You’ve probably heard us talking about them. You’ve probably even heard some of your wine friends talking about them too. If you follow us on Instagram, you have definitely seen the claymation videos of the Ordinary Mr Fox announcing his/her arrival back to the shop, or the reopening of the shop after our two week shelter in place break. A fox, enjoying a glass in the tall grasses of the fields, or sitting beneath a midnight moon…these are the wines of Alex Craighead under his now well-known label: Kindeli.

It is very rare that we have our wine club decisions made for us so easily but when we heard the new Kindeli vintage was arriving in April, it was a no-brainer that they’d be in the wine club — and not just for one branch, but for both. What makes these wines so unique and interesting to us is their breadth and diversity: there are wines in the range that satisfy the more traditional palate, but also those that connect with a more adventurous drinker looking for something offbeat and avant-garde.

Craighead is based in the Upper Moutere, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. He and his team currently farm 11 hectares of grapes across 4 vineyards, working with 10 different varieties. Craighead’s wines are full of nuance and intricacies that show a command of winemaking and understanding of the terroir around him. Of course, the farming is all organic, and he uses a variety of various compounds and natural products (bat guano anyone?) to feed the land. In the spring, neighboring sheep are allowed into the vineyards to naturally “mow” the grass, opening up the canopy to allow for better airflow.

In the cellar, Craighead is meticulous. He will not allow for used wine glasses to be brought from the outside in, to protect his environment from wild yeasts or other microorganisms that could lead things awry. Healthy fermentations are ensured by creating a starter from small batches of crushed grapes. Oxygen is introduced during fermentation in order to prevent reduction and all wines are bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulfur. But these are natural wines, and sometimes things can’t be fully controlled. In this vintage, there is a bit of reduction in some of the bottlings, and the wines included here will do well with a bit of a decant.

We are always excited to get these wines in the shop, and even more excited for an opportunity to showcase the Ordinary Mr Fox (our creation, not Craighead’s — we hope he’s not offended by our little animations!) on Instagram and in your glass.

Naturalist

Kindeli’s 2019 Primavera begins to show the fun side of Kindeli. A blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling. The Pinot and Syrah were pressed whole-cluster and whites spent a night soaking on the skins. Whites and reds were then blended together and fermented in stainless steel. When the wine is about 10 grams of sugar per liter, Craighead bottles the wine and it ferments dry in the bottle. What you are left with is a slightly spritzy dry and delicious wine. A word to the wise: make sure this bottle is VERY cold before you drink it!

2019 Tinto is a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Syrah from clay and gravel soils. 10% of the blend underwent carbonic maceration, lending brighter fruit and lift to the wine. The remainder spent five to twelve days on the skins with 10% stem inclusion. The stems allow a richer texture, as well as providing more nutrients for the yeast to eat during fermentation. Fermentation was done in steel, creating a wine that is fresh and chuggable. Enjoy this wine with whoever you are quarantining with and remember how fun it used to be to go outside!

Gastronomist

For 2019, the Otono is a blend of skin contact Gewurtzraminer that was fermented for 5 days in amphora. After being pressed, Riesling and Pinot Gris is added with skins for a day. After, the juice is all blended and then aged in amphora. Complex, delicious and delightfully aromatic! The

A brand new cuvee for Kindeli, the 2019 Luna Llena is a field blend made from Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Mostly destemmed, the grapes are fermented in amphora. After fermentation, the wine is pressed off and aged even further in amphora. We wanted to try it for the first time alongside our club and we hope you love it.

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Club Wine: February, 2020

by jill on March 31, 2020

Apologies to all that this is so late…it’s been a weird month. Ironically these were ready before pick-up day on the 15th, but life stuff got in the way of me posting them. In any case, please forgive and here you go! Oh, to be noted — the Villemade write-up is Julian Kurland’s very first time gracing us with his prose, and the Jura write-up is Erica Gross’s last. She left to work with Nomadic Imports and this is her farewell wine club entry.

