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KOSUKE BISTRO VIII – May 22nd

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Kosuke Bistro continues every Monday from 6pm-close. While we highly encourage reserving in advance, walk-ins are also welcome. And the shop & bar are still open for general shopping, snacking and drinking.

The menu for May 22nd is $39 for three courses.

mussels / crispy pork trotters / blueberry
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full tilt farm chicken / lemongrass / cucumber / brown butter foam
~
cherry / rose / acacia honey

Reservations are strongly encouraged. Please reply to this email (preferred) or call 510/629-3944.

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KOSUKE BISTRO VII

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The menu for May 15th is $39 for three courses.

marinated snapper / chamomile / kiwi
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lamb breast / cherry / hibiscus
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avocado ice cream / strawberry / dill

no substitutions or share plates

Reservations are strongly encouraged. Email ordinairewine@gmail.com or call 510/629-3944.

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Saturday Tasting: La Onda

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Saturday, May 13th, 1-4pm

Dani Rozman’s vinous curiosity has led him from the cellar of Sierra Foothills master Gideon Bienstock to the Maule Valley of Chile and back again. His adventurous back-and-forth has produced La Onda, a winemaking project rooted in both hemispheres. When we first tasted his Cinsault-based blend a few years ago, we were struck by the way it harnessed the savage rawness of old-vine Sierra foothills fruit within a lithe framework that made it imminently drinkable. These are wines that please seekers of the sun and lovers of the ocean.

Come meet Dani on Saturday. Taste the new wines (including an amazing cuvée from Chile!) and explore a few back vintages that he is pulling from his cellar.

La Onda 2016 Blanco de Tinto $30
La Onda 2015 Cinsault/Pais (Itata) $28
La Onda 2015 Carignan: $28
La Onda 2014 Cinsault/Syrah (library)
La Onda 2013 Syrah/Cinsault (library)

$10 to taste. Fee waived with $100 purchase.

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KOSUKE BISTRO VI

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The menu for May 8th is $44 for three courses.

Poached oysters / burnt onion jus / ginger foam
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Quail farci / mushrooms / sorrel butter
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Strawberry / white chocolate / smoked buttermilk
~

no substitutions or share plates

Reservations are strongly encouraged. Please email ordinairewine@gmail.com or call 510/629-3944.

ALSO I AM EXTRA EXTRA PUMPED ABOUT THIS BISTRO BECAUSE I AM GOING TO BE IN TOWN AND CAN’T FUCKING WAIT TO EAT KOSUKE’S FOOD. MAKE A REZ AND LET’S PARTY. LOVE, B

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Saturday Tasting: Escoda-Sanahuja

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SATURDAY APRIL 29th, 1-4pm

Joan Ramón Escoda has firmly established himself as one of Catalonia’s most important leaders in what is, largely thanks to him and Laureano Serres, a blossoming natural wine community. As some of you may have experienced at Brumaire, Joan Ramón’s infectious goodwill and thirst for agua—aka, real wine without junk put into it—is the stuff of legend. Given his rock n’ roll personality, I’m always a little surprised when I taste the wines. Yes, he makes some of the most irresistibly crushable juice, but he also manages to craft more classically styled wines: a lush but stony Chenin Blanc, a dense and broad Tempranillo, and others. These are wines that I turn to whenever I am eating outdoors: the briny whites work extremely well with grilled prawns or anything spicy, while the reds seem specifically made for meats cooked over open flames. On Saturday we will pour five of our favorite wines from Joan Ramón. Taste them, and then pick up some bottles for the weekend.

Five wines for $10.
Fee waived with $100 purchase.

Pet Nat
Els Bassotets
Brutal!!!
Mas de Gaio
Nas del Gegant

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KOSUKE BISTRO V

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First the important details:

The menu for Monday, April 24th is $39 for three courses.

Green asparagus  / brown butter foam / pomegranate
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Duck / rhubarb / harissa butter
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Condensed milk / almond / lemon

no substitutions or share plates

Below are some photos of the food Kosuke is cooking. As you can see, it crushes. Tables are still available for this week, so book now and see what it’s about in person. 510-629-3944 or ordinairewine@gmail.com to reserve.

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Saturday Tasting: Martha Stoumen

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Saturday April 15th, 1-4pm

$10 for six wines

We are so excited to be hosting Martha Stoumen for the first public tasting of her proprietary wines. We’ve tasted her work here and there  over the past few years, and have admired how the wines manage to embrace the California sun while maintaining freshness and verve. As you can see in the above photo, Martha works traditionally and joyously in the cellar. In the vines, she is more serious, but still traditional.

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On Saturday we will taste six new wines, including a perfectly pale rosé, a rare sparkling wine, and a bevy of scintillating reds. Come out, meet Martha, and taste a snapshot of some of the best California has to offer.

Sparkling Zinfandel Rosé 2014
Teal Drops Rosé NV
Post Flirtation Carignan/Zinfandel 2016
Carignan Venturi Vineyard 2015
Nero d’Avola Benson Ranch 2015
Mendocino Benchlands Red 2015

Saturday, 1-4pm, $10

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Saturday Tasting: Bruno Schueller

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SATURDAY April 8th, 1-4pm, $10 for 5 wines

There are very few winemaking estates where history and nobility intersect with the avant-garde. But when it happens the results can be revelatory. Since the mid 1990s, Bruno Schueller has been at the helm of the family domaine built by his father, Gerard, in the 1960s. Over the course of two decades, Bruno has developed a style entirely his own. While paying tribute to his father’s patient and meticulous manner of viticulture, he has challenged local orthodoxy in the cellar, molding the definition of Alsatian wine in his own image. Here’s a picture of his cellar.

schueller cellar

When we visited Bruno and his wife Elena last summer, Elena cooked us a shoulder of pork from a pig they slaughtered just for the occasion. Bradford was really excited to be drinking unsulfured Riesling and eating choucroute garnie. They gave him a local napkin.

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Later on, after tasting from a bunch of barrels and playing a round of foosball (Bruno crushed us), we managed to get Bruno into an Ordinaire tank. He was excited, and plans to use it this summer for hiking and cycling.

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Among the wealthiest and most conservative regions of France, Alsace is hardly known for experimental winemaking, particularly among the region’s Grand Cru vineyards. In this context, Bruno’s wines often appear iconoclastic. But generalizing the dozen or so cuvées he produces each year can be difficult. Most whites, such as his Edeldeluxezwicker field-blend, are throwbacks to 19th century-style winemaking, when it was normal for Alsatian wines to finish malolactic fermentation in foudre and filtration was considered anathema to their aromatic complexity. On the other hand, some of the key twists in Bruno’s approach come from an affection for the natural wines of Italy, the birthplace of his wife, Elena. He experiments with varying amounts of maceration on Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, giving the already aromatic varieties of Alsace a layer of brooding complexity. Finally, Bruno’s rare and mysterious Pinot Noirs are uplifting expressions of the variety, as heady and
delicately perfumed as they are powerful.
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At their best, Bruno’s wines are deep, structured, and ornately detailed masterpieces that force us to question mainstream wine’s attachment to typicity, which for Bruno is not a goal, but a point of reference. These are noble wines, from a noble region, that through the kaleidoscopic lens of a truly creative mind, look more exciting than ever before.
-Quinn (with interjections from Bradford)

We received very few wines–between 6 and 18 bottles of each cuvée–so come early and taste before they are gone.

Pinot Blanc Cuvee H 2015
Sylvaner 2015
Edeldeluxezwicker 2015
Pinot Gris Réserve 2011
Le Verre est Dans le Fruit 2014

We will also have several other cuvées for purchase.

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KOSUKE BISTRO III

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The menu for Monday, April 10th is $38 for three courses.

Beef Tartare, strawberry, dill, radish
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Grilled Squid, sauerkraut butter, roasted apple purée
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Blood Orange Marinée, coconut, cinnamon

No substitutions or share plates

Reservations are encouraged. We have so far been fully booked each week and unable to take walk-ins. Please email ordinairewine@gmail.com or call 510/629-3944.

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BISTRO APRIL 3

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Here is the menu for Kosuke’s second bistro. The price is $36.
No choices, no substitutions, and no sharing.

Cauliflower, almond milk, cranberry, ginger
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Pork, beetroot, grapefruit, elderflower
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Yogourt mousse, cardamom, mango

RESERVATIONS ARE ENCOURAGED.
Seats are limited. Last week we were fully booked and unable to take walk-ins. So reserve early. The food is very, very good.

510-629-3944

ordinairewine@gmail.com

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SATURDAY TASTING: BELLUARD

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Saturday, March 25th, 1-4pm
$15 for six wines
Fee waived with $100 purchase

Every single time I hear about Dominique Belluard people are talking about this weird grape he works with, and about how it’s all done in concrete eggs. Here’s a link to the importer’s website, where you can find all that info. It is sort of interesting, but it’s not what makes the wines compelling.

Here’s why I like the wines:

The wines of Dominique Belluard exist in two worlds.  On the one hand, they are at home with the natural wines that line our shelves: perfect farming, native yeast and little to no sulfur result in wines that are alive with fresh aromatics and nervy snap. And on the other hand, they share the structure, length and mineral core of classical white wines from Chablis and Alsace. They somehow satisfy both cravings at once: both natty and classic. They are mesmerizing wines that never cease to amaze me, year after year, even as prices continue to rise with demand. The 2015s wonderfully carry the warmth of the vintage: they are broad, waxy and complex. Not to be missed. On Saturday we will taste all six wines. Fee waived with $100 purchase.

BELLU

2013 Mont Blanc Sparkling Wine $44
2015 Pur Jus 100% Gringet $55
2015 Les Alpes Gringet $39
2015 Le Feu Gringet $52
2015 Grandes Jorasses Altesse $42
2015 Mondeuse $55

_KT

BISTRO w/ KOSUKE TADA

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Monday, March 27th, 6PM-CL

We have been patiently waiting for the right chef to come along and inspire us to restart Bistro Ordinaire. We know Kosuke from Paris, where he ran the kitchen at Le 6 Paul Bert, a spin-off of legendary Le Bistrot Paul Bert which focuses on hiring young chefs and giving them creative autonomy. It quickly became THE place to eat high-level food at low prices, paired with one of the deepest lists of natural wines in Paris. Kosuke recently completed his wildly successful tenure, and after working in kitchens in Japan, France, Italy and Scandinavia, is now exploring California cuisine for the first time. After staging at a laundry list of Michelin-starred spots in San Francisco, he’s decided he would rather cook bistro food and drink natty juice. Lucky for us.

The menu for Monday, March 27th is $36 for three courses.

Clams, kumquat, baby broccoli, buttermilk
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Chicken, green garlic, asparagus, nasturtium
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Pear, mascarpone, cereal, salty caramel, rosemary

No substitutions or share plates

Reservations are encouraged. Please email ordinairewine@gmail.com or call 510/629-3944.

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Saturday Tasting: Gut Oggau

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SATURDAY, March 18th, 1-4pm

While many wine professionals will furiously deny it, most wine discovery these days does not happen by driving around in a little Citroen and happening upon anonymous peasants toiling in gnarled vineyards. Nor does it really occur by tasting with producers at the spring wine fairs. Instead, wines are discovered by assiduously tracking what others in the wine community are drinking. This involves heavy drinking in Parisian and regional wine caves and, above all, by slavishly checking one’s Instagram. I know this sounds unromantic, but I’m inclined to embrace the trend. The myth of an isolated palate expertly blind tasting wines in a cultural vacuum is as antiquated as it is obtuse. Admitting that our palates are constructions of the company we keep is a much truer and ultimately rewarding way of appreciating wine. I recommend replacing the old adage, trust your palate, with an even older adage: trust your friends.

All that is to say that I discovered the Gut Oggau wines on Instagram. I would not have thought to try these Austrian wines if I hadn’t seen that buddies in Denmark and Paris were getting jazzed about them. Really? Natural Austrian wines? I was suspicious, but intrigued.

gut oggau bottle shot

In 2007 Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe converted Eduard’s 17th-century family estate to biodynamics and started working naturally in the cellar. Most cuvées are field blends; all are naturally fermented, with various amounts of skin contact; the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered with zero sulfur additions.

The striking labels represent a multigenerational family: each wine has a distinct personality, but all are bound by a common bloodline. The youngest generation is punchy and audacious. Their parents are riper, fuller, more powerful. The grandparent wines come from old vines, and are crafted in more traditional styles. For the story behind each wine, visit the importer’s home page. It’s a fun read. Then come to the shop and taste. It will be the most stylistically diverse tasting of the year.

On Saturday from 1-4pm, we will pour five wines for $10. Swing by to discover which.

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SATURDAY TASTING: BICHI w/ Noel Tellez

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Saturday, March 11, 1-4pm

Brumaire weekend is here and winemakers are pouring into the shop. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a special intimacy that binds the sprawling natural wine community–a solidarity built on spontaneous generosity, fierce loyalty to one another, and the belief that natural wine, and the pleasure it gives, can change the world for the better.

Brothers Jair and Noel Tellez are carrying this spirit in Mexico, virtually building their community from scratch. Inspired by their travels in Europe and California, they leaped and never looked back, turning their family’s ranch in Tecate into a winery, converting to organics, and committing to native yeast and no SO2 additions. The wines scream with raw freshness and verve. They range from explosively aromatic, to bright and light, to rustic and spicy. To read more, here’s an article from Vice.

Noel will be pouring his wines this Saturday from 1-4pm. Meanwhile, we will be hosting some crazy Spanish producers upstairs for a lunch—it’s sold out, but I’m anticipating the energy to spill out into the main room. Come by and taste. It will be fun.

