, Blanc (2018)

Coutelou Blanc is an exceptional white release that features mostly Macabeu and a small amount of Greanche Gris. It’s quite pale, a light straw like color in the glass. On the nose, soft floral aromas, hints of citrus pith, and lees aging greet you. On the palette, the wine is guided by wonderful stone fruit characteristics, equal parts juicy and a little rounded to contrast the generous acidity and minerality. At the end, you get subtle almond bitterness to connect everything together. This is a sophisticated but approachable wine that would pair well with a wide array of foods, like salmon, creamy risotto, or even a creative vegetarian tofu dish.

Mas Coutelou, Couleurs Réunies (2019)

Mas Coutelou, Couleurs Réunies (2019)

Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvedre all make up this new wine from Mas Coutelou. These can all be heavy hitting grapes. Though this wine is surely the brawniest of the three, it also has enough lift to make itself approachable. It’s noticeably an inky purple color in the glass with a nose of wet earth, green pepper, and some dried herbs. The wine lets dark fruits like blackberry dominate, with acid, earthiness, and some tannic weight intermingling as the wine opens up. We think this one is a great way to straddle wine tastes if you’re having dinner with people in your house. (Think roasted chicken, duck, rabbit, or even a nice steak. The possibilities are endless.)

Until next time, happy sipping! We can’t wait to share some new arrivals next week as we stay cozy inside during this particularly snowy wintertime.

Exploring French Winemakers from Cahors to Alsace

As we hit the last week in January 2021, we decided to take a little trip to France to sample some of the more recent offerings that arrived in the shop. We’re lucky enough to get wines in from many different regions so we wanted to focus on three options from Southwest France just outside of Cahors, our ever favorite Loire Valley, and Alsace on the borders of Germany and Switzerland. As Jura January comes to an end, it’s great to consider other regions in France as we truck along into February.

Whether you’re looking for Fabien Jouves’ first skin contact blend or looking for a hazy, citrus forward pet nat from Christian Binner’s Les Vins Pirouettes project, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Fabien Jouves, Maceration Skin Contact (2019)

Fabien Jouves, Maceration Skin Contact (2019)

Fabien Jouves is a fifth generation winemaker from the village Trepoux-Rassiel in Southwest France. After he took over the family estate in the mid-2000s, he converted it into organic and biodynamic farming practices. The region might be most known for Malbec and Jouves, specifically, for his expressions of Malbec. But Skin-Contact is his white blend in the style, featuring Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, and Muscat. Like all of his other wines, these are affordable and well-designed for everyday drinking.

On the nose, this wine is wildly aromatic, with lovely floral and hints of tropical pineapple aromas. Some of these pineapple notes carry over into the palette, but tangerine is the real star of the affair, a mix of pith, acid, and a slightly oily mouthfeel for added complexity. There are some grippy tannins but the wine is not particularly vegetal or overbearing, making it a great choice for those who are a bit unsure about what skin contact wine is. This is a versatile food wine but we can see it pairing well with a host of Asian foods because of its fruit forward nature and nice structure.

Le Sot de l’Ange, Malolactix (2019)

Le Sot de l'Ange, Malolactix (2019)

Quentin Bourse is one of the rising stars of the natural wine world, having taken off a friend’s property in Azay-le-Rideau that had been certified organic before his arrival. Quentin is deeply committed to respecting the earth the vines are grown on and is known for approachable wines that appeal to a wide array of audiences.

His Malolactix, with its playful label, is a light bodied blend of Gamay and Grolleau. It’s the kind of wine that might smell like a barnyard but never goes mousy, even after being open for hours. In short, it’s a singsong wine featuring strawberry, cherry and raspberry notes balanced by softer hints of forest floor. There are some tannins but Malolactix is really about its freshness and jovial nature. It would pair well with pizza, pasta, and, if you’re feeling a little bit fancy, roast duck.

Les Vins Pirouettes by Binner & Compagnie, Le PetNat d’Eric (2018)

Les Vins Pirouettes by Binner & Compagnie, Le PetNat d'Eric (2018)

For our final wine of the week, we head to Alsace to explore the Les Vins Pirouettes project, which links Christian Binner with a variety of growers in Alsace to his winemaking expertise and distribution savvy. This particular project is about celebrating an exchange of ideas that makes Alsace such fertile grounds for natural winemaking. Le PetNat d’Eric is the perfect encapsulation of this spirit, bringing mostly Auxerrois and some Pinot Noir together for some sparkling fun.

