Returning To A Sparkling Nest

Domaine J. Laurens
Le Moulin
Blanquette De Limoux AOP
Mauzac, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay
Sustainable agriculture, HVE 3
La Digne d’Aval, Graimenous, Languedoc, France
Jacques Calvel and team

Very light yellow-gold with a green sheen and very fine white bubbles. Breathing in and it starts cool, clean and creamy smoothness (or a poof of meringue). Next up are pears (fresh & baked), green apples, lemon blossoms, light white peaches, and toasty brioche.  Sip and there’s green apples again with a few crab apples thrown in, firm green pears, apricot, a lemon/lime spritz, and mineral lick. It’s lovely, dry, crisp, and very lively.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: absolutely delicious

I always love stories of being able to reboot your life and return to your roots, just like Jacques Calvel. He grew up near Limoux and learned the satisfaction of a good day’s hard work from childhood. As often happens a person will leave the nest or in his case even France to venture to Switzerland, build his expanding venture and then after success, sell the business and return back to his homeland. Sparkling wine was his calling, and his business acumen & exporting knowledge were a perfect pairing. When he purchased Domaine J. Laurens it had a history of making sparklers, he just needed to rethink how they (he & his team) would work to better the lands, the winemaking process, and quality which is very important to all of them over quantity. They’ve achieved the 3rd level of HVE, and are working constantly harder to achieve organic. As Jacques says on his site, “Our next goal, which is not a small one, is to become organic. We are just at the start off our organic conversion; however, I am excited to work hard to provide a cleaner environment for the next generation.” Cheers and raising a glass J. Laurens caring enough to plan for the future of the next generations. 🥂

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Intersecting Generations

Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2022
100% Nebbiolo
Canale (CN), Piedmont, Italy
Faccenda family

Deep ruby with a garnet rim. Give this bottle a little breathing room, inhale and there’s tart cherries, cranberry (fresh and dried), plums, jumble of blueberries, raspberries & blackberries, violets, the more it opens a warm spice, and on the back orange zest. Tastes swirl on my tongue of all of the scents joined with pomegranate and a little cedar.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: smooooth

The Faccenda’s purchased their winery just over 20 years ago and have proceeded to celebrate their love for the land and vines(30 to 40 years old). They sum it up best on their site, “The vineyards of the Rorero are our family’s home, where we both live and work. In keeping with our respect of nature, we use the ‘integrated farming’ agricultural practices set by the EU. Our winery is also a proud participant in Piemonte’s ‘Vino Sicuro’ project, aimed at keeping our region’s wines free of harmful pollutants.” Now onto their branding/labels which piqued my curiosity. Kept wondering why the clean lines forming an X or cross & also a metallic diamond/square (each wine has a different color) at their intersection. Turns out they worked with a very cool art director, Derrick Lin. He used the crossing lines to symbolize, “the generational bond between grandmother Velia (the vineyard’s first owner) and her children who have carried on the business; as well as the meeting point between the dedication of her grandchildren — both winemakers — and the generosity of extraordinary regions such as Roero, Langhe, Barolo. Guidobono wines emerge from this “intersection” of lives, affections, people and territories.” Perfect packaging and an even more perfect wine. 🍷❤️

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Sharing Traditions

Cantine Su’entu
Su’aro 2018
Marmilla IGT
Native grapes
Sustainable, hand harvested
Sardegna, Italy
Pilloni family (currently Valeria, Roberta & Nicola are running the winery)

Bright gold with almost a light touch of orange/amber and gets deeper the more it breathes. Sniffing and there’s a citrus mix of tangerine, lemon, touch of grapefruit, hibiscus, honeysuckle, honeydew & more blossoms swirl, an apricot/peach blend, salt, and as it’s been open a good while caramelized sugar cane. Taking a swig & swish and here’s that citrus blend & honeydew again with orange zest, touch of smoke, a little honey & honeysuckle, smidge of sweet mellow pears, and salt shake. Bright & luscious all at the same time, and makes me dream of warm night outside under the stars just sipping and enjoying good company.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: so darn good!

“Working the land and making the best use of its fruits is a family tradition, and we’re delighted to have given new life to this value set, with regard not only to wines but also to our small olive oil output and the raw materials for the Estate’s Restaurant, Arieddas” – Salvatore Pilloni

I ❤️ Su’entu for so many reasons, and finding out about their restaurant Arieddas has me wanting to pack my bags. They work with what they have within the estate and if they don’t they source from other artisans/farmers. It’s a celebration of Marmilla’s (Sardinia’s) food, wine and culture which has a special place in my heart and belly. One pasta (on their menu & btw each dish comes w a wine recommendation) I have never had a chance to try are handmade lorighittas originating from the women of Morgongiori in the 16th century. They would gather to prepare the braided pastas formed into circular or O shape ahead of All Saints Day. It was also a chance to catch up on news, gossip, and camaraderie. It’s truly an art form that I hope doesn’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of modern times. Check out the Pasta Grannies to see how it’s made. They make such a hard task look easy.

