July 2023 | Terroir Wine Clubby Caileen Brison
Foradori 2021 Sgarzon Teroldego
Louis Dressner Selections
Elisabetta’s journey in her “wine life” is a familiar tale, but one that we never tire of hearing. The early death of her father unexpectedly hurtled her to the management of the family estate. Though “born among the vines” as she says, she took the helm at first more from a sense of duty than one of passion or vocation. Eventually, however, that passion and vocation came through the work itself, both in the vines and in the cellar.
Despite her star rising as "the queen of Teroldego" throughout the 1990's, by 2000 Elisabetta had lost all personal connection to her work. A path of questioning, experimentation and intuition (including everything from biodynamics, massale selection and the use of amphorae) eventually led her to give up any sense of chasing market trends of the “wine industry” to develop the estate towards the goal of making wines respectful of the soil and the local grapes she wants to honor, and using the techniques she found more interesting, less invasive, and more wine “holistic”.
The Sgarzon Teroldego is the coolest single-vineyard site in the Dolomites that Elisabetta works with. This wine was made 100% destemmed grapes from a granitic site with spots of sandy soils, which creates an energetic wine of blackberry, marionberry, and purple flowers. On the pop the wine is a little wound-up and reductive in its youth (as is often the case with imports freshly landed) but given ~15 minutes this wine is bright purple in tone with blackberry and marionberry fruit tones that are highlighted by watermelon rind and pomegranates. The wine is delicate and perfumed with lavender and dried raspberry and starts to unfold in a floral symphony. On day two, the wine is spicy with cinnamon, chili flakes, and showing more blue tonality. Overall, I prefer the wine on day one better and enjoy how the wine opens over a dinner. This would pair well with cured meats, tinned fish, seared tuna, or roasted peppers. Serve at cellar temperature, decant or open in advance, serve in all-purpose stemware, and drink 2023 – 2028.
Fracnois & Fils 2020 Cote Rotie
From Stork Imports
The François family have been traditional farmers for four generations – their main activity is making farmhouse cheeses from the milk from their twenty-five cows, which they sell at local markets across the Rhône valley. They began bottling their own Côte-Rôtie in 1991, expanding it further when their son Yoann joined the business in 2004. Initially the family sold all their grapes to the local ‘negociants‘ but they are doing so less and less as Yoann‘s wines are being recognized and experiencing increased demand. Today, the François family owns four hectares in Côte-Rôtie. These vineyards are situated in the lieu dit of ‘Les Rochains‘, ‘La Brosse‘, ‘Rochin‘ and ‘Le Bourrier’. The vines are low yielding and are harvested by hand due to the steepness of the slopes. Grapes from the young vines are sold to ‘négociants‘ or are used for their earlier drinking IGP syrah. Only the best and most expressive grapes are used to make their Côte-Rôtie. The François family owns approximately four hectares of vines. Its Côte-Rôtie is made using grapes from three south facing parcels: ‘Les Rochains’, ‘Rozier’ and ‘Le Bourrier’ which account for about 1.5 hectares. All three vineyards are located in the ‘Côte Brune’ in the northern Rhône. The vineyards are very steep, as they usually are in this area, and grapes can only be harvested by hand. The soil, mainly composed of mica-schist, is rich in minerals and has proven a good base for the 30-year-old vines of syrah and viognier. The vines are planted at a density of 8,000 to 9,000 per hectare and yields are 35 to 40 hectolitres per hectare.
On the pop the wine is plush and intense with deep black and blue tones like fig newtons that sit alongside white pepper oil, cocoa, seaweed, black olives, and a velvet-like finish. After time, the wine gains more vibrancy and just stays on that train for days. If you prefer deep, plush, velvety wines then drink this on day one – if you prefer your red wines more lean and high tone, drink this on day two. The wine is excellent regardless, but the overall tone changes. On day two the wine is almost black tea, brine, and salinity – a stark contrast to the supple profile on day one. I would eat this alongside hearty fare – think roast, burgers, fois, or pork belly. Serve in all-purpose stemware at cellar temperature and drink 2023 – 2033.
Christophe et Fils 2021 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
From the Source Imports
Sebastien Christophe is our budding superstar from Chablis. We love his wines, but we also love him, the ultimate underdog. While known for its stolid rigidity, France’s wine culture still allows for a lot of mobility. That’s how a young kid gifted just a couple of acres of average vineyard land in Chablis could rise up seemingly out of nowhere to make brilliant wine from the three most heralded Premier Crus in the region. That happened because he was also gifted with a good bit of moxie and a cranking work ethic, which will you get far anywhere. What makes Sebastien’s wines so great? Well, as is the case in Chablis, it’s not the winemaking, which is pretty standard for the region, as the goal here is never to showcase cellar prowess, but rather the nature of the vineyard. Sebastien vinifies and ages wine overwhelmingly in stainless steel, as is the general practice of the region. Less than 10% of the wines see cellar aging in neutral oak barrels, providing a little textural and structural contrast to the bristly energy of stainless steel.
We have several wines from Christophe et Fils in the shop, but the 2021 wines are showing so much grace that I felt compelled to share some of the 1er with the Terroir Club. The Mont de Milieu expresses the bracing minerality that I love in Chablis yet is relatively open right now (not always the case for Chablis). With that being said, the 2021 Mont de Milieu has a lot of life ahead of it should you choose to cellar this beauty. On the pop, the wine has buckets of oyster shell with flinty tropical notes of steely pineapple and green papaya. The palate is salty with silky acidity and a round mid palate. On the next day the wine becomes more briney with notes of seaweed and nopales (I promise, it’s good though!). Overall, I prefer this wine after being open for a couple hours, but I think this wine will peak in 4-8 years (2027 – 2031). Drink now – 2038/40, serve just above refrigeration temperature, serve in all-purpose stemware, and pair with oysters (we all saw that coming, right?).