October Wine Box: The Balkan Peninsula

Ready for something new?

Long before the French and Italians graced the world with elegant, polished wines made from modern grape varieties, people were making wine on the Balkan Peninsula from ancient, indigenous grape varieties in a climate well-suited to viticulture. Americans are finally starting to take notice of these wines and now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about.

This month’s wine box features four terroir-driven, soulful Balkan wines from Istria (Croatia), Northern Dalmatia (Croatia), Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Price for all four wines is $79.

Click here to buy now. Please check our delivery terms for delivery details.

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Brkić 2013 Čitlučka Žilavka
Price: $17.00
Region: Motar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Type: White Wine
Grape Variety: Žilavka (zhee-lav-ka)
Farming: Organic and practicing Biodynamic.
Production: Fermented with indigenous yeast, aged on the lees, and bottled unfiltered.
Notes: Žilavka is a white indigenous white grape well-suited to the climate and limestone soil in the Mediterranean, where it’s been grown for more than 1000 years. Notes of ripe pear, fresh tarragon, and sea breeze make this wine pair with a variety of Mediterranean-inspired foods.

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Coronica 2014 Malvazija Istarska
Price: $20.00
Region: Istria, Croatia
Type: White Wine
Grape Variety: Malvazija Istarska
Farming: Practicing organic. Soil is composed of “Terra Rossa”, mineral-rich clay over solid limestone subsoil.
Production: 
Inoculated with yeasts cultured directly from the vineyard and fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel.
Notes: Representing almost 75% of his entire production, Coronica is the area’s benchmark for wines produced from Malvazija Istarska. A bouquet of lemon blossom, lemon pith, and minerals lead to flavors of grapefruit, delicate spice, and oceanic salinity on the palate. Pair with grilled, brined, or pickled seafood, or enjoy with hearty cheeses.

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Kabaj 2012 Sivi Pinot
Price: $22.00
Region: Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Type: Ramato (skin-fermented/orange wine)
Grape Variety: Pinot Grigio
Farming: Dry farmed utilizing organic fertilizers.
Production: 
Fermented with native yeasts for 2 weeks on the skins in 2400 liter oak vats. Aged 12 months on the lees in old French oak barrique. Bottled unfiltered. 
Notes:
 Not your Aunt Mary’s Pinot Grigio! Strawberry in color and creamy in texture with notes of dried apricots, brioche, and custard. The mineral-driven finish is long and dry with exquisite texture, density, and length. A wonderful pairing for roasted poultry and other fall fare.

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Bibich 2013 R6 Riserva
Price: $20.00
Region: Northern Dalmatia, Croatia
Type: Red Wine
Grape Variety: Babić, Lasin, Plavina
Farming: Dry farmed, head-trained vines. Minimal sprays are used in the vineyard due to the site’s optimal grape-growing conditions.
Production: Hand harvested and co-fermented with wild yeasts, then aged 12 months in American oak.
Notes: Not many people know that Zinfandel’s origins lie in Croatia. The indigenous grapes that make up Bibich’s R6 blend nod to Zinfandel, but maintain a smoky herbaceousness, freshness, and minerality that Zinfandel as we know it lacks. Pair with smoked meats, grilled sausages, and even goat cheese.

Click here to buy now.

The art of the French apéritif with Bon Appetit Box

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These days you can get pretty much anything delivered in a box. Wine (from Winelandia.com of course), meals, dog toys, nail polish, clothes, liquor, makeup, and groceries are all on the list. This is a testament to the “on-demand” culture that’s quickly gaining traction in our busy, plugged-in lives. Delivery of artisan goods is 2 parts luxury, 2 parts discovery, and 1 part convenience. You could walk or drive to the store, but it’s so much more fun to have these goods thoughtfully selected by an expert and then brought to your house in a pretty box.

Many of these subscription boxes bring us curated items that we would otherwise have a hard time finding on our own. Winelandia’s entire business is based on this model, and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you lovely wine lovers who wish to explore the world of natural wine with minimal effort on your part.

The only thing missing from your Winelandia box is some food to go along with it.

bertrand_zoeEnter Bon Appetit Box, an SF-based company founded by a young couple from the South of France, Bertrand and Zoé. They are epicureans who import speciality foods from their motherland and put them together into their thoughtfully themed Bon Appetit Boxes. There’s a Bon Appetit Box for every mood; whether you’re looking for something to enjoy before dinner, with wine, after dinner, with coffee, or for breakfast, they have a box that will bring the rich and flavorful traditions of French culture to your table or picnic blanket.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Bertrand and Zoé to discuss the French tradition of the apéritif, a word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means “to open”. An apéritif is meant to open your palate and stimulate your appetite before a meal. We discussed how food is usually enjoyed with wine in France and how it seems odd to them that anyone would enjoy wine without food. It was a no-brainer that Winelandia and Bon Appetit Box would be BFFs, as together they are greater than the sum of their parts.

P8030148Bertrand and Zoé were kind enough to give me some samples of their lovely imported products, and in return I gave them some wines that I thought would pair well with their foods. I was very excited to dig into my Bon Appetit Provence Apéritif Box, which features vegetable spreads (olive tapenade, artichoke, eggplant & red pepper), crackers, and toasts. They threw in some items from their Paris Apéritif Box as a bonus, such as the cornichons, whole grain mustard, Duck & Pork Pate with Orange and Duck Rillette.

