Fancy - Freaky Advent Wine Notes
Welcome to the Grape Witches Advent Calendar, 2022!
We know you know, but we’re here to tell you again. YOU are a fancy freak, a ritsy rebel seeking beauty in the lacklustre, ludicrous & luscious alike. You crave wines that dazzle & rattle your bone’s marrow. Here we have rounded up our dearest, lopsided, gnarled & equally sensational treats just for the likes of you. Take a deep breath and be thankful you’re you!
Amor Per La Terra, ‘Torrent de la Bruixa’, Mababeo, Paralleda & Xa-rello, Catalonia, Spain
A perfect sparkling wine with a skin-contact twist! We love Amor Per La Terra, a project set up in 2019 by three friends working with biodynamic farmers caring deeply for their land. From Empordà, Catalonia and made with biodynamically treated greenxgreenxGREEN Macabeo, aromatic Parellada and acid bearing Xa-rello, the three traditional grapes of Cava in the indie-production of their careers. The grapes macerate for two days gaining texture and tannin, then spontaneous fermentation begins with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks, and ends in the bottle (completely unfiltered, the cloudiness is good for you, we promise)! Green apple cubes, honeydew popsicle, tomato tendrils, grassy fields, limeade, raw almonds & stalactite minerality. A sparkling wine with stand-out authenticity, just like you! Enjoy with sparklers, confetti & any other celebratory paraphernalia you have kicking around, these next few weeks are gonna be a doozy!
Zillinger, ‘NV White Solera’, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sämling, Niederösterreich, Austria
Today we present to you a fresh and complex white, fit for impressing your partner’s (picky) family on your first holiday together – let us know how it goes! Johannes Zillinger took over his family's 350 year old Austrian winery in 2013. Already one of the first organic wineries in the region, Johannes converted the operation to fully certified biodynamics, a homeopathic and wholistic (and super challenging!) approach. His commitment to natural farming and winemaking has resulted in extraordinarily clean wines that are true expressions of their grapes. While we love all his wines, the solera range is something else. Most famous in sherry, but also in Champagne, a solera system involves fractional blending so the finished product is a mixture of many previous vintages, creating a complex, interesting and utterly unique house style. Johannes keeps each grape solera separate and then blends each year for the best product. This release is 50% Georgian Qvevri aged Chardonnay providing fruit, weight, texture, 25% Sämling adding floral character & 25% Riesling, the structural backbone there for acidity and a delightfully, rocky mouthfeel. Apricot slurry, Christmas spices, brioche & a whole lot of terra cotta coated history. Enjoy while planning your 2023 spring garden (yes, we miss warmth!) and wondering what else in your life should be based on a solera system if only for a chance to incorporate ‘fractional blending’ into your day to day vocabulary.
Julie and Toby Bainbridge, ‘L'Acrobate’, Grolleau, Loire Valley, France
Savoury rosé doesn’t care that its winter, it straps on its snowshoes & hikes down to the town bath house & sauna without looking back. Be like winter rosé! Julie & Toby Bainbridge are natural wine icons, having worked four hectares of vines in Anjou since 2012. The Loire Valley is home to many great wines, but in Anjou they are most known for their lighter-than-air rosé that purrs with life. This one is made from 85-year-old (!) Grolleau, a favourite regional grape that is all savoury, stemmy, herbal leaves and the crunchiest, cranberry fruit. Nearly ripe strawberries meet zesty acidity and the sudden urge to re-watch Legally Blonde I and II (you should). Drink while crocheting an orangutan shaped cozy for your hot water bottle & listening to your Spotify 2022 Wrap Up.
The Austin Winery, Vermentino, Austin, Texas, USA
They make wine in Texas?! And it’s GOOD?! We were as surprised and delighted as we hope you’ll soon be! 100% Vermentino from the Texas high plains. Ross McLauchlan, Cooper Anderson, and Matt Smith started The Austin Winery in a tiny warehouse in 2013, establishing the first full production, grape-to-glass winery inside Austin city limits (what forward thinking freaks)! The winemaking philosophy is simple: partner with small, family-owned vineyards around Texas with a holistic view on farming, using non-exploitative, organic & regenerative practices that benefit the entire ecosystem. Five days of skin contact brings light tannin, peachy colour & under-steeped tea-leaf flavour, while tropical fruit salad and orange blossoms transport you to another place and time entirely (networking at south by southwest?). A complete and unexpected crowd-pleaser fit for the toughest food pairings (anything rich, spicy or fried) or pickiest friends. P.S. Check out the label for a special poem from their friend, Nick Giglia.
