Oh Cecilia, You're Breaking My Heart.

BY: Margot Mazur  @solomargot

BY: Margot Mazur

@solomargot

About this wine:

  • 60% Syrah, 40% Sauvignon Blanc

  • 30 year old vines

  • Suncrest Vineyard, Penn Valley, CA

  • Foot stomped grapes

  • Aged in oak for 8 months

Frenchtown Farms ‘Cecilia’ Rose

Gosh, wine can be so much fun. Certain wines can sometimes create such a feeling of joy and wonder in me, like a kid running up to an ocean wave. Some wines you just have to, have to, show your friends—they make you giddy. Frenchtown Farms’ ‘Cecilia’ is just that. I took ‘Cecilia’ to a friend’s dinner party the other night, and was thrilled to pour it for folks who I was sure would also think it was just about the coolest thing in the world. (Shout out to Kelcey’s amazing potatoes).

‘Cecilia’ is a co-ferment of Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Usually, if there is more than one grape varietal in a wine, winemakers will harvest them separately, then put them in their own separate fermentation vessels—be that oak or stainless steel or what-have-you—then, either allow them to age separately before blending, or blend and allow them to age blended. ‘Cecilia’, however, is co-fermented, which means that the Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc ferment together in the same vessel. This is rarely done, and brings out a ton of flavor in wine that you don’t usually get. The way two grapes co-ferment can be unpredictable, and for me, Frenchtown Farms really knocked it out of the park. The two grapes speak to one another in such a way that makes you think the wine is a single varietal. It’s harmonious, balanced.


The mix is 60% Syrah and 40% Sauvignon Blanc, which gives the wine a beautiful blush rose color. The wine is unfined and unfiltered, and ages in oak for 8 months before bottling. This wine is as fresh as they get—floral with so much beautiful and bright berry flavor. It’s got some texture to it, and just begs you to put it in your bike basket, skip out on work, and head to a picnic. This wine is the beginning of Spring and you’re feeling the floral breeze, surrounded by blossoms and flowers, and you’re thinking—dang. Summer’s almost here.

Drink this with laughter! It’s a great pairing.

We Were on a Podcast!

This is one of the wines talked about ( can you tell we love it?)

This is one of the wines talked about ( can you tell we love it?)

This is Grace and Maia sitting by a microphone to prove that they recorded a podcast.

This is Grace and Maia sitting by a microphone to prove that they recorded a podcast.

So this cool thing happened. These two guys Nick and Andy who have a podcast about Pizza ( immediately interested, right?) approached Rebel Rebel about sitting down and chatting with them about natural wine and pairing wine with Pizza, and well, we did it! Here it is.

K, Syrah Syrah!

 
BY: Grace Wexler  @grace_wex

BY: Grace Wexler

@grace_wex

Yes! This is the map I was talking about! That’s Tarn!

Yes! This is the map I was talking about! That’s Tarn!

What is it?

Bubbly Syrah from South Western France! ( Tarn to be more specific, Gaillac to be even MORE specific. ( See the map on the left)

Who made it??

Marine Leys. She’s worked with other winemakers and even used to work in film production in France, Canada, Ireland and Turkey. Now she has her own land ( about 5 ha) in Gaillac and she’s Making amazing wines from mostly indigenous Tarn varietals ( think Duras, Mauzac, Braucol). Thank goodness she is because this juice is pure heaven!

A sparkling RED you say?

Oh yeah, I said it.

But what is it like?!

Imagine nestling the tip of your nose into a soft fluffy bouquet, tiny bubbles come and cuddle up to you carrying with them gentle notes of cranberry, ripe strawberry… is that… roses?? Plunging deeper you let the vibrant red liquid wash over your tongue and all your senses. The gentle cranberry transforms into wild, fresh, tart, BOUNCY cranberry. Tiny blueberries pop on your palate- dancing and bobbing between each bud. Fresh spring leaves burst forth on the branches of the trees that line your path as you pirouette into the warm afternoon! .... I don’t know, it’s kind of like that.

How does Marine make it bubbly?

Ancestral Method baby. After the grapes are harvested and destemmed, the juice ferments in fiberglass tanks for 3 months. Just when the wine is nearly done fermenting, she takes it (no filtering!) and bottles it up! That way, the fermentation finishes in the bottle and the CO2 that is produced by the yeast eating up the rest of the sugars is trapped inside until it can reveal itself as delicious bubbles in your glass!

But where can I get it?

…. What do you think! At Rebel Rebel of course!





Rebel Rebel Quasi-Newsletter Vol.1

*You asked for it, and we delivered! The news of the day--what's on the horizon for Rebel Rebel, what's going on in the world of wine, and what we're talking about and listening to behind the bar! Each week I'll be sharing upcoming events Rebel Rebel is hosting, or local events that you shouldn't miss. And like the librarian I wish I was, I'll be recommending a few articles about the broader world of wine, hospitality and feminism. Think of it as a quasi-Rebel Rebel newsletter. All the news worth reporting, reported!*

Actual Photo of @wwwmaia researching this piece.  BY: Maia Fleming

Actual Photo of @wwwmaia researching this piece.

