First (1st) Edition Wine Club
We welcome the introduction of both summer & Wine Club this month, so all the wines are fit for drinking during these inevitably hot days to come. All should be chilled, and can be enjoyed on their own, or with the bounty of fresh fare that graces our tables during this time of year.
In 2012, Dacquin inherited around 2 hectares of vines from his father and grandfather in an area of Savoie about equidistant from Switzerland and Italy. The south facing slope that they sit on is sandwiched between the Massif des Bauges and the Massif de Chartreuses. If you want to read more about the history of Adrien’s terroir he has a full write-up and explanation on his website. Being a trained geographer who was born in the region, he is really passionate about how the mountains around his vineyards came to formation.
Adrien’s vines are made up of mainly 80 year old Jacquère (a white grape native to the Savoie region) plants. Vines of this age create fewer grapes than younger vines, but those grapes have higher concentration within the fruit, which is why "old vines" like these are more desirable and make for a wine with more complexity. The steep slopes mean that the Adrien farms uniquely by hand, sometimes with the help of a horse when he feels the soil needs to be worked a little.
After years of reputable work in his vineyards, Adrien met Jean-Yves Perron and Patrick Bouju (who both buy Jacquére from Adrien and are extremely well-known/culty winemakers in the natural wine world), which subsequently led to his discovery of unsulphured wine. This sparked a curiosity for vinification in Adrien who then decided to make wines of his own rather than sell all his grapes. Pristine fruit and vinification in egg-shaped fiberglass vessels allow Adrien’s wines to clearly express the place that they come from.
Origine is an excellent example of what “orange” wine or skin contact white (they're synonymous) wines can look like, far away from the high octane, acid driven orange wines most of us are most familiar with. Think more of pome family of fruits (apples, pears), with baking spice notes, and soft, rounded salinity.
For Carolina Alvarado and Arturo Herrera, wine is the connection between nature and people. Founded in 2003, Herrera-Alvarado is considered the founder of the now-budding natural wine movement in Chile. Local farmers, or Huasos, have always made wine for home consumption without any additives (such a yeast, sulfur, etc). After studying agriculture, Carolina and Arturo became very taken with these types of living wines and decided to devote themselves to making wine in this style.
Winemaking in the Marga Marga Valley, where their cellar is located, dates back to the 16th century.
Through word of mouth, Carolina and Arturo learned how to make wine in that old style. Perhaps the most unique part of traditional winemaking that they have adapted into their cellar is the use of cow leather for fermentation (though this technique is not used in this wine). Carolina and Arturo built their cellar themselves in the adobe style out of clay from their own vineyards. There is no electricity; everything is done by hand.
Rojo Loco is Moscatel Rosada, País, Moscatel Amarilla and Cristal from organically farmed centenarian vines planted at 850m above sea level on clay soils. Colliguay is at the edge of the Marga Marga valley and is dry with an upland Mediterranean climate. The grapes are destemmed by hand using the traditional Zaranda, then co-fermented for 5 days with their skins in wooden vats without temperature control. After fermentation is completed, the wine is pressed into old barrels to rest for 1 year before bottling. This wine is fruit punch in a bottle. Open it while enjoying a sunset on a hot summer evening, or poolside with friends.
Pierre Rousse farms his 5 hectares (which he recently reduced to 1.5 in order to make way for new white varietals) in the west of the Languedoc region near the town of Limoux, on the Aude River. The soil is a mixture of limestone and clay, with a climate reflective of both Mediterranean (arid & warm) and oceanic (windy, cooling) influences. A self-described “radical,” Pierre makes wine employing only the simplest of processes: all indigenous yeasts, no sulfur, no additives, no heat or refrigeration, no fining or filtration – no exceptions. Stainless steel as well as resin vats (which he uses for the advantage of their microporous element) allow the grapes and terroir to speak for themselves. In his own words, “100% grapes – c’est tout!”.
I wanted to provide you more information about Pierre Rousse himself, but he’s a bit of an enigma. His wines landed on the scene in the United States just a couple years ago, but they were already legendary in Europe both due to their small quantities, long aging, and Rousse’s eccentricity. His wines are high impact and can, at times, be jarring either in their unique composure or their energy.
Here’s a bit about the winemaking: whole-cluster maceration for 2-3 days (meaning the grapes stay in their clusters, stems and all) and are then pressed. The varietals are blended directly following pressing. The wine spends 11+ months in stainless steel, and was bottled on August 17, 2012. You might say this wine is “far out”. Jammy on the nose, rich body, balance of tannins, fruit and spice, with underlying vegetal notes at finish and slight effervescence. Chill it down a bit and enjoy the ride.
Antonio and Daniela De Gruttola seek out old vineyards in Irpinia, high in the hills of Campania (southern Italy). The vines are set at altitude and are planted over the region’s vibrant volcanic soils. Vineyard work is done by hand, organically and a combination of great farming and low yields results in healthy, characterful fruit. In the cantina, Antonio takes a no-nonsense approach with the intention of letting this terroir express itself in full. The grapes ferment naturally without temperature control and fermentation can continue for months.
Wines are raised in a combination of terracotta amphorae (large, clay vessels mostly associated with the ancient Greeks) and large casks made from local woods and bottled unfiltered, with no additions at all. The resulting wines are singular, vivid expressions of grape and place.
“Volpe Rosa” is from seventy five year old vines planted with a rare kind of pink Coda di Volpe some five hundred meters above sea level. This spent two days on skins, before being pressed off to concrete vats for a year of rest. This is wonderfully open and expressive, with complex notes of blood orange, minerals and spice.