About Jeff Miller

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Jeff Miller has created 28 blog entries.
This Is A Custom Message You Can Customize In Your Admin!

New Podcast Episode – Drinking in the Kitchen with Derek Mossman and Pilar Miranda of Garage Wine Co

By |2019-02-12T19:44:59+00:00February 12th, 2019|Chile, Podcast|

Angelo Simonetti caught up with the inimitable Derek Mossman and Pilar Miranda of Garage Wine Co. while in Chile several weeks ago. They spent some time in the kitchen and went through current and upcoming releases including Garage’s yet to be seen 2018 Old Vine Pale. For those of you not familiar with Garage Wine Co., they’re at the forefront of Chile’s exciting and growing movement of independent vintners. To listen, here are the episode links on Apple Podcasts/iTunes and Spotify. You can also listen right here on the page:

The full transcript can be found below:

[John Griffin’s opening comments] Grape’s man in Portland, Angelo Simonetti, was heading out to Pichelemu to catch a little surf when he got the call. Derek and Pilar had just returned to their apartment in Santiago and said come on over and let’s try some wines. So he did. We join their conversation just as they’re opening a bottle of their increasingly popular Pais. Here we go.

DEREK:        This is what I had on hand, a half bottle. To me the 18 is interesting.  It’s a little brighter.

PILAR:          Yes, less herbaceous than this one (referring to a bottle of they have open as well, I think it’s a 16).

ANGELO:     Okay. So if you have a full description on this, what do you think.

PILAR:          For the Pais?

ANGELO:     For the Pais.

PILAR:          I think it’s still, it’s uhh, representative of the variety. We see that the wine notes like the herbal things, the smells, the aromas that you can feel, it still have a very nice body. I think at two years old the wines are still very well stand up.

ANGELO:     Still holding.

PILAR:          Yeah, it’s holding very well. The tannins are impressive but it still has a smooth but you can feel them. It’s a light red. I mean it’s not cab. But it’s kind of, kind of serious Pais. A lot of people start to make Pais with carbonic maceration, being very fruity, very strawberry, cotton of candy aromas. I don’t like that style. I think it goes well with other dishes (?). It’s not, uhh, to show the variety in the end if you make carbonic maceration like you can use any variety, going to smell the same.

DEREK:        There’s a lot of Pipeño being sold in the US now, which to me is a different animal. A different thing. But I’m still pleasantly surprised how much Pais sells in the US. People just love the story and it’s just a lighter wine. It’s like buying Beaujolais or something.

ANGELO:     I can tell you it’s more than a Beaujolais. The quality would you get in the nose and the mouth… it’s not simple and one dimensional.

PILAR:          Yeah, but that’s what I was trying to explain with “a serious wine”. Like I mean the Pais it’s not just a simple, light wine. I think it has a structure, it has the tannins, a little complexity; it’s not just a simple wine.

DEREK:        The 16…

PILAR:          The 16 you can drink it easily,

ANGELO:     But it’s still have something, not just goes and pass.

DEREK:        The 15 is still drinking well.

ANGELO:     This is 16.

PILAR:          Yes it’s sixteen, but 17 is sold.

ANGELO:     And holding that much?

DEREK:        The 15 holds. But I’m not sure how much longer.

ANGELO:     But you’re talking about Pais 2016, you’re talking about two years old Pais.

PILAR:          Yeah, and you have a year and half to sell the wine, so it’s been a decent time to sell the wine and for this variety.

DEREK:        The um, what we do with things with labels, these two wines we consider one winter wine. So when we began this project, when we were discovering where the old gentleman with their horses and plows had Cariñena. Normally when you did your roadside tastings, you tasted with them they’d have one foudre and they’d want a “luca extra” (1000 pesos) if you want to take a liter away, you’d have to take your own package, they didn’t actually have it bottled, and what their explanation was that that wine had a second winter and that justified the extra thousand pesos. And that specially related to the second winter and in the end what we found is generally in the Cariñenas, the malolactic doesn’t finish before wintertime, so goes through its first winter without malo. It does it in the springtime and it really isn’t wine and unless you give it another winter of storage, it’s too racy. It’s too, it has too much acid.

It seems that just that doesn’t come into its own. It takes longer to get over the hump. So what we did after working this concept of two winter wines for many years, we decided that, “you know what, we need, the farmers need to sell their Pais, not just their Cariñena, at a decent price. We need to make some things a little more approachable because it’s a cash flow thing. We want to sell some wines before two and a half years.” And in the end we began, the first one we made, was an old vine pale which is in Cariñena from a section of a farm that is, doesn’t matter what you do it has a higher, a higher yield and the old man won’t change, so let’s make a different wine, because we’ll want the good stuff of his down the road. So let’s do that one now. A one-winter wine.

And you know in the beginning I thought was kind of, I suppose I was looking for something original to present,  probably in Inglaterra,  with the , in England, with the Bibendum people. There were just so many people in a room, presenting 12 months in new oak, and this and that and it was so clichéd and hackneyed all the phrases they used that I really loved standing there and saying how many months in a barrel was like one winter or two winters and they’d be like “what’s that?” and you’d have to explain it but then you had them in your hand because now then they’d heard enough of the story the old man and the plows that they wanted to hear the other bit. What was the other bits? Oh, people would say “How old’s the vineyard?” Well, they don’t really know. But they say that when they were young, the vineyard was old. It looked just like it did now and they’re now old, so it must be very old now. And they just kind of smile at you and realize.

Ah, and then there were the percentages. They’d say “and what percentage of Mataró is in this?” I’d say I don’t know. It was 17 barrels of Carignan and one of Matarór. Have you got a phone there, you could probably calculate that if you wanted to. But to me we think in barrels and by the time the staff (not sure here) had a quick visit of the walk around tasting. They were into it. You were the only one they remembered from their loop, little walk around in the New World this afternoon. I thought it was absolutely brilliant. So we stuck with it.

So in the past, some people kind of complained that it was too it was too difficult to learn the system of the lots and it was too complicated, there were too many wines. And it was like dude, I won’t dive into your business and tell you how to sell your wines if you don’t tell me how to make mine, sort of thing.

So what we have done lately though is made sure that the online is everything. So if you go in here you see the parcels, we call them, all of these that we’re about to taste.

So this is 73. So if I go to seventy three here (Derek is referring to their website), we have 17 with 73 16 was 63. I don’t know why 53 and 43 are here but you normally look back in the past further than that.

So all of these, each lot, if it’s any kind of a franc it always ends in a two. There’s a system to it. Those numbers just kind of came out and we just stuck with them. So they weren’t logically organized. This was the seventy third one in gotten since 2000 and 3.

ANGELO:     OK.

DEREK:        So a lot is a lot. A lot is a real lot. We’ve actually got some work to do for the new single-vineyard series.

But all of these are here now and there’s an explanation of the parcels and everything is here so if you wanted to find the, what we were just laughing about the acidity of the sugar of 73, in theory the residual sugar is one point seven. In theory all of these things are here.

ANGELO:     Alcohol 12.6. The pH three point zero five.

DEREK:        That’s a low pH for this wine but most of the pHs are still pretty low. Most are unresolved sugars (I think that’s what he said) aren’t really a factor for us. That would be more or less average alcohol, this is kind of low at 12.5 A lot of these wines are 13.5. The idea is it doesn’t hit 14.

You get that with the cabernets because that’s what the vineyards are used to doing. It will take time to bring it down a little bit if we wanted to, but all of these are here and there’s a root to all of the others (again referring to their website).

[Now they are tasting Old Vine Pale light red]

ANGELO:     Pilar how you describe this?

PILAR:          Ah this is very fresh. Absolutely. What we call, again, like a red. A chilled red. I mean absolutely.

ANGELO:     Can I sell this in the summer as a chill it up, patio wine?

PILAR:          Absolutely. It’s been very successful.

ANGELO:     I like this way. I like the temperature it is.

PILAR:          Yeah. It must be cold like a white.

ANGELO:     That’s what I’m saying. I like the way it is right now, but if it could chill out a little bit over there and serve it a party with my friends with a nice salmon.

PILAR:          Yeah, it’s very successful in UK. It goes really well with Thai food.

ANGELO:     Because there’s no sugar here.

PILAR:          Yeah. Maybe when many people start with the wines they say I don’t like the rosé. I say no, taste it. It’s not sweet.

ANGELO:     Yeah. There’s no sugar at all.

PILAR:          So that’s the idea. It’s a dry wine with a great acidity. So for, you serve cold or for summer salads. Seafood.

ANGELO:     Yeah. This is the, this is the salmon wine. In the Northwest we serve a lot of salmon at parties.

DEREK:        For me this is not a rosé. That’s why we call it old vine pale. Because if it were in a black glass… It has tannins. It has…

ANGELO:     It does. The acidity is balanced. There’s the tannins over there.

PILAR:          Yes.

ANGELO:     It’s very light and refreshing.

PILAR:          We keep it in barrels for six months.