My husband and I are finding every excuse we can to enjoy the goodies from our Bon Appetit Box. A few weekends ago, we took some to a redwood forest to enjoy beneath the trees on a hot day. The quality of the food is top-notch, and I felt as if I was being whisked away to a springtime picnic in France.

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The fun part is pairing these flavorful and piquant snacks with the appropriate wine (or beer!). For the Provence Apéritif Box, I settled on an organically farmed Chablis from the Premier Cru vineyards of Montmains. The fresh acidity and ample minerality of such a wine is a perfect pairing for rich and flavorful vegetable spreads. For the Paris Apéritif Box, I chose a light-bodied Burgundian gamay from Macon-Bussieres which was a lovely compliment to the richer, meatier spreads.

Bon Appetit Box is offering a $10 off coupon to Winelandia customers. Sign up for our mailing list below or simply email info@winelandia.com to receive this special offer. Wine club members will have received a coupon with their Summer Wine Club delivery.

Big thanks to Bertrand and Zoé for sharing their wonderful products with the Winelandia family.

 

 

Winery Visit: La Clarine Farm

A few weeks ago, I finally made my way up to the Sierra Foothills to check out the local wine scene and get some rest & relaxation. I was fortunate enough to make it up there before all of those crazy wildfires and spent some quality time sitting in the American River and putzing around Placerville.

The highlight of my trip was a visit with one of my favorite California winemakers, Hank Beckmeyer of La Clarine Farm. He has quietly been making phenomenal, soulful, natural, terroir-driven wines in the Sierra Foothills since 2001. La Clarine Farm was a gateway for my foray into the world of natural wine, and all these years later those wines still delight me with every sip. Every vintage is a little different, and the wines age incredibly well.

Hank’s farm is a testament to how organic farming can work even in extreme climates like the Sierra Foothills. He uses no chemical pesticides at his farm, recently began dry-farming all of his vines, and from this vineyard he creates his “Home Vineyard” wines every year. He grows mostly tempranillo, with a few other varieties scattered throughout. There was even a “volunteer” grapevine that sprouted forth from his compost pile, and after having it ID’d at UC Davis, they found it to be a grape that has never been identified before (though it appears to be closely related to Sauvignon).

Mystery Grapes
Mystery Grapes

Hank was kind enough to guide us through a tasting of all of the wines he currently had aging, which included a barrel fermented rosé, his 2014 “Piedi Grandi” (a nebbiolo-based blend), his 2014 Petit Manseng (an obscure high-acid, high-sugar white grape), as well as several of his wines already in bottle. The hallmark of Hank’s red wines is a high-toned tropical fruit profile framed by herbs and minerals while his whites tend to be full and luscious with loads of acid and texture.

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Delicious Jambalaia Rouge & Blanc

One of the most striking qualities of La Clarine Farm and Hank’s approach to winemaking is how laid-back it feels. It’s not as much about natural wine dogma as it is about practicality. His winery is small yet efficient, with barrels and flex tanks packed tightly in an orderly way. He doesn’t indulge in expensive and unnecessary winery equipment; instead he makes wines that are delicious, accessible, affordable and pair well with food.

Piedi Grandi aging in Flextank
Piedi Grandi aging in Flextank

Not only does Hank grow grapes and make wine at his little farm, but he also raises goats and has several adorable dogs. One of them had been bitten by a rattlesnake on her snout the day before, but fortunately survived the ordeal thanks to a vaccine and swift treatment. Her poor little nose was swollen and sore, but she found time to hang out with us during our visit.

Since Mr. Beckmeyer’s winery is not typically open to the public, I felt very honored to be able to spend a little time with a person who unknowingly guided me through the early days of my adventure in natural wine. La Clarine Farm’s wines are a favorite amongst my wine club members, and every day I’m so grateful that I can share this experience with others.

I have a few of Hank’s wines for sale in my online shop. I deliver throughout the Bay Area and ship all over California. Please see my Delivery Terms for details.

2013 La Clarine Farm “Cedarville” Mourvedre – $28
2014 La Clarine Farm “Jambalaia” Rouge – $24

I hope that you come to love La Clarine Farm’s wines as much as I have over the years. Cheers!

 

 

Summer Wine Club Terroir Series: Volcanic Wines

Winelandia’s wine club is constantly evolving as we delve deeper into the inner workings of wine. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about terroir and it’s influence on a wine’s flavors and aromas, and for the summer club I wanted to bring focus to the soil the wines are grown in.

I came up with the idea of creating a collection of wines from volcanic terroirs, as I’ve been inspired by these wines for some time. They are a departure from the style of wines I’ve brought to you in the past, which important for our growth as wine lovers. Wines grown on volcanic terroir are more about soil expression than fruit; they present profound minerality first while succulent fruit plays second fiddle.

Mt. Etna eruptingAbove: An erupting Mt. Etna. Yes, people really make wine here!

Volcanic terroirs challenge us to see wine through a different lens. While the examples in this collection may be made from different grapes and grown in different parts of the world, they all have something in common. You will find as you drink through them that you learn to identify their commonality – how volcanic terroir presents itself in the flavor and aroma of wine.

This collection has been by far the most difficult for me to source, as there are not many places that produce these wines. Volcanic vineyards tend to be on very steep slopes or in inhospitable climates, and because of that there just aren’t that many being made. I have examples for you from as close to home as the Sierra Foothills to as far away as the Canary Islands of Spain. Some of them are grown on active volcanoes like Mt. Etna while others are sourced from ancient and extinct volcanoes in Hungary.

canary islands vineyardAbove: Vineyards on the Canary Islands often look extra-terrestrial. The little stone walls built around each grape vine are designed to protect them from the strong winds.

