Wine Club Releases
French and French-ish
2021 Les Equilibristes Picpoul, Languedoc, FR
Les Equilibristes (“The Tightrope Walkers”) have a simple set of rules they follow in winemaking: use indigenous grape varieties, organic winemaking practices, indigenous yeasts, and minimal sulphur. They make wines from purchased grapes, always organic, from different regions of France, the goal of each wine to convey the unique terroir and local varietals of its place.
100% biodynamic Picopoul de Pinet is cold fermented in stainless steel for 6 weeks and aged in old oak barrels before being bottled with no fining or filtration. Uncharacteristically waxy and round compared to the lean wines of the region, this Picpoul drinks more like a Chenin with a pleasantly bitter finish and saline quality.
2021 Frenchtown Farms ‘Cecelia’, North Yuba, CA
A vineyard with a literal cult following, Frenchtown Farms’ steep terraces were carved into this remote mountain half a century ago by members of a doomsday cult, The Fellowship of Friends. Since 2015 however, wine growing outsiders Aaron and Cara Mockrish have called it home. With the Fellowship in decline, Aaron and Cara took an opportunity to ascend its steep granite peaks and revitalize the abandoned vines that once produced some of California’s most iconic wines.
A crisp, mineral driven pink wine made from co-fermented direct press red varietals and skin-contact whites grown by us here in North Yuba. Don’t think of it as a rosé, but rather a wine that is slightly pink, made for food and built for aging, but approachable in its youth if you like structure and acid.
2020 Karim Vionnet ‘Du Beur dans les Pinards’, Beaujolais, FR
Karim Vionnet is a rising star of Beaujolais. Karim was a baker before he decided to follow his passion and become a winemaker. He worked under Guy Breton for 5 years before establishing his own domain in 2006 in Villie-Morgon. From his 5-hectare domain, Karim’s aim is to “make a wine that is simple and natural”. Unnecessary intervention and artifices, both in the vineyard and during fermentation, are avoided.
The fruit for Du Beur dans les Pinards come from a single parcel which belonged to the late Jules Chauvet. 100% biodynamic gamay sees full carbonic maceration and spontaneous fermentation. Pure Gamay fruit character, juicy red berry on the nose, the palate is fresh, with crunchy, silky red fruit and a lengthy, invigorating finish.
West Coast Cool Kids
2022 Mr. Brightside 'Happy Thoughts' Pet-Nat Gamay Noir, Arroyo Seco, CA
Tim Fulnecky's first foray into the wine industry was as a cellar hand in 2015. It quickly became apparent that he'd stumbled into a lifelong career. In 2016, at the urging of his mentor, he started producing his own wines. Focusing only on the grape Gamay Noir, he strives to make world-class wines from grapes sourced exclusively from California's Central Coast.
Hand-picked, organic Gamay Noir from Arroyo Seco, CA is open fermented in stainless steel, hand-racked, bottled unfined with no added SO2, and aged in bottle for 4 years before it is released, un-disgorged. Fresh, easy-drinking pet-nat with zippy acidity and stone fruit.
2021 Swick Wines 'City Nights' Rosé, Columbia Valley, WA
A native of Oregon, Joe Swick returned to his home state in 2013 after a decade of working harvests and making wine across the globe. Joe’s ethos is rooted in showcasing the unique, cold-climate terroirs of the Pacific Northwest using a hands-off approach. Swick partners exclusively with organic and biodynamic growers to develop wines that he himself would like to drink.
Inspired by blends from the Rhone Valley, this Rosé is 44% Mourvedre, 36% Grenache Noir, 20% Syrah, direct pressed, whole-cluster fermented, and aged separately in a mix of 228 liter and 500 liter used French oak barrels. Soft tannins with notes of citrus and minerals.
2022 Jolie Laide 'Glou D’Etat' Red, California
Founded by Scott Schultz in 2010, Jolie-Laide is distinct in its focus on unusual varietals including Trousseau Gris, Trousseau Noir, Valdiguie and Cabernet Pfeffer. The name "Jolie-Laide" itself which loosely translates to "Pretty-Ugly" in French, refers to the beauty of the unconventional.
Glou D’Etat playful is an easy-drinking, more approachable red, versus most core Jolie Laide offerings — 38% Valdigue, 33% Mourvedre, 17% Grenache, and the remaining 12% made up of a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. The nose reads of bright red fruit, garrigue, cedar and pepper. The palate is light and bright with crunchy red berries.
The Eastern European Dispatch
2020 Piquentum Malvazija, Istria, Croatia
Dimitri Brečević studied oenology in France and then worked at Domaine de Chevalier in addition to working harvests in Australia, New Zealand, Bordeaux, and Burgundy. In 2004 he decided to invest himself in his father’s homeland of Istria, near the town of Buzet. With 4.5 ha of vineyards, Dimitri’s goal is to keep competition high, work the land by hand, and get roots digging deeper and deeper into the rich, red and flysch, white soils that define Istrian terroir.
