LA VRILLE + LE PAPILLON LA TRIBU GRENACHE 2019
CHERRY SPICE CASSIS
CLASSIC / ORGANIC / 750ML
Grenache fermented for 6 days on skins. Aged on Lees in inert vessels before being sent to bottle without Sulphur. Fruit forward with bright cherries, cassis and henna. Unfiltered, unfined - raw.
From the Distributor: The region of Ardeche lies on the cusp between Northern and Southern Rhone. On the western bank of the river, up in the hills, is an affordable and dynamic wine area where an increasing number of young wine growers work with the same varieties as its well known neighbour. La Vrille et le Papillon (the tendril and the butterfly) is located in Valvigneres, the epi-centre of the Ardèche natural wine scene.
Meryl Croizier’s connection to vines and agriculture in Ardeche runs deep, his grandparents were vignerons and farmers. At the age of 18 Meryl spent vintage working with Gerald and Jocelyne Oustric at Domaine du Mazel, ecological producers for over 20 years, also located in Valvigneres. These brothers have been instrumental in the growth and nurturing of new winemakers in the area, renting vines to Sylvain Bock and Andrea Calek at the beginning of their wine paths. Meryl subsequently completed formal studies of Agriculture in Dijon and Oneology in Montpellier.
In 2012 Meryl and Geraldine, with three young children in tow, returned to the family vineyards to commence their own project. It was time to settle having spent many years travelling with Meryl working from the Macon through to the Madiran in the south west.
They have 5 hectares of vines comprised of Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and Ugni Blanc, planted on clay limestone soils with lots of pebbley rocks. They converted the handful of small plots that were not already farmed as such to organics, eschewing herbicides and pesticides. Since 2014 they have introduced tisanes and biodynamic practices also.
For their first two harvests, 2012 and 2013, Meryl and Geraldine made their wine in cellars belonging to friends. By 2014 their own cellar was complete and Le Vrille et la Papillon’s home was established. Vinification is done with wild yeasts only, the wines do not go through fining or filtration.
These wines have purity, vibrancy and freshness along with structure and acidity. They offer exceptional value as well as drinking pleasure.
SAINT DAMIEN COTES DU RHONE GRENACHE MOUVEDRE 2019
RHONE VALLEY, FRANCE
EARTH BOLD PLUM
CLASSIC / ORGANIC / 750ML
The wine is predominately made up of powerful fruit from Gigondas, Southern Rhone Valley. The wine has weight, but also maintains a degree of elegance. It is fermented in concrete and aged in both large oak vessels and concrete. Ruby fruits, a hint of olive tapenade and filling-fine tannins.
From the Producer: Domaine Saint-Damien is run by Joel and Amie Saurel and their son Romain who has now taken charge of the winemaking. The Saurel family had been tending vineyards for four generations, dating back to 1821, and until recently had been selling all of the grapes to negociants. In 1996 Joel resumed producing wine at the estate and in 1998 they brought on consulting winemaker Philippe Cambie. Vinification is classic with wines being fermented in large old cement tanks and aged in either cement tanks or large old foudres for the Gigondas.
Today the estate is comprised of 17 hectares of vineyards of which 12 are in Gigondas. All their vineyards are certified organic since 2012. The vines are an average age of 50 years and are very low yielding. The wines of Gigondas are bottled according to individual terroir (particularly soil type) known as the Saint Damien Trilogy.
MINIM SHAYS FLAT GRENACHE 2020
LAYERED FORWARD BERRY
EDGY CLASSIC / ORGANIC / 750ML
The Shay's flat is a surging fruit-forward Grenache. The wine deserves a good splash to soften it up and showcase the breadth of what is under the bonnet. Restrained oak has allowed tart berries and an array of other red-fruited classics to shine through.
From the Producer: From the Certified Organic Shay’s Flat vineyard farmed by M.Chapoutier in the Pyrenees, I’m deliriously happy to be working with Grenache again and to wrap my head around a new region! Old, deep Cambrian-Ordovician sandstones and shales through the valley, long weathered and friable with rolling steep hills surrounding the valley. It's a great spot and has a long history with grape farming. Picked for balance, the fruit came in with big ripe red fruit flavours and plenty of natural acids. Often to get that depth of flavour with Grenache it comes with a sacrifice of acid, but here the fruit is farmed well and in the right spot. We handpicked deep into March and esteemed all but 25% of the fruit, fermenting both bunch and berry in one big pot which was wrapped and gassed early to encourage carbonic maceration. Cracking the pot open after 3 days we worked the fruit a little with occasional pump-overs to pull some colour and tannin, with the ferment pressed after 3 weeks total maceration. Moved to seasoned puncheons and barriques for a 10-month rest then bottled in late January of 2021 with a small sulphur addition.
