Pursued by Bear: Kyle Maclachlan will be here this Thursday, 4/26, to pour his rosé.

You may know him as Agent Dale Cooper, or the mayor of Portland, or Charlotte’s terrible first husband, or any one of the dozens of roles he’s played over the years. But one of the newest, and most exciting, characters that Kyle Maclachlan has taken on has been that of winemaker, producing outstanding Washington state wines.

We were very excited when Kyle approached us, and asked if we’d be interested in tasting the wines. And then, once we had tasted the wine, we were thrilled to discover that the wines were good — very good. We’ve got a rosé that rivals any rosé from Provence, and a Syrah that is perfect any day of the week. They are really delicious wines, and the winemaking is seriously thoughtful.

Please feel free to stop by, taste some wine, chat with Kyle and maybe take a bottle or two home!

2013 Brovia Barolo: The best straight Barolo you are likely to come across

Our Reasonable Cellar posts are so often about things that are slightly off. An off region. An off grape. An off vintage. But today nothing is off at all.

The inspiration was Brovia Barolo 2008. In one of my better moves, I tucked a way an entire case of the wine when we got it maybe five or six years ago.

About a couple of years ago I cracked my first bottle. Now I love mature Barolo most of all, but I’m pretty OK with young Barolo too. I’m pretty happy with fresh, tannic reds, especially with grilled beef. But not when they’re shut down!

2008 Brovia Barolo: A ‘decent’ vintage now at ten years is singing

That first bottle of 2008 that I opened, maybe 18 months ago, was totally shut down. We opened it and it didn’t taste of much at all. We decanted it and then it just tasted of tannins. We decanted it some more and still more tannins. It hung out in my fridge for a day or two and then just tasted…unfresh. That’s what wine is like when it’s shut down.

But around six months ago it was not shut down. It wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders, but it was a very enjoyable bottle of Barolo. So a month ago I opened up another bottle. Yum! And another bottle last week. Victory! That was a singing bottle of Barolo, with just the right combo of fresh cherry Nebbiolo fruit and that tar-rose-porcini heaven that you want from mature Barolo. It turns out that the “normale” Barolo from Brovia — in a decent but not epic vintage — is ready to drink at around age 10.

Now, I write all this not to brag about a smart move I made five years ago, but to help us all plan for the future. It so happens that a very awesome vintage of Brovia’s “normale” is on the market today. Surprisingly, it hasn’t moved from the Reasonable Cellar budget range that it occupied back when the 2008 was released.

2013 Brovia Barolo: One of the best straight Barolos you’ll come across

It’s Barolo, not an “off” region at all. It’s 2013, not an off vintage at all, but one of the best two or three so far this century. It’s certainly not an obscure producer. It’s not even a wine that’s escaped the attention fo the press. Antonio Galloni give it a monster score and said “This one of the best straight Barolos readers will come across.” Not bad!

The wine is certainly shut down today, as a recent drinking confirmed. No matter how much air I gave it the wine just didn’t give back. But that’s OK. Experience has shown me that it will come around in a few years. I’ve put an entire case aside. While I wait, I can enjoy those 2008s!

We have plenty of Brovia 2013 in stock in both NY and SF.  It’s normally $48.99/bottle in NY and $51.99 in SF but the wine will discount to $42.99 when using the coupon codes, below.

Buy Brovia, Barolo, 2013 in New York City.
(Use coupon code “BROVIA2013NYC”)

Buy Brovia, Barolo, 2013 in San Franciso.
(Use coupon code “BROVIA2013SF”)

Don’t want to miss beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

Top Ten Wines to Drink this Spring – New York

It’s not quite spring-like outside here in New York, but warmer weather and asparagus is surely just around the corner — and of course our colleagues and customers in San Francisco are already well into their beautiful spring (SF will get its own version of this blog post shortly; in the mean time, you’ll see that some of the wines noted below are available in both shops).

So what does all this mean for wine? Basically three things. It’s the beginning of Rosé season and everyone is eager to change up their wine game with something pink. Fortunately, some of our favorites have just arrived and make their way on to the list below.

It’s also time to think about spring vegetables and to address the age old question: what exactly goes with asparagus? There are a couple of answers below.

Finally, this is the time of year when I crave freshness above all else. I stop hitting the big old wines in the cellar and start bringing home the youngsters. I give Barolo a break and turn to Dolcetto. Don’t worry big wines, grilling season is just a few weeks away!

