Super Fancy - Freaky Advent Wine Notes
Welcome, dear misfits, to THE gift that was destined for you, the SUPER-FANCY-FREAKY Grape Witches advent calendar, 2022.
If you are here then you are a freak among freaks, a Nicholas Cage to your fellow Jason Batemans. You are a champion of the weird, the wonderful & the wild. So first we cheers to you, may we howl into the night together!
Wine Notes by Day
Lammidia, ‘Paparazza’, Trebbiano, Pecorino, Chardonnay, Abruzzo, Italy
Today we say, “Bonjourno bella”, to the beginning of this eccentrically, curated journey. Cross your fingers & hope to fly! Lammidia (or evil eye, in Abruzzese, dun, dun, dunnnnn) is a well known & very well respected natural winery, only truly LOVED by freaks & freaks alone. In 2010, the Abruzzo-based natural wine project was started by childhood friends Davide Gentile & Marco Giuliani. They’re low-intervention all the way – no tilling in the vineyards, recycling plant matter into mulch, biodynamic practices, using only naturally occurring yeasts & bottling without fining or filtration. The proof is in the pudding, as these wacky, cumulus-cloudy wines are famous for their incredible texture, proudly-reckless energy & cutie labels, adorned with flamingos, eggs, peppers & panda bears. A mix of mineral-rich trebbiano, floral pecorino, creamy chardonnay & ancient traminer. A string band of orchard fruit, peaches, pears & citrus, with lip smacking tropical shades & robust, grippy bubbles. Drink alongside glittering fabrics, studded suits & high, high heels! It’s nearly time for 2023, BABY!
Equipo Navazos, ‘La Bota de Florpower 99’, Palomino Fino, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain
“Expect the unexpected” in liquid form, it’s a savoury wine stunner from sherry superstars. In 2005, a group of sherry lovers, led by a wine writer and a criminology professor, discovered some forgotten barrels of exceptionally rare, 20 year old Amontillado in Sanlúcar. They bought a single cask for themselves, bottling it as ‘Navazos n°1’. Since then, their hobby has grown into one of Spain’s most exciting projects. Meet their 99th wildly special release made from single-vineyard and single-vintage, old, low-yield vines in Pago Miraflores La Baja. ‘Antes de la flor’ means ‘before the flor,’ indicating that this bottle sees no flor aging under sherry’s famous veil of yeast, simply a year in stainless steel on the lees before bottling, an intentional expression of what the region’s table wines may have looked like before fortification was the norm. Lean and lithe, this has the perfect balance between mouthwatering freshness & savoury warmth, the salty crash of water against the cliffside, smoked hay, dried wildflowers, wind-hewn stone, rippling acid and a power punch of concentration that belies the brisk & light body. Experiencing the visceral pleasures of this real, one-of-a-kind gem that will hook you onto the joy & wonder of non-fortified Palomino forever & ever. Pour alongside rich sunsets & snowy expeditions in search of a wooly mammoth.
Momento Mori, ‘The Wanderer’, Pinot Noir, Victoria, Australia
I spy, with my lil eye, something that is……Pinot! ’Memento Mori’ is a reminder of the inevitability of death (happy holidays!), a warning against becoming too consumed by our tendency towards grandiosity in the present. We don’t think you could be more garage-punk if you tried! Dane Johns and Hannah Miller’s project is located in Gippsland, Victoria & has been bringing focus to the explosion of natural wine production in Australia. The Wanderer comes from organic pinot noir from the Nikau site, a dense block of vines directly in front of their home. 100% destemmed fruit goes through a short and gentle maceration producing a completely unique and free-spirited wine, utterly pure and uncompromising. It is singular and strange, especially for what you THINK you know about Aussie Pinot, like a lava-lamp rocket taking off with crackling acidity and a jagged, slash of chalky tannins. These wines suggest a focus on life – however fleeting its most significant moments can be, so drink up (!) as you create another, and another & yet another.
Thorn & Burrow, Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
Follow the rabbit down the hole. This fun wine positively leaps from the glass with its small but mighty hind legs! Winemaker Alex Thornley’s project was birthed after wine-fuelled world travels, an undiminished curiosity & love of fermenting. Thorn & Burrow is semi-nomadic & experimental with one key goal in mind – to make movingly, delicious skin-contact wines. The fruit is sourced from a young vineyard on the upper benches of Summerland, planted in sandy loam soils – perfect for enhancing the already stellar aromatics of Gewürztraminer. Fermented on lees in a mix of steel tank & neutral oak, with nothing added nor taken away. Distinctly expressive with explosive aromatics of fresh papaya, jasmine flowers, lemon drops, pithy charm, orange and pink starbursts and baked pineapple acidity. (Aside: did you know that pineapple has Bromelain in it, which actually eats away at human flesh/our tongues?!) The gift you didn’t know your needed, drink while looking at Trypophobia triggering photos online because you are bizarre as heck & we love you for it.