ANGELO:     Six months in a barrel.

PILAR:          Hoping it would round it out.

ANGELO:     Yeah, round it up in your mouth. Okay.

This is a patio wine, for you know, well let’s put it in Celsius, when it’s 30 degrees outside. You don’t want to have nothing to do in the afternoon.

PILAR:          Like today.

ANGELO:     Exactly. You want to just sit down over there. You can drink this. I can drink two bottles of this. It’s fine.

DEREK:        What we found is no one wants a patio wine that comes out in summer. This comes out October, normally.

ANGELO:     Okay.

DEREK:        But the idea is a to…

PILAR:          By December it’s already in.

ANGELO:     Like spring time.

DEREK:        But it’s not doesn’t come out amongst the sales (could he be referring to holiday sales?).

This is something we’d like to start moving more in the US.

ANGELO:     I think so too. I actually, this one of my recommendation right now cause my summer’s coming.

PILAR:          Yes.

ANGELO:     And this, and this is, ya know, Is the cherry on the top the cake.

DEREK:        Yeah I think it’s really fun. Customers who have it do really well with it. What restaurants say they put this on the vino Matic machine, or whatever, on the thing.  And they say you put that there and the people look at the different bottle and they right that, what they say to me traveling is that we’ve never had a wine that gives you the eats like that wine. And then they smile and say I am a  restaurant, I sell food first so that’s a good thing.

ANGELO:     Yeah. This is by the glass.

DEREK:        And then what they say is that once they’ve had that by the glass people say, “What else do you have by these people?” you mean. And then you sell a bottle of whatever else.

ANGELO:     So just two problems for us. I cannot sell rosé in this bottle. A light red I can sell in the green bottle. If they go over then say it’s like red. You don’t call rosé we call light red.

PILAR:          Actually the label doesn’t say rosé, it says old vine pale.

ANGELO:     That’s awesome. [Multiple “That’s Awesome, fading out]

JG Commentary

That’s right Angelo. That does sound awesome for the summer. A light red made from Carignan. Sign me up. Anyway, there you learned a little bit about Pais and how it came about and now the conversation continues with a discussion and a little slurping of some of the outstanding single-vineyard bottlings that garage produces. Take it away.

DEREK:        So the first one is Truquilemu. Well up on the Cordillera de la Costa. Granitic soils This is a little further down in the Sauzal, but it’s similar in soil and this one we’ll talk about afterwards because it’s further inland in kind of an odd way.

This is pure, almost pure Cariñena with a single barrel of Monatrell, Mataró. This one has almost as much Garnacha  as it does Cariñena with a little bit of Mataró again. And this is pure Garnacha.

These are projects that the old, generally the old men had, the old Cariñena, and we decided for putting more Cariñena in and then we put the Garnacha and the Monastrell to make like a field blend out of Don Nivaldo and Señor Orteriez’ (sp) farm. And out of that there are 2,500 bottles. 2,800 hundred bottles every year, something like that, no more. Of this one there is no more than 7000, depending on the year. And this is thirty five hundred…

PILAR:          3000 maximum.

DEREK:        … something like that.

So the idea is that these are all different, but they’re kind of variations on a theme. I really liked what guy that writes for wine-searcher said…I really thought was interesting that someone wrote there. Well they did a mixed case from Chile. What you have to drink. And they go through the various wines, the famous, like the Montes Folly and bah, bah, bah, and he gets to us he say I’m not really going to chose one of these, any one from these guys will do. They’re all, how do you say, variations on a theme. They’re all wonderful and you just you just run through them and try them all, but I’m not going to choose one above the others. I thought that was kind of fun.

[The sounds of wine being poured and Angelo tasting]

ANGELO:     The grip on this one is bigger than that one.

PILAR:          Yeah.

ANGELO:     Wow.

Sowsow? Sauzal?

PILAR:          Sauzal. A very small town.

DEREK:        The herbs are different.

ANGELO:     Yeah. You. I get a little oregano and spicy…

DEREK:        That’s really nice.

PILAR:          It shows very well today.

DEREK:        45 was really, was hard, it was bit lighter…

ANGELO:     Wow.

DEREK:        … while 65 are in the stride.

in this dry. What can we say about these? These are all pretty, um.

PILAR:          I would like to say that if you taste the wines they are different. I mean they show the place where they come from. But you see a connection between the wines between the varieties that it has tannins, really ripe tannins. The have a grip, very balanced acidity.

ANGELO:     You can say, okay, this is a lot of acidity, but these two here with the very nice grip.

PILAR:          Yes. I think the Garnacha does.

ANGELO:     Yeah. And then just give, you see the, the impact of the wine.

PILAR:          Yeah. You need a dish of beef or something to eat with this wine.

ANGELO:     You know I, I, I like big wines in a reserve way, ya know. Initially, initially it’s just the…. because the complexity of this wine here and it’s still go round my mouth and just …(smack, smack, smack). I think sometimes the foods help but sometimes the food you need, just not too little time to understand better the wine. The wine is still talking to you before you have the next bite of the steak.

PILAR:          I like because you feel the dryness, but not, not in the tongue or your gum.

ANGELO:     Is outside.

PILAR:          Here and in the front there, is come from the grapes not coming from the wood or tannins that you add.

DEREK:        To me this one a little bit bigger, but these are quite low. This is like, this is less than 13.5, both of these… alcohol.

ANGELO:     But you can see the…like the other ones.

DEREK:        Here it’s a little above…

PILAR:          It’s garnacha, I mean it’s really hard to make a Garnacha with 12.5.

DEREK:        What happens here is, this has literally pH of 3.3 and acid 6.15, it, it almost has numbers like a Cariñena. I mean sometimes it’s, uhhh….

 

[More lip smacking noises]

 

ANGELO:     Whew. Delicious.

DEREK:        I really like this one.

ANGELO:     You see the evolution coming with the gripping and especially with tannins, the acidity. Wow.

DEREK:        This. Is my favorite today. The 65 wins.

[next wine]

This is a little dopey.

ANGELO:     The sixty five?

DEREK:        Yeah. Well, this first one to me is just… in kind of dumb period.

PILAR:          Mmm, they have their…phase.

DEREK:        It’s got the nose.

PILAR:          [says something about years]

ANGELO:     Because you put it side by side. No, but you put it side by side. You put a side by side. They’re different character, they’re different.

DEREK:        But most days this one goes straight to people’s heart. Just like a sultry tango it just the nails it and the herbs are slightly different.

ANGELO:     But you see these two here is a similarity. But this guy here is just a monster.

DEREK:        This is just (says something about the name of the vineyard)…

ANGELO:     [Angelo talking over Derek] This is a monster.

DEREK:        …this is further inland but what happens here… it’s a very interesting vineyard.  It’s next to a river, but the river flows down from the Cordillera de la Costa. So it’s like an alluvial river bank vineyard, but the silt or the soils and it’s the make of the soils is granitic, so you don’t have those same round stones and it changes as the acid profile changes many things in the wine.  It’s kind of a fun one because in the end you often speak about in this area it’s the river that flows backwards. It flows towards the Andes and then it finds its way to another river combines and flows back out to the ocean.

ANGELO:     This is lot of wine. The third one is just…a lot of wine.

DEREK:        Garnacha is still kind of making its way the, uh… in Chile you wouldn’t really think of Garnacha. There’s a couple. But they’re not really well known, they’re all tiny productions like this, and they’re all very different. There’s someone doing something interesting in the north.

ANGELO:     [Angelo exhales] Pilar, this definitely is a steak wine.

PILAR:          It’s my dad’s favorite.

ANGELO:     This is a steak wine. It’s a lot of wine inside this bottle. But this definitely you see: Beginning. Middle. Monster. You see you, you. A little light but, but this like you said your favorite today…

DEREK:        This and the next year is the one that did really well with Luis Gutierrez is here and it was kind of a fun one because this is the year we start using a lot of reintroducing the lignified stems. We did a little bit in 15 and then a lot and 16 and the tannins just changed, they’re just different.

ANGELO:     Whew. The 69. OH. Delicious.

DEREK:        This is a property that we would manage more than just for us. We actually sell some of the fruit.

ANGELO:     Cab Franc.

DEREK:        This Franc is a hundred and ten years old. It’s been quite an adventure to take it on properly. We used to buy kilos from it and now we manage it and it’s a lot more work, but we can get the alcohol to come down, we can get a little more of the herbally nature, but it’s still pretty, pretty big in this year.

ANGELO:     Which one is this? This is the Cab Sauv. OK.

Cab Franc you know, have his way back in people’s palates in America.

DEREK:        Cab Franc is like a love hate thing; those people love it and people who…

ANGELO:     By the way, this Cab Franc  is having a totally different character from me. But they have a good tannins around the mouth.

PILAR:          There’s a different smell. Like there’s more meats…

ANGELO:     Yeah, I was gonna say a lot of…

PILAR:          Bramble

ANGELO:     Black tea.

PILAR:          It’s more rosés, more fruit.

