Fall Wine Club Terroir Series: Limestone Wines

Fall is my favorite time of year.

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, I find myself looking forward to the holidays much more than I did when I was young. I love cooking for friends and family, throwing dinner parties, and sharing my most prized wines.

I’m no longer looking for light and easy reds to enjoy with a slight chill; instead I crave wines with density, texture, and earthy minerality. I reach for more serious wines to slowly enjoy out of a big, tulip-shaped glass as I transition from the dinner table to a seat in front of the fireplace.

For our Fall wine club, we’re continuing our focus on terroir and featuring French wines grown in limestone soil.

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Photo by midihideaways.wordpress.com

Limestone is a sedimentary alkaline soil type composed of ancient seabed that is highly beneficial to grape growing. It neutralizes the acidity in the soil, has excellent water retention properties, keeps the roots of the grapevines cool, and slows the ripening of grapes which helps them retain their natural acidity. Wines grown in limestone have phenomenal texture, structure, freshness and profound minerality; they are often heralded as the greatest wines in the world.

Much of continental France is composed of limestone, as it was under an ocean millions of years ago. Chablis, Côte d’Or, Sancerre, Saumur, Alsace, and many other important French winemaking regions have legendary vineyards planted on this porous soil.

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

Mixed Wine Club – $150 plus tax and delivery:

Three reds, two whites, and one sparkling rosé. A cornucopia of delicious, natural French wines.

Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette 
2012 “Les Clapas” Red Blend
Côteaux du Languedoc, France
Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault
Full-bodied and savory with balanced freshness. Rich, ripe notes of red/black fruits are accentuated by aromas of juniper, rosemary, and irony minerals. Refined, silky tannins are uplifted by juicy acidity.

Domaine Contat-Grangé 2012 Maranges 1er Cru La Fussière
Burgundy, France
100% Pinot Noir
Brooding, subtle, and complex with notes of ripe cherry and profound minerality. Balanced and bright acidity is framed by present yet supple tannins.

Olga Raffault 2001 Chinon Les Picasses
Loire Valley, France
100% Cabernet Franc
Old school Cabernet Franc at it’s best. Light garnet in color with complex notes of herbs, smoky minerals, dark cherries, and earth. On the palate, the tannins are softened by age but maintain their youthful velvety texture, with fresh acidity that make it a perfect compliment to a variety of fall foods. At 14 years old, it’s just beginning to show how well Chinon can age.

Le Petit St. Vincent NV Cab à Bulles Rosé Pet-Nat
Saumur-Champigny, France
100% Cabernet Franc
Vibrant and joyful with a bouquet of crunchy red fruits and minerals. On the palate, it’s juicy and pleasantly fizzy with flavors of cranberry and cherries with a crisp and dry finish.

Domaine de la Sarazinière 2013 Cuvée Claude Seigneuret
Mâcon-Bussières, France
100% Chardonnay
Bright and mineral-driven with a lovely ripe stone fruit profile balanced by fresh acidity and delicate creaminess.

La Grange Tiphaine 2013 Clef de Sol Blanc
Montlouis-sur-Loire, France
100% Chenin Blanc
Delicate and fresh with notes of white flowers, citrus zest, and minerals. On the palate, it’s balanced by bright acidity, chalky texture, and a dry mineral finish with just a hint of succulent fruit.

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

Six impressive, food-friendly red wines perfect for dinner parties, holidays, or any other day of the week.

Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette 2012 “Les Clapas” Red Blend
Côteaux du Languedoc, France
Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault
Full-bodied and savory with balanced freshness. Rich, ripe notes of red/black fruits are accentuated by aromas of juniper, rosemary, and irony minerals. Refined, silky tannins are uplifted by juicy acidity.

Domaine Contat-Grangé 2012 Maranges Premier Cru La Fussière
Burgundy, France
100% Pinot Noir
Brooding, subtle, and complex with notes of ripe cherry and profound minerality. Balanced and bright acidity is framed by present yet supple tannins.

