June Wine Club

Domaine Les 4 Vents – ‘Les Pitchounettes’ Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2015

The vibe: Alright I’m gonna say something because this is a safe space and I feel like everyone knows where I stand on this anyway. I feel like a lot of French white wines (and honestly rosés, too) are designed to be really…boring? Maybe it’s because I was just in Provence and Ardeche, where reds make up over 90% of wines produced and are bonkers good and the whites and rosés just literally pale in comparison (with a few stellar exceptions, obviously). So when I find an interesting white it really sticks with me and good news - this is a really cool white! It’s a Roussanne, which is one of the few white varietals somewhat common to this part of southern France. It has this je ne sais quoi combo on the palate; citrus and mineral notes, but also an incredible almond-y, honey, dried fruit showdown that makes me want to keep going back for more. If you’ve ever had Vin Jaune wine from Jura, or oxidative wines, you’ll recognize a bit of that profile here. It’s a really cool one and this is all there is, so I wanted to share it with you special folks. Hope you like it.  

The winemaker: Lucie Fourel and Nancy Cellier are sisters, who took over 3.5 hectares from their parents in 2006. In 2015, they inherited the remaining parcels and Lucie spent a few years as an apprentice with several wineries in the Rhone Valley during which time she developed her philosophy and practices for organic and biodynamic farming and natural vinification. 

The geeky details: 100% certified Organic/biodynamic Roussanne from sand and pebble soils. Aged six months in stainless steel tanks. No sulfur use during winemaking, only after bottling with a minimal dose. Fermented using only indigenous yeasts. 

Serve: Chilled

Food pairing: Oxidative wines and wines with this profile can jive with foods that are traditionally trickier to pair like artichokes, raw fish, and could even pair with richer foods. Anything you’d pair nuts or dried fruit with, hard yes. Think salty, nutty cheeses, fruit spreads, even cooked fruit pairings like pork with apple or a side of chutney.  

Album pairing: Berhana - HAN

 

Fabien Jouves – ‘A Table!!!’ Rosé 2022

The vibe: Since we’re on the topic of interesting whites and rosés from southern France, we had to keep the trend going for bottle #2. This is a blend of Malbec, Merlot, and Tannat. These are all Red Grapes with a capital R, and they pack some serious full-bodied tannins and richness when expressed in a full-fat red wine. “Tannat” is basically “tannin” with a couple letters missing. But here, these grapes are divvied up and some are pressed directly into white juice (saignée method), with the others seeing medium-length skin maceration. The resulting cuvee is basically a white and red blend of the same harvest, which is cool in and of itself. It also means that you get this incredible juiciness from one half, combined with an extracted, fuller, and complex version complimenting each other perfectly. I recently heard a wine described as “pulpy” and while this isn’t a ~chonky~ lava lamp, it definitely has some chewiness and textural goodness to it. It’s an interesting rosé that is also easy to drink and I love it for that.  

The winemaker: Fabien Jouves is from an old farming family in Causse and became a winemaker in 2006 when he created his first cuvée, “Mas del Périé”, on the highest slopes of Cahors. Jouves’ estate, 21 hectares in the junction of Quercy and Cahors, was selected to highlight the many expression of Côt. Reinforcing this is Fabien’s commitment to biodynamic viticulture that respects “life, plant, man, and the environment.” Following biodynamic agriculture adds strength to his terroir by supporting the whole environment from the vines to the animals.

The geeky details: Blend of Malbec, Tannat and Merlot grown biodynamically on clay and limestone soils and hand harvested. Direct press and skin maceration blended after spontaneous fermentation in neutral oak and cement with indigenous yeasts.

Serve: Chilled 

Food pairing: Seafood, grilled veggies, salad with goat cheese and peaches, grilled chicken. 