ANGELO:     But you have a black tea in this.

DEREK:        To me it’s like a bit of a bay leaf which would be Cab Franc. See, and both of these are from the Maule. We make a cab and the cab franc from the Maipo. But we don’t…what we don’t like to do as the clients like this one or the other one we like to just rotate through them and start delivering them when they’re more ready to drink. So if one’s a little harder a year or we sell through one faster we start in on the other one right away.

It’s 17 that the alcohol on this comes down, right Pilar. I was really looking forward to tasting that with you this week, but you didn’t get a chance to come down there.

ANGELO:     The 74? No, this is 82. The 82 is?

DEREK:        The 82 is still 14, but this comes down to less than 13 the following year. I’m really interested in trying it.

ANGELO:     How about the74? How much alcohol is in the 74?

DEREK:        [Checking website]

                        It’s not here yet. I don’t know why 74 is not up yet. Who’s in charge of this.

PILAR:          I don’t know if they’re going to fire me.

ANGELO:     Fire him. Pilar, send him home.

DEREK:        I think that it just kind of blew past me Pilar. I don’t think I…

PILAR:          If you really want to know, it’s on file.

DEREK:        14.1.

ANGELO:     No. Not high.

DEREK:        It’s kind of funny cause when we started, as people who live in Chile, um, when we started making Cab from somewhere other than Maipo, it took us a while to get our heads around it and what we were surprised by was that the critics actually like the Maule ones better. But not the Chilean critics. Chileans have this thing with them.

ANGELO:     Local. Different.

DEREK:        It’s kind of funny in the end even the Franc too they all say “for us it’s not Franc-ee because we’re sued to Cab Franc from the Maipo”, but when they tasted this they said “that’s Franc-ier than the Maipo” and we all look at them kind of…

One of the write ups of, I can’t remember whom, they compared it to Tondonia, which to me was just. It’s kind of like, whoopie if someone says your wine’s like a Margaux. It’s kind of like, yeah right. But when they say something like Tondonia youre kind of like, wow, that’s cool.

There were two that he compared them to this year. Ah, it was another one of the other blends of the Carignans he said it was like a Barolo Chianato.

ANGELO:     Barolo Chianato?

DEREK:        Barolo Chianato. Have you had Barolo Chianato?

ANGELO:     Mmmmhuh.

DEREK:        I was like, What the hell’s that? I had to look it up and then everyone is like, loves Barolo Chianato and I was like, oh nuts.

Oh come on. I think we should make a Chianato

ANGELO:     Chianato here?

DEREK:        Instead of making a port or something like that. I think something that has, cause in the end it’s like a port but it’s it’s with medicinal, right?

PILAR:          Yeah, but that doesn’t really count.

[Lastly, the trio talks about Perverso or La Maldita Solera]

DEREK:        And this is a very ugly label but it shows the point.

ANGELO:     Perverso  [Angelo chuckles]

DEREK:        The reason that we can, how do you say, take chances. The reason we can take chances, it’s not that we take chances, but when we make these wines, when there is a barrel of 8 or a 15 or 21, depending on how big the lot is and there’s a barrel that talks too loud and once you put it in the blend there isn’t harmony anymore, it’s the one that you notice it too much.

We put those away for a third or fourth winter and we make a solera that is perverso. So in the end you can, how do you say, make mistakes, but you end up using and regaining something. Unfortunately we’ve never been able to send this to the US because no one will you work with the name.

ANGELO:     I want to know if that’s true over there you advertising the label. “Fix bad relationship you failed”, then I wanted five of this right now .

DEREK:        We talked about doing this for the US.

PPILAR:        We’re going to change the name.

DEREK:        What was it going to be? Maldita…

PILAR:          Maldita Solera.

ANGELO:     I like it. But I like it perverso too. Evil. Evil.

PILAR:          Yeah, but there’s an issue with the name with the church to make sure.

ANGELO:     Ah, you have someone here.

PILAR:          No, no, no. I mean that they relate the name pervert.

ANGELO:     Ohhhh, ok.

PILAR:          So we’re going to change the name.

ANGELO:     I can see that much. Maldita? I like that too.

PILAR:          Maldita Solera.

[JG’s closing comments]

Hmmm, Barolo Chianato in Chile. Oh that Derek. But the Maldita Solera sounds interesting. Hopefully we’ll see that in the US soon. And what’s up with Angelo loving the 69 and getting all giggly over the perverso. Hmmm, maybe he needs to get out a little more. Just kidding. Anyway there you go. Thanks again to Derek and Pilar of Garage Wine Company for taking the time.

Loire Valley (Part One) – Winter 2019

By |2019-02-12T13:48:42+00:00February 11th, 2019|France, Rhône Valley, Travel Report|

Our first day in the Loire brought us to a cloudy Touraine where we spent most of our day with the leadership team at Loire Propriétés, and checked in with Christophe Godet at Domaine de Marcé. 

Loire Propriétés

Our tasting took place at Vignerons Oisly & Thesee, a cooperative holding 500 acres of mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc in the small towns of Oisly and Thesee which usually are considered the best in the Touraine region. You know by now how we feel about cooperatives – That when managed strategically they can turn out plenty of individual, engaging wines. Loire Propriétés is one such cooperative, and actually what you’d call a “supercooperative” (ie a large parent cooperative made up multiple smaller cooperatives). 250 winegrower members, organized into 10 smaller cooperatives, make up the group, many of who are bottling estate grown wines, some from iconic Loire chateaux! Sound interesting? Estate grown wines at a cooperative? Yes! As we’ve said before there are some progressive co-ops out there these days urging you to rethink everything you think you know about the category.
Caves de la Loire “Les Anges” 18 Sauvignon Blanc, juicy, very good
Les Anges 18 Chardonnay, boring, but full and fruity, would make people happy though
Caves de la Loire “Les Anges” 18 Chenin Blanc, crisp, more acidity
Caves de la Loire “Les Anges” 17 Pinot Noir, good, a little short on character, but what do you expect for pricing this sharp
Caves de la Loire “Les Anges” 18 Cabernet Franc, dry, aromatic, a little funky
Caves de la Loire “Elysis” 18 Rosé d’Anjou, fresh, nice sweetness
Vignerons du Pallet “Les Petites Sardines” 17 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, easy, soft style
Vignerons du Pallet “Jubilation” 15 Muscadet Cru Le Pallet, complex, class
O&T 17 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc,  showing well, good acidity
Domaine du Grand Cerf 17 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, typical, full, juicy
Vins de Rabelais “Les Romances” 17 Vouvray, seems sweetish, but technically isn’t, apparently
Vins de Rabelais 15 Chinon “Fauteuil Rouge,” mature and rich, There is better value than this at LP
Les Roches Blanches 17  Vouvray full, typical, fresh
Chateau de Valmer 17 Vouvray, character, aromatic
Chateau de Brossay 18 Cabernet d’Anjou, flavor, full, some sweetness
Domane Croix St. Louis 15 Chinon, somewhat mature and boring
Chateau de Mauny 18 Rosé de Loire, some complexity and depth
Chateau de Mauny Crémant de Loire Brutt, fresh, soft, very good
Chateau de Brissac 14 Crémant de Loire Brut, fine, balanced, soft
Domaine Touchais NV Saumur Brut, serious, dry and fuill
Chateau de Valmer NV Vouvray Brut, rich, full, long, bravo
We tasted dozens of 2018 O&T wines from tank; most of which showed very well. Below is some tank tasting “reality television” for you:
Very good tasting overall. great stuff at very competitive prices. We pulled the trigger on  Chateau de Mauny, Chateau de Valmer, and Vignerons du Pallet (including the very fine bottle aged “Jubilation” Cuvee).  Does the whole Vignerons du Pallet thing perk your ears? This is a fairly small, atypical coop of 10 members, all from Le Pallet in the heart of Muscadet. They have 250 acres and an average production of some 800.000 bottles. All 10 members have their own properties, they bottle and sell a part of their production themselves and another part goes to the coop for use in a larger appellation “blend.” The President is one of the owners and so is the winemaker. The facilities are at one member’s winery. “Le Pallet” the vineyard is one of the Crus of Muscadet, there are seven crus in all, and is considered by many as the best. The soil is interesting, the northwest part of the town consists of light colored rocks (Roches Blanches) mixed with sand and the southwest area is dark colored (Roches Noires) and sand. Their “Jubilation” bottling referenced above represents a new movement in the appellation towards intense, bottle aged Muscadet with better selection, later harvesting, and longer aging on the lees. These wines are very different, more serious, fuller and real aging potential. For some stupid reason wines in this category cannot be called “sur lie” although they stay much longer on them. Odd.

