Twenty-Fourth (24th) Wine Club

I started off with a theme for this month's Wine Club ("new world" winemakers), then had the opportunity to place Francois Saint-Lo's wines (very much "old world" wine), which messed up the theme but was an undeniably good opportunity to give members an introduction to one of my favorite winemakers -- whose cost and rarity usually makes these wines stay primarily in the hands of geeks and collectors alike. But now, you're all geeks and you've had Francois Saint-Lo's wines. Welcome to the Club (literally, for anyone who is new here, & metaphorically for everyone).


Francois Saint-Lo
'Hey Gro' 2021
Grolleau Noir
Berrie, Loire Valley, France
Originally from Normandy, Francois made his way to Paris to work in restaurants. Eventually tiring of that, he moved to the Loire, found himself a troglodyte cave in Berrie (southern Loire), and started making artisan wines of his own. Early on he got a reputation for making low alcohol, but intense wines perfect for the region. 
Francois in 2018 in his cave (Photo courtesy of Wine Terroirs)
Francois has since moved to a new location in the Loire, but he still works in a communal cellar of bohemian misfits, traveling amongst the underground world that allows for these wines that by description can sound incongruent (light, but grounded, earthy but ethereal), but are reach harmony in your glass.
This vintage of 'Hey Gro' is just that. Grolleau (pronounced groll-low) is a grape not typically known for it's lightness. It is named after the crow (grolle) in French because of it's deep purply, black berries. Flavor-wise, it is often peppery and herbal, with few phenols (scents). Typical to the grape, this wine clocks in at just 8.5 degrees alcohol, but still with concentrated earthiness, acidity, and pepper.
Weiss 2022
White Field Blend
Flonheim, Rheinhessen, Germany

Some time ago I featured one of Marto's reds in Wine Club for the 4 bottle members and so I considered not putting him in Wine Club once again, but after a conversation I had with Marto (Martin Worner) at Ordinaire Wines in Oakland in February, I decided it would be fun. Marto's wines are well-known and well loved in the United States. He makes a range of prices and styles that have broad appeal. In fact, the first time my boyfriend and I met (a couple years & a divorce before we met again and started dating) he found Heaven's because he was looking to buy a case of this wine. It is always tropical, fresh and also low alcohol. 


In my conversation with Marto in February, I asked why it was worth it for him to come to California, on his own dollar to pour at this wine fair and leave a couple days later. He said it was because coming to California, meeting the buys and consumers of his wines in the United States, gives him inspiration. In Germany, where he makes wine, he's considered an outcast and an oddity, making wines in a style is both unappealing and nonsensical. When he comes to the US, he is reminded of the value of what he's doing. He's doing it for us! So, how could I not feature these wines if they're for us?


In 'Weiss' there is blend of Müller Thurgeau, Bacchus, Scheurebe, Huxel, Würzer, Faber, Riesling, fermented separately and blended before bottling. Two weeks of light extraction maceration and aged for a minimum 1 year, in old neutral oak barrels. Notes of tropical iced tea, this wine can be drank alone by the pool, or would be lovely with a summer salad, roast chicken, or fatty fish. 



Mendall (Laureano Serres)
BBT 2022
Garnatxa Blanca + a little Macabeu

El Pinell de Brai, Catalonia, Spain


Laureano in his cave/tasting room in town (June 2022)

Laureano telling us about the history and geography of the region (June 2022)

The bulk wine cooperative in town, which is, at least architecturally, a shrine to wine (June 2022)

Laureano's cave (June 2022)


Another absolute legend is in Wine Club this month, a label that many are probably already familiar with, and if you're not, what a treat it is to introduce you to the wines of Laureano Serres AKA Mendall. I had the pleasure of visiting Laureano in June 2022 and it was one of the most important winemaker visits I've had. Pinell is strikingly beautiful, a old fortified town high above the Mediterrenean sea, also known as 'terra alta' -- 'high earth'. Laureano splits his time between town, where he was born and raised, and his vineyards which a short, but winding drive away.

Laureano is one of the original pioneers of sans soufre (without sulfur, 0/0) winemaking. If you've ever seen the 'Brutal!!!' label featuring the Grim Reaper, Laureano was there the night of the founding, along with Anthony Tortul (La Sorga), Axel Prufer, Remi Poujol, Joan Ramon Escoda, and others. Prior to becoming a prolific and respected winemaker, Laureano was a computer programmer until the late 90s when he pivoted his career towards organic winemaking and shortly thereafter, 0/0 winemaking.


View of the mountains from the vineyard hut (June 2022)

Wines on the table (June 2022)


'BBT' is Garnacha, with a very small amount of Macabeu from a young 7-year-old vineyard at over 500 meter altitude in the municipality of Vilalba Del Arcs. Direct pressing and 15-day fermentation in stainless steel tanks followed by aging in the same until January 2023. Laureano's wines are often bottled young, allowing for an active fermentation inside the bottle, which is why this is under crown cap. There may be some bubbles, but (depending on the bottle) it won't be a fully sparkling wine. It will remind you on the sun bleached, sandy, limestone soils high above the Mediterranean sea though. 


Lucy M (formerly Lucy Margaux)

Le Oranj Sauvi B Pet Nat 2022
Sauvignon Blanc

Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia


Commonly thought to be made by a woman named Lucy, the Lucy M* label is actually a project by Anton Van Klopper, a South African man now well known for his influence on natural winemaking in the Adelaide Hills/Basket Range region of South Australia. In 2002, after 10 years in the restaurant industry, Anton moved with his wife, Sally, and Daughter, Lucy, to the Basket Range to take over a 20-acre cherry orchard and start their own winery. Initially he was focused on Pinot Noir, but has since expanded his offerings both by varietal and by style. He is known for making fresh and exciting wines, with minimal intervention. He's considered a perfectionist to the point of maddness, and dominates a room. His labels are drawn and designed by him only after the wine is finished, and often feature people he loves. 

"For van Klopper, this way of doing things is intentional. “I think to know what you’re doing beforehand is a big mistake,” he tells me, though the chaos can take a toll. “I fucking hate it,” he says. “But I think that if you want to make interesting things then you cannot control it.” - Sprudge Wine

*the project used to be called Lucy Margaux but the famous French chateau pressured him out of using that name.

This is a sparkling orange wine of Sauvignon Blanc. It is citrusy, with a hint of nuttiness and tons of fresh acidity. Replace your mimosa with a glass of this and you'll be pleased.