An important thing to note about volcanic wines is that they can be a little shy when you first open them. If the wine seems tight or closed, give it a vigorous decanting. Many of these wines benefit from air and will show their more complex and sultry side if you give them a little time out of the bottle.

On to the fun part – the list. As always, full details about the wines will come in printed format with the delivery.

The Winelandia Wine Club is a great way to get introduced to an ever-evolving array of fantastic, natural, and affordable wines that you’ll be excited to open any day of the week. Each quarter we feature three different themed collections of six wines for every palate. If you prefer reds or whites, or if you like all sorts of wine, we have the club for you. For more information and our sign-up form, visit our Wine Club Signup Page.

MIXED CLUB
An alternating selection of 3 red, 2 white, and 1 rosé or sparkling wines.
$150 for all six plus tax & delivery.

Frank Cornelissen
2014 “Susucaru” Rosato
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Bodega Matías i Torres
2013 Listàn Blanco
Canary Islands, Spain

Fekete Béla
2011 Olaszrizling
Somló, Hungary

La Clarine Farm
2014 “Jambalaia” Rouge
Sierra Foothills, California

Comte Abbatucci
2014 “Frais Imperial” Rouge
Corsica, France

Cantina Giardino
2011 “Le Fole” Aglianico
Campania, Italy

ALL-RED CLUB
A collection of light, medium, and full-bodied reds for any occasion.
$150 for all six plus tax & delivery

La Clarine Farm
2014 “Jambalaia” Rouge
Sierra Foothills, California

Comte Abbatucci
2014 “Frais Imperial” Rouge
Corsica, France

Cantina Giardino
2011 “Le Fole” Aglianico
Campania, Italy

Bodega Matías i Torres
2013 Negramoll
Canary Islands, Spain

Don Michele
2009 “Moganazzi” Etna Rosso
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Agnanum
2013 “Pér ‘e Pallum” Piedirosso
Campania, Italy

ALL-WHITE CLUB
Fresh, terroir-driven whites (with a smattering of rosé and/or sparking wines) that pair with a wide variety of foods.
$150 for all six plus tax & delivery

Frank Cornelissen
2014 “Susucaru” Rosato
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Bodega Matías i Torres
2013 Listan Blanco
Canary Islands, Spain

Fekete Béla
2011 Olaszrizling
Somló, Hungary

Etnella
2013 “Kaos” Etna Bianco
Mt. Etna, Sicily

Agricola Menti
2013 “Roncaie sui lieviti“ Garganega
Veneto, Italy

Comte Abbatucci
2014 “Faustine” Blanc
Corsica, France

For detailed information on each of the wines, see below.

2014 Frank Cornelissen “Susucaru” Rosato
Type: Rosato Wine (Rosé)
Blend: Malvasia, Moscadella, Cattaratto, Nerello Mascalese
Region: Italy>Sicily>Mt. Etna
Vineyard: Organically farmed without chemicals – natural or organic. The fruit is sourced from several vineyards located on Mt. Etna – a stratovolcano located on the eastern coast of Sicily, and the tallest volcano on the European continent. Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and is in a near-constant state of activity.
Tasting Notes: A roller-coaster of a rosé that offers a kaleidoscope of flavors and aromas. Sultry, fruity, floral, herbal, mineral – it’s all in there. On the palate, it’s bursting with fresh berry flavors, chalky minerals, and fine-grained tannins that linger. Serve ice cold and enjoy with food to experience everything this wine has to offer.
Food Pairing: Polenta with fontina cheese and salami, beef carpaccio with arugula salad, bucatini with onions and sardines
Production Notes: Red and white grapes are crushed and co-fermented together for up to 45 days of skin contact. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with absolutely no sulfites added at any point in the process. A truly natural wine.
Winemaker: Frank Cornelissen
Bio: Originally from Belgium, Cornelissen fell in love with the wines of Mt. Etna during his career as a wine salesman. He set out to make wines he described as tasting like “liquid rocks”, and in 2001 he purchased a 3 acre plot of vines on Mt. Etna. Since then, he has become a household name in the natural wine community.

2013 Matías i Torres Listàn Blanco
Type: White Wine
Blend: 100% Listàn Blanco
Region: Spain>Canary Islands>La Palma
Vineyard: 100 year old ungrafted, dry-farmed vines planted in volcanic picon (gravelly ash) soil. La Palma is a volcanic ocean island, rising nearly 4 miles above the floor of the Atlantic ocean. The volcano is dormant, with it’s last recorded activity in 1971.
Tasting Notes: Saline, broad, and vibrant, with flavors of wild fennel, stonefruit, and meyer lemon, with ashy minerality on the finish. A very interesting and complex wine. Serve well-chilled and enjoy with food.
Food Pairing: Fried goat cheese with herbs, grilled sardines with olive oil and garlic, squid a la plancha
Production Notes: Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel with a few days of skin contact. Aged on the lees for 7 months. Bottled with minimal sulfites.
Winemaker: Victoria Torres
Bio: Torres and her father farm the family’s 2 hectares of vineyards in the village of Fuencaliente, where her family has been farming grapes for 5 generations. They bottled their first vintage together in 1999; prior to that they had been making wine mostly for their own consumption and to sell to restaurants.

