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Wine Club Edition
— October 2021

October Textures

October makes us instantly think of the feeling of leaves crunching underfoot. We love all of the textures and senses of October — from ceps to roasted pumpkin soup. So, we've been on a mission to bring you wines that have certain textural dimensions  this month; wines with a little extra bite and grip for those darker evenings spent under a wool blanket. They are food-friendly wines that go hand-in-hand with autumnal fare — let us know which pairings you discover!

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:
Manila Grüner Veltliner 2020

What's it Like?

A wine that is both electrifying yet simultaneously comforting. This is Grüner Veltliner in its birthday suit — think lime rind, a splash of salt and that slight spicy twist. Thanks to some time spent on skins, there's a lovely subtle tannic backbone here, making it the perfect food wine. Pair this with a warming Thai curry and marvel at the lemongrass unfurl. 

Where's it From?

This comes from biodynamically farmed Grüner Veltliner vines planted in the 'Strassacker' vineyard, which is found in the Leithaberg mountain range, in Jois, Burgenland, Austria. The soils are predominantly limestone.

How's it Made?

 The Manila cuvée is the Nittnaus' outlet for experimentation — something changes every year. In 2020, 1/3 of the grapes were kept as whole bunches, and 2/3 were destemmed. The juice then macerated with the skins for one week in amphora, fermenting naturally, after which it was pressed and moved back into amphora for seven months' ageing. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
Nittnaus — Burgenland, Austria

The Nittnaus family of Burgenland, Austria, is family of renegades — but respectful renegades. They might have thrown the rulebooks out of the window, but it hasn’t just been for the sake of doing so, but rather to see if they could improve the way the rulebook had been written in the first place. The sons of Anita and Hans Nittnaus, Martin and Andi, are joined by their cousin, Lydia, in their quest to take their parents’ work one step further. Together, this trio is carving their own path, adding another dimension to the work already achieved by their family. And in doing so, it’s like they’ve forged a new genre for their region — they are the punk trio to their family’s rock band.

“We work with well-established grape varieties — Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch — but give them a new perspective through our vision. Manila is about subversion, and the beauty of subversion.”

Wine #2:
Teroldego 2020

What's it Like?

A wine that represents far more than what's in the bottle. This is a wine of culture and legacy — a wine that (metaphorically) got up on the dining room table and took a stand for Teroldego, having since become one of the world's most hyped red wines. ​​And the taste? Spicy, fresh plum, herbal deliciousness with a graphite undertone. Packed full of flavour and freshness — you can sip this away at Sunday lunch without falling asleep mid-mouthful. 

Where's it From?

Without this wine and the efforts of its makers, quality versions of this grape variety might have got lost in the ether. When young, Elisabetta Foradori had feared that the clonal propagation of Teroldego would be detrimental to the variety, so she replanted all of her vineyards to old selections: a monumental effort. This is a blend across nine hectares of vineyards, from alluvial, gravel and sandy soils.

How's it Made?

Through working with the heritage selections, Elisabetta made a global name for the quality of the variety. Winemaking for this cuvée is simple to allow the fruit and terroir to express itself freely — the wine is naturally fermented and aged for 12 months in old oak and concrete. A gentle fragrant element is due to the introduction of some whole bunches. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The Winemaker:
Foradori — Trentino, Italy

These days, Foradori is a family affair. In recent years, Elisabetta was joined by sons Emilio and Theo (who LITTLEWINE spoke to for this article) and daughter Myrtha, who has introduced polyculture to the Foradori through farming heritage vegetables. They now help to run the estate and have brought to the table, as Elisabetta did back in 1984, a fresh perspective on biodynamics and permaculture, which enables the winery to keep on evolving—just as it has done since 1934.

“For us, it’s about the holistic understanding of how plants interact and how to create a natural balance. Not only creating a balance in nature, but a balance between yourself and nature.”

Wine #3:
Salty White 2020

What's it Like?

A wine that does what it says on the tin. Salty white? Well... that's exactly what it is. We're obsessed with white wines that are all about more savoury, saline qualities, and this ticks all of our boxes. Theo, its maker, says it reminds him of sea air, kelp and rock pools, and we couldn't agree more. Isn't it magical that we can be transported to the New Zealand coastline via a bottle of wine?

Where's it From?

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes for this wine come from a small organically farmed vineyard in North Canterbury, from a farmer with whom Theo, the winemaker, has a longstanding relationship. 

How's it Made?

Most of the grapes were fermented naturally as whole bunches on the skins, then aged in amphorae and tanks. Around 10% was aged in old barrels and left untopped, to develop a 'flor' (a surface yeast), which gives the wine an extra salty tang. After blending, the wine was then bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The Winemaker:
The Hermit Ram — North Canterbury, New Zealand

Theo Coles of The Hermit Ram has become known for his natural expressions of New Zealand through blends, skin-contact and amphorae. His approach is about letting New Zealand's terroir shine, with very little intervention. He has also planted a baby vineyard of his own, which he tends according to permaculture principles, inspired by the likes of Fukuoka. This is New Zealand wine as you haven't seen it before.