Here’s my list (in no particular order, and definitely skewed towards my usual hunting grounds like Piedmont, Loire etc.):

  1. Arnot-Roberts Rose 2017 ($27.99).  This is an easy one to start with! It’s usually the first Rosé from the most recent harvest that we carry, and it’s always here in time for spring. It’s not the sort of super-light Rosé that you’ll crave when the weather turns really hot but perfect on a cool spring day. Of all things, this is made from Port variety Touriga Nacional grown at 1400 feet above Clear Lake!  (available in SF and NYC)
  2. Poderi Colla Nebbiolo 2015 ($29.99).  Ok, I may give Barolo a break for a few weeks in the spring, but does that mean I have to give up Nebbiolo? Hell no. And this one is so tasty. This is single vineyard Nebbiolo with some pretty old vines, aged in large barrels for a year and then again for a year in bottle. From an estate that is fast becoming a big deal in Piedmont. (available in NYC only)
  3. Selbach-Oster, Riesling Feinherb, 2016 ($17.99). You knew I had to include a Riesling because, well, Riesling is an important part of my diet four seasons out of four. In spring, maybe I back away from the sweeter wines, but something fresh, light and with a dash of sweetness like this Feinherb will do perfectly. Spring vegetable friendly. (available in NYC and SF)
  4. Knoll, Gelber Muskateller Loibner Federspiel, 2016 ($31.99). Here in New York we’re still actually waiting for the asparagus to arrive. In the mean time, you can do what they do in Central Europe and enjoy jarred white asparagus. Just cut some up and include it in a salad with a light vinaigrette for a delightful early spring dinner (yeah, go ahead and throw a little bacon in there too..). In Austria they would probably drink a Muskateller with a dish like that, and we’ll do that too, because it totally works. We have one from Wachau master Knoll. (sorry, available in NYC only but you’ve already got fresh asparagus in SF!)
  5. Domaine Bruyere (Reynaud), Croze Hermitage “Cuvee Georges Reynaud”, 2015 ($26.99).  Syrah is a bit like Nebbiolo. I need a short break from Cornas and Hermitage, but I don’t want to give up the grape! Fortunately, Reynaud makes lovely Croze that is beautifully juicy and fresh for drinking young in springtime weather. All biodynamic. (available in NYC only)
  6. Gerard Boulay, Sancerre Rose, 2016 ($27.99).  We’re still waiting for most of the vintage 2017 Rosés to show up, but a nice thing about this time of year is that some of the Rosés from the vintage before actually start to show better at this point. Especially the good ones! Boulay’s Sancerre Rosé was delicious in its first year, but is now really coming into its own. (available in NYC only)
  7. Deschamps, Pouilly-sur-Loire “Les Loges”, 2016 ($16.99).  Here’s another wine that I love so much that I’m happy to drink all year long. But it’s such a great spring-vegetable wine that this is a particularly great time to break out a bottle. This is an oddity: 100% Chasselas, from Pouilly Fumé! It’s got that Loire Valley minerality that delivers the freshness I want, and the Chasselas gives a glorious floral touch that demands…asparagus? (available in NYC only)
  8. Hager, Pinot Noir, 2014 1L ($17.99).  Obviously any top 10 list I produce is going to have some Pinot Noir on it. What surprises me here is that the Pinot Noir is from Germany! I can’t explain it. There’s nothing more spring-like about Germany than Burgundy or Oregon. I just happen to really enjoy drinking this Pinot right now. Pinot Noir has a reputation for being pricey, but this really delivers the grape’s sophistication for a great price, especially when you do the math on this being a 1L bottle. Delicious. (available in NYC only)
  9. Gianni Brunelli, Rosso di Montalcino, 2016 ($30.99). Here we have the young and fresh version of Brunello di Montalcino. Probably I shouldn’t have it on this list because we don’t have much and certainly can’t get more. But Jesus it is a really good wine. 2016 is such a great vintage pretty much everywhere in Italy and maybe everywhere in Europe, and we are just starting to get to enjoy its fresh red wines.  (available in NYC only)
  10. Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (Jacky Blot), Montlouis sur Loire “Remus”, 2016 ($29.99). This wine has everything going for it. It’s so fresh and yummy. It’s happy hanging out with spring vegetables, but is so versatile I would drink this with just about anything. And it’s Chenin Blanc…a four season grape that all of us seem to want more and more of. But in spring, I don’t want anything too sweet, and don’t need anything too old. This is what I want. (available in NYC only)

Asimov’s latest The Pour post is a gem

Eric Asimov’s latest post, “Everyday Wines: The Most Important Bottles You Will Drink,” at his New York Times Blog, The Pour, is a gem.

