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Skin Contact March

Mar 2021, Issue 6

 

Mr. Blue Sky

March is a time of rebirth, those first budding days of spring that give us a renewed sense of hope and possibility. As the cold begins to melt away, hopefully much of the angst and darkness of this past winter can melt away as well. There is a brightness on the horizon. This month, we're bringing you some extra special wines from the Mediterranean. Just imagine those warm breezes and turquoise waters, and we'll be there before you know it.

-Jeremy

PS - Click the grid above for all of March's picks!


Les Hautes Terres

We begin this month in Languedoc, France, where Mediterranean breezes and sunshine rule supreme. Gilles and Geneviève Azam are the husband and wife team behind Les Hautes Terres, or "The High Lands". Gilles purchaed his first vine in 2000, and they've expanded to just 13 hectares of all organically farmed vineyards. What makes their wines extra special are the dramatic slopes their vines grow on, at a higher elevation than most of the Languedoc. This means bigger shifts in day-to-night temperatures, longer ripening times and brighter acidity. Add in the magic of Mauzac, a native grape to this region, and you get some truly unique and gorgeous wines.

Why We Love It

Josehpine is a sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Mauzac. It's a brut nature, which means it's fermented completely dry. Crisp and refreshing with notes of lemon, grapefruit and white flowers. Perfect for those budding spring afternoons.

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Creta Paglia

Our next stop is Calabria, Italy, the "toe" of the boot. Sun-baked and rugged, and exactly where we want to be to shake off the end of the winter chill. Antonello Canonico, a wildly passionate winemaker, started Creta Paglia in 2017 after working for many years with one of Campania's leading natural winemakers, L'Acino. Working with all native varietals, Antonello is a master at showing what the land and these unique grapes are really capable of. Coming from just 3 hectares of land, these limited-production wines are some rare birds, indeed.

Why We Love It

Folk is 100% Pecorello, a grape that has a thick skin, making it ideal for orange wine production. This wine sees 5 days of skin contact, giving it nice gripping tannins and notes of stone fruits and calendula. Only one tank was used to make Folk, producing just 100 cases! That makes this wine the unicorn of the month, for sure. Get a few bottles while you can!

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Orto Vins

We're keeping it Mediterranean for our last stop this month in Montsant, Spain on the Eastern coast, north of Barcelona. Joan Asens is considered the "Guru of Biodynamics", a professor of lunar cycles at a winemaking university in Catalonia and vineyard manager for the acclaimed Alvaro Palacios in Priorat for 18 years. In 2009 he returned home to Montsant to help with his friends' and family's vines, and Orto Vins was born. Working with 3 childhood friends, they are making some of the brightest and most elegant wines in Montsant. Making daily passes through the vines, they insure that each grape is hand-picked at exactly the moment they feel it is ready. Seamless and beautifully fresh.

Why We Love It

Orto Tinto is a blend of native varietals including Samsò, Garnatxa, Ull de Llebre and Picapoll. Notes of blackberry, figs, rosemary and baking spices. Subtle tannins make this wine lush, ripe and fresh without overdoing it...perfectly balanced in EVERY way.

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Alicante Wine Label

Liquid History

Autobiography of a Grape

Vinupetra Wine Label

Hello, my name is Riesling, and I'm one of the biggest chameleons in the world of wine. Many people think I always have a sweet nature, but that's simply not true. It really depends on my caretakers, and if they stop fermentation before all the sugar is gone or not. My acid levels are off the charts, so whether I'm feeling sweet or dry, I'm always the brightest star in the sky.

For dry styles, look to Austria, Oregon and Alsace. Germany treats me with so much reverence, I come in every possible style there. There is a complicated rating system, but look for the words Kabinett or Trocken for drier styles. If dessert wines are your fancy, try a Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese, both late harvest and out of this world. Any way I come, I have notes of stone fruit, citrus, honey and minerals. Try me with spicy Thai food and your world will be changed forever!


