En Blanc Aussi…
Brut Nature VDF 2019
Méthode-ancestrale, organic, biodynamic, and on the lees for a year
Mérignat, Bugey, France
Winemakers: Alain Renardat and his son Elie
Straw yellow with very active white bubbles. As those bubbles keep floating up delivering scents of apples, grass or freshly stripped young apple branch, Marcona almonds, a little citrus zip that mellows into a little Lemonhead candy, followed by tiny spring flowers. Now here comes a zingy sip. It’s fresh, dry, with a squeeze of lemon, a blend of crisp tart apples and a few sweet. The bubbles settle down some and there’s a bit of the filling of a lemon curd tart. Refreshing and easy drinker but it’s only 10.5% so feel free to have another glass
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Fab! Even more lemons!
The vineyards of Mérignat have history that goes back to the Middle Ages, and the Renardat-Fâche family has been working them for eight generations. Browsing through their site and I can see why they would stay in this area for so long. It is gorgeous! There’s sloping hills of vines overlooking the enchanting little town and mountains in the background. It’s like falling back in time where I could see a knight on a quest riding up on horseback. Hey, I’m a hopeless romantic, and this bottle with those sights…I’ve drifted off into a daydream filled with love.
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100% Hondarrabi Zuri
Getariako Txakolina DO
Sustainable, minimal Intervention, hand-harvested, native yeasts, and wines are labelled in braille (which is cool & I’d like to know why)
Basque Country, Spain
Winemakers: Emilio Ostazola and his wife Elizabeth (3rd generation winemaking family)
A glass of starlight yellow with some green hints. Breathing in lemon, lime, salt, and a little melon kind of like honeydew melon balls smashed on wet granite, so it’s only a little. Ooh first sip and there’s a little sparkle tingle, again lemon and Iime joined with crisp green apples, pear, and a little sea breeze salt.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: ahhh good, it’s a picnic wine…mmmm
This is a light dancing wine that whisks your brain away to warmer climes where you can dangle your feet in the water, chill out, soak in the sun, and order some fish tacos. Or as Zac Brown Band’s song says “Knee deep in the water somewhere-Got the blue sky breeze blowing wind through my hair-Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair-Sunrise there’s a fire in the sky-Never been so happy-Never felt so high-And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise”.
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Geuzestekerij Hanssens Artisanaal bvba
Each bottle matured for over three years
Blenders: Sidy Hanssens and her husband John Matthijs (4th generation)
Beautiful orange gold with fine light bubbles on top, like champagne. Pop that cork and out comes scents of lemon, lime, tart apple, tangy sourdough, and a few stalks of hay. Sip and it’s a very bright wakeup hello to your tongue. There’s lemon, lime, crabapples, rhubarb, and vinegar that is a good thing. Also a little twist of black pepper and funk on the backside. Just deliciously fresh and sour and reminds me of some natural wines.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: meh
It’s really cool that Sidy Hanssens and her husband John Matthijs decided to take on the family tradition even though Sidy’s dad (Jean) did not teach her or her brother the business. Supposedly back in the 80s Jean even said “gueuze is dead”, but I beg to differ. This historical bottle is very much full of life. In fact this one was caught in the wild on a very hot day at Sugarburg. Sending a huge thank you to my dear friend Danielle for sharing it with me. I highly recommend you to pucker up with this glass of sunshine.
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100% Grenache Noir
Organic, dry-grown, hand harvested, and unfiltered
McLaren Vale, SA., Australia
Winemaker: Stephen Pannell
Shining cranberry ruby. Oooooh tickling my nose are raspberries, cherry, orange peel, some flowers appear like tiny roses, and as time goes by a bit of earthy funk? Tasting fresh raspberries and also a little strawberry jolly rancher, and cranberry tart tang. This is fun glass full of life and is juicy that also has dark earthiness hiding in the background that pops out and waves every once in a while. Can totally see sipping this under the stars with a big steak on the grill and watching the bats dip, dive and soar while feasting on those pesky mosquitos.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: I like it…hmmm…not sure what it is doing. Just goes really well.
