How ‘green’ can a winery be? It seems that the folks at Chateau Maris are pushing the limits of what makes a winemaking operation both healthy for the environment and as sustainable as possible.
Founded about 20 years ago by Englishmen Robert Eden and Kevin Parker, Chateau Maris was created with the goal of becoming one of the Languedoc‘s best estates while respecting the environment to the highest standards. They purchased old, dilapidated vines and began to restore them and the rest of their land from the previous farmer’s overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Robert is a biodynamic winemaker and has used biodynamic preparations and composts since day one.
They also employ local flora and fauna to help restore the balance to the land and maintain a healthy growing environment. This includes local livestock for compost, diverse cover crops like barley, bulgur, and mustard to avoid monoculture, and teas and tisanes of nettles, chamomile, and lavender to restore minerals to the soil. Today, they’ve also just completed construction on the world’s first hemp winery. The idea is fascinating – bricks made of hemp and lime, both naturally derived, are used to build a structure around a locally-sourced wooden frame. Over time, the hemp bricks actually absorb carbon from the atmosphere, hardening and strengthening as they transform into limestone, as well as naturally controlling temperature and humidity with no additional cooling or heating systems needed. Robert and Eden also collect rainwater, have plans to construct a wind farm, use recycled super-light glass and recycled paper for their bottles, and donate $1.50 from each bottle sold to one of three charities: The Jane Goodall Institute, The Rainforest Foundation, and The International Polar Fund.
And what about the wines? We know that just because a wine is made responsibly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s made well. Fortunately for Chateau Maris, the quality of their wines, especially for the price, matches the efforts put into them. All the wines are made with native fermentation, fermented in custom conical oak casks and cement eggs, and never fined nor filtered. The wines represent the Languedoc, an often forgotten region, as a region capable of producing wines of great character, rusticity, and sense of place. Come by either Market to try the wines of Chateau Maris!
Picpoul is a grape native to the Languedoc as well as the name for the Cru of white wines made there, Picpoul de Pinet. It’s often called the ‘Muscadet of the South’ due to its similarity to the signature grape of Northwestern France that has a familiar tart acidity and salty minerality. Best enjoyed in the sunshine, this Picpoul is loaded with tart green apple, chamomile notes, and zippy acidity. A great pairing with fresh seafood or spring veggies!
2012 Chateau Maris Old School Rosé – $17.99
From their old-school vineyard, planted in 1959, which to this day is still plowed by horse (Karabi is his name!) and harvested by hand, this rosé is made mostly from Cinsault. Juicy strawberry, cherry, and orange zest notes lead to a crisp and fruity palate that has enough heft to pair well with a variety of dishes. Try with a classic salade nicoise and you’ll swear your sitting on the Mediterranean.
A blend of mostly Syrah with a bit of Grenache, this red is everything you’d want in an everyday table red. Fermented and aged in concrete egg-shaped tanks, the nose is peppery and herbal with flavors of blackberry, currants, and herbs de provence. Great with any weeknight supper!
A similar blend to the Old School Rouge, this red is a bit more serious, with about half of the wine aging in concrete and the other half in conical oak foudre, 30% of which are new. This gives it a bit more silky tannin on the finish, along with a slightly more herbal and spicy grip. A great red for grilling season!
Definitely the most serious of the three red wines we have from Chateau Maris, this blend is 90% Carignan blended with 10% Grenache from vines planted in 1922. It’s aged and fermented in large oak casts for 18 months and has rich dark-fruited notes like currants and elderberries alongside a silky and long finish; a testament to how elegant Carignan can become!
18th Hour Cafe – Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In – At 18 Reasons
Tasting with Taylor Sorenson from Winewise – Sunday, March 23, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
Magnolia Beer Tasting – Thursday, March 27, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero
Tasting Seminar: Sherry and Madeira – Tuesday, April 15, 7-9PM, – At 18 Reasons
Beer Workshop: Malt – Wednesday, April 16, 7-9PM – At 18 Reasons
Inexpensive and Incredible: How to Spot Great Value Wine – Monday, April 21, 7-9PM, At 18 Reasons
Spring Wine Blitz Preview Tasting – Thursday, April 24, 6-8PM – At 18 Reasons
Spring Wine Blitz! – Monday, April 28 through Sunday, May 4 – At Both Markets!
Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or special requests (415.241.9760 for 18th St. or 415.551.7900 for Divis) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.