Thanks for reading and until next time, Cheers!


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Skin Contact February

Feb 2021, Issue 5

 

We Are Stardust

Time is a trickster. On one hand, 2020 felt like the longest, craziest year of our lives. At the same time, it was over in the blink of an eye, a harrowing journey that many of us couldn't wait to say goodbye to. But of course, Time poked their head around the corner and said "Not so fast!" as we saw even more confounding and unbelievable things unfold in just the first week of January alone. A not-so-gentle reminder that a new calendar year doesn't solve things on its own. But we have an opportunity every day to bring our own light into the world, and with this small offering we hope you enjoy reading about, and drinking to, some incredible humans who are bringing beauty and magic into the world, one grape at a time.

-Jeremy

PS - Click the grid above for all of February's picks!


Broc Cellars

We begin this month in Berkeley, California, not in a sweeping vineyard, but in a warehouse, downtown. Broc Cellars is an urban winery started by Chris Brockway in 2006. He sources all kinds of organic grapes, from Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc to little-heard of varietals like Counoise and Valdiguié, aging them in either stainless steel, old barrels or concrete eggs. Built literally from the ground up, Broc has grown little by little each year, expanding production and experimentation as time goes on. A darling of the natural wine world, Broc Cellars has shown what is possible in an urban setting, and helped set the stage for everything that's happening in the "New California" movement today.

Why We Love It

We love Chenin Blanc and sparkling wine, so this one wins TWICE in our book! It's a petillant, meaning the fermentation is paused and restarted once the wine is in the bottle, adding a soft and beautiful effervescence. Think classic Chenin notes of orchard fruit, with lemon pith and a striking acidity.

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Commune of Buttons

Next we head to Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Commune of Buttons is a return home for brother and sister duo Jasper and Sophie Button, who wanted to save the vineyards that were planted by their mother 20 years ago. The name comes from memories of friends and family coming together to help with the harvest when they were kids, a tradition they have continued. The whole point for them is to connect with the land they grew up on, and to show it takes an entire community to raise a bottle. Small production and limited releases, their wines are really something special.

Why We Love It

Skin-contact chardonnay is always a treat, and this one really sings. Only 50 cases were produced for this first vintage, making it a real unicorn when you can find it out in the wild. The wine sits on the skins for three weeks before being sent to barrel, and they were careful to not extract too much tannin during the press. The result is a fine and elegant orange wine, with beautiful subtleties of acid, texture and orchard fruit.

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Dolores Cabrera Fernández

We finish this month in the magical Canary Islands, a Spanish territory off the coast of Northern Africa. Homer describes a paradise called Elysium in "The Odyssey", and legend has it that these islands were the inspiration. Dolores Cabrera Fernández started making her own wines in 2014, tending to vines of native grapes that are over 100 years old. Everything is picked by hand by Dolores and an all-women team of harvesters. Her wines are so evocative of the place they're from, you might forget you're in the middle of a New England winter.

Why We Love It

La Araucaria Tinto is 100% Listán Negro, a native grape to the Canary Islands that has no genetic relation to any other grape on the planet. Combine that with volcanic soil and briny ocean breezes and you have a wine that's ripe with red and black fruit, purple flowers, cracked pepper and hints of smoke and earth. Amazing with grilled meat or goat cheese.

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Alicante Wine Label

Liquid History

Autobiography of a Grape

Vinupetra Wine Label

My name is Sherry, and I was born and bred in Southern Spain. My name might not sound very Spanish, but it's actually an Anglicization of my birthplace, Jerez. To make matters worse, there are imposters all over the world who've taken my name, but to truly be a sherry, they have to be from my hometown. I've had a lot of ups and downs over the centuries (Yes, I'm older than I look...they say I age well!) but luckily these days I'm once again the talk of the town.

