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Feb 2020

Satellite Wine Club, February 2020

‘Love and Grapes’

Ampeleia - ‘UnLitro’ Red Blend - Costa Toscana, IT - 2018

Broc Cellars - ‘Love Red’ - North Coast - Mendocino + Solano County, CA - 2018


February is love. 

It’s flowers sprouting. It’s hearts melting. It’s days lengthening. It’s football finalés, valentines kisses, and leap days. I love February… regardless of my minimal romantic engagements! I think it’s a month of clarity, alignment, and direction. So, Winestronaut, let us set our intentions.

What intentions have we? Healthy livin’, fun every day, wide open hearts, pursuit of the truth, a surrender to delicious flavor! Let these auspicious goals guide you as you dip our beaks into this month’s earthly delights! 

This month we’re looking at the fruitful, honest juices of two profoundly influential wineries. Italy’s Ampeleia: one of the most ambitious natural wineries in Europe, led by the fierce and brilliant Eliabetta Foradori. And Broc Cellars: A foundational natural urban winery founded by Chris Brockaway in Berkeley, CA. 

These two wines speak the same language. Blends of lesser known grapes, each essential to the history of their regions but largely written off.  They taste like springtime. They feel light and energetic on the palate yet profoundly substantial. They speak to one another in style, standards, ethics, and honest-to-goodness fun. These wines kick ass, hide nothing, and reflect all the passion, pourity, and love that went into their production. 

This month we dive into two lightly colored, deeply textured wines which ask little more than an invite to a rocking party or an intimate night in. 


(Just the right thing for a successful February! You’re Welcome! ♡)

Ampeleia - ‘UnLitro’ Red Blend - Costa Toscana, IT - 2018

Located in Western, Coastal Tuscany in the high mountain village of Roccatederighi on the Colline Metallifere (Metalliferous Hills) just some 10 miles from the Mediterranean, Ampeleia is the stuff of dreams. 

Roccatederighi is a village dominated by stone, its boundaries are entirely defined by the cliffs which it hugs. Primeval outcrops rise above ancient homes throughout the village. It’s highest towers scrape the sky just inches above eons-weathered monoliths. This settlement clings to its mountain slopes, vividly at the mercy of nature’s dominance over its fate. The juxtaposition of society and nature is ever-present here; their intermingling tangible and overwhelming. A 10th century monastery and 13ths century Castle sit like tiny toy buildings on the back of a giant. This place appears to detour history, as though it has always existed - carved into existence by an Italian master. 

What an incredible setting for one of the most ambitious wine projects in the country. Ampeleia is the brainchild of three brilliant Northern Italians: Entrepreneur Giovanni Podini, Politician Thomas Widmann, and the queen of Italian Natural Winegrowing: Elisabetta Foradori. 

Known for her Northern Dolomite wines made from Teroldego and Nosiola grapes, Elisabetta is a visionary natural winegrower. Since 2002 she has farmed only biodynamically, honoring the power of nature to provide all the essentials for a healthy vineyard with the best possible quality grapes. Her methods have been rewarded with ever-better vintages and endless hoards of young hopefuls knocking down her door for unpaid internships. Long time winestronauts will remember her 2017 Teroldego from early 2019’s club release… that was a hot one. 

Ampeleia follows all of the rules that Foradori pioneered. Organic, biodynamic farming practices - Native Yeast fermentations - No SO2 during winemaking, minimal additions at bottling - integration with and promotion of the rich local biodiversity - Constant improvement of both the land and wines. 

This one liter bottle - ‘Un Litro’, literally - is magical. Not only is it the cutest little stubby bottle we’ve ever seen, but it happens to be the most excellently crushable juice too. This wine is the pride of the estate, the one that keeps the lights on, guides the approach on everything else. It is a foundation. The wine is meant to be simple, truly a table wine, with all of the essential properties needed to pair with diverse cuisine, seasons, and scenes. This wine is a panacea for all that ails you. It’s the cure to mediocrity! 

Made from a majority of Alicante (the local name for Grenache), with a little smattering of Carignan, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, and Sangiovese. The fruit comes from the lower altitude vineyards - all warmer and more influenced by the salty warm air off the mediterranean. These vineyards, some 700-1200ft above the sea, are lined with fruit and cork trees framing epic vistas of the mediterannean. Wild flowers dominate the hills as much as the vine rows themselves, while the hearty old vines churn out vintage after vintage of ever more salty, more savory, more deeply fruited UnLitro’s.

