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A Local Nouveau from Poe

The tradition of making “Nouveau” wines in France has been around for decades, with Beaujolais Nouveau morphing into a yearly celebration in Paris and Beaujolais. Traditionally, the term “nouveau” simply refers to the practice of bottling the first wine of the harvest just a few weeks after fermentation to celebrate and signal the end of harvest. The wine is always released on the 3rd Thursday of the November.

The last couple of years, we have been seeing more and more U.S. wineries joining in the tradition. Bow & Arrow in Oregon, Scribe in Sonoma, and Broc Cellars in Berkeley. However, we consider Samantha “Sam” Sheehan, winemaker of Poe Wines (and Bi-Rite Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), to be the one that started the current trend in the US. She started making the Nouveau wines 4 years ago, basically to just throw a party like the French. But the wine was so good and popular that she kept making it. Her Nouveau, made from Pinot Noir, is fresh and intensely floral with aromas of sweet red cherry along with spices and earth notes.

On November 1st, our wine team went up to Napa to help Sam bottle the 2017 vintage Nouveau. A very small production – she was working with a new vineyard for the Nouveau – we bottled about 60 cases which are already sold out at the winery. Luckily, we managed to get a good allocation of it so we will have some for our Markets but they’re selling fast with our 20% off case sale happening this month. The wine retails for $19.99.


Trac

Red Wines to Chill With

It seems like there’s nothing better to drink during the summer is rosé all day but there comes a point that you can’t simply drink any more rosé. If not rosé, what else can one possibly drink? A crisp white wine like Sancerre is always an excellent (although maybe boring) option. May I suggest something bold, like a bottle of chilled red wine? Yes, red wine.

You might think this is a little crazy and extreme, keep in mind that not all red wines are meant to be served cold like big malbecs and oaky Napa cabernet. Definitely not. I’m talking about low-alcohol reds that are light in color and fruit driven. Something like a Lambrusco, Gamay, or a Blaufrankisch. These wines generally have more vibrant fruit and less tannins, the colder temperature shows off its juicy vibrancy and makes the wine more refreshing. Stay away from tannic reds however, as tannins becomes very harsh if chilled.

Here are some light reds that we carry at Bi-Rite that are excellent for a nice afternoon of BBQ party or a nice hot summer day. These wines pair particularly well with meats like lamb or charred seafood dishes.

Herve Villemade Cheverny Rouge Loire Valley, France 2016 $17.99 – Hervé tried traditional farming for a while before converting entirely to organic farming in 2000. The quality of his wines since the conversion is dramatically better! This red is really pretty with aromas of plum, strawberry, and earthy citrus.

Vins Contes Poivre et Sel VdP Loire, France 2016 $21.99 – Sommelier turned winemaker, Olivier Lemasson was a proponent of natural wines early in his career, being influenced by producers like Marcel Lapierre and Hervé Villemade. This bright and fresh cuvée is one of our favorites with aromas of white pepper and excellent fruitiness.

Birgit and Katrin Pfneizel “Blaufränker” Burgunland, Austria 2016 $14.99 – A delicious and fun liter-sized Blaufränkisch from the Pfneiszl sisters in Hungary. Blaufränker! really showcases their personalities – it’s vibrant, pretty, and aromatic. Tasting a little bit like Gamay and Cab Franc, this wine can be enjoyed with everything.


Trac

Bi-Rite Wine Club: May Release

Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc Burgundy, France 2015| $19.99

Terres Dorées is the domaine of Beaujolais icon Jean-Paul Brun, one of the most revered wine growers in the region. In the early 1990’s, Jean-Paul Brun planted several hectares of Chardonnay on limestone soil, which is perfect for the grape in warmer climates. As demand increased, he expanded his holdings and began contracting for grapes with other local vignerons with limestone soils. The climate allows Jean-Paul to produce a rich wine with lots of character, while the soils bring a fresh mineral component.

