Classic Advent Wine Notes
Welcome one and all, to the best gift you will receive this year, the Grape Witches Advent Calendar!
You are here because you enjoy the cute-comfort of penny loafers & rewatching Steel Magnolias, over, and over (praise Dolly Parton). Long live the classics! We have narrowed it down from the 'Hott 100’, to the real smash hits. Now, dear people and gentlehumans, these are the bottles of our lives.
Domaine des Cognettes, 'Perles du Val de Moine' Brut NV, Chardonnay, Folle Blanche & Friends, Loire Valley, France
Bubble baths, bubble wands, bubblegum, Canada’s sweetheart Michael BUBLÉ’– nothing could be better than starting off bubbly! Here we have a beautiful bubble from one of our all-time favourite wine growing regions, the Loire Valley. Sixth generation winemakers, Stephane & Vincent Perraud are in the coastal, Western Loire aka salty, crispy, white and bubble central. Their philosophy is simple: responsible, sustainable and organic agriculture make great wine. A deep-cut sparkling that drinks like the greatest b-side you ever stumbled across. Like drinking apple soda out of a sticky pineapple. Apricot yoghurt, Airheads white-raspberry-secret-flavour (if you know, you know) & creamy minerals that coat your throat with goodness all the way down. Drink with breakfast pastry, while daydreaming of sugarplums.
Ori Marani, ‘Revoir au Printemps’, Tsitska, Chkhaveri, Dzelshavi & Aladasturi, Imereti, Georgia
Another day, another rosé, because rosé is what? Say it with us! Rosé Is For All The Time, or RIFATT for short (just trips off the tongue doesn’t it?)! Ori Marani is part of a new wave of winemakers bringing Georgia to household-name status yet again. Solely focusing on regional grapes fermented in traditional, clay qvevri, their wines not only speak to the 8000 year legacy of Georgian winemaking, but also to its vibrant future. Bastien calls this “a wink to better days that come after winter”, the first gasps of spring after a long chilly night, bottled into an herbaceous, complex treat. Savoury & botanical, like dating a sultry landscape architect – so many benefits! Dried hibiscus, corn husks, tangy rhubarb, dusty, white florals & bitter lemon pith with a whiff of ginger & shaved button mushrooms. Put a chill on it and drink during golden hour while savouring every last bite of the NEWEST iteration of your famous pumpkin pie – the times, they are a-changin’ & so must we!
Johannes Zillinger, Grüner Veltliner, Weinviertel, Austria
Today there is a prompt shift in the wind, and we slip into the comfort of a crisp breeze & an even crispier Grüner Veltliner. This fresh friend beckons you from a turret window, handkerchief in hand, summoning you take its hair and shimmy on up to flavour town (lol sorry). Winemaker Johannes is all over biodynamic farming, he even grows his own herbs and makes them into tinctures he uses as treatments in the vineyard. Clearly he is onto something, since this precise, yet utterly drinkable Grüner is one of our fave pair-with-anything-and-everything-impress-anyone whites. One third the cleanest, freshest water from an Austrian mountain creek, one third homemade lemonade, and one third fresh apple juice from an apple farm wayyyy up north. Pair with wild, gnarled apple tree picking, trout fishing & wearing footsie pyjamas, while a baby golden retriever naps on your lap.
Weingut Weinwurms, ‘Landwein’, Zweigelt, Dobermannsdorf, Austria
Speaking of Austrian waterways – shed your footsies, lace up & let’s go skating through an orchid-purple evening at dusk. Third generation winemakers, Lisa and husband Georg, take care of the winery with experience & energetic support from their family members, which is all we can ever hope for in the month of December! Grown sustainably on loam and loess soils that are projected through their wines & straight into your glass. These Zweigelt grapes are gently pressed and macerated for three weeks to extract pleasing & tender tannins. Deep opaque red with violet tones, full cherry fruit, forest grounds & harmonic acidity. Drink at the bottom of the slopes during your après-ski moment, after an afternoon of absolutely shredding the fresh powder with your trusty board or after re-watching Force Majeure and wondering what you would do, during which the extra 250 mL of this 1 L bottle will certainly come in handy.
