New on the Shelf
Something a little different, each and every one, we're pretty sure we'll got something for everybody here. Another rather random selection this week, we promise we'll go back to school with you soon. You can look forward to in depth and educational tastings focused on Sancerre, Riesling, Chablis, Piedmont... we've got many journeys in mind. Can't wait to take you with us!
Hild Elbling Sekt Brut
I'd like to think I know a thing or two about German wine, but before encountering this bubbly little number, I cannot recollect having heard of Elbling. Until the early 20th century, Elbling was the most planted grapevine cultivar in Germany, but today you might struggle to find a bottle made from its juice. Matthias Hild sources grapes for his Elbling sparkling wine from vineyards within 4km of his winery in Wincheringen, in the Upper Mosel. Here the soils are limestone, unlike the warm slate soils of the more famous Middle Mosel, and the climate is cooler, perfect for tart grapes destined to make a light and crisp sparkling wine. Made with the traditional method (or methode Champenoise), Hild uses a dry Elbling for a base wine before refermentation in bottle and aging on the lees for 9 to 18 months. The last batch was a model of understatement and subtlety: ethereal, mineral and very dry. We just got a new batch, and we can't wait to try it with you.
A Tribute to Grace Rosé of Grenache 2018
We're really into the idea that Grenache is capable of producing some of the world's most elegant and perfumed pink and red wines. We're talking about fresh and lifted wines, we would dare say "Pinot-like", but we realize that these styles are rare, and many of you may have only ever had big and blowsy examples of Grenache. The intent of the winemaker is paramount, a fresh style doesn't just happen, but we also believe that certain vineyard sites will confer much advantage to a winemaker's pursuit of balance and elegance. California's Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is situated in the Sierra Madre Mountains at 3200 feet, and experiences daily temperature swings of up to 40°F, making for a rather cool spot to grow Grenache. Only 4% of the vineyard is planted to Grenache, and A Tribute to Grace's 2018 rosé is sourced from two vineyard blocks planted to two different clones of Grenache. Each block was picked separately; half of the clusters were gently pressed to tank, the other half foot-stomped and left on their skins for 24 hours, before joining the direct-pressed juice. Each block was also fermented separately, with one block left to ferment without inoculation and the other block inoculated with yeast. When the wines reached dryness they were blended, and rested together for 10 weeks before bottling. The finished wine is beautifully composed, with notes of strawberry, citrus and tropical fruits, as well as hints of spice and white flowers. Super fresh and crisp through the finish, it has a silky and seamless texture that gently grips the palate and lingers on mineral and fruit notes. Powerful but never heavy, this wine is a model of finesse. You like rosé? Don't miss this one.
Le Caveau Savoyard Savoie Mondeuse 2017
We already had a fabulous Mondeuse in stock (the lovely, but a little pricey, Darkside from L'Aitonnement) but we couldn't pass up this delicious darling. Mondeuse is the red grape you are most likely to encounter from the French Alps. It is compared to both Syrah and Gamay, often exhibiting a peppery and spicy character, as well as tart dark fruit flavors. Le Caveau Savoyard's 2017 Mondeuse is a juicy crowd-pleaser, a perfect intro to the red wines of Savoie, which can sometimes be a bit lean and mean. Raspberry, blackberry, dark plums and subtle smoky and spicy notes combine wonderfully before the finish takes a refreshingly tart turn.
Luis Pato Beira Baga Vinhas Velhas 2015
Luis Pato is a hero. Reveling in nonconformity, Luis does what he wants in his vineyards and winery, and his wines have won a wide and fervent following around the world. He makes inspirational wines of all stripes, but it is probably his work with the Baga grape that has left the deepest impression on us. Baga is the major red grape of Beira and Bairrada, and it's known for both forbidding tannins and searing acidity. It is also capable of producing tons of grapes, and managing low yields in the vineyard is key to producing a balanced wine with Baga. Grown carefully, Baga can produce complex and polished wines that age beautifully. Luis Pato's Baga wines are unquestionably benchmarks for the variety, and his track record is decades long. His 2015 Baga Vinhas Velhas comes from old low-yielding vines, and it is aged for 18 months in used French oak. Fresh and red-fruited up front, then smooth and satin-textured, before turning firm on the finish, notes of tart red cherry and plums, pits and skins included, resonate long. It's a baby, and Luis says it will age 20 or more years (after tasting some of his incredible 2001s last year, we would tend to take great stock in this opinion), but it sure is fun to drink today. One might consider opening it a few hours before drinking it.