New arrivals from Alsace, featuring Philippe Brand and friends!

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Today we're taking a moment to highlight some selections from Alsace, with a particular focus on the wines of Philippe Brand. Together with his partner, Blandine, and an extended crew of winemakers and friends both near and far, Philippe is approaching natural wine production in a studied and simultaneosly free-spirited way, working almost entirely without using added sulfites, with overwhelmingly clean and exciting results!

A brief history of the family domaine brings us to the 1700s, when Philippe's ancestors started a polycutlure farm in Ergerhseim, about 20 minutes west of Strasbourg. They grew wheat, tobacco, and grapes, and had many farm animals as well. In fact, the numerous stalls and barns created for the animals have since been adapted to accomodate the winemaking activities in recent decades. In the 1950s, Philippe's grandfather, Lucien Brand, began to focus primarily on cultivating vineyards, expanding their surface area from half a hectare to just under 10 hectares, and establishing an official winery in 1956. Charles, Philippe's father, converted to organic viticulture in the 1990s, with certification in 2000. Philippe was always helping out at the winery from an early age, and then in 2006, he began to have a more active role, taking the organic farming a step further by converting to biodynamic agriculture starting around 2010, with certification in 2015

Plowing in the summer

Philippe traveled to Burgundy, and as far as Australia, learning at different wineries, and developing a vision for what he wanted to do back home. He then benefited from relationships with some of our favorite Alsatian personalities, like Christian Binner and Pierre Frick, who he consults with regularly. In his words, the idea behind his approach to winemaking "is to capture all the life that gives us beautiful grapes, retain that life during the vinification, and bring it to you in the bottle." He's clearly doing just that, and his work highlights how pure and balanced natural wines can be. As far as I remember, Philippe told me his father will only drink the no SO2 added wines now, preferring them to the traditional wines they still bottle for the old folks and tourists in the area. 

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In addition to our little lineup of Philippe and Blandine's wines, we're including recent favorites from our good friend Laurent Barth and other fine Alsatian estates. Though the winter often leads people to more red wine consumption, these wines - the majority of which are from white grapes - are perfectly suited to the colder weather.   -EL

Brand, Charles & Philippe NV Alsace Mandoline

La Mandoline is a new wine combining all the white grapes at Philippe's fingertips. Pinot Blanc, Riseling, Muscat, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris (with skin contact), and a touch of Gewurztraminer from parcels in Kefferberg on clay and limestone soils. the wine is dry but floral, with nice ripeness in the mid-palate, and is tasting great at the moment! Aging was for 36 months in large barrel, and the wine was bottled without filtration or added SO2.

  • white
  • 1 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Brand & Co. 2021 VDF Kvevri Blanc

Kvevri is a new wine from Philippe Brand that was aged with some skin contact in buried Kvevri (Georgian spelling is Kvevri or Qvevri, otherwise known as Amphora) in Philippe's garden in Alsace. A blend of Pinot Auxerrois, Chardonnay and Riesling, aged in three 800L Kvevris which were imported from Georgia, and are lined with a thin layer of beeswax. Maceration time is 10 months, with an additional 2 months of aging before bottling without filtration or added SO2. There is real grip to this wine, a nice structured mouthfeel, very similar to the level of tannins found in most Georgian amber wines. Both an homage and an exploration of aging vessels and maceration times that are atypical for Alsace.

  • white
  • 4 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Brand, Charles & Philippe 2022 Vin d'Alsace Fleurs Maceration

Is it a light red, or a dark rosé? Neither! It's an "orange wine" made from a maceration of Pinot Gris; A skin contact wine of a gray (actually pink) grape that yields a raspberry-hued wine that we wish we had barrels of in our basement! The wine has delicious red fruit, and tangy freshness. There's no tannin, so it should be a bit chilled. It offers beautiful red fruit, sweet cranberry tang, and above all, gulpability! Maceration is for ~15 days with whole cluster, and aging is 8 months in stainless steel.

  • white
  • 8 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Brand, Charles & Philippe 2022 Vin D'Alsace Table des Rois

La Table des Rois is 100% Pinot Noir from Alsace, with a short maceration intended to yield a light and lithe red that leans into freshness instead of structure and earthiness. The approach is a success, and though the wine is primarily a friendly and juicy red offering, it still reveals a backbone of mineral structure, which is more apparent in the finish than the attack. A truly enjoyable Alsatian Pinot (Noir)!

  • red
  • 8 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Bechtold 2020 Cremant d'Alsace (Pinot Auxerrois/Chardonnay)

A blend of Pinot Auxerrois and Chardonnay (yes, Chardonnay in Alsace!) from a long-time organic estate in Alsace. Very classy, dry and framed by mineral cut. There's enough golden fruit and brioche on the nose to give the sense of broadness, but overall it's a clean and fresh traditional style sparkler... and a fantastic deal!  -EL

  • white sparkling
  • 6 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic
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Brand & Co. 2020 VDF Blanc 'The New One'

This white from Brand & Co. project is 100% Riesling from a local Alsatian vineyard in Mittelbergheim. The wine spent 20 months in a large neutral barrel, and was bottled without filtration or added SO2. Nice structure, gritty and waxy on the palate. A deliciously dry and textured dry Riesling from Alsace!

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Brand, Charles & Philippe 2021 Alsace Oeillet le Litre (Liter)

A fresh and forward liter bottle of Pinot Blanc, sort of a classic Alsatian dry white, perfect for salads, cheese, tarte flambée, or on its own as an apero. A touch of orchard fruit on the palate and nice acidity overall.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Brand, Charles & Philippe NV Vin d'Alsace Solera

Philippe is always tinkering in the cellar, and we have tasted a few of his long-aged wines, including a solera of Riesling, and a partially sous-voile Sylvaner, but this is a new one! "Solera" is made exactly as a traditional sherry, as a perpetual cuvee, with any wine taken out replaced with new wine that furthers the texture and complexity of the wine over time. Started in 2015 with a base of Pinot Blanc, Philippe worked some Chardonnay into the solera, and more recently has integrated small percentages of Muscat and Riesling. The wine has remarkable freshness for being nearly 10 years old, but also wows with evolving aromatics and a layered mid-palate.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Brand, Charles & Philippe 2022 Alsace Tout Terriblement Maceration

Tout Terriblement Maceration is skin macerated orange wine (and we mean orange!) from 100% Gewurztraminer. Aromatic, with integrated tannins. An impressive orange wine, with a brilliant hue. Maceration for 15 days and aging is for 8 months in large Alsatian barrels.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Barth, Laurent 2020 Alsace Riesling Rebgarten VV

From old vines in a south facing vineyard of sandy granite soils in Bennwihr, Laurent Barth produced this superb dry Riesling that shows a bright pale gold color, with ripe floral aromas of pear, almond, citrus and spice. The palate however, while rich, shows a light, dry character, very mineral and with firm acidity. Green apple, citrus peel, almond and stone flavors linger in the long, nicely balanced finish. This is a lovely dry Riesling to pair with a wide variety of fish and white meat dishes, highly recommended!

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Josmeyer 2022 Alsace Riesling Le Kottabe

Le Kottabe is a layered, dry Riesling from several parcels on alluvial and gravely soils in the communes of Wintzenheim and Turckheim. Grapes go through pneumatic press for 6 hours, and the wine is aged on lees in 100+ year-old large Alsatian foudres before being bottled with light filtration and minimal addition of sulfites. The name of the wine is in reference to "Kottabos," which according to Wikipedia, was a "game of skill played at Ancient Greek and Etruscan symposia, especially in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, which involved flinging wine-lees at a target in the middle of the room. The winner would receive a prize, comprising cakes, sweetmeats, or kisses." The game seems to have originated in Sicily, and the reliefs and paintings of people flinging wine lees from small cups can be quite amusing. Maybe we need to bring this game back! -- As for the wine, it is a beautiful, dense and complex dry Riesling that should be fantastic over several days. Mineral, but not too sharp. 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Les Vins Pirouettes (Binner and Friends) 2020 Vin d'Alsace Tutti Frutti de Stephane

Tutti Frutti is part of the Vins Pirouettes project, initially started under the tutelage and guidance of Alsace natural wine elder Christian Binner, and now a full blown collective in its own right. Members are usually from winemaking families in Alsace, always farming organically or biodymanically, and this umbrella of Vins Pirouettes allows them freedom to work with estate fruit and be a bit more experimental or alternatively, to age wines for a longer than usual time. This Tutti Frutti de Stephane is an unfiltered white blend of Pinot Auxerrois, Blanc and Gris, with Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Grapes are pressed directly and fermentation is in stainless steel with aging in concrete and large old barrels. A fun and fresh white that has a cloudy/unfiltered appearance but is in every way a very straightforward Alsatian thirst-quencher.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur