Produttori del Gavi – Spring 2019

By |2019-03-28T14:31:03+00:00March 28th, 2019|Italy, Piedmont, Podcast, Travel Report|

Did you say Gavi? Everything old is new again? I’m half deep into a love affair with this most noble white grape of Piemonte. Gavi’s planted vineyard area is 1,200 hectares in total (Napa is 18,000 hectares by comparison), and the village of Gavi itself serves as the region’s center. The DOC as a whole is made up of 13 different villages, and I attempt to break the region (and this opportunity) down real quick for you in our latest podcast episode. Quality-wise there are three levels:

Cortese di Gavi DOC – The most basic level, this can be produced anywhere and is the go-to local quaff in Gavi (along with a focaccia sandwich it is even part of breakfast for many locals, especially those over 70 years old!).

Gavi DOCG – A step up in quality, this an be produced only in a few of the region’s best towns, and is most of what you see here in the USA.

Gavi di Gavi DOCG – The top level – This can be produced only in the actual village of Gavi and is the highest quality level

You could call Gavi the “queen” of Piedmont’s white wines – Gavi must be made from the local varietal Cortese, and Cortese translates to “gracious” in Italian. Cortese has thin skins, naturally high acid, and it needs a warm climate to grow in. Nowhere does it grow better than in Southeastern Piedmont just North of the Ligurian coast. At its best Cortese is bone dry/with lemon/peach flavors, but at the same time classy. Add in some seafood and you are instantly transported to a very happy place.

Soil composition and exposure in Gavi is varied even by Piedmontese standards, and in this way the Cortese grape can express an enviable “menu” of flavors depending on said provenance. Our good friend and oracle Roberto Fossati lives in the village of Gavi itself and over the years he has seen just about everything here. Jump in Roberto’s car to visit vineyard sites and you’ll experience all this diversity firsthand, from stark white soils made of tuff and limestone to tomato colored soils based on ferrous clay.

Enter Produttori del Gavi. The origins of this cooperative trace back to 1951 when 83 families banded together to share their strengths in cooperative form.  The group is essentially made up of these same growers to this day, with just twelve more being admitted to the group since inception. The vineyards of member/growers are spread all over the Gavi DOC territory in 11 municipalities covering 200 hectares of land from Tassarolo to Bosio.  Such coverage allows the production of various “Cru” bottlings, many of which are amongst the most exciting produced in this historic appellation.

Produttori used to sell off 99% of their finished wine in bulk and from those gas handle type dispensers you see all over Europe, but oh my how things are changing inside the walls of this cooperative. Winemaker Andrea Pancotti leads the charge here now, and this is an exciting development for wine drinkers. Andrea understands the potential of the material at his fingertips (hand-farmed, low-yielding, old vine Cortese from thousands of interesting micro-plots), and the press has just started to recognize Produttori’s work, with Gambero Rosso bestowing his latest Gavi de Gavi release with the coveted “Tri Bicchieri” honors. Andrea is making single “cru” Gavi, he is making organically farmed Gavi, things couldn’t be any different there nowadays versus years past. Until recently, the only thing missing was an attractive label, which we took care of with a local designer last Spring, and we already know you all love Produttori’s new package. And the pricing? This is where it gets crazy – We negotiated DEEP with Produttori last week, and because they want everyone in the USA to be aware of their “brand,” they offered us a multi-container commitment deal that we could not refuse.

Produttori del Gavi ’18 Gavi “Il Forte,” floral, fresh, juicy, very good
Produttori del Gavi ’18 Gavi di Gavi” Bio,” more mineral, lighter style, very good
Produttori del Gavi ’18 Gavi di Gavi, full, ripe, rich, Cortese for hedonists

Our vision is to build Produttori’s “Il Forte” into the most recognized Gavi label in the US market, as it is by far more interesting than anything else out there that restaurants can buy under $10 wholesale. Game on.

New Podcast Episode – Catching up with Daniel Stewart of Guerrieri Rizzardi

By |2019-03-26T22:17:33+00:00March 26th, 2019|Italy, Podcast|

The venerable Guerrieri Rizzardi estate is on a roll these days, cranking out some of the most interesting examples of Amarone, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Soave Classico you’ll find anywhere. Daniel Stewart paid us a visit last week and caught us up on all things Rizzardi-related. To listen, click here or pull us up on Spotify.

A full transcript is below – John Griffin (JG), Daniel Stewart (DS)

JG:                    Hello and welcome back to another round of Grape, Unfined/Unfiltered; the podcast that peels back the pretty label to expose what’s really in the bottle. Today we’ll be talking Ripasso and Amarone with Daniel Stewart from Guerrieri-Rizzardi. Thanks for joining us in our beautiful tasting room here at the warehouse Daniel.