 

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Wine Club March 2017

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Saturday, March 4th, 1-4pm

The wine club is composed of wines that the Ordinaire staff likes to drink. If you like the kind of wines that Ordinaire sells, you should sign up. You get 10% off everything in shop all the time, free tastings for yourself and a buddy on pick-up day, and lovingly written notes from the Ordinaire staff. Come by and check it out this Saturday. 4 wines for $10. Or sign up and it’s free.

Ordinaire Club $39/month

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2016 Oyster River “Morphos” Pet Nat

When thinking of U.S. winemaking regions, Maine doesn’t even cross my my mind. But Brian Smith of Oyster River Winegrowers, located in Warren, Maine, is making wines and ciders with true pre-industrial American spirit. The property is a working farm, with livestock and vegetables as well as apple orchards for cider and vineyards planted densely with French-American hybrid grapes. The vineyards are cultivated entirely with draft horse power and by hand. The fertilizer comes from the family cow. To control pests, plant-based teas and rock minerals are used. This is a truly old-school operation, down to the winery being gently heated in winter by wood harvested from the farm, hauled by the horses. The 2016 “Morphos” Petillant Naturel shows juicy nectarine and delicate white flowers on the nose, with brightness and just enough fizz on the palate. Delicious for the transition into spring, with asparagus, prosciutto, and mushroom pasta. -Kara

2015 Andrea Occhipinti Alea Rosa

If you don’t drink much sweet wine, you may not be familiar with Aleatico. This grape, often compared to Muscat, has pretty aromatics and a long tradition of making sweet, grapey, simple reds. In Italy, Aleatico is grown mainly in Lazio, the region contains Rome, as well as Gradoli, where Andrea Occhipinti is based. (To be clear, Andrea is not related to Ariana Occhipinti, but still makes badass wines.) Andrea Occhipinti became enamored with the vineyards of Gradoli while studying at the Agrarian University of Tuscia. After graduation, he was able to purchase 4 hectares of vines planted in the 1990s. His plot is 1500 feet above sea level, on volcanic slopes of Lake Bolsena, the largest volcanic lake in Europe. he is working to preserve and promote the local varieties Aleatico and Grechetto Rosso, and is the first in Italy to experiment with totally dry expressions of Aleatico. His 2015 Alea Rosa rides the line between rosé and light red, with brambly berry fruit and pithy acidity. Drink with island food. -Kara

Extraordinaire Club $69/month

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2015 Casot de Mailloles “Soula”

Through over twenty years of backbreaking work along the windswept foothills of the Pyrenees, Alain Castex and Ghislaine Magnier established Casot de Mailloles as one of the indispensable cult natural wineries in France. They developed a singular expression of Banyuls-sur-mer and it’s surrounding geography, all carrying a rugged elegance that only a collision between the Mountains and the Mediterranean could inspire. When it came to light that there was a gradual separation developing between Alain and Ghislaine, they deemed the young and talented Jordi Perez well suited to take over. For Jordi, 2015 was spent training under Alain as his understanding of the vineyards developed. Soula is a single cliffside vineyard, three-part blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvedre. Slate soils and dramatic maritime influence make for a dark, gracefully aromatic wine with tension and structure that could age for years. This wine marks a promising change of hands at one of natural wine’s legendary estates. -Quinn

2014 Denavolo “Dinavolino”

Despite the prestige and significance of his day job (lead winemaker at famed Emilia-Romagna estate La Stoppa), Giulio Armani finds the time to focus his attention on a side project: Denavolo. It is a study of Orange wine, as well as an opportunity to take a break from the heady and complex red wines he labors over at La Stoppa. Giulio makes three cuvees, displaying various amounts of skin maceration: Catavela,  Dinavolino, and Dinavolo. Each wine consists of the same blend: primarily Malvasia di Candia, Ortugo, Marsanne, Trebbianno, and a smattering of Santa Maria and Sauvignon Blanc. Hand-harvested, destemmed,  and macerated on it’s skins for an average of 7-10 weeks, Dinavolino falls in the middle. This is a delicately structured orange wine that shows the slightly piqued spicy/floral aromatics that skin-contact aging can impart. This process also has a stabilizing effect, allowing Giulio to make his wines without filtration or additives. Fresh enough for apero, I’d drink this wine with salty pre-dinner snacks: Marcona almonds, olives, and a bit of charcuterie. -Quinn

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Sunday Tasting: La Stoppa and Denavolo

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Sunday, February 26, 4-7pm

$10 for 5 wines.

Giulio Armani, winemaker at both La Stoppa in Northwest Emilia Romagna and at his own estate, Denavolo, makes some of the most elegant skin-contact whites I’ve tasted to date. Simultaneously fresh and deep, these wines are entirely unique and once again show what mystic loveliness can be created when a winemaker embraces what the earth has provided for them. 

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La Stoppa is a 50 hectare estate that was planted in the late 19th-century by a wealthy lawyer who took the opportunity of post-phylloxera replanting to plant, alongside the native Barbera and Bornada vines, some noble grape varieties, emulating Bordeaux and Burgundy. In 1996, Giulio Armani and owner Elena Pantaleoni decided to simplify, sticking to local grapes, replanting the entire estate with Barbera, Bornada, and a bit of Malvasia. Ranging from earthy, spritzy reds to deep, golden macerated whites, La Stoppa consistently produces benchmark natural wines that always grace our shelves.

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Armani took a similar tack when starting Denavolo, located in the foothills of the Appenines. Already planted with 2 hectares of 32-year-old vines, he continued planting his own parcels of Malvasia di candia aromatica, Ortugo, Marsanne, Trebbiano, and a bit of Santa maria and Sauvignon blanc. It’s exciting to see a winemaker with such a depth of experience figuring out new grapes planted on new soil. The first vintages have been gorgeous. You are so excited to have these new wines in the shop.

On Sunday afternoon we will be joined behind the bar by the importers of both La Stoppa and Denavolo, as well as Fanny Breuil, who has been working with and learning from Giulio for quite some time. We’ll be pouring five lively wines. $10. Stop by.

-Kara

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Saturday Tasting: Clos du Tue Boeuf

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Saturday, February 25th1-4pm, $10

You can’t talk about the birth of Cubism without mentioning Picasso. To praise golden age New York Rap without mentioning Nas is a blatant ignorance. The Beat movement without Kerouac would have lacked its most prominent voice. And as with any cultural or artistic movement, there are certain producers in natural wine whose work is so vital, and so timeless, that their impact is immeasurable. In my opinion, you can’t outline the history of natural wine without pausing to wax poetic about Clos du Tue Boeuf. The genre-defining wines of Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat are an essential introduction into Loire Valley winemaking. Since the late 90’s, the estate has slowly been perfecting an inspiring balance of persistent ideology, accessibility, and soul-satisfying deliciousness. This weekend, we’ll be pouring six wines. Sauvignon (vines young & old), Chenin, Gamay, Cot, Pinot. Each one has it’s own distinct personality, yet they all exemplify the vibrancy that the Puzelat brothers are able to conjure from their family’s 15th century property.

Plus, the Bay Area’s own Godfather of natty wine, Keven Clancy, will be joining us to pour. Handsome, charming, and deeply knowledgeable, it’s always a good time when Keven’s in the house. So come hang out and drink some of the freshest wines in the world. -QKW

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SOIL EXPEDITION CO.

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FEB 11th, 1-4pm, $10

I know Brett as the guy that comes into Ordinaire and drinks lots of Champagne, and then drinks lots of other wine, generously pouring out glasses for anyone in his general area. He exudes a sense of community and conviviality wherever he goes. And now he’s turned this sensibility into an import company—HOORAY!—bringing in natural wines from France, Italy and Portugal.

In Brett’s own words: “We believe that ‘quality’ in wine is innately linked to the ‘livingness’ of the soil and environment it’s grown in. That wine is food, nourishing, and should be made and consumed from the soul. Ultimately we seek wines that makes us, and hopefully others, smile and these are the wines we support and share.”

We are really excited to introduce you to Brett and his new discoveries. These are well-priced, honest wines that should be on every dinner table in Oakland.

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NIC COTURRI of SONOMA MTN WINERY

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Saturday, January 28th, 1-4pm, $10

Niccolo Coturri, or “Nic,” of Sonoma Mountain Winery is the son of the California natural wine legend Tony Coturri and Nephew of renowned Organic and Biodynamic viticulturist Phil Coturri. But don’t let this overdetermine your view of him. His wines are independently beautiful: truly some of the best natural wines coming of California.

But you wont find his wines or winery in any Sonoma guides. He works on a tiny scale out of a rented space and the well-patinated front seat of his Jeep Wrangler. He works exclusively with organic vineyards and actively works with the growers to produce impressive fruit. His wines are full of California sunshine, but not overripe or out of balance. He depends on native ferments and no additives of any kind.

We met Nic at a nondescript gate of a backyard winery in Sonoma. Walking into the barn-turned-winery-tasting-room, we were expecting a formal tasting with Nic behind the bar. Pleasantly surprised, we were led into the winery space and to a hand built tool bench all covered in hoses and gaskets and clamps, etc.

He pointed out the small scattering of barrels that belonged to him, and the very few pieces of equipment he used. Then clearing the space off a bit he pulled out 9 wines. I cant say I remember the vintage and variety of each wine, but they were all pure and captivating! In particular the 2011 Zinfandel with its rich figy fruit and bracing spice and acid that became a staple of every winter camping trip I took this year. Then the 2013 “Char’Mer,” a co-ferment of chardonnay and merlot with the fruit concentration and aromatics of a red and life and drive of a white. Nic told us this was the harvest beverage of choice for each of his picks saying his friends would yell “Char’mer’ica” in the vineyards. And lastly a wildly ripe and aromatic chardonnay like nothing I have tasted from California. Aromatics of tropical fruit with a densely structured palate with surprising acid and length.

– ALEX

Nic will be pouring five or six wines on Saturday, January 28th, from 1-4pm. $10 for the tasting.

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FORLORN HOPE w/ Matthew Rorick

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SATURDAY 
JANUARY 14th
1-4pm, $10 for six wines

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The word “forlorn” always reminds me of the last stanza of Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale,” when the distraught lover is suddenly torn from his romantic fairy dreamscape

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!

Poor guy. If he were having a glass at the bar, I would definitely give it to him on the house. After all, the guy obviously likes to drink. I imagine him ordering like this:

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green.

And I might turn and look in the cooler and find Matthew Rorick’s Pinot Gris “Ramato,” bursting with Dance, and California Song, and mirth. And after that glass, he might disclaim:

O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene. 

And I would turn and find Rorick’s “The Faufreluches” Gewürztraminer. And he would drink it down, in embalmed darkness, half in love with easeful death. Then I would pour him some Trousseau Noir, a thing utterly apart:

Away! away! for I will fly to thee, 
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy!

Come to the shop on Saturday to taste six rare creatures, lovingly crafted by Matthew Rorick. He makes wine in the Sierra Foothills. He doesn’t add yeast or anything else apart from a bit of so2, occasionally. The grape varieties are strange. The names are mysterious. The wines
}are for people in love with dreams.

2014 Verdelho, Que Saudade
2014 Alvarelhão, Suspiro del Moro
2015 Trousseau Noir, Estate
2015 Pinot Gris Ramato
2014 “King-Andrews” White Wine
2013 “The Faufreluches” Gewurtztraminer

Fee waived with $100 purchase

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Tartine Bakery benefit for Ghost Ship Victims

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Thursday and Friday, Dec 8-9, 4pm-sell out

“On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

Like many of you, I didn’t know what The Ghost Ship was until last week, when it burnt down and claimed the lives of at least 36 people. It’s a strange feeling, learning about a slice of utopia only after it’s been destroyed. A whole world opened but already gone. I feel a pain in my throat and chest when I think about what could have been: these 36 people brimming with eccentricity and creativity, flowering out into a city and a world that desperately needed them. Now silenced. Please take a minute to mourn for what we’ve all lost, and can never make right again. Please take a minute to imagine a better world.

On Thursday and Friday, starting at 4pm, Tartine Bakery will be selling a limited amount of country loaves, tea cakes and cookies at Ordinaire. All proceeds will be donated to the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, which has set up a Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Ghostship Oakland Fire. Ordinaire will also donate all profits during the bake sale to this fund. We encourage you to also give directly to this fund.

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Frank Cornelissen: Saturday Dec 3, 6-10pm

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I randomly visited Frank Cornelissen before I even knew what natural wine was; back before I knew that he was a controversial figure, making polarizing wines that continue to flare up into heated debates. Back then they were just wines: pure, precise, generous, almost dizzying in their complex generosity.

I was traveling in Sicily with Nicole. Our friends were getting married in nearby Cefalu, so we took 3 days and visited Etna. I called Frank and asked if we could visit. He said yes, which was nice, because he had nothing to gain from spending a long afternoon with two American tourists. We met at the pizza place and hopped in his Suzuki Trooper alongside his 10-year old daughter and started climbing into the vines, planted way up on the side of an active volcano. Frank pulled off the road and walked up to a vine. He explained that this vine requires a little more water so that’s why he dug out a little bowl around the base of the trunk, whereas the vine a few yards away was too vigorous, so he mounded dirt around the base in order to discourage pooling. Turns out he had a personal relationship with every vine. I was accustomed to winemakers talking about vineyard specificity and climate, but this was something else: this was viticulture at a microscopic level. I couldn’t believe it.

This almost impossible obsession with detail courses through all of Frank’s wines. They are truly unique: rich but precise, bursting with fruit but also saline and smoky. Perfect wine for winter. On Saturday evening, we will host Frank and taste through seven new releases, including the single-vineyard Munjebels, of which we received a whopping six bottles each. The cost is $20. Also, Diego will be serving braised lamb, like old times.