What a slew of awards and recognition are in Stephen Pannell’s pocket. Guess that explains why this bottle is so good. Pick early, release early and watch this youg’un burst full of life. I love that even while looking as to which soil speaks best to the grapes, he’s also thinks ahead to what local food will go with the wine in the end. ‘Basso’ is supposed to pair with chicken or pork shashlik cooked over coals with a tomato and pomegranate salad. Mmmm that does sound better than my first thought of steak. He also has a soundtrack for your drinking pleasure and this glass goes with Masego & FKJ – “Tadow”, so relax, tuck into your fabulous meal, and enjoy the tune.
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Flat Brim Wines
Not Basic 2020
50% Picpoul, 50% Roussanne
Columbia Valley, Portland, Oregon
Sustainably sourced grapes, and indigenous yeasts
Winemakers and owners: Ian & Becky Atkins
Hazy orange and deep golden streaked sunset, almost copper. Breathing in a delightful citrus blend of lemon, orange, tangerine, with a smidge of clove, coconut, a little fresh cut grass, and some wet granite. There’s a bit if Vanilla that plays hide and seek, and very light oak as it breathes…poof gone. Sipping and here comes orange, pineapple, shake that salt, and tangy tart sparks. Then all of a sudden there’s a touch of Kirby cucumbers, and some white pepper. I know it’s neutral oak, but there’s a little vanilla of it hanging out in the background with a smoky ember. It’s like a fresh fun playground in my mouth.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: makes it even more smooth and even a little creamy
This is my third Flat Brim wine, and each has been so unique and all delicious. I guess it’s due to them being an urban winery and able to source the best grapes from growers they trust and know are sustainable (some are also organic and others biodynamic). Having such a beautiful diverse painter’s palette to work with has to be an amazing opportunity, and this bottle is a great expression of their creativity. One more thing to add, “Not Basic 2020” is a wine that can win over your beer loving friend that consistently says NO to wine. Give ‘em a little nudge and once they try, they’ll be sold.
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Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2019
Organic, minimal intervention
Vineyards: Madonna di Como (Alba)
Barolo (CN), Italy
Dark cherry with purple glints. Pull that cork, pour and here come scents of raspberry, cherry, plums, a little creamy vanilla, and something a little dark but not daunting. Quite lovely actually so looking forward to the taste. There’s that lovely cherry again and as you exhale smoke. Next is a beautiful burst of fruity flavor of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and even raisins. After a bit there’s hints of black peppercorns. I’ve had a rough day and this wine just well…the first sip made my evening brighter. Now I’m craving a very large portion of Malloreddus Alla Campidanese.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: mmmm a bit more rugged and handsome…like Harrison Ford. You know there’s another Indy flick coming up and I can’t wait!
Borgogno has one lengthy history staring back in 1761, when Bartolomeo Borgogno started the winery and passed through the years through the family. By 1920, Cesare Borgogno held the reigns and along with starting to export the wines, he decided to hang on to half of it too. Pretty darn smart to sit on those for 20 years (and some even longer) and they now have an amazing Barolo collection of many decades past. A new family (Farinetti) took over in 2008, but they decided why mess with a good thing. They brought the old main building back to its glory, and went back to concrete fermentation. They did make a change to get certified organic, which who wouldn’t applaud. Keeping it simply traditional.
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Westbrook Brewing Co.
Pineapple Shake IPA
Hazy Milkshake IPA brewed with lactose, vanilla, and pineapple
Unpasturized, non-homogenized, & brewed fresh
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Hazy orange gold that has a lot of active movement and a small white head. Pouring and here comes sniffs of pineapple, tangerine, mango, and a little vanilla. First sip and well that’s a wakeup call and It’s all there… the pineapple, vanilla, and the creaminess. But that’s not all, there’s lemon, kumquats and a sliver of mango. I’m really digging this Milkshake IPA.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: uh no ack horrible
So I find myself trying another SC beer, and man have things changed since I was a kid there. I remember bars not having free pour and having to get mixed drinks made from mini bottles. Now look at my childhood home state. There’re breweries popping up everywhere and they are damn good. Westbrook has a taproom with a rotation of 22 taps, and if you want to just pop by and head home, there’s bottles, cans, and crowlers. There’s one can I wish I could’ve gotten my hands on. They collaborated with the South Carolina Aquarium and made a DIPA “Drinks Well with Otters”. You have to see the video on FB Watch. Oh and for those of you who are worried, as it says in the video, “No otters were intoxicated during the making of this video.”