100% hand-picked Malvazija Istarska is left to macerate on the skins for 3-4 days in open vats before a spontaneous fermentation in both barrel and stainless tank. After a long and slow fermentation, the wines are bottled unfiltered with just enough sulfur to ensure a safe journey across the Atlantic.
2017 Apátsági Pince Furmint, Somló, Hungary
This wine from Apátsági is our first off-dry wine featured in the club and a truly elegant example of botrytis a.k.a. noble rot. Somló is Hungary’s smallest appellation and is the result of the erosion of ancient lava flows. The oldest writings mentioning the wine of Somló date back to 1093 and viticulture all the way back to the age of the Romans.
100% organic late-harvest Furmint is dry farmed without herbicides or pesticides, hand picked, then spontaneously fermented in 600-2000 liter oak barrels. As with most botrytized wines, some residual sugar is present — if not for the incredibly high natural acidity, these wines would be overly sweet and flabby. The wines are then aged in the same vessels for at least a year and then bottled unfiltered -- tons of honeyed stone fruit, mint and thyme with a touch of salinity.
NV Slobodne ‘Majer’ Red, Trnava, Slovakia
Slobodne (‘the free winery’) is a young and dynamic, family-run winery focusing on natural expressions of their local grapes and their very own terroir. The family has spent the last 25+ years rebuilding the ecosystem of the farm and eventually launched Slobodne in 2010, placing them at the forefront of the natural wine movement in Slovakia.
Biodynamically-farmed Blaüfrankisch, Cabernet Sauvignon & Alibernet are hand-picked and spontaneously fermented in neutral oak. The wine is bottled with no fining or filtration, and a touch of SO2 for stability. The wine is an easy-going, medium-to-full bodied wine, with tons of red fruit, that's perfect for this transitional period between winter and spring.
Two red/white co-ferments and a crushable Austrian orange
2021 Good Boy x Drug Dealer ‘Neo Noir’, Santa Barbara County, CA
Eric and Dave of Los Angeles-based Good Boy Wine produce natural wine, with a nod to French technique, using organic and biodynamic grapes, all sourced from within two hours of Downtown Los Angeles. They exclusively work with vineyards that practice ethical treatment of farm workers & sustainable farming methods.
The 2021 ‘Neo Noir’ is collaboration with musicians and friends of the winery, Drugdealer. This mineral-driven co-ferment of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is destemmed, fermented in 1.5-ton tanks, then basket pressed at dryness. It was then aged in neutral French oak barrels for 13 months with minimal racking, as Good Boy puts it, “so as to not fuck with the process”.
2020 Vinas Mora ‘Barbba’, Croatia
Following the success of his first winery, Podrum Franjo, Kreso Petrekovic (former somm, wine professional, and importer in New York) brings his second passion project to life —Vinas Mora. This co-op winery focuses on producing natural wines from Primošten, a historic and UNESCO-protected area in coastal Croatia, near the city of Split.
The Barbba cuvée is a unique co-ferment of three local red grapes (Babić, Lasina, Plavina) and one white grape (Maraština). A portion of the grapes were given a quick 6 hour maceration, and the rest were macerated for 3 days. Fermented and aged in old oak. Unfined, unfiltered with just a touch of sulfur at bottling. Bursting with juicy cherries, with hints of chocolate and earthiness.
2021 Michael Gindl ‘Michi’s Farm’ Orange, Weinviertel, AU
Michi's Farm is a new project by Michael Gindl, focused on extending his output to vineyards other than his own — utilizing both negociant fruit and fruit from vineyards that he manages on other peoples’ property. Michi's Farm wines will always be blends of the organic and biodynamic grapes that he gets his hands on.
Mostly Gruner Veltliner with Riesling and Sylvaner blended in, the 2021 Michi's Farm Orange sees a few weeks on the skins before it is bottled, un-fined and unfiltered with no SO2. The almost-too-drinkable wine is floral, with hints of apricot and crisp acidity.
Low-intervention + lower-alcohol European wines
2021 Hervé Villemade Cheverny Rouge, Cheverny, FR
Hervé Villemade has been working his family's vines in Cellettes since taking over from his father in 1995. Converted to organic farming in 2000, the estate now covers about 22 hectares within the Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny AOCs.
This wine is a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, grown on sandy clay and flint soils over, fermented as whole clusters for 15 days, and aged in old barrels. An old-fashioned light-bodied red at just 11.5% alcohol, The Cheverny Rouge leads with aromas of cherry, ripe raspberry, violet, and rose. Juicy and thirst-quenching when served slightly chilled, with just enough old-world earthiness to balance it out.