Contadino 2015 $30
Munjebel Rosso 2015 $42
Munjebel Rosso 2014 CS $62
Munjebel Rosso 2014 VA $62
Munjebel Rosso 2014 MC $62
Munjebel Rosso 2014 PC $62
Magma 2014 Rosso $225

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December 2016 Wine Club

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ORDINAIRE CLUB

Ryan Stirm 2016 Riesling Nouveau
Riesling is a bit of a divisive variety. Though at its best it’s touted and even fetishized by many sommeliers and wine folks, there’s such a glut of the stuff on the market that it’s easy to have a poor experience with wine made from the grape. While waiting tables at restaurants, recommending Riesling is often met with eye rolls, and the expectation of cloying aromatics and sweetness. Ryan Stirm, a true advocate for Riesling, would change any scoffer’s mind with his wines. Stirm believes that “this terpene-rich grape is the most dynamic, the most transparent, and the most exciting” grape for making wine. Stirm makes strikingly pure wines with a focus on vintage and terroir. He ferments with whole clusters and native yeasts, producing wines that let the vines, climate, and region speak for themselves. This 2016 Riesling Nouveau comes from his plot at Kick On Ranch in Santa Barbara, which he farms organically. Stirm bottled it without sulfur for our West Coast Nouveau party, and we loved it so much that we asked him for more. Fermented dry, this wine’s delicate, pretty aromatics and zing of acidity make this wine delicious as an aperitif or paired with dinner, especially one with a bit of spice. -Kara

Swick Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2015
Faced with the daunting onset of the new year, there’s a buzzing tension in the air. The right kind of anti-establisment sentiment, no matter the arena, has been hitting a deep sweet spot. One of my favorite small subversive activities at the shop is encouraging people to try wines that they wouldn’t otherwise choose. A perfect answer for both Loire Valley enthusiasts, looking for bright pretty reds, as well as for west coast wine enthusiasts exhausted by the typical heavier wines that come from our region, is Joe Swick’s elegant take on Pinot Noir. Joe is a quiet but mighty rebel in the face of conventional west coast wine. Using the grapes traditionally grown in Oregon, he overturns expectations with wines that speak with a wry, sassy whisper. Having made wine in California, New Zealand, Italy, Australia and Portugal, myopia is impossible for Swick. His experience shows in his wines, which are beautifully-balanced, quiet riots. The 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot is berry-fruited with soft herbs, cool-toned and warming at the same time. – Kara

EXTRAORDINAIRE CLUB

2012 Domaine Belluard Mont Blanc
I was first poured this wine from the neck of a cleanly sabered bottle after-hours at the shop. My drunk and drifting reach extended a glass to catch a cascade of softly spiced, honey-yellow bubbles. It came as an after-midnight revelation, and was just what I needed to give me the energy and composure to suggest that our buddies safely make their way home. Some drunkenly content sleep was in order for everyone that night. As I cleaned up the shop, every five minutes I would pause in order to revisit the wine, trying my best to keep up as it expanded and tempered into completeness. Bubbles dissipated and edges softened as it turned towards vinous. Fruit turned to spice, acid and minerality married, and just as the switch was flipped and the shop went dark for the night, I finished my last sip.
Mont Blanc is the top sparkling cuvée from Dominique Belluard, who makes wine for his family’s estate nestled in the Haute-Savoie, at the base of the Alps and just a stone’s throw away from Switzerland. Gringet is the grape; single variety, single vintage, one year on it’s lees. It’s a unique local variety that was close to extinction before Belluard championed the variety and showed the world its potential to make striking and contemplative wines. No abstract thought or intellect is required in order to understand them, and drinkers from all corners of the wine world are drawn toward their transportive abilities. These are mountain wines. Not the brambly, rustic kind, but noble and upright. There is a sense of polished luxury. Sleek and supple, like the leather upholstered seat of a European sports car with horsepower to lend. Mont Blanc can be a drink of celebration, but it is so much more. If given the time and attention it can truly take you places. -Quinn

2015 Vini Viti Vinci A Gégé
Like with any form of art or expression, sometimes a wine becomes so much more with context. When the wines of Nicholas Vauthier first arrived here in the shop, the labels were a constant topic of conversation with customers. They are weird, whimsical, and provocative. One of the more overtly risqué of the bunch was the label for his Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire “a Gégé”. It depicts a woman insouciantly reclining and reading a book with her legs spread, wearing nothing but what look like galoshes. The stark red, square Vini Viti Vinci label is placed very intentionally, framing her genitalia. For a time I thought nothing of it, just assuming it was inspired by the same naughty humor behind many natural wine labels.
Then we visited Nicholas at his winery in Northern Burgundy. We tasted through his cellar, and eventually approached a barrel of Gégé. As he filled his pipette and slipped us all a little taste of bright, juicy, cool Gamay, he provided us with some context. Gégé was Nicholas’ best friend, who unexpectedly passed away in his sleep on the last night of Vini Viti Vinci’s first harvest, in 2009. To honor him, Nicholas had a label designed that is inspired by the famously erotic oil painting “l’Origine du Monde” by Gustave Courbet, which Gégé had a print of hanging in his home. Courbet was an important leader of the Realist movement who rejected academic convention and was known for the audacity of his work. Shares some parallels with the natural wine movement, no? But anyways, just like that, a wine that I previously drank with simple pleasure has taken on another dimension of deeper meaning. R.I.P. Gégé, whose memory lives on in this spirited and expressive wine, made by the affectionate hands of his best friend. -Quinn
-Quinn

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LA SORGA

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Tasting Saturday, November 12th, 1-4pm

$10 for five wines

For me, the beauty of natural wine from the South of France is its diversity; the pastiche of forgotten and underrated grape varieties, the swaths of cheap land, and the acceptance of winemaking “heresy” make it the perfect place for experimentation. In 2008, Anthony Tortul set out to tell the story of the Languedoc-Roussillon in his own words, through La Sorga. Deep exploration of the native grapes of the region led his project zig-zagging back and forth throughout the region, searching for interesting vines. He now works with nine different vineyards. Old vines, biodynamics, nothing added, nothing taken away. With whimsical cuvée names and wildly illustrated labels, the bottles are instantly recognizable. Stacked with generous, complex fruit and minerality, these are wines with distinct swagger. Come by the shop tomorrow, as our friend (and masterful bread-baker) Tess joins us to pour through five of Tortul’s thought-provoking creations. -QKW

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Aurélien Laherte

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Wednesday, November 2, 6-9pm

Laherte Frères champagnes changed the game when Beaune Imports started bringing them in a few years ago. Organic farming and minimal intervention in the cellar result in champagnes that can seduce you with their warm orchard fruit and shock you with their chalky minerality. Also, by Champagne standards, they are cheap– cheaper even than that yellow label swill that all your friends are going to show up with at the holiday party.

Plus these wines are made by a real person. His name is Aurélien. He is in town next week, so we are doing a special Wednesday tasting. We will pour four or five wines, ranging from their base level wines to some more obscure stuff. It’s likely you will decide to make them your go-to bubbles this winter. So we are offering discounts on purchases of 4 or more bottles. Winter is coming.

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MARCO BURATTI

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Saturday, October 29, 1-4pm

We’re excited to welcome Italian winemaker Marco Buratti to the shop this Saturday. Marco makes wine in the Colli Euganei, a beautiful, mountainous National Park in the Veneto. His wines are a characterful product of rich volcanic soils, gentle natural farming and hands-off, intuitional winemaking. These are amplified, complex mountain wines that are honest and thirst inspiring. Come say hey, chat with Marco, and taste through these limited and unique expressions of Northern Italy.

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Autumn Mixed Case

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$220 for 12 bottles. Normal price $260. Limited.

Kara and Alex put together the 12 best bottles for fall. Here they are, with descriptions and pairings. Respond to this email if you want to reserve, or just swing by the shop. 

2015 Matassa – Coume de l’olla 
A blend of 70% Grenache Noir, 20% Grenache Gris and 10% Macabeu from New Zealander Tom Lubbe.  He is on the isolated hillside of Vivier in the Roussillon farming . Drinks with tart cranberry fruit and complex aromatics.  Have it with a rich meal that includes offal.

2015 Broc Cellars  – Love White
A California Marsanne-based wine for a cooler night.  Aromas of almonds and baked apples come to mind from this unassuming wine.  Open it up, roast a chicken, make sure you have a second bottle for when its time to eat.

2015 Les Foulards Rouges – Le Fond de l’Air est Rouge
Carbonic Cinsault from the Languedoc with zero sulfur added.  Like beaujolais with a tan.  Pour yourself a glass first since this juice will empty quickly.

2015 Herve Villemade – Cuvee Bovin
Brambly high toned “co-op style” Gamay.  Bottled in vintage Loire liter co-op winery bottles since 750ml wouldn’t be enough.  Hold on to the classic glass for another use…

2015 Amplify Wine – Carignane
Whole cluster, semi-carbonic Carignan from Santa Ynez Valley.  Bright, herbaceous California juice. Cool breeze and crushed leaf vibes.

2014 Les Genestas – Signargues Cotes Du Rhone Villages
Blue fruited Cotes du Rhone blend made at a ten grower co-op.  Pairs with anything cooked in a dutch oven all afternoon.

2014 Thomas Batardiere – L’esprit Libre
Chenin from Anjou full of spice and sharp pome fruit.  Pour this as an aperitif for your best guests.  It will jive with you hors d’oeuvres spread and make your friends crave whatever crispy caramelized main dish your serving.

NV Nathalie Gaubicher – Patapon! (Pet-nat)
Chenin Blanc pet-nat from the Loire.  Truly the most “finished” pet-nat we’ve ever had!  Toasty and bright with orchard fruit and a lasting structure.

2015 La Roche Buissiere – Rosé
This juice has drive.  Cotes de Rhone rosé of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Syrah; showing petrichor and grapefruit pith.  The fruit is much less elusive on the palate bringing you back for another whiff.

2015 Rafa Bernabe – El Carro
Muscat of Alexandria from a vineyard inside the Natural Park of La Mata Torrevieja called “Pago El Carro”.  This park is littered with sandy salt flats that bring out a highly mineral and briny citrus quality in the resulting wine.

2015 Ruth Lewandowski – Feints 
Barbera, Dolcetto, and Arneis, grown in Mendocino and fermented in Utah.  Brambly berry fruit and game with lively acidity and just enough tannin.  This hibiscus-hued wine is as wily as its name suggests.

2015 Shacksbury X Ainara Otano – Basque Cider
A collaboration of VT cider maker Shacksbury with Ainara Otaño of Petritegi Sagardoa in Astigarraga, Spain.  Cider as it used to be cloudy, still and tasting of an orchard during fall harvest.  Pour from on high and serve with plates of briny olives, salty cheeses, and many tiny fish.

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Domaine de l’Ecu Tasting

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Saturday Tasting: Domaine de l’Ecu

Saturday, October 8, 1-4pm, $10

MUSCADET TASTING! This Saturday our friend and importer Nadia Dmytriw will join us to pour through the wines of Domaine de l’Ecu. Visionary winemaker Guy Bossard (left) established the property in the mid-seventies, a time when most farming and winemaking in France was in full swing towards conventional. Bossard stuck to his guns and farmed his vines organically from the start, providing his recent predecessor Frederik Niger Van Herck (right) with 25 hectares of healthy, well established vineyards to work with. Their winemaking is focused on creating pure, un-obstructed expressions of one of France’s most geologically diverse growing regions. Hand harvesting, natural fermentations, little to no sulfur, and a 10 month minimum lees aging are markers of their iconic house style. We will pour one sparkling, three still whites, and one very limited and experimental Cabernet Franc aged in amphora. These are bracing and powerful wines that inspire appetite (oysters anyone?) while conjuring sharp images of their distinct place of origin. Come taste and say hey!

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Nicolas Vauthier Tasting

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Saturday, September 10th, 1-4pm, $10

I’m sitting here in Chicago. It’s 7 o’clock at night and it’s 92 degrees. I’m cooking dinner for my kids and the little A/C unit is too small to compete with the pork I’m braising and too loud for me to think, so I turn it off, open the windows, and just let the heat engulf me. Why did I braise pork? That was stupid. I just focus on the cool juice leaking out of the bloody tomatoes and the green turgidity of the cilantro bunch that I’m maliciously chopping into nothingness.

Francisco has decided that he wants an egg. Truth is that the pork is not going to be done until 8:30 and with all the prep and Lupita’s leisurely bottle, it probably makes sense for me to just treat the pork like five-star leftovers, serve him an egg with a wedge of cheddar, give him a bath, and call it a night.

“You want an egg?”

“Ya, oggy dada.”

“Ok. I’ll cook you an oggy.” At least it’s a really expensive egg from some farm.

I open the fridge to get the egg and there, down by the mustard and the coconut water, is this bottle of red wine, shrouded in a crescendo of fog that has bloomed from the violent clash of domestic climates. I actually try to swipe the fog away with a backhanded motion. I feel like Frodo Baggins, or maybe even Hamlet. I bend down close to look at this thing I forgot existed, grab the neck, and twist it around. It clanks against the other bottles, remnants of other hot nights, living out their days in cool lassitude. Sweat beads on the bottle like a hundred spider eyes.

It’s Nicolas Vauthier. A Pinot Noir from Northern Burgundy. It takes over my life. I fumble for a corkscrew and tear the bottle open, pour it into the closest vessel and gulp it with a melodrama that doesn’t make me feel self-conscious one damn bit.

I cook the egg without breaking the yolk. Give Lupita her bottle. Put the kids in bed. Take out the pork and eat it until pleasure has become entirely divorced from necessity.

Come to the shop this Saturday, 1-4pm, to taste all the new Vauthier wines. $10. They are the fucking best and I’m so happy we have them in the shop. Ciao.

