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May 2019

Satellite Wine Club, May 2019

Krater - Gamay Noir - Barsotti Vineyard - El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, CA


Sarnin-Berrux - Gamay Noir - ‘le Bojo-Sutra’ - Beaujolais, FR 2018


It’s GaMAY. Yes. This wonderful May is a month of growth, sunshine, warm days, fresh produce, and the wonderful reassurance that Summer is here. There’s a grape for that. 

Gamay is your wine this month (approved for all months, really, but especially GaMAY). It’s the flavor of the season. Crunchy, fresh fruit flavors echo the flavors of the farmers market. Blackberries, Blueberries, Tart Cherries, and hey - even a bit of spice for Cinco de GaMayo. Hola amigo. 

What is Gamay? It’s a black grape that came to popularity in Burgundy all the way back in the early days of the last millenia, only to be banned there by the Duc Philippe le Hardi in Dijon in the 14th century... In deference to Pinot Noir. This ill-treated but widely loved grape found a safe home just south of the Duc’s command in the many soils of Beaujolais. There it has become synonymous with the name of the region as the only grape allowed in Beaujolais Red Wines.

‘Bojo’ is made in just about every level of quality, from thin, juicey, raced-to-market Nouveau styles, to long-lived, deep, and borderline-erotic style from the great Village cru’s like Morgon, Chénas, and Chiroubles to name just three of ten (get to know them… it’s a hot list that will benefit you when picking a bottle on your next hot date!). What’s best about Beaujolais is what lies in those most precious vineyards - where dedicated, hard labouring farmers are serenaded by the rewards of Biodynamic Farming. The best Beaujolais wines, in this humble wine glugger’s mind, show intense purity and showcase the magic of expressive fruit, clarity of place, and a distinct lack of winemaker. 

The Beaujolais wines and Gamay wines in general which I love most are those that transport me to the vineyard, without any barriers, no makeup, no alterations. These wines drink like a romantic picnic on a warm spring day, eating fresh fruit low to the earth, with violets blooming nearby. Gamay, done with a delicate, even transparent hand, are amongst the most honest wines I have ever tasted… and I’m realizing you might have gotten that point quite a few lines back in this love-letter. I like Gamay, ok?

So why these Gamays?

Label, obviously! Sex and Space stuff, why would we ever buy anything else!?

Yes the labels are awesome (have you seen all six of these Bojo-Sutra labels, I mean come on! Gotta catch’em all!!), but there is so much more going on inside the erotic and the meteoric depictions. These wines speak to each other. 

Made in almost the same, classic carbonic style popularized in Beaujolais, we are stripping away the variables and showcasing the magic of Terroir. These wines are brothers from different mothers, and delicious all the same. 

Both wines are:

  • Grown on intensely granitic soils of very similar composition
    • The Barsotti vineyard is one of the only grape growers in California on Pink Granite (the type found in Beaujolais)
  • Fermented Carbonically for 4-5 days (whole cluster in a sealed, oxygen-free tank where the enzymes inside the grapes convert sugar to alcohol) 
  • Foot stomped and fermented wildly (with naturally occurring yeasts) after Carbonic fermentation
  • Aged 3-4 months in neutral barrels
  • Bottled with No SO2 (Bojo) or very little SO2 (Krater)
  • 13-13.5% Alcohol
  • Delicious - With distinctly similar flavors but real personalities

Now, let’s dive in to the bottles on their own!

Krater - Gamay Noir - Barsotti Vineyard - El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, CA


Krater is two dudes. David and Britt are old college pals who share a love of books, the great canadian TV Show: Trailer Park Boys, and natural minimalist winemaking. They trekked out to california in pursuit of the wine world after graduating from St. Johns University in NYC, a world away from the dramatic Sierra Foothills. 

Outside of their main gigs as assistant winemakers at small Sonoma wineries, these guys work together from a shared winemaking space called Punchdown Cellars - a home for small creative wineries to share equipment, inspiration, and information. Their small budding project is blooming into something really special, with super small production (the gamay has 26 cases TOTAL production!) of classically inspired, minimalist wines from absolutely epic vineyards across California. Yes, they’re not from Santa Barbara, but hey, this wine is worth deviating for a month for! 26 cases! Come on!

Before I go too far, I’ll have Britt and David explain why they call it Krater:

“Our winery name, Krater, comes from ancient Greek culture. A krater was a large decorated bowl or vase used during symposiums to mix the wine with water and serve the guests. It was the centerpiece of the room during these social events and came to have many symbolic meanings. A krater filled with wine and diluted to a moderate level of alcohol helped open up the guests for creativity, dialogue, poetry, music, dancing, and games. (We don't recommend diluting our wine with water but we do try to keep the alcohol levels naturally low.) The consumption of wine was observed as a communal activity, not a solitary act. Wine in proper settings and in moderate amounts was revered. Elevated to forms of art, kraters served as symbols for a community coming together in friendship. 

