Super Fancy-Classic Advent Wine Notes
La crème de la crème
The tippity top, most peak of the towering & pristine mountain. The (colossal) cherry on top of a perfect day or month or year – welcome to the Grape Witches Advent Calendar, 2022! Meet SUPER Fancy, brimming with rare jewels & canonical heroes. Let’s go!
Cos ‘Metodo Classico’, Frappato, Sicily, Italy
Every good celebration should begin with a bubble! Leap with us into an other-worldly taste of luxury. COS (Cilia-Occhipinti-Strano) was founded in 1980 by this v. impressive trio who sought to breathe life back into Sicily’s wine reputation. What began as a humble project became one of the world's most iconic wineries. COS has revolutionized quality production in Sicily and inspired the next generation beyond measure. Working in the cellar and vineyards without any additives since the mid 80s, as well as with organic & biodynamic practices since FOREVER. This rare, traditional method sparkling wine is 100% Frappato, one of our fave, light & fruit-driven red grapes regional to Southern Italy, often compared to Gamay, though it has a certain, floral breeziness that is unique unto itself. Primary fermentation in clay amphora with the second fermentation in bottle for tight, persistent bubbles. Wafting RIPE strawberries, rose hip tea, raspberries blossoms, rhubarb compote, chestnut crunch & a mineral spire. One of our favourite producers ever, period. Pour alongside nights a-resting or days a-laying, this one’s a thinker!
Camin Laradya, ‘La Part Davant’, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Courbu, Jurançon, France
Like sleeping next to a crackling fire in 100% silk sheets & waking up with a beam of light on your face, the luminous and eager hand of time saying, “good day to you!”. We were ~ stunned ~ by the deliciousness and utter uniqueness of this wine, freshly arrived for the first time in Ontario from Jurançon, an appellation in France’s southwest surrounded by the rolling foothills of the Pyrenees. Winemaker Jean-Marc Grussaute studied oenology before joining his mother on their family’s 9 hectares of organic vineyards. Made from 10-80 year old vines - can someone say family reunion! - including deep and savoury gros manseng (50%), best-kept-secret petit manseng (35%), and honeyed courbu (15%). Two thirds of the grapes are directly pressed into barrel, while a third undergo skin contact for three days, followed by fermentation in old oak for never-ending length and texture. Aromatic & intense with ocean shoreline florals and grasses, truffle honey, fuji apple ice cream on granny smith apple pie with red delicious apple chips for dipping & crunch. APPLE X APPLE X APPLE. Enjoy by the faltering sun, this wine will surely light the way.
Ludovic Bonnardot, Pinot Noir, Santenay, Burgundy, France
Fine and fancy Burgundian Pinot Noir needs no introduction, but here we are. Founding winemaker Elisabeth Bonnardot came from a traditional wine growing family, but after a stint with Jules Chauvet, one of the legendary founders the natural wine movement, her mind changed. While herbicide and pesticide use exploded around her, she focussed on Burgundy made naturally, planting blackcurrants (YOM!) between the vines and even stopping the use of sulphur. Passing on the skills and traditions, today the family estate is run by her three sons Ludovic, Emilien & Antoine. Organic pinot noir is half destemmed for finessed power before spontaneously fermentating and resting one year on its yeasty lees (more delicious than it sounds, think tExTUrE!). Squishing figs, all the berries everywhere, mushroom fairy rings, peony potpourri, graphite bits & decaying cedar fronds. Pour alongside a horse-drawn sleigh ride through Trinity Bellwoods Park.
AMI, ‘Les Péteurs’, Aligoté, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France
In case you didn’t notice we are on the Burgundy Bus™️, and yes, on top of classically-perfectionist-level wines there are really in-vogue things happening too! Today, highly underestimated aligoté comes to life in the most thrilling way. ‘AMI’ is a product of the friendship between talented winemaker Willy, and passionate ambassador Paul. An orange wine made from grapes grown in Chassey-le-Camp on soils composed of clay and limestone and rich in sand that lend so much character to the wine. These 45-year-old vines are organically cultivated and biodynamically treated. Once harvested, 50% are pressed directly into barrel, and the remaining 50% are destemmed by hand and macerated for 10 days bringing texture and tannin. The wine is then aged in old barrels for 10 months to marry and deliciously stew. Mineral driven with a grainy texture, salty-bubbling yeast, herbal greens & a vibrant, chalky freshness. Drink with company & small snacks before a BIIG meal.