“The key focus for the new vines is carbon sequestration — how can we become carbon importers in the vineyard? Traditional vineyards might be beautiful, but the traditional way of managing them pumps out carbon into the atmosphere. We’re producing a luxury good that not everyone can have, so can we do this in a conscious manner? We need to be taking care of our planet.”

Wine #4:
Garnacha 2017

What's it Like?

A wine that is all about perfume. Think dried rosehips, fresh rosepetals and a dash of cranberry juice, with a lovely subtle earthiness. Garnacha is sometimes referred to as "the Pinot of Spain" and this wine epitomises that — this is all about elegance and lightness of touch. A ballet kinda red wine.

Where's it From?

This 100% Garnacha cuvée (unusual for Rioja) comes from the Rioja Alta part of the region, north of the Ebro River. This comes from the La Caseta and la Utrera vineyards in Ábalos, at 600m elevation, giving the wine extra freshness. The vineyards have a southerly exposition and are planted on clay-limestone soils.

How's it Made?

It had long been a dream of Julia to make a 100% Garnacha wine, and it took some persuasion to get her family to allow her to do it. But hoorah - success! The grapes underwent a short period of maceration without too much extraction, while the juice naturally fermented. After pressing, the wine aged in concrete for one and a half years. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
Bodegas Moraza — Rioja Alta, Spain

The vast and rural Spanish region of Rioja is home to some of Spain’s most famous wines. Due to its immense success on the international market, it’s also become known for a very particular style of wine; often quite ripe with oak influence. But there are growers in the region who are determined to create something unique; something that stands out from the crowd. Bodegas Moraza is one of these domaines, led by the talented Janire Moraza (who goes by Julia). Julia wants to do things her way, to best express the terroirs of her area, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, in Rioja Alta.

“My vision is to go back to our roots. Our vines are fresher and fruitier, and that’s what I see Rioja to be. If you find an older bottle from the 60s or 70s, those wines don’t have a ton of colour. They’re still very fruity, and the alcohol isn’t very high. So what I want to try to do is to make the kind of wines that my father used to drink when he was 16. Those are the kind of wines that can go with every kind of food.”

Wine #5:
Akmeniné 2017

What's it Like?

A wine that shows the true potential of Sancerre — Sébastien's mission is to return to the historical styles of the region, seeking riper fruit. Instead of lean and mean, think explosive, just on the right side of rich. Peaches, apricots and orange peel, this is like the best wine version of tropical fruit juice imaginable, without the sugar.

Where's it From?

This comes from 30-year-old Sauvignon Blanc vines farmed biodynamically in Verdigny in Sancerre. The vines are planted on clay-limestone soils, and Sébastien picks the fruit several weeks later than his neighbours in the area, meaning some of his grapes are botrytis-affected (a good mould, like in fine sweet wine, which gives the wine honeyed, rye bread flavours). 

How's it Made?

The whole bunches were pressed straightaway, after which the juice was left to ferment slowly in stainless steel. It also underwent natural malolactic fermentation, giving it a subtle creaminess. The wine then aged for 24 months in the steel, and then a further 12 months in old oak barrels, to ensure the wine was stable. Bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulfites. Just grape juice.

The Winemaker:
Sébastien Riffault — Sancerre, France

The wines of Sébastien Riffault have become almost synonymous with the natural wine and new-wave fine dining scene of Copenhagen, London, New York, etc… but they aren’t new-wave wines per se. Rather, they are wines that nod to the previous century of the soils and cellar in which they’re made, in Sancerre, before technological winemaking came onto the scene, and before additives in wine became the norm. For Sébastien’s wines, he has one sole ingredient: time. 

“I initially came to natural wine from the taste that it gives to you. I wanted to create a taste like that. To do that, we need to harvest when the grapes are ripe, so that’s what I did. The purpose of our work as winemakers is like a chef’s work — it’s to bring pleasure to people."

Wine #6:
Granato 2018

What's it Like?

A wine that is all about the undertones of wine — think graphite, like the smell of fresh pencil shavings — together with the intoxicating scent of damp earth just after it's been raining. Then, squeeze a touch of raspberry and cherry juice into it, and voilà... you have Granato. If you can be patient, after some additional time spent ageing, it will develop an extra dimension of truffles and moss.

Where's it From?

This comes from biodynamic vineyards of Trento, next to the Dolomites. Grapes and pomegranates have common origins, and often grow together in the Mediterranean, hence this wine is named Granato. This is the top Foradori cuvée, coming from the original old vineyards of Campo Rotaliano, Mezzolombardo, from which Elisabetta took her cuttings to save the heritage of Teroldego (planted 1938 - 1956).  The soils are alluvial, gravel and pebble.

How's it Made?

The Teroldego grapes were destemmed and macerated in large open vats for two to three weeks, where fermentation occurred naturally. Maceration took place infusion-style, to give a more elegant style of wine. After pressing, the wine was aged for 15 months in large old oak foudres.

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