Saturday 8/27
Special Pacalet tasting

14102551_10210518091295290_6419830965356572489_nPlease join us this afternoon between 3-7 PM for a rare opportunity to taste the wines of Phillipe Pacalet with his importer, Raphael Knapp. Pacalet is a Burgundian producer of natural wine who is operating at a very high level and is indeed the nephew of the great Beaujolais producer and proponent of natural wine, Marcel Lapierre. Through Lapierre, Pacalet came to know the father of the natural wine movement, Jules Chauvet, and is growing and making wine much as Chauvet himself once did. Pacalet’s wines are unalloyed, fresh, and full of vital life forces; a function of spectacular grape farming and meticulous and sensitive winemaking. The reds start out with whole-cluster fermentation, a technique that today is pretty much the rule in Beaujolais but was also once quite common in Burgundy proper, too. Zero anything added during vinification. Pacalet’s wines are not inexpensive and we don’t have many bottles on hand today, so I urge you to arrive early. We’re pouring a tasting flight of three of Pacalet’s wines for $15, and are offering additional tastings for a supplement.

Pacalet tasting flight ($15)
Pacalet Moulin à Vent
($67/btl, limited qty)
Pacalet Gevrey-Chambertin 2012($92/btl, limited qty)
Pacalet Cornas 2014 ($87/btl, limited qty)

Supplemental (all three for $30, or by the taste)
Pacalet Puligny Montrachet 2013 ($111/btl, taste for $10, very limited qty)
Pacalet Chablis 1er cru “Beauroy” 2013 ($85/btl, taste for $8, very limited qty
Pacalet Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013 ($435, special tasting price: $350, 1 oz taste for $20)

Thursday 8/25
Loire Valley tasting between 6-8 PM
Vouvray pet-nat, outrageous single vineyard chenin, slutty cab franc, and more!
$12 no reservations required

14034969_708024849338161_795481416095735895_nIf I were forced to choose just one wine growing area to stock up on desert island wines, the Loire would be it. The Loire river travels through a sizeable cross section of the center of France. With headwaters in the Ardèche, it travels north and west, eventually emptying out into the Atlantic Ocean. Wine grapes are cultivated all along the way, and it’s hard for me to think of another geography in which such a wide spectrum of wine types is made, ranging from bone-dry, salty Muscadets grown near the Atlantic coast, profound and long-lived sweet wines made from chenin blanc grown near the town of Anger, and earthy red wines made gamay and grolleau, to name just a few. But grape growing in the Loire Valley can be at times difficult; vineyards near the town of Tour have seen a succession of problem vintages, with seasons full of hail and rain making winegrowing a challenge. One of my favorite growers there, Francois Chidaine, experienced 100 percent crop loss in 2016 due to hail, so I feel lucky that we still have a bit of Chidaine’s wine to pour for you tonight, as the wines will soon be in short supply. Chidaine is beloved both for his beautifully farmed chenin blanc-based wines, some dry, some with a touch of residual sugar, but he also makes some darn good sparkling wine, too. Tonight, we’re tasting his Vouvray pét-nat, a dry, chenin blanc-based natural sparkling wine. Also tasting: simple, refreshing folle blanche, an outrageous single vineyard chenin, and a couple of great, earthy cab franc-based wines to finish.

François Chidaine Vouvray brut pét-nat NV {dry, chenin blanc natural sparkling wine}
Domaine de La Bregeonnette Folle Blanche 2013 {dry, refreshing, mineral, uncomplicated}
Château de Brézé “Clos David” Saumur 2013 {dry, single-vineyard chenin blanc, young vines}
Fosse-Sèche “Eolithe” Saumur 2013 {organically farmed cab franc grown on quartz}
Gauthier “Jour de Soif” Bourgueil 2015 {slutty}

8/24: Special Wednesday tasting
With Austrian importer Stephen Schindler
6-8 PM $10

Zahel “Orange T” Orangetraube 2015
Dr. Kauer Riesling Trocken Mittelrhein 2013
Umathum Gelber und Roter Traminer 2014
Moric Blaufränkisch Burgenland 2013 

Taste Austrian and German wine tonight with importer Stephen Schindler. Stephen and his wife Emily are the brains behind Wine Monger, a specialist importer of terrific Austrian and German wines (and some other stuff, too). I’ve worked with Wine Monger for over a decade and really dig their sensibility, and I think you will too. All of the wines we’re trying tonight have zero residual sugar, and we’re starting with a crystalline curiosity, bone-dry, from vineyards that are within the city limits of Vienna itself. This zingy, orange-zesty wine is made from the orangetraube grape, and I believe that Zahel, the grower, is the only one who works with this unique variety in Austria. Next, another bone-dry white wine, an organically farmed dry riesling from Germany’s Mittelrhein. Next, a dry, ultra-exotic and aromatic blend of two different types of traminer, and to finish, a super juicy blaufränkisch from the master of the grape, Roland Velich.