Many of you may not have tried me before, or only know about my sweet cousin Cream Sherry. I have a much drier sense of humor, although I can sometimes be quite nutty. I am a bit of a shapeshifter, although I'm always made from the Palomino grape. Depending on how I'm aged, I can be light and austere with a lightning bolt of acidity (Fino and Manzanilla) or darker and robust with lots of nutty overtones from oxidation (Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso). I'm enjoyed best with a chill. Try the oxidized styles as an after-dinner sipper. The lighter styles are perfect as an aperitif, or if the flavor is too intense for you (I've got a big personality) I'm great as a Sherry Spritz (add ice, tonic, some fresh basil or orange peel, and a few drops of Dram Citrus Bitters) and you'll fall in love. Salud!


❤️🔥❤️ Hearts on Fire ❤️🔥❤️

Starting February 2nd, all of our Valentine's offerings will be available for presale and purchase, including some exciting collaborations. Check out our homepage for more details!


Thanks for reading and until next time, Cheers!


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Skin Contact

Dec 2020, Issue 4

 

NeverEnding Story

It's almost unbelievable that the holidays are here and this wild rollercoaster of a year is nearly over. In some ways it has felt eternally long, and in others like it's passed in the blink of an eye. For as many unsettling moments as there were, there were still so many beautiful ones, and so much to be grateful for. We wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons, and hope you find an abundance of new and beautiful moments as our stories go on.

-Jeremy

PS - Click the grid above for a special Holiday collection of wines!


Casebianche, Pashkà

This month, we begin in Campania, Italy, south of Naples. Elisabetta Luorio and her husband Pasquale left their hectic Napolese city life behind in the late 90's to take over her father's vineyards. They've since converted everything to biodynamic practices, allowing the magic of nature to take over and really letting the grapes speak for themselves. Their land is steeped in history - ten minutes down the road are ancient Greek temples to Poseidon and Hera, and wine cultivation has existed in the vicinity for thousands of years!

Why We Love It

This sparkling red wine is a blend of Aglianico and Barbera, refermented in the bottle and unfiltered. Notes of red fruit, spice and herbs with a touch of earth. This sparkler is wonderful served slightly chilled with salumi, and Betti and Pasquale suggest inverting the bottle before opening to fully integrate all the unfiltered goodness back into the wine.

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Les Vignes de Paradis, Dominique Lucas

Our next stop is Savoy, France, high in the French Alps. Dominique Lucas is the best kind of renegade winemaker - 5th generation Burgundian who left his family's estate to escape the rigid winemaking laws there, and settled in Savoy, where he could experiment to his heart's content. He farms 10 hectares of vines using biodynamic techniques, and ferments in a wide variety of vessels, from old barrels to cement eggs and clay amphorae...and even a concrete pyramid!

Why We Love It

Chasselas is Switzerland's most important grape, and has been cultivated in the Savoy region of France for many generations. Dominique has a strong reverence for the grape, and although his vines are young, his careful hand produces wines of depth and complexity. If you've never had Chasselas before, make sure this bottle is your first! Deep aromas of citrus and tropical fruit with notes of honeysuckle and a long rush of minerals.

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Cantine Valenti, Ciuri di Lava

On to Sicily, Italy, we have an incredible project from Giovanni Valenti and his son Alessandro. Their vineyards are some of the very highest on Mt. Etna, a literal Eden surrounded by massive old lava flows and charred ash. Etna is an active volcano, and the danger and excitement that hang in the air of their vineyards is palpable. You can feel this energy in the bottle as well...it's amazing to experience a wine with such beauty and refinement coming from such a wild place. Magic in a bottle, for sure.

Why We Love It

Ciuri di Lava is 100% Carriante, coming from a very small plot. After fermentation, the wine stays on the skins for 4 months, creating a rich, golden color and deep, oxidized flavors of grapefruit, melon and hints of nuttiness. This wine is like liquid gold!

