Wine of the Week: Domaine Belluard 2010 “Mont Blanc” Brut

With summer coming to a close and the onset of fall, I wanted to feature a Wine of the Week that will pair well with the transition of seasonal ingredients. In summer, you see tons of summer squash, tomatoes, basil, corn, stone fruit, and berries. When fall arrives, so do the hard winter squashes, chicories, wild mushrooms, apples, pears, potatoes, fennel, and beets. I like to think of wines as seasonal, too, and the arrival of fall makes me crave different types of wine. I want wines that are less fruity; I look for wines that are more herbal and savory.

One of the wines in our shop that seems best suited for fall is the Domaine Belluard 2010 “Mont Blanc” Brut. It’s a biodynamically farmed sparkling wine made from a nearly extinct grape called Gringet, which there are only 22 hectares of in existence. Belluard seeks to preserve this rare and delicious grape by making a number of varietal wines from it. The “Mont Blanc” brut is produced from grapes grown on steep slopes and in poor soil. The wine is intensely mineral – if you’ve ever doubted the existence of minerality in wine, get a bottle of this and you will no longer doubt it. It smells intensely of crushed rocks, what you might imagine a quarry smells like. Along with the notable minerality, there are aromas of ginger, lemongrass, white flowers, and fresh alpine air. This is an elegant, profound, complex wine that is perfect to pair with a variety of fall foods.

This is a very rare wine, and it’s beauty is equal to it’s scarcity. Most of it was sold out across California before it recovered from bottle shock due to being transported across the globe. I opened a bottle of this just the other night at a friend’s house, and it’s singing right now.

Buy now on Winelandia.com!

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Blend: 100% Gringet
Region: 
France>Savoie>Haute-Savoie
Vineyard: 
Biodynamically farmed. Vines are planted on chalky scree slopes with southern exposure.
Tasting Notes: 
A profound sparkling wine, with notes of white flowers, ginger, lemongrass, and crushed rocks.
Food Pairing: Comté cheese, smoked trout, quiche, roasted hard winter squash with maldon salt
Production Notes:
 Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Fermented and aged in concrete egg. Minimum of 3 years on the lees. Bottled with minimal SO2.
Winemaker:
 Dominique Belluard
Bio: Deep in the eastern French Alps, near the Swiss border, the Belluard family has been making wine in the village of Ayse since 1947.  They are one of the region’s top Biodynamic producers. They started with vineyards of Gringet (a rare grape variety endemic to the region) and fruit orchards. They now own 12 of the 22 remaining hectares of this nearly extinct grape, and are doing their best to preserve it. Their vineyards are certified Biodynamic, and all of their wines are fermented and aged in concrete eggs instead of wood or stainless steel. Great care is taken in the production of these wines, utilizing only native yeasts, and even aging their own sparkling wines in the bottle (most producers outsource this).

Buy now on Winelandia.com!

Distillery Visit: St. George Spirits

Did you know that Alameda’s former Naval Air Base is now home to a number of beverage manufacturers? Wineries, distilleries, and breweries – the craft beverage industry is booming on that little island next to Oakland. I had the opportunity to take a tour of the St. George distillery a few weeks ago in honor of a friend’s birthday, and it was great!

P9060001For just $20 and a reservation, you can take a tour of this famous distillery as well. Their claim to fame is being the first American beverage manufacturer to commercially produce an absinthe after the ban on it was lifted in 2007 (it had been banned in the United States since 1912). The prohibition of absinthe was due to the misconception that wormwood (one of the botanicals used to produce absinthe) made people hallucinate, crazy, and violent. Suffice to say, none of that was true, and since the repeal of the ban, absinthe production in the US has taken off.

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In addition to absinthe, St. George makes a number of other distilled spirits. Coffee liqueur, a variety of gins, agricole rum (rum made with whole sugar cane, rather than molasses), fruit brandies, fruit liqueurs, whiskies, and bourbons. When you take the tour, they explain to you in great detail the process of making various spirits and the history behind absinthe, all while showing you around their incredible space.