2011 Fekete Béla Olaszrizling
Type: White Wine
Blend: 100% Olaszrizling
Region: Hungary>Somló
Vineyard: Dry-farmed vines planted in basalt and ancient seabed soil with southern exposure. The region of Somló is an ancient underwater volcano that has long been extinct. Somló has been known for hundreds of years to produce top-quality wines from some of the steepest and most densely planted vineyards in Hungary.
Tasting Notes: Smoky and mineral-driven, full-bodied and intense, with loads of texture, acid, and flavor. After a few minutes of decanting, notes of honey, fennel, and saline begin to emerge. This is not a fruity wine – instead, it exudes volcanic terroir. Serve decanted, not too cold, and with food for optimal enjoyment.
Food Pairing: Smoked fish, goulash, stuffed peppers, roasted chicken with bread salad
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit is fermented with indigenous yeasts in 1200 liter Hungarian oak casks. Aged without battonage for 2 years before bottling.
Winemaker: Fekete Béla
Bio: Fekete Béla, also known as “The Grand Old Man of Somló”, is a 93 year old winemaker and farmer who made wines on the extinct volcano of Somló in Hungary. He farmed his 4 hectares of vineyards himself until his wife insisted on his retirement. The last bottling being produced by Fekete is the 2013 vintage.

2014 La Clarine Farm “Jambalaia” Rouge
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 48% Mourvèdre, 37% Grenache, 14% Marsanne and 1% Fiano & Arneis
Region: United States>California>Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Sustainably farmed vines planted in deep volcanic loam near the town of Camino. About 10 million years ago, the Lake Tahoe area was an active volcano, and as a result many of the wine-growing regions in the area feature various types of volcanic soils.
Tasting Notes: Fresh and juicy with notes of ripe red tropical fruit, pink flowers, and minerals. Light on it’s feet while still retaining plenty of grippy tannins and structure, it’s best served lightly chilled and enjoyed with food. The wine will continue to improve with age, so it can be cellared and enjoyed for the next few years.
Food Pairing: Dry-rubbed BBQ ribs, grilled sausages, charcuterie plates
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are foot-stomped and fermented whole-cluster with ambient yeasts in open-top containers with no added sulfites. After 5-7 days of maceration, the grapes are pressed and left to finish fermenting in tanks. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfites. 377 cases made.
Winemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001.

2014 Comte Abbatucci “Frais Imperial” Rouge
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 100% Sciaccarellu
Region: France>Corsica>Ajaccio
Vineyard: Certified Biodynamic 20 year old vines planted in granitic soils. The island of Corsica was once an volcano during the Triassic period, now ancient and extinct. The island itself was created 60 million years ago while the continent of Africa was colliding with Europe – the same geological event that created the Alps.
Tasting Notes: Light, floral, and spicy, with delicate acidity and super-fine tannins. A wonderful summertime red that pairs well with Mediterranean fare.
Food Pairing: Wild boar charcuterie, stuffed pasta with ricotta and tomato sauce, roasted trout with garlic and olive oil.
Production Notes: Hand-picked grapes are gently de-stemmed and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Lightly punched-down with a short maceration period, the finished wine is aged in stainless steel and concrete.
Winemaker: Jean-Charles Abbatucci
Bio: A direct descendant of a celebrated Corsican general in the French revolution of the same name, Jean-Charles Abbatucci is a strict follower of Biodynamic farming practices. He has been known to play traditional Corsican songs over loudspeakers on his tractor to his vines and wines aging in the winery. Abbatucci believes it’s all part of the terroir.

2011 Cantina Giardino “Le Fole” Aglianico
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 100% Aglianico
Region: Italy>Campania
Vineyard: Organically farmed 75 year old vines planted in flysh soils of volcanic origin. Campania’s soils are volcanic due to the chain of active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes surrounding the area called the Campanian Volcanic Arc. It includes Mt. Vesuvius (which last erupted in 1944) and Campi Flegrei, a huge ancient caldera.
Tasting Notes: Notes of ripe cranberry and red currants are framed by firm tannins and fresh acidity. On the palate, more ripe red fruits come through with graphite minerality.
Food Pairing: Roasted wild pheasant, braised rabbit with herbs and tomatoes, wild boar sausage
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Pressed by hand using a torchio (basket press). Aged 1 year in large-format chestnut botti and bottled unfined and unfiltered with no added sulfites.
Winemaker: Antonio di Gruttola
Bio: Cantina Giardino is a joint venture started by six friends with the intent of preserving old plantings of native grape varieties vines throughout Campania. Their winery is located in the village of Irpinia, and only natural processes are used in the production of their wines.

2013 Etnella “Kaos” Etna Bianco
Type: White Wine
Blend: 60% Carricante 30% Catarratto 10% various indigenous white varieties
Region: Italy>Sicily>Mt. Etna
Vineyard: Organically farmed 20-40 year old bush trained vines planted in volcanic soil at 2400’ elevation on the Southeastern slope of Mt. Etna – a stratovolcano located on the eastern coast of Sicily, and the tallest volcano on the European continent. Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and is in a near-constant state of activity.
Tasting Notes: On the initial pour, Kaos is smoky, saline, and intense. After decanting for a little while it opens up it’s softer side, offering notes of delicate white flowers, ripe stone fruit, and persistent minerality.
Food Pairing: Seared prawns with garlic butter and fresh corn over pasta, fish poached with olive oil and aromatics, grilled sardines with garlic and olive oil
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are crushed and soaked on the skins 6 hours. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged 6 months in stainless steel. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfites.
Winemakers: Davide Bentivegna
Bio: Originally from the hills outside of Catania, Bentivegna spent half of his life abroad. He first explored agricultural passion while working for Siemens, and eventually settled on Mt. Etna in 2010 when he began to make wine. He is part of a 4-member team who strives to make the most natural and terroir-driven wines possible.

