APRIL 2024: Feel the Minerality

by Leslie Pariseau

Undeniably, there's a mystical streak that runs through the wine shop. Perhaps it is our generation or the kinds of people we are or the time we’re living in, but we are most comfortable discussing the flow of time, eclipse energy, manifesting, generating, and our Mercury retrograde woes. Our musings are always balanced measure of practicality, however; we are also people with budgets and spreadsheets and systems, lest this train go off the rails. What I hope you see is that so much of what we do is intuitive—listening to what a human needs and providing it in the ways we are able. Through a bottle, a glass, a conversation across the bar. Which is to say that the giving and taking of wine is mystical and spiritual. A locus in which to lose a little bit of practicality, to allow feeling to take over, and submit oneself to presence and experience.

There’s a word in wine that requires this submission to feeling and experience: Minerality. It’s almost become a cliché to attempt explanation at its occurrence in wine, but it’s a thing we all understand when we taste it. “Too prevalent to ignore— even if impossible to define,” as the most reasonable Jancis Robinson says in The Oxford Companion to Wine. It’s shells and rocks, chalk and slate. River stones, wet blacktop, oyster pearls, volcano ash. It’s minerals! Just today, I tasted a Chablis that translated the ancient sea creatures of its Kimmeridgian soils so wholly as to taste like crustacean broth. Though science doesn’t necessarily uphold the phenomenon of minerals working their into wine via soil, water, roots, and the resulting fruit, it’s a quality that humans detect, inexplicably. And we love the unexplained.

So, in honor of the intuitive, the unexplained, the mystical, here are a few wines of the minerally persuasion. (And some further reading on minerality by a writer I used to edit back at Saveur.)

Cellar Credo “Miranius” Xarel- lo, Penedes, Catalonia 2022

We had this on the glass list a few weeks back. It’s always apparent when we’ve got a mystical banger on our hands— people have a glass, have another glass, buy a bottle, and then coming back looking for more. The Miranius is one of those wines. Made by Recaredo, one of the most celebrated sparkling wine producers in Spain and the region’s first to convert to biodynamic farming, it’s a perfect spring bottle, expressing the xarel-lo grape’s language of refreshing acid, salinity, and, of course, stony minerality. (“Miranius” is an ode to the foxes that wander the vineyard’s biodiverse terrains, and means “peers into nest” in Catalan, according to importer Rosenthal.) Shuck some oysters, squeeze some lemon, take your shoes off, sink your feet in the grass.

Pascal Janvier “Cuvee du Rosier” Pineau d’Aunis, Loire Valley, France 2022

My favorite grape of all of the grapes is pineau d’aunis. I remember distinctly the first time I tried it, at a now-shuttered restaurant in Manhattan, sitting next to my great friend and collaborator Talia Baiocchi who described it as hot blacktop just as it starts to rain in the summertime. This is the essence of petrichor, the most poetic of fragrance descriptors. It took me straight to riding around on my bike as a kid in the middle of humid Ohio summers, watching storm clouds gather over a cornfield. It’s the kind of wine that hurts my heart and proves the mystical nature of wine.

Pascal Janvier grows this rare grape in the Couteaux de Loir in the Loire Valley. It’s a time capsule of wines before phylloxera, showing the strange beauty of varieties beyond peppery, bullish cab franc. It’s wet sidewalks and hopscotch chalk and summer afternoons, waiting for thunder to lull the late August cicadas into silence.

Fondo Bozzole “Cocai” Lambrusco, Lombardy, Italy 2022

We joke that we can never have enough Lambrusco at the shop and we never will. Right now, we have two white Lambrusci, two rosato, and four red; honestly, we need more (look for the new Terrevive releases next week!). We carry all of the Bozzole cuvées, which are farmed by the brothers Accorsi in the OltrePo ’, the only appellation outside of Emilia- Romagna permitted to produce Lambrusco. This rosato is a blend of lambrusco marani and lambrusco salamino, fermented in stainless steel and refermented in bottle (as all Lambrusco is), and has a wonderful wild raspberry-smeared- across-stones quality. It’s perfectly suited to pizza, and also to sitting on the porch with a joint, a magazine, and Sunday evening WWOZ.

Troddenvale “Kieffer Country Wine” Pear & Apple Cider, Virginia NV

Do you need a little romance? Troddenvale at Oakley Farm is a place to daydream about. Will Hodges, a Bath County native, carries on the legacy of this farm and its orchards, founded in 1834 with beautifully produced ciders true to the historic nature of this place. Will cares for the orchards here, harvesting what he can to produce the Oakley Farm ciders, while foraging other sites around Bath to produce his other cuvées. Labeled with old national parks postcards, the Kieffer is made from Kieffer pears and Dolgo crabapples.

When seeking out wines for this edition of club, I asked DJ Piazza of Disco Wines (Troddenvale’s fantastic distributor) for his favorite mineral-driven bottles, he immediately turned to the Kieffer, citing its kinship to bright, minerally Grüner.” For me, it is dappled sunlight across river rocks. (Also, I snuck a cider in on you; come down to the cider shelves at the shop, repping Sonoma, Normandy, and Basque Country; we also believe we can never have too many in stock.)

This concludes the minerality club. I hope you feel it too.

Shout out to this four-hour delay and three-and-a-half-hour plane ride for allowing me to write without interruption for the first time in six months. Thanks for being along on this mystical Gulf ride with us!