P9060032At the end of the tour, you are guided back to the tasting room, where you are walked through a tasting of their delicious spirits. My personal favorite was and has always been their “Terroir” gin, a spirit aromatized with botanicals straight from Mt. Tam – wild sagebrush, douglas fir, and bay laurel all come together to produce a libation whose aroma smells just like Mt. Tamalpais on a hot summer day. The agricole rum is really unusual and herbal, and smelled just like a dirty martini full of olives. I also really enjoyed the fruit liqueurs, which were sweet and fresh tasting.

P9060073As a wine professional, it was really interesting and beneficial for me to see exactly how spirits are made. I spend so much time thinking about and researching wine, that I forget there is a whole world of other beverages out there that I don’t know anything about. If you are planning on going to Alameda, be sure to set up a tour of the St. George Spirits distillery – you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

Wine of the Week: Broken Arrow Wine Co. White Blend, North Coast

This wine is SOLD OUT, but available by the case if you special order – just email orders@winelandia.com. Thanks for the interest!

It’s been a little while since we’ve featured a Wine of the Week, and we are coming out of the gates with one of our favorites yet! This white blend is from winemaker Aran Healy, a San Francisco resident, winemaking consultant, and Potrero Hill wine shop owner. His Broken Arrow wines are totally under the radar, mostly found in his shop and at local restaurants.

This white blend is mostly Rhone varieties from the North Coast AVA, including 50% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 15% Vermentino, and 5% Picpoul. It’s rich and full of Rhone-y texture that’s perfect for heartier fare, while still having enough acidity to pair well with sunshine or seafood. The screw-cap closure gives you easy access, which makes this wine a no-brainer for a late summer picnic. It’s hard to find a white wine with so much stuffing at this price point, so pick some up today!

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Blend: 50% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 15% Vermentino, 5% Picpoul
Region: California>North Coast
Vineyard: Various sites, sustainably farmed.
Tasting Notes: If there was ever a perfect everyday white wine, this would be it. It finds harmony between voluptuous and bright, offering loads of texture and body while having plenty of freshness and acidity. Honeysuckle, stone fruit, and mineral are at the forefront of this luscious white wine, which makes it great to pair with a variety of foods.
Food Pairing: Pan-roasted halibut, roasted root vegetable salad, cheese plates
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit. Bottled with 10ppm SO2.
Winemaker: Aran Healy
Bio: A native of Mendocino county and current resident of San Franisco, Healy dabbles in many areas of the wine business. A former assistant winemaker at Beauregard Winery, he is currently a winemaking consultant, winemaker, French bulldog caretaker, and owner of a little wine shop in Potrero Hill called Ruby Wine. Aran is a well-rounded wine professional with a passion for natural wine. Broken Arrow is his own label geared towards well-balanced, responsibly made wines at everyday prices.

4 New Wines Just In Time For Fall

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It’s been busy here in Winelandia, and we’ve got tons of new wines to share with you! Fall releases from our favorite producers are being announced every day, and we’re jumping at the opportunity to pick up some of our favorites. Below is a list of some of the fantastic new wines in the shop. Buy 6 and save on local delivery!

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Teutonic Wine Co. 2013 Pinot Meunier, Willamette Valley
Pinot Meunier is an obscure red grape variety usually only found in Champagne, where AOC rules allow it’s use in blends. This 100% Pinot Meunier varietal wine from Oregon is fresh, feminine, and pure. Gorgeous red fruit aromas dominate the nose, with delicate floral accents and earthy notes in the background. On the palate, it’s juicy and lush, with plenty of acidity to help it pair with a variety of foods. This is an excellent wine for lovers of Pinot, Trousseau, Poulsard, or Gamay.

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Salinia 2013 “Twenty Five Reasons” Petillant White Wine, Mendocino
A departure from the ultra-tropical & fruity previous vintage, the latest 25 Reasons is full of mineral and restraint. Citrus, exotic fruit, crushed rocks, and delicate, tiny bubbles make this wine a joy to drink in any season.

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Domaine Guiberteau 2013 Chenin Blanc, Saumur
An expertly made, mineral driven Chenin Blanc from one of the most intriguing terroirs of the Loire Valley. Aromas of hay, white flowers, and stone fruit lead to flavors of lemon and almond, with a fine mineral finish. Elegant, complex, and refreshing, this gorgeous wine is great now and will just get better with age.

