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Wine Club Edition
— September 2021

September Summer

We don't know about you, but we're crossing fingers and toes for a late UK summer bloom. Our September selection reflects our thinking — we've chosen delicious and crisp acidity-focused natural wines in this month's selection in the hope that they'll bring us one last drop of sunshine, preferably while we drink them al fresco. Pass the ice bucket please!

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:
Aus Den Dörfern 2019

What's it Like?

A wine that shows why variety is the spice of life. 13 different grape varieties(!) come together to create this floral, apple-y quince-y marvel, complete with a citrus spritz and mineral lick. It's the perfect wine for a pick-me-up — we don't advocate skipping the gym and drinking wine instead, but we do admit that this wine gives us a much-needed energy boost every time we crack open a bottle.

Where's it From?

More than 13 different grape varieties from a selection of vineyards located in the villages of Sankt Margarethen, Oslip and Schützen in the Leithaberg subregion of the Burgenland, Austria, came together to make this wine.
This fact is neatly summed up in the cuvée's name: Aus den Dörfern, meaning From the Villages. The soils in these vineyards are varied, and include gneiss and limestone, plus sandy loam topsoils. 

How's it Made?

Rosi's son Hannes was not looking to create any sort of precise, textbook example of a specific grape variety here. The aim with this cuvée is to show scope, which is achieved thanks to the many different grape varieties, along with the varying degrees of ripeness amongst these varieties. The different grape varieties were all fermented together (co-fermented) in barrels and stainless steel tanks. The wine was left on its lees, helping to give it a certain roundness. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

The Winemaker:
Weingut Rosi Schuster — Burgenland, Austria

One of the stars of Austria's Burgenland, Hannes Schuster, son of Rosi Schuster, makes some of the region's iconic wines from Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch, as well as white Gemischter Satz, Grüner Veltliner and Furmint wines. Created from biodynamic farming and minimal intervention in the cellar, these natural-meets-fine wines have become celebrated worldwide.

"I had the feeling that we have a certain responsibility as winemakers. We should be doing what we can, with what we have, in front of our houses."

Wine #2:
Naïa 2019

What's it Like?

A wine that feels like a Monet painting — classic in its beautiful simplicity. This is all about capturing the essence and history of the region in the bottle, and by having a light touch, the winemaker shows us what these varieties from very old vines are capable of. There's no make-up here, just pure, mouthwateringly delicious fresh black fruit, with a twist of rosemary, thyme and black olive. Southern French nature in a bottle. 

Where's it From?

The Cinsault (60%), Carignan (30%) and Aramon (10%) for this wine all grow on the same plot, on soils rich in gravette de Corconne. This distinctive type of soil contains pieces of Jurassic limestone, which have eroded from the limestone cliffs surrounding Victor's plots. This cool limestone is key to the wines retaining a freshness despite the long hot summer days. The bush vines in this plot are some of the oldest in Corconne (some are 80 years old!) 

How's it Made?

This cuvée is one that Victor's father also made, and the goal is to express this unique single vineyard in the bottle. Like his dad, Victor also uses whole bunches, which gives that lovely floral side to the wine, but he's more gentle — less extraction, more infusion style. By leaving the wine to macerate with less punchdowns (which extracts more tannin) and for a shorter period, he makes this yummy, juicier style of wine which is also approachable in its youth.  

The Winemaker:
Domaine Inebriati —
Languedoc, France

The Pic Saint-Loup appellation of the Languedoc has some natural treasures: old vines. Sadly, more and more of these precious, living pieces of vinous history succumb to an early fate; ripped out to make way for younger, more productive vineyards. However, some fortunate examples of these ancient treasures have found themselves in the care of the Beau family; handed down from Christoph Beau to Victor Beau. And in these hands, they aren’t going anywhere — these beauties are staying in the ground, where they belong, farmed biodynamically for as long as they may live.

"It makes me really happy to be able to work with these older varieties, and to be able to offer something different to wine drinkers — not just the wines that have been the most common for the past 30 years."

Wine #3:
Rosetta 2019

What's it Like?

A wine that makes you think (this is one of the most complex rosés we know), but at the same time, it's also a comforting wine. There's such an abundance of soft red fruit aromas here — think forest fruit sorbet — that it reminds us of eating our grandmother's homemade jellies, without the sugar. We're a little bit obsessed with this wine — we'll try not to drink it all ourselves!

Where's it From?

The Cabernet Franc (majority), Grolleau Noir, Grolleau Blanc and Chenin Blanc for this rosé come from two plots rich in clay and quartz, in Anjou, in the Loire. Some of the vines here are old and hence represent the diversity of the past (some are almost 70 years old!) Pierre farms biodynamically, and protects his vines from disease using herbal teas and plant macerations made from horsetail, nettle, yarrow, wicker, dandelion, chamomile and comfrey. 

How's it Made?

In 2019, due to frost, there was a later second harvest. Pierre painstakingly went in search of these smaller bunches — difficult to find and hence it takes a long time to harvest them — but worth it from a quality perspective and a no waste point of view. The Cabernet Franc was drained off after ten hours of maceration, and the Grolleau Noir and Blanc underwent carbonic fermentation separately. There's a little addition of Chenin Blanc, too. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The Winemaker:
Pierre Ménard —
Anjou, France

If there’s one word to describe the work of this talented young winemaker, it’s humility. He might be creating some of the most terroir-expressive wines to come out of the Loire, but when visiting him and speaking to him, the first thing you notice is an air of contemplation, and a certain gentleness. It’s only when you try his wines that you realise this down-to-earth guy is creating something that is truly extraordinary. Yet, he doesn’t need a château or anything fancy to do so: all he needs is a garage, basic equipment, manpower and ideas; the latter of which he has in bucketloads. 