And I’m not saying that just because he said to “find a good wine shop” with a link to his article saying that “[i]nstitutions like Chambers Street WinesFlatiron Wines & Spirits and Crush Wine & Spirits in New York are great for expert and novice alike, and they serve a nationwide clientele.” No, this has nothing to do with validation in the National Press…

It’s because Eric has, once again, nailed how we actually drink wine. His eight tips are spot on and we’d recommend you read them.  Here is a helpful link to read it now.

Their spot on but, of course, we all have our own twists to add. Here are my four addenda, together with a case of everyday wines to embody the principles.

  1. Don’t let the hunt for novelty blind you to the charms of the classics. There’s a risk of a kind of reverse snobbery, “Oh, I never drink [Bordeaux/Sancerre/Rioja/whatever].” It’s trite but true: the classics are classics for a reason. There may be oceans of indifferent, factory-made Sancerre and Bordeaux; but there are also tons of fantastic, terroir focused growers making wines that have stood the test of time.
  1. Don’t worry about finishing the bottle. Lots of wines, especially young, hardy ones, will easily last a day or two after you’ve opened them. In fact, just like grandma’s stew, many of those wines will be better on the second or third day, when a little oxygen has helped them to open up and show what they’ve got.You don’t need a fancy system to keep the wine, either. Just put the cork in it and put it back in the fridge. Or if you want to keep the wine even longer, as soon as you open the bottle, pour half of it into an empty half-bottle, cork it, and stick it in the fridge. It will be exposed to almost no air and will last for days and days.
  1. Get a decanter. Just like lots of young wines do better on the second day thanks to the extra air, so do they do better out of a decanter. Not sure if you like your wine decanted? Throw half the bottle in the decanter and leave the other half behind. Compare them in 30 or 60 minutes and see which one you like better.
  1. But wine by the case (and off our Newsletter). Eric is right that it helps to go above the $10-$12 price range to find wines that are much more interesting. One way to afford to reach a little is to take advantage of case discounts. Flatiron, for instance, offers 10% off (our already low prices!) when you buy 12 or more bottles.

And now, to put our money where our mouths is, here’s a case of wine, at a super-extra-special 15% discount for blog readers, who purchase all the featured selections, below. It embodies Eric’s principles and ours and we think it’s a great way to load up on the kind of reasonably priced gems that can make any dinner at home a special treat.  For those who prefer to build their own case, you are welcome to do so at 10% off.

buy-now

Without further delay, here are our featured selections. Happy reading and, when you are ready, purchase The Pour inspired case by clicking on the button above or build your own case here now!

Featured wines:

1. Duzsi Tamas Kekfrankos Roze 2016 ($16.99)
An organic, dry rose from Hungary with a citrus nose and floral tones. 100% Kekfrankos, the Hungarian word for Blaufrankisch. This has become a staff favorite as be believe there is no better value for a mineral driven rose.

2. J.H. Selbach Riesling “Piesporter Michelsberg” 2015 ($12.99)
An excellent value in classic Mosel Riesling from the great 2015 vintage. This is a great place to start if you want to get to know Mosel Riesling, but also a great every-day drinker for whenever you need something delicoius.

3. Casa de Mouraz Dao Blanco “Encruzado” 2015 ($17.99)
Encruzado Is a grape with the remarkable ability to convey a rounded weight in the midpalate while maintaining crisp minerality. That means it can handle full-flavored fish dishes, but can also be just fine on it’s own. Croquetas de Bacalao were made for a wine like this. Biodynamically farmed by a husband and wife team, they lost their winery and half of their vines in the devastating fires last year, but they won’t be down for long.

4. Montesecondo Toscana Rosso Sangiovese 2016 ($21.99)
Sangiovese can be so pretty, especially in the hands of master winemaker Silvio Messana, who crafts wines of remarkable purity and balance. The quality/price ratio of his rosso (which could be classified as Chianti if he wanted it to be) is always exceptional, but the 2016 vintage is just ridiculous.

