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Wine Club Edition
— December 2022

LITTLEWINE Wine Club November 2022

Festive Cheer

Our December line up features a bottle of naturally sparkling wine (aka pét-nat) for everybody (because it's not a festivity without bubbles!) as well as a selection of some of our favourite discoveries this year — from Cahors to South Africa. Raising a glass to you, and wishing you a Happy New Year!
Wines 1-2 feature in the Roots subscription, 1-4 in the Grower subscription and 1-6 in the Cosmos subscription. 

As a Wine Club member, you enjoy exclusive perks — including full backstage access to read about and virtually meet the winemakers. Should you have any questions or feedback, please don't hesitate to reach out to us and we will swing by with our little emergency van.

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Wine #1:
Prickelnd Rosé

Zwikl

What's it Like?

Get ready for a pink themed disco on your tongue! Juicy and ever-so-moreish, this is the vinous version of the Bee Gees’ Night Fever. Think strawberry sorbet, a sprig of thyme, a touch of black pepper and bucketloads of acidity. The perfect palate cleanser or late night dance partner. 

Where's it From?

This comes from biodynamically farmed Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch and Pinot Noir vines in the Leithaberg subregion of the Burgenland, Austria. 

How's it Made?

This is a pét-nat, short for pétillant naturel, meaning it’s a naturally sparkling wine. To achieve a sparkling wine without the need for intervention and adding lab-cultured yeasts, the wine is bottled while it’s still fermenting, trapping CO2. And voilà - bubbles appear like magic!

The Winemaker:
Markus Altenburger — Burgenland, Austria

On the varied slate and limestone soils of the Leithaberg DAC, in Burgenland, Austria, Markus Altenburger farms his vineyards biodynamically with regenerative principles such as no-till. He has become known for his soulful, pure, unfined & unfiltered Blaufränkisch wines & his expressive skin-contact whites. From the way he describes how a vine interacts with its environment in an easy, matter of fact manner, to his pragmatic thinking behind skin-contact white wine, Markus has a logical explanation for everything. It’s a logic you also find in the wine, but that’s not to say they’re simple ‘tick box’ wines. Rather, these are rubix cube wines: you need to take some time to get to know them.

"People forget to observe the vines. Everyone is stressed—needing to jump on a tractor and do something—but if you just stop and observe the plant, it’s clear. You get a much better feeling for the vineyard."

Wine #2:
La Pièce 2019

Lovamor Albillo

What's it Like?

This is a deep, soulful wine with intense complexity. It immediately pulls you in — like a person you’ve only just met but who you quickly feel you’ve known forever. Comforting yet brooding, it’s a wine that nourishes you but also asks you questions. Fresh earth, bramble fruit and a dense pencil lead, graphite quality which is brightened by violet and rose scents. Take time to see how this develops in the glass. 

Where's it From?

This comes from organically farmed plots of Malbec (and one of Merlot), all planted on Jurassic limestone soils, in the Cahors region of southwest France. 

How's it Made?

The whole bunches of grapes macerated gently for eight days, after which they were pressed and the wine fermented naturally. The wine was then aged for 12 months in tank and old oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
Parlange & Illouz — Cahors, France

Cahors, a region located just 150km southeast of Saint-Émilion, is worlds apart from its Bordelais neighbours. It is one of few viticultural areas where polyculture still reigns; forests, fields of grains, cereals and herds of cattle all border pockets of vineyards. It is also here that the Malbec grape variety, capable of producing intense and long-lived cuvées that became known as black wine, built a global reputation. However, the region is also home to lesser known but equally enticing varieties, such as Valdiguié and Jurançon Noir, which somewhat unfairly have been forced to take a backseat in recent years… ... But not if Jérémie Illouz has anything to say about it. Jérémie is on a mission to celebrate Cahors in all its guises; from celebrating Malbec’s greatness, to working to preserve and unleash the potential of Valdiguié and Jurançon Noir, to also planting varieties for the future, such as Cinsault. With a dedicated, hands-on approach to viticulture, and a light and respectful touch in the cellar, he is achieving extraordinary results. Capturing the raw beauty of Cahors in a bottle, Jérémie is creating new benchmark cuvées for the region. 

