Rotating Wine Special
We bring in a case of wine every week or so to run on special. This is probably the most fun aspect of our jobs. We hope you join us as we work through case after case of wine that we have carefully picked out and are excited to share with you. Below is what is on special now, and further down the page you can see what's on deck.
2019 Château d'Épiré “Clos de la Cerisaie” Cabernet Franc
Pronunciation: sha-toe deh-pee-rey “clah day la ser-ee-say”
Varietal Blend: 100% Cabernet franc
Oak Profile: None
Terroir: Savennières, Anjou AOC, “Middle Loire” Region, Northwestern France
Price: $13 BTG / $42 BTB / $22 Offsite Retail
Tasting Notes: A nice, restrained, classically-dry Cab Franc, with aromas of blackberry, earthy cocoa, and rich dark-roast espresso on the nose. The tannins are elegantly tight, and the flavor- profile boasts notes of cacao nibs, medicinal violet tincture, and black currant. There is a clean,slightly white-oak-ashy, and presiding gravelly–minerally riding finish.
Background: Like our previous rotator special, this wine is a varietal wine (Côt [aka Malbec] previously; Cabernet franc this time) more typically associated with the Bordeaux region, but here presented from a Loire terroir. The “Cent Visages” Côt was from Touraine, in the “Middle Loire”, a region centered on the city of Tours; this Cabernet franc from Château d’Épiré arises from the region just west of Touraine, Anjou, which is also considered part of the “Middle Loire” and is centered on the city of Angers.
Also like Malbec, Cabernet franc is a Bordeaux-permitted grape that has often, in the popular consciousness—at least until recently—toiled in the shadow of the more-well-known Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot. While Malbec has seen its profile rise thanks to mass-exported plantings in South America, Cabernet franc’s recent rise has been less meteoric, instead fueled by very fine small-batch production from regions outside Bordeaux, but still in France—such as the Languedoc-Roussillon, or (as here) the greater Loire region. Cabernet franc also has storied history: first recorded as planted in the Libournais region (the so-called “Right Bank” of Bordeaux) in the 18th century, it has actually been cultivated in the Loire for centuries before that. And, while less well-known than its similarly-named partner, Cabernet sauvignon, genetic analysis has shown that Cabernet franc is in fact one of two parent varietals to Cabernet sauvignon (as well as to fellow Bordeaux grapes Merlot and Carménère)—with the other parent of Cabernet sauvignon likely Sauvignon blanc. This “Clos de la Cerisaie” (which roughly translates to “Enclosed Vineyard of the Cherry Orchard”) single-varietal presentation of Cabernet franc is a bit darker than one might expect from a Loire growing—maybe more comparable to those of the more rugged, sunnier vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon in southwestern France—but otherwise has many of the classic characteristics. It comes specifically from the commune of Savennières, an area of hilly schist about nine miles southwest of Angers, on the north bank of the Loire, whose AOC is more well known for producing some of the highest-rated Chenin blancs (Pineau de la Loire) outside of Vouvray.
From Kermit Lynch, the importer of this wine: “One of the last growers to produce Cabernet Franc in the Savennières appellation, Paul Bizard, who recently took the reins from his father, Luc, is as proud as he is protective of the domaine’s rare hectare of rouge. He sent us a picture of thirty beehives he installed in the vineyard in 2018 and announced that his next project is to replant cherry trees, the namesake of the clos. [...] One of the oldest and most celebrated domaines in Savennières, Chateau d’Épiré is rich in history. Savennières is situated just southwest of Angers, on the north bank of the Loire River. Vines have been cultivated there since the time of the Romans. The domaine itself has been in the Bizard family continuously
since the 17th century.”
