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Dec 2020

Satellite Wine Club, December 2020

Syrah So Fresh. Syrah So Raw!


Stolpman So Fresh - ‘Crunchy Rôastie’ Rainbow Edition - Carbonic Syrah - Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara County, CA - 2019 🌈

$38/Bottle,  $259/Case


Matthieu Barret - ‘Petit Ours’ - Syrah - Côtes du Rhône, FR - 2019 🐻

$38/Bottle, $307/Case



We made it to December. I. Am. Shocked. I. Am. Stoked! Nothing about this year has been easy and each of us has borne so much. A continued thank you to each and every member who has stuck on with us, joined our ranks, and supported our little shop in any way. You make it worth it. You make it possible. Thank you in the biggest, loudest, lovingest way from me (Drew) and our whole crew. 


I’ll veer off-topic for a moment to give you the quick update on Satellite. From the December 6th restrictions we’ve had no dine-in service but have converted back to a pure take-away window on State St., continued free nightly delivery, and opened the shop for one-on-one wine shopping. We’ve managed to keep our full staff employed and we’re incredibly proud of that - this team is amazing. We’re getting creative with our services, offering weekly Tuesday night blind tastings starting in January (delivered to your door with a zoom tasting & reveal!), building more family meal kits, and expanding our website to the national scale! More developments coming but look forward to member accounts with automatic special pricing & and pre-arrival wine access 🚀 Satellite is storming into 2021 bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready for anything.


Ok, now back to the meaty little treaties in the December release! 


This month we’re settling into the cold and drinking things that make us warm. Whether it’s the hot apple cider we’ve been pumping from our take-out window or these two bottles of heart warming syrah: we want warmth in lieu of all the hugs we’re missing! 


Syrah is magical. Incredibly dynamic, seductively savory, & truly temperamental varietal. A product of the Alps and Northern Rhône, it’s likely a cross of two largely forgotten grapes: Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche of the Savoie region. It grows vigorously though mortally threatened by small miscalculations in root-stock variety, strong winds, ampelographic attackers like mites & bunch rot, and even its own mystery disease known as Syrah Decline Disorder which often kills vineyards well before their full maturation. 


It is not an easy grape to grow, though, it does love living in certain areas like the Rhône Valley, particularly the vanishingly small vineyards of the northern Rhône (Cornas, Hermitage, Côote Rotie, and St. Joseph). Oh… and you guessed it: Syrah loves Santa Barbara too. Hot, Dry, but not too hot… and certainly not too dry. Our cool nights and hot days, with a soft constant breeze are the ideal climactic conditions. Santa Barbara, you never cease to amaze!


There is one particular place that, more than anywhere, grows the most exciting Syrah in the county. 

Ballard Canyon, the little, podunk, nothing place tucked between Santa Ynez and Los Olivos… It’s a place filled with Syrah (and its other Rhône friends!! It’s here in this magic place, the first village in the Santa Ynez Valley (c. 1880), where Syrah truly sings. It just so happens the biggest grower in the canyon are homies, brilliant growers, and a serious natural winery ;)


This month we end 2020 with a pair of wines fit for both kings and paupers. Simple wines, grown to the peak of natural viticulture, made without ego and very little manipulation. This is Syrah… though “Syr-raw” is maybe more appropriate. 


Stolpman So Fresh - ‘Crunchy Rôastie’ Rainbow Edition - Carbonic Syrah - Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara County, CA - 2019 🌈

$38/Bottle,  $259/Case


The Stolpman family are all local legends. 


Founded in 1990, Tom and Marilyn Stolpman set out on a journey to define the possibilities of the Ballard Canyon appellation. Neophytes in the wine trade, they planted a wide variety of vines to experiment. Fortunately the Stolpman ranch is the largest lot in Ballard with plenty of arable land (if you can call their mostly sand vineyard ‘arable’).


Quickly, their son Peter Stolpman took an interest in the winery. The giant man now manages the whole operation and acts as the energy center for the whole estate. His vision for Stolpman is endless, from amazing natural wine production to a massive 50ft water slide into their lake - Peter breathes life into the place every day. 