Album pairing: Kaytranada – Timeless  

 

Le Mazel – ‘Briand’ Grenache 2018

The vibe: You’re not going to believe me, but this southern French theme was not planned at all. But I’m not mad at it! In fact, it kind of makes for a cool point of comparison. We have two south-central Rhone/Ardeche wines and a Cahors rosé and they are all so unique! This one in particular is from a fairly legendary estate, Le Mazel. I write more about that in the winemaker section below, but that’s only half the story. Grenache is typically somewhat over-extracted in my opinion, especially so in this part of France, where higher average temperatures ripen fruit quickly and convert all the juicy, refreshing acids to sugar, which then gets fermented to alcohol. Like a lot of alcohol. Legs for days, but not exactly what you want when you’re finally busting out your shorts and crocs combo. This grenache isn’t typical. For starters, it undergoes carbonic maceration, similar to a Beaujolais, so it presents as fruit-forward and less abrasively tannic. But this isn’t a young wine. After 10 days maceration, it spends two years (!!) fermenting to dryness at a relatively easygoing 13% ABV. And somehow, after two years it still retains some lively bubbles that present in the glass, just to keep things spicy. I love it. I love this wine. 

The winemaker: Natural wine legends Gérald & Jocelyne Oustric are the hands and minds behind Le Mazel wines. Gerald is one of a distinct group of winemakers that experienced an epiphany after meeting Marcel Lapierre during the 80s. At the time, him and his father were working family vineyards and selling to a co-op. He pulled out of the co-op and transitioned to organic, realizing his vision of making wine with zero additions. He joined forces with his sister Jocelyne, and Le Mazel was born. Since then they have leased land and experience to emergent winemakers such as Sylvain Bock and Andrea Calek and lead a collaborative relationship with the natural wine producers of the south-central Rhone. 

The geeky details: 100% organic Grenache. 10-day whole-bunch carbonic maceration prior to pressing into stainless steel, where the grapes undergo a very slow, long fermentation sans temperature control. The wine is finally fermented to dryness 2 years later. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without any sulfur addition. 

Serve: With a light chill

Food pairing: Pizza, obviously. Also craving a hearty pasta and meatballs. Would also go great in a picnic basket with charcuterie and French cheeses. 

Album pairing: Aura Safari & Jimi Tenor – Sensory Blending

 

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WHAT THE FUNK?! 

 

Les Errances – ‘Cartouche’ 2022

The vibe: We’re staying in France, but migrating north to the Loire – Bellevigne-en-Layon to be specific. This wine is a really cool contrast to the Le Mazel. You have a slightly cooler climate, conducive to making lightly extracted, fruit- and terroir-forward reds with great tension and balance. This one is in the funky camp because it has some Volatile Acidity (VA), which in small doses like this I absolutely lose my mind for. Taste that balsamic-esque acidity? It lifts the entire profile and gives it a crunchy, fruity and downright refreshing finish, balanced with a touch of residual sugar to keep it in check. This wine was an instant “yes” from me when I tasted it. If you’re down with the funk, you’re down with this juice.  

The winemaker: Producing organically produced natural wines, Maïté Perrocheau and Warren Truchon founded Les Errances in 2017 after meeting while attending business school. Less Errances translates to “wanderings,” which is.a lovely way to say that there is always more around the bend if you keep wandering down the path. 

The geeky details: Grolleau (70%) and Cabernet Franc (30%). Hand harvested from 60-year-old vines, wild yeast fermentation, matures for 12 months on the lees in previously used barriques, unfiltered and unsulfured. 

Serve: Start with a light chill, let it evolve from there! 

Food pairing: With brambly notes of black raspberry, cranberry and pepper, this wine would pair well with pork rillettes slathered on a buttery baguette. 

Album pairing: Peggy Gou – I Hear You

 

May Wine Club

Weingut Leiner – Riesling 2021 1L

The vibe: Riesling is one of those varietals that gets a lot of undeserved bad press. Like Lambrusco and Moscato, Riesling is generally synonymous with sweet wine. But these are all just grapes, and winemakers can do what they want with them. While we don’t bash sweet wines, fermenting the wine dry lends latitude to the palate and profile of the finished wine. Secondary flavors can rise to the surface and nuances you couldn’t detect before are suddenly exploding from the glass. This Riesling is a whole heckin’ liter of electricity. It’s got acid. It’s got minerality. It’s got that citrus fruit-sedimentary power combo that showcases the best of what Riesling can be. A cooler microclimate ensures a longer ripening period and concentrates the acid and terroir – which is calcium-rich loess deposited by ancient glaciers. It all shines through in this expression and it’s all the better for it. If you weren’t a fan of Riesling before, I’ll bet you are now!