5. Ryme Cellars, Vermentino “Hers Carneros, 2016 ($22.99)
Ryme, a husband and wife team who set out to make terroir focused wines in California from mostly Italian varietals. This cuvee is the result of competing winemaking styles. Hers is pressed, settled clean and bottled early resulting in crisp, citrus notes with a slightly herbal and bitter almond finish.

6. Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2014 ($22.99)
Fabre came from Bordeaux and found old vines — like over 100 years old — in high altitude sites in Argentina. He’s been making incredibles Malbecs and Cabernet from those sites ever since, showing the exuberance of Argentinian fruit but with Bordeaux sensibilities.

7. Bodegas Albamar Rias Baixas Albarino 2016 ($20.99)
Here we have lightning in a bottle: mineral verve & tenacious salinity. Albamar’s take is elegant & cutting—dancing across the palate with electric ease. Clean, fresh, and wonderfully balanced.

8. Domaine de Fontsainte Corbieres Rouge 2016 ($12.99)
Medium-full and well made. Herbal accents written on rich black cherry. Good vintage through and through. Terroir is there. A label you can look at day after day and still think “Hey, that looks good to drink”. One of the best bargains in the shop.

9. Domaine des Terres Dorees (Jean-Paul Brun) Beaujolais “L’Ancien” 2016 ($17.99)
Totally delicious, easy to drink, but with never cloying. Light bodied but fine; an elegant texture married to bright juicy fruit. Planted on limestone for a strong kick of minerality. And from a great bojo vintage!

10. The Whole Shebang North Coast Red “Eleventh Cuvee” NV ($15.99)
Shebang is the second label from the guys at Bedrock. This is an unabashedly big wine, but not made big by oak. Rather, it is the old vines (Zin, Syrah, and Grenache) that gives it its size, which is then tempered by some older wine (it’s 35% solera). An all-occasions red.

11. Chateau Bournac Médoc Cru Bourgeois 2015 ($19.99)
Classic Bordeaux is a beautiful thing, and the Bournac really delivers. You get smoky, spicy aromas and the plush, dark fruit of the excellent 2015 vintage. A perfect burger wine.

12. Domaine Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Vieilles Vignes “Clos des Allees”, 2016 ($15.99)
Some of the most serious Muscadet out there, and yet it’s so easy to love.
Luscious but nervy, with plenty of minerality. So much complexity for the $.

We also have a weekly newsletter with stories on new arrivals, which we generally offer to our subscribers at very special, limited time (and Newsletter-only) discounts. You should take advantage by signing up here, or using the pop-up form below!

Looking forward to the week ahead in San Francisco – March 18th 2018

Friends of Flatiron Wines SF,

Here is a quick look at the week ahead at Flatiron Wines & Spirits – San Francisco.

In-Store Tastings

Wednesday 3/21, Meeet the Winemaker: Amy Chappellet, Chappellet Winery | Chappellet produces wines of extraordinary power, grace and balance. The family purchased 320 acres of rocky hillsides above the valley in the mid-60s including the soon to be famous  Pritchard Hill Vineyard, which quickly became recognized as one of the worlds best locations to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. When Don Chappellet purchased this prime mountainside Napa land, he paid the same price that it would cost to buy one comparable acre today, thus these world class wines are often a fraction of the price of their less heralded neighbor’s. Please join us in welcoming Amy Chappellet from Chappellet this Wednesday to taste through a delicious lineup.

Thursday 3/22, Meet the Winemaker: Pax Mahle, Wind Gap and Pax Wines | Pax and Pam Mahle started Pax Mahle Wines in 2000 after years of being in the wine business.  He originally was known for his powerful and muscular red wines from warmer sites, but has since broken out of that box with his cooler climate wines under the Wind Gap label.  Pax does not adhere to any specific style these days as evident by the range of wines he produces, but rather he focuses on what each vineyard has to offer and being true to the land.  That also shows in his winemaking, which is non-manipulative, allowing the fruit to express itself in the wine.  We are thrilled to have Pax himself in the shop this Thursday. Don’t miss your opportunity to come and taste!

All in-store tastings are from 5pm – 7pm, unless otherwise stated. No need to RSVP, just grab a friend and show up. As always, low-cost to no-cost.