BY: Maia Fleming

 

What we’re listening to:

"I’ll Drink to That!" podcast, episode 463, “The School of Hard Rocks”

A thorough, easy-to-understand breakdown of rock and soil types by geologist and terroir specialist Brenna Quigley. Recommended by Danielle!

Lizzo’s new album on repeat. Duh.

 

What we’re looking forward to:

Tuesday, May 7th Faith Armstrong Foster visits Rebel!

Come hang with none other than Faith Armstrong Foster, mistress of California’s finest natural wines (and proprietress of Onward Wines). We’ve loved Onward Wines for years and years, and we’re SO PSYCHED to have Faith joining us. She’ll be here to answer all of your burning Cali natty questions, and we’ll pour a range of her wines for your delight. 8PM ‘til late! This is a free event that’s open to the public—come one, come all!

Saturday, May 25th 12-1 pm CBD for Stress and Sleep

Are you CBD-curious? Heard about the amazing health benefits of this hemp-based product and want to learn more? Join Emily Kanter of Cambridge Naturals for an informative and interactive talk on CBD for stress, sleep and healthy pain management, and try some of our favorite CBD products yourself! Ticket includes a take-home sample of topical CBD and a 20% off coupon for a CBD product of your choice at Cambridge Naturals.






What we’re reading:

How Natural Wines Develop Reductive Notes

“Unlike traditional wines ‘that are saturated with sulfur dioxide and will remain stable without any possibility for evolution in one direction or the other,’ says Valette, ‘natural wine with little or no sulfur doesn’t block the wine’s natural chemistry, which means that in some cases, at certain periods in the life of a wine, it can lead to reductive or oxidative phases.’”

The science behind reductive notes in wine, and a balanced take on why they can be prevalent in natural wine in particular. We agree with Lena Mattson's experience pouring natural wine--reductive notes aren't a huge concern, and they typically disappear after the first glass.

Why Is the Wine Industry Ignoring Black Americans’ $1.2 Trillion Buying Power?

And the excellent article it references from 2016:

Drinking While Black: One Woman’s Dilemma

“‘People aren’t talking to us, period,’ Tanisha Townsend, a wine educator and consultant, says. She’s speaking about the wine industry’s ‘old-fashioned’ approach to consumer marketing — one that doesn’t aim to reach drinkers who aren’t white. The majority of wine advertising and marketing, and many of the industry’s cultural gatekeepers, don’t appear to recognize the diverse preferences or buying power of the black market.”

The wine industry needs to be more inclusive. Period. And it needs to acknowledge its race issue.

The Big Reverb of Australia’s Lo-Fi Wine Movement

“With their emphasis on minimalist winemaking and organic or biodynamic farming, these producers have unintentionally become a sort of conscience to the industry, a voice in the heads of wine drinkers everywhere, asking questions that go beyond taste to issues of health, morality and philosophy, all while making wine that ranges from delicious to profound.”

An overview of the growing natural wine movement in Australia, and the debate the movement is sparking.

It’s Getting Harder to Tell the Difference Between Wine, Beer, and Cider

“I was a late adopter, but hey, I eventually made it to the world of natural wine. And it was then that I started to notice that as the wine, beer, and cider that I drank got more rebellious, they also became more and more similar to one another.”

A short article, but it highlights some of our favorite producers, including Oyster River Winegrowers (stop by Rebel Rebel to try their Hoboken Station Cider!)

Getting to Know Piquette, a Wine-Adjacent Spritzer

“Pretty much everyone [in the U.S.]—save for about eight people—is completely in the dark about piquette.”

Not for long! A common practice in Europe, more and more American winemakers are beginning to produce piquette. Low ABV, perfect for the summer, piquette is 1.) sustainable and 2.) delicious.




Howlin for Villalobos "Lobo"

BY: Claire Cerda  @claireacerda

BY: Claire Cerda

@claireacerda

       Folks at the bar sometimes come in and ask for a glass of wine that comes from a specific place, such as Italy, Argentina, or Spain. The other evening, I had someone ask me about wine from Chile and we got into a really interesting conversation about their volcanic soil, the mission grape, and three amazing Chilean natural winemakers: Villalobos, Cacique Maravilla, and Roberto Henriquez. We’ve served Cacique Maravilla’s Pipeño and Vino Naranja at Rebel Rebel before, and I’m so excited that we’re pouring Lobo Carmenere from Villalobos by the glass this week. It is made with 100% Carménère, which gives the wine ripe fruit flavors with a dark chocolatey bitter finish (in a good way). This grape has an interesting story: for many years, people thought it was extinct!