Clos Lentiscus, ‘Perill Blanc Amphora’, Xa-rello, Penedès, Catalunya, Spain
Clos Lentiscus wines are like long & meandering abstract poems that make no sense until they do, and once they do, the sense they make is unfathomably perfect & reveals some sort of universal truth that you hold dear for the rest of your life. It makes us think of that brain-bending scene in Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey communicates with his daughter through dust & books (WHAAAT? Take away: nothing is real & neither are we). Compassionate winemaker Manel harvests the Xarel-lo from El Buschet vineyard (circa 1938), in the Garraf Mountains sub-zone – think coastal, Mediterranean foothills. The vineyards are beloved, crops are pollinated by their bee hives, fertilized and grazed upon by their small sheep herd and plowed by their horse, Ringo – everything is treated with such respect for the living, breathing entity that it is, it nearly breaks our hearts! After macerating with stems & skins for 15 days, this treasure trove of a wine spends six months in amphora metamorphosing. Textured like the interior of pear skin, brisk crab apple acidity, pollen kisses, fresh bergamot, quince, white beach minerality, herbs & hay. Pour alongside unnerving Outer limits reruns & eggnog chugging, you tender lil deviant.
Strohmeier, ‘Roter Frizzante No 1’, Zweigelt, Styria, Austria
Let’s keep the vibe alive & the fizz a fizzing! Franz & Christine Strohmeier are whimsical, visionary winemakers, who are almost anti-establishmentarian in their desire to make wines that are entirely singular and unique unto themselves. Like every Strohmeier wine, this is unpolished, yet deeply romantic, structured yet fresh, wild yet finessed. Constantly tinkering with his 8-hectares of vines to find better and more natural methods, a portion of grapes grow wild, without pruning, producing very small, intensely flavoured grapes. A brand new wine to their lineup, made with partially whole-berry Zweigelt grapes, fermented with local yeasts in stainless steel. Light red with a gentle, caressing fizz, heaps of smoked strawberries and raspberries, preserved lemon, lurking cassis & mysterious, spicy, undertones. Open on a Friday night, when the lights are low & you want to rid your spine of that ghostly CHILL!
La Lune, 'Amphores', Chenin Blanc, Anjou, Loire Valley, France
We can't think of anything more mystifying and utterly perfect than the unrelenting beauty of Chenin Blanc. As singular and mythical as the unicorn that adorns their labels, the wines of Mark Angeli are among the most coveted in the world. As one of the earliest adopters of biodynamic viticulture, he creates Chenin Blancs of extraordinary purity and finesse. Made exactly the same as his benchmark La Lune, except with a year in clay amphora instead of barrel. Expect that trademark, luminescent & luscious Chenin-y texture with wildflower honey, fresh marzipan, tart green apple rings, macerated gooseberries, apricot pulp & a long, crystalline finish, gauzy silken texture & a laser beam of radiant acid. Like drinking a translucent meteorite, pair with milk-poached fish & an altar lit by every candle you own – the only thing appropriate for this worshipping occasion. #CheninCult
Fattoria La Vialla, ‘Barricatto Rosso’, Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy
We’re kickin’ it old school with the unbroken stallion of this wine. Founder and winemaker Piero Lo Franco valued the idea of self-sufficiency and was among Tuscany’s organic pioneers. He now oversees a biodynamic & family-run farm in the Tuscan hills around Castiglion Fibocchi. The diversity is truly shocking – 190 hectares of vineyards, 14,000 olive trees, 1,250 sheep, 800 chickens (+ eggs), 10 horses, a herd of sheep (whose Pecorino cheese is rubbed in the residues from the olive press), honey from 100 hives, sweet chestnut trees and PLENTY of fruits & vegetables! Sounds like we need to move off-grid, start a farm & change our names ASAP! The land is carefully cultivated on the loose ‘Galestro’ (or rocky-schist & clay) soil, which enable the Sangiovese based red wines to express great complexity and longevity. This blend of roasty-toasty Sangiovese (90%) and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) is heavy & sure of itself. Weathered, willful & wise with notes of violets, underbrush, grilled truffles and herbs, tobacco puffs, smeared blackcurrants & a cherry on top. Drink while watching Parts Unknown, season 11, episode on Cajun Mardi Gras becoming so inspired you start making your own Cajun Mardi Gras costume before the episode is over!