Poured from its funny little bottle, the wine is a ruby-orange colored, radiating a levity and brightness with none of the deep extracted blackness found in so many other Mediterannean grenache wines. Though not filtered nor fined, the wine is a bright, clear, unclouded liquid that catches the light in such a way that grabs your eyes. The aromatics do the same to the nose! A dense, crunchy, frutti di boschi and herbal/pine wood cacophony tugs at my face. This wine reminds me of the scent of my favorite men’s stores, the ones that totally immerse you in an aroma of exotic woods, bay rum, menthol, and sage… just add tart cherry and here we are! The wine is no slouch on the nose, nor the palate. It’s complex characteristics only amplify on the tongue, dancing from so many ‘man scent’ potpourri notes to that tart cherry and plum, to tangerine zest and exotic myrrh. The wine also does not forget it’s coastal roots, as layers of saltiness accumulate a sense of cured meat or mushroom that sends my mind into ‘eat-mode’ (I just came up with eat mode… and I’m not ashamed). This wine truly goes with any cuisine. It’s levitous enough for any leafy veggies, tart enough to fear no fat, rich enough to handle a litany of beefy meats, and complex enough to captivate the mind in a foodless wasteland!

Am I crazy to call this one of my favorite wines of all time? I’m doing it! This wine is one of the greatest wines I’ve ever had, and friend, I’ve had a lot of wine. It’s got everything I want, including an extra 250ml per bottle, and all at a price that invites another bottle (a case perhaps?). In a world of ever increasing tariffs and over-hyped fancy wines, UnLitro steals show. 

Get it while you can because it’ll be gone by March! This February is all about a liter. (seriously, stock up now... cases available from Satellite for a limited time only!)


Broc Cellars - ‘Love Red’ - North Coast - Mendocino + Solano County, CA - 2018

Founded in 2006, Chris Brockaway’s urban winery in Berkeley, CA helped create the movement you’re enjoying at Satellite right now. Perhaps he wasn’t the first, and no, his is not even the loudest voice, but what Chris has accomplished at Broc Cellars is nothing short of Revolution. 

Chris Brockaway founded Broc as a truly natural winery, well before it was cool, about a decade before in fact. His wines focus exclusively on pesticide-free grapes sourced from deeply expressive vines across the entirety of California. His many labels honor the lesser known grapes and regions of our great state, always with an unobscured, undressed style which makes natural wine so compelling. His wines speak the terroir of the forgotten and unsung corners of California winegrowing. 

Though he is not a full-time grape grower, Brockaway knows vines and can find a diamond in a dung pile when it comes to great vineyards. His reach extends from Coastal Northern Mendocino, to the high Sierra Foothills, all the way down to our lovely Santa Ynez Valley here in Santa Barbara. He has a knack for finding just the right fruit, often stepping in while the big, over powered wineries back off. His average wine sits around 12% alcohol, with plenty of freshness and acidity, no new oak, and hardly any SO2 if any at all. His wines are traditional in the sense that they could be found in any small European natural wine cellar. They’re about freshness and crisp energy rather than overwhelming strength and 100 point ratings. I love this style of winemaking. Never for points - Only for Love. 

So what is the ‘Love Red’? Aside from being unbelievably delicious? Well it’s wine from grapes grown organically in Mendocino County and Green Valley in Solano County. The Arrowhead Mountain and Buck Hill Vineyards are both over 70 years old, dry farmed, bush vine vineyards (these vines are literally pruned like little bushes!). The wine is made from mainly Carignan (77%) with a noticeable chunk of Valdiguié and Syrah to both brighten and deepen it’s complex yet juicy profile. 

I love how well this wine compares with the Unlitro from Tuscany. In your glass (or staring through the wonderful clear glass bottle), you’ll find that same lightness and clarity, only more purpley-murlpley, a gift from the Syrah and Valdiguié. The nose is equally powerful too, just more fruit driven with a fresh picked blackberry, blueberry, bubblegum sage flavor party. There’s substance here, layered in floral components, lots of tart fruit, lots of savory sunbaked herbs. You definitely catch more overt fruit on the nose here, and yeah, that’s California! On the palate “hello juice”. It’s dangerously smooth and inviting, touching all parts of the tongue, the gums, the roof of the mouth. I feel this wine everywhere, instantly. It is electric, and yet so fruit-juicey, so crystal clear, and straight-fun. I feel somehow, like this wine knows me too well!! Like the Unlitro too, it works with any kind of food (or unfortunate lack thereof). It has a presence all its own, fresh & unadulterated fruit, lots of acid structure to keep it fresh, an incredible intensity, and yet low tannins and a long, evolving finish with layered texture that invites a second, third, and 100th swig. 

There is simplicity here, good clean fun, ya know? The wines of Broc Cellars have this ease about them, they’re familiar and they are delicious. It doesn’t hurt that they’re amongst the best and most reliable natural wineries around. 

Kick back this month winestronaut! It’s sexy-time! 


Wines made new,

Just for you,

And your boo. 

To canoodle,

And doodle, 

Make sweet lovin’ too!

Baby - It’s February,

Go You! 

Sexy light Reds, That’s February at Satellite. 

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