November 2022: An exploration of the diversity of Catalonian wines and nuances of American Pinot
- Posted on
- By Kevin Nguyen
- Posted in Wine Share
For the month of November, we featured the diversity of Catalonian wine for our standard wine share and the explored the nuances of American Pinot for our deluxe wine share.
The November 2022 Deluxe “Not a Stranger” Share:
For this month’s selection, we’re keeping it stateside and showcasing three domestic “Pinot” wines all from the west coast. We’ll be the first to admit that our curation to date has been a bit eurocentric, as the radical winemakers in Beaujolais and the Loire Valley were our first loves. But we’re now equally excited about the growing community of domestic producers who are taking a page from the natural wine revolution overseas and creating their own stateside rebellion against industrialized wine.
We’re going to examine this American natural wine revolution, through the lens of the Pinot grape, specifically two Pinot Noirs and one Pinot Gris. It was previously believed that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, etc were all distinct grape varieties within the “Pinot Family.” But modern DNA profiling has shown them to share the same genetic fingerprint and thus they should be considered as mutations of a common variety. Without getting too nerdy, here is your November 2022 Deluxe “Not A Stranger” Share:
2021 Bellande Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
Bellande is the newest wine label from Brianne Day of Day Wines. In 2006, Brianne did what we have all dreamt of doing - she sold everything she owned and began traveling through wine regions all over the world. In 2013, she returned home to create the low-intervention wines in the Eola Amity Hills.
This bottling is 100% Pinot Gris from two organically farmed vineyards within the Willamette Valley. The fruit is hand-harvested, fermented with native yeasts, and aged in neutral French oak. Closer to an Alsatian Pinot Gris than an Italian Pinot Grigio, this domestic white wine has notes of soft white flowers, lemon rinds, and oyster water that has us wishing we had a plate of oysters in front of us right now.
2021 Hiyu “Tzum Oak Ridge Spring Ephemeral” Pinot Noir
Nestled in the Hood River Valley of North Oregon is the bucolic agricultural pasture that is Hiyu Wine Farms. Founded by Nate Ready, a former sommelier for high-end restaurants like The French Laundry, and China Tresemer, a former culinary tours manager, Hiyu is a mixed-use farm that allows pigs, cows, chickens, and ducks to roam among the vines to help control the vegetation. The name “Hiyu” comes from Chinook Jargon meaning “abundance”, “plenty” or “big party.”
The “Spring Ephemeral” Pinot Noir is sourced from Oak Ridge, the Northernmost vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Nate describes Hiyu as being on the “wild side of permaculture” and this wine is the perfect expression of that philosophy. This wine drinks like an alpine red with notes of wild bramble berries and foraged herbs. It’s juicy yet evokes an electric savagery that has us wanting this with grilled wild boar or venison.
2020 Madson "Legan Vineyard, Santa Cruz” Pinot Noir
Cole Thomas of Madson may be our favorite domestic producer bar none. There is a no-frills quality to Madson’s wines that might come from Cole’s background as an organic seed saver or his relaxed Californian personality. Cole earned his stripes hemisphere hopping - bouncing between California, Australia, and New Zealand - before settling in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
This cuvee is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from Legan Vineyards, a high-elevation plot with old vines. When we say this is one of the best bottles we’ve had all year, we’re not being hyperbolic. This wine exists somewhere between old school Napa and 1er Cru Burgundy. Plush red fruit with soft spices that coat your mouth like fine silk. Drink with someone you love.
The November 2022 Standard “Stranger” Share:
This month, we’re spotlighting the dynamic wine region of Catalonia! Perhaps Spain’s most notable wine region behind Rioja, Catalonia’s (or Catalunya in the Catan language) wine culture is defined by its wide array of grape varieties and wine styles. Located in north-eastern Spain along the Mediterranean coast, Catalonia produces globally famous sparkling wines and still wines, produced in the well-known regions of Cava and Priorat respectively. But what we find most captivating about this historic wine region is that it has become home to some of the world’s most progressive and promising low-intervention winemakers!
Catalonia is blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate that keeps disease pressure low, making organic and low-intervention farming much easier. On top of that, Catalonia has an intensely varied geographical landscape, which in return has created a diverse wine culture with many indigenous grape varieties and unique wine production methods. These factors, along with the abundance of natural wine aficionados stationed in Barcelona, have helped cultivate Catalonia to become the epicenter of the Spanish natural wine scene. So with that, here is your November 2022 Standard “Stranger” Share:
2021 Bodega Clandestina “Sense Papers”
No one represents the new energy of Catalonia better than Ferran Lacruz Bosch. Ferran grew up in the heart of Penedes and has always been enamored with the beautiful and bountiful landscapes of his home region. With only a few vintages under his belt - his first vintage was in 2018 - he is already making a name for himself, producing intriguing wines of superb quality. He organically farms 8 hectares around the small village of Sant Martí Sarroca in the Penedès wine region, working exclusively with Xarel·lo, Carignan Blanc and Malvasia.
The “Sense Papers” is one of our favorite varietal bottlings of Xarel·lo. Ferran goes into the vineyards over 3 separate occasions, to pick grapes at different maturity levels. He then vinifies them separately, experimenting with various lengths of skin-contact maceration, to achieve different components of freshness and maturity. This wine reminds us of Mediterranean sunsets, lightly golden in hue with notes of ripe orchard and citrus fruits. Pair this with melon wrapped with Iberico jamon.
2020 Ramon Jane “Cabories”
You can’t talk about the Catalonian natural wine scene without mentioning Ramon Jane. Also a Catalonian native, Ramon was born to a long lineage of winemakers and studied winemaking in college. In 2006, Ramon, his wife Mercè, and his college friend Toni started the revolutionary Celler Mas Candi project. In 2013, he started his eponymous estate to double down on his commitment to organic agriculture and strict policy on no chemicals in the vineyard or cellar.
The “Cabories” is arguably one of our favorite Spanish red wines. A blend of Mando, Summol, and Xarel·lo, this wine perfectly exhibits the innovative winemaking coming out of Catalonia. The Mando and Xarel·lo are macerated for 17 days while the Sumoll is pressed directly. Wild right? This confounding co-ferment has notes of bramble berries, dark red violets, and white pepper. Drink this with squid-ink paella or with someone you’re trying to impress.
We hope you enjoy. Don’t be a Stranger and join our wine share here!