2013 Agricola Menti “Roncaie sui lieviti“ Garganega
Type: White Wine, Sparkling
Blend: 100% Garganega
Region: Italy>Veneto>Gambellara
Vineyard: Organic and practicing Biodynamic. 30 year old vines planted in volcanic basalt alluvial soil. Veneto gained its volcanic soils during several geological events ranging between the Paleocene and Oligocene periods, 30-60 million years ago. The lavas erupted from the southernmost border of the Trento Platform, which now makes up the Veneto volcanic province.
Tasting Notes: Fresh & fizzy, with notes of yellow fruit and yeasty brioche framed by delicate acidity and smoky minerality. This wine is un-disgorged, which means there’s some sediment in the bottle. This is natural, adding texture and richness to the wine.
Food Pairing: Fresh sheep’s milk cheeses, caprese salad, arugula salad with prosciutto and almonds, hand-pulled chinese noodles with spicy peanut sauce
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel vats. Bottled with a little unfermented juice from Albina grapes, kicking off another fermentation in the bottle, and adding a natural effervescence to the wine. Un-disgorged with no added sulfites.
Winemaker: Giovanni Menti
Bio: Menti Giovanni was started in the 19th century in the village of Gambellara by Menti’s grandfather. Along with his son Stefano, Menti farms the family’s 7.5 hectares of garganega and durella vines utilizing only organic and biodynamic farming practices.

2014 Comte Abbatucci “Faustine” Blanc
Type: White Wine
Blend: 100% Vermentinu
Region: France>Corsica>Ajaccio
Vineyard: Biodynamically farmed old vines planted in ancient granitic soil. The island of Corsica was once an volcano, many millions of years ago during the Triassic period, now ancient and extinct. The island itself was created 60 million years ago while the continent of Africa was colliding with Europe – the same geological event that created the Alps.
Tasting Notes: Fresh and delicate, with notes of Corsican wildflowers, ripe citrus, and saline minerals. Silky and creamy with a long mineral finish.
Food Pairing: Sheep’s milk ricotta with fresh mint on crostini, fasgioli beans with tomatoes and herbs, cannelloni filled with cheese and greens
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit is quickly cold-soaked and slowly fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. Bottled with minimal additions.
Winemaker: Jean-Charles Abbatucci
Bio: A direct descendant of a celebrated Corsican general in the French revolution of the same name, Jean-Charles Abbatucci is a strict follower of Biodynamic farming practices. He has been known to play traditional Corsican songs over loudspeakers on his tractor to his vines and wines aging in the winery. Abbatucci believes it’s all part of the terroir.

2013 Matías i Torres Negramoll
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 100% Negramoll
Region: Spain>Canary Islands>La Palma
Vineyard: Organically farmed grapes from several different vineyards grown in gravelly ash soil. La Palma is a volcanic ocean island, rising nearly 4 miles above the floor of the Atlantic ocean. The volcano is dormant, with it’s last recorded activity in 1971.
Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied and juicy with fine-grained tannins. Aromas of cedar, dried herbs, and smoke are complemented by flavors of pomegranate, spice, and saline minerals.
Food Pairing: Stewed rabbit marinated with coriander, charcuterie plate with sliced sausage and olives, grilled ribeye with black pepper
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are fermented whole-cluster with indigenous yeasts for 6 days. Aged for 5 months in large-format American oak barrels.
Winemaker: Victoria Torres
Bio: Torres and her father farm the family’s 2 hectares of vineyards in the village of Fuencaliente, where her family has been farming grapes for 5 generations. They bottled their first vintage together in 1999; prior to that they had been making wine mostly for their own consumption and to sell to restaurants.

2009 Don Michele “Moganazzi” Etna Rosso
Type: Red Wine
Blend: 95% Nerello Mascalese, 5% Nerello Cappuccio
Region: Italy>Sicily>Mt. Etna
Vineyard: Organically farmed 70-80 year old vines planted at 2100’ elevation in soil composed of basalt, rich in silica and minerals. All fruit sourced from a single vineyard called Moganazzi on the slopes of Sicily’s volcano. Mt. Etna is an active stratovolcano located on the eastern side of Sicily, and is the tallest volcano on the European continent.
Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied, structured, and intense, with notes of rhubarb, volcanic earth, dried herbs, and smoky minerals.
Food Pairing: Roasted wild game with wild mushrooms, pasta with tomato-based sauce, grilled flatbread with pancetta and woodsy herbs
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit fermented with indigenous yeasts. Bottled with minimal sulfites and additions.
Winemaker: Marco de Grazia
Bio: Originally produced by Don Michele, the last vintage of Don Michele Etna Rosso was made by Marco de Grazia and his team at Terre Nere. After Don Michele’s death, the famous Moganazzi cru from which the wine was made was sold to Terre Nere and now goes into their own wines.