Domaine Marcé

This Domaine is a few kilometers down the road from Les Vignerons Oisly & Thesee and the idea here is to bring you a premium Touraine Sauvignon option – Something a step up in price and complexity from O+T for the select few accounts smart enough to know how much value Christophe Godet can pack into a bottle. So many accounts are glass pouring “Vin de Loire” Sauvignon Blanc as a Sancerre alternative but this approach (something from an individualistic appellation) is a better way to go. In all this is an 80 acre estate, mostly planted to Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. A part of 12 acres has been classified as Oisly which is a new “Cru” similar to Reuilly, Quincy, or Sancerre. Farming at Domaine Marcé is organic, and most vines are pretty damn old. More tank tasting “reality television” for you below!
As you see above we tasted many different tanks of 2018 Touraine and Oisly Sauvignon with Christophe and overall we were able to leave with a better feel for this unsung appellation.
Domaine Marcé 18 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, good body, ripeness, balanced acid, a lot of Sauvignon for the price.
Domaine Marcé 18 Oisly Sauvignon Blanc, somewhat bigger and better but the price difference does not seem wholly justified this vintage.
Great domaine, great people. Let’s try to get more Touraine Sauvignon out there in the world shall we?

Rhône Valley (Part Three) – Winter 2019

By |2019-02-08T16:43:21+00:00February 8th, 2019|France, Rhône Valley, Travel Report|

Day three in the Rhône meant a few lesser-known producers to most of you…

Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille

The brother/sister team of Laurent Fayolle and Céline Nodin operate this small family estate in Gervans, where they produce Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, and St. Peray. Crozes-Hermitage is a somewhat weird appellation – Originally it was close to the Hermitage hill, stretching to the North, covering a mere 750 acres in Crozes, Largange, Gervans and two other tiny villages where the soils are very similar to Hermitage. Over time the acreage was expanded by a whopping 3800 acres, but in another area, South of Tain- l’Hermitage, on totally different soils. The idea was that more production would make it easier to sell. This worked for the “new” production, but not really for the “old” as production is lower due to the (granite) soils and rather steep hills. This also explains a rather big difference in prices between the two. Fayolle is one of the very few “original gangsta” producers left, as they are focused on making wine from individual vineyards in the original appellation boundaries, most notably on sites known locally as Pontaix and the Clos des Cornirets.

Almost all of Fayolle’s wine is sold within France. We will take what we can get.

Mr. Laurent Fayolle himself

Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2017 St. Peray, 100% Marsanne, some new wood. Fairly unknown, but lovely wine, dry, floral, lots of flavor.
Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2018 Crozes Hermitage Blanc “Pontaix,” (from barrel), bright, citrus, showing well.

Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2018 Hermitage Blanc (from barrel), rich bordering on bombastic but with focus somehow, interesting stuff, can’t wait to see this in bottle.
Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2018 St. Peray Blanc (from barrel), Young, balanced, can’t wait to see this develop as well.

Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2017 Crozes Hermitage “Sens,” entry-level C-H, 30 year vines, including some purchased grapes, some new wood. Dark, fat, tannic, tight, very promising.
Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2016 Crozes Hermitage “Pontaix,” single vyd, 40 year vines, 20% new wood. More elegant, fine, balanced.
Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2017 Crozes Hermitage “Cornirets,” single vineyard, 60 year vines. Just bottled, but showing well, tons of fruit and full.
Domaine Fayolle Fils & Fille 2017 Hermitage, just bottled. Big boy, fat, concentrated, tannic, smokey.

2017 and 2018 are both very good vintages. We also like 2016 but note that wines from this vintage are different in style from the others, a little lighter and more elegant.

Crous St. Martin

The brother/sister duo of Eric and Veronique Bonnet led us through a packed lineup of new and upcoming releases at their home base of Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique. The property sits smack dab in one of the best sections of Chateauneuf-du-Pape – Even as little kids they knew they were in a prime zone for Grenache, if they ran outside to play and veered right they were at Beaucastel and if they veered left a few hundred meters they ended up at Clos du Caillou! There are three things you’ll see coming out of this property, Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique, the production of which consists of wines made from grapes on the estate, Reserve Saint Dominique which is a second label made from younger vines and some purchased fruit, and Crous St. Martin which consists of both estate and purchased fruit and is a collaboration between Eric Bonnet and our good friend Harry Bosmans. We are ordering our first shipments of Domaine and Reserve St. Dominique this month, and you can expect more information on that front (with more background, tasting notes, etc) closer to arrival (the final lineup of available states is still coming together). Let’s just say that there will be some excitement.

The lovely Eric and Veronique Bonnet!

While availability is pretty tiny, Crous St. Martin’s Cotes du Rhone is worth a mention here – The grapes come from the same spot that Beaucastel makes their Coudoulet from,  a zone in the northern part of Chateauneuf du Pape just outside the official appellation boundary, as there weren’t vines in this area when the appellation was originally classified. The Rasteau was just outstanding – Rasteau is the only appellation in the Rhone where grey clay and brown clay both coexist at the root level, this results in a forward wine with violet pastille aromatics that you must experience firsthand…with that in mind I suppose we will import as much as we can get!
Crous St. Martin 17 Cotes du Rhone, full, rich solid.
Crous St. Martin 17 Rasteau, concentrated, big, outstanding.
Crous St. Martin 17 Gigondas, dark, big, fat, a little rustic
Crous St. Martin 17 CHN, typical, concentrated, well made
Crous St. Martin 16 Cairanne, typical, if a little lean. From the last plot of Cairanne on the Rasteau border, high proportion of Mourvedre
Crous St. Martin 16 Lirac, easy, tannic
Overall, very nice set of wines. Again, stay tuned for an announcement on the Domaine La Bastide St Dominique and Reserve St. Dominique wines.

Domaine Brunely

Madame Carichon led us through a quick lineup at this perennial, rustic favorite in Vacqueyras. Have a virtual tour of the property right here to get a better feel. Total holdings include 198 acres of vines spread between Vacqueyras, Cairanne, Ventoux, Gigondas, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Stylistically, winemaking veers towards the traditional spectrum here, where no wood is used other than in their Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  Farming is natural.

Madame Carichon

Domaine Brunely 18 Vacquyeras Blanc (tank), Musky, tropical, big.
Domaine Brunely 18 Ventoux Rouge, spicy thanks to Syrah base, one hell of a wild Ventoux
Domaine Brunely 17 Ventoux Rouge,, similar to 18 but with tannin
Domaine Brunely 18 Cotes du Rhone Villages, mineral loaded, outstanding
Domaine Brunely 18 Cairanne, simple, a bit closed
Domaine Brunely 17 Vacqueyras Rouge, full rich attack, black fruit, power, length, nice square tannin
Domaine Brunely 18 Vacqueyras Rouge, closed, less intensity than the 2017
Domaine Brunely 17 Vacqueyras “Tour Aix Cailles,” Syrah and old vine Mourvedre make for “big everything,” dense without being syrupy, BRAVO
Domaine Brunely 17 Gigondas Rouge, fleshy, mineral
Domaine Brunely 17 Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, closed
Domaine Brunely 18 Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, deeper than the 17, slightly reductive now, huge tannin

Rhône Valley (Part Two) – Winter 2019

By |2019-02-05T07:40:59+00:00February 5th, 2019|France, Rhône Valley, Travel Report|

We keep things going on day two in the Rhône…

Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières

Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières is a very old family estate, whose name comes from a place of pilgrimage visited by the Provençal people in the middle ages who believed that the fountain on the property would protect them from the plague. Claude Roux and his cousin Jean-Pierre have so many generations of Gigondas wine making experience in their family that they don’t know exactly how many of their relatives have been involved up to now – Antique writings suggest that this Domaine existed as far back as the 900’s.  Fortunately this tradition is continuing with Claude’s children, Isabelle and Julien, who are gradually taking over the day to day responsibilities of farming, production, and administration. Vineyard holdings total 74 acres in Gigondas, Sablet, and Cotes du Rhone and the winery is based in the center of their principal vineyard holding, a field of very old vines (mainly Grenache, many up to 110 years in age). This is a particularly interesting sub-site in Gigondas as it is set in a protected valley underneath the shadows of the iconic Dentilles de Montmirail. This means stronger and longer cooling winds versus other top estates in the region, which means more freshness in the finished wine. Even when you are driving up, you know you are rolling into something special:
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 17 Sablet Blanc “Montmartel,” open knit, tremendous purity, wish Sablet Blanc was easier to sell!
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 18 Cotes du Rhone, full, rich and unbelievably ready to go, good pedigree, this is mostly declassified Gigondas (!)
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 17 Sablet Rouge “Montmartel,” garrigue driven, higher % of Syrah gives this pepper notes and thick tannin, what a value
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 17 Lirac “Les Pellegrin” (tank), lots of CO2, need to taste finished wine
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 16 Rasteau “Les Ribes,” topsoil here is salmon orange from iron content, concentrated, very rustic example
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 17 Gigondas “Les Mourres,” dark, big, fat, integrated, lots to like here!
Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières 16 Gigondas “Bois de Mourres,” deep, tremendous concentration, still some obvious barrel flavors up front, we wonder what this would be like without the wood influence as the vine material is so good it is almost unheard of.