DS:                   Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

JG:                    It’s a beautiful day. You’ve just missed the Snowmageddon we had a couple of weeks ago, so you got lucky.

DS:                   Yeah. That’s what I heard.

JG:                    So what, can you tell me for listeners who aren’t familiar with Guerrieri-Rizzardi? Are they a new winery? Are they modern? What’s the deal?

DS:                   Well, there are modern twists to what we do. I mean, we use stainless steel fermentation tanks and things like that, but to call us new would be way off the mark. I mean the first vineyards were planted way back in Valpolicella in 1649, the first bottled of wines were 1678. So, you know…

JG:                    Wow.

DS:                   We’re a pretty established, old school producer, but not old school in the way we make wines, the wines are very classically styled, but they’re also very clean wines.

JG:                    Yeah, I noticed that yesterday at our meeting with the staff, we were tasting the Soave and the regular Valpolicella and they were super clean, no funkiness, pretty pure fruit, you know, like the minerality really shone through.

DS:                   Yeah. I mean that’s it. That’s very much the hand of their winemaker Giuseppe Rizzardi, who is a Rizzardi from the Rizzardi family. I mean the current owners are Giuseppe and his brother Augustino, and Giuseppe trained in Bordeaux as a winemaker and came back with very specific ideas. And one of the most important things that he wanted to do was to make sure that these wines were very clean expressions of the place. So you taste the Soave and you’re not interfered with by any kind of weird off aromas are any, any grape varieties that are too aromatic or two unusual. Really these are wines that taste of the place and in order to do that, they have to be very clean and pure.

JG:                    I think he hit the nail on the head. So the name, Guerrieri-Rizzardi. I hear you referring to them as just Rizzardi.

DS:                   Yeah, I mean a lot of people kind of struggle with the first name because it’s not that easy to pronounce. It’s a, it’s an Italian name where you roll the r’s in Guerrieri, but I mean there’s two names there simply because this is a combination of two families because a hundred years ago, the last Guerrieri married a Rizzardi and that combined the estates of Valpolicella and Bardolino. But, I mean the current owners, their sir name’s Rizzardi and this is a family that is established in the Vernonese area. And so for a lot of our importers in, in many of the countries that sell our wines, they refer to us as Rizzardi because it’s a little bit easier.

JG:                    Yeah, I think we’ll start referring to the wines as Rizzardi also. I think it’s a lot easier to spell too. Speaking of Italian, you don’t sound Italian,

DS:                   Do I not? I was trying very hard. No, I’m Irish originally.

JG:                    Irish!?

DS:                   Yeah. Yup. So I used to, I used to work for a very good importer in Ireland. We had a number of wine shops, quite a few in fact, 30 plus, and I was in the buying side of things and uh, the Rizzardi family, we knew each other over the years. They were one of our key imports. In fact, probably our most important Italian import, and that’s how I kind of ended up over there.

JG:                    Wow. And so far so good? You’re liking it? You have your family and everything there and they like it?

DS:                   Correct. Yeah, they’re pretty happy over there.

JG:                    Well that sounds great. Maybe I’ll have to come and visit you. Let’s get to it. So we got this, uh, the Ripasso and the Amarone here. This is a 2015 Ripasso. I think you were mentioning that you are in 2016 now, so we’ll be seeing that pretty soon. Let’s try the wine.

DS:                   OK.

JG:                    Hmm. This is like, you know, it’s got a beautiful nose. I mean, yeah, it’s really more aromatic. It’s not really “aromatic”. It smells great.

DS:                   This is the style of Ripasso that, it’s funny you’re talking about the nose. I mean it’s a style of Ripasso where the aroma is very much about bright, fragrant fruit. It’s not, you know, sometimes Ripasso can, can almost smell a bit jammy and kind of sweet. This is a very classic style.

JG:                    Yeah, this is not sweet at all.

DS:                   No, it’s not, I mean, it focuses very much on having good fruit purity and a word that we use quite a lot where we are is drinkability. You know, it’s not cloying, it’s not sweet. It’s very fresh and vibrant.

JG:                    Wow. What’s the sugar on this? I mean it’s got fruit but it’s not, ya know, there’s no sweetness really.

DS:                   No, there’s no sweetness. I mean, this is finishing dry. I mean we’re around a gram of sugar, so it’s pretty much as low as we can as we can go. But as you say, there’s plenty of fruit so it doesn’t feel in any way aggressively dry. It’s in balance.

