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Wine Club Edition
— June 2022

LITTLEWINE Wine Club June 2022

Joyful June

Welcome to the June Edition of our Wine Club! 

We can’t quite believe we’re already in June, but here we are, and we can’t wait to welcome al-fresco dining and BBQ season with open arms. This month's selection is all about the start of summer: fresh, vibrant and energetic wines that work for picnics as well as dinner parties. Get ready to enjoy the sunshine!
Wines 1-2 feature in the Roots subscription, 1-4 in the Grower subscription and 1-6 in the Cosmos subscription. 

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Wine #1:
Rosé Pét-Nat 2021

Pét-Nat Rosé

What's it Like?

A wine that immediately makes us want to put Cyndi Lauper or Diana Ross on the speakers. This is a summer party in a bottle, the sort of wine that brings a smile to everyone immediately. Think scones with strawberry jam, minus the sugar. Serve on its own as an aperitif, or with fresh salads or BBQ fare. Quite simply a delight.

Where's it From?

The Gamay vines are planted on clay-limestone soils in the southern part of the Beaujolais region. Raphaël St-Cyr, the winemaker, buys the certified organic grapes from a neighbour for this cuvée. 

How's it Made?

The grapes were direct pressed and a natural "pied de cuve" to start fermentation, in order to ensure that the yeasts that end up in the bottle to continue the fermentation were healthy. This is a pét-nat (French for pétillant naturel - naturally sparkling), meaning it's a single fermentation sparkling wine. When the wine is still fermenting, it is bottled at a precise sugar level, in order to finish fermenting in bottle (hence producing CO2 = bubbles) and eventually finishing as a dry sparkling wine.

The Winemaker:
Domaine St-Cyr — Beaujolais, France

A fourth generation vigneron, Raphaël’s great-grandfather founded the domaine. At the bright-eyed, youthful age of 22, Raphaël took over the domaine, converting it to organic farming straightaway. It is now amongst the largest organic estate in Beaujolais in terms of acreage, which means Raphaël is paving a path of greener grasses for other winemakers to step foot on. From the start, Raphaël has been passionate about the expressions of single parcels of vines in the crus, and is one of the leading figures for marking the names of single vineyards; “lieux dits;” on his labels. Domaine Saint Cyr spans across 20 hectares in the south, where they are based, with six planted to Chardonnay and the rest to Gamay, as well as eight hectares in the Crus.

"With great terroirs, you don't need to "make" the wine with punchdowns and extraction. That's not what I look for in my wines; I look for freshness and elegance. The wines make themselves on their own."

Wine #2:
Gorca Furmint 2019

Gorca Furmint 2019

What's it Like?

A wine that made us double take when we first had it: is it Chablis? Is it a fine Loire wine? No — It’s Slovenian Furmint! This rare yet historical variety is known for its fine tweet Tokaj desert wines, but it also produces incredible dry wines when in the right hands, and tended with great care. This is one of our favourite expressions — think subtle grapefruit pith with a salty core and that delightful smoky minerality we hope to find in fine white wine. 

Where's it From?

Gorca, in Slovenia, has been a well-known wine-growing town for generations. This cuvée comes from three organically-farmed vineyards of old Slovenian Furmint selections, on the hillsides facing south at 350-400m elevation, planted on soils known locally as ‘opok’ (they are composed of limestone-rich marl). 

How's it Made?

The wine was naturally fermented, after which it was aged for ten months in large old oak barrels, followed by a further four months ageing in stainless steel. Bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulfites. 

The Winemaker:
Vino Gross — Haloze, Slovenia 

In northeast Slovenia, located between Austria, Croatia and Hungary, you find the Štajerska Slovenija wine region. Near the town of Ptuj, some of the healthiest and most scenic vineyards we have ever seen are rooted. These are the vines of the Vino Gross winery. Here, Maria and Michael Gross are dedicated to tending their land biodynamically, and guiding their grapes from vineyard, to cellar, to bottle in the most transparent way possible. They are two of the region’s brightest young stars and have been achieving extraordinary results since launching their own brand in 2016.

"We feel more confident with our region and with what we do. I’ve stopped looking so much at what’s happening around me. Before, it was always, 'what’s that famous winery doing? How do they work?' But now that’s totally changed. We’re focused on doing what’s best for our vines, our site, our region, and our family. Of course, we still appreciate what our neighbours and friends do, but I think we’re more comfortable in our own work, as we have so much trust in our sites."

Wine #3:
Terre de Sienne 2019

Terre de Sienne 2019

What's it Like?

A wine that is like drinking joy, bottled. A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, this is all about fresh, crunchy red fruit. Think freshly picked raspberries and cherries straight from a trip to a farm, with a dash of peonies and fresh rose petals. One of the most drinkable and simultaneously elegant wines we know, from a very talented young woman. We can’t wait to see what comes next from her. 

Where's it From?

This cuvée comes from Pinot Noir (90%) and a touch of Gamay, farmed organically on a small plot in the Coteaux Bourguigons called ‘La Grand Côte.’ The soil here is predominantly red marl.

How's it Made?

Maceration took place for nine days, before fermentation and elevage in stainless steel tanks over a period of eight months. Bottled unfined with no sulfites.