Naturalist: Herve Villemade

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. All we were told was that Herve was going to pick us up at the hotel and we would walk to the vineyards and winery, followed by a ‘rustic’ dinner, whatever that meant. It turned out that that meant charcuterie, beef stew, shots of eau-de-vie, and late night dancing to Beyonce and Madonna.

Herve Villemade is next to the tiny town of Chitenay in the Loire, an area known not only for wine, but its large population of country castles. Vineyards sit nestled between houses and rise up in clearings between patches of forest and farmland. It is in stark contrast to the vineyards you see in Burgundy and Champagne, where vineyards go for miles. Here, the land is flat, there are no rolling hills. Instead vineyards appear out of nowhere as we walk the edge of the forest that surrounds his land.

Villemade took over his estate in 1995 and has been producing wine ever since. He is a man of quiet intensity, but you can tell that underneath the stony facade is a man who is excited by life and the wine that he creates. As we walk into the winery from the vineyards, this was made even more clear. Huge photo portraits were glued to every available wallspace. Beautiful photos that highlighted the different personalities that make up the team every harvest. There, right in the entrance, is a massive one of Herve, maybe slightly drunk, smiling at the camera. As he catches me looking at the photo, the same mischievous smile comes back and he disappears behind a door. He reappeared with an armful of bottles, cuvees ranging from his more playful and fun liters, to the more serious single bottle parcelings from the estate.

I spent the rest of the day marveling at the wines, the estate, as well as the man himself. Herve produces wine from just about every Loire variety: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Menu Pineau, Romorantin, Chenin Blanc, Grolleau, Gamay, Cot, and Pinot Noir. He prefers to let the biodiversity of the surrounding woods help the vineyard grow and breath. He works with only a small handful of negociants for his other grapes so that he can establish trust and a good working relationship with farmers.

I say all these little pieces of information only to help highlight the fact that Herve really does embody all of these things. Trust, patience, a deep commitment to the land and those who work it with him. There is also a feeling of being welcomed. That you are the honored guest and the night is for you. We all felt that way.

Many of you know our love for Villemade’s wines in the shop. Whether for a liter of Bovin, a magnum of Les Ardilles or an easy everyday Gamay, his selection of cuvees seem to have something for everyone. This month we are excited to bring you two cuvees we have not carried before.

The 2018 Orbois is made from 100% Menu Pineau (Orbois is actually the official name for the grape). Villemade sources these grapes from two organically practicing vineyards. The juice is pressed and fermented in a concrete egg. Only 2/3rds of the juice is direct press, while the other 1/3rd is skin fermented. The wine is not meant to be a skin contact wine, however. Herve wanted to ensure that the wines fermentation started and was strong. The presence of yeast on the skin fermented part ensured that there would be a healthy fermentation throughout. The wine was then aged in old wood barrels. It is textured and spiced with great acidity.

The 2018 What’s Up? Is a real treat. A pet nat featuring Chardonnay, Menu Pineau and Chenin Blanc, this wine is a party in a bottle. It was disgorged in December of last year. For Herve, the idea with the What’s Up? Is to release wines every vintage, where his Bulle Blanche cuvee will see 24 months of aging. What you get is a wine that is vibrant, fresh and full of life. Consume this with friends and those you love!

Gastronomist: Domaine Fumey Chatelain

This month we’re taking you to the mythical, mountainous, and magical Jura, to the picturesque communes of Arbois and Montigny-lès-Arsures. Between these hilly appellations you can find the 15-hectares of vines owned by Raphael Fumey and Adeline Chatelain, the namesakes behind Domaine Fumey Chatelain. Founded in 1991, Domaine Fumey Chatelain is the epitome of a family-run project from planting to bottling. Raphael, the patriarch from a long line of Jura winemakers, farms and tends to the vineyards, while Adeline runs the cellar, administrative, and sales sides of the business. Angèle, their daughter designs their labels, and their son Marin, who is in charge of the winemaking, is slowly forging a new and more low-intervention path for the Domaine.

