Home Posts tagged 'Wine' (Page 2)

Posts Tagged ‘Wine’


Matt R.

August Winery of the Month: Martian Ranch Winery

martian1It’s an exciting time for California wine! The variety of styles produced and grapes grown here in CA is expanding beyond juicy Pinot Noir, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, and oaky Chardonnay; not that these wines don’t have a place, but it’s great to see California’s potential beyond those steadfast traditions!

One of the winemakers leading this change and daringly exploring California’s wine potential is Nan Helgeland of Martian Ranch Winery. Nan and her husband, the award-winning writer/producer Brian Helgeland (Mystic River), always dreamed of making wine, so they bought property in Los Alamos and have released their first vintage, 2011. Nan and her winemaking partner Mike Roth are dedicated to biodynamic farming, native yeast fermentation, and minimal additions of sulphur. Nan and Mike are also dedicated to exploring varietals in CA beyond Pinot Noir, which is so ubiquitous in Santa Barbara. Her vineyards are planted with mostly Rhone and Spanish varietals – all grapes that do well in the hot, dry, rolling hills of Santa Barbara County.

The name, Martian Ranch, is both an homage to Nan’s sons, Martin and Ian, and perhaps a nod to the foreignness of the kinds of grapes she’s using in California. Or as she puts it, “The Martian seen occasionally on the premises is as much as mystery to her as it is to anyone else.” Try these exciting, restrained, vibrant, and food-friendly wines and help support the next generation of California winemaking! And don’t miss our upcoming Mini Wine Blitz, next Friday, August 23rd at 18 Reasons, where you’ll get to taste and order a few wines from Martian Ranch, among many others!

2012 Martian Ranch ‘Down to Earth’ Rosé – $16.99
martian2This is our kind of rosé! It’s based mostly on Grenache, much like our beloved Provencal-style rosé, but the ‘alien’ addition here is a bit of Tempranillo, a typically Spanish varietal. The nose is everything you’d expect in a rose from Southern France with a bit of added cherry and spice qualities. Dried herbs, tart cherry, and watermelon all combine on a dry and crisp palate that’s an easy pairing for a leisurely afternoon in the park!

2011 Martian Ranch ‘Uforic’ Albariño – $19.99

martian3Albariño
is a grape native to Galicia, Spain where it makes light, crisp, and brightly tart white wines that are a perfect match for any of the fresh seafood that abounds in Northwest Spain. Martian Ranch’s Albariño is a fresh take on this Spanish varietal. It’s aged in foudre (large used barrels) for six months giving a richer texture to this sometimes overly austere grape. Floral and stone fruit aromas are followed by a richly textured palate and a solid acidic backbone that is sure to stand up to anything from poultry to pork!

2011 Martian Ranch ‘Redshift’ Syrah – $21.99
martian4The Martian Ranch ‘Redshift’ is a great homage to the Syrah’s of the Northern Rhone. 95% Syrah blended with just 5% Viognier (not unlike Côte-Rôtie!) is fermented and aged in a combination of old and new French oak. Rustic dried herbal notes lead to a mid-weight palate that’s rich and full of dark blackberry and baking spice flavors. Just like Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding by observing the Red Shift phenomenon, we’re glad that Martian Ranch is expanding California’s Rhone-style credentials!

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe On Thursday, August 22nd, we will be pouring a selection of wines from Martian Ranch Winery! 6-10PM, Drop-In.

Tasting of wines from Martian Ranch Winery: Friday, August 16 6:30-8:30PM at Bi-Rite Divisadero. Space is limited, RSVP here to reserve your spot.

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.

Mini Wine Blitz – Friday, August 23, 6-8PM, Ticketed


Matt R.

Defining Wine Words: Minerality

MineralsMinerality. The M-word. It’s a term still widely debated in the wine world, and one that’s hard to define. It’s used widely in wine descriptions, but what does it actually mean? Is it a flavor? Is it a smell? Are we actually tasting the mineral compounds from the soil where the grapes grew?

