Uncondemned History or No One Expects the Bunny Inquisition

Collaboration between Andre Gomes-Pereira & Portuguese Story
Não Condenado 2019
Vinho Tinto
Fernao Pires & Trincadeira
Organic, low intervention, hand harvested, and vegan
Encostas d’Aire, Lisboa, Portugal
Winemaking team: Andre Gomes-Pereira (Quinta do Montalto) & Portuguese Story

Stained glass ruby window. Breathing in dark cherry, plums/prunes, tobacco, allspice, and a little earth. First taste I don’t even want to dissect it. It’s a light juicy smooth sweet that grows into so much more. Here we go! Again cherries but not sure how dark, plummy tartness, tobacco tingly, and earth that turns into dark baking chocolate. It just keeps flying all over the place with each sip. I love thinking I’m drinking from vines 120 to 150 years old, and being touched by their history.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: brings out more sweet from the fruit.

Years ago, families often had backyard vines that they cultivated for themselves and family, just like your normal home garden. Nowadays, often these plots get forgotten or left behind when the kids moved on. As it says on the back of the bottle, “The vineyard has been tended by someone who is currently 89yo.” Here’s where Andre Gomes-Pereira & Portuguese Story come in. They decided to save some of these ancient twisted vines with deep roots that would have been condemned, hence the name Não Condenado (Uncondemned). They have also embraced the traditional Portuguese method, “palhete”, fermenting red and white grapes together. This really old way of winemaking kind of got left behind for a while, but is seeing a resurgence, to which I say WooHoo! What is the saying, what is old becomes new again or back in style again. I’m not saying we need to bring out our 80s acid washed jeans. No, no, no! Do you want those medieval rabbits from the label unleashed on you? This is an embrace to the natural ways of the generations past.

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Nature’s Symphony

Domaine Yves Duport
Vin de France
40% Chardonnay, 40% Gamay, 20% Mondeuse
Biodynamic, organic, spontaneous fermentation, indigenous yeasts
Bugey, France
Winemaker: Yves Duport

Pressed strawberry cherry juice on the darker side yet you can still through it. Is it a rosé or a red you can chill? Either way it is a perfect summer wine. Smooth scents of strawberries, raspberries, sweet cherries, and a little southern forest flair. Sipping strawberries, raspberries, pluots, dark cherries, a rock from the creek down the street, smoke, and touch of toasted rosemary.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: the salt makes it more bright, but I preferred the depth it had, so it’s up to you to decide.

Yves Duport has a perfect quote on his site: “Only in the plant kingdom, the vine makes us understand what the true flavor of the Earth is.” – Colette – Prisons et Paradis 1936. Within four generations of work, the domaine is now up to 12 hectares and has been organic and biodynamic since 2007. Yves lets nature (the terroir) be the composer of the songs of his wines while as I’m reading he is the conductor in the vines. Céline is their beautiful symphony birthed from the trio blend of grapes and varied Bugey soils. As I keep on sipping this song, I feel like I’m sitting on a hillside of wildflowers with butterflies fluttering around me, and breathing in that clean mountain air. Oh, a girl can dream, at least until I can soon make it reality.

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Quench That Thirst

Mas del Périé
Soif d’Ailleurs 2019
Vin de France
Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Picpoul, Clairette Rose, Clairette Blanche, Counoise, Cinsault, Muscat de Hambourg, Malbec
Cahors, Quercy, Occitanie, France
Biodynamic, organic, Monsieur Mouton’s eco-grazing sheep, native yeasts, hand harvested, unfined and unfiltered
Winemaker: Fabian Jouves

Reddish orange-rose and so bright. Swirl, sniff and popping orange zest, roses, Canadian strawberries (this tiny ones I so love), a smidge of tarragon, faint straw, and fresh summer rain on slate. On this is one fruity juicy jumble of goodness in my mouth. There’s raspberries, mandarins (and zest), blueberry muffin, strawberries, and a dark cherry bite. Floating with this happy light summer red on a warm night.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: oh yes so much more sweet summer berries

Soif d’Ailleurs translates to “Thirst for Elsewhere”. Haven’t we all had that thirst over this past year? That yearning to escape and fly away to special places in our hearts? This is my second Fabian Jouves’ creation that is transporting me back to France and all its delights. It’s like he’s a magical biodynamic hands off mixmaster, just letting nature and the stars take their course, in the field and in the cellar. My first was “You F&@K My Wine ?! 2019”, which was another playful, juicy bio with a De Niro name. “Soif d’Ailleurs 2019” is a lighter, refreshing bottle of joy that can quench your thirst and get you in just as much trouble because it’s one smooth drinker that you can kick up your heels with. If I had to match this wine with a star (like before), I’d say this one is more like Christopher Walken. Suave, a huge blend of personalities, cool and light on his feet. Who wouldn’t want to get down and take a spin with Walken.

