February 2017 Wine Alliance

What sort of questions do you ask yourself when drinking a glass of wine? Number one is probably, “do I like this?”. Quickly following; what is/are the grape variety/s, what region does the wine come from and then who is the producer? At some point we might consider what kind of vessel the wine is made in, the significance of soil type and health, or how farming practices impact a finished wine. The network of variables that contribute to what flows into your glass is immense.
In this month’s club I’d like to draw attention to a critical yet often unrecognized element in your experience - the wine importer. The reason the importer is so important is because they are the folks who are choosing the wines that come to the U.S. Without them our drinking options would be severely limited.
A great importer will select great wines…to their palate. A great importer’s palate will have a strong identity, a honed point of view, or, you might even say, an attitude. It can take years of experience tasting hundreds and hundreds of wines to develop the skill it takes to carefully select a group of wines that are thoughtful, true and delicious. It sounds fun but honestly, it’s hard work. Understanding where your own tastes meet an importers’ will make selecting wine (when you’re way from Vif!) much easier.
De Maison Selections is the importer that we’re highlighting this month. De Maison Selections was founded 21 years ago by André Tamers with a focus on high quality boutique producers from France and Spain. More specifically he searches for unique vineyard sites which are farmed in a non-interventionalist way. He cares deeply about the history of place and how the owners of the properties relate to its past.  André has had plenty of time to develop long standing relationships with producers and hone his “company palate” which he describes as “Francophile” (Keep that in mind because he imports a lot of Spanish wines which are noticeably more lifted than you might expect).
I always wonder what keeps someone doing what they do so I asked André and love his answers!
Shawn -What motivates y'all to keep going?
Andre -Sustaining and rehabilitating ancient cultures.
Shawn -What's captured your curiosity over the last year or so?
Andre - First rediscovering ancient parcels in forgotten lands and secondly insuring correct provenance from producer to Customer through proper handling of all wines.
BTW – you’ll find the importer’s name on the back label so when you love something turn the bottle around and see who brings it!
Drink with Focus Club
Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas Albariño Rias Baixas, SP
Grape – Albariño. This special Albariño from Do Ferreiro is sourced from 200+ year old vines. Pair the Albariño Cepas Vellas with shellfish and tasty fish.
D. Ventura Viña Caneiro Ribeira Sacra
Grape- Mencia. D Ventura’s top wine, from stunningly steep south-facing vineyards right on the Sil river. These are old vines are on slate soils, producing a wine that shows the Mencía grape at its deepest and most complex.
Drink Everyday Club
Do Ferreiro Albariño Rias Baixas, SP
Grape – Albariño. The Do Ferreiro Albariño is sourced from a variety of vineyards Gerardo Mendez owns and farms throughout the Salnès. This valley’s proximity to the ocean and protection by mountain ranges has gained it the reputation for being the best area in Rías Baixas for viticulture.
Joan d’Anguerra Altaroses Montsant, SP
Grape – Garnatxa. The Altaroses is Joan d'Anguera's first certified biodynamic and organic wine. The Anguera brothers have decided to label the wine as a “Granatxa,” the old Catalan name for Garnacha, as an emblem of their focus on adhering to the lighter, traditional style of wines that used to be made in Montsant.

January 2017 Wine Alliance

Natural Wine Club January 2017
Shed your expectations and listen to what a wine has to say for itself.
One of the great things about wine is that it will continue to be intriguing and surprising for as long as you continue to explore.  A glass of wine reveals a combination of elements; grape varieties, climate during a vintage, vineyard, and the person who ushers the winemaking process.  In natural wine the winemaker does his/her best to remain invisible so the other elements can be expressed in the most pure and honest way.
In this month’s club we consider a wide range of flavors and textures by touching down in four countries and checking out four wines, each made from a different grape. The challenge is to keep expectations from running roughshod over experience.  For me this means turning down the analytical volume, i.e. “purple-y red wine tastes like… or, I hate floral whites”, so I can appreciate the wine’s unique voice. Similar to people’s voices, some are baritone and rich, some high pitched, some smoky.  Ultimately we’ll find some wine/voices are easy for us to listen to and others more challenging. When taken together they create a fascinating and diverse array of the complexity achievable in wine.  
It’s likely that in this month’s selection of club wines you will only be familiar with one of the grape varieties-Merlot. The other three are more obscure-Tibouren, Scheurebe and País. Because Merlot is a grape most have some experience with it will be difficult to approach without expectations, but please try! I think you’ll find Le Due Terre from Friuli Colli Orientali a very original wine. With the less conspicuous grapes the task of open mindedness will be easier to achieve so your challenge will lie in not asking them to be something they are not.  
As you drink the wines from this month’s club remember to have fun!
Drink With Focus Club
2014 Clos Cibonne Tibouren Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes, Côtes de Provence, FR
Grape – Tibouren, a native grape of Provence.
Interesting Fact – This Rosé rests under a layer of fleurette (a blanket of yeast) for a year before bottling. This is similar to how wines are aged in Sherry production but the outcome is entirely different.
Food- Bouillabaisse, Salmon, Pasta with a light tomato sauce.
2013 Le Due Terre Merlot, Friuli Colli Orientali, IT
Grape – Merlot
Interesting Fact – Bordeaux varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) were brought to Italy as early as the 1700s. In some regions Merlot has been around so long the locals think of is as an indigenous grape.
Food – Seared steak, mushroom ragu.
Drink Everyday Club
2013 Gysler Scheurebe Halbtrocken, Rheinhessen, DE
Grape – Scheurebe
Interesting Fact – Scheurebe is a white grape that is the result of a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner. Halbtrocken means “half dry” but don’t let the term scare you. The fruitiness in this wine is balanced with great acidity.
Food – Spicy and or Salty dishes. I recently made Roasted Chicken with Clemintines and Arak from the cookbook, Jerusalam (include link to cookbook), and the Sheurebe was a terrific match!
2015 Cacique Maravilla Pipeño País, Secano Interior de Yumbel, CL
Grape – País is believed to have been brought to Chile by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. (also known as Mission/Listan Negro/Criolla Grande).
Interesting Fact – Pipeño is an old and simple style of production that is meant to produce an easily quaffable glass of wine. The País vines are an incredible 200+ years old!
Food – Sausage, Lightly smoked meat, roast chicken.