Since we opened in May 2018, my mission has been to share my love of natural wines with you all. In the beginning I was a little tentative, I was worried of coming on a little too strong, but I feel we know each other well enough that it is time to share. It is time for us to take things to the next level.
So, don your kilts and ginger wigs* as the joose is very much loose here at Bottle & Jug thanks to some new wine arrivals this week. I am very pleased to report that we are getting prepared for Spring with some seriously fruity wines that I am very excited to share with you. It may be a little pre-emptive but when it comes to wine, it is never too early in my book.
For me, natural wine is all about absolute purity and vivid exuberant flavours. To that end I will be adding some of the wilder and more outrageous wines to our offering this year. To kick things off we have some new additions this week that I would love for you to try and tell me what you think.
2018 Grolleau – Domaine Catherine and Pierre Breton
Never heard of Grolleau, not to worry – discovering lesser known varietals is one of the great joys of natural wine. This indigenous variety is not looked upon favourably in the Oxford wine companion where it is described as producing “thin, acid wine”, and that “it is to the benefit of wine drinkers that it is so systematically being replaced by Gamay and Cabernet Franc”. Ouch.
Where the mainstream looks down on such grapes; the natural wine maker elevates, creating pure and unique wines that celebrate their unique characteristics. You just need some imagination and an understanding of your fruit. Something that the Breton’s have in abundance.
This Grolleau is a funky beast, full of earthy undertones, lively red fruits and a hint of spice. This is a party in a glass, footloose and fancy free. At just 10.5% this wine is about fun and frivolity, just keep pouring and forget about tomorrow; live for the now and enjoy the moment.
2018 Hurluberlu – Domaine Sébastien David
Ah, Cabernet Franc…how I love thee. The aforementioned replacement for poor Grolleau is a grape that I have a great fondness for. There is a certain crunchy, stalkiness to wines made from this grape that I am massively drawn to; and this wine is no exception.
Sébastien David is a 15th generation winemaker dating back to 1634, nuts. Made from grapes planted in the Loire by his grandparents around the time of WW2, this wine has all the hallmarks of what makes natural wines sing. Hand harvested, foot trodden organic grapes, carbonic fermentation followed by maturation in Italian amphora.
This is proper “Vin de Terroir”. It tastes of the earth, of wild fruits and freedom. There are vegetal notes alongside the luscious fruits and the tannins melt away leaving a freshness on the palate that requires another sip. When slightly chilled this wine is a winner every time.
2018 Palemto Rosso – Vino di Anna
Born on the slopes of Mt Etna, this wine is a volcanic masterpiece in simplicity. The grapes that go into this juice bomb are grown on the black soils of the volcano, with the ash from the frequent eruptions settling on their skins. As you can imagine these soils are especially fertile, packed with minerals that result in extremely healthy vines and fruit. The altitude ensures that freshness and acidity are present, pretty much everything you need for perfect wine.
The main grape in this is Nerello Mascalese, another local grape that is widely respected and long-lived. The older vines produce lower yields, but much more concentrated and quality fruit. Which is why this wine tastes like it does. A host of other local grapes also appear in the wine, including some white varieties, making it a proper traditional field blend.
Making wine on the slopes of a volcano is a real labour of love, and you can taste that love in this bottle. Everything is done by hand with zero chemical additions. Hand harvested, foot trodden and fermented in a variety of vessels to bring out the best in the grapes that need little encouragement.
Do I need to mention juice again? Yes, I do. Red currants, cherries and a slightly savoury undertone with great acidity. Pure summer in a glass, you can taste the Sicilian sunshine and wilderness in this one. Joyous stuff.
2018 Thirst Gamay, Radford Dale
Last but not least, we have a wine that I actually stocked when we first opened. This was my funky option in those early days, and it is a wine that I should have stuck by as it is a great little option for those wanting to dip a toe in the world of Glou Glou** wines.
Gamay is one of the world’s most famous grapes. The king of Beaujolais, this is THE natural wine grape if you trace the movements origins. With this little number we’ve gone a little further afield. Gamay is a rarity in South Africa, but the chaps over at Radford Dale have pulled it out of the bag right here.
Almost Rosé-esque in appearance this is a lean wine that is much more than meets the eye. Yes it is fresh, yes it is fruity, and yes it is juicy; but there depth to this one. An edge of funky natural intrigue and some tomato leaf vegetal notes are hidden away. Minimal sulfur additions, and a fully natural upbringing means that it ticks all the boxes. Chill this down a touch and enjoy it with the sun on your face and forget everything else. Bargain price joose from a fabulous ZA producer.
Well if that hasn’t whetted your whistle then I don’t know what will. I have only mentioned these three wines, but the eagle eyed will also spot a few other new additions to our shelves. Are they not blog-worthy I hear you ask? Of course they are! However, a little mystery and being mindful of keeping posts to a manageable length is equally as important. You will just have to come and see me to find out about the others, or just wait for future posts in which they may just receive their moment in the sun.
* If you don’t remember the old advert, then best just disregard this reference.