ENVINATE ALBAHRA GRENACHE 2019
SAVOURY SEA CRUNCH
CLASSIC / 750ML
Pretty unadulterated Grenache from the mainland. Aged in old oak and concrete, Envinate has pursued pure fruit rather than making wine in the cellar. The wine has a crunchy edge with bright rhubarb and saltbush.
From the Distributor: Envinate's Albahra comes from a remote and unique place and from rare varietals, with this 2019, the latest release the best yet. Made in the Almansa region close to the town of Albacete near Castilla-La Mancha, influenced by the near by Mediterranean Sea
Envinate, which literally translates as “wine yourself,” is the project of four passionate young winemakers: Roberto Santana, Jose Martinez, Laura Ramos and Alfonso Torrente. The four met while studying oenology in Alicante in 2005 and formed a collective based on a shared philosophy of wine and a desire to explore the ancient, Atlantic influenced terroirs of western Spain.
In 2008, the group bought their first vineyard in Ribera Sacra, then took control of vineyards on the north of Tenerife and then ba single patch of Tinta Amarela in Extremadura. Finally, in 2012, they began working a site in Almansa, planted with Garnacha Tintorera. In each place, the team care for old abandoned vineyards and move frequently around the country.
The Envinate group pride themselves on their work in the vines: a collective of viticulturalists, rather than travelling winemakers. The core of Envinate is a shared philosophy around four critical aspects of their wine:
1. The personality of the site
2. The character of the vintage
3. The soul of the people who work among the vines
4. Not fucking around in the winery because that’s how you make coke.
In the winery, concrete or old oak barrels are used for fermentation and ageing. Sulphur is used only at bottling in minuscule proportions. The labels all acknowledge the vineyards owners, the village and often the soil type.
It’s easy to focus on the passionate and diligent people behind Envinate, but that would be to miss the point of what they do: more than anything else, Envinate is an attempt to express a place and a time through wine.
For more info check out this article: https://www.spanishwinelover.com/160-winerie-envinate
CLOS CIBONNE TENTATIONS ROSE 2019
SUMMER SAVOURY CLEAN
CLASSIC / 750ML
A refreshing layered Provence rose. Extremely pale in colour due to the gentle handling during the picking and processing of the fruit. The wine is textured and fresh, a surprisingly savoury rose that is sleek rather than flamboyant.
From the Distributor: Cuvée Tentations Rosé is Made from 50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, and 15% Tibouren. Bright red fruits lift from the glass, but, as with all these wines, there are wonderful layers of spice and non-fruit complexity beneath. The palate has a wonderful texture that sets it apart from other wines in the region. Huge drinkability too. Bring on summer!
Clos Cibonne is one of 18 Cru Classé growers in the Côtes de Provence AOP, and is in fact the most southerly. The estate’s 15 hectares of vineyards are located a mere 800 metres from the coast and are surrounded by hillsides at the base of a bowl that faces the sea. This topography creates air circulation that extends the growing period whilst cooling the vines. The soil is a mixture of schist & clay. After harvest, the wines are fermented in stainless steel & some are then aged under Fleurette (a thin veil of yeast) in 100-year-old, 500L foudres.
The estate is managed organically, although is not certified. Grapes are all harvested by hand and the resultant wines are some of the most transparent in Southern France - the spices, herbs and salt that you can literally taste on the breeze, fill these wines.
Whilst as with most estates in Provence, rosé is the focus, we are thrilled to also import one of Clos Cibonne's red wines, made exclusively from a local grape Tibouren. Lighter framed than many other Provence reds, this is fresh and vibrant, with a distinctly Mediterranean twang.
LES FOUQUES CUVEE TRADITION PROVENCE ROSE 2020
CLEAN SAVOURY REFINED
CLASSIC / BIODYNAMIC / 750ML
Savoury dry rose made in a true Provence style. Organically farmed Grenache and Cinsault offer textural notes of melon, peach and persimmon.
From the Distributor: This rosé displays a wonderfully full fruited and fleshy appeal, showing more density and textural layering than many other Provence counterparts. The low intervention winemaking throws elements of funk and texture, adding to the profile of peach, melon and wild strawberries.
