I’ve been in a reflective mood these past few weeks, and as I write this email, I’m reflecting on the wine club—about why we do it, what it is, how it could be better, etc. Most wine clubs feature wines that are widely pleasing, easy to understand, and kinda boring. After all, when a hundred people are drinking a wine, you want it to appeal to most of them. It makes sense. But this isn’t really what Ordinaire is about. As a shop, we find great pleasure in introducing people to new experiences, surprising them, sometimes disturbing them. And for us, the club should be an expression of the shop, not a dumbed down club that resembles everyone else. So thanks for being open to new things, to getting excited about the eccentric and and the eclectic, for taking chances and broadening your horizons. Thanks for being a part of Ordinaire. We really appreciate it. And we hope you love the wines this month.
Bradford & Quinn
ORDINAIRE CLUB – APRIL 2016
Le Raisin à Plume “Le Pâtis des Rosiers”
Oudon is a tiny town in the far west of the Loire Valley. It sits on the famed Armorican Massif, an ancient geological formation composed of gneiss and schist, as it dips down into the narrowing bed of the Loire River, just 30 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Oudon’s unique geography has made it an important political outpost over the centuries, a gatekeeper to anyone wanting to enter the Loire Valley and maraud some of the beautiful Châteaux upstream. As a winemaking region, it is about as obscure as it gets: the ground is hard, the climate is cold, and rains sweep in from the ocean year round. It is, in other words, both the political and oenological frontier of the Loire Valley, and by extension, all of France. As with most wine regions on the outer limits, this one has the potential to produce wines with great personality, but only if the winemaker is willing to fully embrace the marginality of the terroir. Which is exactly what Jacques Février does. Le Pâtis des Rosiers is all Gamay from old vines. It is hand picked, macerated for two weeks in glass tanks and bottled without filtration or sulfur additions. The result is a light red that is floral and fruity with a taut acidic structure reminiscent of steely Muscadet. Drink slightly chilled with pasta primavera.
Vini Viti Vinci Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse “Grôle Tête”
Before he started making natral wine, Nicolas Vauthier (commonly known as “Kikro”) was one of the most important cavistes in France, acting as the buyer for Aux Crieurs de Vins, a legendary wine bar on the outskirts of Champagne. About a decade ago, he sold his share in that business and started Vini Viti Vinci, a negotiant project based in the less exulted regions of Northern Burgundy, including Chitry, Epineuil, and Irancy. His experience as a buyer has given him a keen eye for quality despite the lack of conventional credentials. The result is a set of wines from unknown vineyards that deliver lots of personality and complexity without a hefty price tag. Coulange la Vineuse is a perfect example. Wine has been made in this tiny village for centuries, but is now overshadowed by Chablis to the northwest (it shares those famous chalky soils) and Burgundy to the South (it shares that famous climate). It’s a lovely unfiltered Pinot Noir that offers fresh fruit aromatics, a slight whiff of peonies, and a chablisienne streak of acidity that will help you jump into spring. Could be fun with lighter lamb preparations, a ham and gruyère sandwich, or fava bean frittata.
EXTRAORDINAIRE CLUB – APRIL 2016
2014 Julian Altaber Sextant Bourgogne Blanc
I’ve never worked a real harvest. I’d love to spend the entire season with one winemaker, witness that symphonic chorus of actions, executed with perfect timing by someone with the intuitive scope that one must have in order to make real wine. All the moving parts, human, animal, and machine. The exercise in humility. The gratifying sweat of physical labor. When it comes time for me to get out there, I’d like to work harvest with someone like Julian Altaber. I got a feel for his harvest operation last fall, when I spent one morning harvesting Chardonnay at Montbellet, a vineyard that Julian’s friend Vincent Talmot farms in the Maconnais. We showed up as the morning fog began to burn off, and Julian greeted us amongst the vines, handing us each a bucket and shears. We worked in quiet awe of the speed and efficiency of the diverse crew. Townie footballer kids kitted up like they were ready for a match, salty farmer guys, quick & clinical hired gun types with stumpy cigarettes dangling from their mouths, and a couple kind-faced elderly locals. I felt comfortable around them, despite my clumsy lack of experience. Before I knew it, we broke for lunch. Bread, cheese, cured sausages, coffee, cigarettes, Vincent’s pet-nat. As the rest of the crew hit the vines again, we hit the road. The tight schedule of an importer trip forced us to leave. Despite the unspoken air of camaraderie, we weren’t really part of the crew. We were tourists of sorts. Spectators almost. And as much as I want to work a harvest for educational reasons, I also feel a need to redeem myself. As if I left something half-finished. Anyways, Julian’s Bourgogne Blanc comes from that vineyard. It’s a delicious wine. And next year when the 2015 arrives, I will once again be reminded of my unfinished business as a novice harvest-hand. Drink this wine with bread, cheese, cured sausages, coffee, and cigarettes.
2014 Derain Bourgogne Rouge Les Riaux
Dominique Derain is a very important figure in the Natural wine scene. His geographically broad range of vineyard work draws a diverse map of Burgundian terroir, a study in the importance of micro site-specific bottlings. Not to mention he is Julian Altaber’s mentor (see above), and largely responsible for his rise as a force in French natural wine. Les Riaux is a low yielding, half-hectare Pinot Noir vineyard in the plains of Puligny-Montrachet. Prime real estate for a basic Bourgogne Rouge. Dominique de-stems 90% of the grapes, and presses them into large wooden vats for fermentation. After 10 days of maceration with occasional punchdowns, the skins are pressed off into old neutral oak barrels where it is aged for 6 months before bottling. Along with the wines of Julien Guillot, Frederic Cossard, Philippe Pacalet, these are easily some of the purest, most focused natural wines in burgundy. Drink with grilled rabbit and spring vegetables. In the spirit of Duchamp, here’s a little photo of Dominique’s washroom.
If you are not a part of the club, then go here and sign up. You get two or four bottles a month, a free tasting every first Saturday, and 10% off all your purchases in the shop.