DEP. WINES FEATURES
This is a home for special write-ups on some of our most prized collections, favorite producers, new arrivals, limited offerings, and much more.
New features will be posted on a monthly basis, so check back in from time to time for insights on what we're enjoying at the moment.
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004. WE <3 DRY GERMAN RIESLING
Riesling occupies such an interesting place within the wine buying community: revered and collected by many, yet still largely misunderstood by just as many (which has helped keep the prices outrageously reasonable in the world of fine, age-worthy wine). While the focus of this post will solely be on the Riesling we currently carry that are both dry and from Germany, it should be noted we adore Riesling from all over the globe (some of the finest come from our own backyard in fact - the Finger Lakes) and that in the right context (and food pairing) even the ones with a bit of sweetness deserve consideration.
The bottles covered below vary in price, complexity, and production - while some may be sourced from single vineyards or villages and can be cellared for decades, others are designed for immediate consumption - each is a great example of a dry German Riesling. Bone dry, mineral driven, high acidity, and very versatile with food - we often wonder why more people aren't seeking out this personality-packed varietal. If you love Sancerre, Albarino, or Gruner Veltliner - you owe it to yourself to investigate Riesling.
One of the best aspects of dry Riesling is the wide array of foods you can pair with it. A few favorites: a diverse cheese and fresh fruit board, all types of seafood including steamed mussels, sushi, pan seared scallops and smoked salmon - or perhaps some nice veggie spring rolls - not to mention slightly heavier dishes like Chicken Milanese, pork tenderloin, or Sesame Chicken.
How to tell if a bottle of Riesling is dry? While many that are distributed in the U.S. go out of their way to include the word "DRY" on the label, bottles from Germany will use the term "Trocken" which means the same thing. Another useful tip is to check out the bottle's ABV content, the higher the level of alcohol often translates to a drier style of Riesling (for example: an ABV of 7-9% is going to be quite sweet verging on dessert wine, while 10-11% tend to be just slightly sweet, and those bottles 12-14% should be bone dry).
Stein - Riesling Blauschiefer Trocken 2020
Excellent dry Riesling from one of our favorite producers, this bottling is sourced from old vines (some are ungrafted and 75+ years old) planted in "Blauschiefer" (blue slate) and drinks way above its price point. Hand harvested / practicing organic farming, fermented in mostly old (50-100 years old) 1000L Mosel fuders with some stainless steel tanks. Matured with at least 3 months on the lees (some vintages closer to 12 months) and then bottled unfined, lightly filtered, with minimal sulfur added
Blauschiefer is one tier up from Ulli Stein’s entry level wine. But if you’ve ever seen pictures of the Mosel vineyards you’ll understand that there’s no such thing as entry-level grape growing to be done there. All of the grapes used for this wine come from very steep vineyards such as Himmelrich and Stein’s own mountain: Palmberg. The wine offers a beautiful nose of pear, white peach and lots of minerality. It’s playful and light-footed while at the same time mouth-watering and zesty. For fans of complex, mineral-driven white wines like Sancerre, Chablis, or Santorini.
Philip Lardot - Riesling Trocken "der Hirt" 2018
Lardot is the protege of Riesling auteur Ulli Stein.
Der Hirt is sourced from a south-facing Mosel vineyard called Valwiger Herrenberg. The wine is aged in 225 and 500 liter barrels for 12 months on the lees followed by six months in stainless steel. Minimal SO2.
More info from Vom Boden:
"This wine likely wouldn’t pass the “Mosel wine authorities;” they want everything filtered and crystal clear! So Philip has to (and, I’d add, is perfectly happy to) sell it as a simple “Landwein.” The problem is that you can’t indicate the vineyard site with such a wine, so Philip has created a persona, “der Hirt” or shepherd. This is, after all, the “Herrenberg,” or, “hill of the shepherd.” A similar character was created for his other Rieslings. There are two parcels here that Philip is working (0.21 hectares combined), both terraced vineyards with ungrafted vines from 30 to 75 years old ... Philip harvested twice about one week apart. The second picking was macerated overnight before pressing. Before bottling, roughly 20ppm SO2 was added and the wine was very lightly filtered. About 850 bottles produced."
Brand Riesling Trocken 1L 2020
100% (Dry!) Riesling from northern Pfalz.
Certified organic and biodynamic. Unfined, unfiltered, minimal so2.