2013 Agnanum “Pér ‘e Pallum” Piedirosso
Type:
Red Wine
Blend: 100% Piedirosso
Region: Italy>Campania>Campi Flegrei
Vineyard: Organically farmed 60-200 year old vines trained in the Pergola system, planted in volcanic ash and sand with basalt subsoil. Agnanum’s vineyards are located the crater of Agnano, which is part of the Campanian Volcanic Arc.
Tasting Notes: Medium bodied, perfumed, precise, and pure, with aromas of smoke and bramble. On the palate, flavors of crunchy red and black fruits come through, with ripe tannins and a long finish.
Food Pairing: Roasted quail stuffed with sausage, bucatini pasta with tomatoes and olives, grilled pork
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and fermented with native yeasts. Minimal sulfites are added during production. Aged in stainless steel and bottled without sulfites. 900 bottles produced.
Winemaker: Raffaele Moccia
Bio: Built by Raffaele’s father in 1960, Agnanum’s focus in on minimal-intervention wines made by hand from low-yielding vines in Campi Flegrei. They grow mostly Falanghina and Piedirosso, seeking to craft high-quality, food-friendly wines that showcase the volcanic terroir.

Introducing our Spring ’15 Wine Club Selections

Winelandia’s commitment to the rare and obscure often leads us to wines made from exotic grapes grown in places we’ve never heard of. For our spring wine club collection, we wanted to ‘get back to basics’ so to speak, and show you that natural, organic, and biodynamic wines can be made in some of the most famous winegrowing regions in the world. This collection’s focus is ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ (typically abbreviated as ‘AOC’) wines from France – some classically styled, while others are not. Merlot from Bordeaux, Chardonnay from Chablis, and even a funky provençal rosé made from an indigenous grape (we couldn’t resist) make an appearance in this thoughtful collection of classic French AOC wines.

Are you interested in joining the Winelandia wine club? Sign up at https://club.winelandia.com

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Mixed Club – $150 plus tax & delivery:

2013 Breton “Les Galichets” Bourgueil
Classic Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. Certified organic. Fresh and vibrant with notes of cranberry and herbs.
2013 Mas del Périé “La Roque” Cahors
Biodynamic Malbec from South-West France. Deep and soulful, with notes of blueberry, spice, and smoke.
2010 Château Tour Peyronneau Saint-Émilion
Certified organic Merlot from Bordeaux. Silky and pure with notes of plum and seductive graphite minerality.
2013 Stéphane Orieux “Clos de la Coudray” Muscadet
The perfect pairing for seafood and raw oysters. Certified organic. Crisp and citrusy with intense minerality.
2013 Clos Cibonne Rosé Tradition, Côtes de Provence
A famous Provencal rosé made from the indigenous grape Tibouren. Aromatic and fresh with an intriguing saline finish.
2013 Gerard et Lilian Duplessis Chablis
Classically styled Chablis from one of the top organic producers in the AOC. Citrus, white flowers, and minerals. Pure elegance.

All-Red Club– $150 plus tax & delivery:

2013 Breton “Les Galichets” Bourgueil
Classic Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. Certified organic. Fresh and vibrant with notes of cranberry and herbs.
2013 Mas del Périé “La Roque” Cahors
Biodynamic Malbec from South-West France. Deep and soulful, with notes of blueberry, spice, and smoke.
2010 Château Tour Peyronneau Saint-Émilion
Certified organic Merlot from Bordeaux. Silky and pure with notes of plum and seductive graphite minerality.
2013 Vincent Paris “Les Cotes” Saint-Joseph
Pure Syrah from the northern Rhone. Organically farmed utilizing Biodynamic principles. Elegant and floral with savory notes.
2011 Gris des Bauries “Les Chaix” Côtes du Rhône
Easy, fresh, and fun Grenache from the famed Côtes du Rhône AOC. Medium bodied with notes of raspberries and dried herbs.
2013 Christian Venier Cheverny Rouge
A blend of Pinot Noir & Gamay from the Loire Valley. Floral, fruity, and herbal with a pleasant effervescence. No added sulfites.

All-White Club – $140 plus tax & delivery:

2013 Stéphane Orieux “Clos de la Coudray” Muscadet
The perfect pairing for seafood and raw oysters. Certified organic. Crisp and citrusy with intense minerality.
2013 Clos Cibonne Rosé Tradition, Côtes de Provence
A famous Provencal rosé made from the indigenous grape Tibouren. Aromatic and fresh with an intriguing saline finish.
2013 Gerard et Lilian Duplessis Chablis
Classically styled Chablis from one of the top organic producers in the AOC. Citrus, white flowers, and minerals. Pure elegance.
NV Francois Chidane Brut, Montlouis-sur-Loire
Rich and elegant sparkling Chenin Blanc that’s sure to impress any Champagne lover. Bone dry with fine, luxurious bubbles.
2011 Château de Puligny-Montrachet “Clos du Château” Bourgogne Blanc
100% Chardonnay from one of the most famous villages in Burgundy. Rich and luscious with balance and poise.
2013 Château la Canorgue Lubéron Blanc, Côtes du Lubéron
A white Rhone wine made with classic Provencal grapes. Floral and sumptuous with notes of golden apples and tropical fruit.

Winery Visit: Idlewild Wines

With so many wineries in California, it’s incredibly important for new producers to find an angle or niche that sets them apart from the rest. Enter Sam Bilbro, a California native who makes soulful wines under the label Idlewild Wines. His focus is primarily wines made from Piedmontese grapes, such as Nebbiolo, Cortese, Arneis, Barbera, and Dolcetto. In a sea of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, these Italian-inspired wines are a breath of fresh air.