It’s originally from Bordeaux, France. In 1867, a plague of phylloxera, which are almost microscopic, pale yellow sap-sucking insects, related to aphids, destroyed most of the vineyards in Europe, including the Carménère in Bordeaux. Just before the plague broke out, Chilean growers had imported cuttings from Bordeaux, which included Carménère grape, were planted in the valleys around Santiago near Merlot vines. They were spared from the phylloxera plague because of central Chile’s climate and minimal rainfall. “In 1994, the French ampelographer (grape botany expert - a.k.a. coolest job ever), Jean-Michel Boursiquot, noticed how some of the ‘Merlot’ vines took a much longer time to ripen. Boursiquot carried out research to determine that somewhere close to 50% of the Merlot planted in Chile was actually the long lost Carménère variety of Bordeaux.” (Wine Folly: 10 Cool Things to Know About Carménère Wine). After a few years, Chile officially recognized Carménère as its own unique variety and to this day remains the the world's largest area planted with this variety. Come check out a little piece of history and have a glass of Lobo Carmenere from Villalobos at Rebel Rebel!

#roséforatleastpartoftheday

BY: Grace Wexler  @grace_wex   Poderi Cellario E Rosato    What are the grapes ? Nebbiolo and Dolcetto   Where is it from ? The Piedmont in Northern Italy   What method does it use ? Direct Press   Why is it good ? Because it tastes like a sunny afternoon with a cool breeze! Cranberries, unripe strawberry. Tart, focused and freeeeesh!

BY: Grace Wexler

@grace_wex

Poderi Cellario E Rosato

What are the grapes? Nebbiolo and Dolcetto

Where is it from? The Piedmont in Northern Italy

What method does it use? Direct Press

Why is it good? Because it tastes like a sunny afternoon with a cool breeze! Cranberries, unripe strawberry. Tart, focused and freeeeesh!


Idlewild The Flower Flora & Fauna    What are the grapes?  Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo   Where is it from?  Mendocino, California   What method does it use?  Direct Press   Why is it good?  It’s a juicy refreshing delight! Soft round lush fruit, punctuated by bright, tart, freshness. Structure and bounce!

Idlewild The Flower Flora & Fauna

What are the grapes? Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo

Where is it from? Mendocino, California

What method does it use? Direct Press

Why is it good? It’s a juicy refreshing delight! Soft round lush fruit, punctuated by bright, tart, freshness. Structure and bounce!


Ok, but what IS Rosé?

We all know rosé is delicious, but what IS it? How is it made? Traditionally There are two ways to make rosé.

Option 1: Direct Press

After grapes are harvested, they’re crushed up and gently pressed, separating the skins from the juice. Wines mostly get their color from the skin of the grape. The direct press method affords the juice just a small amount of time in contact with the skin which is how the blushy pink hue is achieved. The overwhelming majority of rosés you see today and on our shelves at Rebel Rebel are made using this method.

Option 2: Saignée

Saignée method views rosé more as a byproduct of red winemaking than as a singular product that a winemaker sets out to create. “Saignée” comes from the french word that means “to bleed”. In this method some of the juice from fermenting young red wine is bled off/ removed. This juice finishes fermentation separately and becomes rosé. It has had a shorter period of time in contact with the grape skins ( maceration period) so the juice has extracted some color and tannin but not as much as the red wine that remains in contact with the skins as it finishes fermenting. This method also has the added effect of concentrating the juice that will become finished red wine.

Theres also an Option 3 but its not very common.

Option 3 is blending! We’ve all accidentally made rosé in our glass when switching between red and white at the dinner ( or lets be honest lunch) table but, blending red and white wine together on purpose is another way to make pink. In traditional winemaking, the only place where you’ll see this done is Champagne. Champagne houses and vigneron can legally blend Chardonnay with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Any other rosé that has a classification/designation however ( AOC, DOC, DOCG, IGP ….you get it) can’t be made pink by blending red and white. Here we have another reason why natural wine can be so extra fun. If you aren’t following the rules to begin with then you can make rosé however the fuck you want! It’s still not as common as seeing rosé from the direct press method from above, even in the natural world, but you will occasionally find a rosé that blends red and white together (Frenchtown Farms “ Cecilia” is a good example of this. This wine blends Syrah with Sauvignon Blanc!).


We have a couple fun rosés on our shelves so come test out your new knowledge when you reach for that pink drink. #onlypinkdrinks2019




Yo Cab Franc! You are Welcome at this Party.

BY: Margot Mazur  @solomargot   About this wine:    Grapes : 50% Malbec, 50% Cabernet Franc   Region : Cahors, France   Fermentation : Whole cluster, native yeast   Aging : 6 months in cement and barrels

BY: Margot Mazur

@solomargot

About this wine:

Grapes: 50% Malbec, 50% Cabernet Franc

Region: Cahors, France

Fermentation: Whole cluster, native yeast

Aging: 6 months in cement and barrels

Fabien Jouves’ ‘Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees’

If you’ve read this blog in the past, you’ve known me to wax poetic about all of the worldly delights of Cabernet Franc. The grape is a mainstay in my life, one that can reveal itself differently from bottle to bottle. From earthy and peppery to rich and juicy, it’s a grape that has many costumes, yet speaks of terroir. That’s fitting, as I’m drinking Fabien Jouves’ ‘Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees’, the wine’s label a multitude of costume masks.

This wine is Cabernet Franc from a joyous angle, thanks in part to it’s partner in assemblage, Malbec. The split is 50/50, and the two grapes make an incredible companionship resulting in beautiful red and blue fruit flavors, a velvety round texture, and an earthy nose. The wine is lush and ready to be loved by anyone—it’s crowd pleasing and inspires joy. A perfect choice for, well, a soiree!