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Foradori 2011 Teroldego, Trentino-Alto Adige
A striking, inky red wine with aromas of fresh black fruit, mint, and spice.  On the palate, the wine is silky, soft, and polished, with excellent length, texture, juicy acidity, and saline minerality. An unbelievable wine at an incredible price, pair this with hearty fare from fall through winter.

All wines listed above are in stock and ready to ship! We also have more new wines not listed here in our online shop. Build your order at https://winelandia.com/shop/ for delivery this week.

It’s Harvest Time in Wine Country

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Monday morning, I got out of bed at 4am so that I could be at a Saratoga vineyard by 6am to help some friends pick grapes for a wine they intend to make under their new label, Thistle. The wine will be styled after those made in Côte-Rôtie – mostly Syrah co-fermented with a small percentage of Viognier (an aromatic white grape). The idea behind adding 5%-10% of Viognier to your Syrah has a few purposes, but the primary idea is that the Viognier makes the wine more fragrant and floral, while also bringing out the aromatics in the Syrah.

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If you’ve never harvested grapes before, let it be known that it is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. While the weather was initially cool and foggy, the sun eventually came out and gave us all a relentless beat-down. In addition to the hot sun, some of the vineyard was on a pretty steep hill, making it even more difficult to maintain a foothold and harvest the fruit. There were about 10 of us picking 1.25 acres, and while we worked hard, it still took us until about 3pm to finish the pick. The end result is highly satisfying, seeing the fruits of your labor (har) all neatly piled up in buckets and bins.

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The greatest part about harvest is the group effort and camaraderie – everyone is working as hard as you are, and plugging along towards the same goal. Most people don’t know how much manual labor goes into the production of fine, hand-crafted wine. A lot of grapes are harvested by machines, but the best wines are gently harvested by hand.

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The hard work and heat were punctuated by copious amounts of barbecue, delicious cider from Normandy, a little bit of Champagne, and the company of good friends. The shady knoll we had our picnic on was a welcome oasis.

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Above: Thistle winemaker Aran Healy sabering a bottle of cider from Normandy with a pair of shears.

P9080150At the end of the day, we had harvested just over 2 tons of fruit (that’s over 4,000 lbs). I feel fortunate to know so many hard-working, ambitious, and creative people who make fine wine.

P9080155I’m looking forward to trying the new Thistle 2014 Syrah/Viognier!

Wine of the Week: Mas del Périé “You Fuck My Wine?!” Jurançon Noir

Are you looking for a fantastic red to compliment your favorite summertime fare? Check out this cheerful Biodynamic wine from French artisan winemaker Fabien Jouves in South West France. It’s made from 100% Jurançon Noir, a grape that was once a staple of Cahors (AOC rules now mandate Cahors be Malbec-based). Jouves seeks to bring this forgotten grape into the spotlight with the obscenely-named “You Fuck My Wine?!”, a title which conveys how the winemaker feels about these AOC rules.

Medium bodied with plenty of spice, fruit, juicy acidity, and freshness, this easygoing red is rustic enough to stand up to summertime fare such as barbecue, but will also be delightful on your Thanksgiving table in the fall. Farming and production on this wine goes beyond organic, with Biodynamic farming in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the winery. At $20 per bottle and extremely limited availability, you’ll want to pick up at least a few of these.

THIS WINE IS SOLD OUT

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Blend: 100% Jurançon Noir
Region: France>Southwestern France>Cahors
Vineyard: Biodynamically farmed. 1100′ elevation. Hillside vineyard with soils composed of red clay and limestone.
Tasting Notes: A fresh, vibrant, and medium bodied red wine that is an homage to the roots of Cahors. Up until 1992, Jurançon Noir was permitted in Cahors AOC, but that is no longer the case. Jouves explains the name of the wine as a question: “It is a question because I don’t understand why the people of AOC Cahors destroy this beautiful grape.”
Food Pairing: Anything off the grill – pork chops, tri tip, salmon, carne asada, burgers, tofu, vegetables, you name it.
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts for 10 days. Aged for six months in neutral barrels and bottled without fining or filtration. Minimal SO2 added at bottling.
Winemaker: Fabien Jouves
Bio: Fabien Jouves is a young winemaker in Cahors who began converting his family’s estate to Biodymanic farming in 2004. He initially intended to study medicine, but instead went on to study viticulture and oenology as his parents were struggling with the family vineyard. He now farms all 22 hectares of the family’s estate.