The highlights here, as usual, were the Cotes du Rhone, Sablet Rouge “L’Olivet,” the Cotes du Rhone, and the Gigondas “Les Mourres,” – All are naked examples of their kind and just screaming for the rustic bistro-like fare most of you enjoy making and devouring at home.

…or you could make your life easy and just drink it with giant fatty chunks of smoked pork jowl and back fat!

Domaine de la Charbonnière

Veronique Maret led us through an energizing “breakfast” of new and upcoming releases. Veronique is young, serious in the best way, and stacked with ambition. In her young but very capable hands this remains a traditional estate, and she has converted all of the Domaine’s farming to organic practices. The “entry level” CDP is outstanding, individual CdP cuvées are produced from the best blocks of the family’s best plots, and a sappy vielles Vignes blend is not to be missed in any vintage – in 15/16/17, as it contains a lot of Grenache from the La Crau vineyard in it, and as you likely know (unless you live under a bus) La Crau is one of the best individual plots in the entire appellation. We’ve had a stellar string of vintages here, let’s review them real quick as we have 2015 here and upcoming vintages allocated to us for shipment…The 2015 vintage is very good, typical warm year, the wines are a little closed now, should be better after a trip across the water. For us 2016 is better, more color, more elegant and a spicy character.  The 2017’s are outstanding, dark, fat, polished and tons of fruit. This is mostly because of the small crop and the good growing season in CDP.
Domaine de la Charbonnière 17 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, ripe, rich, soft, benchmark
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, fresher, pretty mature
Domaine de la Charbonnière 17 Vacqueyras, dark, typical, concentrated (there is only the straight V. in 17)
Domaine de la Charbonnière 17 Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, concentrated, fruit, dark, full
Domaine de la Charbonnière 17 Chateauneuf du Pape “Mourre des Perdrix,” advanced, ripe, seems light
Domaine de la Charbonnière 17 Chateauneuf du Pape “Vieilles Vignes,” much better tight, concentrated
Domaine de la Charbonnière 17 Chateauneuf du Pape “Cuvee Hautes Brusquires,” focused, masculine, fruit
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Vacqueyras, dark, powerfull, tannic
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Vacqueyras “Cuvee Spéciale”, bigger, darker, dry now
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, wonderfully balanced, full, typical
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Chateauneuf du Pape “Mourre des Perdrix, fine, fruit, soft
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Chateauneuf du Pape “Cuvee Hautes Brusquires,” More finesse than we’d expect from what is usually a “big” bottling, fresh
Domaine de la Charbonnière 16 Chateauneuf du Pape “Vieilles Vignes,”, focused, complete, concentrated
In an earlier tasting (Winter 2018) Frank thought 17 could be as good as 16 here, but our experience now indicates this may no longer be the case. Most of the 17’s are really good (you’ll all gush for them upon arrival in 18 months), but the 16’s are flawless, concentrated and balanced…They will
age well, but we would be tempted to drink them young. We will buy as deep as Verionique’s allocations allow, and smart merchants and somms will do the same!

Domaine Le Clos des Lumières

Domaine le Clos des Lumières is a 50 hectare family farm founded in 1946 by the grandfather of the domaine’s current vigneron, Gérald Serrano.  The ambitious and talented Gérald Serrano is solely responsible for the recent “coming out” of this estate – Prior to taking things over in 2003 Gérald’s father was selling all grapes on the estate to the local cooperative. We had fun shooting VR pics with them, here is a look on Google Maps – They were intent on holding the pose which was basically perfect. The kid on the right? He is the newest generation, just started on the tractor, and you’ll get to know him well.

Having grown up on the property, Gérald is intimately familiar with the terroir here.  The oldest vines now edge 60 years in age and this land really seems to “pack the character in.”.  We’ve sold massive amounts of Rhone wine over the last forty years, and these are the most well-received Cotes du Rhone values we’ve carried in our history.

These guys seem to have a deep understanding of what’s going on in the vineyard and in the market, they are probably the hardest working partners we have, and as Frank will tell you it is pretty amazing to see how forward thinking they are. The potential here is huge, we have only scratched the surface. When they heard what we were up to last Spring in terms of the national expansion and the whole idea of “expecting some grapeness,” the Serrano family went out and bought another 70 acres of vineyard land, bringing their total holdings to 300 acres owned, plus substantial long term contracts. Between our two companies we have two parties ready to bring it!

Barrows ‘n hoses!

Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 CDR Blanc, light, fresh, very good
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Chardonnay, full, round
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Viognier, a little low on aromatics, which to Frank is a good thing
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Caladoc Gris, fresh and fine, right color for Gris, 3.000L. available, which we reserved
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Caladoc Rosé, more flavor. Actually the same wine as the Gris, just a different part of the pressing
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Syrah Rosé, more structure, more acidity
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Grenache Rosé, typical, easy
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Petit Verdot, outstanding and interesting as there is little Petit Verdot and even less as Rosé. 9000L. available
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 CDR Rosé, full and complex
Domaine Clos des Lumières 17 Petit Verdot, dark, tight, depth
Domaine Clos des Lumières 17 Marsalan,/Syrah, dark, ripe, tannin
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Merlot, dark, full, fruit, tannin. Outstanding
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Marsalan, dark, soft lovely. 10000L. available
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 Syrah, dark, ripe, rich
Domaine Clos des Lumières 17 CDR, solid
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 CDR BIB, fruity, easy
Domaine Clos des Lumières 16 CDR Autrefois, rustic, ok
Domaine Clos des Lumières 17 CDR Autrefois,, beter, more fruit and tannin
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 CDR Autrefois, some reduction, should be fine
Domaine Clos des Lumières 16 CDRV, serious, a little mature
Domaine Clos des Lumières 17 CDRV, better now, concentrated
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 CDRV, the best.
Domaine Clos des Lumières 18 CDR sans sulfites, good
Among the new wines we committed to the Gris (everything available, working on the label this week), a starting load of half CDR bottles (filling your requests my friends), and we are working on new bag in box package because anyone who knows me well knows of my hatred for Papyrus font (and the new package is looking sick so get ready for some full delivery trucks and empty shelves).
The no sulfur bottling of CDR showed well – We will test some in the elements here in the US, and if it fails to referment or go wild on us you’ll be seeing that as well.

Rhône Valley (Part One) – Winter 2019

By |2019-02-01T17:48:18+00:00February 1st, 2019|France, Rhône Valley, Travel Report|

Mike Temple had a soft spot for Rhône wines and therefore the region has always been a strength in our portfolio. We spent several days both on our own and with the perennially charismatic Harry Bosmans.

Arnoux Pere et Fils

Vacqueyras’ oldest winery, Arnoux is centered smack dab in the middle of Vacqueyras center and takes up a few blocks with its various buildings. From modern operations to traditional ones to inexplicably idiosyncratic setups, we pride ourselves in our diversity of tastes!  For better or worse! Jean-Francois Arnoux is the latest generation of his family to run the ship at this historic house, and take us through a Rhône lineup he did. Tasting notes are below but the short answer is that we’ve made the decision to double down on what Arnoux does best – the old school, and you’ll see more quantity and more focus on their Vieux Clocher line from us in 2019 and beyond. Below is a video walk through of what has to be one of the more timeless cellar setups in the Rhône Valley.

Arnoux 16 Ventoux, dry, rustic
Arnoux 17 Ventoux, similar to the 16 just younger
Arnoux 17 Cotes du Rhone “Vieux Clocher,” some fruit, dry, rustic, traditional
Arnoux 16 Cotes du Rhone Seigneur de Lauris, richer fruit, garrigue, nice
Arnoux 17 Cotes du Rhone Seigneur de Lauris, fresher than the 16, slightly more going on
Arnoux 16 Cairanne “Vieux Clocher,” quite good, outperformed most of the Cairanne we’ve tasted on this trip, with the telltale floral Cairanne nose
Arnoux 17 Cairanne “Vieux Clocher,” more fruit, but dry right now, should come around well
Arnoux 16 Vacqueyras “Vieux Clocher,” good flavor, some fruit, traditional, we appreciate the style
Arnoux 17 Vacqueyras “Vieux Clocher,” somewhat lighter than the 16 but that is just fine with us, as it is, again, traditional
Arnoux 15 Vacqueyras 15 “Penitents,” fuller, but dry and d0ubling down on rustic

Frank interrogating Jean-Francois on adoption of modern hose storage practices

Domaine Pelaquie

I have to say this was one hell of an eye opening winery visit and it reminds me why we take these sleepless, jambon fueled journeys in the first place. We’ve long admired Pelaquie’s best in class examples of Laudun Rouge and Blanc, but never experienced their bombastic Cotes du Rhone values firsthand, at least not with an understanding of the simple but magic approach that results in a pure, focused, rich yet slippery core of Grenache goodness in every sip (sorry to tease, but more on Pelaquie’s proprietary technique later via video post to coincide with the arrival of the massive initial load of Cotes du Rhone Rouge and Rosè we booked on the spot…check back here in 45 days). Packaging was always a bit of an issue here but that was taken care of when we walked into the office and saw not one but three final draft options for a revised label that matches the spirit of this house. We decided on the below wardrobe, and the reference to Le Rive Droite (aka the underdog left bank of the Rhone) fits the whole spirit at Pelaquie like a glove. Frank will be the first to say that this is the finest Tavel in Tavel. All of you must agree if your appetite for it last year is any indication. 2017 was the warmest year in Lirac/Tavel/Laudun since 2003, but for some reason the whites have the highest acidity they’ve ever measured in the appellation…probably due to the 2-3 months with absolutely no rain which basically meant concentrated everything. Luc Pelaquie believes that in order to make balanced Rhone whites you need to use slow ripening varietals (ie Bourboulenc and Clairette). More than a few people will tell you that this little area here is the very best in the Rhone for expressive whites. We certainly feel that way right now.

