Twenty Third (23rd) Edition Wine Club

For some reason I keep saying to myself, "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?!" when it comes to the theme of this month's Wine Club. And while there are 2 orange wines included in your club, there are also two white wines, so it doesn't really work as a theme. Mostly, I just wanted to expand people's palates when it comes to non-red wines and since you all are a captive audience, this is a great time to do so. The only through line when it comes to these wines is that they're French and not red. 


Yves Amberg
Vin Orange 2022
Epfig, Alsace, France

"The successor of a legacy in winemaking, Yves, the son of Alsatian winemaker Roger Amberg, assumed the reins of the family estate in 1989. Over the ensuing years, Yves made plain his commitment to the craft by nearly doubling the estate's surface area from 7 to 13 hectares and converting vineyards to biodynamic and organic practices in 1997. Far from considering this transition a challenge, Yves remarked, “Working organically is much more interesting. Physically, it's hard, it causes a lot of extra work hours, but on the other hand, it restores the passion for the work, and in the end, I am a winner.”

Yves Amberg has become an integral figure in the Alsace winemaking community, extending his influence as a mentor to some of the region's most celebrated winemakers, including Lambert Spielmann. Spielmann, effusive in his praise, asserts that his wines owe their existence to Yves and his invaluable mentorship. Yves' affable and gentle nature mirrors the essence of his wines—simultaneously expressive and harmonious." - Bisou Bisou Wines (the importer)

 This orange wine is made from 100% Gewurztraminer ("Gewurtz" for shorthand), a grape native to the Alsace region of France. Directly pressed into a white wine, Gewurtz is often boring and aggressively aromatic without any body to support those powerful aromas. As an orange wine, you get a much more complex expression of the grape. In this case, the grapes spent 20 days on their skins in stainless steel. The resulting wine has a elegantly perfumed nose, with jasmine tea notes and tannins on the palate. Something you won't taste is volatile acidity, or VA for short -- none of those vinegar or nail polish notes that (unfortunately) orange wine is often associated with.


La Cave Apicole
Zumo 2022
Montner, Roussillon, France


I have had the pleasure of visiting La Cave Apicole (which means 'The Beekeeping Cellar'), which is located in a run-down, mostly abandoned, former industrial winery. Carved into what used to be industrial sized billion liter tanks (not literally), are tanks and storage rooms used by the now proprietors, Sylvain Respaut and Olivier Cros.

Sylvain is a beekeeper turned winemaker as of 2009, when he first started tending to his vines throughout the Roussillon. He continues to keep bees and makes a mead called "L'Abeille Cool". Early on Sylvain partnered with Olivier Cros to make wine, producing their first vintage in 2011. They still keep 60 hives of the endangered European Dark Bee. The bathroom (inside one of these cut out rooms, next to the kitchen) was partitioned by bee boxes known as brood boxes, which I unfortunately didn't get a photo of. Below, Sylvain appears relaxed in a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts & Birkenstocks. 

Beyond this hallway, the winery continues, mostly in disarray, up through a massive former tank to an astounding view of the Pyrenees mountains. 

'Zumo' is a blend of Grenache Blanc and Macabeo, finished with a touch of Grenache Gris, all directly pressed. It leans more classic with delicate aromatics and light salinity.



Domaine Carterole
Gus 2023
Grenache Gris/Grenache Noir

Collioure, Roussillon, France


"Joachim was born in Collioure in 1986, a sea town next to Banyuls. His father was a fisherman and his mother’s parents had a little vineyard perched in the hills. At first, Joachim didn’t make wine, he grew grapes and sold them to the cooperative. But later, he met Bruno Duchêne and asked him if he could teach him to make wine himself. Joachim started his journey at Les 9 Caves, a new collective of winemakers in Banyuls. He started with the organic conversion of 0.6h from his grandparent’s plot. While working in the vineyard, he learned winemaking as Bruno’s apprentice in 2013. Domaine Carterole was created in 2014, now with an area of over 4 hectares, with different plots ranging from sea level to the hamlet of Rimbau at an altitude of 250m.

All the work is done by hand, using the "xadic" (in Catalan: very sharp light pickaxe), the tiller for slightly sloping places, and the chaser (old caterpillar tractor from the 70s) for where it’s flat.

In the words of Joachim:

The work is carried out with respect for nature, the seasons, the vine and the fruit.
Nothing was invented. Our ancestors vinified their wine in this way, for their personal consumption. This earned my grandfather's nickname: “Carterole” (a small barrel of a quarter liter in Catalan). Among the last fishermen of Collioure, “Carta” set out to sea with the small barrel slung over his shoulder. 
The label was drawn by his wife's friend representing the village of Collioure." Camo & Co (the importer)

'Gus' is 50% Grenache Gris, destemmed by hand, macerated in vats for 15 days. 50% Grenache Noir in direct press, fermented separately then combined before bottling in the Fall. This wine drinks somewhere between an orange wine and a rose, but with an extremely pleasant, light body. It screams to be opened on a sunny afternoon, and it feels like you're hydrating instead of drinking wine. 


(R)ti 2021
Sauvignon Blanc

Lamontgie, Auvergne, France


"Originally from just south of Bordeaux, Catherine Dumora studied anthropology and travelled the world gaining experience and an appreciation for the ways of farming from yesteryear. Eventually relocating to the Auvergne, she discovered a group of talented, visionary vignerons making a kind of wine she felt an instant connection to and 2012 she began working in vineyards alongside her partner at the time, Manu Duveau, with the two producing some truly memorable wines under various monikers.

In 2019 Catherine moved to Lamontgie in the Puy de Dôme’s south to start afresh and now tends a hectare of vines between forty and eighty years old, spread out across small parcels hidden amongst meadows and forest. Facing west, the vines benefit from a constant breeze and are planted over a fascinating mix of granite, quartz and sand, offering an interesting counterpoint to the basalt soils that define much of the region. To supplement the grapes harvested from her own vines, she also purchases grapes from local paysans and further afield from a friend in the Minervois.

In the vineyards Catherine adopts a minimalist approach, working by hand with little in the way of equipment. There is a real focus on soil health and the promotion of plants that are beneficial to the vines. So far she has almost entirely eschewed the use of treatments, though having suffered significant losses, in the future her focus will be on infusions of wild plants to give the vines the extra strength they need.

In the cellar, Catherine’s approach is led by intuition, instinct, feeling and emotion. She decides how to proceed based on the fruits of each harvest and aims merely to guide the wine on its journey from plant to glass. In doing so she produces some of the most thoughtful, original wines we have tried.

This beautiful expression of Sauvignon Blanc comes from thirty year old vines planted over sand and limestone in Laure-Minervois. Pressed directly before a short élevage, its purity of fruit and delicate aromatics bear all the hallmarks of Catherine’s light touch. A pale, hazy straw yellow, it impresses with fragrant notes of citrus, stones and wild herbs. A wonderfully uplifting apéritif that beckons the onset of spring." - Tutto Wines