Spontaneous fermentation, long time on the lees
This dry, well-balanced, and extraordinarily fresh Riesling is made by the Brand brothers, fifth-generation winemakers who farm organically, and produced with minimal intervention. It drinks with a refreshing purity driven by its crystalline acidity (plus it's a full liter—who says no to extra wine?!) Notes of green apple, crushed stone, hints of petrol, bright zingy acidity.
J.B. Becker - Riesling Walkenberg Spätlese Trocken 2018
Iconic winemaker. Iconic vintage. A pioneer in his region of Rheingau - the first to employ natural fermentations and organic farming. Furthermore, unlike his neighbors, Becker has been focusing on dry Riesling for decades - long before they became collectible. This impressive bottle can age a decade or two. Medium bodied, honey, gun flint, underripe stone fruit with zesty acidity. Explosive and saturating fruit and minerality, Becker's wines take no prisoners. ONLY ONE BOTTLE REMAINING!
J.B. Becker - Riesling Wallufer Trocken Rheingau 1L 2018
A very sophisticated liter bottle of dry Riesling from the legendary Becker sourced from the village of Walluf within Rheingau.
Certified organic farming (since 2011) and spontaneous fermentation in pressurized tanks.
Bone dry, medium bodied, lemon peel acidity, Chablis-like minerality, sizzling clean finish. Perfect for oysters, spring rolls, and sushi. ONLY ONE BOTTLE REMAINING!
Peter Lauer - Riesling "Fass 11" Schonfels GG 750ml 2019
The Schonfels GG (Grand Cru) as a wine, is without a doubt the most structured, brutal and mineral of Lauer’s dry wines. It smacks one upside the head like a fortress built out of slate. Pure and precise - it is unforgiving and requires many years in bottle to integrate and become expressive. A 24- to 48-hour decant is not a bad idea. It is a monumental wine and perhaps the greatest dry wine of the Saar.
100+ year old ungrafted vines located on stunning hillside of very steep grey slate with ideal south-east exposure looking overlooking the Saar. This is a unique, extreme, unprotected & windy terroir for the region.
A benchmark dry Riesling from one of the finest vintages for German Riesling in decades: petrol, crushed slate, blinding acidity, unreal texture, finishes for days. Can be cellared for 10-20+ years easily.
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003. BILLECART-SALMON BRUT ROSE CHAMPAGNE
- Billecart-Salmon stands as the oldest continuously family-owned and operated house in Champagne, now in its 7th generation.
- A relatively smaller producer in the world of Champagne that has come to be a favorite of wine aficionados and sommeliers alike.
- Their house style for rose is an unusual blend that gives prominence to Chardonnay (to the point where they seem proud you would not guess it to be a rose if blindfolded) and Pinot Meunier. The smaller portion of Pinot Noir (about 8%) is vinified as a traditional red wine before being blended in. Around 40% of the final blend is from the family's reserve wines (kept from superb vintages).
- They keep their dosage levels very low (resulting in quite dry wines of the Extra Brut classification)
- Their philosophy is that an early harvest yields more elegant and delicate Champagnes, and they’re known for their practice of double-cold settling. The primary cold settling of the pressed juice is for a period of 12 hours, where the heaviest of the must solids fall to the bottom. The juice is then racked into clean tanks where it is chilled down to 36°F for another 48 hours. This second much colder settling eliminates any wild yeasts and additional heavy elements without the use of enzymes, filtering, or a centrifuge. This bottling is almost exclusively sourced from Billecart’s home village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ (the Pinot Noir plots are 60–80 years old).
- At a special tasting in 1999, a bottle of Billecart-Salmon 1959 was voted "Champagne of the Millennium"
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001. BLOOMER CREEK
A few times a year we are very fortunate to welcome the wines of Bloomer Creek, one of the premier producers of honest, small production wines in New York's Finger Lakes region. The seeds for this project were first planted in 1978 when Kim Engle (a student at Cornell at the time) helped with a harvest on the shore of Keuka Lake. The experience left quite an impression, and two decades later Bloomer Creek was born with help from Engle's wife, Debra Bermingham. They began the endeavor with two sites (Auten Vineyard and Morehouse Road) totaling 10 acres of fertile soil, before expanding in 2012 with the acquisition of an abandoned plot they would call Barrow Vineyard. This 12-acre site is mostly planted to Riesling, which is perfectly suited to the steep shale slopes.
(Debra Berminham working the vineyard - photo courtesy of bloomercreek.com)
Of course, Bloomer Creek crafts their terroir-driven wines with all the practices we love to support: organic farming, careful manual harvests, spontaneous fermentations, minimal additions or subtractions - these are old world style wines made in an old school manner that remain fun and exciting. To let Kim Engle neatly summarize their winemaking philosophy: "Simply to let high quality grapes express themselves."