Mocking up the final label tweak on a deliciously unfiltered Tavel tank sample!

Domaine Pelaquie 17 Cotes du Rhone Villages Laudun Blanc, led by Bourboulenc and Clairette but uses all six grapes allowed in the appellation. Very balanced, classic stuff even if rich this go-round
Domaine Pelaquie 17 Lirac Blanc, broad, waxy, full wood but plenty of accompanying acid, modern
Domaine Pelaquie 18 Tavel, firm but open, dark, settling out, another winner this year
Domaine Pelaquie 18 Cotes du Rhone Rouge (tank), rich and loaded with flavor, home run
Domaine Pelaque 17 Cotes du Rhone Rouge, garrigue loaded nose, lovely texture, almost silky, total steal
Domaine Pelaquie 17 Cotes du Rhone Villages Laudun Rouge, superpie Laudun, Mourvedre adds the structure and spice needed to keep this interesting
Domaine Pelaquie 17 Lirac Rouge, MEATY! Only Grenache and Mourvedre used here, lack of Syrah gives this a specific personality. Lirac and Rasteau have the best Mourvedre in the Rhone, and if you add even 10% Syrah it totally changes the wine so as Luc would say, why add it. Lirac is planet Earth’s absolute temperature limit for Mourvedre.

Another reason these are so good? Look at the thick old vines that surround the Domaine!

.

Provence – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-30T16:58:30+00:00January 30th, 2019|France, Travel Report|

Provence isn’t always sunny and warm – Temperatures were in the 40’s with a wicked mistral that made us feel like we were sitting in the stands of Soldier Field during a January playoff game. We had a bit more time today than normal and were able to spend quality time with two very important producers here at Grape, Domaine Sorin and Chateau Bas.

Domaine Sorin

We met with Olivier Santini, who owns and operates the iconic Domaine Paternel in Cassis.  Olivier purchased Domaine Sorin several years ago after the untimely passing of Luc Sorin – This acquisition fulfilled his dream of vineyard property in Bandol and allowed him to feed the increasing demand for his Cotes de Provence Rose.

Domaine Sorin 2018 Cotes de Provence Rosé “Terra Amata,” pale pink, CDP rose with real finesse, very ready
Domaine Sorin 2015 Bandol Rouge, deep color, cherry, licorice, built to last but in the window now
Domaine Sorin 2016 Bandol Rouge, typical profile, but not nearly the complexity as the 15 and still a bit disjointed
Domaine Paternel 2017 Cassis “Blanc de Blancs,” aromatic, with dense palate that shows layers of stone fruit, plenty to get excited about here

The Cassis Blanc was an eye opener for me as I’d never been to Cassis or consumed the wines from this tiny AOP.  Very little Cassis is exported as the demand is sky high in this gorgeous, touristed, seaside appellation. The pricing? As you’d expect pricing on AOP Cassis is extremely high. Frank will say way too high, I vote to offer some on a presell when the 2018 vintage is available as Olivier Santini will have a pallet or two available for allocation. I dare anyone to find a superior pairing with Bouillabaisse.

Cotes de Provence Rosé also continues to climb in price due to insatiable global demand. We’ve worked hard to keep pricing reasonable for you on Sorin, not without some yelling and screaming at the winery, such was the episode between Frank and Olivier this evening as the sun set over this dreamlike property overlooking the Mediterranean. Our guess is that Cotes de Provence pricing has reached a peak and will stabilize (or even decrease a touch) by next year.

Finalizing 2019 packaging with Olivier Santini

It is also worth noting that some time was spent tweaking the packaging on Sorin’s Cotes de Provence Rosé – The changes we made during our visit will debut not in this current vintage but rather with the release of the 2019 next winter.

Chateau Bas

The property is owned by Mrs. von Blanquet, an older lady living in Baden-Baden, widow of the founder of Gaggenau kitchens. The estate is 170 acres in total, all organic, mostly planted with rosé destined red varietals (mostly Grenache and Cinsault), along with red destined red varietals (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah), and whites including Clairette, Bourboulenc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vermentino.

It is as historic a property as they come, all farming is organic, although the cellar is modern and efficient, where they produce 3 levels, Chateau Bas as we know it, the premium Pierres du Sud in 3 colours and the iconic Le Temple in red and white. The reds in the latter ranges are really good and so is the white Le Temple. All reds get decent “elevage” time, a minimum of two years in bottle prior to release. They all get more or less wood.

Organic rows at Chateau Bas

The Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is a relatively small appellation, there are some 70 producers including 3 cooperatives. The region is traditionally a red wine producer, the rosé trend is led by economics rather than custom, but it turned out that the area produces some pretty good rosés which seem to have a little more body than the more elegant examples we see from the Eastern part of Provence. The whites at Chateau Bas are rather full bodied and fat and age well, they are considerably better than average in Provence.

Chateau Bas 2018 Blanc, fresh, straightforward, some spice
Pierre de Sud 2018 Blanc, similar, but better
Chateau Bas 2018 Rosé, fresh, solid, fine
Pierre de Sud 2018 Rosé, step up, more depth
Chateau Bas 2018 Rouge, solid and quite serious, good
Pierre de Sud 2015, even better

We should consider the Pierre de Sud at some point, with the more classic label and bottle. When you all are ready that is. Let us know.

Southern Burgundy and Beaujolais – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-28T04:15:38+00:00January 27th, 2019|Burgundy, France, Travel Report|

Day three was an eye-opener. Gerald Talmard introduces us to his friends and neighbors in Chardonnay, we gorge on wine soaked meat with the Jambon family @ Domaine Thulon, and finish up at Louis Picamelot’s brand new winery to taste what have to be the finest set of non-Champagne bubbles in France.

Gerald Talmard

Our visit to Talmard is always quick, as this is an efficient father/son operation with only two wines produced.  There is not much to talk about really as Gerald makes the best QPR Macon Chardonnay on the market and we beg for as much as he will give us. Talmard typifies 2018 as “2015, but more acidity”. He is right.

Gerald Talmard shows us 2018’s from tank

Talmard 18 Macon Chardonnay, fresh, good acidity, citrus, easy to drink.
Talmard 18 Macon-Uchizy, similar in style, more closed at this point.

He is playing with a new fermentation process that allows for lower use of SO2, and maybe that was where that extra paintbrush of Chardonnay goodness came from…We’ve rarely tasted wine this good at Talmard. Overachievement.  50,000 bottles available, 10,000 more than with the 2017!  Let’s have some fun!

Cadoles de Chardonnay

All of you have such an appetite for Gerald Talmard’s bombastic values in Macon Chardonnay and Macon Uchizy that he simply cannot supply all of your demand!  For this reason Gerald introduced us to his friends and neighbors at Cadoles de Chardonnay. This father/son operation is located several minutes from Gerald’s Domaine, and smack dab in the aptly named village of Chardonnay.  Until several years ago the Domaine was selling all of their production to the local cooperative in Lugny, but they now make and sell wines themselves as their quality is just too good to be lost in a village blend.  Here we have a family with deep/long ties to the land, and believe it or not they farm 10% of the total acreage in Chardonnay, all planted to Chardonnay of course! Everything is fermented in stainless steel, and most everything is aged in stainless steel save a dozen experimental barrels.

Patrick and Nicolas Laugere, doing their thing and doing it well

Cadoles de Chardonnay 18 Macon Chardonnay, lemon color, soft, fine, more complex and concentrated than Talmard. Priced a bit higher than Talmard but seems justified.
Big opportunity here.  You can expect our first load in Spring 2019. Available in all states.

Domaine Thulon

Domaine Thulon is located on the old estate of Château de Thulon (this castle towers over the Domaine), and was purchased by Annie and René Jambon in 1987 after they were “métayers” for 20 years on the same site (if the “métayer” thing, ie French sharecropping, is interesting to you have a look at this article by Andrew Jefford)  Their children Carine and Laurent are now running the estate, and a passion for experimentation sets them apart from peers in the region.  These are some of the best values in French wine we’ve come across in the last decade.

