Welcome to Classic Advent!

It's a great day to be you, the lucky recipient of our Classic Advent Box.

Pop the numbered tops & learn more below!

Trail Estate ‘Fronte-Snack’ Frontenac Noir, Prince Edward County, Canada

For your first Big Wine Reveal (so exciting!!) allow us to introduce you to a very special collaboration between Grape Witches and Prince Edward County sensation, Trail Estate — Fronte-Snack! 

This puckery purple pét-nat (or pétillant naturel, a sparkling wine made in a single fermentation) is made out of Frontenac, a dark-skinned hybrid grape tailored to thrive in our cold, Canadian climate. Grown in a vineyard called Good Vibrations (yes, like the Beach Boys song but let’s be real, more like Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch), grapes were hand-harvested and whole bunch fermented in “juice boxes” for maximum fruit-forwardness with a ‘lil extra juice thrown in to kickstart carbonation. Head winemaker Mackenzie Brisbois, a pioneer (and our hero!) in low-intervention winemaking, thinks of this as a sort of “Canadian Lambrusco,” a cold climate homage to the iconic sparkling red from Emilia-Romagna. Gloriously reminiscent of the greatest seasonal beverage – cranberry Canada Dry ginger ale – but reimagined as a brisk, easterly wind that will stir your soul, flush your cheeks & warm your heart. Juicy pomegranate, blackcurrant jelly bean & raspberry fruit-bottom yogurt with a touch of earth & wintery forest to ground you in all of the wonderful possibilities of the new wave of Canadian wine. 

Les Athlètes du Vin ‘Saumur Champigny’ Cabernet Franc, Loire Valley, France

It may be your Day 3 of Advent but it’s also Day 2 (of 2) of your French staycation with us, your best friends & friendly neighbourhood wine experts who would never come over empty handed. 

If Edelzwicker is our platonic ideal of a wine bar white & something we’d drink on the first night in a new, unfamiliar locale, then this easygoing Cabernet Franc from négociant project Les Athlétes du Vin is the second night out, feet suitably wet from the excesses of the previous evening but tonight, with moderation! In highlighting regional grape varieties from different regions, négociant wines speak to the idiosyncrasies of the Loire that make it such an incredible place to make wine. They’re also freakin’ delicious! 

Grown from 35 year old vines, the grapes undergo a three week maceration in stainless steel tanks before being bottled with minimal sulphites, a recipe for fresh fruit and refreshing acid. This Saumur-Champigny is supple & structured, lives for a good dinner party & drinks like cranberry cocktail, tart raspberry, post-rain smells & a slightly green, vegetal note that pulls everything together like a thoughtfully placed bouquet garni. A vin de soif for the whole table, this will pair perfectly with sweethearts, in-laws & well-received interlopers of all stripes. 

Koppitsch ‘Piroska’ Rosen Muskateller & Chardonnay, Burgenland, Austria

It’s been an hour into making polite small talk with your recently crypto-obsessed uncle & your brain has turned to complete mush! Worry not, we have just the thing to snap you out of your festive stupor on this 4th Day of Advent. This is Piroska (peer-osh-ka), a fun & funky orange wine made exclusively for Grape Witches by Koppitsch, our natural wine heroes in Burgenland, Austria. 

If you’re new to natural wine, welcome! Think of it like trying a weird (but delicious!) cheese for the first time, an adventure to the outskirts (or at least, suburbs) of Flavourtown. Skin-contact or orange wines are essentially white wines soaked on their skins like a red wine, emerging fresh and full of colour, tannin and texture. But this isn’t any ‘ole orange, this is a mildly freaky, super-cloudy (read: unfined & unfiltered) blend of carbonically macerated 2018 Chardonnay with 2020 Rosenmuskateller (otherwise known as Muscat Rose a Petits Grains), a rare and difficult-to-grow grape with only 8 hectares grown across Austria. Two vintages = double the fun! Neon-coral in the glass & drinks like barely-adult Sunny D: fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, homemade limoncello, Ceres apricot nectar, Alphonso mango pulp, pure liquid sunshine! Shake it well, serve it chilled & drink it all in one night because this juicy & ethereal brunch-meets-dinner-party stunner is here for a good time, not a long time.