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Alicante Wine Label

Christophe Ferrandis, Iniziā

Our final stop this month is the French island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean Sea. Christophe Ferrandis grew up in Marseilles and spent many summers in Corsica as a child. Iniziā is his personal project and a return to his childhood roots. He planted 5 native grape varietals all together on a small part of his uncle's land, an homage to the traditions of Corsican farming. 2017 is his first vintage, and all the grapes were co-fermented together. Less than 90 cases were produced, making this a really special holiday treat.

Why We Love It

A unicorn wine if there ever was one, Iniziā is made from Minustellu and a field blend of forgotten Corsican grapes. High aromatics, bright red fruit, notes of cola and hints of a briny savoriness (we ❤️ island wines!) this wine has a strong sense of the untamed and isolated place it comes from...we want to go there. Now.

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Alicante Wine Label

Helen's Holiday Care Packages

Looking for the perfect gift? Maybe it's just us, but wine always seems like a good idea. This holiday season, we have some beautifully curated care packages available for local delivery and statewide shipping! Send some to your nearest and dearest, and treat yourself to one as well. You deserve it.

Click the images below for more information!

Thanks for reading and until next time, Cheers!


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Skin Contact

Nov 2020, Issue 3

 

Together, Apart

Twenty-Twenty has certainly inspired new ways of gathering, and creative ways to celebrate - often with far fewer people, and with deep gratitude for any opportunity to connect. Some will gather with their "pods" or inner circles this Holiday Season, building novel traditions along the way, and many of us will fly solo or with our immediate person, relishing a sense of calm during an otherwise stressful time. Regardless, there will be wine!

For however you're gathering, we've got you covered. Half bottle three-packs for the modest groups, to large-format bubbles for the extended crews. And of course, all that's in-between to pair with your holiday fare. We're so grateful for you, and wish you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.

PS - Click the grid above for a special Holiday collection of wines!


Martin Texier, Petite Nature

We begin this month in the Northern Rhône Valley, France. Martin Texier was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. After leaving university, Martin got involved in music, and found himself living in NYC as a DJ. While there, he got involved in the wine trade business as well, and felt a calling to go back home to the Rhône and his father Eric's vineyards in 2014. Martin now owns 5 hectares of his own, all planted with classic Rhône varietals, both red and white. He has a passion for reviving local, natural winemaking traditions, and is already achieving amazing results. A young talent with a whole lifetime of amazing wine projects ahead.

Why We Love It

Petite Nature is a sparkling blend of Muscat, Chasselas Rose and other white field grapes. It's soft and plush with notes of pear, white flowers, green herbs and a hint of earth. Sophisticated, unique and absolutely gorgeous.

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Javi Revert, Micalet

Our next stop is Valencia, Spain, on the Mediterranean coast. Javi Revert is a young and enthusiastic winemaker who's taking things back to basics, reviving indigenous varietals and aging in clay amphorae. He's been accumulating small vineyards around his village since 2014, all planted with native grapes that he lets take center stage. Micalet is named after the first of these vineyards, which his great-grandfather planted back in 1948!

Why We Love It

Micalet is a blend of 5 native grapes, Malvasía, Merseguera, Tortosí, Trepadell and Verdil. Don't worry about memorizing all of that, just know that you'll have a bottle full of aromas of white fruit, fennel and Mediterranean herbs. Bright, fresh and singular.

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Gentle Folk, Basket Range Merlot

Our last stop this month is in Adelaide Hills, Australia. Gareth Belton started Gentle Folk in 2013 with not much more than a little land and a rusty old shed. What he produces now are gorgeous and unique wines with as little intervention as possible. Gareth has a gentle flexibility in his approach, using techniques that feel right for the grapes and the season and, most importantly, with maximum drinkability and enjoyment in mind.

Why We Love It

We love Merlot! A grape that undeservedly fell out of fashion because they talked smack about it in the movie Sideways, Merlot is juicy, robust and versatile. Gentle Folk's is from a single vineyard, beautifully energetic and balanced.

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Alicante Wine Label

Do the earth a favor, don't hide your magic. - y.p.


Thanks for reading and until next time, Cheers!


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