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When Life Brings You Smoke Make…

Matthiasson Family Vineyards
Rosé Bubbles
Sparkling wine
Dunnigan Hills
Napa, CA
Winemakers & Farmers: Steve and Jill Klein Matthiasson

Crack the can and it’s a rosy/orange amber pour (or you could just drink straight from the can). Sniff and everything is light & breezy with cherries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, a lemon/lime spritz, and a touch of funk that fades. Kicking back and sipping and again there’s cherry, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, orange/lemon/lime zing & zest with a little tangelo, seltzer sparky salt, and just so bright and light.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: NO

This perky and easily transportable sparkler came about from the Matthiasson’s ability to persist through the 2020 West Coast wildfires which caused devastation and trouble for so many and gave them a fear of smoke taint. Instead of making any reds that year, those grapes went into their rosés. A smart move and here’s to hoping in the future all those fires and smoke fade away.

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More Than Wine

Cantine Statti
Lamézia DOC
40% Gaglioppo, 40% Greco Nero, 20% Magliocco
Lamézia Terme, Calabria, Italy
Antonio and Alberto Statti

Deep dark goth ruby. Scents of rich cherry, dark plums, a touch of raspberries & strawberries, baker’s chocolate, marigold blossoms, and a light bit of fenugreek & I think a smidge of toasted anise. Sipping and everything I’ve been smelling is right here on my tongue along with a more of a juicy bit of cherries, plums & berries, squeeze of citrus blend on the back, and that baker’s chocolate starts to go into just lovely dark chocolate

Pairs with Cheez-Its: just makes everything bigger

Since the 1700s the Statti family (Baron Statti) has resided & worked on these lands (500 ha), but it took Antonio and Alberto to instigate making wines from their own grapes (local & international) in their 100 ha of vineyards which leaves 400 more ha to enjoy and nurture with olive & citrus groves, and cows for dairy, natural fertilizer for the vines, etc. They also blend tradition with modern…working in sustainable ways and using renewable energy such as biogas, etc, and some of this goes over my head as to how it actually works but they have “Photovoltaic panels are set up on the roofs and a trigeneration system comes into operation to cover the company’s heating needs” (article on La Repubblica by Alessandro Gassmann). They work with their neighbors for more “processing by-products” to turn into biogas and “thus creating the conditions for developing a network model in which it is possible to share operating machines and equipment, invest together and manage common agricultural land. And last but not least, hiring all staff permanently and not just seasonally, guaranteeing dignity to workers and professionalism to companies. This is how the Cauro Agricultural Network was born , which today has 55 businesses, 500 cultivated ha and over 120 engaged families.” They’re doing good for their neighbors, the region and even the world.

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Birds Of Different Feathers

Kontozisis Organic Vineyards
Innocent Dove 2019
PGI Karditsa
Xinomavro 50%, Merlot 50%
Certified organic, hand harvested, unfined & unfiltered
Karditsa, Thessaly, Greece
Andreas Kontozisis & Aphrodite Tousia 

Shining garnet glass.Let this baby breathe! After that time out, smelling raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, tomato leaves & vines stewing on a sunny day, plums, cherries, and lavender mixed with mild rosemary. All of the scents are there on the taste but a bit more rustic. There’s also lilacs, irises, & lavender, and finally a little white pepper with even a smidge of bell.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: NO STEP AWAY FROM THE BAG

Kontozisis Organic Vineyards has been certified organic in the vineyards & cellar since 1991 (one of the earliest ones in Greece) which truly shows Andreas & Aphrodite’s passion and dedication for their land, vines and wines. Their Innocent Dove “draws from the Greek folk phrase for ultimate innocence” which is perfect for their honest, natural way of winemaking. This winged wonder from Karditsa led me to another one that is definitely a bird of a different feather. Karditsa’s Pafsilipo Park has wandering peacocks, and everywhere I read it mentions relaxing in the grounds with them. They are such graceful and beautifully adorned creatures, but relaxing? If you’ve never heard their call here’s a video by @NatureWalk1 (not from Pafsilipo). Now I’ll let you be the judge. Still would love to visit them but think I’ll pass on hanging out and reading a book in the park. Would much rather chill out with another glass of this quietly cooing “Dove”. 🍷

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Jump On The Train

Signature Jean Charles NV
Brut Sparkling
Crémant d’Alsace AOP
Pinot Blanc 60%, Auxerrois 30%, Pinot Gris 10%
Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace, France
Ruhlmann-Schutz family

Gold with tiny active bubbles. Floating up to my nose are pears, winter/dark apples, apricot, a smidge of Spanish peanuts, a light citrus blend, and teensy funk that fades. All of the scents are in the taste with a depth I’m trying to figure out along with salt, again a touch of good fading funk, and everything is dry, crisp & delightful.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: Everything becomes more alive so perfect!