Geological craters in fact take their name from these wine bowls. Craters are wonderful features of rocky planets. They cover our moon, barely changed since the great bombardment billions of years ago, and they reveal active or slumbering or long dead volcanoes on our own planet. The volcanism of earth is the great generator of new rocks and soils and lands. So our name comes from the Greek symposium and a connection to our classical studies at St. John's, and our labels evoke planet formation, active geology, and the sheer joy of gazing at the moon, craters, and falling stars.​”

These people speak my language. 

The Barsotti Vineyard in El Dorado County is particularly amazing. At 2600ft of altitude it’s amongst the highest in California which makes for excellent growing conditions (if you want to keep your vines stressed and on their ‘toes’... which we do). It’s situated idyllically near the end of a alpine river canyon which brings cool, whistling air down to wash over the vines alleviating pest pressure and keeping hot summer air at bay (keep that fruit from raisining!). These productive little vines were cut and grafted to Gamay in 2000, having plenty of time to mature. The kicker is that they’re planted in pink granite, just like we find all over Beaujolais! 

In the vineyard they’re keeping it straight classic, just like the Sarnin Berrux Bojo: Carbonic whole-cluster fermentation, foot stomped to start primary fermentation with wild occuring yeasts, no temperature control, aging 4 months in neutral oak, tiny amount of SO2 only at bottling. That’s amoré. 

In the glass this wine is straight fresh fruit and lilac. I get a blue hued bouquet of blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and a little black cherry. The delicate notes of mountain flowers emanate on the periphery and show a clear preservation of the finest elements of the juice. On the palate it smacks of fresh fruit echoing the nose, a mineral power comes straight attcha boosting the limited tannins with a slight salinity and increased texture. As with many wines in this category I’m reminded of the delicious shortbread cookies with fresh jam that I would regularly annihilate as a little kid. There’s a sweetness in here, and I really like it.

A long finish lingers alllllll up and all over the mouth. It’s all sweet memories and wine dreams in here. YUM. 

$45.00 at Satellite


Sarnin-Berrux - Gamay Noir - ‘le Bojo-Sutra’ - Beaujolais, FR 2018

Oh my. 

The legend that is Bojo Sutra finally arrived. This is a wine I’ve been hoping to get my hands on for over a year now… and yes, it’s because of the label. I’ve known about Sarnin-Berrux since devouring most of my allocation of their own vineyard Gamay from Burgundy last year. The winery is fully natural, focusing on their own Biodynamic fruit. I love what they do. 

Located directly between the legendary Burgundy Villages of Volnay and Mersault, these dudes are bringing a different, more naturally focused style to your cup. 

Here’s a word on their project from Jean-Pascal Sarnin and  Jean-Marie Berrux (cool names, eh?)

“Adherents of sustainable development and respect for the environment, we strive to produce quality wines, natural and alive, from grapes that we buy mainly from winemakers practicing organic farming.

These wines are produced in a traditional and ancestral way but with the help of modern technology: thus, we respect the grapes as much as possible and then the wine by not using any oenological products (except for a slight sulphiting before the bottling) and in limiting manipulation as much as possible, while relying on modern equipment.

The use of a pneumatic press allows a great respect of the harvest. Vinification takes place without input (sulfur, yeasts, enzymes, etc ...). It will be the same for the [aging] which will be done on lees until the single racking preceding the bottling by gravity.”

This wine is sourced from a friends biodynamic vineyard in the southern Beaujolais Village of Régnie, a village I keep falling in love with. Being in the south this legendary 2018 vintage makes for more powerful fruit forward powerhouse, even if it’s a more casual styled wine. 

In the glass you’re hit with an intoxicating pwoof, similar to the Krater but perhaps more ripe blueberry and black cherry. There’s a typical, tertiary scent of old-world honesty, a sense that this wine knows what’s up. On the palate it leaps up with a super bright clear fruit of crunchy black cherry, fresh like bitten off the tree! That old-world honesty is reflected on the palate, it’s not a dirty flavor but one of spatial essence. It’s as though the air of the vineyard has been liquefied and distilled into the wine. The freshness of this wine is enviable, flowers bloom on the palate. What a REAL WINE!

Tasting recommendation: open this bottle a little in advance, serve it chilled to cellar temp, we’re always aiming for 58º people! Serve a little at a time as watch it evolve as it opens up, evolving, opening, becoming almost fresher with each sip. 

I don’t know what to say other than this wine is so good, so much what I’m looking for, not just from Gamay but in the way wine production should be done. It’s purity captured and shared. What’s cooler than that!

$28 at Satellite!

April Showers 

Bring gaMAY Flowers

Put some in your glass

And lie in the grass

Let it give you

Natural Powers!

This is May at Satellite. 

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