The winemaker: Jurgen took over the winery from his father in 1974, cultivating vines biodynamically since 2005 and attaining Demeter certification in 2011. He personally collects and concocts herbal teas and compost additions for the health and vitality of the vines and places great value on maintaining harmony in the vineyards, aligning natural growing cycles with cosmic cycles and cultivating only when everything is in balance.

The geeky details: 100% Riesling. Biodynamically grown and hand-harvested. Fermented with native yeast in stainless steel. Bottled unfined and unfiltered at a bone-dry 4g/L of residual sugar. 

Serve: Chilled

Food pairing: Dry Riesling goes great with anything spicy or salty. Try Thai foods like curry or Khao Soi or Indian dishes like Biryani and Tandoori. Duck, chicken and pork are all good meat pairings as are seafoods like shrimp and crab.

Album pairing: Melodiesinfonie – Fragments

 

Succes – ‘Patxanga’ Rosado 2022 

The vibe: Let me tell you, having just visited Catalonia, this region should be on every wine enthusiast’s shortlist. While I (hi, it’s Nick) didn’t venture out to the winemaking regions, wine bars like Bar Brutal and so many others offer an incredible variety of natural wine from all over the region right in the heart of Barcelona. Succes happens to be on their glass list often and for good reason! While the region is known for crowd-pleasing Cavas and cheap rosé, winemakers like Succes are pushing the boundaries using indigenous grapes like, in this case, Trepat. Berry-forward and so crushable, this wine is singing and like the label, makes us dream of watermelon on the beach.  

The winemaker: Albert Canela and Mariona Vendrell started making wine in 2011 when they were just 20. Albert’s family has grown vines in the area for generations, which allows them connections to source organically grown old vine fruit owned by local abuelos.  

The geeky details: 100% Trepat from 40 year-old organic bush-trained vines. Calcareous clay, 400m elevation. Hand-picked and sorted then pressed into stainless steel where it is aged and bottled without sulfur additions. 

Serve: Chilled 

Food pairing: As the label suggests, pair this picnic popper with your beach-bound basket of fresh fruit, bread, cheese, and charcuterie cuts.

Album pairing: SiR – Chasing Summer

 

Limited Addition – Cabernet Franc Field Blend 2022

The vibe: We have been huge fans of Limited Addition since the shop’s inception. For starters, they’re incredibly (like, seriously extremely) educated and experienced winemakers. More on that below. Leveraging this experience to craft wines that are honest to the time and place they’re from results in some of the purest and most honest and unique expressions in the Willamette Valley. While they do work with a bunch of less common varietals, this Cab Franc is unique for other reasons. For starters, it’s deliciously juicy for having such a textural, full body. Due to the microclimate in the northern Willamette, the fruit undergoes full physical ripening at low alcohol, but with the absence of pyrazines (the compound in certain varietals that causes “green” aromas like bell pepper, grassiness, and herbal aromas). It’s a cab franc with almost pinot-levels of terroir expressiveness. It is blackcurrant. It is tobacco leaf. It is volcanic soil. And it is incredible. 

The winemaker: Bree and Chad Stock bring some serious experience to the Willamette wine scene. Chad (formerly of Minimus, Omero, and Origin) has a BA in Enology and launched his first wine brand “Minimus” in 2011, exploring viticulture and wine production theory across the state of Oregon. He is a top consultant in the state for minimal intervention winemaking. Bree has been a Master of Wine since 2016, holding one of the highest qualifications in the wine industry. For context, there are only 354 Masters of Wine in the world, and Bree is the only woman in the PNW with this achievement. She is also a certified WSET educator and sits on the boards of Assemblage Women in Wine and Demeter Biodynamic.

The geeky details: A blend of 100% Cabernet Franc from old and young vine sites. 70% whole cluster fermentation followed by elevage in mostly new neutral barrels.

Serve: Cellar temp (very light chill)

Food pairing: This wine could go so many ways depending on your vibe. You could chill it down and keep things casual with a juicy smash burger or bbq veggies and smoked meats. This would go amazing with cheeses – goat or pecorino or even some brie. Because it’s not particularly herbal (no pyrazines) it would likely cut through fatty foods nicely, much like lighter acid-driven varietals like pinot or gamay. And if you’re tapping into your classy side, French bistro food would pair incredibly.

