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Sept 2021

Satellite Wine Club, September 2021

Gamay… AGAIN! 

Anne Sophie Dubois - ‘Les Cocottes’ - Gamay - Fleurie, Beaujolais, FR - 2019

$52 Retail, $499/Case ($41.6/Bottle)

Storm x Satellite Collab - ‘Galactic Gamay’ - Presqu’ile & Donnachadh Vineyards - Santa Barbara County, CA - 2020

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


Yes, I get it. OKAY! We carry a lot of Gamay. Gamay might as well be our mascot. It’s crushable, it’s full of fruit, it’s carefree, generally low abv, great with tons of food, often a cheap date! Not to mention it’s one of the driving varietals behind the natural wine world’s explosion over the past decade. It requires sweat in the vineyard, but loves a light hand in the winery.

Gamay is Satellite in a bottle. So, Satellite put Gamay in a bottle! 

As the final pièce de resistance of our 2020 vintage collaborations Satellite partnered with one of my best wine buds, Ernst Storm, on a Gamay that is quite honestly AWESOME. 

Now a little on Gamay… November (not September!) is the traditional month when Gamay (of the thin, Beaujolais Nouveau style) enters the conversation. Beaujolais Day, the fourth Thursday of November, is the big release for the first Beaujolais wine of the current vintage and it's a big deal around the world. While these thin and juicy wines are rarely interesting… It is a very brilliant marketing ploy that’s been a boon for (mostly) the largest conglomerate-type producers in the region. Sure, we carry wines made in this style because they're fun - but this month we’re releasing something significant;y more serious. 

I love Gamay with Thanksgiving dinner (this is the best Turkey wine, hands down, no contest, boo ya) BUT I think it’s equally a terrific late summer wine. It’s got the levity of the summer, likes a bit of a chill even in its most serious forms, and brings a spice and quality of fruit that tells me “hey man, it’s ok, summer might be ending but look at all this great wine you get to drink whilst shivering at home in the dark!!” - Thanks Gamay! You make everything okay!

These wines are a blast. They’re like your best friend - the one who is always down to hang on the beach or at the fabulous ball. Reach for them! They’re always there!

Winestronaut… I love gamay and I don’t care who knows it. 

Anne Sophie Dubois - ‘Les Cocottes’ - Gamay - Fleurie, Beaujolais, FR - 2019

$52 Retail, $499/Case ($41.6/Bottle)

Anne Sophie Dubois is a badass. 

Born in Champagne, Trained in Burgundy, Home in Beaujolais. She defies tradition and embodies the new path of the French Vigneronne.

When we think of French wine regions and their prestige Champagne and Burgundy always come first (likely with Bordeaux close behind). It’s rare that a Champagnoisse, trained in the elegance of Burgundy, would find her voice and establish her estate in the ever-hinterland, renegade region of Beaujolais. I think it’s perfect. 

While the prestige regions of France are largely unattainable for their expense, Bojo remains a safe harbor for those looking to make their own way with little but skill, dreams, and fervor. And it’s there, in the bucolic commune of Fleurie (with a budding population of 1,275) where we find Anne Sophie and her 8 hectares (some 20 acres). Her vines are farmed fully organically and most of her plots are old, some planted 60+ years ago. 

Anne Sophie is a winegrower - First and Foremost. She believes, firmly, that 80% of winemaking is done in the vineyard… for those of you newer winestronauts - that’s truly the Satellite wine ethos. Her vines are hearty and don’t ask for much… aside from constant attention! They’re situated some 400m altitude on steep 30% grade slopes above the village, all facing the setting sun to the West Southwest where they mature slowly and develop deep complexity in the grapes. They also grow in some of the most exciting soils on earth: rare pink granite mixed with sand and stones for great drainage and intense mineral expressions in her wines - not good for quantity, just excellent quality. 

All of the vineyard work is bloody hard manual labor - with a tiny crew of 7 she works on every single plant by hand. She believes her vineyard is an ecosystem, even a living organism itself and is careful not to break the balance. Anne Sophie always leaves grass, with very superficial tilling to not kill the diverse herbs nor the deeper mycelium structures that unite all the organisms living in the soil. Like her wines, the vineyard is fully alive.

For a deeper dive narrated by Anne Sophie I really recommend her awesome website. Great pictures, great language, obvious French to English translation… dogs! It has it all!

Tasting Notes:

This wine is serious. In the glass it’s colored just the same as the Storm, perhaps minutely leaning more to earth tones… as if the color brown somehow whispered to the ruby purple murple in my glass. Not at all brown, just an earthier shade. Still, totally clear and transparent while deep and pervasively colored. 

On the nose it’s got something more to it - both farm and elegant perfume; I get the fruit but the star of this nose is entirely an idea rather than a flavor. I get a sense that a human made this, with love. Can you get that element of sweat, the good kind, in it like I can? There’s complexity here, elegance but not the kind that’s bought or engineered - it’s the kind that nature gives you. This might sound a little melodramatic but it’s seriously what I get from this wine. Yes - black berry, cranberry. Yes - complex herbs and an exotic kind of holy wood, cigar box perhaps. But there really is more.