Olga Raffault 2001 Chinon Les Picasses
Loire Valley, France
100% Cabernet Franc
Old school Cabernet Franc at it’s best. Light garnet in color with complex notes of herbs, smoky minerals, dark cherries, and earth. On the palate, the tannins are softened by age but maintain their youthful velvety texture, with fresh acidity that make it a perfect compliment to a variety of fall foods. Unbelievably fresh and lively for a 14-year-old wine, drinking beautifully now and can age for several more years.

Domaine Gramenon 2014 Sierra du Sud
Côtes-du-Rhône, France
100% Syrah
Fresh black and red fruits are highlighted by notes of violets and a sultry peppery streak. Full-bodied and luscious with plenty of juicy acidity and tannins. Drink now while it’s young and fresh or lay it down for a couple of years.

Mas del Perié 2014 Les Invaders Malbec
Cahors, France
100% Malbec
Juicy and fresh with aromas of ripe blue fruits, earth, minerals, and spice. Polished and supple structure with an intriguing earthy finish.

Francois Chidaine 2014 Touraine Rouge
Loire Valley, France
Côt, Pineau d’Aunis, Cabernet Franc
Spicy, herbal, fruity, and fresh! Notes of black pepper, tomato vine, and crunchy red fruits are framed by supple tannins and juicy acidity. An excellent food wine.

All-White Club – $150 plus tax and delivery:

Four white, one sparkling rosé, and one sparkling white. Graceful, elegant, and joyful – like you.

Le Petit St. Vincent NV Cab à Bulles Rosé Pet-Nat
Saumur-Champigny, France
100% Cabernet Franc
Vibrant and joyful with a bouquet of crunchy red fruits and minerals. On the palate, it’s juicy and pleasantly fizzy with flavors of cranberry and cherries with a crisp and dry finish.

Domaine de la Sarazinière 2013 Cuvée Claude Seigneuret
Mâcon-Bussières, France
100% Chardonnay
Bright and mineral-driven with a lovely ripe stone fruit profile balanced by fresh acidity and delicate creaminess.

La Grange Tiphaine 2013 Clef de Sol Blanc
Montlouis-sur-Loire, France
100% Chenin Blanc
Delicate and fresh with notes of white flowers, citrus zest, and minerals. On the palate, it’s balanced by bright acidity, chalky texture, and a dry mineral finish with just a hint of succulent fruit.

Philippe Gilbert 2013 Menetou-Salon Blanc
Loire Valley, France
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Fresh and pure with notes of lemon zest, green fruit, and minerals. On the palate, it’s electric and lively, with a long and crisp mineral finish.

Domaine Bechtold 2012 Silberberg Pinot Gris
Alsace, France
100% Pinot Gris
Delicate and complex with a bouquet of orange blossom, yellow citrus, honey, and minerals. On the palate, it shows elegance and grace with delicate acidity and silky texture.

Domaine du Clos Naudin 2010 Foreau Vouvray Brut
Loire Valley, France
100% Chenin Blanc
Rich and complex with intoxicating aromas of white truffles, toasted brioche, alpine flowers, and minerals. On the palate, the bubbles are fine and ethereal; the flavors are savory and profound. The finish is long, crisp, and dry, with persistent minerality.

Can’t wait to join the club? Don’t miss out on these incredible wines. Sign up here.

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.

La Clarine Farm Cedarville Mourvèdre is back, and more!

We’ve just added three more incredible wines to our online shop, two of which have no added sulfites. They pair perfectly with seasonal ingredients such as pomegranate, roasted poultry, winter squash, persimmon, and chicories. Click the links to purchase from our online store.

La Clarine Farm Cedarville Mourvedre2013 La Clarine Farm “Cedarville” Mourvèdre – $28
La Clarine Farm’s Cedarville Mourvèdre is back and better than ever! Bright, fresh, exotic, and supple, it’s a seductive wine that will entice the most jaded palates. Notes of fresh guava, herbs, cranberry, and minerals are the highlights of this incredible, terroir-driven wine from the Sierra Foothills.

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2013 Christian Vernier ‘Les Hauts de Madon’ Cheverny Rouge – $25
An organically farmed, no-sulfur-added blend of Pinot Noir & Gamay from the Loire Valley’s Cheverny region. This super sexy and feminine wine is remarkably fresh, high-toned, delicately structured, and super juicy. It’s full of aromas of fresh red fruit, dusty earth, fresh herbs, and minerals. I can’t get enough of this wine, it’s definitely one of my top 5 picks for 2014. A must-have for those who love Loire reds and Pinot Noir.

