Piquette has become quite a phenomenon recently, with several wineries bottling something similar, often using the name Piquette on the label (with Todd’s blessing), but Todd should really be credited with bringing this style back. Originally, Piquette was something wineries would serve to their harvest workers. Something pleasant they could drink that wasn’t so high in alcohol they wouldn’t be able to work hard in the vines. The basic concept–to use the cast-offs from winemaking including the leftover must, stems, and seeds–is wonderfully zero-waste, and Todd’s version is zhuzhed up with a bit of the original wine and some local honey for a fine sparkle.
Originally bottled in glass bottles, the Wild Arc piquettes are now sold in cans, to offer a more compact, transportable, and environmentally friendly container.
Making of: The pomace is soaked in water and ferments to a low alcohol fizzy beverage thanks to the addition of something sweet (local honey in Todd’s case). Blended with a bit of wine to reach 7% ABV. No additional SO2 additions beyond what was residual in the must.
Personality: delicious and refreshing! the Skin Contact version is a sparkling zesty lemonade beside a bonfire on a hot summer night.
“Yeah, most of my wines are now not getting scoffed at tastings,” Todd Cavallo comments on his boutique production as we follow him from a small shed filled with tanks and barrels to a couple of newly planted rows of vine on his Hudson Valley property. What an understatement: Wild Arc’s stuff has become so popular that, unless you jump on a bottle with the characteristic minimalist white labels right when you see one, you’ll probably risk waiting until the next vintage.
All this happened very quickly — the former Brooklyn IT specialist and his wife Crystal moved upstate in 2016 without any previous agricultural experience. A couple of years later, they’re growing their own fruit & veg in biodynamic permaculture, looking forward to the first vintages from their recently planted two acres of Cabernet Franc, Pinot, and Chardonnay, all while getting mad props for their current produce.
Their low-sulfur, often carbonic macerated wines offer a generously fruity character with lively acidity, definitely checking all the boxes of drinkability and current tastes. Being a small farm at the beginning of its journey, Wild Arc sources fruit from other people in the area: “Our hope is to establish relationships with growers and help them move towards organic production, which we feel is “greener” and more sustainable than continuing to replace the native habitat with more vineyard plantings. We are also sneaking codes onto all our labels now that delineate growing practices and sulfur usage, so the consumer can know exactly what the differences are in our bottlings,” Todd explains.