Lastly, as we do every Wednesday, we’re preparing quite the line-up of features for this week’s newsletter, scheduled to be sent later today. A few of the highlights this week include: the stellar range of 2016 Chablis from Patrick Piuzethe much anticipated 2015 Cote-Roties from staff favorite Domaine Bernard Levet and the newest arrivals from cult favorite Frank Cornelissen.

Cheers to you and a week full of new discoveries,

Your Friends at Flatiron Wines SF

Don’t want to miss beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already!  As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

Saint Joseph’s Feast Day and the wines of Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph Wines for the Feast of Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph Rouge (the red wine of Saint Joseph) is made with Red Syrah and up to 10% of the white grapes Marsanne and Roussanne. Saint Joseph Blanc (the white Saint Joseph) is made from Marsanne and/or Roussanne). They are excellent wines with a variety of foods and we love any excuse to open a bottle with dinner.

Sam Sifton’s most recent What to Cook this Week noted that Monday, March 19 is the feast of Saint Joseph. That immediately put me in mind of the delicious wine of the same name from the Northern Rhone. What a great excuse to enjoy a Monday evening bottle of Saint Joseph!

Then I read that the feast is traditionally a Lenten one, and my first instinct was disappointment. Saint Joseph is mostly known for intense red wines that you want to drink with hearty, meaty dishes: roasted lamb, Cassoulet, that kind of thing.

White Saint Joseph

But that’s silly. First of all, Saint Joseph is also home to stunning white wines that pair perfectly with all sorts of vegetarian meals. And it turns out we have two of the very top small-grower Saint Joseph Blancs in stock right now, wines that are especially fascinating to compare side-by-side, from Monier-Perreol and Hervé Souhaut.

Souhaut has become a darling of the Natural Wine Movement™. His wines are pure and full of life and exploded on the scene as exemplars of what natural wine could be. Today they are chased almost as much as the other elites of that movement, Foillard, Lapierre, etc.

Monier-Perreol, on the other hand, has stayed somewhat under the radar, collected mostly by in-the-know wine geeks and died-in-the-wool fans of M-P’s importer, the great Kermit Lynch. It’s hard really to understand why they haven’t blown up more. They’re a small family domaine of the very old style. They farm Biodynamically, even practicing a traditional polyculture, with apricot orchards on their land. The wines are delicious and, like Souhaut’s, pure and terroir-specific (John Livingstone-Learmonth even M-P’s wines “notably pure” and ranks them as one of his rare “soil to glass transfer” producers”—one of the elites of the old-school, terroir focused producers).

These aren’t the kind of producers whose wines we expect to see stick around, so I was pretty excited to find them both in stock (for now). Particularly since they complement each other so well. You see, Saint Joseph Blanc can be made from Marsanne and/or Rousanne. There are no rules requiring any particular proportion of each grape, so some examples are a blend of the two grapes and others are 100% one or the other.

And while Monier-Perreol and Souhaut have much in common in terms of philosophy and approach, their white Saint Joseph’s are polar opposites in terms of varietal: Monier-Perreol’s is 100% Marsanne and Souhaut’s 100% Roussanne.

The differences between Marsanne and Roussanne can be a bit of a mystery, even to devoted wine geeks. So tasting these two wines is a rare and exciting chance to really dig into their identities. The received wisdom is that Marsanne brings power and richness, and Roussanne elegance and freshness.

And these wines show why that’s the received wisdom: there’s no doubt some truth to the view. But tasted side by side, these wines also show the limits of the received wisdom. Souhaut’s Roussanne has plenty of acidity and a fresh, accessible feel of mountain air. But M-P’s wine is hardly lacking for freshness, either. And while it may be the slightly richer wine in the mouth, it’s not like Souhaut made a wine without any base notes.

Both are accessible now (the M-P especially with a little air) but take on all sorts of complexity and depth with time in the cellar.

These wines will be great with any vegetarian meals you cook up, in honor of Saint Joseph or otherwise. And with spring just around the corner, not matter what the weatherman says, these are definitely wines for the times. And don’t feel like they’ll only work with vegetables and fish. They’re also great with Chicken or veal, or with a plate of cheese after the meal.

Red Saint Joseph

Even if the Feast of Saint Joseph was traditionally a Lenten one, we would be remiss to let the day pass without grabbing some St. Joseph Rouge for later in the week. There will be meat on our tables and St. Joseph makes some of the most magical and under-appreciated wines for pairing with dinners of all sorts.