Our 22 hectares of vines situated in the Vallée des Borrels are influenced by the sea due to their proximity to the Mediterranean. Our vines in terrace farming get all their resources in ancient lands from primitive era offering an acidic and ARGILOSCHISTEUX soil. All our vines have the appellation Côte de Provence and Côte de Provence La Londe. It allows us to elaborate wines with all the specificity of the local Provence. Moreover, biodynamic Agriculture implanted since the beginning allows the vines to reveal all the potential. In this place where biodiversity is preserved and protected, we are satisfied to make you discover the fruit of our labour, our passion.
The entire vineyard, aged from 10 years for the youngest, to 60 years for the oldest, is cultivated half in gobelet pruning, and half in tying wires.
SARA I RENE DIDO GARNATXA 2019
BRIAR HERB SPICE
CLASSIC / ORGANIC PRACTICES / 750ML
An earthy red with soft tannins and plush fruit. The fruit is grown in the rugged Montsant region that surrounds Priorat. The soils composition and undulating terrain produce a broad spectrum of unique growing climes. Both Sara (Mas Martinet) and Rene's (Clos Mogador) winemaking styles can be felt in this unique and authentic Garnatxa.
From the Distributor: Bright and fresh red cherry fruit marked by mint and other local herbs, the wine shows the clear crunch of granite soil. Juicy and direct with macerated herbs, licorice and briar in lovely pastille fruit. Good concentration, rich-but-not-sweet country wine, it's all briar-herb-cane-brambly, with a nice little nudge of spice, allspice husk and leather in the soft savoury juice and a touch of chocolate in the soft leathery tannin. Clear and direct, with absolutely no wine-making clutter, it is delicately structured and savoury. A smasher!
MAS AMIEL 10 ANS D'AGE FORTIFIED GRENACHE 750ML
MAS AMIEL FORTIFIED GRENACHE 2016 375ML
AXEL PRUFER LES TEMPS DES CERISES LES LENDEMAINS QUI CHANTENT GRENACHE 2017
HERBAL ELEGANT RAW
LEFT OF CENTRE / PRACTICE ORGANIC / 750ML
Forest wine, an isolated vineyard surrounded by rugged forest. Axel Prufer encourages biodiversity as a way of working with nature to produce the most delicious grapes. His wines are raw and incredibly expressive. 100% Grenache, soft tannins surrounded by mountain herbs and red berries.
From the Producer: Les Lendemains qui Chantent is a beautiful and quite restrained wine (in the sense that it is elegant rather than exuberant) made from 100% Grenache from vines that are at least 35 years old. The vineyard itself is situated at 450 metres above sea level in the forests of the rugged Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Languedoc which lies inland from the city of Beziers.
It exhibits very soft tannins and lovely herbal and flower aromas. There is a distinct minerality associated with this wine derived from the decaying granite and quartz soils.
It is Axel’s leading cuvée, but he only releases it in years where the crop is exceptional! And this year it is certainly exceptional. This is a stunning wine of great elegance and charm which may benefit by being poured into a carafe just before drinking.
Axel Prüfer was born and raised in East Germany but moved to France as a young man to take up a career in wine making. He produces delicious wines naturally with as little intervention as possible – many of his wines have no added sulphur.
In fact, on a visit to his winery we tried one of his cuvees which had been bottled without sulphur and one that had been bottled with minimal amounts of sulphur and the result was simply amazing. The one without sulphur stood head and shoulders above the other for freshness, vitality and flavour.
He has been described as a ‘darling of the natural wine bar movement’. He is a quiet, thoughtful and engaging young winemaker who is totally committed to producing non-interventionist wines.
We visited him in the mountains behind Beziers and were fascinated by the lengths he goes to in ensuring that his grapes are healthy and his wines are pure. Every sentence he utters is the result of deep thought.
We discussed the problems of grapes grown in monocultures such as in Chablis and Champagne and then crammed into his small truck to bump our way up hillsides through thick forest and then for the final part of the way by foot until we reached his remote vineyard surrounded by forest. There is absolutely no chance of spray-drift here!
Because the forests are the natural habitat of wild boars, Axel collects human hair from the hairdressers in the local village and spreads it around the boundary of his vineyard. He says that the boar pick up the human scent from the hair and avoid the vineyard. The vineyard is a picture of health with spiderwebs everywhere and an amazing biodiversity on display.
All this is for nothing of course if the wine doesn’t taste delicious. Axel only uses natural yeast to ferment his wines and he adds no sulphur at all (we put a ‘Contains Sulphites’ warning on the label because some sulphites can be naturally produced during the wine making process). This gives them a liveliness that is most appealing.
He uses tanks made from stainless steel or fibreglass or large, old barrels that impart no oak flavour. The tanks have ‘floating’ lids so that no air can get at the wine if he does not have enough to fill a tank.