February Newsletter: Verdicchio at its Finest, 2015 Colin Pre-Arrival, Introducing Luigi Gregoletto, Artisan Vignerons
The February Newsletter is now available.
Highlights from this month’s newsletter…
WHITE BEFORE RED
DOMAINE DE LA CADETTE
by Emily Spillmann
“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” –Aristotle
Taking pleasure not only in the finished wines but also in the hard work that goes into making them so good is a common thread among our producers. No one better exemplifies that than Valentin Montanet, the fun-loving, down-to-earth—and freakishly intelligent—vigneron from Vézelay. He’s the kind of guy you feel you’ve known for years, probably because he skips small talk in favor of candid winegrowing observations. Like him, his wines have too much to say to bother with chitchat. Take the 2015 Bourgogne Vézelay, for starters. (Actually, it would be perfect with starters.) The nose is so fresh, the palate so pure, and the finish so clean that one sip leads effortlessly to another, and another until you’ll be eager to open a red of equal promise.
$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case
As luck would have it, Valentin has just the thing, although you need to act quickly because there won’t be much of it in the coming months. Northwest Burgundy, like the Côte d’Or, was hit hard by frost and hail last year, making this 2015 Champs Cadet the last of our stock from a normal-sized harvest. (Eternally optimistic and with typical craftiness, Valentin responded to nature’s blow by expanding his négoce project, La Soeur Cadette—but more on that in a future newsletter.) Partially whole-cluster-fermented, aged in neutral oak, and bottled unfiltered, this expressive, fruit-forward Bourgogne rouge is quite simply flawless: a true testament to the pleasure Valentin derives from his work.
$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case
by Chris Santini
For decades, Jean-Charles Abbatucci could see from a window of the family home a steep, barren slope. In this remote corner of deep-country Corsica, where the climate may be hot and dry, the rolling hills are nonetheless covered with abundant green shrub and native grasses—so much so that this slope stood out like a sore thumb, a blemish. Not a blade of grass, not a single plant would grow there. Too much granite and too poor a soil? Too much erosion? No one really knew. Over time, the family gave the white, rocky slope the moniker Monte Bianco, which in Corsican means “white hill,” and viewed it as a bit of a challenge. Jean-Charles’s father tried in vain to plant various vines on various rootstocks on the slope. Nothing took, not even for a single season. Years later, when Jean-Charles took over, he was eager to prove his capability and promptly planted the hill once again, only to watch his vines shrivel and die, just as his father’s had. The Monte Bianco was deemed untamable, and the project was shelved.
Fast-forward fifteen years, during which time Abbatucci has painstakingly implemented and developed biodynamic agriculture to a whole new level on his estate. The methods are applied not only to vines but to all the flora and fauna, every inch and every aspect of the domaine being imbued in the process. Farmers and vignerons near and far regularly make pilgrimage to Abbatucci to witness all this for themselves.
So to come back to our impossible slope here, Abbatucci decided to give it one last try, this time with full biodynamic accoutrement. Amazingly, it took. It didn’t simply take, it thrived. Within a few years, the “white hill” was awash in vigorous vines, green grass and shrubs between the rows. The Monte Bianco had finally found harmony with its surroundings. Jean-Charles insists that this success is the indisputable evidence of the potential and power of biodynamics. I would go one step further and say that it also provides indisputable evidence of the otherworldly taste biodynamic wines can bring. Traditional tasting notes cannot do justice to this wine. There’s something more here than simple tastes or sensations. Never in my life have I tasted a wine so alive, so light to the touch yet able to express so much. The Monte Bianco talks without speaking, and screams without raising its voice, as the old song notes. Sciaccarellu has never had so much to say, so take a listen.
$89.00 per bottle (Very limited quantities)
by Clark Z. Terry
Two whole months. That’s how long we’ve been sold out of the Fontsainte Gris de Gris rosé—nearly an eternity for some of our clients. But wine is not a widget. It’s a finely crafted agricultural product, and supply is dependent on the whims of nature. Though we’d like to have this wine available year-round, its selling out is a useful reminder that even our most widely available wines are hand-crafted and limited in production.
The 2016 Gris de Gris is delicate and lively, featuring light strawberry fruit and just a touch of Languedoc garrigue—refreshment restored, once again.
$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case
When it comes to wine, Cyriaque Rozier is a serious man. He’s well traveled, his cellar is filled with wines from across France, and he’s the winemaker not only at his own domaine, Château Fontanès, but also at the famed Languedoc winery Château La Roque. He is studious in his craft and incredibly hardworking—a combination that year after year yields stunning results.
The Fontanès Cabernet Sauvignon bottling, from vines planted in the 1970s, is one of those rare “Top that!” wines. No, really—just try to find another Cabernet for under $15 that will bring you as much pleasure as this wine does.
$14.00 per bottle $151.20 per case
If beautiful wines come from beautiful places, then the Brunier family’s Mégaphone bottling might top our list of greatest values. The vineyard from which it is sourced is tucked away in a small canyon on the far side of the Dentelles from Gigondas, with contoured hills of vines, cypress trees that provide a bit of shade, and cigales chirping away throughout most of the summer. All that beauty translates to the wine—bright ruby fruit, just enough tannic grip, with a dose of black olive and a hint of rosemary.
$22.00 per bottle $237.60 per case