Vinavanti Viognier2013 Vinavanti Viognier, San Diego County – $23
An incredible no-sulfur-added Viognier from San Diego County (you heard right). Sustainably farmed fruit is sourced locally and made into this great wine by Vinavanti. They produce their wines without any additives or oak, and ferment them whole-cluster. This voluptuous and fresh wine will entice you with it’s aromas of citrus, pear skin, herbs, and minerals. It’s a perfect pairing for roasted turkey or chicken.

Join the wine club today and receive 10% off your order with a coupon code that will be emailed to you after you join! We’re shipping the Fall wine club next week. Check out the selections here. Supplies are extremely limited (in fact we’re telling people we’re sold out, but we might have a couple of extras to go around).

Do you have questions or would you like some personal assistance selecting wines to suit your taste? Reach out to Tala directly by email – tala@winelandia.com.

Cheers!
Winelandia

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.

Introducing our Summer Wine Club Offer

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**Our Summer Wine Club selections are SOLD OUT! You can still join the wine club and we would be happy to put together a customized collection for you, or you can simply begin to enjoy your 10% discount and purchase directly from our online shop.**

Summer’s finally here, and so are our summer wine club selections. This time around we are featuring some of the best French and American wines we’ve had all summer, from some of the most exciting small producers in the industry. These unique and crowd-pleasing wines are perfect to bring along on picnics or summer barbecues, or simply to enjoy with a friend on a warm summer night.

Want to get in on the action? Join the Winelandia wine club by filling out the form at https://signup.winelandia.com/

2013 Mas del Périé “Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees” Red Blend, Southwestern France
2013 Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard, Russian River Valley
2011 Pierre Frick Cremant d’Alsace Riesling/Auxerrois Blend, Alsace
2013 Hervé Villemade Rosé of Pinot Noir & Gamay, Cheverny
2012 Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera, Amador County
2013 Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris, Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Chalk Hill

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2013 Mas del Périé “Tu Vin Plus Aux Soirees” Red Blend

Blend: Cabernet Franc & Côt (Malbec)
Region: France>Southwestern France>Cahors
Vineyard: Biodynamically farmed. 1100’ elevation.
Tasting Notes: A great wine for summer – it’s medium bodied, soft, and supple while retaining a juicy and inviting character that makes you want to take another sip. This is a burger wine if we’ve ever had one – beef or veggie, it doesn’t matter! A fun and versatile wine that everyone will love.
Food Pairing: Barbecue ribs, grilled chicken, burgers, carne asada tacos
Production Notes: Manually harvested, fermented whole cluster for 10 days with indigenous yeasts. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal SO2. The name of this wine is a pun referencing a line from a popular French television show, and roughly translates to “You are not partying with us anymore”.
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.

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2013 Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, Russian River Valley

Blend: 100% Trousseau Gris
Region: US>California>Sonoma>Russian River Valley
Vineyard: Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard
Tasting Notes: A light-bodied, bright and citrusy wine. It’s a perfect wine to drink on a hot day, and goes especially well with seafood and salads. It’s very easy drinking, but not simple – more like straightforward. Crisp, cool, clean.
Food Pairing: Nectarine & burrata watercress salad
Production Notes: Organically farmed grapes, whole clusters are foot crushed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete eggs. This wine is aged in both stainless and neutral oak for just a few months and always released the year it’s made – it’s meant to be enjoyed fresh and young.
Winemaker: Pax Mahle
Bio: Pax Mahle is a cornerstone of minimal intervention winemaking in northern California. Mahle found his way to winemaking through his work as a sommelier, and has, since the mid 2000s, focused his efforts on the Wind Gap label – cool climate wines often made from single vineyards. His winery was first in Forestville, and has since moved to a convenient location in Sebastopol. Many other wines Winelandia has featured have been influenced by Mahle’s guidance and mentorship, including Ryme and Jolie-Laide.

