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Wine Club Edition
— July 2022

LITTLEWINE Wine Club July 2022

From Hungary to Australia

When we took this photograph, we suddenly realised that this month’s selection looks like an art gallery in the form of wine bottles. While of course it’s the liquid in the bottle that counts, the creative and free-thinking nature of each of these winemakers manifests in their design, too — we know we’ll be collecting the empties for decoration! 

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:
Szikra 2020

Szikra 2020

What's it Like?

A wine that shows the world what Hungarian Riesling is all about. Fresh, zesty and full of that hallmark stony Riesling lemony goodness, this also has a subtle peachy element that makes it a little gentler. With a delightful salty backbone, it’s the kind of wine that makes our mouth water just thinking about it. Serve with a summer salad and sit back, relax and unwind.

Where's it From?

This comes from a young plot of seven-year-old Riesling vines in Lake Balaton, Hungary. It is farmed organically and regeneratively (no-till) meaning the grass and flowers are allowed to grow amongst the vines to promote overall biodiversity and soil health.

How's it Made?

This cuvée was born from an experiment by Bence, the winemaker, to see whether there was a drastic difference between the ‘free-run’ juice and the ‘press juice’ of the Riesling (all of it is direct-press, these are just the different types of juice from the press cycle). In the end, Bence found both juices were equally beautiful, and hence blended them. Naturally fermented, unfined, unfiltered and bottled without sulfites. 

The Winemaker:
Grand Vin de Barnag — Lake Balaton, Hungary

Bence Szilágyi is the one-man band behind Grand Vin de Barnag, a small winery located in Barnag, a village next to Lake Balaton in Hungary. Here, he farms rented vineyards organically himself, as well as buying organic grapes from a local farmer. Since his first vintage in 2017 — when he made just 400 bottles — he has grown bit by bit every year, now producing 12,000 bottles. No bank loans, no investors: just Bence and bucketloads of passion for farming and making delicious, low intervention wine.

"Farming organically is like a cultural basis. I think everyone should farm organically; there’s no point of using chemicals to kill other plants. I think it’s impossible to achieve a good fermentation in the cellar if you kill everything that exists in the vineyards."

Wine #2:
Franche Lippée 2021

Franche Lippee 2021

What's it Like?

A wine that truly takes our breath away. We’re big lovers of Syrah, and this is one of our favourite lighter styles of the grape variety we’ve ever tried. From a young grower dedicated to showcasing what his terroirs can produce, this is all about energy, combined with elegance. Think plums, fresh blackcurrants and a dusting of white pepper… it’s ever so moreish. One sip, two sip… oops, the bottle’s gone! 

Where's it From?

This comes from biodynamically farmed Syrah in the Gers region of SW France. The vines were planted by Sébastien in 2012, and he farms with the greatest attention to biodiversity - installing bee hives, introducing sheep in the vineyards over the winter, installing bird and bat boxes, planting cover crops to boost organic matter in the soils and leaving the rows of vines grassed over. 

How's it Made?

Sébastien destems a very small portion of grapes to put at the bottom of the tank, after which the whole bunches crush these grapes to produce juice, which in turn creates a natural CO2-rich environment for a carbonic-style fermentation. It then macerates for around 15 days, after which it is aged in concrete and a small portion in old barrels. 

The Winemaker:
Domaine Jeandaugé —Gers, France 

When driving through the rolling hills of Gascony, it’s somewhat like stepping back in time to another century. Old stone houses are surrounded by vineyards, crops, cows and woods on all sides. This is a rare part of France where the landscape is still one of polyculture. However, while it may look idyllic, it has historically also been a very poor area of France. Here, Domaine Jeandaugé, home to 28 hectares of vines tended by Sébastien Fezas, has been in the Fezas family since the 1800s. Sébastien’s father made bulk wine to sell to négociants, earning just 60 cents per litre.These days, Sébastien Fezas is doing the opposite. Dedicated to biodynamic and regenerative farming, and bravely going against the grain to create his no-addition cuvées, he is showing another dimension of what is possible with the soil, vines and fruit of Domaine Jeandaugé. He may only be at the beginning of his journey, but the results are already spectacular.

"The goal is to find a personal balance. More time for me, more time to work better in the vines that I have. Then, I really think it’s about intention. You must believe in what you do."

Wine #3:
Yellow Yellow 2021

Yellow Yellow 2021

What's it Like?

A wine that will have you dancing on the table before you know it, after all — they weren't kidding when they named the brand Jumping Juice! Think fresh pineapple, gooseberries and a sliver of mango. This is tropical while remaining light and bright; a wine that will keep you partying well into the night. 

Where's it From?

The Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer grapes are purchased from the renowned grower Mike Sleggers, a certified-biodynamic grower in Margaret River, Western Australia.

How's it Made?

This is a light orange wine. The Sauvignon Blanc macerated for 15 days as whole bunches. Once the natural fermentation became very active, the wine was pressed to tank. After a period of ageing, the Sauvignon was then blended with 13% Gewürztraminer, and bottled unfined, unfiltered and with low sulfites.  

The Winemaker:
Jumping Juice — Margaret River, Australia 

Jumping Juice is the collaborative project of Xavier Goodridge and Patrick Sullivan — two like-minded, forward-thinking and creative winemakers — who went against the grain to create delicious bottlings from unusual blends and methods. It takes a recipe of spirit, imagination and innocence to dare to do things differently in a world that, at the time, was dominated by techno winemaking. Jumping Juice shows that imagination in the form of lipsmackingly good, easy-to-drink wine. 

"Organic and biodynamic farming is a core belief of mine. When you plant a vineyard, you’re not planting it for you - it’s for the next generation. Other people are gonna live here after you’re gone."

