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Friday, March 9, 2012

The Return to Terroir – A Reflection

by Ben Wood | Wine Buyer | On Twitter: @7stringben
Last week, NYC played host to the traveling road show of Biodynamic and organic wines of terroir. This event is organized by Nicolas Joly, owner of Clos de la Coulée de Serrant in the Savennières AOC of the Loire Valley, who helms Return to Terroir, also known as La Renaissance des Appellations. This exciting group was created to encourage wines of terroir, and Joly's ideas about the best way to create and show these wines.

A quote from the quality charter states that 

"The taste of wine can only attain its singularity and become inimitable when it has received the mark of its terroir and microclimate. Everywhere on earth the 4 components - heat, light, water and soil/subsoil - combine differently in a unique way. This is the subtlety of each appellation, which plants, vines, olive trees, etc. grasp in every instance in their own ways. The greatness of the appellations is based on this understanding which also guarantees consumers a taste connected to the uniqueness of place." 

Brilliant! Wines should taste like they come from some place, a place. So simple, and yet such a hard idea to execute. 

These winegrowers use a three-level charter and peer reviews to achieve membership and progress through the levels. Level one means the entire estate is organic certified, plus two years of biodynamics. Level two requires manual selections of vines (rather then clonal selection), no machine harvesting, no chaptalization, no acidification or de-acidification and no gum arabic. Level three is the most rigorous, requiring all of the above plus organic certification for 7 years, no irrigation, no sterile filtration, and a few more exacting requirements. 

The Return to Terroir tasting was perhaps one of the biggest and well attended tastings I have been to in NYC. Many great wine professionals gathered under one roof to taste so many truly exciting wines. Amongst many peers, I tasted with @ablegrape, @levi_opens_wine, @louisdressner, and @zevrovine for instance. 

Some of the wine, and winemakers at this event made great impressions. I captured a quick video of Aleš Kristančič winemaker at Movia opening his Puro Sparkling rosé (we have his non-rosé Puro) from Slovenia, a unique wine to say the least.
video
Other favorites at this event included Domaine Comte Abbatucci's Corsican wonder, the Barbarossa – a white grape with incredible red wine flavors such as red berries, earth, and complex floral notes. Another favorite, and a wine I have been trying to get into the NY market for almost two years La Réserve d'O’s incredible Sansoo – a sulfite free red blend from the Terrasses du Larzac AOC. Bright, clean, and beautiful – the Sansoo is such a super easy drinking red from the Languedoc. 
Tasting with Marie Zusslin at 67 Wine

Moving on, I also enjoyed a bright, fun, and slightly exotic sparkling wine from Alsace, the Domaine Valentin Zusslin's Cremant d'Alsace Brut Zero. No dosage and sulfur free, it showed serious beauty, with some floral elements and a refreshing palate.

Finally, the wine that made my day was Les Manouches from Zélige- Caravant. Passionate, with a intimate connection to the land, this couple makes a nice range of wines from the Languedoc.

The Les Manouches is a brilliant, balanced, and not overpowering red made from Alicante Bouchet. I truly love this wine, and with a label like this that connects to my other life, as a jazz guitarist specializing in gypsy jazz, the wine totally made my day. We will have some in the store sometime in May.

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