As it should, the wine speaks to the winemaker as well. Fabien Jouves started making wine in 2006 at his family estate in Cahors, but shies away from tradition a bit by creating a variety of wines that are out of the box for the region. ‘Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees’, is a case in point. Malbec, or Côt as the locals call it, must make up at least 70% of any wine produced in Cahors. If a winemaker chooses to break that rule, they can only put “Vin De France” on their label, and they won’t make it to a “AOC” status. By blending 50% Cabernet Franc into his 50% Malbec, Jouves is making a statement, as well as creating the wine he’s most excited about.

This wine is fun, forward, juicy, and delicious. To hell the rules!

Wine Drunk: A Retrospective

By Claire Cerda

@claireacerda

I recently started reading a really cool (read: nerdy) book called 900 Years of Wine: A World History by wine writer and wine historian Rod Phillips. In his book, Phillips describes how the economics, the politics, and the culture of wine developed from ancient times, through the Middle Ages, and into the modern era. I’m only a few chapters into the book but I wanted to share some really interesting stories that I’ve learned about winemaking from 9000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.

Wine was first made in the Fertile Crescent, which is now modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and northern Egypt. Historians aren’t really sure who the first person was to make wine, but they do agree that wine was “discovered unlike beer and bread which are thought to have been invented” (pg. 15). Phillips writes that pre-Neolithic humans may have discovered wine after eating the fermented wild berry juice leftover in the animal hide or wooden containers used for foraging. It’s also thought that humans may have observed birds and other animals acting a little tipsy after eating fermented fruit and berries (hey, we’ve all been there).

Phillips also tells a wine discovery story about Persian king Jamsheed. I’ll warn you - it’s a little grim. Jamsheed really liked fresh grapes and kept them on hand in jars during off-season months. One day, he tried some grapes from the jar only to find that they weren’t as sweet as he remembered. They had fermented in the jar. He labelled the jar “Poison” and put it back on the shelf. Phillips writes, “As the story goes, a woman from the royal harem, suffering from headaches so severe that she wanted to die, drank some of this ‘poison’ so as to put an end to her suffering. She was promptly overwhelmed by the alcohol and fell into a deep sleep. When the woman woke she was surprised to find that her headache was gone (and we must assume she was also surprised to be alive). She told the king of the magical cure, and he set about making more wine” (pg. 15). In order to make more wine, they needed more fruit. They planted vines and after about two or more years, they were able to make a lot more wine from their more regular supply of fruit. Wine production increased throughout the Fertile Crescent during this time because humans were no longer relying on wild grapes but rather using their own cultivated crop. Phillips is sort of suggesting – if you can believe it - that the discovery of wine was a major catalyst for humans transitioning away from nomadic hunter gathering lifestyle into a more settled society. I believe it. #worthit

What's your favorite wine book? Come in to Rebel Rebel and let's talk about it!


Oh, hello, Xarel-lo!

BY: Maia Fleming  @wwwmaia

BY: Maia Fleming

@wwwmaia

Who makes it: Partida Creus

Where: Penedes

What is it: Xarel-lo

How is it made: Direct press, initial tank fermentation, 10 months in bottle on the lees then disgorged. Practicing organic.

Everyone’s a sucker for good packaging. Wine is no exception. Even professional wine-drinkers (yes, I have a great job, I know!) fall for branding. Earlier this year, Rebel Rebel put Partida Creus’ wine “VN” Vinel-lo Blanco on the list. The second I saw the bottle I knew I was in love. Wax top? Check. Enigmatic, simple, bold label? Check. Slightly clear bottle, fine lees a seductive cloud rising from the bottom? Oh, hello there... And then I tasted the wine. Holy Shit! A fangirl was born. Wine so good it doesn’t need to rely on its packaging, distinctive as it may be.

That being said, I recognized the Xarel-lo Ancestral immediately as the work of Partida Creus, its large “XL” a homing beacon from the Rebel Rebel shelves. Xarel-lo is a white grape variety of Spanish origin best known for its use in the production of Cava. The word “Ancestral” refers the method used to make the wine sparkling. Ancestral is one of the earliest methods of sparkling winemaking, the grape must bottled while fermentation is taking place, trapping the CO2 as the fermentation finishes. The wine is then disgorged but no yeast, sugar or dosage is added. This method is also known as petillant naturel, aka “Pet-Nat.”

Partida Creus wines are made by Antonella Gerona and Massimo Marchiori, ex-architects that stumbled into wine-making after retiring and buying a farm. The husband and wife team fell in love with the farm, roughly an hour south of Barcelona, for its lush almond and olive trees. The rare indigenous grape growing wild on the property? That was a surprise. Eighteen years later, after starting with the Sumoll they discovered, they now make a business of buying old, abandoned, low-yielding vineyards and farming obsolete grape varietals.