Tue 8/23
Taste raunchy gamay + schisty gamay + smoky lístan negro + charbono
6-8 PM no reservations $12

14054557_10154434289619254_4272926497727440250_o

Folks that rub you the wrong way in an ill-defined manner that you cannot quite put your finger on: not nails on a chalkboard, but maybe a bit too much vocal fry, or someone who is, perhaps, just slightly insufferable?  And then, later, as you spend time with them you realize, rarely, that these are your people. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, grouchy old Aunt Naomi—who talks with her mouth full and smells like an old umbrella—she turns out to be a pretty good storyteller, and all is forgiven; you’ve fallen for her. Tonight we’re tasting a gamay-based red wine made with zero added sulfites that’s a bit like this—dry, juicy, a little volatile, a little spicy clove/cinnamon, but also raunchy, it admittedly pushes the edge of my propriety envelope. I don’t think it is a day two wine, but certainly a day one wine, funky without being fart-y, rustic, and a bit tannic. I like it, nonetheless, and more so as I hang out with it.

Christian Ducroux “Expectatia” Vin de France NV {declassified Régnié, zero sulfites, you have been warned!}
Bermejos “Carbonica” Lístan Negro Lanzarote 2013{new vintage; smoky, as always}
Hervé Sohaut “La Souteronne” Vin de France {masterful Ardèche gamay}
Fable Charbono Napa 2010 {old vines}

Saturday 8/20
Italian wines from hither and yon
3-7 PM $12 no reservations

13975247_1797893543825670_6326943192675869666_oWe’re tasting four wines from Italy today—no common denominator, just a tasting flight of pleasing wines that somehow feel appropriate for today and tonight. Here’s what we’re pouring:

  • A rustic style of dry Lambrusco, bottle conditioned and unfiltered; a cloudy and lightly fizzy rosé
  • A dry, complex white blend from Italy’s northeast that is made with magic ingredients: the grape varieties picolit and verduzzo, rare and dear
  • A wine made the frappato grape, another secret ingredient. Today’s frappato is one half mineral, one half animal, I leave it to you to decide which half
  • To finish, an Alpine red wine from Italy’s mountainous northwest. Dry, earthy, a little meaty, a little smoky

Cantina della Volta “Rimosso” Cantina della Volta
Ronchi de Cialla “Ciallabianco” Friuli 2013
Lamoresca “Nerocapitano” frappato Sicilia 2015
Pranzegg “Quirein” 2013 lagrein Mitterberg

Thursday 8/18
Taste Abruzzo wine Italian wine importer Justin Galen
6-8 PM $10 no reservations required

14051707_10154617968517018_4921054249295472796_nMontepulciano is a Janus-faced grape. It has its familiar face, useful red checker table cloth wines which can be tart and shrill or sometimes a little extracted, brutish, and chunky. I typically don’t expect a lot from montepulciano, but the grape does have another face, rarer and perhaps not as common, more wild and untamed, packed with perfume, nuance, and pulsing with mysterious energy. We tasting examples of two such wines tonight with their importer, Justin Galen, who will be at the shop to tell us about them.
Cirelli Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2014
Cirelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo anfora 2015
Praesidium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2011

Tuesday 8/16: Jura tasting
$15 6-8 PM no reservations required

14063830_10153896681828214_6444329654897045115_nBizarro World is a Superman plotline from the 60s in which the citizens of Earth make contact with an alien world that is an off-kilter version of our own. There are familiar faces on Bizarro World, and yet everything there is not quite the same as on Earth: e.g., Bizarro World is square rather than round, there’s an alternate, Bizarro World Superman, complete with a Bizarro Lois Lane, but also an ugly, Bizarro Marilyn Monroe. France’s Jura region is, as I am fond of saying, akin to a Bizarro World version of Burgundy, to which it is geographically if not culturally adjacent. Sure, the Burgundian grape pinot noir is cultivated in the Jura, but the Jurassiens also grow their own unique and traditional grape varieties that are somewhat, but not really at all, like pinot noir. At first taste, Jura wine made from the local poulsard grape can resemble a light-bodied, fresh, regional level red Burgundy, and yet as the wine opens and you open to it, you discover it’s really nothing like pinot noir at all. Nebulous and perfumed, delicate if sometimes reduced and stinky (none of that tonight), it is simply impossible to make a big, lush fruit bomb wine out of poulsard, a grape that is content to just do its own ethereal thing, like it or not. And then there are the oxidative white wines, nutty, salty, and made traditionally from the savagnin grape into a style of wine that never figures into the Burgundian weltanschauung—in fact, I imagine that many a Burgundian vigneron finds this style of wine to be bizarre and alien, even though the center of Jura winemaking, the village of Arbois, is only about an hour’s drive east from the center of Burgundy, Beaune.

