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Dec 2018

Satellite Wine Club, December 2018


Jacky Blot – ‘Triple Zero’ Petillant Naturel de Chenin Blanc – Taille aux Loups - Montlouis, Loire, FR 2013

Solminer – ‘Poils de Chien’ Petnat of Riesling – Coquelicot Vineyard, Santa Ynez, CA 2017


Winestronauts,


HO HO HO! Merry December! Love, Generosity, and Materialism are thick in the air and boy o boy am I thirsty. This special, special month I am delighted to share with you a very first for our burgeoning little club: Bubbles. Not just any bubbles, friend, as with all things Satellite there is a story! So light that fire, grab a blanky, a sexy friend, and tuck in. It’s time to pop those bottles.

This December I’m tellin’ you the magical, historical Christmas tale of Petnat (more of just a regular tale actually, but I do promise that it’s good!). “What the F*&K is Petnat?” Your may ponder aloud. Well, sweet child, it’s everything you ever wanted in a sparkling wine and more.


PETNAT, Petillant Naturel, or Methode Ancestrale is a style of wine that predates the Traditional Method we associate with Champagne and there are some important distinctions! Are this months two wines like Champagne? Sure! They’re bubbly, they’re complex, they have a toasty, yeasty, brioche-like quality, and they’re crystal clear. Sure, they look like Champagne or Crémant (I’ll get there in a minute) but they are emphatically not!


Can you feel it? It’s one of these same/same but different moments that I live for! We’re learning AND we’re drinking!!!


Champagne is made using a Base Wine, a still wine, often a blend of multiple vintages, that is held in a sealed, inert tank, fully fermented and waiting to be bottled with a little more yeast and sugar (Liqueur de Tirage) to start a second fermentation. That’s followed by a long aging period on the spent yeast cells, Lees. Aging occurs sealed in bottle (with a beer cap) at a 45º angle with the neck of the bottle pointing down. Over many months, the yeast settles on the cap (after a whole lot of regular, daily twisting called ‘Remuage’) and finally the bottle is Disgorged with a deft *pop* of the lid, and the yeast flies out leaving crystal clear wine. More often than not (unless labelled brut nature) the winemaker adds a Liqueur d’Expedition, a little This method represents the vast majority of sparkling wine you see in market, including 100% of the wine labelled ‘Champagne’.


How does Petnat differ? Instead of two separate fementations, we skip the ‘base wine’ situation and dive right in! A winemaker takes fresh picked grapes and starts a fermentation by crushing and pressing the grapes (In our case both wines are made using the naturally occurring yeast present in the vineyard). They then watch diligently as the sugar level in the fermenting must drops and just as it reaches roughly 16g/liter then start the bottling a capping process to capture the final stage of fermentation in the bottle. Often times a winemaker will actually cool the tank down to near freezing in order to slow the vigorous metabolism of the yeast!


Once bottled the process is the same as the traditional method; aging on the lees with regular remuage (turning of the bottle to settle the lees in the neck), and a final disgorgement (though this practice is not at all necessary, cloudy wine is fun).


The process for making a Petnat is risky! It takes dedication, skill, really good quality grapes, and honest luck to work. Wild yeasts make for amazing and unique flavors but sometimes they don’t like the high pressure of the bottle or the cooling down to 0ºC and they get stuck, leaving the wine with residual sugar and lower CO2. That is emphatically not the case for you, you lucky winestronaut.


So now you know the basics of Petnat! They’re cool, they’re wild, they’re natural! They make the opaque world of sparkling wines more fun and they’re a great way to get in the high quality sparkling game without the typical high price point. This month we are rocking two very similar and yet very different Petnats and I can’t wait to hear how you like them.

So, Happy New Year Friend! Pop till you drop!

Jacky Blot – ‘Triple Zero’ Petillant Naturel de Chenin Blanc – Taille aux Loups - Montlouis, Loire, FR 2013

 

You hold in your hands (Hold this bottle for dramatic effect) one of the most exciting wines coming from France at the moment. Not only is this black nubuck labelled bottle sexier than a bear skin rug in front of a raging yule log fire, it’s absolutely delicious, absolutely natural, and 100% ready for you to drink. .


Jacky Blot (Pronounced ‘Blow’) is a legend. Originally a large Negociant (someone who bought grapes in bulk to make cheap wines for broad distribution), Jacky became disenfranchised from the world of industrial wine and set off to grow a cool mustache and to meld his winemaking experience with an education in organic farming on his own land. He purchased his Taille aux Loups estate in Montlouis and set off to make the best natural wines he could, entirely from his own efforts. He was aided, of course, by the fact that Montlouis is arguably the greatest region in the world for growing the Chenin Blanc grape. Think of Chenin as a slightly more honeyed, slightly more exotic and sexy Chardonnay.