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2011 Pierre Frick Cremant d’Alsace Riesling/Auxerrois Blend

Blend: 50% Auxerrois Blanc, 50% Riesling
Region: France>Alsace
Vineyard: Biodynamic (Demeter certified) since 1981. Clay & Limestone soil.
Tasting Notes: The bouquet of this elegant sparkling wine is rich with white flowers and coconut, while on the palate it shows lively citrus, almond, and white peach. The bone dry finish leaves a lingering limestone minerality. A gorgeous wine perfect for a casual gathering or a special celebration.
Food Pairing: Alsatian onion tart, cheese plates, oysters
Production Notes: Hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed. Fermented in foudre with native yeast. Aged in 3000L foudre. Secondary fermentation with RS from the primary fermentation and acacia honey. No added SO2 during vinification, and a small amount added at disgorgement. No dosage. 2 g/L residual sugar.
Winemaker: Pierre Frick
Bio: Pierre Frick is the 12th generation to farm and make wine from his family’s land. He first converted the entire estate to organic viticulture in 1970, and went on to convert it fully to Biodynamic in 1981.

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2013 Hervé Villemade Rosé of Pinot Noir & Gamay

Blend: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay
Region: France>Loire Valley>Cheverny
Vineyard: Certified organic. 12-36 year old vines.
Tasting Notes: Floral, fruity, and light on it’s feet, with juicy acidity and abundant fruit flavors.
Food Pairing: Grilled salmon, arugula salad with goat cheese and roasted beets, charcuterie
Production Notes: Hand-harvested, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. Bottled with minimum SO2.
Winemaker: Hervé Villemade
Bio: Domaine du Moulin is Hervé Villemade’s family estate, founded by his grandparents. Hervé took over winery operations in 1995, and followed in his parent’s footsteps by initially farming using conventional methods. Following these practices, he found the work and wine to be bland. Soon after, Villemade both developed a serious sulfite allergy and discovered natural wine. Deeply inspired by the soulful wines of Lapierre, Gramenon, and Foillard, Villemade began converting the estate to organic viticulture in 2000. He now makes a variety of wines with little or no sulfur added.

P71700182012 Forlorn Hope “San Hercurmer delle Frecce” Barbera

Blend: 100% Barbera
Region: US>California>Sierra Foothills>Amador County
Vineyard: Shake Ridge Vineyard. Sustainably farmed. 1500’ elevation on sandstone, soapstone, quartz, schist, and decomposed granite. Iron-rich, large grain, 80% rocks.
Tasting Notes: A bright and fresh red wine with notes of red fruit, white pepper, and earth. The long finish leaves flavors of pomegranate, along with fine, grippy tannins. Excellent now but could also take some age.
Food Pairing: Barbecue ribs, burgers, grilled portobello mushrooms with balsamic reduction
Production Notes: This wine is named after a miniature donkey who was shot with an arrow by an unknown assailant and resides not far from the vineyard. Fermented whole-cluster with native yeast. Bottled without fining or filtration. Aged 12 months in neutral oak. 87 cases made.
Winemaker: Matthew Rorick
Bio: Matthew Rorick is a surfer and Gulf war veteran. After the war, he returned to southern California where his grandfather encouraged him to study enology. Forlorn Hope was started in the mid-2000′s. His focus is lost and forgotten varieties, age-worthy white wines, and easy drinking reds. Rorick employs minimalist winemaking methods; he ferments with indigenous yeasts, leaves the grape clusters whole, and only uses small additions of SO2. He was the SF Chronicle’s 2013 Winemaker to Watch, and yes, we are watching!

