We can’t believe it’s been one year already. Oh, well. It also means 36 winemakers and their wines, which you hopefully liked as much as we did. For this volume, we wanted to do something special, so we took a little trip to Alsace in June, which some of you might have seen on Instagram. It’s a region with lots of natural winemakers, some of which we visited during our stay. Fortunately we got some pretty rare gems for you to enjoy: a very pure Riesling, a “negociant” Gamay and a very dark Pet-Nat made with Pinot Noir.
Kumpf et Meyer
2017 Dark Nat
Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris
When in 1997 the young couple Sophie Kumpf and Philippe Meyer started their new winery they simply merged their Alsatian family estates. They started this winery with a lot of passion, but as life sometimes happens, Philippe left for new adventures and wasn’t interested in making wine anymore. Luckily Sophie found Julien Albertus in 2010 to take over the winemaking, so she could focus on the administrative side of things. With him came new ideas on how to make wine and after some serious convincing of Sophie to switch to organic he is now in the process of taking some things from biodynamic and applying it to the 16 hectares they farm.
This Pet Nat is different. First, it’s what is called a co-ferment — that is when red and white grapes ferment together. The grapes come from the slopes around Rosheim and Molsheim where the soil is mainly consisting of limestone clay. After the harvest in September, they macerated for seven days and were put into the bottle with 12 grams of sugar to finish fermentation in the bottle and to create the bubbles. It has some lighter mineral qualities and some beautiful tannins to keep you going with your food. It’s funky cherry coke for adults, and as such it will work with many of the best simple foods.
2015 Riesling Nature
This small winery in Obermorschwihr exists since 1968 started by Laurent and Suzanne Bannwarth. After his studies in viticulture their son, Stéphane joined them in 1987. Nowadays his sister Regine and is wife Geneviève all help in making very outstanding wines. Once they took over the winery from their parents, they converted it to organic in 2004. And since then they haven’t stopped evolving their winemaking. In 2011 they also started making amphorae wines, because Stéphane loved them when a helper from Georgia introduced Kvevri wines to him. Currently, they are transforming the cellar to have more space for amphorae and the huge old barrels which they still use.
The grapes for this white wine come from hillsides with loess and limestone. After harvest, the grapes are being direct pressed and left to age on their lees for 24 months. They only use stainless steel for this, which gives it a very pure expression. This wine has reached perfect drinkability now after two years in the bottle. If you have the time and planning skills, you should open it the day before to have it come back to life. With a golden color and light floral and fruity notes, it’s still a very mineral-driven wine which you should consume with something equally subtle like Japanese food.
Domaine Brand & Fils
2017 La Fourmi
The old farm which houses the winery is in the Brand family’s ownership since 1750 and was originally a polyculture farm with wheat, animals, and tobacco. In 1950 the grandfather of Philippe Brand slowly transformed it to today’s 10 hectares. Charles Brand, his father, who is still working at the winery, changed everything to organic farming in the 1990s and early on included his son in most of the jobs at the winery. In 2008, after stints in Burgundy, Greece and Australia Philippe took charge of the winery. Slowly he began to start making natural wines and nowadays makes all wines without added sulfites and on top of that all the grapes are certified bio-dynamic.
The grapes for this red wine don’t come from the Brand vineyard, but from two friends in the areas around Nimes and Lyon. Philippe, like many winemakeres right now, likes to use grapes from friends, and also sometimes shares his grapes with other winemakers. The whole grapes are being macerated for ten days after which they are pressed and left in demi-muid barrels (450 litre) for eight months of maturation. With about one year in the bottle, you get some excellent aromas of ripe fruit and flowers followed by light but structured tannins. For a change try this one with various cheeses or your typical French bistro fare.
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