2021 Cantina Indigeno 'Mosca', Abruzzo, IT
Cantina Indigeno is small project from a group of three friends in Italy’s Abruzzo region, focused on making fresh, low-alcohol, highly drinkable natural wines from local grape varieties.
Organic Moscato de-stemmed, macerated with the skins for 2 weeks. Aged in fiberglass for 6 months. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, with no SO2. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, no temperature control, filtration, zero sulfur or other additions. Aromatic and dry skin-contact Moscato. Ripe peach, nectarines, wild flower, strawberry honey and minerals.
2021 Chateau Barouillet 'Splash' Pet-Nat, Bergerac, FR
Located 50 km east from Saint-Émilion, the Barouillet family has been growing grapes for at least 8 generations. Vincent Alexis, who joined his father in 2010, converted the vineyards to organic and is about to obtain a biodynamic certification.
This Pét-Nat is made from 50-year-old Sémillon vines grown in clay and limestone soils. The grapes are destemmed and direct pressed into stainless steel tanks where they ferment cold for about 1 month before being bottled with zero sulfur added. The wine is low in alcohol -- at just 9% -- fragrant and lively with notes of citrus, apple and a touch of cut grass.
Skin-contact wines from lesser known regions and varietals
2015 Fekete Béla Hárslevelű,
Somló is Hungary’s smallest appellation and once an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. 32 years ago, while Fekete Béla was on a trip to buy grapes for his garage production, a farmer offered to sell his vineyards on the southern slopes. Fekete accepted and, approaching 90 years old, still tends his 4 hectares of beloved Fehérvári-cru. Everything is done by hand, and much like the man, his wines are honest, engaging and highly expressive of the region
100% Hárslevlü, a local grape grown in volcanic soils of the Somló region. Smoky, saline, and mineral-driven with the iconic structure of white wines from this region.
2021 Domaine du Haut Planty 'One Musk a Night', Vin de France
In the 1960’s, Michel Couillaud gradually converted his father’s Loire Valley polyculture farm into a vineyard. At the turn of the century, Alain and Christian, took over the operations with Alain Couillaud as the winemaker. The new generation brought with them the spirit of the novitiate by joining the respect for traditions with forward thinking. The new era of Le Haut-Planty was marked by the conversion to organic viticulture and an embrace of the natural winemaking philosophy
'One Musk a Night' is 100% organic, whole-cluster Melon de Bourgogne, macerated on the skins for one week, before being pressed into concrete tanks for a 6-month spontaneous fermentation. Hazy orange in color with notes of hay, stone fruit, white flowers.
2021 Open Face Wines 'Duh Würzt' Gewurtztraminer, Wilammette Valley, OR
After graduating with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, winemaker Michael Croom moved back to his home state of California and danced between kitchens and wine cellars until he decided to commit to his love for wine and relocate to Oregon. In his first years as a winemaker, Michael is focusing on sourcing grapes from organic, sustainable vineyards, and working to add and remove as little as possible during its life in the cellar, in an effort to create as honest of product as possible.
'Duh Würzt' is 100% organic, dry-farmed Gerwurztraminer from 60-year-old vines, macerated for 21 days and aged in used oak barrels. Rich, yet less cloying and spiced that traditional Gewurztraminer.
Our first all-Italian lineup! Three very different styles, representing three unique regions.
2021 Azienda Agricola COS 'Rami' Bianco, Sicily, IT
Founded in 1980, by Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano, COS is considered one of the benchmark producers of the Vittoria appellation in Sicily. Farmed organically and biodynamically since the 1980s, these vines in the deep south of Sicily thrive in the hot, dry climate. Using a combination of clay amphora, concrete, and old, large botti, COS produces a fascinating collection of fresh, complex reds and skin-contact amber wines.
The Rami is an elegant skin contact wine made from 50% Grecanico and 50% Inzolia, spontaneously- fermented on the skins in concrete tanks for seven to ten days, before being aged in concrete vats for eight months, followed by three months in the bottle before release. Rami leads with grapefruit peel and stone fruit, followed by dried Mediterranean herbs and a long, honeyed finish.
2021 Carolina Gatti ‘Pinpinea’ Rose Frizzante, Veneto, IT
Carolina Gatti is a radical young winemaker who took over her family's 250-year-old estate in the Prosecco region of the Veneto. Her outfit is a rustic farm, where she works the land herself, with no chemical inputs, and makes the wines with very little intervention. She’s pushing boundaries and making gutsy, unorthodox wines in a very conventional, by-the-books region.
The organically-farmed local varietal, Raboso Veronese, is de-stemmed within 2 hours of picking and fermented on the skins for at least 15 days with frequent manual stirring in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and without temperature control. The wine is lightly pressed, then bottled unfined and unfiltered with 20ppm added SO2. The resulting rosato drinks more like a lighter red with moderate tannins, and bright cherry fruit that gives way to sweet strawberry finish.