Even though he grew up around wine and helped his parents in the winery, Marin discovered his passion for the industry while studying viticulture and oenology in Burgundy. In school he felt he began to truly understand the growing side of wine, and a more hands-off approach to winemaking in general. He returned home and debuted as the winemaker in 2015, but his thirst for knowledge and experience continued. Instead of staying in the region and learning the local tradition, he travels to other countries (between harvests) to learn firsthand from his peers.

After each sojourn, Marin returns to Fumey-Chatelain and implements the new practices and underlying mores at the Domaine. From his time in Australia under the tutelage of Peter Shell, he began to experiment with different types of maceration styles and developed a love for whole-cluster fermentation. More importantly, (according to Marin), New Zealand opened his eyes to the importance of meticulous farming, and with proper hands-only care, you can rid yourself of the need for machine harvesting and other conventional farming practices. Now he is determined to take over the farming, and slowly transition to 100% organics and eventually, biodynamics. His cellarwork and winemaking style is evolving as well. They’re increasing their cellar space, which will allow them to work with larger (and more neutral) aging vessels such as demi muids and foudres. Marin strives to make Domaine Fumey-Chatelain “better and better,” with the aim for clean and precise wines with as little intervention as possible. This is Fumey Chatelain’s debut in the US, as they sell nearly all of their wine in the region. We were fortunate enough to have received a few cases to share with you.

The 2018 Trousseau is a highly drinkable red reflective of its time and place. Marin refers to their village, Montigny-lès-Arsures, as “the world capital of Trousseau.” Compared to Ploussard, another native grape variety which is also light, he describes Trousseau as more intense, but “elegant, silky, and fruity” like “Grenache’s little brother.” The grapes come from two parcels, and are destemmed, macerated, and fermented with indigenous yeast for 15 days. The wine is then aged for 4 months in foudres before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The destemming and macerating time provides a touch of seriousness and structure to the wine.

The 2017 Chardonnay is a blend of different parcels surrounding Montigny and Arbois on marl and limestone soils. The grapes are pressed into tank, chilled for two days, then allowed to ferment spontaneously. It’s then aged for 2 years on its lees. The wine exhibits minerality and freshness typical of Jura Chardonnays. Enjoy this wine with a fine piece of Comte cheese.

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Club Wine: January 2020

January 15, 2020

Naturalist: Languedoc-Roussillon via Anne Paillet and Benjamin Taillandier When one thinks about wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon, France’s largest wine region, the mind wanders towards full-bodied red blends or the sweet late harvest wines of Banyuls. This is no surprise, considering the coastal plain and Mediterranean terrain. This month, however, we want to introduce you to […]

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Club Wine: December 2019

December 18, 2019

Charles Dufour Nothing screams the holidays quite like Champagne. Not just any Champagne, this month you’re receiving an exclusive Grower Champagne from vigneron Charles Dufour. What’s a Grower Champagne you ask? This subset of Champagne differs from the larger-scale houses in that the individuals behind the project both grow and vinify the grapes, and are […]

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Club Wines: November 2019

November 13, 2019

Gastronomist: Progetto Calcarius by Valentina Passalacqua Last year, we got our hands on the first drop of the Calcarius project, which was insanely well-received. If you don’t recall them by name, you will certainly remember them by their aesthetic. Clear-glassed bottles, in liter and 750-ml formats, emblazoned with a simple “Ca” in a rainbow of […]

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Club Wines: October 2019

October 14, 2019

Naturalist: Jean Ginglinger This month, we travel to Alsace, to the small village of Pfaffenheim to be exact, to introduce you to Jean Ginglinger. Ginglinger is not new to viticulture. His family has been involved in the trade since 1610, and his cousin Bruno Schueller, who is also a star in the region’s natural wine […]

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