I first learned about Idlewild while tasting with their distributor last year. I was looking for interesting California whites and they showed me Idlewild’s 2013 Arneis. I was taken aback by how different it was – rich and broad on the palate, floral and aromatic on the nose, and balanced with a nice fresh finish. I introduced this wine to the Winelandia wine club last spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust last week I had a rare opportunity to visit Sam’s new production facility (sorry kids, it’s not open to the public) – a warehouse in Geyserville which used to be home to a mushroom farm. Sam informed me that the facility provides the perfect environment to make wine – cold, damp, and smack-dab in the middle of wine country. He is the first person to produce wine in the facility, which means that it’s unlikely commercial yeasts have set up shop in the building. This is important for winemakers like Sam who utilize “ambient”, “indigenous”, or “native” yeast fermentations, as commercial yeasts tend to be a lot stronger than native yeasts and can take over un-inoculated fermentations.

We tasted through a lovely lineup of Sam’s new releases, including his Arneis, The Bee (a muscat-based white blend), The Flower (a rosé blend), “The Bird” (a red blend), Barbera, and Nebbiolo. All of the wines seemed to follow a theme – bright, joyful, high-toned, aromatic, and varietally correct. Never before have I had a Nebbiolo from California that tasted like a proper Nebbiolo. I walked away from the tasting feeling invigorated and inspired; these are the kinds of wines that excite me.

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While we don’t have any Idlewild wines in the shop at the moment, we will be picking some up very soon. Keep an eye out in the Winelandia online store for these fantastic wines. If you just can’t wait, you can buy them directly from the Idlewild Wines website.

Spring Forward With These American Beauties

For many of us, the wines of California were our first love in our pursuit of the vine. Here in California, we’re lucky to have such a wealth of home-grown wines to choose from, which allows us to not just “eat local”, but also “drink local”! This week I am releasing several new bottles from my favorite California producers, listed below.

Interested in buying any of these wines? Just click on the link for the wine you’re interested in and buy it directly from the online store.

matthiassonrose2014 Matthiasson Rosé, California – $25
Steve Matthiasson has become a household name for many wine lovers in the golden state. He was the SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year in 2013, and a James Beard Award nominee for the last 2 years in a row. At his core, he’s a farmer; he grows vegetables between the rows of vines in his vineyard and can be found peddling his stone fruit at the Napa farmer’s market in the summer. Steve is such a humble guy, and an even better winemaker. When he started making rosé, there was no person more excited than me, and with his first vintage, he hit the nail on the head. A light, gauzy, quaffable, and balanced pink wine, with delicate aromas of grapefruit blossoms and fresh strawberries. On the palate, it’s bone dry with fresh acidity. The perfect wine for a springtime BBQ, and it will continue to improve all summer. Imagine it paired with chicken on the grill dripping with spicy barbecue sauce, or a fresh spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese.

TenduWhite2014 Tendu White Wine, California – $20
Tendu is a collaboration between Steve Matthiasson and his friend/distributor Matthew Plympton. They wanted to make affordable, easy-drinking wines in larger-format bottles – an homage to the liter-sized bottles of Gruner-Veltliner from Austria. This fantastic white blend from California is made with mostly Vermentino grapes, with a little French Colombard and Chardonnay thrown in for good measure. Take this jumbo bottle to Tomales Bay to pair with oysters, or enjoy in style with some friends at Dolores Park on a sunny day. No corkscrew required, as it’s sealed with a crown (beer bottle) cap!

RymeVermentino2014 Ryme Hers Vermentino, Carneros – $24
Ryan and Megan Glaab have been quietly making some of the best wines in California for the last several years. They are shacked up with Wind Gap and Jolie-Laide at a co-op winery in Sebastopol, and the quality of their wines is more than up to par with their winery-mates. As a husband-and-wife team, they make two versions of their Vermentino – a “His” (skin-fermented), and a “Hers” (direct-to-press, classic style white). The Hers made it’s Winelandia debut in the wine club last fall, and this is the first time it’s been available in the online store. If you love Italian-style whites, snap up some of this fantastic juice before it’s all gone.

RymePinot2013 Ryme Pinot Noir, Las Brisas Vineyard, Carneros – $32
Another fantastic bottle from Ryme – a beautifully juicy and balanced Pinot Noir from the sustainably farmed cool-climate Las Brisas Vineyard in Carneros. Made from two different pinot noir clones planted in the 1960s – Swan & Gamay Beaujolais – the wine is the perfect blend of delicately earthy, herbal, and fruity. Reminiscent of good Cru Beaujolais rather than your typical Cali pinot, and we love it for that. Pair it with roasted guinea fowl in fennel & tarragon, smoked duck breast, or a pizza with tomato sauce.

P81100082014 Lieu Dit Melon, Santa Maria Valley – $24
Do you love Muscadet and other dry, minerally wines from the Loire Valley? This “Melon de California”, as I like to call it, is a rare bird. I had no idea anyone was growing this grape which is widely planted in France’s Loire Valley, and this example is absolutely gorgeous. Aromatic and focused, with intense citrus and mineral notes. The perfect wine to pair with raw oysters or any other kind of seafood. Enjoy on the beach with a good friend, paired with some fresh Harley Farms goat cheese and a warm loaf of garlic & herb artichoke bread from the Arcangeli Grocery Store.

Love what you see? Want to subscribe to automatic quarterly shipments of wines like these? Sign up for the Winelandia seasonal wine club at https://club.winelandia.com.

Rosé season is here!