Fermented in stainless steel tanks that are laid on their side for more lees contact, this wine is rich with a terrific mineral finish. With a fresh and fruity bouquet when young, this wine becomes more honeyed as it matures, but is always lip-smacking and delicious. Pair it with roasted salmon.

 

Point Ormond Sauvignon Blanc Frankland River, Australia 2016 | $16.99

Point Ormond is everything that’s exciting about Australian wine today: delicious, high acid, lower alcohol, versatile, bursting with personality, sometimes quirky, and always affordable. In a nutshell: these tasty wines hugely over-deliver for their price. The wines are an exploration of vineyard sites around Australia, and this Sauvignon Blanc is from Frankland River in Southwest Australia, which is known for its cool climate, perfect for maintaining acidity in white wines. The Sauvignon Blanc is very balanced, with notes of tropical passionfruit and delicate floral, herbal nuances. Try it with a green-veggie focused salad, perfect for late spring.

 

La Capranera Falanghina IGP Paestum Campania, Italy 2016  | $16.99

La Capranera, which means “black goat” in Italian, is named for the indigenous breed of goats – cilentana nera – that graze in the national park near where the grapes for these wines are grown. Once on the verge of becoming extinct, the goats have had a resurgence in population, just as wines from Campania have recently enjoyed increased international visibility.

 

La Capranera’s young vines are sustainably farmed using organic viticulture methods and harvested by hand. This white is made from Falanghina, a varietal indigenous to the Campania region, and it may have been used in ancient times to make Rome’s famous Falernian wine. This versatile white is delicious with fresh cheeses, such as Mozzarella di Bufala, as well as with shellfish and seafood.

Château Sainte-Marie Entre-Deux-Mers Rouge Bordeaux, France 2014 | $19.99

In the green rolling hills of Entre-Deux-Mers, between the Garonne and the Dordogne Rivers in Bordeaux, Stéphane Dupuch has been working his 35-hectare family estate since 1997. When his father, Gilles, took the reins in 1982, the estate was a sideline business to an insurance brokerage.

 

Thanks to his duel vocations, Gilles never fell into the traps of rapid expansion and over-mechanization that beguiled many of their neighbors. While others wonder why the Dupuchs keep a dozen cattle grazing on AOC land instead of planting that land to vines, Château Sainte-Marie takes the path-less-traveled through their advocacy of denser vine plantings, lower yields, and sustainable farming. Although Gilles has recently retired, his legacy lives on through Stéphane, who has made his own commitment to the family terroirs by converting the estate to organic and biodynamic farming. This red is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with rich fruit and silky texture. It’s delicious and perfect with a nice piece of steak.

 

The Pinot Project Pinot Noir California 2016 | $14.99

The Pinot Project began in 2009 with a vision: a wine for the palate, the pocket, and the people. Renowned wine importer Michael Skurnik called on his experiences in the vineyards and cellars of Northern California to craft a silky, fruit-forward, and harmonious Pinot Noir. The Pinot Project Pinot Noir is handcrafted from high-quality Sonoma County, Monterey, and Central Coast vineyards. The diversity in soil and climate from these AVAs contributes to depth in character, balance, and pristine fruit. The grapes are harvested at optimal ripeness and then destemmed in order to express bright fruit flavors and maintain freshness. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, and 20% of the blend is aged for 5 months in French oak. We love this delicious casual wine, which goes with any occasion, from sipping while cooking dinner or at a backyard BBQ with friends.

 

Geyerhof “StockWerk” Zweigelt, Kremstal, Austria 2015| $16.99

Although Kremstal — an appellation in the Danube Valley situated around the old Austrian town of Krems — is best-known for its white wines, it enjoys a slightly warmer climate than in the nearby Wachau, where the valley is narrower. Thanks to these conditions, the Maier family from Geyerhof grows organic Zweigelt in deep, sandy soil on east-facing slopes for their StockWerk project. The name StockWerk, which means work (Werk) on the vine (Stock) in German, reflects the philosophy of the Maier family, a pioneer of organic viticulture in Kremstal. With its light peppery nose, aromas of sour cherry and violet, and a lively and refreshing mouthfeel, the StockWerk Zweigelt pairs beautifully with a wide range of foods. It is particularly tasty with sautéed pork chops with tomatoes, bell peppers, and paprika.