Cascina Iuli, ‘Ta-Da!’, Baratuciat, Grignolino, Pinot Noir & Slarina, Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy
A person in an oversized black top hat and white gloves lifts a hand and four pigeons emerge from their sleeve – Ta-Da! Do you applaud or call PETA? Blessedly, Fabrizio Iuli’s magic trick involves four grapes expertly blended in this extremely wild and delicious bottle. We like to imagine him like Emeril in the kitchen, but instead of Bam!-ing he is Ta-Da-ing left, right and centre. And why wouldn’t he, in the prestigious appellation of Monferrato, in the tiny village of Montaldo di Cerrina, where he is the one and only winemaker, his plentiful 35 acres flanked by the Alps. The vines were planted in the 1930s, have never seen chemicals and grow alongside hazelnut trees, olive groves and a wild forest (plentiful with truffles!). An organic blend of nearly-extinct Baratuciat (white), gently-tannic Grignolino, supple Pinot Noir and Slarina aka, the red counter part to Baratuciat – what delicious nonconformists! Everything is left on skins and co-fermented for 10 days in cement bringing texture without oak flavour. Dynamic fragrance with vegetal puffs, spices, fresh, red fruits & that je ne sais quoi we are always in search of. Drink while sitting down to a succulent roasted bird of any kind, whispering ‘Ta-Da!’ before the first, perfect bite.
Stefan Vetter, Sylvaner, Franken, Germany
Seasons be damned! Cheers to textured and savoury whites all year round! From Franken Germany, Stefan Vetter is Sylvaner’s greatest champion, single-handedly bringing an underrated grape to the world. In total he farms 3.2 hectares of organic and biodynamic vines, grown on shell-limestone and red sandstone. His goal is to catch the expression of his unique terroir and, oh heck, do we think he has done it. Macerated on the skins for 10 days and aged for six months, this wine is a thrill. Pink apples, wildflower honey, juicy apricots, chlorophyl (wild card!) & lip-smacking acidity. Dive headfirst into these refreshing waters and never look back, you’re a convert now! Enjoy with hearty, winter stews, festive fish & roasted, veggie feasts alike.
Strekov, ‘Rizling’, Welschriesling, Strekov, Slovakia
Zippity-doo-da-day! Nothing says holiday like white-capped Slovakian landscapes (said only us). Legendary winemaker Zsolt Sütó is a farmer by trade with a holistic point of view and risk-taking gumption. A certified organic, zero-zero wine (nothing added at any point in production) that is macerated on its skins, fermented under “voile” (a spooky film of yeast that protects the wine from oxygen) and bottled with its lees for a robust sense of terroir. Farming on a unique microclimate surrounded by marshland with clay-loam and limestone soils, imparting earthy, richness. Vines are unfertilized and trained as single-pole bush-vines – think regal pole dancers to encourage deep rooting. A beeswax umbrella, popping shiro plums, warm white shells, flamboyant quince & a hint of crushed, nuttiness. Drink as you meditate on Zsolt’s widely relevant words, “you taste a wine like this, and you become uncertain…and people don’t want that”, but WE DO want it, so very badly!” #FreaksUnite
Oda Family Winery, Orbeluri-Ojaleshi, Samegrelo, Georgia
Onwards & eastward! Around the wonderfully, wintery world in 12 bottles, look how far we’ve come! Winemaker Keto Ninidze is not only at the forefront of a new generation of Georgian winemakers, she’s also an activist and an author – penning no less than three books on Georgian literature and another on wine! Orbeluri-Ojaleshi is one of the oldest & most historic grapes in the region – dark, thick-skinned and traditionally made in sweet and semi-sweet styles, BUT seen here as a sleek, ultra-modern red. From organically farmed 40-year-old vines, grown at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. The grapes are fermented with natural yeasts for a month on the skins and then aged for 7 months in traditional clay qvevri, developing smokey, savoury character. Dark-fruited and juicy, all blackcurrant tart, scraped tarragon stem, sachet of anise, allspice, cardamom pod & frankincense. Dusty, powdery tannins & a pleasantly bitter finish wrap us around their little finger. You go home with this wine, not the other way around. A mere 400 bottles were made, enjoy with serious respect.