Not all Pet Nats need to bring a ton of complexity and Le PetNat offers an array of simple pleasures. Beyond the hazy straw color in the glass, subtle floral aromas mix with tart lemon notes, a touch of green apple, lovely mineral structure, and just a touch of toastiness on the finish to round things out. Being so light and breezy, this would be the perfect 5:30 PM Happy Hour bottle with some charcuterie and cheeses. Is this grey weather getting you down? You need no other excuse to enjoying this bottle.

Enjoy the rest of your week and the last few days of January. Until next time, happy sipping!

Austrian Newcomer Wein Goutte

Though many of the wines we get into the shop are from producers we’ve featured for quite some time, a good deal of our offerings also come from fresh faces, whether it’s because they’ve just gotten clearance to distribute their bottles stateside or they are releasing new vintages for the very first time. Whenever we get these new winemakers in, it’s cause for celebration. We love opening up a bottle and pouring a glass, as we imagine what the wine must smell and taste like. This mystery is what keeps us motivated to explore changes in the industry.

Wein Goutte is one such newcomer. The brainchild of Emily Campeau, who is also the remote wine director of Restaurant Candide in Montreal, and Christoph Müller, who works at Weninger Weingut team, this couple has taken Austrian grapes and brought their latest bottles to life. They are already distinctive with their colorful, pop art inspired labels and in depth descriptions of their farming and bottling practices. They are interesting beacause they have declassified their wines, meaning they are unable to discuss varieties or the vineyards specifically on their website. But a few clever descriptions leave little to the imagination.

Wein Goutte, Pinot Zweigelt Panic On The Boat Rosé (2019)

Wein Goutte, Pinot Zweigelt Panic On The Boat Rosé (2019)

One of our favorite winter treats is a dark rosé, and Panic On The Boat, a blend of Pinot Noir and Zweigelt, delivers just what we need for Winter 2021. As Emily explains, the name for the wine came from the kitchen phrase, “Panic on the boat!” meaning that someone was in need of help. Thankfully making this wine didn’t involve any panic, even though the Pinot Noir and Zweigelt were originally intended for separate bottles but ended up tasting better together. 20mg of sulfur was used at bottling for stability.

In the glass, it could easily be mistaken for a light red with its deeper, almost purple hue. The nose is an intoxicating blend of Middle Eastern spices that reminds us of walking into Sahadi’s, in the best possible way. On the palette, this is categorically a rosé because it is so fruit forward, with a bouquet of red fruits featuring cherry and strawberry. We also love the acidic drive that helps push things forward. Though it lacks much in the way of tannic structure, it is still contemplative, with a good bit of body and weight to help mellow things out.

Given its approachability and versatility, this is a great choice for anything from pizza to roast chicken.

Wein Goutte, Karaté Schlag (2019)

Wein Goutte, Karaté Schlag (2019)

Though Blaufränkisch has been planted in many Central European countries, its first documented roots lead us directly to Austria, where it continues to be a major player on the wine scene today. Emily and Christoph’s version comes from relatively young vines, planted in 2004, and the name was inspired by a karate chopping bread technique from a YouTube video. While this has nothing to do with the wine itself, it showcases their commitment to leading their winemaking process with whimsy and experimentation.

This Blaufränkisch is particularly aromatic with vivid notes of violet and rose on the nose. An inky purple in the color, it showcases crunchy blackcurrant and plum, hints of peppery spice, and a silky body with just a touch of tannins. Though this drinks quite light now, it has definite aging potential. But if you’re like us and can’t seem to wait for too long, pair it with spaetzle, sausages, or another nice cut of meat and a side of roasted potatoes. Sometimes the simplest pairings are the best.

In case Austria isn’t your vibe, we also tasted a light skin contact Chardonnay from California producer Old World Winery called L’Aureate. It’s ripe but unoaked, with juicy pineapple notes, soft herbs, mouthwatering minerality that carries into a long finish. It also features intoxicating aromas of tropical fruit and lemon balm. Pair with any meaty fish for the perfect winter pick-me-up.

Whatever you plan on drinking in the next week, happy sipping!

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