At long last, your wait is over. Spring is fast approaching, and with the warmer weather comes the release of rosé wine from our favorite producers. We’ve got two brand new rosés in the shop, on two totally different ends of the spectrum. Whether you’re looking for rosé that’s intense, textural, and soulful, or bright, floral, and fresh, we’ve got the juice you’re looking for!

tatomerrose

2014 Tatomer Rosé of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Santa Barbara County – $27
A brand-new rosé from Graham Tatomer, champion of Austrian & German grape varieties grown in California. From the highest elevation sites of John Sebastiano Vineyards in Santa Barbara County, the grapes for this aromatic rose are picked early to preserve freshness and aromatics.

leslunesrose

2013 Les Lunes GSM Rosé, Paso Robles – $20
For a richer, more savory rosé, look no further than Les Lunes GSM rosé from Paso Robles. Textural and lush, with racy acidity and delicate minerality. A great wine to pair with local King salmon, barbecue, charcuterie, salads, or just a warm sunny day.

Buy any six bottles from the online shop and save on delivery!

Introducing our Winter ’15 Wine Club Collection

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Happy new year everyone! We’ve been hard at work putting together the latest collection for the wine club, scheduled to ship in early February. If you’ve been on the fence about joining the wine club, this would be the shipment to do it! We’ve got some crazy good stuff lined up and I think it’s our best collection yet.

This season, we’re featuring a textural and zesty Savagnin from the Jura, elegant and mineral-driven Beaujolais from the cru vineyards of Fleurie, deep and soulful organic Rioja, perfumey orange Sicilian wine from the famed Arianna Occhipinti, fresh and floral Clairette from Rhone producer Eric Texier, and a Central Coast Cab Sauv from Winelandia favorite Ryan Roark.

Did you know that we offer three different wine club models? Whether you like all kinds of wine, just red, or just white, we have the lineup for you! All of our wine club collection prices reflect a 10% discount off retail, and club members also enjoy an ongoing 10% discount code to use any time while shopping in our online store. Interested in joining? Learn more and sign up here!

Here’s the full run-down on our Winter 2015 wine club selections:

Mixed Wine Club – $146.70 plus tax & delivery:
2013 Eric Texier “Adèle” Blanc, Côtes-du-Rhône
2013 Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, Sicily
2011 Tournelle “Fleur de Savagnin”, Côtes du Jura
2013 Julien Sunier Fleurie, Beaujolais
2005 Bodega La Crusset “Seis Sombreros”, Rioja
2011 Wander Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley

Red Wine Club – $144.90 plus tax & delivery:
2013 Julien Sunier Fleurie, Beaujolais
2005 Bodega La Crusset “Seis Sombreros”, Rioja
2011 Wander Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley
2012 Bernard Baudry Chinon, Loire Valley
2013 Vinca Minor Carignan, Mendocino County
2011 Preisinger Blaufrankisch, Austria

White Wine Club – $141.30 plus tax & delivery:
2013 Eric Texier “Adèle” Blanc, Côtes-du-Rhône
2013 Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, Sicily
2011 Tournelle “Fleur de Savagnin”, Côtes du Jura
2013 Philippe Tessier Cour-Cheverny, Loire Valley
2013 Quenard “Les Abymes” Jacquère, Savoie
2012 Foradori “Fontanasanta” Manzoni Bianco, Trentino-Alto Adige

Get in on the action by signing up today!  We can’t wait to share delicious, affordable, soulful natural wines with you and your loved ones.

Four new wines for the New Year

Happy New Year from Winelandia! We hope you were able to pop some of your favorite bottles during your holiday celebrations.

Over the holiday break, there were some new releases we couldn’t resist getting our hands on. Check out the four new wines in our online shop.

frantz saumon mineral +2013 Frantz Saumon Mineral+, Montlouis-sur-Loire
The latest vintage of Frantz Saumon’s Mineral+, one of our all-time favorite Loire wines, is back in stock. Yields were unbelievably low all over France during 2013, and as a result there’s not much of this wine to go around. We were able to secure a small amount for the online store, so get some while you can! This is a 100% Chenin Blanc made in a sec-tendre style (somewhere between sec and demi-sec) with mouth-watering acidity rounded out by a little residual sugar. Succulent fruit and stony minerality make this wine a great compliment to a wide variety of foods.

jolie laide grenache2013 Jolie-Laide Grenache, Dry Creek Valley
For our Jolie-Laide fans, this is the latest release from Scott Schultz, and it does not disappoint. 2013 yielded loads of near-perfect fruit in California, and the wines are incredibly generous. Vibrant and juicy, it’s drenched in flavors of raspberry extract, spice, and earth. Full-flavored and structured, yet light on it’s feet, this is a great wine to help you transition out of the holidays and into the new year. Supplies are extremely limited.

belluard ayse brutNV Domaine Belluard Ayse Brut, Savoie
The latest Ayse cuvée from Domaine Belluard is everything we’d hoped it’d be and more! Made from 100% Gringet, a nearly-extinct grape grown in Savoie, Ayse Brut offers notes of ginger, galangal, brioche, and crushed rocks. Rich and aromatic with loads of tiny bubbles, this exuberant bubbly is sure to impress everyone in the room.

lapierre raisins gaulois2013 Lapierre Raising Gaulois Gamay, Beaujolais
Everyone who knows me knows how crazy I am about the wines of M. Lapierre. This is Lapierre’s entry-level gamay, made primarily from younger plantings in their Morgon vineyards. Light, fresh, and grapey, this wine is epitome of glou-glou. Organically farmed and produced with minimal intervention – it’s nearly impossible to find wines with this pedigree at such a reasonable price point. Enjoy it with a variety of foods any day of the week.