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METHODE SAUVAGE

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Saturday 1-4pm, $10, with winemaker Chad Hinds

When a bunch of industry folks get together in the afternoon and start drinking and eating, 99% of the time they start with something European, usually French. But a couple of months ago, a bunch of us were prepping a suckling pig for a big going away party, and the first wine we cracked open was the Wunderkind Chenin Blanc from Chad Hinds. We poured it around into tumblers and everyone gulped it down like it was lemonade. We actually started just calling it lemonade. Someone poured it over ice and slaked their thirst while manning the spit. It was a perfect wine: unfiltered, bursting with flowers and stone fruit, and with a certain energy that kept me coming back for more. I can’t think of another California wine that I wanted to drink so much. Sure, there may be “greater” white wines being made in California, but nothing this crushable. Chad even bottled a little bit of it without any sulfur additions, just for Ordinaire. Look for the little Ø on the back.

Chad is going to pour a full line-up of wines on Saturday: three Chenin Blancs and two Cabernet Francs, some of which are being pulled straight from the barrel. They are delicious wines that make me excited about the next generation of California winemakers. They are also extremely well-priced, so swing by, taste, and grab a few bottles for your weekend BBQ. Also, Chad is a great dude, whom you should all meet!

 

2015 ‘Wunderkind’ North Coast Chenin Blanc (Zero Cuvee)

2014 Vista Verde Vineyard San Benito County Chenin Blanc

2015 Vista Verde Vineyard San Benito County Chenin Blanc (Barrel Sample)

2015 Alegria Vineyard Russian River Valley Cabernet Franc (Zero Cuvee)

2015 Bates Ranch Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Franc (Barrel Sample)

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“Pique Nique Ordinaire” at Camino

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SUNDAY JULY 31st, 5pm

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

They are limited and required! 

Allison, Russ and I all agree that wine dinners suck. Here’s how they work:

Sit down. Wait too long for first course. First course is fucking small! Get first glass of wine. 1oz! Gone in 8 seconds. Next course comes. Is that risotto? Again? Wait 15 minutes for 1 oz of next wine. Winemaker gives boring speech about the kinds of barrels he uses. You pay too much. Then go eat a Kronner Burger because you are still hungry.

Here’s how Pique-Nique Ordinaire works:

You arrive and Quinn, Quentin and I pour you a big glass of the freshest sparkling rosé you’ve ever tasted. Say you finish a glass. We pour you another one. You meander around the restaurant eating delicious snacks, then sit down and eat some more. We pour you another round of rosé. Then you eat more. And we pour you another round of rosé. Oh wait, there’s more food? Yea. Eat some more. And drink more too. You pay $75 (tip included) and you are stuffed and probably pretty drunk too.

The best food from the best restaurant and tons of rosé to wash it down. It’s the picnic of the year. And it’s at Camino. Buy tickets here. Also, if you sign up for the wine club, you get $5 off. 

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New Wines from Clos du Tue Boeuf

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SATURDAY JULY 16th, 1-4pm, 6 wines for $10

Thierry Puzelat turned fifty this year and, in a way, so did natural wine. I don’t mean to say that natural wine was born in 1966; in fact, it started millennia ago, somewhere in Mesopotamia, I assume. Rather, it seems to me (and I’ve only been in the game a few years so take this with a grain of salt) that natural wine as a cultural movement is at a certain historical juncture where it has begun to reflect on its own conditions of being, its identity as a movement, and the contours of its future. And while most movements, 50 years on, either fizzle out into ill-defined grayness or splinter into fractious sects, natural wine has proved capable of both broadening its walls and maintaining its lively communal character. I think a lot of this has to do with people like Thierry and the wines he makes with his brother at Clos du Tue Boeuf. Whatever else these wines might be—complex, terroir-driven, whole-cluster, naturally-fermented—they are above all generous, like the people who make them, proven by the drives of friends who traveled across the world to celebrate with Thierry. The claim these wines make on the drinker is that they be enjoyed without restraint, preferably in the company of friends, with simple food full of fat and salt. On Saturday we will pour all six of the new releases. Drink up. Get a plate of charcuterie. And raise a glass to Thierry.

We will taste:

VDF Rosé
VDF Rouge
P’tit Blanc
P’tit Buisson
Rouillon
Guerrerie

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PURITY WINES

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Saturday, July 9th, 1-4pm

six wines for $10

Earlier this year Noel Diaz poured his eclectic brood of PURITY WINES at the Brumaire Wine Fair. He was tucked in just behind the staircase, and despite being one of the smallest and newest producers, he was inundated with tasters from start to finish. He had brought a huge, glass tear-drop carboy full of a hazy elixir that shimmered a deep, irresistible gold. Smiling his broad smile, he was rapidly pulling samples from what was his entire production of a skin-fermented white wine. It smelled of coriander, white flower and ripe summer peaches, with a grippy texture that reminded me of wines from the South of Italy. It was a memorable wine that appealed to all of the senses. Then there was his rosé—earthy, minerally, and viscous all at once—which I came back to again and again to wash down my tacos, and a smattering of delightful oddities (Marsanne pet-nat!), each with something unique to say.

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I had tasted Noel’s wines at various times in the preceding months, but it was at Brumaire that I finally woke up. Noel is making some of the coolest wines in California: rich, expressive, transparent and full of soul.

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After the fair, Noel sent me the best thank you note, which concluded: “Let the revolution grow and foster on sustenance like those righteous tacos…a little at a time, we will rise above the tyranny of industrialized crap.” Come by on Saturday and taste the revolution. Noel makes very little wine (8 cases of this, 10 cases of that), and it is very well-priced ($18-$24), so come early. We will taste six wines.

Barbera
Pinot Gris
Grenache Rosé
Syrah
Roussanne
Marsanne

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FIFI IMPORTS TASTING, JUNE 25, 1-4pm

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Fifi has only been importing wines for a few years, but he is already a legend. How do I know he’s a legend? Because I don’t even know his last name. I don’t even know if Fifi is his real name. He’s the Madonna of wine. He used to run The Ten Bells, a wine bar in New York that introduced natural wine to the United States. Now he imports wines from the producers he met while living and traveling in France over the course of his entire life. Did I mention he’s French? Legend! When I visited him in his small Crown Heights cave last year, he opened 16 bottles for me to taste, and then sent me home with all the open bottles. Legend! Right now his wines only come to California two or three time per year, crawling cross-country in the most highly anticipated refrigerated containers of the season. A new one just landed! And Fifi is in town. And this Saturday we are hosting him for a tasting from 1-4pm. We will pour some wines you’ve seen on Instagram (Métras, Anglore, etc.) and some other wines that just don’t give a fuck (Allion, Foulards Rouges, etc.). $10 for five or six wines. Ciao.

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SQIRL POP-UP, JUNE 25, 6-late

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I know Sqirl as the place that serves perfect food. You go there, you order whatever, you drink your juice or coffee, and out comes a bowl of something tastier (and healthier!) than anything you’ve had all month. I was at a wedding in LA a few months ago and I met Jessica Koslow, the person behind Sqirl. Go figure she like natural wine. We hit if off. I think we briefly played air guitar if I’m not mistaken. Now Jessica is popping up at Ordinaire! She’ll be making savory late night snacks (fermented popcorn! terrines!) that will have you thirsty for cold Gamay. Starts at six and we will go until we sell out, which I expect will happen rather quickly. Fortunately there will be plenty of wine to drink.

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LE COSTE

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SATURDAY JUNE 18, 1-4pm

6 wines for $15

“Le Coste Vineyard began in February 2004 with the purchase of three hectares of abandoned land known as ‘Le Coste,’ which had once been a garden of vines and olives.

The vineyard has since grown and now covers about 14 hectares, 3 of young vines planted by us, 4 of old vines (40 to 60 years of age) which we rent, 4 of olive trees, and 3 of ancient terraces returned to woodland which we intend to clear in order to reintroduce the old system of mixed farming and the rearing of local breeds of animals for both meat and milk.

The vineyard is situated in Gradoli, in the province of Viterbo, on the border with Tuscany, 40 kms from the Mediterranean coast. Lying at 450ms above sea level, in the hills overlooking the Lake of Bolsena, the soil is loose and friable, derived from the underlying volcanic rocks and ashes, rich in iron and minerals.

On all the property we practice “natural” agriculture, without any official certification, but with great respect for the environment, in order to create a natural balance which intensive farming would certainly disturb. To this end we cultivate mixed crops, vines, olives, fruit trees and green manures.

The wine is made without technological processing or chemical additives; fermentation occurs spontaneously due to indigenous yeasts without adding sulphur dioxide; malolactic fermentation follows naturally, usually after the alcoholic fermentation, sometimes ending in the spring.”

– Gianmarco

Litrozzo Bianco $25

Produced naturally with the grapes from the pergolas, table grapes and those of lesser quality, with the idea of offering a light unpretentious wine, table wine as it used to be, to drink with meals every day.

Bianco $39

80% Procanico, with Tuscan Malvasia, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Vermentino, Greco, Ansonico and other grapes, macerated briefly with the skins, fermented in vats for about three weeks, matured in barrels of various sizes for about a year.

Le Coste Bianco $68

85% Procanico, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Vermentino, Roscetto, Verdello, Greco Antico, Ansonico, all from Le Coste, crushed briefly by foot, pressed and decanted for a few days, then fermented slowly in a 12 hl barrel of French oak in a natural cave for about a year.

Le Coste Olio $27

the best olive oil. nuf said.

Litrozzo Rosso $25

Produced naturally with the grapes from the pergolas, table grapes and those of lesser quality, with the idea of offering a light unpretentious wine, table wine as it used to be, to drink with meals every day.

Rosso $35

Mainly Greghetto (a local variety of Sangiovese), with a little Cannaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and Vaiano, as they grow mixed on the vines. Fermented for about a month with the skins in vats of French oak and chestnut, then matured for about a year in barrels of Slavonian oak.

Le Coste Rosso $68

Made from the local Greghetto and older strains of Sangiovese, cru Le Coste.  Yielding naturally about 30hl per hectare, the whole grapes are macerated in open vats of French oak where they ferment for about two months. After pressing, the wine ages for about two years in small barrels.

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Mason-Pacific Preview Bistro w/ Chef Max Mackinnon

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Thursday & Friday (6/16-6/17), 6-close

Mason-Pacific is a little neighborhood place perched up on Russian Hill. The honest food and deep list of Burgundy has made it an infamous late night hangout for the entire San Francisco wine industry. Back in February, they recruited Max from Burlington, Vermont, where he earned a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant while running the kitchen at Pistou. But before Max could get started, there was a fire in the kitchen, and Max has been plotting menus for their July re-opening ever since. Lucky for us, Max digs natty wine, and asked if he could try out some ideas at a pop-up bistro. He will be cooking this Thursday and Friday. Change your plans and join us. Below is the menu:

Chicken Liver   $10
onion, raspberry

Carrots   $11
mussel, curry, basil

Endive   $9
walnut, sourdough, caesar

Beef Tartare   $15
scallion, mustard, egg yolk

Poached Trout   $21
cabbage, horseradish

Braised Lamb   $23
eggplant, onion

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La Garagista, 5/28, 1-4pm

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This Saturday we are excited to host the incomparable Deirdre Heenkin, the woman behind La Garagista, a winery in Vermont that is changing how people think about farming, terroir, and wine in general. She attended Brumaire in March after receiving a travel scholarship from Ordinaire. In exchange, she wrote a short vignette answering the question “Why do you make Natural Wine?” Below you will find her answer.

On Saturday we will taste:

Ci Confondre Pétillant Blanc
Ci Confondre Pétillant Rosé
Brianna Pétillant
La Crescent, Vinu Jancu
Frontenac Noir, Loups-Garroux

All the wines are $39 retail. The tasting costs $10. Deirdre will also be signing her new book, An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir. Come early. The wines are as unique as they are rare.

Why do I make natural wine?

Standing  here in our homefarm vineyard pruning on an elemental March day, I feel the warm sun on my back.  It’s supposed to still be winter here, but instead it’s a strangely mild day on our alpine hill.  The air is slightly damp, and I can smell the woodsmoke of vine prunings burning.  I think of roast sausages and onions over the fire.  Suddenly the slow accumulation of these sensory experiences transports me to a sunny spring day in the gray stone clad hills above the ancient temples of Paestum in southern Italy.   Something about the opaque spring sun is familiar.  

My husband Caleb and I drive on a rutted Roman road with our good friend Bruno.  Bruno is a winegrower in the south of Italy, the garden of Italy, in the region of the Valle di Diano, a fertile countryside, a meeting of mountain and sea.  We drive up a steep incline into a small parcel of vines tucked on the backside of a hill. In my memory it faces south-east, turned slightly away from the Mediterranean lapping at the shores, somewhere below. 

Bruno’s car is low slung and as the vehicle grinds to an abrupt stop, he curses elegantly into the still morning air.  Very quickly the situation becomes clear that the car is stuck in the track below the vines, a couple of grooves in white, friable soil that is damp and dark , wet even underneath, grooves made by a tractor, or another car,  or a chariot from another time.  We leave it for later, putting off pushing the car out of its trap, or calling for help.  Instead,  we grasp at more immediate pleasures, and we walk up into this young vineyard, neatly pruned  and planted with oats grown to mid-thigh.  Bruno says it’s time to cut.  Instinctively all three of us brush the furry fruits at the top of the oat stems with our fingers as we swish through the growth.