Buronfosse, ‘L’Hopital’, Savagnin, Jura, France
Just a hop, skip & jump over to Jura for this Burgundy Bus™️ after party! Clean, crispy fall breezes and laser-focus are embodied here - an A+ execution from Peggy and Jean-Pascal Buronfosse who have been making beautiful wines in the magical Jura since ‘99. They do EVERYTHING themselves (talk about amazing), except during harvests, when their family and friends lend a hand. They have several parcels with a focus on grey, marl soil (a mixture of limestone and clay) found in this stunning corner of Jura – it’s no surprise we find such mineral sturdiness in their wines! A mega savoury, bright and powerful wine featuring all three (white, yellow & pink) colours of Savagnin grapes spontaneously fermented in neutral oak with local yeast for 18 months. A whole lemon, pith and all, bright green apple crunch, Cerignola olives, toasted nuts and a touch of nutmeg. Pour alongside any night you wish to add a lil’ life to, this wine is a lover, a fighter & a really good dance partner ready for any main course or cheese/ charc/ after dinner platter you throw at it.
Forlorn Hope, Grenache, Calaveras County, USA
If there is one thing we need to remind ourselves of it’s that the grass is always greener on the other side – of the continent. Would you do long-distance? Do you believe in love? We do, and so does this light-hearted Grenache with its heart on its sleeve and its head in the clouds, courtesy of Northern California star, Forlorn Hope. Pouring a surprisingly pale colour, this bright, sapid red reveals a refreshing side of Grenache with age, done in swaths of dark fruit and savoury forest flavours. Grown on the Rorick Heritage Vineyard on schist and dolomite-rich limestone, the grapes were fermented for three weeks in open-top fermenters and aged for 16 months in neutral oak barrels. Chocolate-covered blueberries on a cedar plank, dried blackberries, elderberry cordial, pine needle, tomato stem & raspberry leaf with a firm tannic grip. With just 212 cases produced, this is a pleasure most fleeting! Put a slight chill on it and pair with anything grilled, a cheeky cig & sunglasses at night. New year, new YOU, right baby?
Clos Cibonne, ‘Cuvée des Vignettes’, Tibouren, Provence, Rose
Meet the Helena Bonham Carter of super savoury rosés and the legendary wine of historic, 5th-generation estate, Clos Cibonne. Famous for their focus on Tibouren, a regional grape known for its texture, heft and ability to age gracefully for decades, Vignettes is, simply put, their fanciest flight of fancy and to this day, a renowned original. Farmed from organic, 60-year-old vines, this was aged for a year under fleurette, a thin veil of yeast like in Jura and Jerez, and another year in huge, hundred-year-old foudres, giving a savoury, oxidative edge to this enchanting rosé. Strawberry rhubarb compote, overripe peach, lemon peel, cinnamon heart, crushed velvet, salty Mediterranean air, wet beach rocks & a bouquet of dried green herbs with an oily texture, nutty depth and a bitter, sophisticated finish. Hold onto it for the eve of your next major milestone, you will not believe your tastebuds.
Esmerelda Garcia, ‘Vayuste’, Verdejo, Rueda, Spain
This IS the fanciest Spanish white we’ve ever laid our hands on – like wearing an emerald tiara to walk your Irish wolfhound twins in their emerald studded collars – stunnin’. This dense, serious, mineral-laden white wine has more tension than most of us were capable of holding during peak pandemic plank challenges. Esmeralda Garcia makes tiny amounts of plot-specific wines from only ONE grape, Verdejo. This is the most widely planted grape in Rueda, the region in which her hometown of Santiuste is located. Verdejo usually makes relatively quaffable, aromatic #drywhitewine. In contrast, Esmeralda carefully tends 4 hectares of 140-210 year old vines growing in sandy, arid soils producing powerful, haunting, age worthy gems. Each of her plots vary in altitude and soil composition, allowing her to bottle several cuvées with strikingly different profiles - collect them all! The ‘Vayuste’ is perhaps her most linear, precise, and mineral of the bunch. The hand-harvested grapes are gently macerated for a few hours then fermented in tinajas (clay jars) followed by six months of aging in the same jars. This wine is a literal gift from the sun - stare at it too long and you’ll find yourself transfixed! Savoury, saline, preserved lemon and clove-dotted Christmas orange with a spicy, smokey edge. From the heart of Spain, these vines originated so far back, this is history in a bottle – pour alongside Relic Hunter reruns & studying your enormous globe.