For many, it’s used to describe both aromatics and flavors in wine, but what creates those aromas and flavors is still unknown. The debate continues as to whether or not mineral compounds in soils actually make their way into grapes at all, let alone in large enough quantities to be perceived. But most do seem in agreement that there’s something about Chablis or Mosel Reisling that sets those wines apart in terms of their ‘minerality.’

We like to think of minerality as aromas or flavors that are distinct from fruit or earthy qualities. Whether that be the salinity of a Muscadet, the chalkiness of a white Burgundy, or the iron tinge of a Hungarian red, these are qualities both unique to these wines and somewhat hard to quantify as individual components. We love minerally wines! And maybe it’s because these mineral qualities only really shine through when unmasked by things like new oak or too much fruit. Or maybe it’s because they provide an added layer of complexity. Either way, we know that mineral-driven wines are a perfect accompaniment to food!

2009 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet ‘3’  –  $24.99
Trois
We’re not shy about loving the wines of Marc Ollivier from Muscadet! His classic Muscadets are a throwback to what this corner of Northwest France became known for in the firstplace – terroir driven, accessible, and ageable white wines that are a heavenly match with the seafood (oysters!) of the region. His ‘3’ or ‘Trois’ bottling is his latest release, the ‘3’ referring to the number of years this wine aged on the lees (or yeast leftover from fermentation). Muscadet in general is known for lees-aging, which imparts a richer texture to the finished wine, but the AOC minimum for aging on the lees is only through the 3rd week in March after harvest. Marc far exceeds this with the ‘3’ and the result is a richly textured, brightly acidic, and mouthwatering minerally wine!

(Currently available at both Markets.)

2011 Domaine Pavelot Aligoté  –  $19.99
agliote
Aligoté, or ‘The Other White Burgundy’ as it’s sometimes referred to, often gets a bad rap. Many winemakers in Burgundy see this grape as less prestigious than other varieties, and its plantings in Burgundy are far outweighed by Chardonnay. It’s often made into simple, acidic wines that are diluted and balanced with the addition of cassis to create the classic Kir apértif. Surrounded by an abundance of ‘simple’ wines, Domaine Pavelot stands above the rest in terms of the quality of its Aligoté. Their extreme care for their 50-year old Aligoté vines contributes to a clean and balanced white that needs no cassis! Tart lemon zest, apricot, and pear notes lead to a salty minerality on the finish – perfect for sipping on its own or with a scallop crudo!

(Available at both Markets next week!)

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New France – Tuesday, July 30, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Mini Wine Blitz – Friday, August 23, 6-8PM, Ticketed and Drop-In


Matt R.

July Winery of the Month: Dashe Cellars

DasheLogoPart of the Urban Wine Revolution, Michael and Anne Dashe make delicious terroir-driven California wine in the Jack London District of Oakland. Sharing advanced degrees in enology, Michael and Anne combined their complementary backgrounds to form Dashe Cellars in 1996. Previously, Michael worked at many renowned wineries: Far Niente in Napa, Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, and Ridge in Santa Cruz, where working with famous winemaker Paul Draper exposed him to the heart and soul of Zinfandel, California’s own varietal. Working with some of the best Zinfandel vineyards in the world in Northern Sonoma County, the Dashes wanted to dedicate their work to this great grape, but also to newly emerging ideas about natural wine and the possibilities of vineyard management that derive from organic practices.

Fifteen years later they have achieved that goal. Michael works closely with growers to source some of the best fruit in Sonoma County, but one of his favorite spots for great California red wine is Dry Creek Valley, his old stomping grounds. He has also expanded his reach to other varietals and techniques: pretty, soft Vin Gris, unctuous mineral-driven Dry Riesling, and organically farmed, earthy and spicy Grenache. The Dashes’ wines are both palate-pleasing and thought-provoking in a precarious balance that is difficult to achieve, but for the most experienced winemakers. Join us in celebrating these California pioneers!

