Volume 2, Issue 2: Creative Necessity
by Leslie Pariseau
This month's club is about making do. Wine is often seen as a luxury, and this is not untrue. We do not need wine to live (contrary to my own personal belief). It can be expensive. And, in this country, it's historically been linked to a specific brand of wealth. But, at its heart, wine is humble. It's part of an agricultural economy that requires backbreaking work and interaction with dirt and pests, deep loss and compromise. So much of what making wine is about is adjusting to the the circumstances in which it was grown. And sometimes that means making do.
The wines in this collection are each linked by creativity necessity. This doesn't make them lesser. Plato wrote in his Republic that "our need would be the real creator" (modern translation: "necessity is the mother of invention"). And in each of these cases, need did create something real.
All of these wines are also from Selection Massale, an importer that specializes in natural wines.
Frantz Saumon “Vin de Frantz” 2021, Montlouis-sur-Loire, France
"Selling Loire wine over the past few years is a constant sob story of who lost what and why," says Jonathan Gray of Selection Massale. "Between hail and disease pressure, mildew and frost, everyone’s had to get creative."
Frantz Saumon makes beautiful chenins and pét-nats, but last year lost 90 percent of his grapes to frost and hail, so was forced to source from elsewhere. Thankfully a friend in Gascogne had a crop of colombard—another white wine graperelated to chenin—that he was able to obtain and make magic with.
Pressed directly and aged in stainless steel, this year's Vin de Frantz is wonderfully mouthwatering, like biting into a very crisp green apple. We drank ours this past weekend with a mess of fried fish in the back yard and Tony's famous Napa cabbage caesar. It was just the thing.
La Boutanche x Andi Knauss 2021, Würrtemberg, Germany
Everyone needs a liter of rosé. La Boutanche and its poppy, anthropomorphic labels have become synonymous with the image of the natural liter bottle. The label was conceived by Selection Massale as a way to present glou glou wines from excellent producers at an accessible price. "La Boutanche" loosely means "my bottle," and, as reported by PUNCH, comes from the French tradition of locals filling their jugs at the local wine co-op.
Jonathan at Massale explains that in Germany there's a great thirst for Andi Knauss's higher end wines, and the low-key table wines don't have the same draw locally. So much the luckier for us. Farming organically, Knauss experiments in sparkling wine, including a trollinger (German for schiava), which makes aromatic, lovely light reds.
This literarosé is entirely trollinger. It's tart, it's bright, like a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It impresses in ways it really doesn't need to. Drink on your porch while passing out candy to all those nutso kids on a sugar high.
O Tinto Perfeito NV, Douro Valley, Portugal
The Perfect Red is another Selection Massale label delivering wines to us that we might not otherwise have the pleasure of experiencing.
Besides having the smartest name on the market, The Perfect Red is one of those collaborations that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. The first vintage was "a happy accident," according to Massale. When Michel Théron of Clos du Jaugueyron discovered a tank of wine that was a little too fresh for his purposes in the Haut-Medoc, it was made into a clairet style wine—light, fresh, chuggable—that Massale labeled La Rouge Parfait. Subsequently, Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars in Berkeley was interested in making one too, which resulted in The Perfect Red.
This vintage is from fifth-generation winemaker Mateus Nicolau de Almeida of Trans Douro Express and Eremitas in Portugal's Douro Valley. A blend of white and red grapes (15:85), it's malvasia fina, touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz, and tinta barroca. It's made in old style lagar, or big stone tanks. And, as was meant when The Perfect Red was forged, is an exceptional weeknight wine. Presented in port bottles (a shrewd method of cutting costs without sacrificing quality), this is wine meant to be chilled and drunk with red sauce or pizza or chicken thighs on a sheet pan. Perfect everyday red.
This concludes the second edition of the Patron Saint fall 2022 club. Just in time for November. IG your stash if you feel inclined. Sign up for November (all the turkey wines) and December (all the party wines).