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2013 Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris, Windsor Oaks Vineyard

Blend: 100% Pinot Gris
Region: US>California>Sonoma>Chalk Hill
Vineyard: Windsor Oaks Vineyard
Tasting Notes: Aromas of citrus, melon, and orange blossom. Lightweight and electric on the palate, with a little spice and ample length on the finish. Far more complex and interesting than your typical Pinot Gris, and one of our favorite wines of the summer.
Food Pairing: Poached salmon with citrus, summer stonefruit salads, cheese plates, grilled seafood, grilled carrots
Production Notes: The grapes were gently foot-stomped whole cluster, then left on the skins overnight to soak. The juice was able to pick up a little color from the skins, without extracting any weight or tannins. Pressed whole-cluster into stainless steel, where it underwent a 12 day spontaneous fermentation at cool temperatures. Once dry, it was racked and aged for 6 months in 2:1 stainless steel and neutral oak vessels, with no malo or lees stirring.
Winemaker: Scott Schultz
Bio: About 2 years ago, I was up at the old Wind Gap tasting room with some friends. Scott made wine in the same facility, and he was the one pouring the Wind Gap wines that day. We chatted a bit about wine-making and the business, and afterwards it seemed like I’d run into him every time I was at an industry event. It turns out Scott makes some of the most unique and highly sought-after wines in California, in minuscule quantities of course. In 2013, his fourth vintage, Scott produced only 500 cases of wine.

 

 

 

Wine of the Week: Sébastien Riffault 2011 “Les Quarterons” Sancerre

It’s no secret that Colleen and I are not the biggest fans of Sauvignon Blanc. It can be aggressively green and grassy, or so overtly tropical that it borders on offensive. I never thought I’d find a balanced Sauvignon Blanc with enough finesse to find it’s way on to my dinner table, until I tasted this one…

This great wine from Sébastien Riffault is from the famous Sauvignon Blanc producing region Sancerre, located within the Loire Valley. Riffault’s vineyards are all certified organic, and he only uses sulfur and copper sprays in the vineyard when absolutely necessary. As a result, the grapes can become slightly botrytised; the wine takes on rich honey and baked apple undertones, while maintaining tension, mineral, and citrus at it’s core. All stainless steel fermented and aged, it’s fresh and lively while having an unusual richness from the natural farming methods and full malolactic fermentation.

Natural Sauvignon Blanc from a famous region and a producer with a cult following – get your hands on some of this amazing, affordable juice before it’s gone!

Buy now on Winelandia.com

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Winemaker: Sébastien Riffault
Bio: Sébastien has slowly been taking over winemaking responsibilities from his father, Etienne, since 2004, which began with converting the estate to organic, then Biodynamic farming. He can name every plant growing in his cover crop, and his winemaking methods are heavily influenced by the old traditions of the region.
Region: France>Loire Valley>Sancerre
Vineyard: Certified Biodynamic 5 hectare plot grown in silex, clay, and limestone soil. South & south-east exposure on 20% grade. 20 year old vines farmed with horse & plow.
Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Aging: 18 months sur lie in stainless steel
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit. Native yeast fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. Aged for 18 months in stainless steel on the lees, with full malolactic fermentation. Unfined and unfiltered. Minimal SO2 added at bottling.
Tasting Notes: Layered, complex aromas of honey, baked apple, and lime zest lead to a rich, round palate with balanced acidity and flavors of apple, mineral, and herbs.
Food Pairing: Herb-roasted chicken, anything with wild mushrooms, fresh bread rubbed with garlic scape pesto.

Buy now on Winelandia.com

Secret Wine Club: New California vs. Europe

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There’s been a lot of press lately about “New California” winemakers and the fantastic wines being produced by them. Small-scale winemakers from all over California are producing soulful wines from forgotten grape varieties, and are trailblazing a new frontier in American wine.

I wanted to demonstrate the similarities and differences between modern California wines and similar wines from Europe by hosting a side-by side tasting. Why? Well, most “modern” American wines seem to be modeled after famous wines or styles from Europe, and I think it’s important for students of wine to understand the nuances of both. Many people claim to prefer wine from one country of origin over another, but I don’t think as many people truly understand how American wines are different from their European counterparts.

I set forth to curate eight wines for the tasting, two from each wine color group. I chose two whites, two rosés, two orange wines, and two reds. For the whites, I chose a Santa Barbara County Chenin Blanc made by Ryan Roark and a French Chenin Blanc from the France’s most famous Chenin-producing region, the Loire Valley. For the rosé, I chose an old-vine Mourvedre rosé from California to taste next to a Mourvedre-dominant rosé from Provence. The orange wines were both skin-fermented Pinot Gris, one made by Wind Gap in Sonoma from the famous Windsor Oaks vineyard, the other from benchmark orange wine producer Radikon in Friuli, Italy. The reds were both made from the native Sicilian grape Nero d’Avola – the Californian version being made by Broc Cellars in Berkeley, and the European one from legendary Sicilian producer Arianna Occhipinti.