2012 Dashe Dry Riesling  –  $21.99
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From a cool, chalky vineyard in the Potter Valley of Mendocino, this Riesling defies all preconceived notions. Since Michael is dedicated to natural yeast fermentation, he left this Riesling to ferment naturally at room temperature – a process that took 3 months! Mineral-driven and bright, flavors of grapefruit and spice and tons of texture, it’s the perfect companion for fish or fowl or for an afternoon picnic!

2010 Dashe Florence Vineyard Zinfandel  –  $37.99
Dashe2
The young Florence Vineyard in the North of Dry Creek Valley has really come into its own. The cool 2010 vintage allowed for a concentration of fruit, but balanced by brightness that keeps the wine alive on the palate. It’s bolstered by a small percentage of one-year old oak barrels that offer the wine a bit of heft. Try with grilled sausages and mushrooms!

2012 Dashe ‘Les Enfants Terribles’ Grenache  –  $24.99
Dashe3Not content simply to make wines of complexity and nuance in Dry Creek, the Dashes wanted to experiment with natural winemaking techniques: thus the Enfants Terribles project was born. This Grenache is organically farmed. It’s luscious and velvety with flavors of strawberry and raspberry and a hint of spice.

 

 

Upcoming Tastings at Bi-Rite Market Divisadero:

Tasting with Mike Dashe of Dashe CellarsFriday, July 12, 6:30-9pm. Limited capacity. RSVP required in advance. Reserve your spot here.

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.
On Thursday, July 11, we will be joined by Michael Dashe of Dashe Cellars!

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New California – Tuesday, July 23, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New France – Tuesday, July 30, 7-9PM, Ticketed

 


Matt R.

Elian da Ros: Reinventing the Marmande

Marmande1The Côtes du Marmandais is one of those little known regions in France that rarely makes a splash in the world of wine. In fact, until recently, Marmande was more famous for tomatoes than its typically mediocre wines. But thanks to vigneron Elian da Ros, the reputation of this corner of Southwest France is turning around!

In 1998, Elian da Ros returned to his hometown to takeover his father’s vineyards and start producing wine under his own label. Since the Côtes du Marmandais is just east of Bordeaux, he grows many similar varietals to this neighboring region like Cabernet Franc and Merlot, alongside varietals native to Marmande like Abouriou. Elian is still relatively new to the wine scene, but is already making himself known for extremely well-crafted natural wines.

His focus is on producing wines that are, “twice as good at half the price,” compared to the wines coming out of neighboring Bordeaux – quite a bold mission! We think it’s safe to say he’s accomplished his goal. His dedication to biodynamic farming, independent vinification of all his parcels, and refusal to manipulate the fermentation in any way have produced wines of character that truly express the unique terroir of this corner of France.

2010 Elian da Ros Coucou Blanc  –  $31.99
Marmande2
Elian first started his training in winemaking by leaving his hometown of Marmande and working for Domaine Zind Humbrecht in the Alsace. It’s easy to see Elian’s Alsatian training and inspiration in this white wine. It’s a blend of mostly Sauvignon Blanc with some Semillon and Sauvignon Gris, the last a grape rarely seen outside of Bordeaux. The wine has bright floral aromas of apricot, lemon zest, and white flowers. The texture is extremely elegant and mouth-coatingly delicious with flavors of Asian pear, stone fruit, tart acidity, and a long minerally finish. It’s great with anything from seared prawns to saffron risotto!

2011 Elian da Ros ‘Ce vin est une fête’  –  $16.99
Marmande3
Elian’s motto is that in Marmande, “Le Vin est une fête!” (Wine is a party!”). So it’s no surprise that he’s called this wine “Ce vin est une fête!” (“This wine is a party!”) It’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Abouriou that is fermented in concrete and aged in neutral oak for 12 months. As the name suggests, it’s light, fresh, fruity and bright; full of tart red fruit flavors as well as a solid backbone of herbal minerality and tannins. This red is tasty and versatile with a variety of dishes, even some summer grilling.