Trac

Bi-Rite Wine Club: April Release

Our April Wine Club allocations came out last week, and we’re excited to share more about the great springtime wines in our Discovery Club. From Provence to Piemonte, Lebanon to Washington, these wines are delectable by the glass, or paired with spring dishes. Find them in the store to try a bottle, and join the club to get in on the fun!

Discovery Club April 2017

Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Blanc Provence, France 2014 | $22.99

Domaine du Bagnol in Cassis, France sits beneath a limestone outcropping just 200 meters from the Mediterranean in Provence. Sea breezes and a trio of winds cool the vineyards, bringing nice acidity and notes of ocean spray to the wine. A blend of Marsanne, Clairette and Ugni Blanc, this dry wine is the perfect match for seafood dishes and fresh vegetables.

 

Luigi Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso “La Torrazza” Alta Piemonte, Italy 2014 | $21.99

Luigi Ferrando has long been the leading producer of wines from the Canavese region in Piemonte, Italy, where his family’s winemaking tradition dates back to 1900. Luigi and his sons, Roberto and Andrea, make mind-blowing Nebbiolos, and they are the standard bearer of the local white grape, Erbaluce, which is only found in the alpine foothills of this corner of Piemonte. Bright acidity, elegant minerality, and complex structure make it the ultimate flexible white wine. We love it with seafood risotto.

 

Division Wine Company “l’Avoiron” Gamay Rosé  Yakima, WA 2016 | $19.99

Kate Norris and Thomas Monroe founded Division Winemaking Company in 2010. Inspired by the wineries of France, where Kate and Thomas first learned winemaking, their urban winery creates a variety of Oregon and Washington Wines with minimal manipulation. The Gamay grapes for this rosé were sourced from Willard Hills in the cool Yakima Valley, and the wine is crisp and vibrant, with notes of strawberry, peach, and chalky lime. Pair it with grilled spring veggies with garlic aioli.

 

Agostino Pavia Grignolino d’Asti Piemonte, Italy 2015 | $16.99

Grignolino is a lesser-known red grape from Piemonte, home to Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, that often gets overlooked. Made by Pino Pavia from Agostino Pavia, a 50-year-old, small, family-run estate, this gem is described by importer Oliver McCrum as “Misleadingly pale color, but a very distinctive and flavorful wine; wild strawberries, rhubarb, a touch of herbs, the perfect wine with salumi or pizza. I put it in the fridge for 20 minutes to bring out the fruit.”

 

Massaya “Le Colombier” Red Blend Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2015  | $19.99

Massaya is the brainchild of two dynamic Lebanese brothers who brought together the potential of their terroir with the know-how of two French wine-making dynasties. Ramzi and Sami Ghosn partnered with the teams from Vieux Télégraphe and Cheval Blanc in 1998 to launch the winery. This red is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Tempranillo: full-bodied, fresh, and approachable, with aromas full of warm spice and red fruits. It pairs well with lamb with Mediterranean spices and mint.

 

Disruption Wine Company Red Blend Columbia Valley, WA 2014 | $16.99

 

“More wine, less ego” is the motto at Disruption Wine Company, and each bottle is comprised of pedigree fruit sourced from small vineyards in Washington State. Since 2014, Disruption Wine Company has been committed to producing value-driven Washington wines, each of which are reflective of Andrew Latta’s honed skills in the region. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, deep and dark with vibrancy and freshness on the palate. Pair it with grilled steak with salsa verde.

Ready to join the Bi Rite Wine Club and get your monthly shipment of wines? Join here!