Fabien Jouves, ‘Amphore’, Côt (Malbec), Cahors, France
Ssshhhhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s MALBEC and it’s GREAT! Specifically, a rare & amphora-aged example from southern France’s savant-meets-winemaker, Fabien Jouves. Growing up in a winemaking family and coming from an agricultural background, one might think that his wines celebrate tradition but instead, they buck it entirely, honing in on biodynamic principles to consider not only his 50-year-old vines, but the entire ecosystem of flora and fauna surrounding them. Sourced from a single hectare, this is an expression of Côt at its most elevated and elegant, Burgundian in stature – as hinted by the bottle shape – but Beaujolais in snark, a real Gemini with both sides in check, an exercise in elegance and restraint. After a 30 day ferment in (unusually, limestone) amphora, the wine ages for an additional six months on its lees before being bottled without fining or filtration. Ripe in fruit, richly textured & slightly peppery, this is well worth a stained white garment. Blueberry, clove-studded strawberry, orange peel & lingonberry preserves on a black pepper scone meets earthy plum, vanilla bean & herby tannins, almost like a heart-warming, industry shot of fernet. Decant and discover in the darkest corner of your home & let this wine murmur sweet nothings in your ear ’til the sun comes up.
Bobinet, ‘Les Gruches’, Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France
An unsurprising fact, but we LOVE the Loire & Chenin is the forever crush we always meet under the sun, moon, table & mistletoe like clockwork. Les Gruches is a higher-end cuvée of Chenin Blanc vinified from two clay-limestone plots in Saumur, one with extremely low-yield and 80 year old vines. This is a dense & expressive wine with an innate quality of wisdom & easy sophistication. Speaking of wisdom, this wine is cellarable for five to ten years after release, softening & filling out as it matures. In its youth (AKA if you can’t or won’t wait, which we can’t blame you for), it’s giving leaner Vouvray — lithe as opposed to ample, sexy & austere like Jerry Hall in a white silk pantsuit. Asian pear & honeydew melon countered by heaps of glistening pearls, ginger chews, honeyed apricot, caramel drizzle & a squeeze of lemon with a taut core of ruthless acidity that makes it perfect for things like lush lobster in cream sauce. Drinking a glass makes you feel like a way classier and slinkier version of yourself instantaneously, pairing well with sashaying around the house like Eartha Kitt and calling everyone “dahhhling,” even (especially) your cat.
Charles Dufor, ‘Tradition', Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Champagne, France
We are mainly here to keep the glittery bubbles flowing, which means it’s what? That’s right, CHAMPAGNE time! A Champagne local (I mean we all are at heart, no?), and boundary-pushing vigneron, Charles Dufour converted his 6 hectare farm to organic practices in 2013, while also adopting biodynamic preparations in the vineyard to stave off any superfluous chemical additions. This wine comes from his organic vineyard in Landreville, a village in Champagne’s southern (and very ~of the moment ~) Côte des Bar. Classic kimmeridgian chalk soils mingle with heavier clay marls to create an electric intermingling of poise & lustre that we don’t often get, even from Champagne. A blend of infallible Pinot Noir (60%), sumptuous Chardonnay (30%), and sultry Pinot Blanc (10%). A time-travelling love potion of natty wine proportions, 80% of the wine comes from the 2018 vintage, with the remaining 20% coming from vintages as far back as 2010! Fermenting between barrel and stainless steel, everything was allowed to go through malolactic fermentation, PLUS 15 months in bottle on its lees – giving round & textured bubbly times abounding. Rose gold in colour, peach bubblegum, hay, red apple shreds, a sourdough eclair stuffed with almond cream, smoked vanilla & chalky mineral stripes. Fun fact: we received this wine about this time last year and have cellared it since then to release it at its peak. Pour while contemplating how every snowflake IS in fact unique & the eventual realization that Mother Nature is the greatest artist of all time.
Clau de Nell, ‘Violette’, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon, Loire Valley, France
Our last day together, and what do we do on last days? We say “I love you” (and really mean it). But nothing says I love you like the power & dependability of Cabernet Franc (you’re dating a sommelier, this is our love language). So let’s trust-fall together, into this deep, dark red blend that ripples across the night sky like the unfathomable beauty of the Northern Lights! Clau de Nell is the passion project of the late & great Anne-Claude Leflaive, a Burgundian winemaker who not only advocated for French biodynamic winegrowers abroad, but rescued a near-bankrupt winery in Anjou, complete with hundred year old vines and an ancient, limestone-carved cellar. Two-thirds 45 year old Cab Franc, one-third 70 year old Cab Sauv blend into a dark, twisted fantasy of a rich, full-bodied red with all the bells and whistles. Black forest filling, crunchy loam, savoury spice, cowhide, kumquat acid & smoky tannins with a touch of cigarillo and dried eucalyptus on the finish. Scrumptious, sly and more than a bit seductive, pair this with fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight & never running from a real fight. May the new year bring all of the above & more!