"When people ask me, why here: why Cahors? Well, here you feel like you’re on an island. There are trees all around, and that is wonderful. People speak so much about organics, biodynamics and all the various types of treatments. But when you’re here and look around and see this landscape of polyculture, that is what it’s about, and it is rare in the world of wine."

Wine #3: Find Your Happy Place 2021

7 Fuentes

What's it Like?

Although we might be influenced by the name, we really do feel instantaneously happy as soon as we have a sip of this wine. It feels as juicy yet serious as a Beaujolais Cru wine, but with South African soul. Think sour cherries, redcurrants and a touch of pepper and clove, this has so much flavour while remaining easy on the alcohol percentage — perfect for the festive season.

Where's it From?

This comes from Pinotage, Grenache and Carignan vines planted at 220m elevation in the Swartland, on decomposing granite soils. All the blocks are farmed organically and/or biodynamically. 

How's it Made?

40% of the wine underwent full carbonic fermentation, while the remainder was still whole cluster but semi carbonic. The maceration period took place infusion-style for seven days, after which the grapes were pressed and the wine continued fermenting naturally in old oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
L'Equinox Wines — Swartland, South Africa

There has never been a better time than the present to be making wine in the Swartland region of South Africa. Home to incredible vineyards, both young and old, the region has gone from being somewhat left in the past to being propelled into the future in just two decades. The 2000s saw the ‘Swartland Revolution’ take place, and the 2010s saw the next generation of winemakers lay roots here, among them Craig Hawkins of Testalonga and Jurgen Gouws of Intellego Wines. Now both into their second decade of winemaking, they are inspiring and passing on the baton to the next wave of newcomers.Among them is MC Stander, who launched his own brand — L’Equinox — in 2019. Having spent a decade working as a viticulturist and winemaker at wineries in Paarl and the Swartland, he is now turning his hand to his own wines, adding another dimension to what this remarkable region can do.  MC is one young guy with bucketloads of ambition and creativity. When we left our tasting with him, we couldn’t help but dwell on how much this young man has achieved in such a short space of time. Growing from five barrels to 17,000 bottles and six cuvées in just three years is quite the achievement, and we can’t wait to see what he does next on Swartland soil. The vineyards he works with are lucky to have him, and in the cellar, well — the sky is the limit for L’Equinox.

"I love farming and being in the vineyards, but I want to do it in a way that makes me happy. It can give you joy. Even when you’re spraying the preparations it’s as if there’s an energy in the air when you’re doing it. I don’t want to use the word ‘magic’ — but there is really something about it."

Wine #3: In Solidum 2017

Muscadet Granite

What's it Like?

This is not only the most delicious, comforting and food-friendly winter white wine, but it's also a symbol of solidarity and community in times of adversity. Delightful saline, croissant dough and some subtle fennel notes, with a lick of fresh yoghurt.

Where's it From?

Made as a one-off. Having lost significant crop in three successive vintages due to frost, a friend of winemaker Jérôme Bretaudeau got in touch to say he should come down to Limoux to get some Sauvignon from him. So, this comes from organically farmed Sauvignon Blanc vines in the Limoux appellation of the Languedoc (at the time, they were in the process of becoming organic certified, but already farming organically), but made in Muscadet.

How's it Made?

The grapes were pressed directly, after which the wine fermented naturally and was aged in old oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
Domaine de Bellevue — Muscadet, France

Located just over an hour from the Atlantic Ocean, the Muscadet region of the Loire is the most westerly wine region of France, home to a cool maritime climate. It is famous worldwide for its white wines produced from the Melon grape variety (often called Melon de Bourgogne as it originated in Burgundy), which tend to be mouthwateringly saline and the perfect accompaniment for the seafood sourced just down the road. Although unquestionably the gem in Muscadet’s crown, Melon isn’t the only variety capable of producing delightful wines in this area. Since the creation of his own domaine in 2001, although focused on Melon — particularly renowned for his work with old vines — Jérôme Bretaudeau has been quietly paving the way for another dimension of Muscadet to take form, too. Like Fred Niger of Domaine de l’Ecu, Jérôme has been expanding his vineyards to include varieties that aren’t permitted within the AOC of Muscadet, meaning they must be bottled as humble vin de France cuvées. Yet this doesn’t deter him, rather it pushes him forward. After all, simplicity can breed creativity. These are nonconformist wines, yet they still speak of their place and their maker’s energy. They manage to capture the spirit of terroir in a futuristic, untapped way.