We all think of Burgundy as an ideal restaurant wine, since it can work with so many dishes, from fish through steak. But Saint Joseph Rouge also has its own, broad range. There are the lighter, purer examples—almost like Syrah-based Burgundies—with very fine tannins and lovely fruit. They are delicious with white meats and even heavier fish dishes. Then there are the meaty, bloody examples that are naturals for roast lambs and game.

Ordering in BBQ? Don’t sleep on the Syrah! It cuts through sauces, complements deep rich meaty flavors, and will keep you coming back to watch how the bottle is opening up, long after you’ve had your fill of meat!

We have great examples of Saint Joseph Rouge from both ends of the spectrum, and one beauty from right in the middle.

Big and Savory Saint JosephDomaine Faury Saint Joseph 2015 ($29.99)

Faury’s St. Joseph is one of our favorite examples a perfectly-pitched meaty St. Joseph. It’s got the bacon fat and hints of black olive framed by the mineral notes and pure berry fruit. But it’s never clumsy or big for the sake of being big: like all the great Northern Rhones, it’s got elegance to spare.

The 2015 is a super vintage and we only have a bit of this wine left. But we’re about to get the 2016—which will be amazing, too. If you want to hear about that as soon as it lands (and get a special, Newsletter-only discount, in the bargain) sign up for our Weekly Newsletter here, or using the form below.

Light and Burgundian Saint Joseph Jean-Baptiste Souillard Saint Joseph 2015 ($37.99)

Souillard is a young up-and-comer who trained in Burgundy (among other regions) and is imported by Burgundy legend, Becky Wasserman. He takes a decidedly Burgundian approach to his winemaking. While his Syrahs taste like Syrahs, the emphasis is definitely on the airy and straight-up delicious aspects of his terroirs and variety of choice.

Goldilocks Saint Joseph – Natacha Chave’s Domaine Aléofane Saint Joseph 2015 ($32.99)

Natacha is from a family of vignerons, but set out on her own to make the wines she wanted to make: beautiful, fresh and balanced, with succulent Burgundian fruit, but pronounced savory notes too. This is great stuff, and not yet discovered in America.

To help you celebrate Saint Joseph’s feast, we’re discounting all our Saint Josephs for the week on our web store. They’re 10% off, 15% if you buy 6 or more. But this is an online-only offer for readers of our blog: use coupon code FEAST18 to take advantage before end of day Sunday March 25th.

 

Great Dinner Party Wines with Spencer

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Join us this Friday night as we pour a selection of wines from The Winebow Group, a distributor that focuses on small, family-run winemakers. These wines are balanced, complex and delicious. We’ve put together a selection of wines for this evening that would be perfect to serve at your next dinner party.

The lineup: a light, crisp rosé from Long Island that you might confuse for a Provençal wine; a light and juicy Beaujolais; a mineral-driven but weighty Chablis; and a surprisingly Burgundian Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s Central Otago, to round things out. Spencer will be your faithful guide, and we think you just might find one of your new favorite bottles.

 

Wolffer Estate, Long Island Rose, 2017 — $18.99

Marcel Lapierre, “Raisins Gaulois”, 2016 — $15.99

Francine & Olivier Savary, Chablis “Vaillons”, 2016 — $34.99

Two Paddocks, Pinot Noir, 2015 — $47.99

Domaine Gramenon’s “Ceps Centenaire La Mémé”

Domaine Gramenon Ceps Centernaire La Meme 2016There’s rare, and then there’s rare. And Gramenon’s top wine, the “Ceps Centenaire La Mémé,” has always been rare.

For years, the New York allocation was so tiny that the local agent refused to work with it for fear of disappointing too many customers. But we begged and we pleaded, badgered and cajoled, and two years ago we finally got enough to offer to a sub-list of our newsletter readers. And last year we got enough to offer to our whole Newsletter.

And this year we finally have enough to be able to put it a few cases online.

Why all the fuss? Here’s a quick overview of Gramenon and their culty top wine.

Who is Gramenon?

Gramenon is a tiny, family domaine run by Michèle Aubèry-Laurent and her son, Maxime Laurent. Michèle and her late husband, Phillippe founded the Gramenon in the late 1980s, and when Phillippe died in 1999, Michèle took sole control, and built it into a true cult favorite.

Michèle and Maxime work a tiny corner at the extreme northeast of the Southern Rhone, far from the legendary lands of Chateauneuf. They’re organic, biodynamic and very natural (minimal sulfur, even).

