Arpepe, "Il Pettirosso " Valtellina Superiore DOCG 2016Regular price $68.00 Save $-68.00
In conversation with Italian winemakers, or vignaoioli if you will, Arpepe is arguably the best of the best. Wine publications don’t seem to disagree; the awards are countless. No wonder, given the amount of work and care that must go into the vines, grown on precariously-stacked terraces on the slopes of Valtellina, two hours north of Milan toward the Swiss border. Here, at these heights, Nebbiolo is known by another name, Chiavennasca. It grows in villages that might bring to mind Rosemary’s Baby – Sassella, Grumello, Inferno! The high-altitude, cool weather climate transforms the grape into something quite different than what you might find in neighboring Piemonte. While Barolo may be king, Valtellina is a wizard.
Nature has a way of making its voice heard when needed. Meaning “red-breasted robin,” one such bird flew into the cellar, landing on a barrel as if in warning. Upon tasting the wine, the family realized it was ready and didn’t need further ageing; thus, the dawn of wines that weren’t made into a Riserva. Made in special vintages, the wine ages in small barrels for 12 months, then ages in bottle for 24 months before release.
Barbacan, Alpi Retiche Rosato 2021Regular price $35.00 Save $-35.00
Variety: Nebbiolo and a few other indigenous varieties
Barbacan is a miniscule estate of just three hectares in the far north of Italy on the Swiss border. Here the Sega family is one of the few growers in the appellation of Valtellina in Lombardy that are making wine completely naturally. Coupled with what the Italians call “heroic viticulture,” the grueling work put forth by this father and his two sons is beyond impressive. Valtellina is a serious valley of terraced vineyards. Both human efforts and the grapes are stressed, and this shows in the beautiful wines of this unique Alpine area. Chiavennasca is the local name for the variety we know as Nebbiolo.
The Noah’s Ark on this label shows the family’s ambitions to recover local varieties. Sure, Nebbiolo is in the mix, but so are Brugnòla, Chiavennaschino, Pignòla and Negrera as well as a few others. This is aged eight months in steel and released to drink right away.
Le Piane, Boca Vino Bianko 2021Regular price $34.00 Save $-34.00
The vineyards of Le Piane hail from Boca, the highest elevation area of Piedmonte. A lengthy period abandoned after a period of heavy industrialization in the urban areas, they were finally rescued. Friends Christoph and Alexander fell in love with the property of Le Piane which included vines, barrels still filled with wine, and a dilapidated building. The last moving piece was convincing Antonio Cerri, one of the last standing winemakers in the Boca appellation, that they would continue to honor its ancient winemaking traditions. In his old age, Antonio gave over his small vineyard, cellar, and some old vintages. Alexander was sadly killed in 1998, but Christoph and his team carry on the dream today.
This Bianco is made from the mysterious Erbaluce that’s native to Piedmonte. It is pronounced “urb-bah-lou-chay.” Due to appellation laws, the wine does not get to tout its variety on the label, but simply “Bianco.” It’s light-bodied and acid-driven. The wine has a short ageing process that takes place between amphora, cement, and acacia barrels.
Patrick Bottex, Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille NVRegular price $25.00 Save $-25.00
Variety: Gamay and Poulsard
In a geographical crossroads between the regions of Jura, Savoie, and the Rhone is the small appellation of Bugey nestled in between French Alps. There Catherine and Patrick Bottex create the effervescent wine of Bugey-Cerdon in the small hamlet of La Cueille. It so happened that Kermit Lynch, the importer of this bottle, first tried this wine when he was at an after party with Marcel Lapierre. After tasting the wine, he ultimately decided to import the bottle. Kermit also has a fond memory of bringing the wine to pair with a beach BBQ in Hawaii.
This wine is one of the hidden secrets of France. All the grapes actually come from a single vintage, though the vintage is not shown. After directly pressing the Gamay and Poulsard, the wine is bottled still undergoing fermentation. This is a natural sparkling rose done in the ancestral method, or pet-nat style, resulting in distinctive sweetness. It is light in alcohol and remarkably juicy. Perfect as an aperitif or as a pairing for fruity or creamy desserts, or even milk chocolate.
Nicolas Gonin, Mondeuse 2019Regular price $25.00 Save $-25.00
Known as the patron saint of orphan grapes, Nicolas Gonin spends much of his time unearthing long forgotten grape varieties and documenting his findings.
Isère is a lesser known area of the Savoie region of France, south of Jura and west of the Alps. Before phylloxera ravaged France in the late 1880s, Isère boasted a whopping amount of vines. The region was then planted with hybrids, and due to lack of organization to form an AOC in WWII, viticulture practically disappeared. In enters Nicolas Gonin; after having worked for Domaine Tempier in Bandol, he found himself researching ampelography during his enological studies. Curiosity led to Nicolas spending time between both his domaine and nursery where he traces the lineage of ancient grapes while trying to bring back the lost varieties of his region.
Mondeuse is a variety unique to the Savoie region of France. It has the flavors of Gamay with its red fruit and floral notes, but has the grip and peppered notes of Syrah. It's a varietal meant for aging.
Rijckaert, Cotes du Jura 'Les Sarres' Savagnin 2021Regular price $38.00 Save $-38.00
Florent Rouve is one of many that wasn’t born into winemaking. His father was a geologist which led to a natural interest in nature. After the family moved to the Jura area, he took on a job working as a forest manager of several nearby vineyards. The interest in viticulture bloomed and the rest is history. Florent got his feet wet working with Jean Rijckaert where he continued a minimalist style of winemaking. While he has begun his own label, he still maintains the show stopping wines for Rijckaert. He makes wines in the Jura and Macon regions constantly improving his spirit of tradition and modernism.
While Savagnin is the variety used to make vin jaune, or “yellow wine,” this wine is meant to be a dry wine made for the dinner table. The wine is full bodied and has a mildly intense salty finish. Meant to be served with richly flavored food like pork, potatoes and French cheeses.