Sauvignon Blanc

Wine #4: El Rall 2019

El Rall 2019

What's it Like?

A wine that is all about soul — a Whitney Houston kinda red wine. Think bramble fruit, damson plum, fig and a sprinkling of earth - like that intoxicating smell of walking through a forest on a warm summer’s evening. Wonderfully versatile, this is the sort of wine you can pair with anything - serve it with an array of tapas and in the company of good friends!

Where's it From?

This comes from four different vineyards near Barcelona - three in Alella and one in Llinars del Vallés - all farmed organically. The climate is Mediterranean, and the soils are composed of granite and sand. The vines are between 15 and 28 years old, and are planted with a south and southwest exposure at an elevation varying between 160-350 meters. Yields are low at just 25hl/ha.

How's it Made?

This is a blend of Merlot, Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mataro (aka Mourvèdre) and Sumoll. The grapes were hand harvested and destemmed after which they macerated for a short period of four days. Fermentation occurred naturally, and 80% of the wine was aged for seven months on the lees in stainless steel tanks, and 20% in old oak barrels for six months. Bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulfites added.

The Winemaker:
Oriol Artigas — Alella, Spain

On the land bordering the Mediterranean coastline of Catalunya, just outside of Barcelona, Oriol Artigas tends vineyards in one of the smallest appellations of Spain, Alella, which is home to just 220 hectares of vines. Despite being a small appellation, it is steeped in history and dates back to Roman times. Still today it represents a wealth of historic and genetic diversity, and it is from the region’s treasures — its old vines — that Oriol produces his soulful cuvées. Through a deep love for organic and regenerative viticulture, he is working to preserve both the genetic diversity that exists in his vineyards, as well to ensure that his soils are healthy and thriving.

"Knowledge is always good. Having knowledge in chemistry is like having another point of view. When I look at wine, chemistry isn’t necessarily 'adding something.' Rather, you understand what’s happening inside the wine, and why that changes the wine." 

Wine #5: Promised Land Riesling 2020

Promised Land Riesling 2020

What's it Like?

A wine that is defiant. Several people have told Tim Phillips of Charlie Herring that it’s not possible to reliably ripen Riesling in the UK, but here in his beautiful walled garden, he shows the world that it’s not only possible, but that the resulting wine is simply delicious. Think citrus zest, rock salt and that mineral crunch Riesling is famous for. A new benchmark for English wine!

Where's it From?

The Riesling vines were planted in 2008 and are farmed organically and regeneratively (no-till) in Hampshire, UK, in an old Victorian walled garden in Hampshire, UK. The walled garden provides a great little mesoclimate of its own with more degree days, helping the Riesling to reach ideal ripeness in October.

How's it Made?

The maceration period took place over three months, during which time the wine fermented naturally. The wine was then aged in a combination of old oak barrels and glass vessels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, with low sulfites.

The Winemaker:
Charlie Herring — Hampshire, UK

Tim Phillips isn't just about wine: he may make wine from one of the most beautiful vineyards we've seen in a Victorian walled garden, but he equally loves the art of coppicing, having bees on the property and simply examining nature's ongoings. All of these elements contribute as much to his wines as his cellar does.

"There are all of these ‘Winemaker of the Year’ awards, but really when you make wine you either let the grapes do their thing or you f&*k it up. As a winemaker, you’re at a disadvantage if you haven’t been in the vineyard. You lose a potential of understanding." 

Wine #6:
Millstream Pinot Noir 2021

Millstream Pinot Noir 2021

What's it Like?

A wine that we feel should feature on the metaphorical podium of Australia’s finest Pinot Noirs. Not only does this capture the very essence of the grape variety, which notoriously is no mean feat, it’s also a bottle full of emotion — the kind of wine that moves you deeply. That classic cherry fruit, but with a haunting mineral-meets-wild herbs backbone, that keeps you coming back for more. If you can be patient, we’d recommend ageing this for another year to experience it to the fullest, but equally it tastes fantastic now.

Where's it From?

The Millstream vineyard was planted in 1983, on volcanic loam with basalt bedrock. The vines are dry farmed (meaning unirrigated), and it is a particularly windy and chilly plot, which Patrick explains gives the wine a certain tension and nerviness. 

How's it Made?

The grapes were hand harvested, and 15% of whole bunches were included in the ferment. Maceration lasted two weeks in stainless steel before being pressed. Fermentation occurred naturally, and the wine aged in a single 700L ceramic vessel and two old oak barrels. 

The Winemaker:
Patrick Sullivan — Gippsland, Australia

By the time he was 22, Patrick Sullivan had worked several stints in vineyards and wine shops (including 18 months on the floor at London’s Selfridges), commenced a degree in winemaking - which he promptly changed to viticulture and completed, and even studied actuarial science for a while. It was thanks to a government tax rebate scheme for small winemakers, introduced in 2004, that he was able to set up his own brand with a shoestring budget. When he was 24, he had made his first wine. Shortly after, he developed an international reputation for making unprecedented bottles of fun: with their fluorescent (but natural) colours, blended from grape varieties that traditionalists would say “weren’t meant to be blended together,” and with wild hippy labels, they were some of the first bottles to really shake up the old-school Australian wine scene, and would inspire dozens of winemakers to follow suit. These days, however, there are winds of change for Patrick. He still loves those wines that were born from the mentality of a 20-something-year-old, but there’s a new direction on the Sullivan compass: fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

"Millstream is quite exposed. That gives it a very different kind of tension. The way the air moves through the vineyard is the single biggest change for us in this region - it creates uniqueness on top of uniqueness."

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