*Our staff member Julie wrote this fantastic piece for the blog about the biodynamic “trend.” What does it mean to make a biodynamic wine, and does it really make a difference? Julie delves into this subject, but ultimately we encourage you to taste and decide for yourselves!
[Above, some of Julie’s favorite biodynamic wines available at The Urban Grape]
Yoko’s monthly sparkling wine tastings have become the hit of the South End. For those of you that can’t make the tastings, she’s on the blog today sharing some information about her passion – Grower Champagne.
“Champagne – Grower POWER!” is what Aurelien of Champagne Laherte wrote on his Instagram post and also on the store’s kitchen door when he visited us last week. He is the 6th generation of the Laherte family and considered to be one of the rising stars of the Champagne region. Although the label indicates NM (or Negociant-Manipulant, producers who use purchased grapes as well as their own grapes to make Champagne), the majority of grapes for Champagne Laherte come from their own 10-hectare-vineyard. In order to respect and treasure the special terroir (or where the wine come from), the philosophy is to work in the most traditional and natural way as possible in both vineyard and cellar. I absolutely loved how each one of his wines expressed personality and identity, and here are 2 very unique wines newly joined in our Champagne collection.
Traditional Champagne grapes are 3 varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier but also permitted are 4 varieties of Fromenteau, Albanne, Pinot Blanc, and Petit Meslier. And you get all 7 varieties in this Les 7! Aurelien’s father found these lost varieties in their old vineyard site and it was re-established in 2003. Chosen as 2nd top from a tasting of 100 grower Champagnes from Decanter magazine, here is your chance to taste what Champagne tasted like back 250 years ago. Made from a blend of vintages from 2005 to 2012, this rare and energetic Champagne’s got fresh stone and exotic fruits, warm toasty and nutty notes, great minerality, hints of spring flowers, smokiness, and the list goes on… It is one of those wines, which make you want to keep coming back to the glass because it is so complex and intriguing.
Rose de Saignee “Les Beaudiers”
Another exceptional cuvee made from 100% Pinot Meunier from old vines. While the majority of rose Champagnes are made from blending red wine to white wine to achieve its pink color, this wine is made from Saignee method (maceration of grape skins) Beautiful garnet ruby color of this wine is attractive to the eyes, followed by delicious scent of juicy ripe red fruits and red flowers, along with hints of warm spices and outstanding texture on the palate, which reminds me of elegant Burgundy. I became speechless for a second because it was just stunning…
Today the market share of grower Champagne here in the US is 5%, which is still not a large number but I have noticed an increased interest and demand in the recent years. I believe wines like these two I wrote here demonstrate how interesting and diverse Champagne can be, and also the potential and power of grower Champagne. During the visit, Aurelien said to me “You know 20 years ago, it was not like this (meaning Champagne growers did not get a kind of attention they started to get today) but maybe 20 years from now, it might change…” I replied, “I think it will. I know it will.”
Over the last few years there has been much emphasis on a more natural way of living, and in producing “natural” wine. But what’s really going on with this organic and biodynamic movement. Are the wines really that good? Does it make any difference at all?
Science has proven that the organic and biodynamic farming improve soil quality and overall vineyard health. Professional palates claim that the resulting wines have stronger, and more vibrant tastes than wines not produced in this manner. While there have been a handful of scientific studies, and many more vignerons advocating the practices, the proof is, as they say, “in the puddin’.” Or in this case, the wine!
2013 Medlock Ames Chardonnay (Alexander Valley, CA)
My first wine pick comes from organic vineyards in Alexander Valley. Now, I will be the first to admit that when it comes to Cali Chard I used to be a hater, but upon tasting the complexities of this wine, I was pleasantly surprised. The winery atop Bell Mountain runs 100% on solar power and of their 300 acre estate, only 55 acres are under vine. There are many reasons behind this but the biggest one is to preserve the natural environment resulting in more nuanced and flavorful grapes. They certainly made the right decisions when making with wine. The judicious use of oak explodes on the palate with fresh coconut and lemon curd followed by wild fennel, green apple and toasted sesame. Thier secret is 25% of this wine was aged in stainless steel (the rest french oak) so the unctuous texture does not overwhelm that palate. This wine is bold and beautifully balanced, definitely not one to miss.