2011 Elian da Ros Abouriou  –  $19.99
Marmande4
Abouriou is a grape native to the Marmande and this is the first bottling we’ve seen where it’s the star grape. It’s generally used in blends and gives wines a bit a of a spicy and herbal grip. Blended with just 10% Merlot, this Abouriou is fermented with semi-carbonic-maceration – a technique that brings out more of the bright fruit qualities of the grapes while preserving the unique characteristics of the terroir and soils. The resulting wine is both bright with tart blackberry aromas, and full of herbal flavors. If you like Cahors Malbec or a dark earthy Cab Franc this wine will be right up your alley!

 

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In

Sour Beer Class with Master Cicerone Rich Higgins – Tuesday, June 25th, 7-9PM, Ticketed


Matt R.

Celebrating and Saving the Savoie: Domaine Belluard et Fils

MontBlanc1
Imagine if 16 square blocks in San Francisco (roughly 5% of Golden Gate Park) were planted with wine grapes! Now imagine that those 16 blocks were planted with the last remaining vines in the whole world of a particular varietal. Although not located in SF, that’s the case with Gringet, an extremely rare varietal that is only grown in a corner of the Savoie, France.

 

We’re not shy about having a soft spot for the Savoie here at Bi-Rite. This small region of Eastern France tucked into the Alps has a long history and a great food and wine tradition. In particular, the village of Ayse has faced major challenges: The once thriving wine industry in the region was nearly wiped out by a combination of disease and two World Wars. 375 hectares planted in Ayse in the 1760s were reduced to just 19 remaining hectares in 1962.

The Belluard family began farming in Ayse in 1947 with small vineyards of Gringet and some fruit orchards. Today, 5th generation winemakers Dominique and Patrick Belluard run this biodynamically farmed vineyard and own 12 of the last 22 remaining hectares of Gringet planted in the world. They’ve set out to preserve this nearly extinct grape, and now produce stunning wines that truly express the terroir of Savoie and the unique qualities of Gringet. They ferment and age their wines in concrete eggs and clay amphorae and age their sparkling wines themselves in house. (A rarity, as many sparkling wine producers outsource the ‘aging’ process to contracted cellars.) We’re so excited to welcome three of the Belluards’ wines to our shelves this week. As you can imagine, they’re all extremely limited so taste them while you can!
 
Ayse1
NV Belluard Ayse Brut  –  $24.99
Gringet’s history is also remarkable: It is believed to predate the presence of Romans in the Savoie! Once mistaken for Traminer because it looks similar, Gringet has since been determined to be its own varietal and has a distinct flavor and texture. This sparkling is made in the Champagne method and aged on the lees for 2 years. Again, the Belluards insist in doing this themselves rather than outsourcing – a considerable investment in time and storage space. The wine has a stunning golden hue with aromas of apples, quince, and almonds. It has a light, nutty quality, chalky minerality, lush texture, and a dry finish; it’s very elegant and sophisticated!
 
BrutZero12009 Belluard Mont Blanc Zero  –  $34.99
Named for the iconic highest elevation in the Alps, Mont Blanc, this bottling is from a single low-yielding vineyard parcel. It’s a vintage bottling, unlike the Ayse, and is aged for 4 years on the lees before being disgorged. The term ‘Brut Zero’ refers to the fact that this sparkling receives no dosage (the mix of extra wine after disgorgement that is sometimes used to add some sugar back into the wine). The result is an absolutely bone-dry bubbly with fascinating balance of lush yellow plum, ginger, and tropical flavors alongside austere minerality and a crisp finish.
Only 3 cases available (at 18th location).

LeFeu12011 Belluard Le Feu  –  $44.99
This is the newest vintage of the Belluard’s bottling, Le Feu. The name translates to ‘The Fire’ and refers to the iron rich clay soils of this vineyard which dye the earth a fiery red color. This vineyard is also the Belluard’s best site with a steep south-facing slope and their oldest vines. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged in concrete eggs. The nose has aromas of singed herbs, lemon, white flowers, and almonds. The texture is mouth-coating with layered flavors of white peach, dried herb, and a lingering stone-like minerality.
 
Upcoming Tastings and Events at 18 Reasons: