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'Flama Roja' comes from the Bichi estate vineyard in Tecate, Mexico which is farmed biodynamically with no irrigation. Bichi is working hard to make put Mexican wine on the global stage and insistent that the wines be made as traditionally and naturally as possible working hand in hand with organic farmers in the region, and employing local craftsmen for the concrete tijana's used during fermentation. This bottling comes from young vines planted in 2004 and is a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Nebbiolo. Ordinarily you would expect a blend of these three big, bold varieties to make a big, tannic wine, but 'Flama Roja' is surprisingly silky. The grapes are destemmed and co-fermented in tijanas with a 30 day maceration and then aged in a mixture of steel tanks and used French oak. The nose made me think of a delicious simmering red sauce with roasted and dried tomato, savory herbs like rosemary and oregano and some ripe juicy plum and black cherry. A perfect pairing for grilled proteins or a rich, meaty ragu. Michelle DeWyngaert
I am thrilled to carry three exciting wines from Mexico (yes they make wine, not just beer!). Noel Téllez works with a field blend from the San Antonio de la Minas vineyard in Baja at 1,066ft elevation close to the ocean of as yet unknown varieties. These are 69 year-old, gnarled vines that are farmed organically, without irrigation, and the grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The wine finishes fermentation in bottle with no SO2 added. I love that this pet-nat is left just slightly off-dry making it juicy and luscious on the palate with notes of red apple, fresh raspberry, and strawberry preserves. The perfect aperitif! Michelle DeWyngaert
Sin Azufre began as an experiment to see what would happen if you made a wine without any intervention; no temperature control, no pH readings and adjustments, and without the use of any sulfur. The result is a wine that feels "alive," that vibrates with energy and purity. Chacra was already doing conscientious work in the vineyard (farming biodynamically, encouraging biodiversity, etc) so it was a natural progression to attempt to make a wine as "naturally" as possible. This year's Sin Azufre, 100% Pinot Noir from their estate vineyard plot planted in 1955, is clean, expressive, and distinctly savory. The grapes are fermented in alternating layers of whole cluster and destemmed fruit, foot-crushed, and aged in a mixture of cement, neutral oak, and some steel. Bright red fruits mingle with notes of rosemary and soy sauce, a balance of umami and salinity that gives this wine a real sense of place. The palate is bright and lifted with soft, silky tannins. Despite the absence of sulfur as a preservative, this bottle held up for several days after opening. Michelle DeWyngaert
The 'pipa' in pipeño refers to an old Chilean tradition of making large batches of wine in open-top barrels and then distributing this wine by the jug-full, right from the barrel, throughout the neighborhood; a wine of, and for the community. With País vines at least 250 years old, winemaker Manuel Moraga Gutierrez continues the legacy of his ancestors. He uses a short maceration to keep this wine juicy and supremely drinkable. The nose is incredibly aromatic; peppery with lots of ripe purple plum, blackberry, raspberry, and a touch of smoke. The palate has a nice concentration and weight with subtle tannins and lots of acidity making this a great option with or without food. Michelle DeWyngaert
The Tinto from Cara Sur stands out from their other two red wines: made with Bonarda (70%) and Barbera (30%), it is medium-bodied and substantial compared to the Moscatel Tinto and Criolla Chica. Hand harvested from a vineyard planted in the 1950s, the grapes are fermented whole-cluster with their stems in concrete, and aged for 8 months in concrete eggs. The aromas here are spicy and brambly, almost to notes of cocoa with red fruits. The palate is dense but lifted, with lots of mixed-fruit character (sour cherry, cooked cranberry, ripe blackberry) on dusty tannins. All in all, a distinctly South American take on a blend of two Italian grape varieties. Ben Fletcher
Cara Sur is bringing some of the oldest vines in Argentina back to the forefront. This bottling is 100% Criolla Chica (otherwise known as País in Chile, or Mission in California) from 80 year-old vines in San Juan.The grapes are partially destemmed and fermented in concrete before aging in large vats for eight months. Think of this wine like an Argentinian "pipeño" bright, pale, and dangerously easy to drink. On the nose are notes of rose petal, rooibos tea, and wild cherry, and the palate has just a hint of tannin, juicy cherry and cranberry, with a crisp, tart finish. Enjoy this with a slight chill on taco night or all on its own! Michelle DeWyngaert
The fruit for this bottling comes from 50 year-old vines grown in the stony soils of Barreal in San Juan. The wine is fermented to complete dryness and though it sees five days of skin contact, the wine still shows plenty of varietal character with bold tropical and floral aromatics, and just a hint of tannin on the palate. There is a surprising dichotomy of lightness in the wine matched equally with juicy roundness. On the nose is a bouquet of lillies and aromatic flowers with starfruit and juicy peach rings (in the best way), and the palate is bursting with ripe yellow peach, tangerine, and signature stony finish from the Cara Sur vineyards. Michelle DeWyngaert
A family affair with two brothers at the helm creating classic examples of Mendoza's most famous grape varieties. This Malbec bottling is made from organically farmed grapes from La Consulta, Luján de Cujo, and Medrano. The grapes are fermented with three daily pumpovers to build color and extraction, and then aged for 10 months in American oak to soften the texture before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The wines of Herrera Alvarado are a testament to the incredible history and terroir of Chile and the lesser known region of the Marga Marga Valley. The Natural Blanco is 100% own-rooted, dry and organically farmed Sauvignon Blanc, fermented in concrete with two days of skin-contact for just the slightest bit of texture and a deeper color. The wine is then racked into old barrels where it is aged for 12-15 months and then bottled and corked by hand, with nothing added and nothing taken away. The barrel aging makes this a Sauvignon Blanc that drinks more like a Chardonnay; showing more depth and creaminess. The nose has a dried quality with chamomile tea, dried grasses, grapefruit pith and a bit of browned butter. The palate is dry but has richer baked notes of peach, yellow apple, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon. Michelle DeWyngaert
Pedro Parra is champion of terroir. After getting a PhD in the subject and consulting for some of biggest names in wine-making worldwide, he began this project with his family in their homeland, Itata, Chile. The 'Imaginador' is a unique Cinsault from 70-80 year old head-trained vines, but because of the more than 200 year history of this vineyard, there are smatterings of Muscat, Semillon, Carignan, and País planted throughout that make their way into the blend. Pedro purposefully sought out pockets of granite for the vineyards he works with because of the structure it gives to the wines. The nose has a deep intensity of ripe red and black cherry and a touch of barnyard in the best way. The palate is fresh and focused, with the granite coming through clearly in the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is an introduction to Chilean Carignan from David Marcel at Viña Maitia. Vines are about 70 years old, and the grapes are fermented in lagar, and aged in concrete. The aroma of fresh soil hits you first and a just a touch of barnyard followed by rich black plum, raspberry, and red apple skins. The palate is plush and juicy with soft, pleasant tannins making it easy to enjoy with or without food. The finish is distinctly stony and savory on this easy drinking medium-bodied wine. Michelle DeWyngaert
"Pipeno" actually translates to barrel, but in this case it refers to an old tradition of making large barrels of juicy, quaffable wine for everyday drinking, and this wine is a perfect example. The blend is 80% Pais and 20% Carignane from 120-year-old vines. Though the climate is very warm in Maule, the Humbolt Currant helps maintain acidity and keeps the fruit from over-ripening. The País is destemmed with a traditional zaranda, and the Carignan is left whole-cluster. Together the wine is aged briefly in concrete before bottlling.