September 2022: Understanding blends, oxidation, and reduction!
- Posted on
- By Kevin Nguyen
- Posted in Wine Share
For the month of September, we break down the terms "blends", "oxidation", and "reduction." We went a little nerdy this time around but we swear the wines were worth it.
The September 2022 Standard “Stranger” Share:
As you’ve probably already noticed, this month we’re spotlighting three bottles instead of two! As the temperature falls, we are finding ourselves spending more time indoors with friends depleting our precious wine reserves. These bottles are delicious daily delights that all happen to be blends of three grapes or more. Blends often get a bad rap as they are seen as the “kitchen sink” bottles of the winery. But these producers are creating blends from varieties with intention and result in something that is more than the sum of its parts.
2020 Michael Gindl “Flora”
Michael Gindl grew up in a farming family in the Weinviertel region of Austria, right at the border of Slovakia. Michael knew from a young age that he wanted to take over the family’s farm that has been practicing mixed-agriculture, with crops, livestock, forestry, and wine, since the early 1800s. The “Flora” is a blend of Riesling, Gelber Muskateller, and Sämling 88 aka Scheurebe. The Muskateller and Sämling see 3 hours of maceration while the Riesling sees 18 hours of maceration yet he doesn’t classify this wine as a “skin-contact” wine. He believes that these grapes just need a little time to soak in order to fully express themselves. Expect notes of wild flowers, plush peaches, and grapefruit rinds. Drink during harvest or with a family-style picnic outside.
2021 Fabien Jouves “A Table!!!” Rose
Similar to Michael, Fabien Jouves comes from a lineage of farmers in the Cahors region of Southwest France. He too is a disciple of biodynamic farming and converted his family farms in an effort to convey terroir as he defines it - “life, plant, man, and the environment” - in his bottles. The “A Table!!!” Rose is a blend of Côt, Tannat, and Merlot. A darker hued rose that is the prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Although richer in color, the body is quite light and refreshing. Notes of muddled raspberries with citrus rinds. Pair with roasted sweet potato side dishes!
2020 La Kiuva “Rouge de Vallée"
La Kiuva is a small co-op in the Valle d’Aoste region of Italy that has been making incredibly fresh yet complex wines since the 70s. With some of the highest-lying vineyards in the world, the cohort of 60 organic farmers work together to spotlight local varieties like Picotendro (local Nebbiolo clone), Gros Vien, and Fumin to name a few. All of the growers work by hand, not by choice, as the slopes of the vineyards are too steep for any machinery to operate! The “Rouge de Vallée” is a field blend of Picotendro, Gros Vien, Neyret, Cornalin and Fumin and embodies the mountain freshness of alpine red wines. Notes of brambly cherries, strawberries, and fresh herbs that come together for the perfect fall red. Pair with mushroom risotto or bring to your first fall camping trip.
The September 2022 Deluxe “Not a Stranger” Share:
Brace yourselves, we’re getting nerdy this month as we explore oxidative and reductive styles of wine! Don’t worry, you won’t need to dig up your high school chemistry textbooks to enjoy these wines. The bottles in this month’s wine share are unified by the noticeable impact of oxygen throughout the winemaking process. Oxidative and reductive are terms used to describe two contrasting styles of vinification. Oxidative winemaking aims to deliberately increase the wine's exposure to oxygen, while reductive winemaking aims to complete fermentation with as little oxygen exposure as possible.
Now I’m sure you’re asking “Wait, isn't oxidized wine bad?” The short answer is yes, as not all oxidation is equal. According to iconic wine critic Jancis Robinson, oxidized wine is one that has been harmfully exposed to oxygen. The difference between oxidized and oxidative is intention and skill. Oxidation, common in the Jura and the south of Spain, is akin to dry-aging meats. Oxidative wines have a nutty, umami-flavor to them. Reduction on the other hand is used to preserve the raw fruit qualities of wines. In the natural wine world, reduction is sometimes less intentional and can often result in savory flavors like eggs and matchsticks. If these flavors don’t sound appetizing to you, do not sweat! To rid your wine of unintentional reduction, expose it to oxygen by decanting it or letting it sit uncorked.
2018 Microbio Old Vines Verdejo
Ismael Gozalo is based in Rueda, Spain and is known as “El Mago de las Verdejos” or “The Wizard of Verdejo.” Verdejo was historically used to make highly oxidative sherry wines but in the 1970s, winemakers began to develop fresher styles of this aromatic grape. Ismael works somewhere in between these two extreme styles. He is not afraid of oxygen but doesn’t go overboard with it. His old-vine Verdejo bottling has notes of juicy apricots, marzipan, and grapefruit. Pair with creamy macaroni and cheese.
NV, Milan Nestarec “Transcendent”
Milan Nestarec is a philosophical winemaker based in Moravia, Czech Republic. Although he never thought he was going to be a winemaker growing up, Milan has become the darling of the Czech natural wine world. The “Transcendent” is a quirky rosé as it is a blend of skin-fermented Neuburger, Riesling, and direct-press Regent (a red-skinned grape). Milan takes it a step weirder by refusing to top off his barrels, allowing the rosé to be aged under flor, a common practice in Jura whites. This electric pink wine drinks almost like a white wine doing drag as rosé. Pair with shrimp ceviche or bring to a dance party.
2019 Raphaël Monnier “Avis de Tempete - Gamay”
The final wine is a reductive-style wine and thus we do recommend decanting this wine! Raphaël Monnier is based in the famed Arbois region of the Jura. Avis de Tempete is his negociant project where he purchases grapes from friends to offset the devastating hailstorms that the Jura has seen in the past few years. This bottling is 100% Gamay and is full of bright brambly fruit and fresh alpine herbs. A wine that evolves with each glass, drink this bottle over a long dinner party or with a vibrant debate with friends.
We hope you enjoy. Don’t be a Stranger and join our wine share here!