This “XL” Ancestral isn’t made with a rare varietal, but Xarel-lo is a classic Catalan grape, perfect for the clay limestone soil. Barely bubbly, tart and bright, the wine has exaggerated minerality and intense acidity. The nose: summer straw piled high, drying in the sun, lemon curd cold from the fridge, banana cream pie, homemade limoncello. Something sweet and something golden. Drink this with ceviche, fish stew, pasta with puttanesca. Or by itself on a patio!

Of Brooklyn and Balagny

BY: Margot Mazur  @solomargot

BY: Margot Mazur

@solomargot

Grape: Gamay

Region: Fleurie, Beaujolais

Alcohol: 12.5%

Gamay is a fantastical grape. It’s a grape that inspires so many different characteristics. It’s a grape that really runs the gamut of flavor. If you’re looking for fruit—Gamay. If you’re looking for depth and mushrooms—Gamay. Glou glou? Gamay. Structure and complexity? You guessed it. Julie Balagny’s ‘En Remont’ is a testament to all the different aspects of Gamay that we know and love. Its structure is silky, yet put together. The acid is lively, inspiring you for another sip. It’s floral and deep—it doesn’t lack complexity.

I’ve heard of Julie Balagny along the grapevine (lol), and mostly, as with many female winemakers, men have told me she’s “a recluse”, and “weird”. No matter what you may have heard, Julie is a serious winemaker who focuses on her task at hand—making interesting, complex, sometimes challenging wines that play to a sense of nostalgia and memory. She grew up in Paris, fell in love with the countryside, and moved to Beaujolais in 2009, finding a small area of Fleurie to call her home. Her wine benefits from natural yeast and is steeped in the Beaujolais tradition of cold carbonic maceration, inspiring the fresh raspberry fruit so evident in the wine.

As a Brooklynite who went to school upstate, I relate so much to Julie’s love of the country and eagerness to move out of the big city. Her character vibes with me, her pull to nature and wine country appeal to me. To be honest, Julie’s wines—I’ll say it—they push me a bit. The combination of the challenge and the inspiration of the winemaker, though, move me. Today, Julie lives in the Moulin-A-Vent area of Beaujolais, among chickens, cats, and dogs, using old-school hand-cranked American presses, moving into biodynamic production, and really connecting with the land around her. I’m so glad for winemakers like Julie, and the culture and forward-thinking (yet, so rooted in tradition) winemaking that she represents.

Brumaire!

IMG_1854.JPG

BY: Claire Cerda

@clairecerda

A couple of weekends ago, I escaped the almost-spring-but-not-really cold weather in Boston and visited San Francisco, CA to attend the 4th annual Brumaire wine festival. Brumaire is organized by Bradford Taylor of Ordinaire wine bar, Josh Eubank of Percy Selections, Quinn Kimsey-White of Psychic Wines, and Matt Coelho of Woods Beer Co. By opening up Brumaire to the public, they are supporting winemakers that have made a conscious decision to make wine naturally, with nothing added or removed in the cellar. They’re also at the forefront of what the Brumaire organizers call a revolution. This revolution is radically shifting people’s expectations and approach to wine. To further demonstrate this, on their Brumaire poster, they list the following quote by philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin, “In every era, the attempt must be made to wrest tradition anew from the conformism that persistently tries to overtake it.” This quote set the tone for the entire event. Brumaire 2019 featured more than 40 producers from around the world. It was held at Starline Social Club in Oakland, CA which was a historic saloon space converted into an event space and bar. Upstairs there was a big, open ballroom area where a lot of the more established wine makers were pouring and downstairs were the “young guns” or folks pouring wines from their first or second vintages.

I didn’t get a chance to try everyone’s wines, but here are a few producers I really enjoyed meeting that you should check out too!:

  • La Onda by winemaker Dani Rozman from the Sierra Foothills in California

  • Sonoma Mountain Winery from winemaker Nic Coturri in the Sonoma region in California

  • La Garagista from winemaker Dierdre Heekin in Vermont

  • Fable Farms from winemakers Jon and Chris Piana in Vermont

  • ZAFA wines from winemaker Krista Scruggs in Vermont

  • Julie Balagny from winemaker Julie Balagny in Fleurie (Beaujolais) in France

  • Marto Wines by winemaker Martin Otto Wörner from the Rheinhessen region in Germany

  • Kindeli Wines from winemaker Alex Craighead in Nelson, New Zealand

  • Populis from winemakers Diego Roig, Sam Baron, and Shaunt Oungoulian in Mendocino county in California

  • Cote de Cailloux from winemaker Jacques Mathieu from Sonoma Valley in California

  • Zumo from winemaker Diego Perez made in Oakland, California

  • Artemis Botanical Wines from winemaker Ian McCarthy in Richmond, California

You can find Julie Balagny and La Garagista’s wine at Rebel Rebel. Come check ‘em out!


Muscadet All Day

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There’s 10 inches of snow on the ground, and I’m daydreaming about being up in Maine for the summer—shoes off, walking through the blueberry fields toward the dock. Smelling the salty air, tiptoeing around shells, putting my feet in the water. I can almost taste the brine. When I miss it this much, Muscadet is there for me.