Album pairing: Okvsho – A Place Between Us

 

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WHAT THE FUNK?! 

 

Azienda Agricola Gaudioso – ‘Gaudioso’ Syrah 2019

The vibe: We love a 12% Syrah. We also love an island red. Gaudioso puts a Sicilian spin on Syrah with this super fun and funky example. It’s in a clear bottle, the winemaker’s signal that this red is ready for drinking RIGHT NOW. Bright red fruit notes of cherry and pomegranate are the high note to the grassy and spiced vanilla undertones. Harvested the final week of August, it maintains a lightness and acidity atypical for reds of this region. You know where we’re going with this…it’s the perfect chillable red for spring in Seattle. If it’s hot out, throw a good chill on it. Overcast? Perfect – it’s still a Syrah! This is one for every occasion, and it keeps things interesting with a swift kick of acid and vibrant fruity tones. 

The winemaker:  Azienda Agricola Gaudioso is a 30ha biodynamic farm located in Partanna, Sicily, with about 7ha under vine. Though they are a younger winery, they come from several generations of Sicilian winemakers. Along with olives grown for oil, they grow both indigenous and French varietals without the use of pesticides or herbicides and follow low intervention winemaking practices in the cellar.  

The geeky details: 100% Syrah planted in 1998 on clay, sandy soil. Spontaneously fermented in stainless steel with just 8 days of skin contact without temperature control. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur additions at bottling (<25mg/l).

Serve: Start with a light chill, see how it evolves as it warms in the glass.

Food pairing: Syrah typically pairs great with intense flavors like grilled meats and vegetables. A hearty Sicilian-inspired stew comes to mind. Eggplant Caponata would probably work too – since this wine is so light in body and alcohol. Muffuletta, mmm. Wait. Arancini! You know what? Just put a whole Sicilian spread together and let me know your findings.

Album pairing: Nu Genea – Bar Mediterraneo

April Wine Club

 

Buona Notte – ‘Mortadella’ 2022

The vibe: Sooooo we start off this wine club with a fun one that doesn’t really fit well into an existing wine category. Sounds familiar, right? I thought this would be a great “white” to debut this time of year because it’s a skinsy, textured, acid-driven feisty little thing with lots of tension and fun mouthfeel. But also, don’t overthink it. ‘Mortadella’ is a hodgepodge blend of all of the white grapes Buona Notte works with, and they all see 1-2 weeks of skin contact, lending some great aromatics and minerality. The extended extraction from macerating the grapes really showcases what I think makes the Columbia Gorge such an exciting microclimate for natural growers. You get this incredible minerality from the varied soil types which include volcanic, lahar, loess, silt and sand. It’s also much cooler compared to even a few miles east, which elongates the ripening period and allows complex flavors to mature and acid to remain high. Yes yes yes!

The winemaker: Graham Markel learned how to cook at his mother’s Tuscan culinary school at an early age, lending an Italian influence to his wines. For seven years he worked at the acclaimed Antica Terra Winery under Maggie Harrison and Hiyu Wine Farm’s Nate Ready. He learned many things from them, number one being to think deeply about winemaking and how to add beauty to every step of the process. 

The geeky details: A blend of Organic Gruner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Moscato, all between one and two weeks of skin contact. Grapes sourced from multiple sites in the Columbia Gorge AVA. Aged in neutral French oak before bottling. 

Serve: Chilled

Food pairing: I meann… Mortadella anyone? Grab some Italian meats like prosciutto, Calabrese salami, Capicola, get together a whole smorgasbord and see what pairs best. I’d even pair this with an Italian sausage hotdog. Being acid-driven, this wine will pair great with anything higher in fat like cheese and pastries. And of course seafood pairings would go excellent with this.

Album pairing: Kano - New York Cake  

 

Domaine Saint-Cyr - 'La Galoche' Rosé 2022

The vibe: One of two Beaujolais this month because you can never have too much Beaujolais! While Domaine Saint-Cyr makes some incredible Beaujolais Rouge, this bottle takes a lighter approach with a direct pressing of gamay after harvest, minimizing the time the skins are in contact with the juice. Located at the southern edge of Beajolais in Anse, the vineyard terroir is composed mostly of clay and limestone soil, which shines through in this expression. The mineral-forward profile combined with great ripe strawberries and raspberries and a slight hit of effervescence makes this rosé an easy peasy pick for the smattering of sunny days we’re beginning to see. “La Galoche” is named after a small stream that runs by the property and I honestly can’t picture a more idyllic setting to be drinking this wine in. 