2019 Albert Bichot "Chateau de Jarnioux" Beaujolais
Pronunciation: al-bear bee-show sha-toe dou jzar-nee-oo bow-jow-lay
Varietal Blend: 100% Gamay
Color: Ruddy russet
Oak Profile: None
Terroir: Beaujolais AOC, central–eastern France
Price: $10 BTG / $35 BTB / $15 Offsite Retail
Tasting Notes: Featuring a very fleshy nose, this wine is perfumed with ferric and petrichor tones, a lot of cherry, some autumnal leafiness, and fine wisps of allspice and white pepper. The flavors are likewise fleshy, as well as juicy and flinty: ripe cranberry, pleasantly-bitter underripe / baking cherries, alongside a lot of fine, clean minerality—flint & schist type tones. A great food-pairing wine. Classic and representative of both grape and region. Very elegant, very warm, and very dry-earthy-juicy.
Background: Another banger from renowned Burgundian négociant Albert Bichot—though this wine is in fact from holdings in the region just south of Burgundy: the larger southern section of the Beaujolais AOC (whereas the smaller northern section of Beaujolais is actually still within the Saône-et-Loire political region within Burgundy). However, geographically, both Burgundy and Beaujolais sit to the west of the south-flowing Saône River (itself a right tributary of the mighty Mediterranean-emptying Rhône).
Arising from the hills in the bottom-third of the Beaujolais AOC—and specifically from vineyards centered around the town of Jarnioux, a hamlet (in the Rhône department of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region) which boasts a stately thirteenth-century castle, the nominal Château de Jarnioux, also sketched on the bottle’s label—the soils of this area, on the northeast edge of France’s Massif Central (just five miles west of Villefrance-sur-Saône and twenty-six miles north/northwest of Lyon), benefit greatly from that region’s relatively-recent (in geological terms) volcanism. The Massif Central, an upland region of rugged mountains and plateaus, smack in the middle of southern France and comprising about 15% of mainland France, is the source of many important rivers; it was formed during the Variscan orogeny, and is separated from the more-famous Alps, to the east, by a deep north–south cleft (known in French as the sillon rhodanien or “Rhône furrow”) that has been carved for ages by the Rhône River (itself a massively important river in the viticultural world).
While wines from the ‘Bas Beaujolais’ or “low Beaujolais” region (outside the more northerly Cru and -Villages designations of the ‘Haut Beaujolais’) are often thought to produce much lighter and jammier or fruit-forward wines—owing to the flatter, looser-draining soils (primarily sandstone and clay, with some limestone), as opposed to the schist-laden, granite-dominated soils of the hillier ‘Haut’—this presentation from Bichot comes from a hilly subsection of the ‘Bas’, around Jarnioux. The combination of more rugged terrain and a volcanic, higher-acid soil produces a few favorable characteristics: muting of Gamay’s natural acidity (Gamay planted in more alkaline soil tends to be much tarter); excellent, deep earthy & ferric tones; and fleshier, darker, more peppery fruit elements. All these factors conspire to evocatively reflect Jarnioux’s terroir, while also lending to an affordable Beaujolais AOC wine those elegant characteristics more commonly associated with its higher-priced Cru designations.
Still Room Wine Manager
Jonathan first became well-acquainted with craft beer, far-flung wines, and classic cocktails on the consumer-side, reaching legal drinking-age in one of the best restaurant and bar cities in the world (Chicago, IL). Moving subsequently to the rugged central highlands of Arizona, and finding a home in the burgeoning viticultural region of the Verde Valley, he spent several years working in the area’s vineyards, cellars, and tasting-rooms, eventually managing one of the latter (while helping out part-time at a friend’s local craft-brewery, which presented tremendous opportunity for cross-over projects).
While he still has a palate-preference for the fine Rhône-style wines that are the focus of Arizona’s terroir (not to mention actual Rhodanien wines), his overriding project at the Still Room is to bring to our tables unique, exciting, and overlooked varietals from any region—meaning you won’t find our wines at most other dining or grocery establishments, and many bottles will include a descriptive journey away from mainstays and towards the margins of the winemaking map. But, as Ishmael says Instagram-famously in Moby-Dick, “true places never are […] down on any map”.
In his spare time, Jonathan can be found drinking beers brewed by Mountains Walking or Imagination, waiting for the Roxy to reopen, playing around with new punches for our in-house punch menu, and researching the etymologies of obscure words. He is also a published poet, with an MFA in Poetry from University of Montana, as well as a candidate for an MA in Literature who needs to finish his thesis.