Domaine de Saint Pierre “Savagnin de Voile” Arbois 2010
Domaine de la Pinte “Pinte Bien” Poulsard Arbois 2014
Benoît Mulin Trousseau Arbois 2010|
Domaine de Saint Pierre “Les Garudrettes” Côtes du Jura 2015

Thursday 8/11: not boring tasting. Trust me. Trust me.

13939288_10153878138853214_1587170680504569762_nI try to keep my customers entertained, and tonight’s tasting is no exception, at least I hope. There’s always the possibility that I am deluded in clinging to this belief, and yet I do not think that this could possibly be the case, at least with regards to the cool stuff that we have on deck tonight. We’re starting with a refreshing, old vines aligoté; a traditional white Burgundian grape that is today mostly maligned, ending up in characterless and over-cropped wines that are best known as the base for a kir. But like precious few other things in life, there’s a silk purse out of a sow’s ear here; a function of low-yielding old vines, organic farming, sensitive, unobtrusive winemaking, as well as a unique old quality clone called aligoté doré. Next, a wine made from another groovy clone, this one a freak clone of pinot noir that has no pigment—that’s right, a red wine that might be considered a white wine, except it is not. The clone was discovered and isolated by the great Henri Gouges in the middle of the last century, and somehow a tiny patch of it came to be planted in Oregon, and then our friend Chad Stock got has hands on some, and now it’s here in the shop. Next, merlot. Merlot? Yes, merlot, but of the sort you’re actually happy to put in your mouth. No oak barrel aging, earthy and agreeably herbal, and made without any addition of sulfites. Finally, a rare opportunity to taste one of Hervé Souhaut’s wines—he’s a bit of a poster boy for Ardèche natural wine. His wines are justifiably in great demand, and as they sell out quickly we feel fortunate to have a few bottles in the shop.

Julien Altaber Bourgogne Aligoté 2015 {acid head}
Minimus “Gouges” Eola Amity Hills 2015 {pinot noir}
Lapierre “Ataraxie” Cevennes 2014 {merlot without makeup}
Hervé Souhuat Syrah Vin de France 2015 {syrah}

Psst! Wanna taste some red Burgundy?
Tuesday 8/2 6-8 PM $12 no reservations

13653007_913156842127479_1882980267879605830_oTonight we’re pouring a tasting flight of red Burgundy. I don’t drink a lot of red Burgundy these days and I’m old enough to remember a time when prices were much more reasonable and I could have, but did not have the sense to. International demand for Burgundy as increased algorithmically and the price of a good to very good bottle has, too. Good, foursquare bottles are not that rare, but the quality-price-ratio is not often favorable when you reach the village level and beyond. I often find myself as a wine buyer in a zero sum game, choosing between a spectacular Loire white and a quite good white Burgundy, and going with spectacular at the same price point. Well, tonight I eat my hat and tender to you a tasting flight of quite spectacular, village level red Burgundy.

Athénaïs “Chérelle” Irancy 2013
Sylvain Pataille Marsannay 2013
Simon Bize “Les Bourgeots” Savigny-les-Beaune 2013
Nicolas Rossignol Pommard 2013

Saturday 7/30
Liberace’s favorite Champagne & etc.

13669673_10153851511973214_5439257321236580726_nRinvigorate your mind, refresh your soul and revive your spirit – put some cold, dry wine in your mouth this afternoon! We’re pouring a flight of dry sparkly wines including Liberace’s favorite Champagne, as well as a flight of cold red wines. That’s right: it’s time for the summer reds to start playin’!

Sparkly wine tasting
German Gilabert Cava brut nature NV {zero dosage méthode champenoise}
Croci “Campedello” Frizzante 2014 {dry & cloudy natural sparkling wine from Emilia}
Domaine des Bodines Crémant du Jura rosé {warning: poulsard alert!}
Brochet “Le Mont Benoit” Champagne extra brut {Liberace’s favorite Champagne!}

Cold red wine tasting
La Boutanche cinsault 14 vin de france {super soif-y!}
Piron Beaujolais-Village 2015 {super gluggy!}
|Domaine de la Pinte “Pinte Bien” Arbois poulsard 2014 {super delicate!}
Sylvain Pataille Marsannay 2013 {super super!}