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June 2021

Satellite Wine Club, June 2021

The Young Guns of Gamay - CALIFORNIA EDITION

Disko Wine Co - Gamay - Oak Savannah Vineyard - Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, CA - 2020

$35 Retail, $336/Case ($28/Bottle)

Outward Wines - Gamay - Presqu’ile Vineyard - Santa Maria Valley, CA - 2020

$51 Retail, $490/Case ($40.80/Bottle)


I hope you’re okay with a bit of Gamay. Well… I guess I should say that you better be ready for a lottle bit of Gamay. Not only are we diving into it head-freaking-first this month… but I’ve got plans for us down the road! 

“Why is this guy so into Gamay?” a winestronaut might ponder. It’s simple: I am captivated by it. It does everything. It tastes good in so many forms. It can be made fast and released young, the very best can age for decades, the juice can be pressed and made into a white sparkling wine, a rosé, a sweet dessert wine! It’s made carbonically, or foot-stomped whole-cluster, or destemmed, or a mix of the above. In fact: Satellite carries every.single.one.of.these.styles

A lot of you will know Gamay like an old friend. Then again, a lot of you will say “Gam-who?”. Doesn’t-Matter… These wines are so delicious you won’t be able to avoid learning something this month and really, that’s what I’m here for! 

Here’s a quick primer on Gamay before we dive in: 

Gamay hails from Eastern France, from the magical hills of Beaujolais, wedged right between Burgundy to the north and the Northern Rhône to the South. Just minutes north of Lyon, the region is quite literally packed with Gamay. Pull up a map, switch to satellite imagery, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a long strip of blocky agricultural fields extending seamlessly north from Lyon through Macon and on to Dijon in the north of Burgundy. The only real change is that as the soil becomes more chalky as we head north, and thusly, the gamay gives way to pinot noir… It’s a long story but, of course, this peculiar division has everything to do with a 14th century nobleman’s wine preferences. Ugh! 

Regardless, this whole strip of Burg/Bojo/Rhône is an easy contender for the greatest wine producing zone in the world… I mean, you have it all here. Lyon, I am coming for you! But, dear winestronaut, that is not to say we in Santa Barbara don’t have also have “It”... Because we totally do! We’re doing amazing things here with these grapes! However, the traditions in these classic French regions define and guide our local winemaking so it’s worth getting into it… so let’s get into it!

To the layperson, the nouveau-Winestronaut, if you will: Beaujolais is Gamay and Gamay is Beaujolais. While we’re not there in person this month, we’re there in spirit. Defining the styles and the corresponding geographic appellations is an exercise that really helps to understand the vast breadth of gamay styles we commonly see. (Note: I am leaving out the very minor sparkling & rosé styles as well as chardonnay-based Bojo... though they are delicious!)

Let’s start from the bottom up:

  • Beaujolais Nouveau: This is the first released wine of Bojo, annually released on the third Thursday of November on the same vintage as the harvest. Nouveau, literally new, is considered the lowest tier in cost and quality as it is generally made from younger vines, lesser vineyards (with a few exceptions) and meant to drink young and casually as the autumn turns to winter. The main key here is that the wine must be vinified using carbonic maceration: that magical non-yeast fermentation that occurs when whole, unbroken grape clusters are left sealed in an oxygen-free tank. The intracellular fermentation occurs when the enzymes in the grape begin to convert sugars to alcohol without yeast. It’s magical and the main take-away is that this delicate fermentation results in a fresh, bubble-gummy, low-tannin, chillable, non-ageworthy wine that is simply delicious and amongst the most gluggable things ever.
  • Beaujolais AOC: Covering the same area and producers as the Nouveau appellation (and technically including Nouveau within it) this is the most common and broadly variable appellation. It includes all 96 villages of Beaujolais and can range from super serious wine from lesser known areas to very common, simple wines from the more respected villages.
  • Beaujolais Villages AOC: Now we’re getting a bit more serious. Encompassing only the northern area of the region and its 39 core villages, this appellation designates an area Italians might think of as the classico area, where soils, climate, and tradition are most respected. While higher quality is not a rule one can expect villages wines to call for more money and offer more serious wine. While Nouveau can still technically be made under this designation it is far less common. I’d place our Disko under this umbrella if we’re comparing SB to BOJO!
  • Beaujolais Cru AOC: Let’s get serious. At the highest end of quality and rarity the 12 individual village Crus or Growths refer to the small, very most desirable areas in the region. From Fleurie on the lighter end to Brouilly and Morgon on the more powerful, these wines generally eschew the bubble gum notes of carbonic maceration entirely, instead producers fully destem or entirely crush their clusters to start a traditional yeast fermentation. The wines here are generally more serious, longer-lived, with more complexity, apparent terroir, and savory characters geared toward pensive drinking and food pairing. The Outward Gamay from Presqu'ile vineyard is made in this style and the comparison is clear as day on the palate. 