Here they are! Just landed in the shop, three very different options. All delicious, all VERY limited.
TANZEN DAME EDZELWICKER PET NAT NV
INFO: 18 year old vines, silt loam shale with high levels of lime, blend of Riesling and Gewurztraminer (both from Auten Vineyard), the Gewurz. saw four days of skin contact, fermented in steel then transferred to bottle, disgorged, unfined, unfiltered, no sulfur. NOTES: Wow, so fresh and youthful. Amazing bouquet of orange blossom with a hint of intriguing funk. Dry, bright, persistent bubbles, great balance of tart fruit, spice, minerality, and mouthwatering acidity.
PINOT NOIR 2019
INFO: Blend of two sites (Auten & Morehouse Road) 25 year old vines, silt & loam soils, 100% stem & whole cluster inclusion, 3 to 4 weeks skin contact, matured in neutral French oak for 24 months, unfined & unfiltered. NOTES: Fascinating Finger Lakes Pinot with sour cherries, plums, damp earth, mushroom and subtle spice with a light, lean, soft structure.
BARROW VINEYARD SKIN CONTACT RIESLING 2019
INFO: This steep hillside vineyard is named "Barrow" for the Old Norse term for "high rocky hill and burial mound." 2 to 3 days extended skin contact, fermented & matured in stainless steel, unfined, unfiltered, minimal sulfur at bottling only, touch of botrytis. NOTES: Deep gold color. A bowl of stone fruit on the nose, apricots, crushed stone. Great body and texture with a dry finish. Vibrant acidity.
With these three new wines, we have now carried a full dozen releases from Bloomer Creek in just a few short years. Every vintage they continue to deliver delicious and compelling wines - we only wish there was more to go around (we unfortunately have to limit Bloomer Creek wines to one bottle per customer as we only could scoop up one case of each!)
Further Research on Bloomer Creek:
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002. RED HOOK WINERY
If you've ever spent the golden hour in Red Hook, you're familiar with its unique aura. The cobblestones, the quieted industrialism, Manhattan's not-so-distant skyline: the neighborhood feels both of this world and somehow beyond it. It's a fitting location for Red Hook Winery, a distinctly urban winemaking operation (and one of few that New York City can claim) that exists in a meaningful relationship with our state's expansive, agricultural landscape.
In January, the Depanneur crew paid a visit to the winery's warehouse on Pier 41 to catch up, engage in a little friendly debate - what makes a wine "barnyardy", really?? - and to sip on a bunch of stuff. We couldn't have been more warmly welcomed by the Red Hook Winery team: truly hats off to them for answering all our questions, showing us around the space, and filling us in on their history and philosophy. Since its founding in 2008, the winery has committed to celebrating the vibrant potential of New York-grown grapes and the ingenuity of the farmers and winemakers who are shaping the region's vinicultural trajectory. Their wines are made exclusively from fruit cultivated in the North Fork of Long Island and around the Finger Lakes, which is then produced from "from grape to bottle" in Red Hook, via a collaborative effort between winemakers Christopher Nicolson, Robert Foley, and Abe Schoener. We love that many of their wines are created using spontaneous fermentation (using wild yeasts present on the grapes and in the air) and are holistically expressive of the terroir of their vineyards and the atmosphere of their waterfront winery. We're stocking up on Red Hook Winery over here at Depanneur so come by the shop and pick up some bottles - it's time to drink more New York wine!
NV LEGACY SERIES "LOT 333" RED (Robert Foley)
History in a bottle! A blend (all Merlot) from Red Hook Winery's first, second, and third vintages created while they recovered from the destruction wreaked by Hurrican Sandy.
2019 GAIA NORTH FORK WHITE (Abe Schoener)
100% Chardonnay made from grapes grown at several North Fork vineyard sites: Mattebella, Macari, and Jamesport. Spontaneously fermented and matured for 18 months. Refreshing acidity, grapefruit, lemon, and white floral notes.
2014 MATTEBELLA VINEYARD CHARDONNAY (Abe Schoener)
Spontaneously fermented (1/3 of grapes get skin contact during fermentation), matured 18 months in neutral Frenck oak. Peach, apricot, and a touch of salinity.
2018 SENECA LAKE CABERNET FRANC (Abe Schoener)
Spontaneously fermented in open-top puncheons. Aged 18 months in neutral French oak. Silky texture, bright red berries, rustic herbs.
Further Research on Red Hook Winery:
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