Plain Wine Volume 9: The Family Edition

I hope you’re enjoying the summer. All of this month’s wines have something to do with family. Either they had to jump right in during their youth, they were always working with their sibling or left the family behind to start making wine. As an added benefit all wines are without added sulfur, go figure.

Illustration by Anna Vu, @goodwinecrapdrawing

Laurent Saillard
2018 La Pause

Gamay
Loire, France

After spending a good amount of his life in New York City and starting a restaurant with his wife called ICI, Laurent left the city and his wife to follow his new love back to France. Fortunately his new love Noella Morantin was into wine, and so after a while experimenting and renting vineyards, he purchased half the estate from Clos Roche Blanche, as the owners retired in 2015. He now owns 6 hectares and works a mix of organic and bio-dynamic.Unfortunately, most of his wine actually ends up back in New York, where he sells to many of the restaurants and bars there.

The first wine Laurent actually made was this La Pause from 45-year old Loire Gamay grapes. After the harvest, the grapes are fermented in whole bunches with the stems, which adds silkier tannins and rounds out the wine if the acid is higher in a particular vintage. It was aged in various wood barrels from September to February before it was bottled. Laurent says, he tries to forget how he makes the wine, so he can start fresh every year. Food wise this is quite flexible and is fantastic with a fresh salad or grilled fish.


Matthias Hager
2018 Pet Nat

Grüner Veltliner
Kamptal, Austria

Very early on in his life, Matthias had to take on responsibility in his parents vineyard. Together with his wife, he is not just running the winery, but also a small little farm. The family business extends to a restaurant in the middle of the vineyard run by his brother Hermann. Taking over the winery so early made him also more open to change which made him switch to organic fairly soon and by 2010 he was fully biodynamic and certified by Demeter. Which makes him still the only one in Kamptal. He owns about 13 hectares around the town of Mollands consisting of loess, loam and different rocky soil.

The Grüner Veltliner grapes for this month’s sparkler grow on a mix of loess and various rocks. They are between 30 and 55 years old. They have been pressed immediately after harvest and 30% fermented in wood barrels. Without any filtering or additives, the juice was bottled and left to finish fermentation. What you get is a very mineral-driven wine, with slight fruity undertones and mild acidity. It works well as an aperitif or equally well as a food wine with anything not too spicy.


Domaine Ligas
2016 Lamda

Assyrtiko
Pella, Greece

When in 1985 Thomas came back to Greece after his studies in France he knew what wine he wanted to make. He tried to focus on local varieties and started bringing back forgotten grape varieties. Nowadays the winery is mainly run by the twin siblings Jason and Meli. They farm about 9 hectares in the region of Pella, in northern Greece, which has always been known for good wine. Their focus is on making wine in a “more than organic” way by taking part of their techniques from bio-dynamic farming, but also trying anything they can learn to make the best low intervention wine possible.

The grapes for this wine grow on an almost 2-meter high pergola system, which is used to retain more moisture in the clay and limestone soil. With a fairly acidic grape it “drains” some of the acidity away. As a bonus this also helps with keeping diseases away. After they harvest the grapes, they sit for a couple of hours with their skins and then press them by gravity. After fermentation, the wine is aged in used oak barrels for up to a year. What you get in the glass is a beautiful darker orange wine with some notes of overripe stone fruit, honey, and wild herbs. This will pair perfectly with Greek food like bifteki or fried calamari.


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