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Apples (grown in NYS): including Golden Russet, Northern Spy, Dabinett, Geneva Tremlett’s Bitter, and Harry Master’s Jersey
Sustainable, unfiltered, no added sulfites, organic fertilizer
Produced in Lafayette, NY (under authority of South Hill Cider)
Bright golden with glimmers of green and tiny bubbles. Lifting the glass closer to my nose and it’s a fragrant basketful of fresh apples and then also apple pie. As I’ve said before…I ❤️ PIE! On to the much anticipated sip and oh tingle! It’s like biting into a just picked fresh firm apple. You know that tart wake up your mouth gets that leads to a smooth rounded mmmm. It’s not exactly sweet, but there is that pleasant natural apple goodness with a nice dry finish. Damn it’s a perfect unique crisp blend that’s very fab for a hot day, and perfect to sip while grilling. Oh yeah, would be great with brats and some nice stinky cheese!
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: oh delicious but you had to expect it to be. Cheese and apples are best friends.
Phonograph Cider’s site sums up their beautiful gift to us, “Like phonograph records, cider is regaining its rightful place in our culture analog, real, and authentic.” These apples are super authentic. Some are old varieties that take a bit of love and understanding since they might not produce as much as others, but the outcome is worth it. They also use a really old (around 100 years) rack and cloth press, and if you want a minute of zen then check out this video.
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La Trompa 2020
D.O. Conca de Barberà
Organic & aged in stainless steel
Winemakers: Mariona Vendrell and Albert Canela
Plummy cranberry cocktail that’s so inviting. First scent out of the gate is smoked salt rapidly followed by raspberries, watermelon, strawberries, and lemon zest. Sipping and again there is that delicious smoke, raspberries, watermelon, young strawberries, a tangy citrus squirt, and a whole wild blackberry. Also a shake of salt and white pepper that balances out this refreshing and crisp summer lightly chilled red happiness.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: oh yeah, pair this baby up. It totally makes everything heighten.
This is your bottle of summer love that originates from Mariona and Albert falling for each other while studying winemaking. I always enjoy a little bit of romance with my wine. Now they’re creating organic beauties like this Trepat that will have your heart singing. Let’s follow those trumpeting pink elephants and find out what groove they’re on. I bet it will be magical and a little bit Dizzy!
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Le Fief Noir
100% Chenin Blanc
Certified organic and hand-harvested
St-Lambert du Lattay, Loire, France
Winemakers: Alexis Soulas and Dominique Sirot
Golden starlight twinkle twinkle. Pull the cork and breathing buttercream, butterscotch that fades into pineapple, yellow watermelon (yeah each color/one does smell different), lemon and lemon vanilla wafer. Sipping creamy salty lemon, key lime, kumquat, very mellow papaya, light orangey pops, and honey filled pear. I think I’ve had my weekly allotment of fruit! There’s also dried sage in the end and then bring that citrus back round again with a salt shake. So sweet, calm, and clean and bright that is yearning for some yellow fin sushi with jalapeño.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Raises the citrus
Alexis Soulas and Dominique Sirot became friends and hatched their wine plan in Corsica, but Anjou was where they landed. Back in 2012, they tasted the wine of Domaine des Chesnaies, decided this was the exact place for their project to take root, and after a renaming Le Fief Noir was born. Soil is the key and king here. The black schist of L’Anjou Noir is perfect for Chenin Blanc and also is where their name Le Fief Noir stemmed. Their passion for their wines is evident in the bottle and in their writings online. They have a lot to say, check their website. Alexis Soulas says, “A wine is never entirely finished. It belongs to the one who get it. This is this open field to interpretation, this co-creation, which make our job so beautiful.” I love that any of us can become part of their world and the story of their wine.
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