Where Gramenon farm, Grenache’s elegant side is in the driver’s seat. It’s a little cooler; actually, you’re practically in the Northern Rhône, so it’s no accident that Gramenon also grows plenty of Syrah and Viognier (we still have a very few bottles of their excellent Viognier “La Vie on y est”).

Gramenon is also blessed with lots of limestone in their soils. So while Grenache from the Rhone usually tastes like it’s from the south of France, Gramenon’s (like Rayas’ and a few others’), tastes more like it’s from the north.

The icing on the cake is that Gramenon has some very old vines. As you may know, Grenache likes old vines, and old vines seem to transmit terroir better. So Gramenon’s wines are not just delicious and dense and lithe, all at the same time, they also have a real gout du terroir.

The Laurent’s make a range of great wines, including some stunning Grenaches from those vines of various ages:

L’Elementaire ($27.99), from 45-year-old Grenache planted in stony, clay and limestone soils, isn’t quite a baby wine (that would be the Poignée de Raisins), but it’s close, given how old some of their vines are. The Elementaire is made with partially destemmed fruit that ferments for about 15 days in cement and then ages briefly in a mix of cuve and wood, giving it a fresh and crunchy Southern Rhone feel.

La Papesse ($47.99) is from 60-year-old vines grown in similar soils. Again, the fruit is partly destemmed, but here the fermentation is in wood cuve and the wine ages 12 full months in barriques. The wine has a more substantial feel and definitely improves with age.

 

What’s up with this Ceps Centenaire La Mémé

No matter how for real the Papesse is, it’s nothing compared to the Mémé.

This is Gramenon’s top wine, and it comes from 100-year-old vines (that’s what “Ceps Centenaire” means). ” Mémé” is a French term of endearment for grandmother—a logical-enough name for a wine made from 100-year-old vines.

Those ancient vines barely yield any fruit, but the little juice they get is something special. Even in Gramenon’s stellar lineup, the Mémé towers. Like Rayas, it’s a super-tiny production, more talked about than seen. But more interestingly, like Rayas, its extreme elegance is married to a quiet sort of power. It finishes long and kaleidoscopic. Gramenon’s light touch in the winery and all-natural (biodynamic) farming sure help. They make Grenache the way we really like it.

We have just a little bit of the 2016, a bright vintage, radiant and with a subtle power. It may be the best we’ve seen yet. But there is, unfortunately, very little around. So if you’re interested, please snap it up now. And if it’s all gone by the time you click through, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below (or here, if our handy form isn’t displaying as described ;))so that you get the first word (and special, newsletter-only discounting), next time.

Gramenon, “Ceps Centenaires – La Mémé”, 2016 – $65.99  *

* This wine is available through our New York location only.

 

Looking forward to the week ahead in San Francisco – March 11th 2018

Friends of Flatiron Wines SF,

Here is a quick look at the week ahead at Flatiron Wines & Spirits – San Francisco.

Don’t want to miss beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already!  As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

In-Store Tastings

Tuesday 3/13, Eric Kent Wine CellarsA expansive range of wines covering the full spectrum of wines, styles and terroirs of California.

Thursday 3/15, Subject to Change Wine Co.Started by four friends with a shared love for wine.  Quietly creating something unique in the vast world of California wine through the production of natural wines with a focus on single vineyard sites.

Friday 3/16, Meet the Winemaker: Laura Brennan Bissell, Inconnu Wine | Named by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “Winemaker to watch” 2017, please join us in welcoming Laura to Flatiron Wines SF.  An interest in tattoo art brought her to California initially where a chance encounter with Jonathan Hajdu of Berkeley’s Covenant Wines led to internships at Unti and Matthiasson and the founding of Inconnu in 2013. 

All in-store tastings are from 5pm – 7pm, unless otherwise stated. No need to RSVP, just grab a friend and show up. As always, low-cost to no-cost.

Lastly, as we do every Wednesday, we’re preparing quite the line-up of features for this week’s newsletter, scheduled to be sent later today. A few of the highlights this week include: the 2016s from Beaujolais’ rising star Julien Sunier, Didier Barral’s 2014 Faugeres from the Languedoc-Rousillon, and more.