Michel Delhommeau’s Harmonie was made in the Loire Valley of France, but it’s a seasonal New England time capsule. His grapes never felt the salty air of the Penobscott Bay in early June, but somehow, they’re kindred spirits. The wine is a crisp morning, rocky sea foam, a fresh summer apple during a hike. Dried pineapple rings from the corner store.

Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine (it even has Maine in its name) is surrounded by granite that formed millions of years ago, as lava cooled. Everywhere else in the Loire, molten lava turned into granite, but in Monnières, the village where Michel Delhommeau makes Harmonie, it held its ground. Harmonie is grown from 25-40 year old Melon de Bourgogne on unique gabbro soil—an igneous rock, formed by molten lava. Gabbro—this ancient, independent hunk of crystal—is the reason for Harmonie’s, well, harmony.

The best wines, yes they’re balanced and complex and well made, but really, the wines I try to remember are the ones that spark nostalgia for me. They’re the wines that make me remember something beautiful and precious. Harmonie carries a memory with it—one I can’t wait to return to.

Drink with oysters, scallops, lobster rolls, crab cakes, and other seaside fare. If you’re a vegetarian, succotash, summer squash, and herbs herbs herbs.


Hooray Vouvray!

BY: Maia Fleming  @wwwmaia   Who makes it:  Damien Pinon   Where:  Vouvray   What is it:  Chenin Blanc   How is it made:  Practicing, non-certified organic since 2007, indigenous yeast

BY: Maia Fleming

@wwwmaia

Who makes it: Damien Pinon

Where: Vouvray

What is it: Chenin Blanc

How is it made: Practicing, non-certified organic since 2007, indigenous yeast

“As long as you're using Chenin Blanc, anything is possible.” --Francois Pinon

I found that quote while scouring French and English websites, trying to find out if Damien Pinon is related to well-known Vouvray producer Francois Pinon (spoiler alert: probably only distantly). Francois goes on to say, in his interview with Jules Dressner, that Vouvray is the “only appellation in France where you can produce the wine you want on any given parcel. Sparkling, still, sec, demi-sec, dessert wines: the choice is the vigneron's.” That’s part of the magic when you see Vouvray on a wine list. Is it still? Is it sparkling? How much residual sugar does it have? Does it see oak? How long has it been aged? It smells like  a classic aromatic white, flowers and fruit, but the first sip is always unpredictable.

Chenin Blanc as a varietal is known for its puckering acidity and inherent sweetness, and it is most famously grown in South Africa and the Loire Valley in France. Vouvray is an appellation d’origine controllee (AOC), aka a “protected designation of origin,” in the Loire. It’s the largest white wine appellation in the wider Touraine region, on the northern banks of the Loire, and it almost exclusively grows Chenin Blanc. Hence, if you see the word “Vouvray,” you should think “Chenin Blanc.”

On to the Vouvray of the Day®! Damien and Michel Pinon are 3rd generation winemakers that operate a 22-hectare estate in the commune of Vernou-sur-Brenne. The vines grow in calcareous clay and tuffeau limestone, and the wine is vinified and preserved in cellars dug into the tuffeau. Damien Pinon’s 2017 “Tuffo” Vouvray is a sec (dry) wine that smells like ripe pears, bruised bodega persimmons, and heady calla lilies. Medium-bodied and perfumey, it coats your mouth, with a pop of minerality and acid to balance out its fruit. I think the wine could stand up to more rich foods than the traditional chicken or fish, so go crazy. Think a cheese plate with charcuterie and preserves! If you’re just dipping your toe into the waters of Vouvray, this is the perfect introduction.


Lo-Fi from Santa Barbara is some hi-fi natty.

BY: Claire Cerda  @clairecerda

BY: Claire Cerda

@clairecerda

 

Now that you’ve you've fallen in love with the Old World style Cab Franc from Chateau Yvonne that Margot wrote about last week on the blog, you should check out this New World style Cab Franc from Lo-Fi which comes from Santa Barbara, California.

Old World wines refer to wines made in countries that are considered the birthplaces of wine, mostly Europe and the Middle East. They tend to be lower alcohol and lighter-bodied, with deeper and earthier flavors. In contrast, New World style wines come from countries that used to be colonies, such as the U.S., New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Australia and South Africa. They tend to be higher in alcohol, fuller in body, more fruit-driven in flavor. Old World wines are typically bound by certain laws protecting which grapes, techniques, etc. a winemaker can use if they want to associate themselves with their region (also called French AOC, Italian DOC or DOCG, Spanish DO, etc. depending on where they are). New World wines are more often #norules and typically use whatever grapes and styles the winemaker thinks would taste best, meaning there’s a lot of experimentation. For many years, people thought New World wines were lower quality than Old World wines. After the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976, people started to gain more respect for New World wines. A panel of world-class critics selected a New World Chardonnay called Chateau Montelena from California as the best wine in a blind tasting over big selection of heavy hitters from Burgundy in France.