JG:                    I’d have to agree with you there. And what are the actual regulation right now on the production of Ripasso and actually that’s another thing maybe you can touch on just really quickly, you don’t have to touch on it too much, but I see all these other things out there, like, you know, that have twists on the name and it’s somewhat confusing. I mean, for me, and I’m sure it’s confusing for the buying public.

DS:                   Yeah. I think it’s a bit confusing for everybody to be honest with you. Because when you see Ripasso on the label, the wine should be a wine that’s repassed on the pumace or the skins of the of the Amarone. That’s what a Ripasso is. You see a lot of lookalike wines nowadays and wines given fancy names and different names where people are using other methods to try and replicate the flavor profile and the, the body texture, et Cetera for Ripasso. And you know, even though in their own right, some of these wines might be good wines, they’re not Ripasso. And you know, and they can’t replicate it perfectly. So you see a lot of wines where sometimes people will use a portion of dried fruit and add it to their fermentation tank to spark off more and more fermentation, more flavor, et cetera, or they’ll add dried grapes to a finish wine and then put in some yeast to try and bump it up. I mean, these are all wines that may have their own merits, but however they are not Ripasso. The thing about a Ripasso and a very important thing is that it’s got to be a good wine in the first place. You’ve got to have a very good Valpolicella. You put it in with the Amarone and the Amarone skins, they just give it a little bit of polish. They give it an accent. They bring up the texture and the flavor of the wine.

JG:                    That’s what happens on this wine. It’s beautiful. And how much is actually produced. I mean, I heard something about, I don’t know, a certain amount of bottles being produced in accordance to how many bottles of Amarone.

DS:                   Yeah, well that’s it. I mean it’s tied into wine law. I mean, you’re allowed two bottles of Ripasso maximum for every bottle of Amarone you produce. And we normally work off a ratio of about 1.2, 1.3 bottles max…

JG:                    Wow.

DS:                   …of our Ripasso for our Amarone, which means that we’re not overextending the skins that we’re using. We’re not drying them out too much.

JG:                    That’s not a lot of wine actually.

DS:                   No.

JG:                    Okay, let’s move on to Amarone. So this is the 2011, uh, Calcarole, is that correct?

DS:                   That’s it, yeah.

JG:                    Well, what’s that stand for? What’s that refer to?

DS:                   Well Calcarole is, it’s calcare. It’s limestone.

JG:                    Oh, that makes sense.

DS:                   Because essentially this is coming from one single vineyard in Negrar in Valpolicella and the terroir is limestone terroir. This essentially, it’s like a limestone rock in Negrar, with a little bit of soil on top and the vines are planted on terraces up the hill. Then there’s this slightly sloping, sweeping plateau on top. So it’s very, very poor soil for growing just about everything else. But it’s obviously fantastic for grapes because you put a vine in bad soil and the grapes really thrive.

JG:                    Yeah. Well let’s give it a go.

JG:                    (John sips and gags)

JG:                    Ooh, a little bit down the wrong tube there.

DS:                   (Daniel chuckles)

JG:                    Wow, that’s amazing. And again, I’m not finding it very, you know, sweet or super duper raisiny or pruny like some humongous Zinfandel or something, which a lot of people sometimes refer to Amarone as like being some giant Zin-like wine, but I’m not really finding that here. This is really just coming up, really elegant.

DS:                   Well, that’s nice to hear that word because that’s a word that we would like to associate with the wine. I mean this is Amarone of course, I mean it’s made from dried grapes, but what you really experienced is a fine wine. It’s a wine where you have, there’s a lot of flavor, a lot of concentration, but there’s no thickness or heaviness. This wine carries a certain fresh profile through it. Even though we’re hitting 16% alcohol, you know, you have all the concentrated flavor that you get from our vineyards, from drying the grapes, from three years in oak. But as you say, it’s not particularly raisiny. We don’t over dry our grapes. We believe that we are bringing in grapes that are in such a condition in the first place that are suitable for a good wine that we don’t need to have a prolonged drying period. We will dry for three, three and a half months, and then we begin with the wine.

JG:                    Wow. This is delicious.

JG:                    So, we should have talked about this before, but as far as like fruit, I mean, are, you know, are there sources around the Veneto or around obviously Valpolicella, that Rizzardi are sourcing from or is it all estate?

DS:                   Oh, no, it’s all estate. For our Amarone it’s coming directly from our own vineyards. Everything’s done in house and it’s very much, you know, it’s quite a painstaking process. It’s labor intensive, but we get the results we get from it. I mean everything is picked by hand. It goes into boxes in the vineyard, then they’re brought to our fruttai or drying room, which was purpose built in the 18th century with windows open north and south to let the breeze come through. Um, we have no control over our temperature or humidity. We have mechanical fans that have been used for, for years and years and years to keep the air circulating. But as I say, we, we don’t control temperature, we don’t control humidity. So it’s quite a, you know, it’s quite a craft way of doing Amarone. It’s the old way of doing it, but we get the wine we get.