The Jambon Family

Domaine de Thulon 18 Beaujolais Villages Blanc, full fat, low acidity
Domaine de Thulon 18 Beaujolais Villages Rosé, firmer. fresh, good
Domaine de Thulon 18 Beaujolais Villages, fresh, fruit
Domaine de Thulon 17 Chiroubles, some reduction, dark, quite full
Domaine de Thulon 17 Regnié. firm, fresh, fruit, good acidity
Domaine de Thulon 17 Morgon concentration, more depth
Domaine de Thulon 17 Regnié VV, some wood aging, tight
Domaine de Thulon 16 Regnié VV, open, nice
Domaine de Thulon 18 Regnié, dark, full, round
Domaine de Thulon 18 Chiroubles, tight, a little dry
Domaine de Thulon 18 Morgon, full, aromatic, concentration
Domaine de Thulon 18 Regnié VV, intense
Domaine de Thulon 17 Beaujolais Villages Blanc “Montagnier,” wood aged, a little funky, why throw wood at such a good thing?
Domaine de Thulon 17 Viognier, nice acidity, probably not useful for us though
Domaine de Thulon 17 “Cerise,” funky, we had divided opinions on it with Frank a big no and Jeff a “hell yes”
The 18’s are going through what seems a somewhat difficult phase. 17’s were bottled not so long ago and need some time. The cellar and the wines were very cold.
The Beaujolais Villages and Chiroubles are made by carbonic maceration. The others are vinified classically (Burgundy-style). Everything takes place in a charmingly typical cellar for the area (have a look at our 360 photos here and more your cursor around for the full experience). After tasting we crossed the courtyard to dunk assorted meats into steaming pots of Beaujolais wine with the family – I’m trying to find a recipe link for you here but cannot find a thing.  Try this though…Simply pour a few bottles of Beaujolais wine into that dusty fondue pot someone gave you as a wedding present, add a chopped onion, a few cloves, some pepper, a few bay leaves, a bit of chicken stock, and a good dose of salt….sit around the table and dip meat into it….proceed to drink copious amounts of Cru Beaujolais.  Finish the meal with a wide assortment of cheese.  Now you are partying like the Jambon Family. What a way to warm up a blustery afternoon.

Louis Picamelot

Phillippe Chautard is the newest generation in the Picamelot family tree to operate this venerable sparkling wine house in Rully. We are safe to say these are the finest sparkling wines made in France outside of Champagne, and some of the top bottlings will beat plenty of Champagne when tasted blind. Mr. Chautard just finished the construction of a breathtaking new winery which is cut into the side of a hill. Have a look at our newly posted 360 photos on Google Street View.

Phillippe Chautard showing off his new toys

Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs Heritage 1926, PBL/CH/UGNI, non AOP, Traditional Method, pretty tasty if lacking some focus
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 15 Pinot Noir Rosé, well made,. fresh, right color
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 16 Terroirs, PN/CH/ALI, fresh, quite complex
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 15 Terroirs, more mature, good
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 15 “Chazot,” PN from St. Aubin, full-bodied, big wine
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 14 “Jeanne Thomas,” CH 85- ALI 15, big, complex
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 14 “Reipes” 2014, 100 Chardonnay from St. Aubin, bigger, fine, complex
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 13 “Jean Baptiste” 80% Chardonnay, 20% Aligote, older, mixed opinions here, you probably won’t see this from us other than via presell.

Excellent wines. Informative back labels. So much potential. Plenty of others feel the same way that we do about Picamelot, so keep in mind that overall quantities are limited here (certainly not the norm for a sparkling house, especially one producing Cremant de Bourgogne).
Up next is a few days in the Rhone with our good friend Harry Bosmans.

Burgundy – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-27T17:20:23+00:00January 24th, 2019|France, Podcast, Travel Report|

The journey continues to Burgundy, with visits to Domaine R. Dubois & Fils, Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur, and Justin Girardin.  Snow threatened, Frank took care of his Andouillette fix, and all things said a solid day at the office.

Vintage Summary

Conditions in Burgundy for the 2018 vintage were similar to Alsace, and the whole Northern part of France for that matter. The result is a large crop (sometimes too large) of concentrated wines with saturated colors. People who started their harvesting on time and did not overcrop will have superb reds and very good whites. Given the weather, it is more of a Red vintage than a white as acidities may be low.

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur

Dufouleur started early and harvested rapidly as the heat continued through the harvest. His wines are dark, fresh and have normal
acidity levels. He also has good cooling equipment, unusual in Burgundy, but critical in 2018. Like his father before him Yvan Dufouleur is obsessed with freshness in his finished wines and therefore will pick a few days earlier than most of his peers – We consider this an advantage almost universally (this style is what led us to his wines in the first place), and in 2018 this was a massive advantage. All 2018 reds are barrel-aged, more or less new depending on the appellation
All 2018 reds are barrel-aged, more or less new depending on the appellation
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 H.C. Nuits, dark, loaded with fruit.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 Santenay Genets, big, very dark, balanced, classy
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 Pommard, more feminine in style, very fine
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 NSG Juliens, good color, elegant style
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 Fixin Chapitre, Syrah-dark ! concentrated, tannic, outstanding (and cheap)
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 NSG Poulettes, soft, round, very fine
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 NSG Perrieres, dark, concentrated, complex, emblematic, should get some

We did not taste 2018 whites, all were in malolactic
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Aligote, still fresh and lively, but too “old” for us now
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 HCN Blanc, fresh, structured, young
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 HCN Rouge, good color, fresh, nice fruit
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Pommard, rather big, finesse
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Fixin Chapitre, dark, concentrated, full
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 NSG Juliens, tight, typical, pure, finesse
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 NSG Perrieres, dark, more concentration
We also tasted two lots of older wines:

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2011 NSG Poulettes, some reduction, still youngish, complex
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2007 NSG Poulettes mature, or close to it, beautiful aromatics, ordered everything available.
The wines are less concentrated here, which is their style, but in 2018 this is actually an advantage.

Domaine Raphael Dubois & Fils

Here we have a traditional estate in Premeaux, near Nuits-Saint-Georges, not unlike Dufouleur, but a little more old-school with something of an “undiscovered” feel to it.  Frank has worked with this property for years on the Poot Agenturen side of things in Europe.

Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Aligoté, fresh, full
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Coteaux Bourguignonnes, longer, good flavor
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 HCN, full, more concentration
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 HCB, more acidity, finer, sort of light Meursault-style
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 CdNV, bigger, fatter. more oak
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Bourgogne Rouge, good color, fruit, soft
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 HCN, color ok, fruit, more elegant
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Savigny Les Beaune, color ok, typical, some tannin
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Beaune, similar, pretty wine
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Volnay, again similar in style, but finer
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Chambolle Musigny, darker, fat, full, masculin
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Vosne Romanee, fine fruit, typical
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 NSG, good color, full, tannic. concentration
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 SLB Narbantons, good color, aromatic, nice
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 NSG Argillièrers, fine, concentrated, long
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 NSG Porets, new oak, tannic
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Clos Vougeot, dark, tannic, structured
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Bourgogne, good color, a little tight
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 NSG, dark, full, fruit, tannin
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 SLB Narbantons, lighter color, fine, elegant
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 NSG Argillières, good color, some reduction, some wood, round
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 NSG Porets, more concentartion, fine, aromatic
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Clos Vougeot, dark, tannic, dry
We talk a lot about colors here, because at Dubois they are sometimes on the light side. Wonder why? Well, in these modern times enzyme additions to Pinot Noir at crush have become the norm even in traditional ole Burgundy and while we don’t have a huge problem with this it is refreshing to work with someone like Dubois who is traditional to the max and proud of the naturally light color you end up with in the finished wines of this region.. We should do more with them – Prices are good, few old school estates like this exist anymore, and they offer a wide range of wines.

Justin Girardin

We tasted 2018’s with Justin out of barrel at his main space in Santenay.  One thing you instantly notice about Justin is that he is an intensely focused person. This was actually the winery of Justin’s famous uncle Vincent Girardin, until Vincent moved his operations a few kilometers North.  It is worth noting (some of you already know this we are sure) that Vincent Girardin recently sold his Domaine to Boisset, and the way we see it this puts young Justin Girardin in the position to carry the storied torch of this overachieving Santenay based family.  Carrying that torch well he is.  Just for the sheer pleasure of it we want to drive back and taste this whole lineup once more!
Justin Girardin 2018 Bourgogne Blanc, stunningly good again, fresh, classy
Justin Girardin 2018 Santenay, beautiful lemon color, long, fine, outstanding for appellation.
Justin Girardin 2018 Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot, citrusy, rich, very good.
Justin Girardin 2018 Bourgogne Rouge, 35 year vines, dark, tight, good fruit, cool, outstanding
Justin Girardin 2018 Santenay VV, dark, more complex and concentration, fruit
Justin Girardin 2018 Santenay Clos Rousseau, more of everything, finer
Justin Girardin 2018 Pommard, tons of fruit, fine, elegant
Overall a stunning set of wines, as good as it gets.  While there aren’t huge quantities made of any of these wines there is enough production of the Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge for us to give them focus and build volume. 2017’s are still available in decent quantities. Lesser 2018’s will be bottled in the summer. At this point we were able to get the virtual reality camera working so check out the embedded image of Justin in his cellar below and move the view around. Preferably just put on a VR headset. Depending on when you are reading this you “should” be able to walk around the winery that way but we are messing with some image stitching issues at the moment…stay tuned!

