see below for this month's club notes

join us this wednesday (february 2nd) for the monthly wine club tasting.  from 4-8p you can stop by and try your six potential wine club choices and make your selection.  free for wine club members.

2021 Gilbert Cellars Petillant Naturel Pinot Noir (sparkling rosé)

Region: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington  Grapes: Pinot Noir Winemaking: Organic grapes, hand-harvested, no additions or subtractions, un-fined, unfiltered Food pairings: baked brie, mushroom congee, pork terrine

Our friends at Gilbert Cellars make all their wine organic and hand-harvested (that’s one of the most important tenets of ‘natural’ wine to me) but not all their wines are considered natural by everyone, partly because they inoculate some of their wines and use some oak aging on those same wines. That said, these bubbles are fully native, natty and absolutely delicious with a nose of bubblegum, ripe strawberries, and wet tree branches with a bright, dry, and minerally tart finish that has a hint of lime juice. You may also recognize this bottle from a Seattle Times article last year about wine, movies, and popcorn. The writer of the article asked me for a recommendation, I gave her that bottle, and she loved it!  We also sold out immediately after the article. That’s why when the new vintage of this tabloid treasure was released, I knew I had to snatch it up for my wine club members!

2020 Denavolo ‘Catavea’

Region: Emilia Romagna, Italy Grapes: Malvasia, Ortrugo, Marsanne, Trebbiano, Santa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc Winemaking: Organic and biodynamic certified, extended skin contact on two cuvées that are blended, no fining or filtering, no additives, no sulfur added Food pairings: artichoke dip, Manchego and jam, miso black cod

From Giulio Armani, the longtime winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia-Romagna, who also makes wines under his own label Denavolo (one of two assistant winemakers with their own label featured this month). Catavela is a blend of two cuvées made with a variety of white grapes. One cuvée is skin-macerated over an extended four-month period, while the other cuvée sees skin contact for just ten days. The final product is a wine that is ALIVE and INTENSE!!!  With a nose of lemon peel, wet cement and orange starburst and a palate of roasted hazelnuts and white oleanders, this ‘orange’ wine is for all you natural wine lovers out there!

2020 Brick House ‘House Red’ Pinot Noir

Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon Grapes: Pinot Noir Winemaking: Certified organic and biodynamic, indigenous yeast, includes grape juice used from 2019 because of the 2020 fires, minimal S02 Food pairings: roast chicken, portobello mushrooms, black truffle risotto

Who loves Oregon Pinot? Who doesn’t????!!! Unlike much of the higher production Oregon Pinot this guy doesn’t have a tense, mouth-coating texture but instead is light, bright, and flirtatious on the palate. With notes of dusty basement, mushroom, and ripe plum on the nose with Pinot Noir’s signature cranberry and tart palate, this is a fantastic food wine and versatile for any occasion. Bring it over for a dinner party with friends or do what I did and buy yourself a rotisserie chicken at the store and drink the whole bottle by yourself while you listen to your top albums of 2021. Is it weird to eat a whole chicken and drink a bottle of wine by yourself while you listen to Cardi B? Maybe. But the heart wants what it wants.

2020 Fèlix Martinez Roda Estenas

Region: Utiel-Requena, Spanish Grapes: Bobal Winemaking: Organic and sustainably farmed, hand harvested, spontaneous fermentation, aged in amphora for four months Food pairings: Duck a l’orange, roasted rabbit, mushroom and root vegetable stew

This gem is from the José Pastor Collection which is an importer that imports only natural wines, mostly from Spain, Mexico, and South America. Many of these wines are highly allocated (the Bichi wines are part of the collection, for example) which makes them a perfect find for wine club. This red in particular is a bold and more traditional expression of the Bobal varietal. It has a nose of forest mud, caramel, and Australian red licorice with a raspberry, anise, and lightly fall spiced palate.  It’s hearty enough to drink on its own and complex enough to keep you guessing what flavors come next!

2021 Sage Rat ‘Pét nat rouge’

Region: Yakima Valley, WA Grapes: Barbera Winemaking: Organic fruit, hand harvested, naturally fermented, un-fined/unfiltered Food pairings: General Tso's chicken, arugula salad with fruit and balsamic dressing, lamb burgers

So much to say about Sage Rat! This is a small production label made by the assistant winemaker to a larger winery who wanted to do a more raw and more creative version of winemaking on his own label. Although this ‘pet project’ is still very limited in its production it is sure to take off soon. I chose this Sage Rat wine in particular because it is a completely dry sparkling red.  Sparkling reds gained a bad reputation for a while (people assumed these wines were sweet, maybe because of Lambrusco?) but now they have become extremely popular again with the natural wine movement showing people how delicious and terroir-driven they can be. This local expression of such a wine fills your senses with notes of unsweetened chocolate, espresso, Rainier cherry, dried green herbs, and cranberry sauce. Drink up! 

2019 Aurora Rosso Piceno

Region: Marche, Italy Grapes: Montepulciano 50%, Sangiovese 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10% Winemaking: organic and hand-harvested fruit, spontaneous fermentation, aged in stainless steel Food pairings: supreme or pepperoni pizza, blue cheese, skirt steak with pesto sauce

Yummy and chug-able! This wine does have some of the structure that Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon bring to wine but has a much more fresh and soft finish. It lacks the tannic grip that Sangiovese traditionally has and it makes for a playful expression of all three grapes. The flavors of mature plums and wild cherries combine elegantly with flowery notes to make a wine that is both complex and also one you don’t have to think too hard about if you don’t want to.