Lewandowski, ‘L.Stone’, Sangiovese, Mendocino, California, USA
What a lovely day to do a comparison! Said no one ever, but trust us!!! Today’s strikingly tasty new-school vs. yesterday’s rustic old-school. This Sangiovese is a mighty keeper of dragons and true history in motion in its depth and low intervention, New California approach. Winemaker Evan Lewandowski grows his grapes in California, we can taste the dusty old soul Italian Sangio cartwheeling through, but this one’s got something DiFfeREnT. ‘L. Stone’, named after Italofile Lowell Stone who planted a smattering of Italian grapes in the late 80s, was harvested from the fabled Fox Hill Vineyard – a pebbly, uplifted former riverbed, flecked with quartz. The soil is teeming with minerals leftover from everything that ever traveled downriver, creating a uniquely complex terroir. ‘L. Stone’ smells like nibbling green strawberries while scavenging through your great aunt’s bookshelves and tastes like a thimbleberry & Italian amaro popsicle with fresh cranberry acidity & cat lick tannins knitting everything together. A wildly special, ultra-natural wine that pairs well with shawarma wraps, playing Euchre & listening to Italian opera with family – chosen or otherwise.
Domaine de Kalathas, ‘To Kokkinakki’, Koumarino, Mavro Potamisi & Kondoura, Tinos, Greece
Next on our journey is an escapist dreamland. This oddly weighty, savoury & powerful rosé is here to bring the cheerfulness back, no matter what you celebrate! Jérôme Binda makes a tiny (but growing!) amount of wine from the itty bitty Aegean island of Tinos, in Greece. Working with ancient, self-rooted vines going by the names of Koumarino, Mavro Potamisi & Kondoura (all up to 250 years old!) – these wines have incredible vivacity and are amongst the most coveted in the world. A testament to the singular energy only old vines can impart. ‘‘To Kokkinaki’ means ‘the little red,’ a musky, high-octane cuvée that speaks to sun, soil & earth with an opulent texture and a distinct, herbaceous edge. Wonky & distinguished – smushed raspberries in the sun meet fallen apples, raspberry leaf, white tea, sour & dried sage. Pair with copious amounts of food, this wine is agile, versatile & always in style.
Claus Preisinger, 'WB Erdeluftgrasundreben', Pinot Blanc, Burgenland, Austria
Before you share this wine with people, you need to learn how to pronounce the word Erdeluftgrasundreben & then casually drop it into a simple conversation to feel extremely proud & tantalizing. Trust us, it works! Burgenland star winemaker Claus defines his wines as being, “wines for thinking people”, which would be slightly snooty if anybody else said it, but in this case, it’s kinda true. His wines are crisp even when they’re creamy, angular & intellectual; you don’t want to write a poem about them, you want to write a dissertation, and then another! This amphorae-aged, 100% Pinot Blanc stunner has a nose of flint, desiccated coconut & dried lavender with a classic palate of bright peach, grated citrus zest (all the citruses!), poached pear & spring meadow. Pour when you are feeling a little feral, a little unhinged & a little like rocking the boat!
Domaine Bobinet, ‘Greta Carbo’, Cabernet Franc, Loire Valley, France
Our last day together, what a time it was been sweet gremlins & freak-a-zoids. Today we will drink like a glowing, vintage movie star in the world’s favourite holiday film – melancholic & a touch somber (but we are very, very talented at the art of acting, so who knows if it’s real?). Let’s all take a moment to sit quietly & reflect on this wine’s witty moniker, which we wish the real Greta Garbo had lived to see & appreciate. Having a wine named after you is an even greater honour than winning an Academy Award, especially if it is a pun at the same time. Just like Garbo, Carbo is a legend, the revered sort of cult wine that unites the world’s hypebeasts, wine snobs, & regular cool people with good taste with its undeniable excellence. The ‘Carbo’ is a nod to carbonic maceration, the mode of vinification used to give this single parcel Cab Franc its dazzlingly bright & extracted red fruit flavours. An amplified, saturated version of Cab Franc with the volume turned all the way up to 100. Hazy sandalwood-sy incense vibes and a silky, glossy texture with whimsical depth from eight months in oak barrels. This is a magical, mystical red, captivating & spellbinding, to share with your favourite person in the world, someone who gets it. Cab Franc’s signature greenness shows up to the party, followed by a dash of black pepper, cherry lollipop, strawberry Twizzler, forest & squishy mud between your toes. If time allows, drink on the night of the last new moon of the year, December 23rd. May the new year bring weird adventures & wacky surprises to you.