Tiberio ‘Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy

On this glorious 5th day of Advent (golden rings not included!), we cheers to Cristina Tiberio, a former chemist who trained in Champagne, Chablis and the Mosel before taking the helm of her family’s winery in Abruzzo, Italy. This Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of her many elegant and affecting odes to the regional Italian grapes that have defined (and until recently, were neglected in) the region for centuries. The grapes are organically farmed from 50 year old vines and vinified as clean, low-intervention wines that are approachable and food-friendly, something for you but also your Merlot-obsessed uncle! Drinks like Tilda Swinton in I Am Love, silk-lined, pedigreed and impeccable with notes of IKEA lingonberry jam, ripe cherries and blackcurrant cassis on a palazzo, not a villa, darling. As the night (and wine) wanes, Cuban cigars emerge with a hint of raw leather and river earth. Pairs perfectly with meaty proteins, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce & someone else doing the cleaning. 

Revel ‘Pear-Nat’ Bartlett Pears & Seyval Blanc, Guelph, Ontario

For the 6th day of Advent, your true loves (us!) are giving to you our third & final collaboration, a wine-cider hybrid from Revel Cider in Guelph, Ontario! 

Meet Pear-Nat! A one-of-a-kind sparkling perry (read: pear cider) that was co-fermented with Seyval Blanc, another cold climate hybrid grape that isn’t recognized internationally but is prolific enough in Canada and the Carolinas to be called “East Coast Chardonnay.” Made from Bartlett pears in Thedford, Ontario, the fruit was pressed by the farmer and then fermented with natural yeasts at Revel. The finished perry was then ramped up with a dash of Seyval Blanc to intensify the pop rocks perlage (or bubbles) & bring some wine-like texture. Kinda like Tropicana with pulp but pears, gently shake to incorporate the cloudy stuff or pour the perry off the lees (a fancy word for dead yeast) – a real choose-your-own-adventure! Textured and fresh, it really does leap from the glass like something, almost like something seasonal you’d otherwise be eating with a fork. The very embodiment of Good Things Grow in Ontario, this is the new wave of Ontario cider and winemaking at its very best — wild, experimental & always delicious. 

Pearl Morissette ‘Roselana’ Pinot Noir, Gamay, Merlot & Lemberger, Niagara, Ontario
Welcome to the half-way point, your 7th day of Advent! Up next, a dark winter rosé (or a featherweight light red!) from the ever-elegant Pearl Morissette in Niagara. Head vigneron François Morissette’s aesthetic & winemaking sensibility can best be summed up by our favourite sassy quote of his: “I don’t make wine for Ontario, I make wine for the world.” Brazen, audacious and undeniably true! François’ minimal intervention wines are lucid & authentic in a way that, like all great art, transcends time or place. This precise & focused blend was direct pressed with each grape undergoing its own vinification, followed by 7 months on the lees in concrete (imparting texture & body) and an additional 2 months in stainless steel tanks. Sultry and serious with a fun-loving smirk, this is all high-toned red fruits, raspberry leaf, savoury green herbs & a whiff of spearmint, the kind of wine that wears Tabis and has at least two things made out of ostrich feathers. 

Thymiopoulos ‘ATMA’ Xinomavro & Malagousia, Naoussa, Greece

Day 8 of Advent feels like the Thursday of a 12 day week. And like any good Thursday evening, best enjoyed in the spirit of the weekend but tempered by the reality of another workday. Enter another Grape Witches all-time favourite, ATMA!

ATMA, which translates to “soul” in Greek, comes from Apostolos Thymiopoulos, a strikingly handsome winemaker making biodynamic wine in the idyllic Greek paradise of Naoussa — absolute worth a Google Image Search if you’re in the mood for longing. Red-white blends are so hot right now & you’re right on trend – this wine is part white-skinned Malagousia (known for its gorgeous, ripe florality) and part red-skinned Xinomavro (vinified skins off as a blanc de noirs), a pitch-perfect balance between freshness and structure. Drinks citrus-forward & sunshine-adjacent with a lemon-silk texture, soft jasmine florality & a dramatic crash of salty seaspray. Don't be mad at us for evoking such a summery image in deep December, we’re just like you – dreaming of vacations & the return of our tans! 

Paltrinieri ‘Piria’ Lambrusco di Sorbara & Salamino, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Day 9! Tonight, we venture to Emilia-Romagna, the birthplace of everyone’s favourite sparkling wine that they’ll inevitably become obsessed with, Lambrusco. Except this is its lean, mean & effortlessly chic cousin, the lighter skinned Lambrusco di Sorbara — say Ciao to Piria! 

