Saturday, November 4th, 1-4pm

This month's selections remind me, once again, that the wine club is pretty amazing. Come by Saturday and check out four new wines. If you join, the tasting is free for you and a friend.


Louis-Antoine Luyt, Pipeño Santa Juana 2016

Though a native of Burgundy, Louis-Antonie Luyt has become the leading figure in the fight for independent, terroir-driven winemaking in Chile. In a country dominated by massive corporate wine production, L.A. has taken the opposite course: seeking out independent farmers, insisting on dry farming, horse plowing, organic viticulture and native yeast/no intervention winemaking. L.A.’s oldest vines have roots dating back to 1660.  These vines are of the Pais variety, a clonal variation of Listan Negro, which was brought over from the Canary Islands by Spanish Missionaries. The vineyards in Chile do not suffer downy mildew nor phylloxera, and thus the roots live for centuries. Despite their impressive age, L.A. is committed to using these vines to make traditional, thirst-quenching wine, called “Pipeño.” He has formed relationships with tiny farmers throughout Chile, all of whom make their wines the old-fashioned way: hand picked, manually destemmed using a thatched zaranda, and then fermented and aged in huge wooden tanks called lagar. He helps each farmer make their wine in the cellar, then pays them well before bottling and shipping the wines all over the world. -Bradford

The Santa Juana vineyard is in the Bió Bió valley, right in the middle of the country, where Luis Burgos and his wife Sara tend vines that are close to 300 years old—which is just insane. The steep vineyards are composed of red clay over gravel and flint, which combined with a wet cool climate, results in a racy and fresh expression of Pais. It calls out for warm, comforting food. A basket of empanadas comes to mind. Or, of course, a Thanksgiving feast. Put a chilled liter of this on the table and be everyone’s favorite cousin. -Bradford

Laurent Cazottes, Champêtre Blanc 2016

Laurent is well-known for making the world’s greatest fruit distillates. This is not hyperbole. Go to any Michelin three-star restaurant and you will see his liquors lining the menus. If you get a chance to buy a bottle, do it! They are amazing. His green tomato liqueur is mind-altering.

Laurent also makes a small amount of wine, which is what we get really excited about. Unlike most winemakers we work with, his grape vineyards represent just a tiny fraction of his overall production, and are therefore treated in the same way as his apricots, peaches, almonds, tomatoes and the many other products from his polycultural farm. For me, this results in a direct, unmediated rusticity, stripped of the fetishes that so easily accumulate around the “wine.” These wines have a fresh crunch that conjure up the actual grapes you might see for sale at the Lake Merritt famers market—wine is just grapes after all! Laurent’s passion for the local fruits and vegetables of his native Gaillac translates into his decision to work with local grape varieties, such as Mauzac, which composes this cuvée. The wine is made simply: organic fruit is pressed into tank, fermented naturally, and then bottled with a tiny bit of sulfites. The result is fresh and floral white wine that smells like fleur d’orange and tastes like just-ripe peaches and pears. Again, a perfect wine for autumn. Put it on your Thanksgiving table; or, if you are feeling irreverent, braise your turkey legs in some yellow curry and serve this bottle alongside. That would be tasty. -Bradford


Côte de Cailloux Blanc 2016

The first time I visited Jacques of Côte de Cailloux, it was like I had entered another universe. We were on our monthly field trip about a year ago, and after tasting deep, beautiful reds with Tony Coturri, as well as some brighter, elegant but still rich wines with Nic Coturri (Sonoma Mountain Winery), I was feeling a bit loopy. Nic took us on an unexpected excursion to visit Jacques, whom Nic had been working with. Matthieu lives on a beautiful estate, in a house at the top of a hill overlooking his endless home vineyard. The sun was setting, Matthieu's unreasonably tall and handsome son Cody poured for us and served us snacks, and Matthieu tasted us through eight vintages of gorgeous Rhône blends. I'd never had a tasting experience that felt so homey while still having such intention. On another visit last month, after beating us all at pétanque despite being sick, he took us on a tour of a new house he's building on his property (his current house will become his winery). He's also an architect, and inspired by Medina and Mont Saint-Michel, he positioned all the windows in the home so that there is no view of any other man-made structure. This is the California dream—living on one’s own terms, out on the frontier. 

Matthieu grows all Rhône varieties (Grenache, Syrah, Marsanne, etc.), making true California wine: rich, deep and well-structured, perfect reflections of the climate. Quentin describes the Blanc as "shiny and crystalline, like pear captured in lactic crystal." This wine would be fantastic with whole trout, farro and herbs, or with pork butt and grilled peaches. -Kara

Valentin Morel Poulsard 2016

Situated between Burgundy and Switzerland, the Jura is a hilly, cool-climate region which was a major part of my personal conversion to natty wine. This region produces structured, often rich but saline and elegant whites, and reds that are fresh, pale, juicy and floral—when served chilled, they remind me of childhood autumn afternoons crunching leaves in Central Park. The wines produced here are the inverse of the conventional wines I was used to drinking, and are a great example of how a specific terroir can really make a wine.

Valentin Morel's father and grandfather planted 10 hectares of vineyards in 1978. They sold grapes to the local coop until 1985, when they began bottling their own wines. Valentin's father, Jean-Luc, had been involved with the local "Confederation Paysan" for some time, and with influence from the organization, stopped using herbicides in the vineyard in 1999. After earning a Master’s in international law, Valentin was taken by the work of biodynamic icon Rudolf Steiner and decided he would rather make wine. Valentin studied winemaking in Alsace, and was influenced by the likes of shop favorite Bruno Schueller. Valentin joined his family domain in 2014. Les Trouillots is Poulsard from 35-year-old vines. Hand harvested and fermented in steel tank with a 15-day maceration. This wine benefits from air—decant it and let it hang for a bit to open up before drinking. Fabulous wine to bring lightness to Thanksgiving dinner. -Kara