This time of year, the weather can be tricky business.
One day, you're enjoying a walk on the bike trails,
wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.
The next, you're in full ski gear shoveling snow.
Social demands are also completely up in the air.
Some nights, all you can handle is a warm bowl of chili
before binging Netflix at home alone.
Others scream for an outdoor barbecue with friends.
This time of year is beautiful in its inconsistencies;
however, it can be hard to navigate in terms of wine selections.
We are bored with our big juicy reds of winter,
but not quite ready for the crispness of summer whites.
What is a wino to do?
Enjoy transitional wines.
BUBBLES...but not Champagne!
First up, a new Pet-Nat from Italy.
Ercole has bridged the gap in not only weather conditions,
but also the trend in natural wines.
Not surprisingly, natural wines are a great transitional choice
due to their freshness and attention to minimal intervention.
Ercole's mission is as old as its translation in English- Hercules.
Continuing the cooperative tradition in Piedmont, Italy,
Ercole strives to refocus buyers on the more natural,
or "typica" styles in Monferrato,
the birthplace of the Barbera grape.
Growers farm 30-50 year old vines,
using no pesticides or herbicides, and are certified organic and vegan.
Their attention to detail continues in wine production with little or no sulfur added,
and respect for old world techniques, such as the Pet-Nat.
Fermentation continues after bottling, which allows this 100% Barbera sparkling to really shine.
Notes of fresh strawberry and hibiscus tickle the tongue with the bright acidity of Spring.
Don't miss this! Only one case purchased.
Next up on our list...
FRENCH AND FOCUSED
I absolutely love the following two wines from France.
The first, is a yummy classic GSM from the Vinsobres region of the Rhone Valley.
Anai Vallot's flagship wine is farmed biodynamically and at higher altitudes.
She prefers to vinify wines underground in cement vats to control temperatures,
allowing a slower process, and in her opinion better attention to taste profiles.
This also requires almost no electricity, leaving a smaller footprint for future generations.
She adds no sulfer at bottling, and uses only native yeasts in fermentation.
The finishing product- FRESH, lively, high acidity bouncing between
dark red fruits and black earth tones.
Delicious for $29.99/ bottle
Our second French selection is a gulpy Gamay from Chateau Thivin.
Built in the fifteenth century on an ancient volcano,
Chateau Thivin is the oldest estate on Mont Brouilly,
and remarkably still farms Gamay in bush formation,
which protects it from harsh climate changes,
and its steep slope with a grade of 48%
This time of year begs for Gamay in the same way
we crave it in November during Thanksgiving.
Its easy pleasy with tart red fruits of cranberry, raspberry, and just enough
terroir to remind us we are enjoying Burgundian wine.
The still crispness in the air, similar to Fall, provides ample opportunity to enjoy
soups, heartier vegetables and white meat perfect to pair with this Beaujolais.
An excellent cool customer at
HOT AND BOTHERED
The next two natural selections could be a hot mess.
Both Rioja and Mendoza reach temperatures
high into the 90'sduring the summer months.
Thankfully, the crazy high altitudes at which theses wineries thrive
allow for a wonderful temperature change from day to night, called diurnal shift.
Temperatures can swing up to a 40-degree difference in a matter of hours.
Drastic to us, but heavenly to grapevines.
This blanket of cool overnight allows the grapes to sleep at night,
stopping sugar production from reaching overwhelming numbers.
There is a reason we wine geeks call a high alcohol content wine "hot."
Too much warm sun equals higher sugar content in grapes.
To ferment the wine "dry" the alcohol content would keep rising well beyond customary percentages and burn your palate with a boozy, or hot taste.
See we are learning something new every day.
The Santa Julia "Natural" Malbec is downright glug glug.
It's juicy, fruity forward grabs you immediately, and says you want another drink.
You can feel good about indulging in this wine-
The winery is farmed organically, with minimal manipulation,
and adding little or no sulfur at bottling.
I have been enjoying Remelluri wines for close to two decades.
This is barely a dent in the history of winemaking on this land,
dating back to the fourteenth century.
Contemporary trailblazers Jaime Rodriguez Salis and Telmo Rodriguez
have spent the better part of the last 50 years restoring Remelluri to its original glory.
The vineyards, planted to native varietals such as
Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Graciano,
have always been farmed organically and
sit South-facing at the highest altitudes in Rioja.
The vines enjoy Atlantic influences of rain and cooler temperatures,
allowing this magical micro-climate to set Remelluri apart from its neighbors.
Textures of clay and stone mix with bright red fruit,
dried flowers, and fresh tobacco leaf.
It is an outstanding representation of what Rioja can produce in the right hands.
Day drink or pair with dinner for
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