Bruno tells us these burgeoning vines are all native Falanghina, their little leaves of green unfurling from tight buds, moving slowly toward the sunlight.  The air smells of heat, wet clay, wet stones,  and an indefinable green perfume that comes from the chartreuse leaves pushing out everywhere, on all the trees and new plants and flowers from the hedgerow.  We speak of farming.  Cover crops.  Plant teas.  Copper.  Sulphur. Compost.  Moon cycles.  We speak of family farms, the beauty and difficulties, the differences and the solidarities.  We speak of his brother-in-law, whom he says has a perfectly attuned palate for these vineyards that the family farms together, especially and in a particular for one of their vineyards planted to the noble Aglianico.  Bruno tells of how his brother-in-law walks the rows of ripening, dark fruit close to harvest, tasting berries here and there, gauging, sensing, listening.  When the flavors coalesce in a way that calls to his intuition, he calls the pick and the crew rallies and the black ruby fruit comes in.

In Bruno’s telling, I am mesmerized by this story, by the notion that someone might know a vineyard so well that he or she can intuit that singular moment in which the minor tragedies and glories of a season unfold in layers of flavor, texture, acidity, tension in a way that foretells the future of the fermention and the fruit into the wine.  At that moment, this little diamond -like revelation  is so shiny that the magpie in me becomes enchanted and wants to understand this kind of magic.  I want to be able to do this too.

By then I knew I wanted to be a good farmer, this was why we had come to Bruno to learn, but this was really before I was aware of the fluid notion of natural wine,  of what it meant to be a vigneronne, a winegrower, a person who acted as an intuitive guide and a companion to her vines as well as the wine.  This was before I knew about the limestone and various clays in the valley soils of Vermont, or the volcanic shists, quartz, amphibolites, slates, and garnets  of our homefarm and mountain vineyard.  It was before  I knew how to identify horsetail and stinging nettle, wild white yarrow in our hedgerows.  This was before we had planted more than a hundred vines on our land that had long ago been home to herds of sheep stolen from Spanish nobility.  This was before we would meet a man at a dinner party who knew a man with a local vineyard who might be willing to sell me some fruit.  This was before Bruno sat at our own dining table in a farmhouse in snow-clad Vermont mountains and tasted wines that I had made in buckets in our claw-footed bathtub from grapes without provenance bought at market in Boston and that had traveled from California.  This was before Bruno would give me a knickname, that of Capotosta, or hardheaded.  This was before Bruno would give me my first task when we learned from the man at the dinner party who knew a man with a local vineyard that we could come pick fruit.  

Taste the fruit.  See the fruit.  Pick the fruit by hand, he said to me.  Choose your clusters.  Destem by hand.  Sort the berries.  Crush by your feet.  Press in a simple ratchet press.  Ferment in glass jars.  Do it the way the old farmers  did it.  Become a peasant.  

This was the moment in which desire and hope entwined and while I didn’t understand what it meant, I knew what I felt and what I wanted to do, had to do.  As I looked out over the intimate little vineyard embraced by the shifting and swaying oats and mixed flowers and we followed Bruno around the perimeter and he showed us how to identify and pick wild asparagus beneath the trees, I became electric.  This was the first piece in a large and ever-evolving puzzle in which I would take the first steps down this thorny but beautifully scented path, this was when I knew I wanted to be a winegrower, someone like Bruno who was passionate and thoughtful and learned in the ways of the vineyard, and someone like his brother-in-law who could see the story of a place and  a vintage in the world of a single ripe grape.   This was the moment when I knew I wanted to grow wine that could be luminous with history, nostalgia, love, spirit, purity, and honesty.  This was the moment when, for the third time in my life, I stood poised on an edge.  And jumped. 

 

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The Wines of Joe Swick: 5/20/2016, 1-4pm

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On Wednesday, I went to a big trade tasting that featured about 100 wines from 40 or so producers. These events are always hard for me. They are great for tasting a bunch of wines, but, despite careful note-taking, the wines always run together in my memory, persisting as a small, winedark sea that is generally pleasant but otherwise useless for wine buying purposes. Add to this my predilection for chatting, drinking, losing my tasting sheet, and making sure my toddler doesn’t get into the spit buckets, and it’s amazing that I manage to remember anything. But at this particular event, there was a set of wines unlike anything I have ever tasted.

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John Swick is a winemaker in Oregon. After brief stints making wine in Portugal, New Zealand, Italy, Australia, and California, he broke out on his own and, inspired by the wines he had discovered in France, started making completely natural wines. In his words: “Nothing added, nothing taken away.  I like experiencing everything, including wines, as raw as possible. This is the most authentic expression of place and growing year as possible.”

We talk a lot about natural wines, but people don’t realize how rare they are on the West Coast. As far as I know, Tony Coturri is the only producer making all of his wines completely without additions. And John Swick is the second. But unlike Coturri’s dense, extracted wines, Swick’s are lightly fruited, with bright acidity and exuberant floral aromatics. They are utterly unique in the way they combine lush, new world fruit character with the minerality and acidic snap I associate with wines from the Loire Valley or the Jura.

We will pour these four wines:

2015 “Les Sous-Bois” Pinot Gris

2015 Melon de Bourgogne

2015 Crooked Acres Pinot Gris (macerated Pinot Gris)

2015 Gris Foncé (Pinot Noir/Gris coferment)

The wines are very special and should not be missed. Hope to see you there.

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Cruse Wine Co. with Mike Cruse

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Saturday, May 14th, 1-4pm, $15

Like most people who work in wine, I always get a little bit happier when Mike Cruse walks through the door. He’s a seemingly bottomless reservoir of goodwill, quick wit and—how to put this?—thirstiness. And I don’t just mean thirst for wine. I mean thirst for just about everything. Thirst for conversation, for knowledge, for gossip, for recent discoveries, for tales of child rearing, for an opinion on the recent elections in France, for your idea of how a Pet Nat should be made, how duck liver should be cooked, or how a bottle of Beaujolais should be consumed. You tell him, and then, just like that, he starts telling you what he thinks, and he’s got these long, well-reasoned opinions that are so fun to hear. There’s this lovely balance between the idle flow across disparate topics and a certain reflective rigor that gives texture and direction to the conversation. I could talk to Mike all damn afternoon.

 

I can picture Mike reading this paragraph, thinking: this is where Bradford is supposed to draw an analogy between my personality and my wines. Mike’s thinking: are my wines down to earth? gregarious? friendly? Is that a good thing?

 

The truth is that Mike makes a range of wines, from a lightly fruited sparkling Valdiguié to a brooding and structured Syrah. The wines go where they want to go. They bear the mark of a winemaker who is still fascinated by what he can learn from grapes, and who delights in the mysteries of fermentation even as he attempts to discern its rational core. The wines themselves are buoyed by this tension: between a playfulness that moves lateral to analysis and a seriousness that propels one to become involved in the wine’s complex matrix of flavors.

 

Perhaps it is for this reason that Mike is one of the few winemakers able to move easily in almost all wine circles: slamming bottles of Beaujolais at Ordinaire on Wednesday, then sniffing old Burgundy with the somm set on Friday. And always finishing with Champagne.

 

On Saturday, we will pour all of Mike’s new wines. Because he keeps getting mentioned in the New York Times and showing up on celebrity Instagram accounts, many of the wines are only sold direct to consumer. But we are going to pour everything on Saturday, including the stuff that doesn’t get released to retail. So it’s a chance to get the wines if you aren’t on the mailing list. More than that, it’s a chance to chat with Mike. See you then.

 

 

2015 Muscat

2014 Chardonnay

2015 Sparkling St. Laurent

2015 Sparkling Valdiguié

2015 Valdiguié (Magnum)

2015 Monkey Jacket Red Wine Blend

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APRIL WINE CLUB

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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.

Cheers,

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 cakikrovistes 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

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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.IMG_3174

 

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.

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VINI VITI VINCI

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When I sit down to write about a wine, or a winemaker, or really anything else for that matter, there’s always a first decision: whether to take the objective or subjective approach. Do I, for example, describe a vineyard, a climate, a technique and style; or do I talk about how such-and-such wine makes me feel, how it came out of the void and struck me with its vital personality, creating a memory to which I return every time I see the bottle on the shelf?

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With the wines of Nicolas Vauthier, or “Kikro” as he is affectionately known, it can only be the latter. That’s a picture ok Kikro in a vineyard near Irancy.

Two years ago, Quinn and I were dining at Chateaubriand. As some of you may know, eating at Chateaubriand can be frustrating: the menu is always changing, they are pushing the boundaries, experimenting on their customers, trying out dishes that aren’t yet perfect. So sometimes the place just fails. But when it all clicks, it’s an exhilarating experience—unparalleled, in my opinion. I’ve had the greatest meals of my life there. And tonight was one of them.

Back before natural wine was de rigeur in every neo-bistro in Paris, Chateaubriand filled out its list with the most progressive and eclectic set of natural wines anyone had ever seen: Robinot, Peron, Overnoy, Jambon, the list goes on. The list is now quite large, full of things unavailable anywhere else, served unpretentiously and enthusiastically. We started with a zero-so2 Gringet from Belluard and then about 5 minutes later, bottle just about empty, asked our server for a light red that we could drink throughout the meal.

Sébastien came back to the table a few minutes later, unceremoniously poured out two glasses, and rushed backed to the packed bar, bottle in hand. Quinn and I settled into it. It was iridescent ruby in color—a joy to swirl, to watch it shimmer in the soft light of the restaurant. Quinn sniffs it first and I see a big smile spreading across his face. I even got a picture of it!

 

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It smells the way that only natural wine can smell: like fresh raspberries picked along the side of the highway, like a handful of fresh basil, like the skin of a ripe tomato, like a thunderstorm. We are relieved when Sébastien returns with the whole bottle: a Pinot Noir from Irancy, in the far north of Burgundy, up close to Chablis. The winemaker is Nicolas Vauthier, and the name of the winery is Vini Viti Vinci. We finish the whole thing with ease as a parade of perfect dishes came out of the kitchen—I remember, in particular, a dish of raw potato, cut into long pasta strands, tossed with heavy cream infused with pungent thyme branches. Quinn and I agreed it was pretty much the best meal we’d ever had, and the Vauthier wine stayed in our minds for the rest of the trip.

Turns out the wines are not available on the West Coast. One cuvée is imported on the East Coast, but really nothing much is available besides that. It seemed crazy to us that these wines were not being enjoyed in California. So we partnered with our good friend Josh Eubank to import the wines. It’s an exciting moment for us—our first “Ordinaire” selection, if you will. But really we had very little to do with it. Someone poured us this wine. We liked it. We bought it. And now we are offering it to you.

All the wines arrived this morning. We’ll open them on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4pm. The cost is $10.  If you want to buy the wines, but cannot make the tasting, send me an email at bradford@ordinairewine.com. We’ll set you up.

And sorry I never got the objective part of this write-up. I suppose there’s enough of that in this world.

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Podere Pradarolo, Thursday, 6-10pm

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Our friend Giovanni of Scuola di Vino is back in town, toting around a mystery bag of natural wine from across Italy. He’ll be in the shop this Thursday night, pouring the mind-bending and transportive wines of Podere Pradarolo, an estate in the hills of Parma devoted to making sulfur free wines of dramatic depth and complexity. He is bringing along six different wines: a silky, supple and rich Barbera, two long-macerated whites made from Malvasia, two delicious dessert wines, and what he claims to be the only traditional method sparkling orange wine in Italy. I tasted a sample bottle with him the other night that had been open for two days. It was completely flat, slightly oxidized, and entirely transcendent. Can’t wait to taste the wine in it’s intentional state. This is the first time these wines are gracing our shelves here at Ordinaire, and we’re really excited. It’s guys like Giovanni that keep this business real and interesting, so come show a small importing company of integrity some love. See you there!

2012 Malvasia “VEJ BRUT” $52
2006 Malvasia “VEJ” $33
2005 Malvasia “VEJ” $33
2012 Barbera “VELIUS” Rosso $25
2010 Malvasia “FRINIRE DI CICALE” $48
NV Termarina “IL CANTO DE CIO” $50

Taste all 6 wines for $10.

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BICHI WINES + LUYT WINESSaturday February 27th 1-4pm

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We are super super excited to host Jair Tellez, chef of the incomparable Laja Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico, and now the guy behind the equally incomparable Bichi Winery in Tecate. A few years ago, he left his post as chef at a Top 50 San Pellegrino Restaurant in order to devote his life to resurrecting the old vines of Baja. And better yet, he’s committed to working naturally: organic farming, native yeasts, and as of this vintage, no so2 whatsoever. THESE ARE MEXICAN WINES FROM THE FUTURE. COME TASTE THE FUTURE!

Also, last minute, our good friend Louis-Antonie Luyt decided to fly up from Patagonia. Luyt is good buddies with Jair and helps out with the winemaking at Bichi. He also makes his own wines down in Chile. They are, simply put, the best wines made in South America. Also, Luyt likes to party. So put some hot sauce in your bag and wear your party shoes.

So we are pouring 4-5 Bichi wines and 3 Luyt wines and the cost is $15 for all the wines. 1-4pm.