The Winemaker:
Dame Jeanne — Burgundy, France

This is the new winemaking project from Jeanne Piollot, daughter of Dominique Moreau and Roland Piollot of iconic domaines Champagne Piollot and Marie Courtin. She is tending vines in the most northerly part of Burgundy, just 20km from where her family's Champagne property lies in the Côte des Bar. Here, she is making not only sparkling wines but also beautiful still wines. This is one of the most exciting new domaines in northern Burgundy. The name Dame Jeanne most obviously means Lady Jeanne, but it is also the term for the beautiful glass vessels that were historically used for winemaking. A nod to the artisan approach!

Our interview with Jeanne is pending as June is an extremely busy period for winemakers in the vineyards. Please bear with us - we will keep you updated when it is published!

Wine #4: The Radiant 2020

Ludovic Engelvin The Radiant 2020

What's it Like?

A wine that shows why dark rosé is the style of wine on everybody’s lips at the moment. The antithesis to the sea of pale pink southern French rosés, this is much darker in hue, and brimming with complexity. Think late evening strolls amongst wild herbs and fruit bushes — just drinking this almost evokes the sound of cicadas! A wine for feeling and thinking.

Where's it From?

From the Gard IGP in the Languedoc, the Mourvèdre and Cinsault vines for this wine are farmed organically on limestone and sandstone soils, on a rugged, stony landscape, with an abundance of aromatic plants known in French as ‘garrigue’ growing nearby. 

How's it Made?

This is mainly Mourvèdre, with a small amount of Cinsault. The grapes had a short period of maceration, and the wine fermented naturally. Aged in stainless steel and fibreglass tanks, after which the wine was bottled in springtime. Unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
Ludovic Engelvin — Languedoc, France

A native of the Languedoc, Ludovic Engelvin fell in love with the notion of viticulture already as a teenager. Without family vineyards of his own, he travelled and worked for various domaines to learn as much as he could. However, he didn’t yet have enough money to settle and dedicate himself to winemaking, so he became a sommelier, and eventually set up a wine shop. Although impatient at the time, this stint working as a sommelier would become an indispensable experience for Ludovic. He was able to taste wines he otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to taste, and hence formed a complex palate, understanding what inspired him (and what didn’t inspire him). He was drawn more and more to the realm of organic and biodynamic farming, and natural winemaking. When the opportunity came to take on a parcel of vines in his home region, the call was too strong to resist.

"The notion is to make wine that expresses its place in a particular year, and that process already starts when I taste the grapes. It’s about following the vintage and reacting to the vintage. Every year is different, and I wouldn’t be able to make the wine if I hadn’t been paying attention to the vineyards throughout the year."

Wine #5: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2018

Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2018

What's it Like?

A wine that we find somewhat impossible to capture on paper. One of Italy’s Greats, this is a white wine unlike any other white wine on the planet. Think chamomile, dried hay, rock salt and with a lick of jasmine. Make sure to decant this to fully appreciate its flavours, as it evolves greatly over time with air. Known for its incredible capacity for ageing, this wine can also age for much longer than a decade — so if you’d like to explore the herbal, savoury, truffle flavours that develop with time, you can keep it to age (if you can be patient — we know we struggle!)

Where's it From?

This is made from the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo variety (not to be confused with the regular Trebbiano from Tuscany - they are completely separate varieties). The vines are farmed organically with biodynamic methods, and the soils are composed of clay with limestone bedrock. 

How's it Made?

The grapes were crushed by foot, for around 45 minutes per 300kg of grapes, in an old traditional long wooden open vessel to release the juice from the berries. The juice was then moved straight into glass-lined concrete tanks, where fermentation occurred naturally, slowly and in a reductive environment on the lees (to give them as little access to oxygen as possible) for 18 months.

The Winemaker:
Emidio Pepe — Abruzzo, Italy

Emidio Pepe and his family have proved that the wines of Abruzzo are capable of being some of the finest wines not just in Italy, but in the world. It is thanks to Emidio's tireless work ethic that we are able to explore the true potential of the varieties of Abruzzo — Montepulciano, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Pecorino. This drive has been passed down through two generations, which we see mirrored in his granddaughter's eyes. These days, Chiara Pepe is a force of nature, experimenting with cover crops, Fukuoka-inspired no-till farming, polyculture and much more. We can’t wait to see what comes next, and we’re already in love with their pasta, which is made from a field of an ancient grain wheat varietal called “Senatore Cappelli.”

"Wine shouldn’t be “ready made.” I don’t filter my wines because it’s up to them, not to me, to decide what they want to get rid of."

Wine #6:
Cru-Elles 2020

Cru-Elles 2020 Ludovic Engelvin

What's it Like?

A wine that shows in a single sip why the Languedoc should be better known for fine wine. This manages to mingle both fresh and savoury elements in a way that not many wines can — think fresh blackcurrants together with earth and dried herbs with a graphite edge. Simply full of character, this is the kind of wine that will speak to you if you let it; a wine that tells a story.

Where's it From?

This comes from Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre vines in the IGP Gard of the Languedoc. The vines are planted on sandstone and clay-limestone soils, and are 25 years old. Ludovic has sheep grazing in the vineyard which act as natural lawnmowers and composters, contributing to the overall biodiversity.

How's it Made?

The whole bunches of grapes were lightly crushed, after which the wine fermented naturally in stainless steel and fibreglass tanks. The maceration period lasted between 10-15 days, during which time gentle pumpovers took place to aerate the must, extracting as gently as possible to achieve an elegant style with silky tannins. The wine was bottled after six months, unfined and unfiltered. 

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