“Every year we evolve. The work we do is based on observation, and we adapt to the vine and to the climate. Every parcel is treated uniquely. It’s a work of observation every year. We must be attentive to the vine, which means we must observe constantly.” 

Wine #5: Brut Nature NV

Sta Rita Ranch

What's it Like?

This bottle represents the Grower Champagne movement in one bottle. Want to know what all the fuss is about? This will answer your questions! The word 'minerality' is splashed around in wine a lot, but this bottle really helps you to understand what it means. From one of the leading families in low-intervention Champagne-making and biodynamic farming, this bottle is all about liveliness, energy and freshness. Make sure you've got some good tunes lined up.

Where's it From?

This comes from Grand Cru rated vines in Bouzy and Ambonnay averaging 30yo. They are planted on brown clayey soils that vary from 40cm to 1.5 meters in depth. 

How's it Made?

It was initially aged in 2-5yo barrels and then given two and a half years bottle ageing on the lees before disgorgement without dosage. 

The Winemaker:
Benoît Lahaye — Champagne, France

Located in the heart of the Pinot Noir epicentre of the aptly-named Bouzy, it’s a family affair chez Benoît Lahaye—always has been, and always will be. The domaine is home to mother, father, their two sons, one daughter-in-law and a one-tonne horse named Tamise. These days, Benoît's most prized possession is his intuition – an emotional sensitivity which he has developed through the years, a feeling and sentiment which allows him to work often by feeling—without the need to be constrained by the traditional or conventional way of doing things. That... and his horse Tamise, of course. Benoît is one of the few (but increasing) growers in the region dedicated to working the land by horse, allowing him to plough without compacting the soil. What strikes us most about Benoît is that there is no prescribed formula here for winemaking; in a region known for its regulations, his curiosity and desire to continually question his methods and evolve his practice feels to us like the truest expression of biodynamic winemaking.

“What’s ‘on trend’ in winemaking doesn’t interest me. What I care about is that there are no problems with the wines when they’re taken out of the cellar — 5, 8, or 10 years later. It’s about longevity.”

Wine #6:
L'Idylle 2020

Mephisto 2018

What's it Like?

This is all about energy. It’s no mean feat to create a red wine that is simultaneously light in body yet powerful in flavour, but that’s exactly what young Raphaëlle Guyot is already achieving in the northern segments of Burgundy. Think raspberries straight from the bush, a sprinkling of white pepper and a sprig of rosemary. There are so many layers to unfurl here. 

Where's it From?

This comes from organically farmed Pinot Noir vines in Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux, in the Yonne department of northern Burgundy, on clay-limestone soils. Raphaëlle purchased the fruit from a fellow organic grower while she awaits her newly planted parcels to start producing grapes. 

How's it Made?

The whole bunches of Pinot Noir macerated for 15 days, after which they were pressed and the wine fermented naturally. The wine was then aged in stainless steel for seven months. 

The Winemaker:
Raphaëlle Guyot — Burgundy, France

Raphaëlle Guyot grew up between the Yonne and Paris, and fell in love with wine already as a teenager when she had the chance to drink some special bottles with her parents in Burgundy. She went to wine school, and undertook several internships with winemakers in Burgundy. Settled back in her region, in the northern stretches of Burgundy, she is re-exploring and redefining what this historic wine growing area can do in an unparalleled manner. Planting baby vineyards to areas that had succumbed to phylloxera and were never replanted, she is propelling history into the future. Dedicated and super-passionate, she is already achieving incredible results, and we can't wait to see what comes next from her.

"I gave my cuvées the names of works and sculptures by Claudel and Rodin. This is linked to the approach of working with raw material, which I try to translate into my wine. I think that the notions of energy, vibration and truth are the three crucial elements of my approach to my vineyards and to my wine, and that’s also exactly what happens in the work of these two artists."

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