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QUAIL BISTRO, 2/19, 6-10pm

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Tim Edmonds is a chef who lives in Pescadero. He’s planning to open his own place this year (keep your eyes peeled!), but in the meantime, he’s been doing a bunch of catering projects and raising some quail on his property. Yes, that’s right, he raises quail. He hatches the eggs, raises the chicks, lets them eat the grass, and then plucks their feathers and cooks them. He also has a big garden where he grows most of the produce for his catering projects. Funny thing is that he doesn’t seem to realize how awesome this is. He’s just raising quail. Whatever.
Tim will be cooking this Friday at Ordinaire. He’s carting up the birds and vegetables in the morning and then cooking from 6pm until we sell out. Menu will look something like this, but it depends on what’s fresh that morning.
beet poke
chickpea panisse, fava leaf pesto
crispy brussel sprouts, bacon jam, goat cheese
grilled quail, cabbage salad
fried quail, polenta, spicy greens
Reservations available for parties of five or more. Otherwise just walk in, bring some friends, grab a bottle, and have some fun.
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Hervé Villemade: 20 February, 1-4pm

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We deeply believe in every wine that we sell. But each for different reasons. Often our favorite wines are confusing, mercurial, recalcitrant, cerebral, fragile, or ephemeral. Robinot comes to mind. Philippe Jambon, of course, and many others. We love these wines not in spite of these eccentricities, but because of them. But we also have wines that are downright dependably delicious every single time: wines that are soulful, well-structured and immediately satisfying. Julien Guillot comes to mind, as does Thierry Puzelat. And Hervé fits into this second category. His wines are well-priced and always good: bright, fruity, complex and refreshing. They are benchmark natural wines that always have a place in the shop.
His family has been making wine in Cheverny for generations. In the nineties, after farming conventionally for a few years, he decided to start converting to organics, and after tasting the results, he never turned back. He works with Gamay, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cot, Pinot Noir, Menu Pineau and Romorantin. He has a deft touch in the cellar, preferring large, neutral fermentation vessels and very small amounts of sulfur. He also hunts, and makes terrine out of the animals he shoots.

This Saturday, Hervé will visit the shop and pour six of his wines, including a back vintage of Romorantin just so you can get a sense of this grape’s unique evolution.

1-4pm. $10.

2014 Villemade Cheverny Blanc $18
2012 Villemade Cheverny Blanc Les Bodices $26
2014 Villemade Cheverny Rouge $18
2012 Villemade Cheverny Rouge Les Ardilles $25
2014 Villemade Cour-Cheverny Acacias $37
2008 Villemade Cour-Cheverny Petit Acacia $40

If you can’t make the tasting but would like to purchase the wines, reply to this email. We’ll try to figure something out.

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ALICE FEIRING: TASTING AND DINNER SATURDAY 1/23

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Alice Feiring is coming to town. If you don’t know who Alice Feiring is, then you should google her. But you probably know who she is, and you’re thinking, “Shit, this is fucking awesome. Alice is coming to town?!”

We are doing a special Saturday tasting. Alice has chosen five wines from some of her favorite importers: José Pastor, Selection Massale, and Percy Selections. So we are pouring an Alice-curated-super-line-up from 2 to 5pm. The cost is $15. If you sign up for her incomparable newsletter, then we waive the tasting fee.

We are pouring these wines:

Tripoz Fleur d’Aligoté
Jean-Pierre Rietsch Quand le chat n’est pas là
Vinos-Ambiz “white wine from the future”
Christian Ducroux Expectatia (Augustinian “red” wine)
Goyo Garcia Cobrero

Can’t get much better than that! Five zero-zero beauties that will make you feel great!

Then later on that night, starting at 8pm, we are hosting a pizza party, courtesy of Boot & Shoe service, who will be slinging pies at Ordinaire, and José and I are making some sides. Whatever. $65 gets you pizza, wine, and a year-subscription to the newsletter. And just say you don’t want the newsletter, then it costs you just $35. José, Cory and I will be working the bar, so you can imagine that it will be a little bit more fun than over-paying for a Negroni and looking at your new iPhone.

If you want to come to dinner, you need to RSVP. Send an email to bradfordataylor@gmail.com

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CHAMPANGE TASTING: Beaufort, Collin, Lassaigne, Tarlant, Pascal

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THURSDAY JANUARY 17th, 6-10pm. $20.

This Thursday evening, we feature the Champagnes of Farm Wine Imports. Recently, they acquired a whole slew of amazing producers and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the holidays so that we could pour nice fat lineup. The inimitable Keven Clancy will be in residence, pouring the wines (and drinking them too). Some of the wines are super limited, so come early. Should be fun.

2010 André Beaufort Brut Millésime Blanc de Blancs $85
Domaine André Beaufort has formed organically since the 1970s. They are known for producing powerful and rich champagnes that age for decades. Recently, the son Amaury has started making the wines without the addition of sugar (Brut Nature), resulting in wines that are fresh, vibrant and more accessible in their youth. I find this 2010 more akin to Burgundy than Champagne. This stuff is what F. Scott and Zelda were drinking with their buddies in Antibes. The addition of no sulfites (or anything else) makes this wine aromatically exuberant and unabashedly rich. My wine of choice for New Year’s Eve. Pair with whole lobster tail and a lobe of foie gras.

Ulysses Collin Les Pierrières Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $80
Collin works in the far south, where the famous chalky soil of Champagne is right at the surface, mixed with a high proportion of silex, which imbues these wines with a wonderful mineral component. What makes them unique is Collin’s commitment to harvesting at maximum ripeness, allowing for a judicious amount of oxidation, and fermenting and aging exclusively in old Burgundy barrels. This year, the wine shows richness and depth: succulent apricot, white peach and Bosc pear intermingle with a savory constellation of raw carrot, wet soil and slate. A gastronomic champagne.

Jacques Lassaigne Le Cotet Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $70
From a parcel of 40+ year-old vines growing in the clay and chalk soils of Montgueux. The parcel is distinguished by his proportion of silex (flint) in the soil, which lends the wine a distinct mineral component. Picked at maximum ripeness and then allowed to undergo native fermentation without the addition of sulfites. Aged for two years in old barrels, then hand-disgorged, corked and released. Mineral, fresh, exuberant. A pure blanc de blancs that calls out for a giant fruits de mer tower.

Jacques Lassaigne La Colline Inspirée Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $86
Again, all Chardonnay from Manu Lassaigne, but form only the oldest vines. This wine undergoes fermentation and aging only in barrel. Slightly more unctuous, honeyed and broad, but also showing a very intriguing savory dimension that is reminiscent of great Burgundy. The palate combines baked apple, quince and raw mushroom. It’s more muscular and and mouth-filling than Le Cotet, but still bursting with energy. I would drink this with duck breast.

Champagne Tarlant Brut Zero $50
When I first tasted this wine from Tarlant, i wasn’t convinced. Sure, it was clean and bright, with an electric streak of acidity that would wake up your palate. But it was also a bit simple. I recently retested the wine and couldn’t believe the difference a few months in bottle had made. Still zingy and citrusy, but now showing a complex bouquet of red fruits and white flowers. Made from organic fruit, it’s a blend of 1/3 Pinot 1/3 Chardonnay and 1/3 Meunier from the Vallée de la Marne. A wonderful (and affordable) portrait of Champagne terroir.

Franck Pascal Tolerance Rosé $60
A biodynamic estate in the Chatillon area of the Vallée de la Marne. He eschewed chemicals after realizing that vineyards sprays were derived from the same methods as the chemicals he was trained to use in the French military. He also tries to avoid sulfur because it can de-center the energy of living organisms, such as grapes, or a bottle of Champagne. Whatever you think about biodynamics, the results are difficult to argue with. This is the rosé, made by blending 6% red wine from the lowest yielding parcels of Pinot Noir and Meunier. It’s bright and red-fruited, showing a subtle tannic texture that draws out the acidity and accents the lovely fruit. Unique and beautiful stuff.

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Champagne Tasting: Brochet, Courtin, Perseval, Couche

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Emmanuel Brochet

Emmanuel organically farms a 2.5 hectare single parcel in Montagne-de-Reims, called “Le Mont Benoît.” All of his wines undergo indigenous fermentation in barrel. In recent vintages, he has also begun to select native yeasts from his estate to jump start the secondary fermentation (prise de mousse as the French call it). His wines are sleek, upright and opulent, balancing pleasure with a very distinct and bracing minerality, which is even more pronounced in his single-varietal cuvées.

Le Mont Benoit Extra Brut (2011), $72
2009 Haut Chardonnay Extra Brut, $115
2008 Les Hauts Meuniers Extra Brut, $120

Marie-Courtin
Based in the Aube to the South, Dominique Moreau concentrates almost exclusively on crafting powerfully vinous expressions of Pinot Noir (though rare bits of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc also exist). She organically farms a single parcel of land, which minimizes pollution from her neighbors. The wines are aromatically exotic, dense and textural.

NV Résonanace Extra Brut (2012), $57
2009 Efflorescence Extra Brut, $85
2011 Indulgence Extra Brut Rosé, $100

Thomas Perseval

Thomas organically farms 2.5 hectares of vineyards spread around the town of Chamery, in the Montagne-de-Reims region. He continues to make his parents wines, alongside his own, resulting in wines that house a forward-thinking core of salinity and cut inside a sleek and elegant framework of lush fruit. We are lucky to have a microscopic amount of his rosé as well.

Extra Brut Tradition (2012), $60
Extra Brut Rosé (2012/2010), $65

Vincent Couche

Based in the Aube near the town of Buxeil, Vincent Couche is one of the few people in Champagne fully committed to farming biodynamically, something the harsh, wet climate makes extra difficult. The hard work shows through in the wines, which display precise acidity and a very bright and refreshing fruit profile, unimpeded by any added dosage. His Cuvée Chloé, a sans souffre cuvée, is not to be missed.

NV Brut Zero, $46
NV Cuvée Chloé Brut Zero, $72

Tasting costs $20. It is 1-4pm on Saturday, December 12th. Wines in italics are included in the tasting. If you cannot make it to the tasting, but would like to purchase the wines, send us an email. We are happy to reserve the wines, or ship them to you. Thanks!

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DECEMBER TASTINGS: Champagne!

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Champagne is a funny thing. As a region, it has suffered from a branding crisis, with a few big corporations owning the largest houses, spending more money on marketing than on winemaking. They buy up large amounts of over-cropped, under-ripe fruit and then doctor up the wine by adding excessive amounts of sugar to the final product. And then they charge you $45 or $60 for a wine that cost them only a few dollars to make. On the other side of the spectrum, you have producers that are obsessively committed to quality, working in a naturally harsh climate to make tiny amounts of wine that can transcend just about any other thing you put in your mouth. These wines combine laser precision with complex fruit and gorgeous texture. And yet, despite all that gravity, it’s champagne after all, inextricably tied to celebration and excess. The best wines are both intellectually compelling and irresistibly joyful.

For this reason, we always carry an inordinate amount of Champagne, especially for such a small shop. Honestly, we don’t sell very much of it. Most customers come in looking for everyday wine, which is what the shop is all about. But I can’t tell you how many times, late in the evening, when everyone is tired and ready to go home, someone opens up the cold fridge and pulls out a bottle of champagne to share with friends and strangers. It re-energizes conversation, lifts the spirits, and makes the evening unforgettable.

This month, we devote all of our tastings to Champagne. It’s a chance for you to familiarize yourself with the next generation of farmers and winemakers that are bringing this region back to authentic greatness.

 

December 12th 1-4pm: Emmanuel Brochet, Marie Courtin, Vincent Couche, Thomas Perseval

December 17th 6-10pm: Manu Lassaigne, Ulysse Collin, André Beaufort, Tarlant

December 19th 1-4pm: Pascal Agrapart, Demarne-Frison, Georges Laval, Laherte Frères

December 26th 1-4pm: Non-Champagne Bubbles from Belluard, Potaire, Jousset, Robinot, etc…

champagne

DECEMBER MIXED CASE

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Here is our latest mixed case, tailored to your holiday needs. But only sort of. We’ve resisted the urge to stack you with sweet bubbly wine and tannic reds. Instead, these wines inhabit a wonderful middle ground: nice structure built of acidity and tannin, but with bright vivid fruit that keeps you drinking rather than thinking. After all, the holidays aren’t really about wine. They’re about spending time with the folks you love. Get some friends together and drink up.

Normal Price is $272. The discounted price is $232. So you save $40.

If you want to buy a case, just come into the shop. Or send me an email at bradford@ordinairewine.com. We also ship all over the country, so don’t be shy just because you live in Maine. Cheers! Bradford and Quinn

 

NV Laherte Frères Brut Ultradition Champagne: This is a classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The warmer climate near the town of Chavot shows through in the rich honeyed notes and creamy texture. The low dosage (added sugar) and the energetic bubbles keep it fresh, clean and classy. Pair with salty almonds dusted with pimenton, or scrambled eggs smothered in black truffle shavings.

2014 Broc Cellars Love Rosé: Rich, plump California Rosé that isn’t afraid to give a little. 70% Grenache Gris, 20% Zinfandel, 10% Barbera. Round and supple with bright strawberry fruit, citrus pulp, and white flowers. Guess what? Rosé tastes just as good in December.

2014 Franz Saumon Mineral+: It’s name is fitting. This wine has minerality, and then some. 100% Chenin Blanc from Frantz Saumon (of “La Boutanche” stateside fame). This crisp and textural Loire valley white has wet rock minerals and lively citrus for days. Drink with soft-ripened goat’s cheese or fatty seafood.

2014 Rein Anderson Valley Riesling: Arguably one of the best and most focused California interpretations of this noble German variety. Fleshy stone fruit and lime peel with a whisper of residual sugar and a lightning bolt of balancing acidity. Drink with pork sausages and roasted apples.

2013 Cascina deglo Ulivi Gavi: Chances are that this holiday season you are going to have a guest come to your house that only drinks Chardonnay. Well this isn’t Chardonnay, but it’s loaded with ripe stone fruits, has a slightly viscous texture, and speaks with a clarity that just might open your guest’s mind.

2015 Jean Foillard Beaujolais Nouveau: The epitome of a gamay nouveau with integrity. This iconic Beaujolais producer works wonders with the grape, bringing magic to this simple, albeit buoyantly expressive young wine Chill it down and drink it any time of day, this juice is perfectly fun and thirst quenching on it’s own.