Lammidia, ‘Rosh’, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo & Trebbiano, Abruzzo, Italy
Back to Italy to lighten the mood & this delicious lil stinker has staycation written allll over it. Winemakers Davide Gentile and Marco Giuliani’s first vintage in 2010 was such a disaster that they called in a senior virtuosa to perform a secret ritual over their vines, leading them to their eventual name, ‘Lammidia’ or evil eye, in Abruzzese. The proof is in the pudding, we suppose, as these wacky, cumulus-cloudy wines are famous for their incredible texture & sheer pride in their reckless energy—you may recognize some of their other cutie labels, adorned with flamingos, eggs, peppers and panda bears! This juicy, carbonic red is the vintage cranberry-coloured corduroy jacket you should’ve bought – overripe black cherries, Swedish berries, Italy before Gucci, a whisper of tannin & a yeehaw of barnyard. Finally, a wine for kissing and telling mistletoe or not!
Weingut Ziniel, Muskat, Burgenland, Austria
Is it orange? Is it white? A drinkable choose you own adventure book from young, Burgenland winemaker Andreas Ziniel. Perfect for Riesling and Gruner Veltliner lovers, Gelber Muskateller/Muskat provides a delightfully sassy alternative that is alarmingly delicious, addictive & positively freaky. Weingut Ziniel is a free spirited winery at the lowest point in Austria, where they say they are, “completely at peace in the centre of the universe”. Be where you are, man! Sandy-loam with calcareous subsoils bring crisp minerality to this plentiful table. Fermented and matured before blending with an older vintage to add depth & complexity - a mini solera of sorts! Stubborn & unmistakable, a true splurge of musky florals, nutmeg loaf & a flavour bomb that throws you up in the air like a firework. Pour alongside snuggly candle lit evenings watching Black Mirror: Bandersnatch & eating pie of any kind.
Macatho, ‘Segundo Flores’, País, Itata, Chile
A hauntingly beautiful Chilean red, wrapped in a three-piece, vintage, lace ensemble complimented by a leather choker & boots – how festive! A melding of cosmically rugged and delicate sensory wonders, Macarena del Rio and Thomas Parayre are the winemaking couple behind the adored Macatho in the ancient southern Chilean region of Itata. Harvested from 150 year old (!) organic País vines, situated in their highest elevation vineyard. With abundant sunshine, strong Pacific coastal influences and dry conditions due to the Andes to the east, it’s no wonder these wines are so special. País is the Chilean name for the Spanish grape, Listán Prieto – a wicked wonder that feels like drinking the roots of the Tree of Life plucked straight from the underworld. With 25 days on skins, Segundo Flores is like smoking earth, like the smell of cooking gourds in an earth oven. Braided leather, sphagnum moss, sage whiffs, roasting raspberries, juniper & a strong, steely grip. Drink while cracking walnuts & planning your January getaway, can you say EQUATOR?!
Clos Lentiscus, ‘Rosé Brut Nature’, Tempranillo, Carignan & Sumoll, Penedès, Spain
We have designated this the freakiest bubble to ring in the new year. What a treat, you’re welcome! Clos Lentiscus’ property is a thriving microcosm we imagine heaven to look like. Winemaker Manel has all the ease of a hobby gardener, with multigenerational experience, a caring heart & years of hard work behind him. This natural, biodynamically farmed reserve bubble is equal parts co-planted (and co-fermented) Ull de llebre (Tempranillo) and Carignan, with a splash of Sumoll for herby, freshness, all grown in the mountainous vineyards of Mazio del Garraf. The base wine from 2016 (a simpler time!) was fermented in old oak with limited skin contact, before heading to its second fermentation in bottle (kicked off by an addition of the fermenting 2018 vintage) and left for 20 months on lees to build complex character. Medicinal herbs, cranberry cola, charred cedar, Campari spritz & yeasted dough good times for everyone! May the new year bring your marvellously twisted dreams ever closer to fruition.