  • So, while we might not drinketh from the cup of Beaujolais this month, we are definitely reaping the benefit of centuries of their Research & Development! 

    This month we dive into a pair of beautiful local Gamays. These wines were made by the next generation of local winemakers and represent both the incredible quality possible here and the emerging new wave of natural wines in our region.  

    Grab a glass, let’s pull some corks!

    Disko Wine Co - Gamay - Oak Savannah Vineyard - Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, CA - 2020

    $35 Retail, $336/Case ($28/Bottle)

    New New New! Brand New Winery Alert! Let me tell you a thing or two about Disko!

    Sean Hogan is a homie and his is a name you’ll hear a lot more of in local wine news. Nephew to legendary local natural winemaker Mike Roth, of Lo-Fi - Sean is equal parts creativity and raw talent. For the past few years as Assistant Winemaker at Coquelicot, he’s helped Mike make their organic certified wines better and better, with less manipulation and ever-more quality. Remember that Chardonnay month earlier this year? Sean made the Coquelicot Chard that was lights OUT!! 

    With a scruffy beard, luxuriously long hair, and a well-worn trucker hat, Sean does not advertise as “excellent winemaker”, however, his wine tells a different story. This year he released his premier vintage under his new “Disko Wines” label and, well, I’ve got Disko Fever.

    Now for a little taste, this time right out of the fridge - I like this one CHILLY!

    100% Carbonically produced this wine is rooty tooty fresh and fruity! Immediately generous on the cork pop, it’s got this hazy ruby coloring in the glass.. Inviting and not too serious ;)

    On the nose it’s clear that this is a wine for drinking - chugging even! I’m hit with a fresh cherry raspberry smash, green tops and stems included! It’s not jammy, it’s freshness captured in situ - like someone hopped in the picking basket and started stomping around! There’s also something more profound, exotic and spiced layered in. Sagey like so many of our local wines. I can’t ignore the parallel tones of bubble gum that accompany all the real fruit flaves. That’s what’s so fun about carbonic wines, they always carry that kirsch/bubblegum note that exudes FUN! 

    On the palate, YEP, this is dangerously easy drinking. I worry, as I gulp this down, that Sean didn’t produce more. It’s 100% about the fruit here. The bubblelicious brightness amplifies on the palate, the cherrys bing and bang and slosh around on a backdrop of dusty terroir and sagey herbal tea.  It’s that much more incredible if you’ve tasted this gamay out in the Oak Savannah Vineyard - the fruit is immaculately preserved here, as is the surrounding scene. What a treat. 

    Light, fresh, brightly fruited, refreshing, and totally true. The wine really rocks.

    This wine will not last so if you do love it, let me know and we’ll set you up with a case! 

    Outward Wines - Gamay - Presqu’ile Vineyard - Santa Maria Valley, CA - 2020

    $51 Retail, $490/Case ($40.80/Bottle)

    Ryan Pace and Natalie Siddique are rad. Literally radical. Besides winemaking, this badass couple can be found scaling some of the most dangerous faces on the west coast. I mean this week Ryan proposed to Natalie on the peak of an epic rock wall. Congratulations to our wonderful friends!