Mac Forbes, ‘Spring’, Riesling, Yarra Valley, Australia
We know, we know RIESLING?! But we promise this one will change your mind and prove why many stuffy somms (and us!) insist it is one of the world’s very best white grapes. To get there, we visit our next favourite geographical ‘A’, Australia! Sloths in jewel-toned capes, kangaroos in sparkly, boxing gloves & black widows in silver tiaras because they are fancy and festive, just like you! Winemaker Mac Forbes is a fervent advocate for Australian terroir, ahead of the curve in carving out the nuances of the region’s many mineral-rich soils – some dating back 400 million years! From this immense, geological interface comes this delicately wrought white, chiseled from the stunning continent of surfing wallabies. Saddle up for a blend of Riesling from several vineyards that not only captures the sun, the earth & the air, but delivers on the D-licious to boot! Pungent peach and jasmine flowers, lemon-lime crunch, green pears & grass, with a stony backbone. Maybe you’re thinking of sharing this bottle – we promise, some things are meant for sharing, and others are meant to be drunk alone, through a straw, while looking at your reflection in a colossal icicle. Self love, honeys!
Ronchi di Cialla, Ribolla Nera (Schioppettino), Friuli, Italy
Today we are feeling rejuvenated & recharged from an evening of self care and ready to walk in glowing and ready to impress at our BFF’s dinner party. No matter the menu, nor attendees, this versatile red goes with everything and everyone. The artist-grape now known as Ribolla Nera lived a former life as Schioppettino (sounds like Pinocchio’s grandmother and we are here for it), the local name for a regional Italian varietal that was saved from extinction in the 1970s by the family behind this very winery, Ronchi di Cialla. What legends! Crown Royal purple in the glass, a lively crack of black pepper meets romantic, dark, red fruit, a distinct, crunchy minerality and a robust, herbed meatiness like rosemary salumi. Drink while draped over a billiards table because you’re the only one playing games tonight, and looks like you’re a winner, baby.
Quebrada del Chucao, ’Espumante Brut Nature’, Cider, Chile
Today is a perfect day to recognize and be thankful for the gift of curiosity, keep that pal alive! Now dream with us folks, we know you know the concept of terroir in wine – an amalgamation of land, weather & care – but have you ever considered terroir of other fruits and foods? In your hands, you hold a Chilean cider made with apples from ancient trees, now cared for ‘organically’, however the more fitting term here is WILD. Bottle fermentation results in super soft bubbles and a mouthwateringly textured, dry finish, positively packed with apple skin tannin. Currently a part of the ‘Cider is Wine' initiative, a project that brings together the highest quality apple & pear cider producers, to show the world that bubbling apple wines can be just as sophisticated and elegant as their grape cousins, thank you very much. Fresh-baked loaves, green, woody highlights, tropical fruit cups on vacation (always better), caramelized, toasted walnuts & the world’s biggest lemon squirt. A super versatile match for low budget holiday films & blockbusters alike at any time of day with any and all leftovers, weird snacks or fancy meals. More great not-grape wines in 2023 please!
Rinaldini, ‘Pjcol Ross’, Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Where else is there to go but up? We like jumping from bubble to bubble like a chilly, squirrel jumps between icicle-laden branches. Italy in December, what a treat. Welcome to Emilia Romagna and it’s famous dry, red bubbles, Lambrusco. Fun fact! Emilia Romagna is also the birthplace of Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma ham, balsamic vinegar AND tagliatelle and tortellini, your Eat Pray Love moment waiting to happen people. You see tons of Lambrusco Sorbara, but rarely (never!) do we get our hands on this special grape. Meet Pjcol Ross, a very rare, nearly extinct Lambrusco grape local to Val d’Enza, deep in the heart of the region. It’s so rare that Rinaldini is the only producer that makes this 100% version currently in your lucky paws. Imagine you were the only farm in the world producing Granny Smith apples. How would you make your family’s passed down apple pie recipe? You wouldn’t. Save your seeds everyone! Like a fizzy, hot tub of blackcurrant juice, plums, plums everywhere, sizzling acidity, thorny balsamic ash & a tongueful of umami on the finish. A solid match with an afternoon snack of street roasted chestnuts, persimmon slices & wild boar terrine.