Polar opposite to the dark red, pizza-loving Lambrusco you may be acquainted with, this wine isn’t about the fruit at all. It drinks like the living embodiment of its sexy, modernist label and if it were a person, that person would have some incredibly powerful eyebrows. Yet as tense, balsamic & mineral-driven this wine is, it’s still a sparkling rosé, baby! The very picture of elegance, back from a thrilling trip to Greece (cough cough) and ready to show casual nip at your next holiday staff party. Puckered red fruit, watermelon rind, cranberries cocktail & cherry blasters without the sour. We can’t keep it on the shelf & we expect it won't last long in your glass either. 

Pinard et Filles ‘Vin de Jardin’ Frontenac Noir, Gris & Blanc, Magog, Quebec

For Day 10, we have a real treasure for you from Pinard et Filles, a husband-and-wife duo making some of the most coveted natural wines in the world, but a stone's throw away in Magog, Quebec. 

Vin de Jardin is an artful blend of every Frontenac (Noir, Gris & Noir!) that was partially whole cluster fermented to retain some of that juicy fruit character as possible, while a partial foot stomping ensures a gentle extraction of tannins. Some of the grapes were pressed directly into clay amphora vessels to ferment, then bottled without fining, filtration or added sulphites. As we close in on the end of December, we present, the ultimate springtime red with the wherewithal to transcend seasonality all on its own. Tangy and textured, this is a rosé wrapped in a red with notes of pulpy pomegranate, grapefruit oil, buckwheat cranberry tart & orange blossom. As pretty as it is, there’s a wildchild underside that makes this an offbeat yet oddly functional dinner wine, one that’ll leave quite the impression on your guests. Pairs perfectly with romantic walks to the garage & outrageously comfortable leather-bound armchairs. 

Slobodne ‘Devina’ Devín, Trnava, Slovakia

We’ve reached the penultimate day of Advent! Celebrate with this cerebral & slightly esoteric Slovakian skin-contact stunner! Made from 100% Devín (a cross between Gewürztraminer & Roter Veltliner), this sunset-hued, biodynamically-farmed stunner undergoes ten days of skin contact before bottling without fining or filtration. At first sniff, you’ll be graced with a nose so vehemently mineral it is like standing underneath a waterfall on a bed of riverstones. There’s a faint whiff of honeysuckle from a nearby garden, a parfumerie of roobois tea, smoke, dill & ginger. As if this avant-garde miscellany of flavours is not enough, the story of the Slobodné Vinárstvo winery is an epic in itself. Founded in 1912 as a tobacco farm, this family-owned estate produced wines beloved by the Prague art scene (hot) before production was halted in the 1930s due to political strife. The estate sat abandoned for decades before current winemakers Agnes & Katarina Herzog’s mother found a box containing the ownership certificate of the estate in a basement under a staircase, giving them the legal authority to take back their land. They then converted the entire winery to biodynamics and now proudly carry on the family legacy as Slobodné Vinárstvo, literally translating to “free winery,” a testament to their incredible resilience, now yours to enjoy! 

Envinate ‘Albahra’ Garnacha Tintotera, Canary Islands, Spain

For our final act of Advent, behold! It’s Albahra, an all-time favourite that we’d happily pour for anyone, anytime, anywhere – she gives it to you every time!

From Envinate in the Canary Islands, this is the absolute apex of mineral-driven reds, like licking the particularly delicious slate slab you carried for twenty miles to go to school. Vigorous, vivid & alive as hell, this blend of Garnacha Tintotera and Moravia Agria from 30 year old vines is a gleaming streak of brilliant flavours – dusty plum, star anise, veiny granite, frozen cherry & an ice cold breeze. Plus, look at this gorgeous, classic bottle — you could give it away as a very nice gift but you deserve nice things too! When you decide that you need a case, get in line because we asked first. Drinking this fills us with the thrilling potentiality of life itself, a sophisticated wine that we wish we could be more like when we grow up. Could it even be our favourite wine of the year? We’ll never tell. 

And just like that, we’ve come to the end! We hope this journey through the grapes, regions and winemakers that inspire us everyday has been as enjoyable for you as it was for us to put together. If you’d like more information on any of the wines in Advent, drop us a line at hello@grapewitches.com and point you in the right direction. 

Finally, thank you for being a part of Advent this year! From all of us at Grape Witches – we wish you & your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and we can’t wait to see you in the New Year. 

xo

Grape Witches