New Arrivals from Chantal and Pierre Frick

8/10/20 -

For many years now, there has been a Chambers Street tradition of a summer trip to France to visit winemakers across the country. In the winter, there are the big "salons," full of importers, retailers, and sommeliers from around the globe. In the summer, in lieu of large, organized tastings, it's a trip full of intimate visits, tromping through vineyards and tasting barrel and tank samples in the cellar. It's a special time, and one I look forward to every year. One little part of what makes this trip so special is the time spent in Alsace, a region that is postively brimming with sunshine and natural energy in the summer. The Alsatian leg of the journey always involves a visit to Chantal and Pierre Frick, in Pfaffenheim. Wonderful people, and good friends, they have become sort of family figures for me, simultaneosly peers who enjoy a laugh, and elders, who have a lifetime of holistic wisdom to share. I have learned several Alsatian songs from them (Amanda, how can we forget "Steht uf, Steht uf," see below for sheet music), been explained the theory and application of music therapy for grapevines, and drunk countless nightcaps of local schnapps enthusiastically hoisted upon me. The tasting in the Frick cellar is always memorable, with new experimental wines to try, and inevitably a few blind tastes from Pierre, who encourages me to think about how the wines feel and not focus on trying to pinpoint varietal characteristics. All in all, I cherish the time I get to spend with the Fricks, and though there was no chance for a trip to France this summer, I'm glad we were at least able to bring some of their wines here to New York!

All tasted in the summer of 2019 and in January of 2020, these are wines that we've been anticipating for a little while now and are excited to finally have in the shop. There are three skin-macerated wines - Sylvaner, Riesling and Gewuztraminer (gotta try them all!), each one fascinating and distinct. 'Voyages' is an amalgam of all of the grape varieties, a sort of press wine with a mesmerizing peach-orange hue. The Muscat Sec is direct and very dry, with perfect structure and subtle weight in the mid-palate. The Pinot Noirs come in the recent 2018 version, and a special release (from the Frick cellar) of 2003 Pinot Noir Strangenberg (no SO2 added!). A wine that seems to change considerably with aeration (considering it was essentially hermetically sealed for almost 20 years, it's no surprise), our most recent tasting here in NYC saw 10 minutes of beautiful, high toned, young red fruit, followed by the onset of rustic tannins and more dark stewed fruit. Pierre is always showing me wines in sulfured and unsulfured versions, so I finally decided to bring that stateside by offering the filtered and minimally sulfured Sylvaner 2017 next to the same wine without filtration or added sulfites.No obligation to get one of each, but for those who are interested in comparing, the option is there. For some wines with a bit of age, there's the slightly oxidative Riesling Steinert 2014, and the perfectly off-dry Sylvaner Bergweingarten 2012. We round out the offering with some bubbles, mixing the funky/edgy side of natural wine palate with toasty, brioche-laden classicism.

Chantal and Pierre Frick have been working organically since 1970, and have been certified Biodynamic since 1981. They are incredibly passionate about the importance of living soils that contribute to the health of the vines and the complexity of the wines. As they write, "the application of this more comprehensive approach to the life of the soil and vine advocated by bio-dynamie has changed our vineyard. The growing cycle of the vine is in better harmony. It is less sensitive to grey rot and insect pests. The better balance of the plant is conducive to good grape ripening and obtaining a better quality of juice (density, balance, minerality, vitality). From this the wines have revealed more depth and greater expression of terroir." The grapes are hand harvested - "The social aspect of the harvest and the search for quality through successive pickings excludes the use of machine harvesters." Fermentations are with wild yeasts - "The soil and sub-soil and additionally the bloom and yeasts on the grapes constitute the terroir. For us, biodynamic viticulture and the expression of terroir require wild yeast fermentations." They do not chaptalize and use minimal or no sulfur-dioxide, which results in delicate "luminous" wines.

Aging is in old 3,000 liter casks which the Fricks prefer to stainless steel or barrique. "These casks allow breathing (airflow) and transpiration (evacuation of higher alcohols and esters) of wines, without changing their taste by the contributions of new oak." The Fricks have also moved away from cork, and use crown caps for all of their still wines (no corked bottles!).

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