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Pass the Fried Chicken

Domaine Christophe Pacalet
Beaujolais Nouveau 2019
Beaujolais AOP
Les Bruyères, Cercie, France
Native yeasts, hand harvested, “lutte raisonnée” vine cultivation
Winemaker: Christophe Pacalet

Light young garnet. Open that door and release that touch of barn that runs out the yard. Next are aromas of cinnamon, plum, raspberries, cloves, and cherries. Taking the first sip and there’s more of that plum with a touch of sharp twang, chocolate, cherry (but not chocolate covered cherries), smoke, a ping of orange, and oddly blueberry and mango.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: just more juicy

Christophe Pacalet did have wine in his blood but took on a stint of biochemistry and cooking before returning to Beaujolais to learn from his famed (Morgon) uncle Marcel Lapierre. Who better to guide him along this path. Christophe has taken the route of renting instead of purchasing a vineyard. This gives him a chance to work with old vines and pick from the best. Yes, there’s less grapes, but better wine in the end. Have to add, this is a great wine for southern food. Seriously, it is. It went fab with my potato salad with hot peppers and capers. Also would work well with a good homemade fried chicken, especially the legs and thighs. Just remember, as I was taught by my mom…if you want good fried chicken soak it in salt water in the fridge over night. Don’t forget to make a side of jalapeño cornbread and mustard greens doused in hot pepper vinegar too, for a delicious evening you aren’t soon to forget.

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Making My Wish

Celler Pardas
Aspriu Negre 2009
100% Cabernet Franc
Penedès DO
Torrelavit, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Organic & sustainable (but they didn’t know that back then)
Winemakers/Viticulturists: Ramon Parera (oenologist) & Jordi Arnan (agronomist)

Gorgeous deep purple. Breathing in dark cherry, black pepper, chocolate, hazelnut, allspice, and vanilla cookie or should I say whiskey peat. Oh I’m so excited to taste, I’ve been sitting on this bottle for years. Darkness and depth is looming in a good way. There’s tart cherry, coffee and chocolate, black peppercorns, and again a hint of vanilla and plush love. Memories of December Spain visits are flooding in.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: darker, deeper, and a weird sweetness that verges on antique cola candy

You don’t need to let this gift breathe long. Maybe 45 minutes and it is on its way. 2009 was Pardas’ third vintage of Aspriu, and honestly I’m so happy to have been introduced to it by La Vinya del Senyor in 2014. Ramon Parera and Jordi Arnan pride themselves in letting the terroir reveal itself through their wines. This special Cabernet Franc came from a single vineyard “La Barraca”. You can taste their hard work, dedication, and emotional connection with this area, the vines, and the whole environment. As in their quote, “The desire of being reunited with nature, and establishing bonds which fulfill us is only human nature after all, though very often forgotten.” Nothing is forgotten with this bottle. Everything is celebrated.

Even though I can’t travel this year for my birthday, I can feel myself sitting in La Vinya del Senyor sipping a glass of Aspriu, with one of their foie i cep meatballs and like I usually do afterwards, wander into Lurdes Bergada & Syngman Cucala and if I’m lucky find, something beautiful to wear that night. God, I miss Barcelona, Alicante, Cadaqués, well all of Spain. I find when you really get down to knowing the citizens of anywhere and especially Europe and get past the point that they see you as a freaking tourist, but that you want to know their reality, then you can have the most wonderful conversations. We all melt down to the same caring giving family. People talk of Southern hospitality, but I have never seen more kindness than all the good souls from Europe (and yes, NY, we are the big melting pot) that I’ve encountered and happily now call my friends.

Spinning & celebrating to Katy Perry’s – Birthday!

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No Folly in this Whale’s Tale

Folly of the Beast
Pinot Noir 2018
Pinot Noir 100%
Central Coast, Santa Maria, CA
Winemaker: Ryan Zotovich
Produced and bottled by Winc

Bright and lively cherry color. Just opened and there’s light butter that I’m betting will head out in a bit.  Next scents are cherries, plums, a tiny grind of pepper. Everything is light and fresh. Now on to see how this glass tastes. Full of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, deep plums, some oak and cedar. Also something herbal for the season like rosemary but not smacking you in the face. Snuggly comfy feeling that pairs so well with my lounge wear (honestly as much as I’d love to say it’s La Perla, but it’s TJ Maxx pj pants and a beer t-shirt).

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: brings out a more rugged feel. more dark

Ryan Zotovich, you have truly made a winner of a wine at an awesome price. I’m so glad that you left the computer science track and returned to your wine roots and ended up at Winc. Folly of the Beast would definitely go well with what I’m reading in your interview when asked, “If you were throwing a dinner party and could invite anyone, who would it be?” Betting your pick “Bill Murray as Steve Zissou” would give this wine his seal of approval.