Mas Candi, 'Baudilli', Xarel-lo & Parellada, Penedés, Spain
Fly South with us like the snowbirds and monarch butterflies we know ourselves to truly be! The Mas Candi vineyards have been farmed for over 500 years, but in 2006, Ramon Jané, his wife Mercí Cuscó and their pal, Toni Carbó decided to stop selling their grapes and bottle their gorgeous fruit under their own name. They organically farm a number of regional grapes in Alt Penedés, alongside culty Cava producers like Raventos. Baudili is part of the ‘Ramon Jané’ side project, a series of zero-zero wines—made without fining, filtration, additions or sulphites. Summer, lime blossoms, apricots with their stems, grapefruit zest, granny smiths & a whiff of lanolin with dazzling acidity from Xarel-lo, a favourite grape of ours and surely one of yours soon too! Drink this in your easiest, breeziest, most Covergirl maxi dress — a Covergirl maxi dress is a state of mind — and stain it with the juice of an exceptionally ripe peach destined for your favourite crumble.
Bodega Pirineos, 'Principio', Moristel, Somontano, Spain
May the Spanish exploration continue! Because like cats, they are better in pairs. Here we bring you a special wine from a leading Spanish cooperative located in the (stunning!) foothills of the Pyrenees. Founded in 1993, the vineyards are among the oldest in the region with a focus on regional grapes (notice a theme?!). This is the first and only Moristel we’ve tasted, a rare, hidden gem if we’ve ever seen one. Think Laura Croft secret mission to Bolivia to find a Brontosaurus bone, while being chased on camelback level rare. Deep & delicious, black cherry cola & white chocolate with a velvety texture and an edge of pleasing menthol. Drink on cold nights, losing time with beloved family and friends, as you unsuccessfully advocate for a second cat (please??).
Echeverria, ‘Natural Wine Drinker’, Sauvignon Blanc, Curicó Valley, Chile
We wouldn’t dream of depriving you of a bottle of our now and forever love, orange wine! The Echeverria family has been making wine since 1740, originally growing fruit before they shifted to bottling their own, sustainably farmed wines in 1990. And thank goodness they did! Organically grown from pre-phylloxera vines, the grapes undergo a 45-day maceration to create this all-around satisfying treat. Amber like the afternoon sun reflected off a snowbank, light-bodied with a juicy texture and notes of tangerine curd, green apple, orange blossom, manuka honey & rubbing your face in a handful of wildflowers (okay we miss spring). Drink on that plus 5º day while your nose momentarily de-thaws and a bit of sleepy grass peeks through your white-capped iceberg of a front garden. Spoiler alert! We’ve known talented winemaker, sweet peach and 4th generation grape grower Roberto Echeverria FOREVER and he and his wines are beyond lovely. A very special GW collab is coming in 2023!
Laurent Saillard, Grenache & Syrah, Gard & Vaucluse, France
Here we have it, our last day together & what a day it will be. Let’s hold hands & go for a toboggan ride of epic proportions. Laurent is an incredibly talented former chef turned winemaker, who cooks you dinner and waits ‘till midnight to wish you a happy birthday since you just happen to mention it over cheese. A rare prize, in both maker and outcome, directly a result of climate change, intuition & ingenuity. This cuvée, a collaboration brought on by a devastating frost that forced him to source organic fruit for the first time, was meant to be 100% Syrah from Vaucluse, but in the eleventh hour it was blended with beautifully spiced Grenache from Gard, in Southern France. Inspirational enough that making something beautiful out of a hard time is now our intention for the new year, and every year after. Tastes like the freedom of rolling downhill in the protective padding of your snowsuit mixed with the joy of successfully throwing raspberries into your friend's mouth from across the room. Notes of herby, mortar and pestle leftovers & cooking down the frozen summer plums you saved (good job wee squirrel). Pour alongside your hopes, your dreams & your determination to make them all come true.