Cheers to you and a week full of new discoveries,

Your Friends at Flatiron Wines SF

South Australia

 

 

IMG_4739When talking about wine growing in South Australia, I think it’s important to reiterate that this is a cool-climate wine growing region. My days there were on average about 14 degrees celsius, or about 57 degrees fahrenheit. I think many people (my prior self included) have an idea that Australia is all warm climate, and this is far from the case. Even knowing that South Australia, and particularly the wine growing regions, are cool climate is something entirely different than being there to experience it myself.

Best known from the region, and probably from all of Australia when it comes to wine, is the Barossa. Known for their big, bold Shiraz, they’re moving to a slightly softer style overall, as well as gaining notoriety for other varietals, including Grenache. In fact, this year’s Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy (essentially “Best Australian Wine” as voted on by the Australian industry) went to a Grenache made by Turkey Flat.

 The Barossa includes both the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley, separated roughly north/south with Eden Valley to the eastIMG_4748 and Barossa Valley to the west. Having never been subject to the vine pest phylloxera (as is the case in all of South Australia), the Barossa is home to some of the oldest vines in the world, many over 150 years of age. In 2009 the Barossa Old Vine Charter was introduced, which was instituted to register vineyards by age in an effort to encourage preservation of these old vines.

The Charter states than an Old vine is at least 35 years old, a Survivor vine is older than 70 years, a Centenarian vine is older than 100 years old, and an Ancestor vine is older than 125 years old.

Roughly divided into three areas, the Barossa Valley has various soil types. The Southern Grounds are sandy and clay loams, the Central Grounds have sandy brown loams, and the Northern Grounds are mostly red-yellow brown loams over red clay.IMG_4766 Towards the Western Ridge the soils have a high quantity of shattered ironstones.

Another region in South Australia making exciting wine is the McLaren Vale. Mostly noted for Shiraz in the past, much like in the Barossa they’re now producing some very high-quality Grenache, many wineries are experimenting with what are currently being called “alternative varieties,” though some winemakers resist that moniker. Italian varietals for the most part, some grapes being worked with are Vermentino, Fiano, Nero d’Avola, and Sangiovese.

Like Barossa, McLaren Vale remains unaffected by phylloxera, and grenache was first planted there in 1838. Though it was mostly used to make stickies (Australian fortified wines), Grenache accounted for up to 60% of vineyard plantings. Thanks to havingIMG_4783 been covered by glaciers that crushed the earth as they receded and being along the Willunga Fault Line, McLaren Vale is home to 19 different districts with distinctly different geologies.

The southern area of the region is the youngest, and home to mostly alluvial clay soils, often resulting in generous, opulent, and fruit-forward wines. In the center and western part of the region there are very shallow soils, with the topsoil being mostly sand and silt over limestone. This results typically in wines with lots of earth, structure, and initially closed wines. In the Bluehill springs area of the region there are deep sandy soils with lots of organic matter, which results in wines with great body and character with elegant, lean, and mineral driven wines with great fruit.

The third region of South Australia I visited was the Adelaide Hills, which is approximately 80 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide. 76% of the grapes grown in

IMG_4802

the region are from independent growers, and in 2016 about 27,000 tons of grapes were crushed. Having shifted slightly in recent years, the most widely planted grapes now are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with Shiraz, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris also being planted. There are about 100 producers in the region, which has the highest price/ton of grapes in Southern Australia, due to the highest cost of land per hectare.

One of the most surprising finds from my trip is that there are a several wineries in the Adelaide Hills that are producing Gruner Veltliner. There were 3 clones of Gruner imported in 2006 by Hahndorf Hill, and after being quarantined in Melbourne for three years, were planted. Shockingly they produced fruit enough to make a small vintage in 2010, which was the first. There are now approximately 35 wineries making Gruner Veltliner.

The main things to take away from South Australia is that it is indeed cool-climate grape growing, they’re still making classic Australian wine, and they’re starting to branch out and experiment as well.

 

Some wines from South Australia currently in the shop:

Kanta (Egon Muller), Riesling Adelaide Hills, 2014 $23.99

Ochota Barrels, Syrah Adelaide Hills “I am the Owl”, 2015 $49.99

Jauma, “Chenin Blanc 1000 Fires- Mclaren Vale,” 2016 $29.99

Jauma, McLaren Vale Shiraz “Archies”, 2016 $34.99

Gemtree Vineyards, McLaren Vale Shiraz Bloodstone, 2015 $19.99