Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove.
-Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride
Yes, do treasure your love. When I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed (kinda like now), and pictures of kittens fail, my love is there to keep me going. If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed yourself, please know that you are welcome at the Pour House. We have love to spare and share, not to mention wine. And cheese, for the really tough cases.
We do try to build the February wines around love, in honor of St. Valentine and Black History and heart health awareness. This month was no different and it started with the discovery of the 2015 Broc Cellars Love Red, an old vine Carignan/Valdiguie/Syrah blend from Green Valley, CA. Winemaker Chris Brockway has a great inclusive vision that I love. He is all for creating wines that speak of their place, preferably a place that most others would consider marginal, hence Green Valley (wedged between east Napa and south west Suisun). Not only is the place weird, so are the grapes - Valdiguie, anyone? It’s part of a field blend that even the vineyard owner was unsure of.
So, how does a winemaker let the grapes speak? Mostly, by getting out of the way. These grapes are organically grown and Chris lets the natural yeasts spark fermentation. Most wineries nowadays use commercial strains of inoculated yeast and bacteria to control the fermentation process. He doesn’t add enzymes or powdered tannins -you have no idea what you don’t know about winemaking, it’s amazing. This wine also went through a naturally occurring malolactic fermentation, something many of us associate with California chardonnay. Malolactic fermentation means that the malic acid (like in green apples) naturally present in the grapes changes to lactic acid (like in milk). This process can be spontaneous or it can be induced or it can be imitated. It’s what give the butter to buttery chards. Anyhow, judging from the super fresh acidity kicking in this wine, it NEEDED a malolactic fermentation. It would have been razor sharp without it, I suspect.
So check out the finished product. Fresh, pretty, a little dirty, complicated. It is certainly a wine that I would like to get to know better, and could possibly fall in love with. BTW, this is a Poor House pick! I usually lead with the Big House picks, but this month I decided to bring you on the same road we traveled, and it happened to begin with this wine.
So let’s wrap up the Poor House. Our second poor pick is the 2014 Thierry Navarre Le Laouzil Saint Chinian. This is a wine that I tasted and loved immediately. It is a carignan, cinsault, grenache, syrah blend from the St. Chinian AOC in south western France. It is a savory, slightly animal sipper, with just the right amount of Brett for me. I was even more charmed when I read on the winery’s info sheet, translated from the French, that this is a wine to “share around the table with fiends.” You know who you are. Break out the Cards Against Humanity and plan the Alpaca Lips.
OK. On to the Big House and back to Broc Cellars! Our lead wine for the Big House is the 2014 Broc Cellars Eagle Point Ranch Counoise from Mendocino. Varietals that make you go “Hmmmm”. This Brockway character sounds like someone I’d like to have dinner with. Counoise, from Mendocino, aged in German oak casks in a cellar in Berkley. This is clearly someone who charts his own path and has an affinity for the oddballs in the world. Same philosophy and techniques that created the Love Red, are on display in the Eagle Point Ranch Counoise. This wine is, again, complicated - more savory than fruity, nice perky acidity, some peppery spice notes as well. Unique. And the label is beautiful, reminiscent of the wintry landscape outside my window this very moment.
Our final wine this month is the 2013 Cambis Carnet de Voyage St Chinian. Yup, St. Chinian again. A syrah, grenache, carignan blend, this wine, according to winemaker Annick Perolari, was created as an “ode to discovery and travel.” I am going to use exact quotes from the info sheet that I have because it is a fun translation: “We think we have succeeded in making the taster of this wine travel while drinking it...In mouth, the start is melted and followed by nice black mature fruits aromas and cocoa notes.” Count me in! It may mot be appropriate for fiends, but who can resist melted black mature fruits?
All of the wines this month will pair well with exactly the foods you are craving with all the snow - savory stews, roasted meats or veggies, cheesy gratins with fennel or rosemary.
That’s it for this month. Take care of yourself and show yourself some love. Happy February!
Big House Picks
2014 Broc Cellars Eagle Point Ranch Cuonoise Mendocino California
2013 Cambis Carnet de Voyage St Chinian
Poor House Picks
2015 Broc Cellars Love Red Old Vine Carignane Valdiguie Syrah Green Valley California
2014 Thierry Navarre Le Laouzil Saint Chinian
Enjoy your wines,