Early on the Stolpman’s invited Ruben Solarzano - an enthusiastic young Mexican harvest worker - to join their team as vineyard manager. Nearly 30 years later, Ruben is a master viticulturist, runs his own successful vineyard management company, and is widely known as the “Grape Whisperer”. Under Ruben’s thoughtful guidance he Stolpman Winery & Vineyard steadily improved and matured. Ruben’s commitment to the vine has led him back to the Rhône many times from where he often returns with suitcase cuttings from Cornas. Today a massive mother-plant has grown in the heart of their most precious block, providing healthy cuttings to replace any ailing vines through Selection Massale (a slow and deliberate improvement of vine quality through natural selection). 


The wine is made by an incredible team. Led by Kyle Knapp (you may recall his Skin Contact Grenache Blanc from the wine club!) and assistant winemaker Matt Nocas run a spirited crew of young wine FREAKS like Satellite’s very own Renee! The winery, located in Lompoc, is spotless and kitted out with plenty of capacity - which they sorely need considering their 6 concurrent wine lines (Estate, So Fresh, Combe, Great Places, la Cuadrilla, and Ruben’s ‘Solorzano Projects’). 


Each of these lines have a unique identity and style, though all based in Natural winemaking. We’re focusing on the core of the new Stolpman So Fresh Lineup which focuses on carbonic, whole cluster fermentations & Ø and sulphite wines. The Crunchy Rôastie - Rainbow Edition Syrah before you is, in my humble opinion, the most exciting wine coming out of the winery right now!


How about we taste it?


I’d like to set the scene with a classic internet video quote 100% appropriate in relation to this wine: 


“Whoa, that’s a full rainbow all the way. Double rainbow, oh my god. It’s a double rainbow, all the way. Whoa that’s so intense. Whoa man! Wow! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa ho ho oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Woo! Oh wow! Woo! Yeah! Oh ho ho! Oh my god! Oh my god look at that! It’s starting even to look like a triple rainbow! Oh my god it’s full on! Double rainbow all the way across the sky! Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh god. What does this mean? Oh. Oh my god. Oh. Oh. God. It’s so bright, oh my god it’s so bright and vivid! Oh. Ah! Ah! It’s so beautiful! [Crying? Laughing?] [Pretty sure he’s crying.] [Now he’s laughing and crying.] Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god! Oh my god, it’s a double complete rainbow! Oh right in my front yard. [Laughter] Oh my god. Oh my god, what does it mean? Tell me. [Crying] Too much. I don’t know what it means. [Laughter] [Heavy breathing] Oh my god it’s so intense. Oh. Oh. Oh my god.”



This little beauty is about as close to a double-rainbow-framed acid-fuelled vision quest as I’ve ever found crammed into 750ml. 

This wine is heady with powerful, leaping fresh, tart blueberry notes. The magical flavor preservation of Carbonic Maceration is on display here. It’s like diving into the tank - fresh as a daisy. Layered upon the fruit is a similar dustiness to the Rhône but with less overall ripeness, less blackberry element, less saddle - all replaced by fruit intensity, pop, whiz, bang. The wine is less brooding and more playful


Only slightly less dense in color but with a bit more of a milky cloudiness of suspended lees. Equally violet and brightly colored right up to the rim. 


The palate is more textural, leesier, more tart candy and fresh blueberry than blackberry, it’s tart, it’s lower in abv, it’s got even more acidity. The fruit condition is preserved as though the carbonic ferment locked the freshness of the syrah into that fresh-harvested state or extracted it into a candy. There’s an element of violet, or orange zest, and a distinct finish layered with lees (dead yeast). The lees offers a center to the wine, a gravity that takes it from casual to complex and capable. 


Remarkably, this wine has no added sulphur, simply preserved by a balanced winegrowing methodology of incredibly careful farming, delicate harvest, lowest possible intervention winemaking, and almost no exposure to any oxygen right up to the bottle pop! While minimal in every way, it’s not fragile and can totally hang in the fridge overnight without concern. 


There’s something magical happening in Ballard Canyon and we’re mighty into it. 


