Direct Press February 2022


What grows together goes together

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Jutta Ambrositch and her dog in the vineyards inside the city limits of Vienna, where it was a tradition to plant a wide mix of grape varieties all together — some of these grape varieties are a mystery even today.

There was a time, not too long ago, when many people simply had one vineyard and made one wine. Grape vines were probably just one more thing growing on a small farm that sustained a small family, along with fruit trees, livestock, grains, and vegetables. In order to protect against the vagaries of each year's weather, a lot of different grapes were planted together. Some were known to ripen earlier, and some ripened later. Some had protection against certain types of fungus, others were resistant to pests. The idea was, even in bad vintages, you would still be able to get something out of the vineyard with a good mix of grape varieties. 

In our modern, efficient times, this is no longer a common practice, with vineyard blocks typically being planted to one grape variety. But there are still vineyards around, typically older, that are planted to this ancient method that uses diversity to its advantage. In some cases, it's not entirely clear what grape varieties are even present, or in what quantities. The important thing is the vineyard as a whole. 

What do the wines made from field blends taste like? Well, like anything else it depends on where they are coming from. But this method by nature makes for a blend that is hard to replicate, and the wines are typically unique. I find wines made from field blends to be interesting because of the inherent tension between the various ripeness levels of the grapes. Nature has made these wines in a way that a human couldn't, or wouldn't, by simply blending different wines together in the cellar to make a cuvée. 

To me the more contemporary relevance of field blends is the emphasis on biodiversity. By now we have seen plenty of the risks wrought by monocultural farming. Relying on one variety can be disastrous — just look up the imminent extinction of the cavendish banana, a $25 billion disaster which will likely wipe out most of the banana production of the world, which is almost entirely made up of the cavendish variety.

Not only is the ecological benefit more and more clear, but it also helps smaller winemaking projects, protecting them the same way it helped people survive in the days of small family farms. 

At the end of the day, field blends manage to produce some really exciting and fun wines to drink, and we've got wines from Austria, Mexico, Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy. They show us a broader and more nuanced picture of a specific place in the world in a specific year, a wider angle where you can't really control the overall composition as carefully. It's a compromise with nature, a hedged bet against an uncertain future and a gentle reminder that nature doesn't have to compromise with us. To me, that makes for wines with a piquant vitality and bewitching poignancy. Hopefully you'll find the same alluring qualities in this month's mix of mixes.


Jonathan and Kirk 


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Please note, we will do our best to keep these on the shelves, but they are small-production wines and quantities are limited.


Image of Iria Otero
Iria Otero "A Seara Castes Brancas" Blanco 2020

The A Seara Brancas is a field blend of Treixadura, Godello, Loureira, and Torrentes. She uses concrete for fermentation, typical for the area, with just a small sulfur addition at bottling. Soft fruity notes mixed with apple, gingersnap, graham cracker, and salt. There’s just a little funk and some cooling eucalyptus on the finish. It’s complex and unique but still friendly and easy to drink.

Image of Ambrositsch
Ambrositsch "Kosopolit" Gemischter Satz 2020

Despite the dizzying collection of grapes, it’s a very focused, crisp white. Fresh and chalky with some underripe nectarine, stony texture, and a subtle smoky spice on the finish. I love the invigorating and refreshing tension in this wine from all the competing voices. It’s crackling and cackling with just the right dosage of citrus I crave in the dead of winter.

Image of Textura Pretexto Branco Dao 2020
Textura Pretexto Branco Dao 2020

This a beautiful offering that tastes too good to be called an 'entry level wine.' The nose is quite pretty and stoney, with delicate white floral and melon tones. On the palate, it's medium-bodied with well integrated acidity. Orchard fruits take centerstage to a backdrop of Atlantic minerals and pleasant creaminess.

Image of Eric Texier Vignenvie
Eric Texier Vignenvie "Calico" Blanc 2018

Floral and chalky on the nose, with subtle notes of peach blossom. Racy and bright, with apple, crunchy pear and juicy stone fruit. Great tension and texture, with just enough body and perfectly balanced acidity.

Image of Martin and Anna Arndorfer
Martin and Anna Arndorfer "Vereinter Satz" Kamptal 2020

When we did our Austrian theme in September, the two Arndorfer offerings were huge hits, so it was an easy call to include more from Martin and Anna. They have been pushing the boundaries in the more conservative Kamptal region, where their methods run counter to economics by seeking harmony with nature. Their curious, playful, open-minded attitude has resulted some of the most innovative wines I’ve tasted in Austria, and the Vereinter Schatz is another highlight.

Image of Mont de Marie
Mont de Marie "Anatheme" Rouge 2020

The “Anathème” is a field blend of Aramon, Grenache, Cinsault, and Carignan fermented whole cluster in concrete. Boysenberry, cherry, and grassy freshness. It’s a lifted, lively wine that has elements fighting with each other in a good way. Nice spicy tannins and earth complement the fruit and help this cut through richer fare like roast chicken.

Image of Vinateros Santos
Vinateros Santos "Vila de Piedra" Tinto 2019

Alvar says he is “obsessed with freshness,” and it really shows here. The wine is very floral, with orange blossom, pollen, and pomegranate. It’s pretty and stays smooth and soft, but there is complex umami and subtle tannin that really adds dimension and brings it all home. Ethereal and layered, it’s a singular wine that again shows off the spirited character that can only come from a wild mix of grapes planted and picked together.

Image of Bichi
Bichi "Mistico" 2019

This is perhaps the most approachable wine in the Bichi line up. Aromatically, it's a bit gamey, but has a joyful red and black fruits and herbal sagey elements that invite the drinker in. Spicy, smoky and fresh, the ripe fruit and rustic tannins create the perfect structure to build a meal around this pure Mexican wine.


Image of Martissima Collio Bianco 2019
Martissima Collio Bianco 2019

A beautiful nose of honeysuckle, basil and ripe pear, fuses naturally with the full-bodied palate. This is "winter white" perfection, with bitter orange, fleshy yellow apple and a touch of honey and almond. The wines gorgeous textures builds seamlessly into a very, very long finish, making it a perfect contender for main courses, especially anything herbed.

Image of DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo)
DaTerra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) "Azos Da Vila" Tinto 2019

Laura's reds are always delightfully rustic and alive and Azos da Vila delivers on that promise - it is buoyant, bright and delicious. The nose has just enough funk dancing playfully around the dark berry tones to feel unique without being polarizing. Medium-bodied with pleasurable tannic structure. The high-toned blood orange acidity works incredibly well with the black cherry and blackberry flavors that dominate the palate. A wonderful wine to pair with red sauce pizza, cured meats or (in my case) an Impossible Burger.


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