JG:                    So you’re talking about like, you know, the environment outside and you know, the hills being able to interact with the grapes and they’re not like just stuck in a big giant, refrigerated warehouse or something.

DS:                   No, no, it’s not.

JG:                    Oh, that’s good. You were saying like the old, the old fashioned way…are there old vintages available at the winery?

DS:                   Yeah, there is. We keep back a certain amount every year. We started doing that a number of years ago. We always kept a small quantity and we’ve increased that a little bit, so you know, in the future we’ll be able to release the odd vertical case or pop in to the market a few cases of an old vintage. So we like to show our Amarone when it’s aged. It’s quite interesting for people to come and taste at the winery or in the future when we do wine dinners, et Cetera, when they see a Amarone with age, it really changes people’s perception of Amarone because it really ages and matures like, like a great fine wine of the world and it can actually become difficult a bit later on to identify exactly what it is because it becomes a very complex wine.

JG:                    (John takes another sip)

JG:                    Okay. So how old are we talking about at the cellar. Are talking about 1900 or before?

DS:                   No, I mean, Amarone is actually a much younger wine than a lot of people think. I mean Ripasso is actually older than Amarone because Ripasso…

JG:                    Oh, really?

DS:                   Yeah. Ripasso is a wine they used to put on the pomace of the skins off Recioto della Valpolicella, which is the sweet red of the region. So Amarone only really came about by accident in the 30s, and then started to sort of see production in the 40s onwards. So we don’t keep vintages that are that old. We have some very, very old vintages, but they’re private. They belong to the family. And then for us, in terms of the business and tasting and journalists, et Cetera, we kind of go back to 1988 with our Amarone. So we have a pretty clear run from 88 up to now.

JG:                    That’s pretty good. Do you have a whole bunch in your cellar?

DS:                   Uh, no. They never last long. That’s the problem because when I’m in Italy, people want to come and visit and a lot of my friends are wine friends, so they usually destroy it.

JG:                    Exactly. And then you have to go back to the office and get more wine.

DS:                   Yep. That’s it.

JG:                    Uh, tough. So what can you tell me about any trend or. I don’t know, movements going on right now in the Veneto? In Bardolino?

DS:                   That’s interesting you say that because you know, I’m hoping next week on the water there’ll be some Bardolino Chiaretto. That’s our other estate and that’s in fact where we’re based where the offices are, but our Bardolino Chiaretto rosé is going to be shipped to the states and that’s a rosé in the Veneto, which has changed over the last kind of five, six years where the style has become lighter in color and more suitable to our climate. So it’s very, it’s quite, it’s a very vibrant style of rosé, pale in color, but really quite, quite intense cherry fruit. So I think it’s a wine that’s going to have a lot of appeal when it hits the shores of the US. It’s been very successful elsewhere, so…

JG:                    I look forward to it. And you were saying it’s more suitable to your climate. Last night you mentioned something about like, you know, climate change is really having an effect on the area and the producers and the vines and everything, you know, elaborate?

DS:                   Yeah. Well let’s say without getting into too much controversy, there’s no doubt that in our, in our European vineyards we are seeing warmer and warmer seasons. I mean that’s really noticeable for example, for German wine producers that record the data very, very accurately and over the years they’ve seen their gradual summer temperatures rise and rise and rise. Uh, we face the same sort of thing where things are getting a little bit warmer. And for example, in the Soave we have to know in these warmer years, we’re having to pick some of the fruit a little bit earlier to retain freshness. So yeah, it’s something that affects our choices.

JG:                    Ah, I think it’s happening everywhere. You know, earlier harvest, bigger wines, people moving north, ya know.

DS:                   Yeah.

JG:                    So that sounds good. Um, let’s try to wrap this up, I guess, and we’ll get out of here and go get a beer. Actually speaking of beer, what kind of beer do you drink, actually?

DS:                   Well, when I’m back home in Ireland it’s Guinness, but when I’m on the road I actually like something, which is not too wacky in flavor, ya know. I like something that actually tastes like a beer.

JG:                    What, you don’t want a full-blow triple hopped IPA that tastes like, ya know, orange juice?

DS:                   Yeah, no. I’ll pass on that. I like an IPA, but not over the top.

JG:                    Well, let’s get out of here and go get a beer.

DS:                   Sounds good.

JG:                    Alright. Thanks again and, uh, let’s do it.

DS:                   Okay, let’s go.

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.

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!