Matthieu Barret - ‘Petit Ours’ - Syrah - Côtes du Rhône, FR - 2019 🐻

$38/Bottle, $307/Case


Matthieu Barret is badass. His importer, Bobo Selections, calls him their “Jerry Garcia of the Northern Rhône”. A man completely at one with his land, spiritually intertwined with his geography. 


Biodynamic since 2001, Matthieu holds a rare lonely section of the Loire all his own. It’s a small sub-valley in Cornas with numerous micro-parcels called Vallée du Coulet where Barret builds wines that focus on the ‘purity of savage’. 


A 7th generation winemaker, Barret joined his grandfather making wine in 1997 but quickly updated his process, radically altering his approach. Barret eschews most barrels, focusing instead on the textural benefits of concrete eggs for vinification and aging. Additionally, he’s farmed with animals exclusively since 2012, forgoing machines which can compact soil in the vineyard. The vineyard is dotted with wild oasis amongst the vines, refuges where the forest and vineyard become one and encourage a breadth of diverse species of animals, plants, and mushrooms. His guiding theory is that vines love good company - offering a more healthy ecosystem & profundity of flavors. 


His 11 hectares of Cornas represents more than 1/15th of the entire appellation! He’s a legend, a serious farm-first winemanker, and damn do I love his wines… and the labels on them! 


The wine in your hot ‘lil hands is so special to me. It’s the first wine I had on my last trip to France (Paris, I’ll see you again my love!). We chose it off the list at the amazing Bar Frenchie - a must when visiting the center of the Wine Universe. 


Petit Ours is a special wine for Barret: His largest production, a collab with his dear friend Remy Pouizin, and the adorable label is eponymous as “Petit Ours” or “little bear” is Barret’s childhood nickname. 


Grown just an hour south, in the center of the northern Rhône, just outside the timeless village of Visan. The vineyard sees frigid nights, smouldering days, and a near constant breeze from the dominant Mistral Wind flowing steadily down the valley to the north. Sandy, limestone soils are nearly identical in composition to the Stolpman home vineyard!


Differing from the Stolpman Syrah, the grapes here are destemmed 100% by hand and left to ferment using ambient yeast in a large concrete egg. From here the wine is pressed and aged an additional 9 months in concrete with the gross lees. Through fermentation and aging the natural convection flows of the egg accumulate texture and complexity in the wine and allow for slow micro-oxidation like we have in oak barrels. This process is extremely delicate and clean for the wine, thus, allowing Barret to confidently add just 10ppm of sulfur as an insurance policy for the otherwise totally stable wine.


Wanna taste it?


In the glass it’s intensely violet though not opaque. The wine looks youthful with color right up to the meniscus - revealing little has fallen out of the wine as sediment. 


On the nose it explodes: Smokey, herbal, licorice, dust, sage brush, blackberry and bramble, overripe or desiccated blueberries, iron-cored, and strung together with pancetta wrapped herbs on a slow cook… Take time with this wine, it’s taking you straight to Rhône. The herbal, meaty component sneaks in as the wine opens further with the typical chaparral of the Northern Rhône and the kind of animalistic qualities we can usually expect from the varietal. I’m envisioning a french cowboy eating blueberries & jerky set upon a big, powerful plough-horse who himself is eating wild herbs and grasses in the dusty hot endless hills and valleys of the northern Rhône. It’s French cowboy wine, OK!?

On the palate it’s lovely, intense but not aggressive. Medium tannins, lots of acidity, both fresh-picked, and yet, developing complexity and serious secondary flavors. Alcohol is definitely present on the palate @ 14.07% though the real total is likely lower (tariffs only apply to wines under 14% abv!) 😉 Get your savings where you can!


This wine is completely stable and continues to open for hours and days. I love how fresh and yet layered and sneakily so complex it becomes. A perfect destemmed pairing for our local, whole cluster Crunchy Rôastie!


Cheers to you Winestronaut!


If you go down in the vines today

You're sure of a big surprise

If you go down in the vines today

You'd better go in disguise!


For every bear that ever there was

Will gather there for certain

Because today's the day the

Teddy Bears drink Syrah


This is December at Satellite.

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