    Beyond their generally badass climbing, lovely demeanor, and cute adventure photos - these guys make great wine… With another couple we love! Up in San Luis Obispo, Natalie and Ryan share their winery space with Mikey and Gina Giugni - AKA Scar of the Sea and Lady of the Sunshine! We’re huge fans of Lady & the Scar, and now their badass counterparts. Like Mikey and Gina, The Outwarders are minimalists in the winery, maximalists in the vineyard. They only source from Sustainable, Organic, and Biodynamic sites, focusing their winemaking energy on only the healthiest and most vibrant fruit. They make wine just the way we like it. 

    In terms of this wine it was dead simple: pick the best fruit available from Presqu’ile in Santa Maria, bring it back to SLO. Stomp it. Wait a few weeks. Press it. Barrel it. Wait. Bottle it. VOILÁ! Sure - there’s a whole lot of organizing, cleaning, hemming, hawwing, and dreaming that went into this as well, but in terms of winemaking: that’s it! Here follows a little primer from the gang:

    “Presqu'ile Vineyard, located on the southwestern end of the Santa Maria Valley AVA, is a very cold and coastal site with a strong influence from the ocean. Cold fog and wind infiltrate this vineyard and help to lengthen the growing season, allowing the fruit more time on the vine to develop complexity of flavor. The vineyard is farmed organically.

    This Gamay underwent a native fermentation with 100% whole clusters included. After 11 days on the skins and stems, the wine was racked to neutral oak barrels and completed a native malolactic fermentation. After 7 months in neutral oak, the wine was bottled with minimal sulfur and without fining or filtration.”

    POW. This wine fills the air instantly when the cork pops. The definition of Gamay scent pours from the bottle. Dark red spicy cherry fruit in high definition and 10/10 power. Serious sommeliers might mistake it for syrah at first, it’s dark and brooding with verve running through it on both palate and nose. POW is right! 

    Let’s attempt to break this baby down. There is so much to say!! 

    First things first: yes, this wine is loud and up front. From the second I pull the cork it’s just in the face with crunchy black cherry, pomegranate, sexy exotic wood, dried herbs and spices. 

    In the glass it’s deeper in color, with less haze and more of a deep purplishness running the ruby. Similarly clear, just darker and more brooding. 

    Beyond just color, this wine is clearly deeper. Deeper in scent, and palate, and even the fruit condition.

    On the palate it’s more structural, more extracted, more textured, acidic, more serious. This wine has physical presence, in a good way. 

    While racy, it maintains a serious depth and power that persists through the finish. Beyond those ripe black cherry & pomagranate notes, coastal herbs, and dusty earth, the wine is striped with sandalwood or palo santo like a manly cologne. It’s a great pairing with anything from cheese and lighter veggies through to meaty dishes, particularly a BBQ feast. Heck… I’m drinking it on its own and I must say, YUM.

    Looking at the Disko! this is gamay in a completely other way, though there really is very little differing in the processing of these two wines. If the DISKO! Is somewhere between a nouveau and the broad Beaujolais AOC style, this wine fits the most serious Cru designation. I’m taken to Brouilly or Côte de Brouilly when I taste it. It wears the darker fruit, spice, and savoriness of those Crus, but with an increased saltiness and coastal herbiness that can only be from the central coast of California. The fog pulls no punches here (nor does the salt laden beach-sand of the Presqu'ile Vineyard)! 

    Feel free to drink this wine straight away, but give it a decant or some time open before you demolish it… you’ll be rewarded with layer upon layer of crystalline coastal scenery and the clearest of fruits. It’s powerful. It’s dramatic. It’s really serious. But overall it’s just really damn good wine. 

    Gamay two ways: This is June at Satellite. 

     ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ 

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