The wine list was as follows:

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Roark 2012 Chenin Blanc, Santa Barbara County
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Domaine Patrick Baudouin 2012 “Effusion” Anjou Blanc
Pairing: Little gems chopped salad with peas, fresh corn, shaved radishes, and avocado green goddess dressing

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Bedrock Wine Co. 2013 Old Vine Rosé
vs.
Chateau Pradeaux 2013 Cotes du Provence Rosé
Pairing: Herbed crostini with fresh chevre, roasted red peppers, watercress, and fresh black pepper

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Wind Gap 2013 Skin-Fermented Pinot Gris, Chalk Hill 
vs.
Radikon 2010 S Pinot Grigio, Friuli
Pairing: Baby zucchini with toasted parmesan and sea salt

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Broc Cellars 2013 Nero d’Avola, Mendocino County
vs.
Arianna Occhipinti 2011 Nero d’Avola, Sicilia
Pairing: Braised meatballs in red wine tomato sauce with fresh basil and shaved parmesean

Overall, I think Europe had a slight edge over California, in terms of what people liked. I asked for a show of hands after pouring each set of wines, and everyone agreed that the California wines were easier to drink and more approachable, while the European wines seemed to have a little more going on. One thing that took me by surprise is how most people initially preferred the Wind Gap Pinot Gris over the Radikon Pinot Gris, until the food came out – there was a definite shift from Wind Gap to Radikon once the food pairing arrived. The Radikon may have been the crowd favorite of the evening.

Going forward, I think I will stick with this side-by-side format to help Secret Wine Club’s members better wrap their heads around the differences between domestic and imported wines, and how terroir and winemaking style influence the finished product. Everyone loved the new format, and I got some really good feedback on how to make it better the next time around.

Wine of the Week: François Pinon Vouvray Non-Dosé

This wine is SOLD OUT. Thanks for your interest!

Do you love Champagne? Of course you do. Have you ever tried a sparkling Vouvray? No? Well, let me introduce you two. Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape in a wide variety of styles. It can be still, bubbly, dry, sweet, or somewhere in between. Vouvray can age for decades, or be enjoyed while young and fresh. Sparkling Vouvray has all the opulence of a real Champagne, without the hefty price tag. What’s not to love?

We’ve curated this affordable, delicious bubbly from Vouvray producer François Pinon to share with you. I love Vouvray for it’s affordability – some of the finest examples can be acquired for less than $40. This one in particular, François Pinon NV Vouvray Non-Dosé, is a gorgeous, elegant, minerally, rich, bone-dry example of sparkling Vouvray. Non-dosé means there was no dosage – the sugar that gets added to some sparkling wines after disgorging. Expect notes of brioche, citrus, and crushed rocks. On the palate, it’s lively and pure, with loads of fine bubbles. Not only is it delicious, but it’s made with certified organic grapes and a light hand. It’s hard to find Vouvray of this quality at such a great price.

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Winemaker: François Pinon
Bio: François Pinon is a retired child psychologist, making some of the best wines in Vouvray since 1987. He aims to maintain typicity of the region in his wines.
Region: France>Loire Valley>Vouvray
Vineyard: Certified Organic, estate-grown. Clay and silica soil on a base of tuffeau (limestone) and silex (flint). Average vine age is 25 years. Vineyards are plowed & hand-harvested, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are never used.
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Aging: 12 months sur lie
Production Notes: Only certified Organic estate fruit is used in the production of this wine, and the care taken in the vineyard really shines through. Aging occurs in a combination of stainless steel tanks and foudres (old, large-format oak casks) to maintain balance and freshness. Non-Dosé means there was no sugar added during disgorgement, so this wine is very dry. The finished wine is then sterile-filtered instead of heavily dosed with SO2 to provide stability.
Tasting Notes: Have you ever had a sparkling Vouvray? It’s like drinking real Champagne without the deep regret of emptying your bank account. Chenin Blanc lends itself to this Loire Valley specialty, producing a nuanced and delicious sparkling wine. Fresh, savory, bubbly, Chenin Blanc goodness. It’s our favorite sparkling wine from Vouvray.
Food Pairings: Oysters, shellfish, goat cheese, trout, brunch foods, asparagus, salads.