That’s it for now, onwards towards the Macon!

Alsace – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-21T18:52:58+00:00January 20th, 2019|France, Podcast, Travel Report|

Frank Poot, John Griffin, and I are on a dizzying 12 day, 38 winery rout through France to taste 2018’s in barrel and catch up with producers.  We are compiling our opinions, notes, and media as a group and posting them here for your enjoyment!  

Vintage Summary

2018…Extraordinary vintage in Alsace. Large too very large volumes and very ripe at the same time. This despite a wet spring and a very dry, very hot summer. Harvest had to start early to retain acidity and freshness.  The wines are unusually concentrated with high, sometimes even record alcohol levels. However, the concentration is such that this does not seem to be a big problem.Obviously, residual sugar levels in Pinot Gris and Gewürz are high, but the wines still seem to be balanced.

Domaine Fernand Engel

Proprietor Xavier Engel runs what is probably the largest Biodynamic estate in France, and he is somewhat of an outsider on the natural/bio scene as he farms this way out of pure pragmatism (and obsession about mineral content in the finished wines) rather than being someone who farms this way for philosophical reasons. We will take it – Recent studies here showed 70% higher mineral content in wine from biodynamically farmed soil versus conventional soil (same area, same vine age)! Xavier’s cellar is one huge science experiment and his newest passion is reductive winemaking – He is minimizing oxygen to the extreme in all vessels for what can only be described as unbelievable freshness and balance. We will dive into that on the podcast this Spring as it is a bit too technical to splice into this post.

Xavier Engel in front of his self-invented oxygen scrubbing system

Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Blanc, fresh, ripe, outstanding.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Sylvaner, classic Sylvaner, enough to bring Frank close to tears
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Riesling “Cuvee Engel,” Ripe, good acidity and character, full, fresh. Rarely seen quality
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Riesling Rotenberg, big, intense, complex.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Riesling Praelatenberg, finer, more elegant, concentration.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Gris “Cuvee Engel,” dry, full, complex, intense
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Gewürztraminer “Cuvee Engel,” superb, full of character, impossible not to like. RS
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Vendage Tardives (PG and Gewürz), beautiful, super-concentration, still good acidity.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Noir “Cuvee Engel,” very dark, full, tannic with good varietal character.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Noir “Meyerhof,” biner, more focused, despite young vines.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Noir “Reniassance” (with some dried grapes added), over-the-top, but if you like Amarone….
Domaine Fernand Engel 2016 Cremant d’Alsace Chardonnay, pale, fine, crisp. Very good indeed.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2016 Cremant d’Alsace Pinot Noir, (new and from the Silberberg plot), big, bold young. *we purchased every last bottle he’d give us of this new bottling
The most interesting discovery on this trip was learning about Xavier’s unique process of making sparkling wines. We’ve long celebrated his bubbles for their rich mouthfeel and fine carbonation but weren’t aware that he was doing something completely unusual to accomplish this result.  Intrigued?  Listen to this short clip from Xavier on our podcast where he explains his philosophy of growing on “cool” soils in order to harvest at a high enough brix level to have the ability to achieve secondary fermentation with natural grape sugars.

Cattin

As you know there is quite the broad range at Cattin and we focused mostly on cuvees we carry since we are just in the process of launching things with them.  Jacques Cattin feels lucky about the bountiful 2018 harvest. If you haven’t yet visited their spaceship like tasting room and wine bar you must go as there is nothing else like it in Alsace.  Tactile wines.

Jacques Cattin shows us his delicious new Cremant “Ice”


Cattin 2018 Pinot Blanc, aromatic, fresh.
Cattin 2018 Pinot Blanc Reserve, a little more of everything
Cattin 2018 Riesling, aromatic, tiny bit of rs
Cattin 2018 Rielsing Reserve, a step up, more acidity and a little smokey.
Cattin 2018 Pinot Gris, more concentration, typical
Cattin 2018 Pinot Gris Reserve, slightly better, same style
Cattin 2018 Pinot Noir, dark, good character, fresh, some tannin.
Cattin 2018 Pinot Noir Reserve, very close
Cattin 2016 Cremant d’Alsace BIO, fresh, crisp, dry, very good
Cattin NV Cremant d’Alsace “Ice,” demi-sec but quite fresh and balanced, Very nice, good packaging
Apparently Cattin’s Demi-Sec “Ice” is a massive hit locally in Alsace.  We couldn’t stop talking about it during our drive to Burgundy – We will give it a go on our next shipment, just in time for swimming pool season! The future ahead is very bright indeed for Cattin.

Introducing our new podcast, GRAPE: Unfined/Unfiltered

By |2018-12-31T06:04:41+00:00December 31st, 2018|News, Podcast|

Always looking for more ways to connect you with our winemakers, we’ve created the GRAPE: Unfined/Unfiltered podcast in order to give you some extra insight on the Grape Expectations wines in your sales bag, your retail shelves, or your wine list.  As of today it is up on iTunes/Apple Podcasts and Spotify, so take a listen when you get in your car!

This first take was a bit of a test run, so bear with us as we continue to improve the audio quality, splice in some intro/outro music, etc…

Various members of our team here at Grape will act as rotating “hosts” and of course we expect to hear plenty of Rotterdam-based insight from Frank.  Are there some specific producers you’d enjoy hearing as guests?  Please let us know!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape prices and why they about to blast upwards

By |2018-12-28T07:16:02+00:00December 27th, 2018|Harvest Report|

Anyone reading this blog is familiar enough with Grape Expectations to know of our obsession in delivering massive downstream value, whether we are talking about basic Vin de France Chardonnay or Grand Cru Chablis.  In the coming months you will notice a global spike in Chateauneuf-du-Pape prices.  The short answer behind the reason for this increase is that production was way down for 2017 and 2018.  It is worthwhile, however, to quickly put this into context…

Through the year 2016, Chateauneuf-du-Pape as an appellation was producing, on average, 120,000 hectoliters of AOC labeled wine per year.  Earlier this year the firm Raphaël Michel, one of France’s largest bulk bottlers, was caught in a fraudulent scheme – The company had been passing off 20,000 hectoliters per year of basic level Côtes du Rhone as “Chateauneuf-du-Pape.”  Raphaël Michel’s Chairman, Guillaume Ryckwaert, is now in prison, and for obvious reasons this scandal equals a 20% decrease in the appellation’s available labeled supply (yes, we now know 20% was fake, but very relevant as all of the supermarket chains who were gobbling up this “fake” Chateauneuf are still buying the same amount “authentic” Chateauneuf).

2017 was a difficult vintage in the appellation.  Grenache is very sensitive to wet spring conditions, and  buds had a difficult time converting into grapes.  Harvest was down 30%,leaving total 2017 AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape production at a meager 70,000 hectoliters.

2018 saw similar challenges, with mildew issues driving a 35% decrease in harvested material. 2018 AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape production totaled just 65,000 hectoliters.

The above three factors mean a 43% decrease in available AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape bottled wine over the next two vintages!

Thanks to the enthusiasm of you, our partners, we are able to purchase large lots from the wineries we work with (in many instances their entire production), and this means plenty of bargaining power on our side.  Negotiations for 2017’s are still taking place on several fronts, and we expect our 2017 vintage price increases to max out at 20% assuming a stable Euro/USD exchange rate of 1.15-1.20….Not bad considering the above context!  At the time of press we currently have available stock of 2015 and 2016 vintage Chateauneuf-du-Pape from the below producers:

Arnoux & Fils

Crous St. Martin

Domaine Pignan (assorted bottlings)

Domaine de la Charbonnière (assorted bottlings)

Domaine Brunely

Whether you are buying from us or buying from someone else, if you see domaine bottled 2015 or 2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape available on the wholesale market, do yourself a favor and load up while you can!

Introducing the @grapexwine Spotify Channel!

By |2018-12-13T04:54:22+00:00December 12th, 2018|Trends|

All of us in the wine business spend our fair share of time in cars and planes, so it just makes sense that all of us in this fantastic industry owe the world some sweet playlists, right? Musical tastes here @grapexwine run the full gamut, from buttrock (RIP Neil Lindblad), to punk, to Mariachi and everything in between. This Winter we are all about Scandi-pop (aka Scandinavian indie hits, with a shout out to our favorite Scandinavian winemaker, Steffan Jorgensen @ Elqui Wines), so click the link on the upper right corner of our grapex.com homepage (or just click here), grab your favorite cans, and enjoy!