Lo-Fi wines follow the tradition of New World, #norules wines set by Chateau Montelena, but their expression is a balance of New World and Old World. It’s a passion project between two friends, Mike Roth and Craig Winchester. They're extremely versatile wines that are easy to drink. The Cab Franc is low in alcohol, made in neutral oak - so it does not impart flavor on the wine, relies on native yeasts for fermentation, and has little to no sulfur added when bottling. Roth and Winchester, big time record collectors, use a round LP vinyl label with a hole in the middle as the inspiration for the wine label design. When describing their wines, they say that they enjoy the spontaneous and magical parts of natural winemaking, just like the vinyl nerds that enjoy the unpredictable and unedited cracks, snaps, and pops from their records. I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to honor this wine than to share a playlist with y’all that I’ve been working on for little while for the bar. Cheers!


Just Mad for La Folie

BY: Margot Mazur  @solomargot

BY: Margot Mazur

@solomargot

About ‘La Folie’:

  • Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc

  • Vintage: 2017

  • Region: Saumur-Champigny, Loire Valley, FR

  • Alcohol: 12.5%

  • Farming practice: Biodynamic

Some grapes get all the attention. Big time celebrities like Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot are always in the spotlight. Sure, we have the newest starlings like Picpoul and Sumoll who are coming in for their share, but I’d like to make a case for a certain dewy-eyed grape that’s been there all along—Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Franc is a grape often overlooked. For the most part, it came to favor being blended into Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-dominant wines. Cabernet Franc on its own, though, makes a delightful wine, and Chateau Yvonne’s ‘La Folie’ proves it. Chateau Yvonne dates back to the 16th century, and is located in the heart of Cabernet Franc country of the Loire Valley. Specifically, Saumur-Champigny, just a 40 minute car ride away from Chinon, an area where two grapes shine—Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.

Cabernet Franc is not the big bold attention-grabbing Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. It doesn’t have the acidity of Syrah or the tough tannins of Nebbiolo. Instead, Chateau Yvonne’s Cabernet Franc is an elegant wine. It’s a wine that teaches us about balance. There’s raspberry and blueberry, green pepper, black pepper, and spice. The texture is smooth but present, and the acidity is just enough to bring it all together.

Cabernet Franc might not be the Ferrari of grapes, but it’s the grape I feel we’ll hear a lot more about in the natural wine world’s upcoming trends. It’s the grape I reach for time and time again. It’s the grape that makes me feel comfortable, relaxed, loved, even. ‘La Folie’ is a wine that hugs you tight and doesn’t let go. It’s with you on a night when it’s just you and your dinner. No date, no big night ahead of you. Just you, your baked ziti, and a wine that won’t let you down.


Pata-ping Patapon

BY: Grace Wexler  @grace_wex

BY: Grace Wexler

@grace_wex

What is Pineau D’Aunis?

Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz pretty much sums it up when the entry for Pineau D’Aunis reads:  “Ancient, light and underrated Loire variety, often used for rosé but capable of interesting reds” (pg804). Pineau D’Aunis is a dark skinned ancient varietal that is basically exclusively grown in France in the Loire Valley. If you’ve encountered this grape before, more than likely you tasted it as a rosé or as a component of a sparkling wine. Pineau D’Aunis can be a tough grape to cultivate, it’s susceptible to sunburn, irregular yields, chlorosis and, due to the grapes small berry size, it can also suffer from botrytis; however, when it is cultivated well, as is the case with Domaine Le Briseau’s Patapon, the enchanting unique qualities of the grape are on center stage.


Who is Domaine Le Briseau?

Domaine Le Briseau, the maker of the enormously delicious “Patapon” and a pillar of natural winemaking in the Loire, was once run by wife and husband Natalie Gaubicher and Christian Chaussard. Le Briseau translates to “the shatterer” which reflects the solid layer of subsoil flint present in their vineyards which is extremely difficult to penetrate/shatter. In 2012 Christian Chaussard had a fatal tractor accident working the vineyard he loved so much. To complete the 2012 vintage, neighbors from all around the community banned together to help Natalie in completing harvest and production. Today Domaine Le Briseau still farms to organic standards and with biodynamic principles. They produce incredible wines using Pineau D’Aunis, Gamay, Chenin Blanc and Côt grown on limestone, flint, and in places, clay soils.

So how about this Patapon?

Patapon is easily one of the most interesting and dynamic wines I have ever tasted. It is an eye-catching medium ruby red that excites the palate with an incredible peppery quality. Bright fresh red fruits swirl around your tongue as you sip this wine and you’re left with a perfect gentle structure of soft tannin. Patapon goes everywhere, does everything. It’s texture and vibrant flavors excite and marvel in the mouth. Patapon is a wine that is so easy to love, that can’t be forgotten, and has a history that must be remembered.


Sources

Robinson, Jancis, et al. Wine Grapes: a Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. HarperCollins Publishers, 2012.

Dressner, Jules. “Domaine Le Briseau & Nana, Vins Et Cie. in Jasnières/Coteaux Du Loir.” Louisdressner.com, 2013, louisdressner.com/producers/Chaussard/.

The Buzz on Il Musticco

BY: Margot Mazur  @solomargot

BY: Margot Mazur

@solomargot

About ‘Il Musticco’:

  • Varietal: Ciliegiolo and Gamay de Trasimeno

  • Vintage: 2017

  • Region: Umbria, Italy

  • Sulfur: None added!