Expand your palate with these great new wines

Radikon 2010 S Pinot Grigio – Friuli
From the legendary Radikon – the benchmark producer of orange wines – we present you with this delicious orange Pinot Grigio. Fermented on the skins for 2-3 weeks, this wine is incredibly complex, copper-hued, food-friendly, and will change the way you think about wine.

Francois Pinon NV Vouvray Brut Non-Dose
Sparkling Vouvray is our favorite sparkling wine, second only to Champagne. Chenin Blanc lends itself to this rich, bubbly, refreshing, food-friendly, bone-dry, affordable sparkler. Pick up a few of these for celebrations or any Tuesday night.

Knebel 2012 Riesling von den Terrassen, Mosel
Slightly off-dry riesling is the perfect pairing for spicy foods. This perfectly yummy and fresh German riesling from the Mosel would be perfect with our Honey-Sriracha chicken wings, or any spicy Asian takeout for dinner at home. What grows together doesn’t necessarily have to go together.

Goisot 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Saint-Bris
You spoke, we listened. The people wanted Sauvignon Blanc, so here it is. However, this one is from Burgundy, and not your typical Loire. The vineyard is located just a few kilometers south of Chablis, and this wine screams both Chablis and Sancerre at the same time. Confusing? Yes. Delicious? Also yes.

Domaine de la Bel Air 2012 Cabernet Franc, Bourgueil
One of our first heart throbs was Cabernet Franc from the Loire. Always a bargain and super delicious, this is the perfect everyday wine for vegetarian foods and barbecue. Pick some of this up for your springtime dinner parties.

All of these wines are available now in our Online Shop! Buy 6 bottles or more and save on shipping or delivery.

Recipe: Creamy Dungeness, Avocado & Citrus Salad

P2010108The California Dungeness crab season usually runs from November to May. This local delicacy is highly regarded as one of the tastiest crustaceans in all of the sea. Dungeness crab is succulent and sweet, which makes it an excellent compliment to a wide variety of flavors.

In this recipe, we combine sweet Dungeness crabmeat with tangy seasonal citrus, creamy Hass avocado, and slightly bitter endive. We bring the variety of complimentary flavors together with a lemony tarragon crème frâiche dressing, and serve the salad atop “spoons” of Belgian endive. It’s surprisingly easy to make – the most important thing to remember is the quality of the ingredients you use. Taste the citrus before you buy it, make sure your avocado is perfectly ripe, and ensure your crabmeat is as fresh as you can get it.

This recipe was created to pair with the 2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral + Chenin Blanc offered in Winelandia’s winter wine club collection. The richness and texture of the dish is perfectly complimented by similar components of the wine, which also has juicy acidity and a taut mineral edge that makes what’s already a delicious dish even more delectable.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

12 oz fresh Dungeness crabmeat (if using live/whole crab, get a 2 lb crab)
2 medium cara cara oranges or 1 ruby grapefruit, peeled, segmented, and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium hass avocadoes
2 Belgian endives, separated into individual leaves

-Dressing-
1 cup (8oz) crème frâiche
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, around the seed. Remove the seed and cut the avocado into a grid pattern with the tip of a knife, being careful not to cut through the avocado skin or your hand. Scoop the cubed avocado out of the skin with a large spoon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, avocado cubes, and citrus pieces.
  4. Dress the salad with the prepared crème frâiche dressing, a little at a time. Dress to your taste – you will probably have some dressing left over. Gently fold the dressing into the salad with a large spoon, being careful not to mash the avocado.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  6. Scoop the prepared salad into the endive “spoons” and arrange on a serving plate. Garnish with more fresh chopped tarragon or fresh chopped chives.
  7. Open a chilled bottle of 2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral + Chenin Blanc and enjoy with people you love.

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