The Ruhlmann-Schutz family has over 300 years of history in Dambach-la-Ville that started with one Hungarian knight planting a few vines. Over the years, their family grew and so has their expanse from a few hectares in Alsace to now around 40; and then in 2015  added a new winery (30 ha) in Corbières, Château Valmont. This family is filled with enthusiasm for their wines and Dambach-la-Ville, They even have a “petit train” that will start in the town where they’ll teach you about it and their history, the vineyards, why each grape is special, and then to a tasting in their cellar. What a lovely way to spend a day. 🥂

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A Grape Spa Treatment

Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera
Bianco Spinomarino
Greco 2022
100% Greco
Puglia I.G.T.
Gioia delle Colle, Spinomarino, Puglia, Italy
Organic, dry farming, sustainable, green manure, and zero emission
Winemaker: Pasquale Petrera

Shining yellow straw. Delightful scents of creamy lemon curd, honeydew, irises, lillies with some roses thrown in, pears, pinch of baking spices, over ripe cucumbers, and a salty breeze. Sipping crisp pears, crab apples, white peaches, and a bouquet of lilacs, roses, irises & honeysuckle. There’s also a shake of salt, lick of granite, and over time a sprig of thyme. 

Pairs with Cheez-Its: a full on NOPE

Fatalone has been around since the 1800s but didn’t starts bottling till 1987. In the old days, it was bring your own bottle and fill’er up. Spinomarino is their only white wine, and those vines were not planted till 1990. Such a beautiful exotic heady and very unique wine. Kind of fits their name Fatalone. Filippo Petrera (2nd generation of this family) had the nickname of Il Fatalone which pretty much translates to “Lady Killer” or seducer. Kind of perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day gift which will be here before you know it, so get to ordering! Back to the winemaking team who are an essential part nurturing this bottle of love. They go above and beyond in making sure the grapes have the utmost care throughout the whole process. They even went as far as soundproofing the cellar and piping in classical music and nature sounds. Now that’s quite a spa treatment. ❤️🌹

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Allô, Wine Calling

Domaine Les Foulards Rouges
Octobre 2023
Syrah, Grenache
Organic, indigenous yeast, hand harvested, unfined & unfiltered
Montesquieu-les-Albères, Rousillion, France
Jean-François Nicq

Shining garnet stained glass. Breathing in a big bowl of mixed fruit like raspberry, cherry, blueberry, blackberry, smidge of figs, plums, and next up are irises, white pepper, a tiny puff of smoke/earth & tomato leaf. Taking a sip and wow! All of the aforementioned is there including tomato leaves, now joined with green tomato (fresh not fried) & tart young cherry tangy, a little sizzle on the back, and it’s light, bright, fresh and obviously young in a good way.

Pairs with Cheez-Its: more flowers emerge

When I first saw this label, my brain went straight to Pet Shop Boy’s “My October Symphony”, but it actually refers to the month it’s released each year. The Domaine’s name was a what I should have been paying more attention to…Jean-François Nicq and Bijan Mohamadi (childhood friends) originally bought the vineyard property back in 2001, and decided to dub it with the name of the Prix Maison de la Presse winning historical/thriller/adventure novel “Les Foulards Rouges” (The Red Scarves) by one of their favorite authors, Fréderic Fajardie (also known for his political leanings, works of noir, and screenplays). Let’s just say learning about him took me down a rabbit hole this past weekend. Then I stumbled into another one or should I say a whole prairie dog burrow, when I found out about the documentary “Wine Calling” that includes Les Foulards Rouges along with other like minded natural winemakers. Check it out, there’s a Bourdain soundtrack vibe, it’s free on Tubi, and also it’s “Un film produit sans sulfites.”

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Youthful Memories

Domaine de Rochebin
Bourgogne Aligoté AOC 2021
100% Aligoté
Azé, Mâconnais, France
Mickaël Marillier (son) Jean-Pierre (father), & Laurent Chardigny

Warm shimmering golden. Breathing in pears, apples, allspice, mace & other pie spice, lemon/lime squeeze, touch of salt, and apple & orange blossoms floating on a warm breeze. (Have you ever been in the middle of an apple orchard and a gust kick up the blossoms swirling all around you? Growing up in an orchard, I’d anticipate Spring and the magical fairytale land that would come with the first budding/blooming scents to the moments of watching the petals flutter upward, sideways, down and decorating my hair and clothes. Was a beautiful spring blizzard that was almost like a dream and so happy to have the memory to hold in my heart.) Now back to sipping this lovely glass…all of the scents are right here in the taste with a bit of an apple tree twig (a little bark & greenery), a teeny touch of honeysuckle nectar, Valencia orange & lime zest.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: delicious like cheddar cheese on warm apple pie

I have no why I kept bypassing this bottle in the fridge because turns out it’s exactly what I needed right now even with the chill outside. As you can tell from above, it brought up warm happy youthful memories that I hold deep in my mind and heart…nothing like those innocent joyful moments. Sometimes to jostle those recollections it only takes a taste of a warm cookie, the feeling of fresh crisp early morning walk as the streetlights are still on and the sun is just breaking, or in my case just a fragrance of simple blooms from an elegant glass of wine. ❤️

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