A Glimpse into European Cellars

February 17, 2017 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Crystal City Wine Shop
Crystal City Shops
220 20th St S, Arlington, VA 22202

We love having Matthew and his wines on the Tasting Bar and we hope you do too! The wines from European Cellars are about “place over process” and are wines that, in general, eschew heavy-handed oak, have great ripeness, minerality, and balance. They are wines borne of struggle because hardship produces purity. Fruit comes easy in wine, it is the result of sunny days and plenty of water. Purity comes from a vine’s struggle to survive, its fight against the rocks it is planted on, its fight against the plants that surround it, and its fight against the conditions of its vineyard. Many of these wines are organic, practicing organic, or biodynamic, they harvest by hand, and ferment using indigenous yeast. Vinifying with minimal intervention, they are farmers as much as they are winemakers.

Tonight’s Wines:

  • Domaine de la Fruitière Folle Blanche: Domaine de la Fruitière
    farms Folle Blanche and produces Muscadet Sèvre et Maine as well as Vin de Pays from grapes such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Regardless of the varietal, the vines are planted on rock, and in most cases, sheer cliffs of rock (40 meters above sea level) through which the roots have to bury for meters for any water. It’s not a big shock that the wines smell and taste more like rock and minerals than fruit or flowers. Combine this with the cold Atlantic breezes and you’ve got an amazing cool climate, high cut, precise bottle of white wine. Harvested from 50 year old vines that are currently being converted to organic farming methods, the Lieubeau family keeps yields low to produce wines, which express the varietal and are delicious, vibrant wines that are great values!
  • Herència Altés Garnatxa Blanca: Nuria Altés, like many young vintners in Spain, comes from a family who has grown grapes for generations. In a remote corner of Catalunya, Nuria’s new project, Herència Altés is situated in Terra Alta, a little known DO southwest of the Priorat. Remarkably Terra Alta is one of the largest wine growing regions in Cataluyna and one, of which few are aware – something Nuria has set about changing. She sustainably farms 14 hectares of Garnatxa Blanca, Negra, and Peluda, Carinyena (Samsó) and small amounts of Syrah primarily at two sites: La Serra and Benufet. Both vineyards were initially planted over a hundred years ago, but where vines have died over the intervening century, they have been replanted so each site is home to vines ranging in age from 20 to well over 100 years old. This Blanca is made from a mix of young and old vines grown on sandy and chalky soils, is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve the freshness with a touch of lees stirring for added weight. A very aromatic wine with melon and white fruit notes, it is a medium bodied wine with a crisp freshness and notes of pear and melon. It pairs beautifully with various tapas dishes (e.g. patatas bravas or grilled squid).
  • Herència Altés Garnatxa Negra: Nuria’s two vineyards, La Serra and Benufet are at an elevation of 450 meters above sea level, which is higher than the rest of the DO and allows her grapes to which a fuller maturation with lower alcohol levels and higher acidity. Indigenous Garnatxa Negra is the most widely planted variety at Herència Altés and it grows well in both the sandy and clay limestone soils of Batea. By mixing old and young vine fruit (40–100 years old), and fermenting in concrete, Nuria is able to create an affordable, lively, and elegant version of Garnatxa showcasing the delicate Pinot-side of the variety. Bright crimson in color, this is an expression wine that deserves your attention: notes of red fruits and minerals jump out of the glass and are followed by plenty of fruit, minerality, and just a touch of sweet tannins on the palate. This will pair well with grilled meats, lamb, or charcuterie.
  • Château Puech-Haut Prestige Rouge: If you have glanced through the writings of any of the major critics, you will see that they have a love affair with the Languedoc! European Cellars has had that same head-over-heels kind of love with it since they first started and you will too when you taste Château Puech-Haut. Located close to Pic Saint-Loup, in Saint-Drézéry, Puech-Haut is near the far western border of the Rhône valley and benefits from both its proximity to the Mediterranean and the rugged, mountainous interior of France. There are slightly over 50 hectares planted with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc. Owner Gerard Bru, consultant Philippe Cambie and Eric Solomon have collaborated on the Prestige Rouge since the 2009 vintage capitalizing on the amazing limestone-rich terroir of Saint-Drézèry. Co-fermenting 65-80 year old Grenache with 45 year old Syrah and aged in concrete, they have crafted a dense and powerful wine capturing the warm climate of the Mediterranean with all its floral aromatics of, dark fruit, spice, cracked pepper, and garrigue.
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