Club Wines: March 2017

by jill on March 16, 2017

NATURALIST: Pink Bubbles

2016 Lo-Fi Pet’Nat of Mourvedre & NV Pinon Touraine Brut Rosé

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I decided to go pink for both wine clubs this month, and for the Naturalist, I’m featuring two very different (but very delicious) bottles of bubbles. One is a more experimental petillant, and the other a traditional method sparkler. While totally different in mode of production, they’re of course both organically farmed (in the case of Lo-Fi, it’s non-certified), with no futzing around in the cellar, no additions, and zero to minimal SO2 (zero for Lo-Fi, minimal at bottling for the Pinon).

First up is a Pet’Nat of Mourvedre from Mike Roth’s Lo-Fi Wines. This Pet’Nat is the wine equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink, guaranteed to make you happy and raise your spirits. Just 50 cases of this were produced, in a truly handmade fashion: hand-harvested grapes, fermentation that starts in tank and finishes in bottle, then hand-disgorged and recapped. There are some savory notes to this nearly dry wine.

Then we have Francois Pinon’s Brut Rosé. It’s a blend of Cot (Malbec) and Grolleau from the Loire Valley, hand-harvested and vinified via secondary fermentation in bottle. It spends 18 to 24 months on the lees prior to disgorgement, and is based fully on the 2014 vintage. This is huge-scale production compared to the Lo-Fi, clocking in at about 240 cases produced. It’s slightly drier than the Lo-Fi, and perhaps slightly more serious.

GASTRONOMIST: Pink Still Wines

2016 Arnot Roberts Rosé & 2016 Matthiasson Rosé

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Usually I wait until later in the spring or early summer to select still rosés for the wine club. But this year, after a rainy winter, I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome the sunny days of spring than with two of the best rosés that California has to offer. In fact, these wineries are more and more popular, and with the early release of their rosés, they’d be unavailable if I waited even a few more weeks to order them.

Really, given the scarcity of these wines, it doesn’t fully make sense for me to allot them to the wine club. I get maybe 10 cases of each, if I’m lucky, and I won’t have too much left for the shelves. But it also doesn’t make sense to me to send the wine club anything but my favorites. So there you go.

From Arnot Roberts, we have a bottle that until recently was a single variety wine, but in this vintage is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo and Grenache. Each variety was fermented separately, and eventually blended. While the wine is pale, it does see about 24 hours of skin contact before being basket-pressed into stainless steel tanks. The grapes are farmed organically, the yeasts are all native, and malolactic fermenation is inhibited.

Beyond all this technical jargon, you should know that this is not at all a challenging bottle, but still a complex one. There’s some heft and body to the wine, and some subtle savory character at the same time as it seems effortless and fresh. This has some stone fruit notes, and I think it would be great with a simple tomato salad (or try some tomatoes with peaches, burrata and basil). I suppose you might have to wait another few weeks for tomatoes to be in season?

The Matthiasson Rosé is modeled on the traditional southern French renditions, and is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise. Oh, and there’s a tiny bit of Sauvignon Blanc in there too. In true California fashion, the grapes come from vineyards spanning several counties (Yolo, Napa, Mendocino). Vinification is quite similar to the Arnot Roberts, with malolactic inhibited to preserve the acidity of the wine.

Perhaps because of the Sauvignon Blanc, which comprises 7% of the blend, the wine has some citrusy notes. The Matthiassons themselves are very food-oriented, and suggest that this bottle goes best with “the wonderful spring foods that show up on the table as the weather thaws (salads, rabbit, frittatas, peas, favas, green garlic…).” So don’t wait to crack this one open.

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