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Follow the Moon

Hilberg Pasquero
29.5 Per Alessandra
Barbera d’Alba 2016
100% Barbera
Vino Rosso
Priocca, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
Biodynamic, organic, sustainable farming, and native yeasts
Winemaker couple: Miklo and Annette (Hilberg) Pasquero

Dark violet velvet drapery. Breathing in cherry, plum, cinnamon and a warm hug. Post hug you’re gifted a bouquet of wild flowers and something rustic like tobacco or dried apple leaves on the ground. Elegant and touch rugged on my tongue at the same time. There’s silky cherry, rustic plum, blackberries, and leather. The word I absolutely hate to use for wine…it’s sexy…I’d say let’s all take a roll in the hay but none of that funky stuff in this one.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: of all it’s more leather (thwack and SMack) and still smooth

29.5 get’s it’s namesake from the lunar phase cycle which is 29.5 days from New Moon to New Moon. So much of our own existence is governed by these cosmic push an pulls. Throughout history farmers used cycles to decide when to plant, when to grow, when to pick, when to harvest and even when to bottle. Some people think nah, this has to do with pagan traditions, but the more I read about biodynamic farming, it seems pretty sound to me. The days in the cycle have groupings of root, flower, leaf and fruit. Fruit days are supposed to be when time for winemaking is at its best and that period just happens to fall into the fire signs. Since I’m a Sagittarius, does that mean that I may have a winemaking adventure in my future? Or does that just mean I should open a special bottle on my birthday….which is coming up pretty soon…hint, hint, hint.

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Absolutely All Natural

Vino Rosso “Agricolae” 2018
Alfiano Natta, Italy
100% Barbera
Organic (certified) and biodynamic (but not certified, because getting certified costs a pretty penny)
Winemaker: Luigi Armanino

Shining dark velvet ruby. Oh here come the lovely cherry scents, plums, light earth, and berries of all sorts from strawberries to blue berries and cherry Jolly Rancher. Nice powerful feel rolling around in my mouth. There’s cherries, plums (dancing in my head), faint raspberries, and a touch of orange. Natural darkness and rosemary that turns into sweet loving velvety embrace. This will keep all the extended family, friends, and in-laws happy and away from political discussions during the holiday season. Whether online or in person, they will be too busy talking about how much they love this wine.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: nice pair. A little more earthy and more bitter herbs

Crealto’s owners, Eleonora Costa and Luigi Armanino, made a decision in 2013, that I’m starting to see in many natural winemakers. They bucked the AOC panel and went with declassifying their wines, so they can stay true to their vinification path. They also have rooms to stay over and from what I’m seeing a beautiful restaurant with a very reasonably priced tasting menu. Everything is grown by them or either locally sourced and organic. The wholemeal flours and oils are even made on their farm. Just scrumptious all around!

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Old Vines Make Fine Wine

Terres Dorées
Beaujolais L’Ancien Vieilles Vignes 2018
100% Gamay
Charnay, France
Organic, sustainable, hand harvested, indigenous yeasts
Winemaker: Jean-Paul Brun

Swirling a deep glistening Gamay garnet glass. Fragrant strawberries, raspberries, and fresh cherries fill my nose and this is a breath of happiness. Once I take a sip, I find all sorts of berry juice from strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and more. There’s also some rugged cherry, and lots of citrus popping. Earth, cedar, and some sage that all say drink this baby NOW!

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: juicy fruity

This lovely wine with the very telling name “L’Ancien” comes from some of the oldest vines at Terres Dorées which are anywhere from 40 to 60 years. Nice having a youngster birthed from such aged lineage. Instead of going carbonic with his wines, Jean-Paul Brun has stuck with the traditional Burgundian vinification method where the grapes are lovingly hand harvested, destemmed, and only indigenous yeasts that sprout forth are allowed. Jean-Paul sees this as the way to allow the to Gamay shine and also not to be forgotten the sustainable land where it all started from. Sometimes and more often than not, the natural ways of the past are where we should return.

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Snuggle In For Some Cold Weather Comfort

Domaine Santa Duc
Les Quatre Terres 2017
Côtes-du-Rhône AOP
Gigondas, France
Grenache 70 %, Syrah 15 %, Mourvèdre 10%, Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette 5 %
Organic, biodynamic, minimal intervention, wild yeasts
Winemaker: Benjamin Gras (6th generation)

Garnet glow. It breathes and then it’s buttery at first but heads out. This is all replaced with cinnamon, plums, cherries and some earthy goodness. Touching my tongue and it’s juicy, earthy plum and prunes, dark cherry tang that leads to velvet with a kick of smoke and black pepper. Slight flower sweetness hangs around in the background which leads to anise

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: It plows right over the Cheez-it. Becomes more robust.

Les Quatre Terres (The Four Lands) is so named due to the four areas the grapes come from: Vacqueyras, Rasteau (Crus), Roaix and Seguret (Côtes-du-Rhône Villages). Each one gives the gift of their terroir to this delicious wine. Really has me craving Montesacro’s (Brooklyn) Maranella pinsa which has mozzarella, broccolini, homemade spicy pork sausage, stracciatella di burrata or either my South Carolina pulled pork I’m making this weekend with a mustard based sauce. This is so perfect for the cool weather creeping our way.

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