Over the decades, wine importers have constantly tried to be ahead of the curve and find great producers to import before they get 'hot' and 'noticed'. Smart importers with strong palates and instincts will find them and champion them, and can even become trendsetters. Californian importer Kermit Lynch famously did just this in the 1980s helping to save the image of Beaujolais worldwide. His early stable of producers (called the 'Gang Of Four') as a group bucked the trend of over-fertilization and manipulating the grapes and wines, and are considered the early touchstone of what has become the 'Natural' wine movement that is prevalent across the world. In Beaujolais they are legends and passed their influence and knowledge to countless other wineries around them. Marcel Lapiere was influential in helping the Chanudet family establish Chateau Cambon in the late 1990s and their organic philosophy before his passing, and their recent climb to success. Well before their success in the press a local importer began working with them, so we have been privileged to work with them often in the past.
A deeper color than often found in a 'basic' Beaujolais, the dark cherry color, is reflected by the cherry fruit in the nose, tempered by cherry skin and even citrusy tartness. The palate is classic Beaujolais with light savory fruit and loads of zip and energy, vibrant cherry and strawberry flavors all over the place. This is the quality level that actually can survive for more than a few years with plenty of evolution potential, but is just so approachable and delicious to drink right away you will be hard pressed to leave it alone for very long. A great match for simple comfort foods that don't want a wine with lots of heft, light stews or charcuterie.
Wine making in Washington's Columbia Valley has always had a bit of a 'Wild West' rebellious aspect to it. Being so remote in terms of major population areas, it hasn't had the crush of tourism compared to places like Napa and many of the major European regions. The land has also remained relatively inexpensive, especially for those looking to start vineyards that may be a bit more off the well beaten and established path. Perfect conditions to draw new and experimental aspiring winemakers with dreams of starting their own winery and blazing a new trail. Bergevin Lane was started in 2002 as part of that movement in the early 200s and has gained lots of acclaim with their single site/single varietal wines. Their 'Linen' series is built as a value oriented line of wines, with the red blend being an evolving combination of the wines in their single vineyard program. The blend is always based on the Bordeaux varietals with a dash of Syrah, but the ratios change from year to year. For this vintage the dominant varietals are Petit Verdot and Malbec, usually used as background grapes but put front and center this vintage.
Deep and inky color in the glass as is expected for the majority of Washington State wines, with a core of black fruit aromas, currants, and a touch of oaky spice. The Verdot and Malbec definitely show their dominance by the dark pencil lead and roasted plum notes that show through as the wine opens up. In the mouth the fruit is equally dark on the palate but not nearly as tannic and tough, with some polish to the tannins and richness to the flavors through the dusty finish. Bold and intense and, if you are a fan of the style, delivers a genuine value for both dining and enjoying on its own.
As much as we would like to say it isn't so, the days of inexpensive white Burgundy from addresses like Meursault or Montrachet are long gone. Too much demand in the world for the wines from the Cote de Beaune, not enough land to make enough of it. Still plenty of quality to be found, for certain, but the word 'value' is rarely thrown around. If you go South to the Macon, however, genuine bargains can still be found if you know where to look. Outside of Pouilly-Fuisse wines here have been largely constructed by big cooperatives buying and blending fruit. In recent years more 'grower Maconnais' have emerged with small families and individuals looking to make more distinctive wines. Quality is vastly improved, but the cost increase is marginal since the wines still haven't gained the international fervor. Fingers crossed it stays that way for a while.
The style in the Macon tends to be a warmer, more immediate and forward fruit than their northern neighbors, and there is a hint of some tropical tones behind the classic citrus zest and lemon curd aromas. The palate is nine and round that helps to soften the underlying acidity, but the subtle complexity shows through absent the presence of aggressive oak or malolactic butteriness. The detail of the small producer lets the flavors of their vineyards show through more distinctly; this is 'their Macon', not 'just another Macon'. Lots of quenching wet stones and zest on the finish give it great freshness that make it extremely compelling sip after sip, and priced to make it easy getting your Burgundy fix in whenever you wish.
The 'natural' wine movement has its roots steeped deeply into tradition, but often has to embrace non-traditional elements to be successful. The goal is to make wines with as little modern technology or intervention as possible -organic/Biodynamic practices, using native yeasts for fermentation, 'hands off' aging and bottling techniques-in the hopes of capturing more unique and distinctive local characters of the past. The process is risky (as is finding a market to sell it to), so wine makers aren't often going to use the most expensive grapes coming from the most famous high dollar vineyards. Producers all over the world are finding their raw material in the forgotten grapes, overlooked vineyards or excess juice worthy of experimenting outside the box. Rafael Tiraldo spent much of his early career as a winemaking consultant for other more traditional producers, while all the time creating his own unique vision on a remote property in the Andes foothills near Lago Colbun. Many of his eccentric ideas then (even planting some vineyards in a labyrinth pattern) are now central to the Natural wine movement, and his vision brings not only high quality wines but also exceptional value for the style.
With a completely unique blend consisting of Riesling, Chardonnay, and Torontel (Torrontes in Argentina), you would think the resulting wine would smell more fruity and tropical, but there is just an initial lime and white flower pop at the start. The majority of the nose is zesty and vibrant citrus with an underlying salinity, as well as a cooling minty streak. On the palate the more pronounced flavors of the natural wine style show through, full of bracing citrus peel, refreshingly subtle white fruits, almost bracing in its acidity but the roundness in the texture from the lees aging gives the acidity something to hold onto. It's bold but not shrill, probably at its best with foods or salads with some vinegar or pickles in them. Most importantly it delivers great character and value for the style of wine it's trying to be, which is tough to find.
The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!