The winemaker: Raphaël Saint-Cyr is the fourth-generation vigneron at the Domaine Saint-Cyr, which was created by his great-grandfather, Pierre Saint-Cyr. Having seen his grandfather and uncle get sick from the chemicals used to treat their vines, Raphaël converted the entire 23-hectare domaine to certified organic viticulture, making it one of the largest organic domaines in the Beaujolais. He has two adorable horses that help him harvest named Simba and El Suegno.

The geeky details: 100% Gamay. Direct press followed by complete malolactic fermentation. Aged in stainless steel for 4 months before bottling. 

Serve: Chilled.

Food pairing: Roasted veggies, salad with strawberries and melon, farmer’s market bread and brie, poke bowls?!

Album pairing: Khruangbin - A LA Sala

Séléné - 'Cuvée de Printemps' AOC Beaujolais 2022

The vibe: Let your hair down. Kick your feet up. Light some incense and break out the cheese platter. “Printemps” means springtime in French and this chill red is perfect no matter what this Seattle weather is doing. The Beaujolais region is a personal favorite of mine as they’ve always been the underdog to Burgundy (they’re literally underneath it) and so they take great pride in what they release. It’s also where the Gang of Four introduced biodynamic winemaking to the contemporary wine industry and set the scene for the current state of natural wine. There’s a ton of history there that I could dig into but the long and short of it is if you’re a fan of mineral-driven, fruit forward, less-is-more approach to tannins and extraction this bottle is gonna be an instant hit. It literally made me say “woahh” with wine in my mouth. 

The geeky details: 100% Gamay. Whole cluster partial carbonic maceration. Six months in concrete before bottling. 

Serve: With a light chill.   

Food pairing: wood fired prosciutto pizza, pulled pork sando with a side of potato salad, hard aged cheeses 

Album pairing: Fanga – Natural Juice 


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WHAT THE FUNK?! 

Andrea Calek - 'A Toi Nous' NV

The vibe: First of all, thank you for bequeathing me with your trust to source the funkiest natty in all the lands. I had so much fun choosing the first funky bottle kick off the club – and though it wasn’t easy I think this bottle shines above the rest. For those unfamiliar with Andrea Calek and his wines, I’m super excited to debut this as his first bottle in the shop. Calek has a reputation for taking a hands-off approach to his wines (even by natural wine standards). But this is a good thing! Just look him up and you’ll find articles with titles like “Andrea Calek Is a Lazy Bum and That’s Why His Wines Are So Good.” His wines are alive and untamed, yet elegant in their own right. ‘A Toi Nous’ translates to ‘here’s to you’, a phrase often used when someone is drinking excessively. Which, let’s be honest, could happen pretty quickly with a bottle this slurpable. It’s quaffable. It’s fruity. It’s expressive. It’s FUNKY. And it’s singing right now. I’ve been loving wines from this region of Ardeche, and I’m toasting you right now from Le Mazel – the neighboring winery to Andrea’s. When I return, I’ll have lots of stories to share (and maybe a bottle or two) so come stop by and we’ll catch up!

The winemaker: Andrea Calek was born and raised in Czechoslovakia. Just down the road from his winery is Le Mazel, the acclaimed winery where so many Ardeche winemakers cut their teeth and where he learned winemaking before starting his own endeavor. His life partner, Stephana now runs the winemaking for the most part as he has taken a step back in recent years.

The geeky details: 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache (36 year old vines) planted on clay-limestone. Certified organic, biodynamic. Vinification: Complete process completed by gravity, native fermentation in fiberglass, on the skins for 18 days with 8-month elevage in steel. 

Serve: With a light chill. 

Food pairing: Idk why but I want to get takeout with this. Nachos from Matador. Pad See Ew from Sen Noodle. Cookies Country Chicken sando. Or oooh would go great with a pie from Delancey.

Album pairing: The Funk Ark - From the Rooftops