2012 Vignobile Réveille “Ultra Violet” (Côtes du Roussillon, FR)
Another wine that I am very excited about is one from Roussillon. Vignoble Réveille makes a wine that has all the signs of a typical blend from south of France, that is, until you open it. Appropriately named “Ultra Violet” this wine is 70% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 5% Mourvedre. Now, I have mentioned before that I love Syrah and that is the first reason I was drawn to this one, but it has a bit more character than your average spicy dark fruit and violet studded profile. It certainly has all of those things but presented in a much more lively and pure expression. Vignoble Réveille translates to “wake vineyard.” France Crispeels chose this name to convey the vitality of the mountainous landscape where her vines are tended and her unique wines are born. The biodynamically certified vineyards sit upon a rare type of metamorphic rock high in Vallée de l’Aglyin. The “ultra violet” blend boasts a solid and distinct mineral backbone, that is complemented by plums, dried cherries, and that delicious spice and bramble I have come to know and love.
Whether you are serious about wine or just like to enjoy a glass here and there, these two wines are very different and distinct, yet sure to awaken your palate to the beauty of the natural world.
Sophie takes the wheel on the blog today. Joining us as our Special Orders Manager last fall, Sophie comes to UG by way of great Boston restaurants like Ribelle and Grille 23. Given her restaurant background, Sophie is a pro at recommending food and wine pairings. Here she shares one of her favorite recipes, with two possible wine pairings!
Our newest staff member, Julie, came to us from L’Espalier where she worked the front of the house. So needless to say her attention to hospitality is a perfect fit for UG! A trained chef, Julie is also excellent at picking wines to go with your meals – from simple suppers to dinner parties. Here are her favorite wines of the moment, available at UG! [And yes, we are open today despite the snow and have an extreme beer tasting tonight from 5-8!]
Teutonic Wine Company 2013 “Crow Valley Vineyard” Pinot Noir
This Germanic style pinot takes hard work. Work in the vineyard, in the winery, even the grapes themselves have to work hard to grow to the perfect ripeness. Grown at high elevations in Oregon on dry farms (non-irrigated), the roots of the vines have to reach deep into the ground to find nutrients and water. They also hang on the vine for much longer to ripen in the cooler temperature. These conditions mimic that of Germany, a place the husband & wife team fell in love with back in early 00’s. The vigneron ensures that the acidity is high, alcohol lower, and with just the right amount of neutral oak, the resulting wine is a true expression of the terroir and varietal. With impeccably balanced fruit and earth, this elegant Oregon pinot is amazing on its own or with whatever you decide you want for dinner today- really, it’s that darn good.
Philippe Gonet “Signature” Brut, Le Mesnil sur Oger
This blanc de blanc bursts with flavor in each sip, its base wine dates back to 2008 and half the grapes come from the legendary Le Mesnil, the rest from grand cru’s in Aube. The brother and sister team took over this 6 generation chateau in the Cote de Blanc and continue to make exceptional champagne. Richly structured with vivacious bubbles that dance around the palate, so many different nuances, I feel like I discover something new with every sip, a first I taste the striking minerality and citrus followed by toasted almonds, then green pears and brioche. I would have a glass or 3 with young cheeses and toasted nuts before dinner, then keep the rest to on ice enjoy with the bread pudding I’m dreaming of for dessert…
On today’s blog we’re taking a peek into Alex’s life in the UG storage room!
Hello, for those of you that I haven’t had the opportunity to meet, I’m Alex and I am the inventory/merchandise manager at The Urban Grape. You can usually find me in the back, organizing, or stocking, or restocking. I come in around 9 am, and love the store in the mornings, my “me time.” I always enjoy any of the early-birds that come by to chirp about wine with me.