February 2021 Wine Club
This month's club selections take us on a world tour from Southern Burgundy to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, down to Southeastern Australia and then back home to Walla Walla. Yes, there is natural wine being made here in Washington (a tiny amount, but it's a start).
For our Good & Gorgeous Members
Nicolas Maillet Bourgogne Aligoté 2018
Aligoté, the "other" white grape of Burgundy has generally been looked over or even bad-mouthed by much of the wine community for decades. This is primarily due to the majority of it being produced from clones of Aligoté Vert from the '70's, which produce huge yields of quite simple and uninspiring juice. Wines produced from old clones of Aligoté Doré, however, can achieve levels of complexity and terroir transparency that are on par with Chardonnay. The preservation and propagation of these old clones is carried out by a practice called "selection massale" whereby you take cuttings from a vineyard's oldest and best vines to plant or graft elsewhere.
Cantine Matrone 'Spasso' NV
The Matrone family has been tending vines on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius since the 1700's, and with Andrea Matrone at the helm, the wines have a foot in both the ancient and contemporary realms. He farms native and nearly extinct varieties such as Cancello, Cascaveglia, Aglianicone, and Fosso, and aims to make wines that exude the volcanic energy of the land. With just four days on the skins, this field-blend is all about freshness and aromatics. It probably doesn't need mentioning, but you can be damn sure this wine is a happy partner to pizza (spicy pep, ideally).
For our Great & Gorgeous Members
Travis Tausend 'Sea Bass' 2017
Here is Travis on his winemaking style: "I see winemaking as an art. The wines that I make have emotion, intuition and energy that has flowed through me at the time of making them. For this reason, the wines will always be different, not only due to vintage variations from year to year, but also the changes and growth within me as a winemaker and person. I hope you find as much pleasure in drinking them as I do in the making." This is Sauvignon Blanc harvested over 4 passes and includes about 15% botrytised grapes. It has a deep sea umami and mineral core with notes of apple & grapefruit. Utterly refreshing and begging for seafood.
Devium 'French Creek Vineyard Mourvèdre' 2019
NATURAL WINE FROM WASHINGTON. We've always known there is potential for it; it just took time for someone to wise up. Keith Johnson began this project in 2015 and has been in pursuit of a sustainable winemaking venture with as little intervention as possible. This is 100% Mourvèdre from Walla Walla with no SO2 added at any point. Keith is harvesting his fruit weeks before his "conventional" peers and doing whole-cluster macerations; ensuring lower alcohol wines with plenty of acid, energy, and aromatic depth. Lots of other WA winemakers roll their eyes at Keith's practices, but I bet that they'll be asking him for advice re: natural winemaking in the near future.