January 2021: "Resolutions"
Aslina Wines: Champion Women of Color
We’ve heard you! You want more Aslina wines. We’re happy to offer you the first glance at the new vintage of one of her most popular wines, the Sauvignon Blanc! But first here is a little recap of Aslina’s story: Ntsiki Biyela is South Africa's first black woman winemaker. She grew up in a rural Zulu village and never dreamed of being a winemaker – in fact, she never even tasted wine before studying it. In 1999, with ambitions of higher education, she applied for a chemical engineering scholarship... and was turned down. Instead, however, she was offered a scholarship to study oenology at Stellenbosch University. In spite of not even speaking the language of instruction (all wine classes were taught in Afrikaans), she discovered she had a natural gift at winemaking. In 2014 Ntsiki launched her own company, Aslina Wines, named after her grandmother. She has since sky rocked to international fame, including being featured in the New York Times twice, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Food and Wine Magazine, and most recently she was nominated as Wine Enthusiast’s Winemaker of the year in 2020. As a global inspiration, she now also helps provide opportunities to people of color in the South African wine industry through the Pinotage Youth Development Academy. Founded in 2012, PYDA provides young women and men of color educational opportunities in the wine, food, and tourism industry and helps them to secure long term empolyment in the industry.
Sauvignon Blanc: Ntsiki cannot make this wine fast enough for us! She made a thousand cases of the last vintage we are still begging her to make more! Having specialized in red wines for over a decade, Ntsiki makes interesting and refreshing white wines with great mouthfeel. Her Sauvignon Blanc was left on the lees for four months to gives this wine a unique, lingering, silky finish. Pair with mushroom risotto and lead by example.
Dasca Vives: Support the Smallest Farmers
This is another fan favorite, with even more limited production. Dasca Vives is a tiny family farm near Barcelona owned by husband-and-wife team Josep Dasca and Alba Vives. They converted the farm that Josep grew up on to biodynamics because they believed when we take something from the earth, we must offer something in return. It’s like the expression, “Leave the kitchen cleaner than you found it” – but with nutrients for nature. Biodynamic farming can heal the land, revitalize the soil, and prevent farming pollution. For years Dasca Vives has been popular with locals, and would never have thought about selling their wines in the US. We’re thrilled to be able to share their honest, savory, and beautiful wines with you.
Ancestral: Heard the term “Pet Nat” ? It’s a staple among natural wine lovers. It means “pétillant naturel”, or natural sparkling wine. It’s the ancient way of making sparkling wine. Unlike Champagne, which undergoes two fermentations, a Pet Nat only goes through a single fermentation – which is still happening when the bottle is closed! The result is part-art, part-science, and part-luck. This Pet Nat is made from the local Cartoixà (Xarel-lo) grape. Curious about the label? Alba and Josep call the wine "la fiesta de levaduras" - a yeast party - a fitting name for a fun, natural wine. TIP: this wine has a crown cap, cutting away the wax seal will make it easier to fit the bottle opener under the lip of the cap. As with many natural wines, this will evolve over a few days after opening. That is, if you can avoid drinking this delicious bottle in one go! Pair with fresh fruits, and patience.
Kitma Brintziki: Consider Carbon Footprints
If we want to talk about Ancient, there are few regions that have made wine longer than Greece. We think it’s crazy that Greek wine is not widely available in the US. We have our theories why, like tough to pronounce names, hundreds of varietals, and limited explanations about them. But it’s worth learning! So we present to you, Ktima Brintziki, Greece’s first green winery. The winery is located near the town of Ancient Olympia (think: the original Olympic games were 10 min away), and is a grower of local, ancient, and rare varietals. With Ktima Brintziki, the old world meets the new – their modern winery uses solar panels and geothermal energy to achieve carbon neutrality. Husband and wife team Dionysios and Dionysia (yes), are part-time professional musicians, and they dedicate the amphitheater in their backyard to the townspeople to put on shows and concerts.
Melios Red: Dionysios and Dionysia wanted to challenge themselves. Typically, Mavrodaphne from the area is made into a sweet red wine. They wanted to make a dry wine instead, and one that can be enjoyed easily. Because Mavrodaphne has such a strong flavor, they blended it with mostly (80%) Merlot. The result is an approachable wine with a unique kick, a little herbaceous, and is almost like a Cabernet Franc. Pair with lamb and a quick read of Form of the Good by Plato.
Chozas Carrascal: Conscientious Without Compromise
Bodega Chozas Carrascal is also an exceptional environmental steward. In addition to being certified organic, most of their energy needs are met by their 266 solar panels. Thanks to their efforts protecting and preserving the Mediterranean forest within their estate, Chozas Carrascal was named a National Nature Preserve. If you can’t get to a nature preserve this month, at least you can imagine yourself in one by drinking their wine!
Las Ocho: Chozas Carrascal has the distinction of being one of Spain’s very few Vino de Pago wineries –the highest classification in Spain, similar to a Grand Cru in Burgundy. This is only offered to premium wineries with unique growing conditions. Las Ocho is Chozas Carrascal’s Vino de Pago flagship wine that represents the breadth of the winery. It is made from an 8-grape varietal bliss of red fruit, silk and tannic goodness. Pair this wine with steak (made of beef or broccoli!), and some nature-loving zen.