2014 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Cheverny “Rouillon”: A blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir that has more soul and character than that overpriced Russian River Valley Pinot Noir you were thinking of buying. Bright floral aromatics, silky red fruit, and rustic edge from the Gamay. This is French country wine at its very best. Drink with duck and pile of mushrooms sautéed in garlic, butter and parsley.

2014 Les Sablonettes “Les Copains d’Abord” Grolleau: This ancient Loire Valley variety (pronounced “grow-low”) is a fun and simple favorite of ours. Fresh and peppery, with touches of plum-pit, Indian spice, and loads of chewy dark berry fruit. Pair with roasted chicken and vegetables or any lightly smoked meats.

2013 l’Acino Chora Rosso: This juicy little Calabrian red begs for a place on the table at your Christmas feast. Interesting elements of esoterica to keep the geeks the happy (it’s a blend of two ancient Calabrian natives,  Magliocco Canico and Guernaccia Nera), and enough chunky, extracted dark fruit to keep the traditional California-trained palate pleased. Drink with seared duck breast or a standing rib roast.

2014 Chateau Tire Pe “Diem”: Supple, softly extracted Merlot from a small Organic estate in Bordeaux. The wine is aged in concrete tanks, which put emphasis on minerality and purity of fruit. Rich dark fruits and hard herbs with a savory rustic edge.

2014 Barrou Vin de Pays Syrah: There is so much wine inside of this wonderful value. Rustic savory notes blend with dense blue fruit and a shake of black pepper. It’s mouth filling and refreshing at the same time. If you like it, come back and get a case. It’s only $15 a bottle. Pair with lamb burgers, or leftovers.

2013 Thee & Thou Red Blend: A silky and luxurious blend of Sierra Foothills Fruit (43% Syrah, 43% Merlot, 14% Cinsault) from one of California’s most promising young producers. Crushed dark cherries and cocoa on the nose, with a lot more of that following on the palate. An exciting sign of good things to come here in Cali.

Normal Price $272
Discount Price $232
You save $40!

altaber crushing

December 2015 Wine Club

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Wine Club Pick-Up is this Saturday, December 5th, 1-4pm. It’s free for members, and $10 for the rest of you. Sign up in December and we’ll give you a little Christmas present. Cheers!

 

ORDINAIRE CLUB

altaber crushing

Julien Altaber crushing it in Burgundy

2014 Sextant “L’Ecume” Vin de France

I feel lucky to know the wines of Julien Altaber. I could just as easily be ignorant of their existence. He makes a microscopic amount of wine in an old garage in a little village on the outskirts of Burgundy, a world away from the famous grand crus, about which he (and I) could care less. He’s young and sorta quiet, and he gets a little nervous when you taste his wines. He’ll pull a barrel sample and pass it around. It smells great—bright citrus, tart apple, wet rock, lots of freshness and reticent complexity—but Julien is avoiding eye contact and looking like he wants to be out of the cellar and in the vineyard. We all swirl, taste, and then swallow. When no one spits a little smile cracks in the side of Julien’s mouth. The wine is showing well—full of energy and irrepressible fruit, but unlike any of his other cuvées. “What is it?,” we ask. His smile broadens. It’s a quirky little one-off blend of Aligoté and Pinot Noir. Julien decided to make this into a fun sparkling wine, bottling it before fermentation completed in order to trap some naturally occurring CO2 in the bottle. It’s fruity and crisp, celebratory in a frivolous sort of way—just the thing to have around for an impromptu toast to a friend, or for a cheese plate oozing with Epoisses. Take it home and put it in the fridge. You’ll be thankful you have one cold.

2013 Domaine Guion Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige

Stéphane Guion makes a base-level Bourgueil that is, for me, both a regional benchmark for the Cabernet Franc grape and a great example of no non-sense, classic natural winemaking. It’s called “Cuvée Domaine,” it’s like $15, and I always send two cases to my dad for him to have around for whatever—drinking, braising, entertaining, juggling, etc. This month’s club features the “Cuvée Prestige,” which is slightly more serious. The grapes come from older vines, and therefore display greater density and concentration. Stéphane ferments everything with native yeasts, then moves the wine to old oak barrels to age for a year, softening the rustic tannins and allowing the dark fruit to broaden out and frame the lively mineral and herbal aspects. While Bourgueil is often eclipsed by the neighboring Chinon (mostly because “Chinon” is easier to say), I find that Cabernet Franc from these limestone-rich clay soils has a certain rustic depth that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Chinon’s finesse, making it a perfect winter wine. The 2013 is wonderfully juicy, showcasing plump dark fruits and softer-than-usual tannins. Serve it with braised short ribs and celeriac purée.

-Bradford

 

EXTRAORDINAIRE CLUB

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Renegade winemaker Andrea Calek

NV Franz Strohmeier “Schilcher Frizzante”

Obscure grape varieties do not always make a wine interesting or delicious. Blauer Wildbacher didn’t ring any bells for me either, but it happens to be esoteric AND delicious. Known for his macerated whites, which are extremely atypical for Austria, Franz Strohmeier works with small amounts of this high-acid red grape to make a rose that is bubbling with peppery red fruit, bitter-edged minty herbs, and holiday spice. Strohmeier is a staunch naturalist in the vineyard, avoiding any Organic/Biodynamic certifications in order to develop and use his own quirky methods of vine treatment. For instance: he recently began spraying his vines with whey (milky and acidic by-product of yogurt and cheese production) as opposed to copper sulfate. Strohmeier is located in the Austrian wine-producing region of Styria, where still Blauer Wildbacher rosé is chugged alongside a regional variation on Fried Chicken. That should give you some idea of it’s versatility on the table. However, this wine is a gregarious and celebratory way to mark any special holiday occasion, whether there is food involved or not.

2013 Andrea Calek “Penultieme” Vin de France

Andrea Calek is not as punk rock as he used to be. Yes, he still wears the knee-high Doc Martins, the long grey trenchcoat, cuts his hair high and tight with militaristic post-punk precision. But the wines. The wines are what’s changed. They used to be provocative and polarizing, prompting heated table-side conversation and a little bit of juggling from one importing company to another. Volatility, bottle variation, liberal amounts of brettanomyces, the usual cast of “flaws” that mark the wines of a forward thinking and experimental winemaker in his/her early vintages. Calek has managed to take all that raw energy and eccentricity, and form it into wines that are more focused and precise than anything he has made to date. He upholds an exacting and scientific approach to whole-cluster carbonic maceration, always careful to not eclipse sense of place with in-your-face fruit. “Penultieme” is his magnum opus, the greatest example of how far he’s come. Merlot and Syrah, with a dash of Viognier to harmoniously marry the two. It is a deep, layered, vivid picture of new-wave natural wine-making potential in the South of France. This wine is warming and soulful, enjoy it on a chilly winter night with those you love. Or brown-bag it at a basement show with a crowd of strangers. Penultieme is Calek all grown up, but listen close enough and you can pick up on whispers of his fist-pumping, head-banging rock n’ roll past.

-Quinn

 

 

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REIN + THEE & THOU tasting

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SATURDAY NOVEMBER 28, 1-4pm

This week, we feature two young winemakers from California. Both are regulars at Ordinaire. Both are in the very early stages of their own projects. Both have bright futures.

$10 to taste four wines

REIN WINERY
REIN means “pure” in German, and the concept infuses James Wasson’s entire project: he works exclusively with aromatic white varieties, all of the vines grow in Mendocino County, and all of the cuvées are single vineyard designates. And the wines themselves display a purity of flavor and structure that impressively translates these conceptual underpinnings. This is a micro-winery that is evolving quickly and impressively. James is frequently at the bar, tasting new wines, asking questions, and sharing his recent discoveries. It’s awesome seeing how his curiosity and hard work have resulted in some of the most unique and compelling white wines being made in California.

2013 Greenwood Ridge Riesling $25
From 40+ yr old ungrafted vines on the Mendocino Ridge in Anderson Valley.

2013 Schrader Ranch Pinot Blanc $22
Sourced from inland Mendocino, on the southern edge of Ukiah.

THEE & THOU
John Donaghue is a young winemaker committed to working as naturally as possible. He has just released his first vintage, and the wines are super promising. He had the good fortune to work with Gideon Beinstock from Clos Saron (our favorite!), and one can easily perceive Gideon’s influence in the wines, which tend to balance heady, earthy aromatics with deep, velvety flavors and lively acidity. John is making a single-variety bottling this vintage, but he is mostly interested in blends, using different grapes to complement one another, leading to more a complete finished wine. We are also pouring a sneak preview of John’s 2011, which is still pending label approval.

2013 Thee & Thou “Patois” (Syrah/Merlot/Cins.) $23
Cinsault is from 130-year old Bechtold Ranch vines.  Syrah and Merlot are from organic vines in Terra Alta.

2011 Thee & Thou (Merlot/Syrah) not for sale
From granitic/volcanic soils in the Sierra Foothills

gideon bottles

Clos Saron Tasting

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I talk about Clos Saron a lot, so I’ll keep this short. Gideon Beinstock makes wine in the Sierra Foothills. He is committed to making natural wines with no corrections or make-up. Wines very simply made: hand-picked, foot-stomped, moved to old oak barrels, and then bottled. They are the most compelling wines being made in California. Today we offer a small cross section of Gideon’s work. His wines are not cheap, but they are worth it. Made in ultra-small quantities, they are unique expressions of California mountain terroir.

$10 for the tasting

2014 Tickled Pink Rosé $35
Our Tickled Pink is a light rosé made from early harvested Syrah and various other red and white varieties. Starting with 2013, the rosé ferments on some white skins/stems and is barrel aged for 12-18 months before bottling.

2014 The Pleasant Peasant $35
A new addition to our family of wines.  Fruit sourced from own-rooted vines planted in 1900 in Lodi. You may think of it as a distant relative of our “Blue Series” (Old-vine Cinsault based wines), having been planted by the same family as that vineyard… A fun wine, with a serious side.

2013 Home Vineyard Pinot Noir $60
Our “Home Vineyard” is north-east facing, at 1530-1600 ft altitude. Overall, the top soil is alluvial clay-loam on volcanic ash, fractured granite, and quartz sub layers. Own-rooted vines, comprising about a dozen known and unknown clones, were densely planted (3’x6′). The vineyard is farmed with zero chemicals and minimal irrigation. Fertilization is provided by grazing livestock animals (sheep, geese, and chickens), supplemented with additional organic compost.

2012 Stone Soup Syrah $60
2009 announced the first vintage of our Stone Soup Syrah. At about 2000ft. altitude, this vineyard is located about one mile up the hill from our home, on our friends John and Ellen Trezevant’s property. This Syrah’s expression is strongly individual: lighter than most in body and alcohol, it has very deep color, vibrant acidity, and fresh aromas. This 2-acre site is a textbook Syrah vineyard: south-facing, steep, extremely rocky, granitic, well drained. The challenge here is getting the vines established in this extreme low-vigor, arid hot-spot, but the early results are highly promising. About 10% of the vineyard is planted Viognier, which has been co-fermented with the Syrah starting with the 2013 vintage.

If you would like to purchase any wines, but are unable to make the tasting, just send me an email at bradford@ordinairewine.com. We are happy to take an order over the phone. We also ship all over the United States.

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Partida Creus: Saturday Tasting 1-4pm

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Before we talk about the amazing wines we’ll be pouring, I first want to say that local wine celebrity Colin Peter Casey (aka D.J. CPC) will be spinning vinyl on Saturday afternoon, and we’ll be passing out candy to anyone wearing a costume. So come for the wines and stay for the fresh beats.

Ok, the wines…

On our recent trip to Spain and the south of France, the wines of Partida Creus were inescapable to the point of comedy. At every cave, wine bar or restaurant where we gave the servers carte blanche, the wines would hit the table again and again. At first we asked ourselves whether or not it was a hoax. No way these wines could be from Catalunya. Why are they everywhere? Just a flash in the pan trend maybe? But once we stopped thinking about it so hard, I noticed that we were drinking the wines. Fast. I reached a point where my parched and road-worn palate found few wines to be more agreeable. I was repeatedly mesmerized by the the snowy-white opacity of the whites and the electric coral-colored reds.  Fresh, thirst-quenching, and exuberant. We guzzled Partida Creus with friends old and new, and the recurring conversation always brought everyone a little closer.

Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerona are an Italian couple from Piedmont who moved to Barcelona to work in architecture. In 2000, they bailed on the big-city lifestyle and found themselves a little piece of land in the Baix Penedes. A growing interest in farming led them into viticulture, which developed into a preservation endeavor that focuses on recovering ancient grape varieties that are native to the Massis de Bonastre, where they live and work. They search the area for unique and abandoned vines in hopes of farming them back into fruit-yielding health, virtuous work opposite the monolithic face of Spanish industrial viticulture. All wines are fermented with natural yeasts, and no SO2 is added at any point in the winemaking. -Quinn Kimsey-White

2014 Vinel.lo Blanco: A rustic but elegant field blend of Garnatxa Blanco, Macabeu, Moscatell, Panse, Parellada, Vinyater, and Xarello. A whisper of barnyard funk gives way to fields of little white flowers, lavender, cannabis, and honey dipped exotic fruit.

2014 Vinel.lo Tinto: Another patchwork of native Catalan Varieties: Garnatxa, Garrut, Sumoll, Trepat, Queixal de Llop, Samsó, and Ull de Perdiu. Separate whole cluster macerations in tank with various times on their skins, ranging from 20 hours to 3 days. Bright and herbal, with iridescent red fruit and wet earth, supported by a rigid mineral backbone.