"I think that Chenin Blanc has this transparency when it comes to showing the place from which it comes. You really find a signature, which is so interesting. It also means there’s no limit when you’re searching for differing expressions."

Wine #4:
Opok 2019

What's it Like?

With its zingy acidity and bright lemon and lime pithy goodness, this is a wine that feels full of life — there's something about drinking this wine that just makes you want to get up and jump around. A feel-good, let's get some tunes on kinda wine — Ice, Ice, Baby or This Is How We Do It spring to mind. We'll see you on the dancefloor.

Where's it From?

The four white grape varieties in this wine (Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc, Welschriesling and Chardonnay, locally referred to as Morillon) are all grown in steeply sloping vineyards at an altitude of around 450m. The clay/silt limestone-rich soil here, known as Opok, is unique to the region and said to contribute to the unique and dense sense of minerality found in Sepp and Maria's wines.  

How's it Made?

The bunches of grapes were destemmed before gentle pressing over a period of four hours. Fermentation then took place naturally in large traditional oak foudres. The wine was then aged for two years in these foudres, left untouched, before being bottled unfiltered and unfined. 

The Winemaker:
Weingut Muster —
Southern Styria, Austria

The Muster wines have become some of the most celebrated wines of Austria, but this isn’t due to a specific or technical aspect of winemaking. There’s no magic recipe here — rather these wines are so good because they’re allowed to simply be themselves: this is wine, uninterrupted. There’s a certain energy found within these bottles; an energy that can only appear in wine if the raw material — the grapes — have an intrinsic balance. This balance, meanwhile, comes from years of getting to know their vines. And there’s one thing we can say with certainty: Sepp and Maria know their vines. 

"This isn’t about making natural wine, or biodynamic wine. It’s just wine. Wine from Austria — wine from Opok."

Wine #5:
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

What's it Like?

A wine that shows what Slovenia is capable of for Cabernet Sauvignon. This classic variety has found a home in these iron-rich soils, which give it a distinct mineral lightness of touch. It's not every day that you get to taste a 2007 vintage from one of the natural wine world's greats, and this doesn't disappoint. It has a comforting scent of leather and books — like sitting in a library under a blanket. It has bright, mouthwatering acidity with its twist of fresh blackcurrants, which makes this aged beauty continue to feel youthful.

Where's it From?

This wine is the culmination of many unique geological and climatic factors exclusive to the Karst region. The vines of Cabernet Sauvignon grow on a very thin layer of iron-rich limestone (Terra Rossa), which lies upon a deep layer of solid limestone formed from ancient fossilised sea life. Due to this poor, rocky soil, each plant only produces enough fruit for the equivalent of a single bottle of wine. No herbicides or pesticides have been used here for over 20 years. The climate here is dry, and a light sea breeze from the Mediterranean keeps the grapes healthy and dry, reducing disease pressures. 

How's it Made?

Harvest took place as late as possible in order to ensure that the grapes were fully mature, and everything was picked by hand. Down in the cellar, fermentation occured naturally in open top barrels, where the juice was left in contact with the skins for between 10-14 days. The wine was then aged for up to five years in a range of barrels varying in capacity from between 225 and 2000 litres, before further ageing in bottle for many years in the cellar. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The Winemaker:
Vina Ĉotar —
Karst, Slovenia

The artist Hans Hofmann said, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” The same rings true at Slovenia’s Čotar winery, in the Karst region of Slovenia. Here, Andreja, Vasja and Branko Čotar tend eight hectares of vineyards, and this trio and their vines produce spellbinding natural wines that have taken the wine world by storm in recent years. By deciding to minimise their intervention in the cellar, they have further amplified the natural aromas found within their grapes, and through patience, these aromas find an intrinsic harmony in the wines. Drinking a Čotar wine is like visiting an exhibition of your favourite artist for the first time: it might have taken a while to finally have the opportunity, but it’s worth the wait. 

"We work organically because we feel better when we drink organic wines — not just our wines, but wines in general. At home, we also like to eat and drink organic and natural produce. It’s healthier for us, and it tastes better, too. Like food, wine must feel good."

Wine #6:
Erde 2018

What's it Like?

A wine that makes you question everything you thought you knew about wine. This is a wine of soul; a wine of contemplation. We won't start quoting philosophers, but we're pretty sure this wine would inspire a crowd of modern philosophical minds. Think orange rind, nutmeg, a twist of cinnamon and a sprinkling of white pepper. And there's something intangible here, something we simply cannot put into words... something that gives us goosebumps (the good kind). And for us, that's the sign of a truly great wine.

Where's it From?

The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (locally known as Morillon) for this orange wine are grown at an altitude of between 430 and 470 metres above sea level on Opok soils. This quality of this unique soil is, according to Sepp, the 'steward' of this wine. This is reflected in its name, 'Erde', meaning earth in German. The uniquely high-up (around 1.80m) vines trained along a single wire (a method originally developed by Sepp's grandfather) help the grapes to reach perfect ripeness. Small, tightly skinned berries were especially sought out for this wine.

How's it Made?

In the cellar, some of the bunches were destemmed, and others were left whole, meaning that aromas and phenols from the stems as well as the skins were allowed to leave their mark on the juice. Due to their unique training system, Sepp emphasises the stems never impart greenness, only a floral touch. After eight months of maceration, the wine was gently pressed to remove the skins, before then being aged in large, used oak barrels for 20 months. Bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulfites in clay bottles. 

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