This wine is the result of years of waiting, crazy labour intensive farming, and eminent skillz. Jacky takes an uncommon approach in making the Triple Zero. Firstly, the wine will not see any additions of yeast, sugar, acid, nor sulfur (all things we expect with traditional sparkling wines), so he purposefully picks his grapes later and for higher sugar and phenolic ripeness, the broadly complex and typical flavors of Chenin Blanc. What he starts with on harvest day is 100% of his toolkit for the next 3 years before the wine is released. He immediately presses the wine (gently) and begins a natural fermentation, watching the sugar levels as it turns into Heat, Alcohol and CO2 (yeast flatulence). At about 12 g/l of sugar he bottles the wine and pops on a bottle cap allowing it to finish fermentation and rest for an additional 24 months! Yes, 24 months of sur lie aging is a long time and significantly more than is required by even Champagne. Jacky is serious about his bubbles.


This wine is a delight: delicate, soft bubbles, a toasty brioche note from the lees, and typical chenin blanc complexity (think fresh, crunchy fuji apple, chamomile tea, jasmine, ginger, and pure sex appeal). I honestly can say this is one of my favorite wines ever. I love it.


Now Here are the facts:

  • 50+ years average vine age
  • Jacky only harvest fully ripe grapes & makes no adjustments to sugar, acid, or really anything at all… no ‘corrections’. He states that his grapes are ‘unusually ripe’ for the production of sparkling wine (which usually are chaptalized or sweetened)
  • Hand harvested, sorted for purity and cleanliness, and handled in small crates to protect the grape integrity
  • Ultra gentle pressing for only the best juice
  • Gravity fed winery: juice starts at the top and leaves as wine at the bottom. No pumping! (Pumping can agitate and introduce bacteria)
  • Native yeast fermentation in a naturally very cold cellar (fermentation is long and slow, preserving the delicate flavor qualities of the wine)
  • Aged in 225 Liter Neutral Barrels of 5-10 years age
  • First bottling at 12g/l of residual sugar to guarantee fermentation to dryness and low pressure, but lasting bubbles
  • Disgorged and corked with no sweetening (liqueur d’expedition)
  • Serve chilled but not ice cold, Jacky says this is a wine, not a sparkling wine, first and foremost!

Solminer – ‘Poils de Chien’ Petnat of Riesling – Coquelicot Vineyard, Santa Ynez, CA 2017

 

Oh lawdy do I love Solminer! Those of you more seasoned Winestronatuts have heard me wax poetic time and time again about David and Anna DeLaski; their amazing farm, delightfully quirky personalities, their chubby goats, their kissable donkey. These people lead the life most fantasize about. They pursue their passion head on and share it generously. They love to educate, to learn, and bring you along on the adventure.


The DeLaskis bought their farm about 5 years ago and have converted it to Biodynamic Farming. At their small 5 acre farm in Los Olivos they focus on growing Austrian varietals like Gruner Veltliner, Blaufrankisch, Riesling, and soon, the 2nd ever Sankt Laurent vineyard in California! They are super into polyculture and raise a variety of plants and livestock, all contributing to the health of their little ecosystem.


The particular magically deep straw-yellow hued, blue wax-tipped masterpiece you hold in your hand is 100% Riesling. Though not grown at their estate, they work closely with the team at nearby Coquelicot vineyard to secure organic certified Riesling for this and a few other projects.

Just like Jacky Blot, the wine is made by harvesting the best possible grapes at peak ripeness (enough to hit about 12-12.5% ABV), pressed and fermented using the indigenous yeast. The only major difference between the wines (other than grape varietal) is that the Solminer sees only 1 year of sur lie aging in bottle before disgorgement. Surprisingly though, I think this wine is more characteristically ‘yeasty’ than the other, with a more forward nutty, almandine and doughy character. This may, honestly, be due to the fact that Solminer is more hands on and delightfully inaccurate when compared with Jacky. David literally hand riddles (twists the bottles a quarter turn every day) and hand disgorges every bottle himself! There is bound to be a tidbit more yeast in each bottle!


I love this wine because it has character. It is vibrantly RIESLING with all of its refreshing acidity and complex exotic flavors. It is also emphatically REAL WINE made by hand and lovingly shepherded along by a man who literally herds sheep. It is honest, it is pure. Just grapes, sweat, and patience. The way wine so-often should be.


Now here’s the real deal:

  • 100% Organic Riesling from Coquelicot Estate Vineyard in Santa Ynez
  • Natural Yeast fermentation
  • Hand riddled and disgorged
  • Absolutely no additions of any kind
  • NO SO2 Added! 
  • Just 100 Cases Produced
  • Pure Bliss

 

So toast this holiday

With your friends and your fam

And drink up!

Drink up!

Wine, from a guy who herds lambs

 

This is December at Satellite



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