2012 Sumoll: Dense and sappy, with grippy black fruit and flowering herbs. The most layered and serious of the line-up.

We’re very excited to have these wines in the shop, and supplies are currently limited, so come out and drink them with us! And if you can’t make it this weekend or don’t live in the Bay Area, we now ship throughout the USA. Hit us up. Reply to this email or email bradford@ordinairewine.com

lemoncello cig crop

El Cortijo: The Greatest Natural Wine Bar in the World

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Day 1: Forget Barcelona

Josh and I arrive in Barcelona just after two. We have no baggage to claim, so we sprint to Europcar, and avoiding Barcelona all together, drive straight to Tarragona, an industrial town about an hour to the South. We proceed to avoid the historic center of Tarragona (lots of traffic) and plunge into the maze of streets close to the port. We don’t have a map or working cell phones, so we lose our way. We pull over and ask a cop for directions to El Cortijo, a bar that I will soon come to know as the greatest natural wine bar in the world. The cop knows exactly where to go, because he is a regular.

We arrive. The proprietor, Santiago, is sitting outside, waiting for us. They officially close at 2pm, but he had kept the kitchen open for us. We duck into the cool bar and there’s a bottle of Mendall Red in a bucket of ice. It’s 15% alcohol and about as refreshing as anything imaginable. Already I like this place. Policemen call themselves regulars and they drink 15% Grenache for aperitif. I don’t really speak Spanish, but I understand a bit. Josh is bantering away.

santi behind bar

Santi behind the bar, with some Cuban cigars

About nine feet of food is out on the bar: pork loin slathered in homemade mustard, fried fish of various sorts, boudin blanc, arroz negro, poached pig’s ear tossed in pesto, etc. This last dish Santi says isn’t regional, but references the historical Roman presence in Tarragona. Santi just sits around, talking about the food, giving us updates on the vignerons (all news to me because I hardly know anything about Spanish wine), casually putting huge plates in front of us. It is salty and fatty and totally over the top. It’s food you need to have wine with, and the Mendall is gone in a few minutes.

He opens another bottle, this time the rosé from Alain Castex, a rare beauty even in the region. It’s snappy and alive with bright volatility and absolutely pure strawberry and rose flavors. Some friends show up: two guys in their early fifties, wearing greasy t-shirts with random English malapropisms in bold letters. They don’t order anything. They just roll cigarettes and Santi pours them half beers and gives them each a splash of the Castex.

Santi calls his wife to say he won’t be home anytime soon. He tells her that two Californians have flown directly from San Francisco to El Cortijo. Which is true. The whole bar is excited and just a little confused that we are so happy to be in this funny little place.

Another bottle gets opened. This one from further South. It’s slightly sparkling and no one takes it too seriously. Two more dudes show up with a boy that they obviously just picked up from middle school. The kid is playing with his dad’s Motorola Razor (remember those?!) and the guys are drinking what appears to be pints of red vermouth, with ice stacked up all the way to the rim and a huge wedge of orange. Santi just leaves the unmarked vermouth carafe on the bar and people help themselves.

Another friend shows up carrying a plastic bag full of little potato rolls. Josh and I are stuffed but Santi wants us to try the Jamon, which he claims is as good as Belotta but 1/10 of the price. He carves off some ham and puts it on the rolls and then drizzles it with olive oil. It’s soft and salty. This is all I ever wanted in second grade when my teacher was trying to shove bologna down my throat. Santi makes one for everyone in the bar, just as his brother Luis shows up.

 

pan shot of interior

Luis behind the bar, chatting with Josh, bag full of warm potato rolls in the foregraound

By this time the roll-up door has come down half-way and everyone is smoking inside. It feels like we are the only people in Tarragona not taking siesta. Josh and I think it’s a sign to settle up but Santi insists we stay until the fisherman comes through with his daily catch of prawns. We hang out for the fisherman, who shows up, plops his two buckets on the ground and meekly receives his beer and ham sandwich. The regulars start digging in the bucket pulling out translucent prawns still squirming with salty life. They explain that the ones with blue roe come from further South, while the ones with greenish flesh are from closer to Barcelona.

Carlos takes six peeled shrimp and puts them on a plate. He covers it in plastic, takes a water glass and starts pounding them into a paste. He takes the plastic off and pours oil and salt all over it, and then squeezes the raw shrimp head juices all over everything. We eat them with our fingers. The fisherman brags that he supplies Can Roca, and used to supple El Bulli.

prawns more small

Raw prawns with oil and salt, and the ubiquitous Mendall

Meanwhile we are peeling more shrimp. The second round of shrimp has a distinct petrol note. I’m praising the petrol note when I realize that the dude peeling the shrimp is the mechanic, hands all covered in engine grease. Fuck it. Tastes great. We’re drinking more Mendall.

We need to go to the train station to pick up Quinn, so we make Santi charge us. He asks for 50 euros. We try to give him two 50-euro notes. He literally throws one of them in my face and calls for one of his buddies to bring us a bottle for the road. More Mendall.

Day 2: Breakfast with Santi and Luis

Three days later we are back in Tarragona, this time for breakfast. Quinn has joined us, and we are feeling a little tired from two nights with Laureano Serres (more on that in a later post). It’s around 11 in the morning, so Luis mixes up some light vermouth cocktails for us, with a dash of gin.

luis with vermouth

Luis mixing breakfast drinks (pint of vermouth off to the left, with the unmarked bottled behind)

After a round of Vermouths, Santi sets us up with this great bottle from Axel Prüfer which is pretty much the freshest and most iridescent Poulsard-like thing I’ve ever had from the south. It’s gone in about 5 minutes.

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Totally refreshing brutal from Prüfer

Food comes out and it’s firing on all cylinders: huge mound of that delicious blood sausage, shredded pork in it’s own juices, served with mustard made from Laureano’s vinegar, a mountain of Jamon. Why is it that natural wine usually comes alongside overly formal, anemic food with searing acidity levels and no flavor? Living wines need living food. The fat and salt in Santi’s food makes the volatility in these rich Southern wines sing with precision and freshness.

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Santi’s incomparable rustic food

Honestly I totally forget what we drank. Mostly white this time around. Just wine and food. No cell phones, social media, unicorn wines, Chablis verticals and crap like that. We are putting stuff in our bodies non-stop and out bodies are thanking us for it.

It’s getting late (3pm or so) and Luis and Santi are itching to get home to their wives. So we pay up (same total as last time–an arbitrary 50 euro note) and give our hugs and kisses. I’m struck for the first time by the total lack of menu. There’s a fluid understanding between proprietor and patron that would have made a menu a useless and awkward mediation. No scanning of wine lists for rare bottles. No debate about sharing this plate, or getting two of that salad so everyone has enough. Just Santi and Luis taking us in for a few hours and treating us like family.

group shot

Santi, Luis, Quinn, Josh and me

 

We head north to Barcelona to pick up Lara at the airport. Luis had given us a Flamenco CD and we are maxing out the speakers in our little Peugeot.  With windows down we speed along the coast without speaking. And then we went for a swim.

on the beach

Undisclosed location between Tarragona and Barcelona

 

cropped tue boeuf

Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Oct 24th, 1-4pm

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Clos du Tue-Boeuf is a 10-hectare family estate in Cheverny, a small appellation in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. They organically farm Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Sauvignon Blanc (the main varieties of the region), alongside an array of less ubiquitous grapes, such as Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Menu Pineau, and Côt. All wines are naturally fermented and aged without the use of sulfur, with only occasional additions at bottling, never exceeding 15ppm.

Alright, boring technicalities are out of the way. The thing to know about these wines is that they are made by two brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, who are, arguably, the most important fixtures in the world of natural wine.

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Since the early nineties, they have acted as formal and informal mentors to a generation of younger winemakers, encouraging them to take risks despite market demands and other global pressures. They’re not only rigorously committed to organic viticulture and traditional winemaking; they also embody a certain joie de vivre that turns wine tastings into electrifying parties overflowing with abundant generosity and good will.

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And their wines translate this ebullience. They range from quirky to thought-provoking to opulent, without ever losing their ability to evoke thirst.

This Saturday, we pour every cuvée that is imported to the west coast, seven in all. For $10. 1-4pm. Come early because Keven has to go to a Bar Mitzvah.

Touraine Blanc Brin de Chèvre. 100% Menu Pineau. $30
Lively nutty nose. Citrusy and energetic.

Touraine Blanc Frileuse. Sauv Blanc, Sauv Gris, Chardonnay. $23
Plump fruit aromas. Onctuous and generous, with zest.

Touraine Rouge La Butte. 100% Gamay. $20
Fuller than most Touraine Gamay. Brambly aromas find their home in a thicket of raspberries.

Touraine Rouge Le Guerrerie. 50% Gamay, 50% Côt. $26
The odd one out, with Côt exuding its rustic personality. Purple fruits and good grip.

Cheverny Rouge Rouillon 60% Pinot Noir. 40% Gamay. $23
Benchmark Cheverny. Smells and tastes like Pinot, but with punchy Gamay texture.

Cheverny Rouge Caillère. 100% Pinot Noir. $30
The most reclusive. Sweet fruits poke out of the forest floor.

Cheverny Rouge Gravotte. 100% Pinot Noir. $30
Gourmandise. Regal Burgundian aromatics, soil, spring rain.

NOTA BENE: If you can’t make it to the tasting, but would like to purchase the wines, please contact us. We are happy to set aside some bottles for you. We also ship all over the US of A. Email me at bradford@ordinairewine.com. We will set you up.

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Collecapretta Tasting Saturday 1-4pm

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When viewing Italy through the lens of natural wine, it’s easy to develop some short-sighted notions. Until recently, I believed that the best natural Italian white wines were macerated (which, save for a few exceptions, is still mostly true in my mind). And I also believed that Paolo Bea was the only producer in Umbria with a masterful grip on natural winemaking. Then I came across the wines of Collecapretta. This 8 hectare farm in the tiny Umbrian hamlet Terzo la Pieve is creating some of the most anomalous expressions of Sangiovese and other central Italian varieties that we’ve come across. Only half of the farm’s 8 hectares are under vine, the rest is planted to a mixture of olive trees, farro and other grains. Winemaker Vittorio Mattioli lets all the wines undergo natural fermentation in large, open-top containers without the use of added yeast or temperature control. Elevage is done in large glass-lined cement tanks, lending the wines freshness and verve, and in a nod to Biodynamics, bottling is done closely in relation to the lunar cycle. These wines are truly remarkable and production is minuscule. We received very little, so act fast before we drink it all! Quinn Kimsey-White

2014 Lautizio: 100% Cilieglio. A variety historically blended into Chianti to add freshness, Cilieglio is frequently bottled on it’s own in Umbria. This bright, floral, kaleidoscopic quaffer is best treated as a rosé. Serve chilled and drink fast. $36

NV il Rosso da Tavola: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cilieglio. A nuanced and lifted expression of Sangiovese, this wine is a great introduction to the magic they are capable of bringing out of the variety. Tight-rope balance of rusticity and elegance that bursts with dried rose petals, chunky minerals, and chewy red fruit. $36

2012 Le Cese: 100% Sangiovese. More muscular and extracted than the Rosso da Tavola. Wild herbs, driving acidity, and brambly dark cherry fruit. Sangiovese at it purest. $42

2011 il Forestiero: 100% Sagrantino. An 8-10 day maceration (as opposed to the typical 40-65) makes for a less tannic, more forthcoming expression of Sagrantino. Dense, sappy black fruit and silky tannin. Take pleasure in drinking now, or throw in the cellar. 2 rows of vines. 426 bottles produced. $65

$10 to taste all four wines.

If you can’t make it to the tasting, but are interested in purchasing the wines, please contact the shop. We now ship all over the United States. Email bradford@ordinairewine.com. We’ll set you up.

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Nicole Deriaux from Domaine de Montbourgeau, Oct 8th, 6-9pm

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I think I shared the experience of many natural wine lovers, when I stopped into a wine bar (probably Terroir in San Francisco) and ordered a “Chardonnay,” and was confronted with this crazy thing that smelled like spring rain and chicken broth and wet rock and raw almond and was thinking, what the hell is this?! And then tasting it and being overcome by a depth of complexity that was utterly unlike any Chardonnay I’d ever tasted. Domaine de Montbourgeau’s “Cuvée Special” Chardonnay was a totally formative wine for me: it got me hooked on the Jura and oxidative styles of wine-making more generally.

Nicole Deriaux has stewarded her family’s ninety-year-old estate since 1986. She is here on one of her rare visits to the United States. We are very luck to host her. We will pour an array of her wines, which express both the unique terroir of l’Etoile (a tiny appellation in the Jura) as well as the rigorously traditional style of winemaking they employ.

Thursday October 8th, 6-9pm. $10 for the tasting.

If you can’t make it to the tasting, but would still like to purchase the wines., fear not! We now deliver all over the United States. Send an email to bradford@ordinairewine.com to set up delivery.

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JURA IS NOT DED, Oct 10th, 1-4pm

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This Saturday, myself, Quinn and Cory Cartwright are going to pour some rocking Jura wines from Les Dolomies and Domaine des Marnes Blanches. Some of the cuvées are not available almost anywhere else in the United States. They’re also tasty. We’ll pour 5 or 6 cuvées, including some Chardonnays, a Poulsard, a Trousseau, and a Savagnin. They’re all very exciting, transcending the current discourse about Jura being a fad for wine hipsters–which is a discourse I find just kinda stupid, because the wines are authentic expressions of unique terroir, farmed and vinified by real people who couldn’t give one shit about their wines being hip or whatever. And thank god not all wines are from Burgundy. That would suck.

Anyway, come out and taste some really, really cool wines, and take a few home if you like them.

Saturday October 10, 1-4pm, $10.

If you can’t make it to the tasting, but would still like to purchase the wines., fear not! We now deliver all over the United States. Send an email to bradford@ordinairewine.com to set up delivery.