  • Aged in: fiberglass barrels

Tiberi Il Musticco

There are wines that make you think, and then there are wines that make you feel. For me, Frederico and Beatrice Tiberi’s ‘Il Musticco’ is the latter. It’s a wine that takes me back to a summer day in Portland, Oregon, walking through the rose gardens in SE, laying down right on the grass that makes you feel like you’re in a Monet painting set between Hawthorne and Division.

This delightful sparkler is a blend between Ciliegiolo and Gamay de Trasimeno (which is actually Grenache, and not Gamay at all). On the nose, ‘Il Musticco’ is your first love—absolutely pretty. Roses and bright cherries sing their way out of the glass. If A Midsummer Night’s Dream had a wine pairing, this would be it. On the palate, a minerality comes out that gives this wine its backbone and character. It’s an irresistible blend of salty, limey, and fruity that makes you want to get on a plane to Umbria right this minute and hug the winemakers.

The name and label of ‘Il Musticco’, for Beatrice Tiberi’s childhood nickname, couldn’t be more fitting. It’s whimsical and light, pointing back to a sort of child-like sense of fun. Drink it with friends.


Crazy Cool Cat

BY: Maia Fleming  @wwwmaia

BY: Maia Fleming

@wwwmaia

Who makes it: Eric Texier
Where: Cotes du Rhone, St Julien-en-St Alban
What is it: 85% old vine Grenache, 15% Clairette/Viognier/Chasselas/other
How is it made: co-harvested and -fermented in whole clusters, gently pressed. Brief 5-day maceration in concrete tanks. Aged for a year in concrete before bottling. Biodynamic.

Translating to “crazy cat,” Texier’s “Chat fou” is an intentionally fresh, breezy style of Cotes du Rhone. I personally can’t shed light on the origin of its name, since this wine is anything but unapproachable, and it doesn’t sneak up on you or attack when you least expect it. I did, however, take the opportunity to pose the bottle with my roommate’s crazy cat Zuzu, and at least that resemblance is uncanny.

The wine is soft and elegant, with tart fruit and pronounced minerality. Old school done right. It smells like cooked cherries and licorice and my mother’s overgrown backyard ‘garden’ of broken terracotta pots and unidentifiable weeds and herbs. “Chat fou” is from the commune of St Julien-en-St Alban, just a 25 minute drive south of Hermitage in the Ardèche, known for its old-vine Syrah and Grenache and its granite soil. Predominantly Grenache, the wine is unusual for its cepage, the remaining 15% consisting of indigenous white varietals. Vinified locally to obtain its AOC, the wine is then transported to a 16th-century cellar in Charnay-en-Beaujolais, where Texier lives.

Texier is a renowned natural winemaker, known for his scientific approach to organic and biodynamic wine production, and for bringing attention and acclaim to regions of the Rhone that were once prominent but had fallen into disrepair, particularly Brezeme in the Northern Rhone. Originally a nuclear engineer, he changed careers in 1992, trained with Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget in Mâcon, and made his first vintage in 1995. He now makes 30 different wines, from 10 different origins, from the Mâconnais to the Rhone. In the world of natural wine, his signature leaf insignia denotes excellence. “Chat fou” is no exception.

I recommend this wine slightly chilled, with a crazy cat to warm your lap.


MAULE ALL DAY

BY: Claire Cerda  @claireacerda

BY: Claire Cerda

@claireacerda

Folks at the bar often ask us, “When I’m at a store, how do I know that a wine is natural? Is there some sort of label that identifies a natural wine from a commercial wine?” We typically say that the best way to know whether or not a wine is natural is to ask around at your local wine shop (if you’re in Boston, we love The Wine Bottega, Central Bottle, The Wine & Cheese Cask, Social Wines, and Streetcar JP). But in short, the answer is no - there’s no label or easy way to tell if a wine is natural or not. A big reason for that is that there there’s no official accreditation nor one-size-fits-all definition for what makes a wine “natural.” Angiolino Maule, a natural winemaker in Italy, is working on creating some standard practices across all natural winemakers that could address some of these challenges. We recently started pouring his floral and snappy wine, Masieri, by the glass at Rebel Rebel and as I read more about Maule, I learned all about the work he’s done to bring science into his winemaking process and build community around natural wine.

In 2000 he founded an organization called VinNatur that connects more than 170 producers from around the world to share their experiences and research on natural winemaking practices. He’s worked with scientists to develop natural ways to fight pesticides, better understand wild yeasts in cellars, and improve soil quality. Organizations like VinNatur (Raw Wine is another example) are promoting natural winemaking practices and helping more winemakers figure out how to adapt their practices to work naturally. In short, Maule is basically a badass and doing so much to promote natural winemaking practices and help others continue refining their techniques.

If you’re curious about Maule’s wine, Masieri, here’s a bit more info about his wine and the technical specs:

Grape: 100% Garganega (second pass)

Name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown: La Biancara

Location of the vineyard: Veneto, Italy (Northeast Italy)

Alcohol: 12%