2021 Cantina Giardino 'Re' Vino Rosso, Campania, IT
Antonio and Daniela De Gruttola seek out old vineyards in Irpinia, high in the hills of Campania. They champion and preserve the region’s native varietals, old vines, and the age-old way of tending them. The vines are planted over the region’s vibrant volcanic soils. Vineyard work is done by hand, organically. In the cantina, Antonio takes a no-nonsense approach, with the intention of letting terroir express itself in full. The grapes ferment naturally without temperature control and fermentation can go on for months.
Part of the ‘Na-Tu-Re’ series, the Re is 100% Aglianico from old vines in Montemarano, de-stemmed and fermented on the skins for ten days, before resting for nine months in chestnut barrels. Notes of black fruit, olive, and herbs with a dark, savory complexity.
Two very different takes on white blends, and a stunning Sicilian Pet-Nat
2020 Domaine Rietsch 'Tout Blanc' LITER, Alsace, FR
Jean Pierre Rietsch tends to his family's 12-hectare biodynamic-practicing vineyard in Mittelbergheim, Alsace, which first saw vines planted in the 1970s.
His 'Tout Blanc' is a sharp and light, fully dry white blend with some aromatic qualities. 50% Riesling and 50% Auxerrois, fermented with indigenous yeasts -- unfined and lightly filtered. Easy-drinking with notes of lychee, green apple, and honey.
2021 Broc Cellars 'Got Grapes' White, California
Got Grapes is a series release by Broc Cellars, beginning in 2017, to capture a blended wine made accidentally from a busy harvest that (unintentionally) turned out to be something very special. Since then, the Got Grapes label has gone on to release many different vintages of both blended and single variety wines - all that have stood out from the rest in the cellar.
This year's release is a mix of white barrels, puncheons and concrete eggs -- Picpoul, Clairette, Viognier, Marsanne, Albariño, Grenache Blanc -- from all over CA, with no fining or filtration.
NV Ayunta Metodo Ancestral Rosé Frizzante, Sicily, IT
Metodo Ancestrale is the original way of making sparkling wine, during which the wine is bottled midway through the fermentation, trapping any carbonation that continues to be produced.
This refreshing beauty -- a blend of Nerello Mascalese & Nero d'Avola -- possesses a bright pink hue showing notes of bright and bitter fruit such as blood orange, pomegranate and grapefruit. Balanced with intriguing yeasty notes for roundness, it finishes crisp and fresh.
2021 Meinklang Foam White, Burgenland, Austria
Biodynamically-farmed Grauburgunder (a.k.a. Pinot Gris) is hand harvested, macerated for 5 days on the skins, then fermented with ambient yeast in stainless steel. With no filtration and minimal SO2 addition, this pet-nat style sparkler leads with citrus peel and apple notes, backed up by a pleasant yeastiness and creamy mouthfeel.
2021 Two Shepherds Skin-Ferment Trousseau Gris, Fanucchi Vineyard, Russian River, CA
A unique wine from an obscure grey- skinned grape, originally from the Jura. The grapes are the only planting in CA -- from a 40 year old vineyard in the Russian River Valley -- fermented with native yeast on the skins for five days to extract color, flavor and texture, then aged in neutral barrels for 8 months. Lean vibrant, and packed with stone fruit notes.
2021 De Levende Cuvée Marty, Mendocino, CA
From a négociant project between Los Angeles-based natural wine importer The Soil Expedition, and Subject to Change Wine Co., this co-ferment of organically-farmed Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (60% and 40%, respectively) makes for an absolutely crushable summertime red, with loads of crunchy red berry and substantial acidity. Unfined, unfiltered, with zero SO2 addition. Serve chilled.
2021 La Boutanche Broc Cellars Red Blend
One of our favorite winemakers (Broc Cellars) teams up with one of our favorite importers (Selection Massale) to bring you a liter of true glou glou. A blend of spontaneously-fermented Zinfandel, Carignan, and Valdiguie with minimal SO2 addition, this bottling of La Boutanche is the perfect dinner party table wine.
2021 Bodega Ugabe 'Balea Unfiltered' Txakoli
One of the first bottled offerings of an unfiltered Txakolina -- the fizzy, refreshing table wine from Basque Country, Spain -- the Balea is a blend of 90% Hondaribbi Zuri and 10% Petit Corbu. Slightly effervescent and almost lemony, this one is a daytime patio pounder.
2019 Ciavolo Nero 'NCHIARITU Rosato
The "natty-est" wine in the August lineup, the 'nchiaritu is 100% Gaglioppo from 40 year old vines in Calabria, IT. Spontaneously fermented, aged in stainless for 9 months, and bottled with no clarification or filtration, this hazy gem is the perfect pairing for your antipasto or charcuterie & cheese board.