On the palate it’s all confirmed and accentuated once more. You get the powerful fruit, harvested at this kind-of peak preservation of freshness. It’s both dark fruited and yet zippy with so much refreshing acidity like you’d find in a pomegranate or a tangerine. All of those same complex herbs, clove, star anise, even nutmeg make an appearance and make me hungry for the holidays. At the same time there is something else, again. I’ll use a metaphor that might make sense - this wine is like a well loved book given to you by someone you love. They read the book, and carried it around in their bag, and under their arm. It’s new, but the pages are worn and it reminds you of them - sometimes just when you turn a page and see a smudge from their thumb, other times when you literally smell the flower they pressed in the page, maybe you catch a little of that underarm… and it’s good ;) It’s a real wine. Though the flavors do kind-of muddle, there’s a high definition to them all the same. That makes it an emotional wine for me, it reminds me of someone I love… and that my friends is goooooood winemaking. 

Structurally this wine is outstanding. The length goes on and on (I mean… that last paragraph was written on about two sips!), it’s got this incredible, almost peevish way of giving you more, new flavor well after your last taste. It’s got all the texture but a crushably light palate and just enough tannin to give tension and a balance to food pairings. Might I recommend Turkey? 

It’s glorious. It’s beautiful. It’s the kind of wine I want every day. 

Gobble Gobble! 

Storm x Satellite Collab - ‘Galactic Gamay’ - Presqu’ile & Donnachadh Vineyards - Santa Barbara County, CA - 2020

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

Ernst Storm is a maniac. I love him. 

He recently told me about the time he poured his wines beside Anne Sophie Dubois at a tasting with one of his importers in northern Europe. They spent all day beside each other but, in typical French fashion, she ignored him all day and bailed before ever tasting his wines! 🤣🤣

Little did she know that this South African expat was making some of the great wines of California… and in a feisty, secondary region that’s coming of age - just like Beaujolais.

(Note: I like to think Ernst said something offensive and neglected to mention it - more likely the truth!) 

Ernst is an incredible winemaker. Of course, he has his own brand, STORM, but he’s also a badass gun for hire. He’s the  kind of mercenary that young local vineyards are finding indispensable. He gets out of the way and lets the vineyard show through! If you’ve heard of Habit, Donnachadh, Grimm’s Bluff, or Notary Public then you’ve heard of his side projects. Heck, he even helps his brother during the southern harvest at Storm South Africa! 

We’ve worked with Ernst for years and finally took the dive to make wine with him. I am so glad we did! All organically farmed fruit from two vineyards: 50% Presqu’ile in the Santa Maria Valley (where his winery sits), and 50% Donnachadh (pronounced Don-nuh-kuh) in the Santa Rita Hills! Both sites are excellent for an expressive, food friendly gamay - hyper cool sites, 16 and 9 miles from the Pacific respectively. That give them long, slow ripening seasons, with cool foggy mornings and dry, warm afternoons. The sandy soils in both locations means the vines struggle to access and retain water, diving deep into the earth, and giving a more profound and salted mineral presence. 

I was stoked to get this fruit. It came in with perfect ripeness and was a stress-free wine to make. We destemmed 70% of the fruit, preserving 30% whole clusters… then we made a carbonic sandwich: destemmed fruit on the bottom, all of the whole clusters, then a whole lot more destemmed fruit on top. With very light punchdowns and hand submerging just to keep the cap wet, the result was a semi-carbonic, brightly fruited yet, mostly, quite serious gamay! A little bit more tension, complexity,and savoriness from the stems - and a little candied intra-cellular fermentation in those whole clusters is just what I was hoping for. 

Aged from November to July in a neutral barrel, bottled and laid down for a month or so, then labelled and carried down to Satellite in the Pleasure Prius®! Simple!

I hope you like it - if you don’t I will drink it!

Tasting Notes:

I am so proud of this wine. From the first pop it’s so friendly, yet as it gets a little air it gains traction - totally amping up the cacophony of leafy, earth, herby, spicy, graphite-tinged seriousness that I long for in any gamay wine. And we made it! I’m honestly giggling as I sip and write this… and I swear this is only my first cup! (We should move on though before I get into my second…!)

So let’s give it a whirl, winestronaut!

First off: you can get all of the color from this wine right through the clear glass bottle. It is murpley. We’ll say the redder side of purple, and damn inviting. While deep and colored right up to the edge of the meniscus, the wine is transparent and clear all the way down. Nothing to hide, if you will! That’s kind of the magic of racking the wine and letting it settle, sometimes you get a perfectly clear wine but lose none of the texture. Score! 

On the nose it’s first simply fruity and pretty, maybe a little lavender and black berry… wait five minutes or decant - BOOM SHACKA LACKA! This wine sells it. Smell that fresh plucked sage, clove, tart cherry, pomegranate, raspberry, goodness gracious. It’s the holidays at Jamba Juice®. 

On the palate the fruit shares center stage to sagey herbs and stemmy, pithy, complex and exotic sandalwood mashing pomegranate. The wine is bursting, even tart strawberry and a little orange creamsicle made the notes page today… again - still on my first cup folks! I believe we have a winner when it comes to complexity and clean, honest-to-goodness flavor intensity. 

The acidity here is driving, powerful, sustained. It made me gleek on my computer! :| The texture is so lovely, no aggression from the light tannins - just a presence and a delicate grip. It’s refreshing and easy while loud and rambunctious. So much intensity and density of flavor. This wine pops. 

I recommend drinking this wine now, and later, and if you can, get more bottles to serve for thanksgiving! We only made 288 bottles… Move fast! 

Gamay all day, or at least… like 25% of all wine club allocations, right?

This is September at Satellite. 

 ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡

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