Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From the Tank

François and Jenny at work. Image from Organic Spa Magazine.
Search "Jenny & Francois Selections" through your preferred Internet search engine and several pages of excited reviews, well-articulated interviews, and passionate blog entries will keep you entertained all morning (true story!). Established by Jenny Lefcourt and François Ecot in 2000, the company offers a range of natural wines from small producers in France, Italy, Spain, and California. On Wizards' radar for several years, Jenny & François Selections have been the buzz in New York City and beyond for over a decade. Slow to launch our bid for representation due to our existing emphasis on artisan, terroir-conscious producers and strong attention to the wines of France, we have nonetheless carefully followed their progress and conquests in the U.S.. Wizards Nick and Howard had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Natural Winemakers' Week NYC in February and the rest, as they say, is (recent) history! We have established a relationship with Jenny & François' portfolio and are absolutely thrilled with Rhode Island's response.

Image from Jenny & Francois Selections.
Jenny & François Selections works with organic and biodynamic growers and, perhaps more importantly, with producers who take a natural approach to their wine-making. As explained on their website, "What we call natural wines are wines made with the least possible use of chemicals, additives and overly technological procedures." This means, in simple terms, that cultured yeasts are completely absent, little to no sulfites are added, and fining and/or filtration are avoided. The product is wine with unique terroir characteristics. In their words, "This style of winemaking for us represents a more true expression of place, of terroir. We do not eschew modernity, but we favor techniques that help to express the natural terroir rather than new-fangled modern ones that tend to homogenize wine styles and erase individuality."

Image from Jenny & Francois Selections.

Hand harvesting. Image from Jenny & Francois Selections.
One addition to our book from the Jenny & François Selections portfolio that we are especially intrigued by isn't anything we haven't encountered before. However, it a very good, and therefore more unusual, expression of the concept. The subject of this enthusiasm is From the Tank, a three-liter bag-in-a-box that offers great value, ecologically sound packaging, and delicious natural wine that will last for one month once opened. A direct collaboration between François and Denis Deschamps of Les Vignerons D’ Estézargues fame, From the Tank is of the exact same quality as blends bottled for Jenny and François. A red and a white are available and are great for serving by the glass at restaurants, for parties, picnics, boat trips, or for people who want only a glass of wine a day.

From the Tank Vin Rouge
Côtes du Rhone Blend of 40% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Carignan
Chosen as The New York Times' 2nd best boxed wine in August 2011

Jenny & François Selections Tasting Note: Garnet in the glass with shimmering highlights. Elegant notes of smoky red fruit, violet, sweet herb & a note of baking chocolate. The palate is rich with ripe cherry & berry flavors, & a mineral note that is followed by supple acidity & velvety tannins. This is a very expressive red with a great concentration of fruit & yet it is never overly extracted. The wine finishes with floral notes & a dash of black pepper.

Pair with grilled chicken and pork, cold cuts, or by itself.

From the Tank Vin Blanc
Certified Organic
100% Chardonnay from Domaine de la Patience, Languedoc

Jenny & François Selections Tasting Note: Pale yellow in the glass with a tart, fruity nose & dynamic mineral scents. The palate opens with crisp citrus & peach flavors that are boosted by vibrant acidity & heady minerality.

Pair with seafood dishes, hearty garden salads, grilled vegetables, soft ripened cheeses or by itself.

 Image from Jenny & Francois Selections.
Bag-in-a-box wines have had a stigma associated with them, but consumers are adjusting their opinions and perspectives. From the Tank offers great wine perfect for a crowd with a volume equivalent to four 750ml bottles.  From the Tank offers great wine perfect for an individual with its one month lifespan once opened. The packaging is light, difficult to damage, and has a much lower carbon footprint than glass bottles. And most important of all, the wine is good! Please email us or ask your Wizards rep for a taste or for more information.

For further reading:

We thought it would be great to introduce Americans to the beautifully pure wines that we had grown to love and that are a true expression of the multitude of terroirs, disappearing varietals and traditions of France. We wanted to defend natural wines in the world, against big industrial wines with no life, no personality, no expression of "difference." We wanted to bring the taste of the varied terroirs of France to the US in the form of these pure, real, and revolutionary wines.

Jenny Lefcourt in My Daily Wine

Monday, April 9, 2012

Introducing... Part II: Elizabeth Spencer Wines

Continuing along in our introductions, we are delighted to present the wines of Elizabeth Spencer. Established by Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham in 1998, Elizabeth Spencer Wines are characterized by their purity of flavor and balance. With a beautiful tasting room in Rutherford (built in 1872, it was once the post office), Elizabeth Spencer Wines source their grapes from  Napa Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Mendocino. Working closely with a small number of growers to monitor each vintage's growing cycle and fruit development, Elizabeth Spencer strives to achieve their model of "intensity without excess weight, purity, persistence and length" for each of their varietally focussed wines. Wine Wizards is thrilled to offer the Rhode Island market Elizabeth Spencer's Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Image by Elizabeth Spencer Wines.
Pursuing parallel careers in the food and wine industry before joining together in the mid-1990's, Elizabeth and Spencer, in Elizabeth's words, "both grew along with the industry. We did not make our fortune in another walk of life and come here to fulfill our dream. This always was our life, and we've been blessed to love our dream." Wine Wizards Nick and Barbara Zeiser knew Elizabeth from her incredibly successful marketing career for California labels including Etude, Franciscan, Harlan, and Viader, among many others. It has been a very happy coincidence to reconnect with Elizabeth in her new role as the Elizabeth behind Elizabeth Spencer Wines.

Our belief is that wine should be delicious and representative of its appellation of origin. We make wines to drink -- inviting wines that we and our friends, and by extension our customers, truly enjoy.                 -Elizabeth Spencer Wines

Spencer and Elizabeth. Image by Wine Country This Week.
We have incorporated four Elizabeth Spencer Wines into our portfolio...
Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Mendocino County
Certified Organic, this wine is a pale lemon green with fresh apple and grass aromas. High acidity and notes of citrus and stone fruit resolve into a clean, fresh finish. 107 Barrels Produced

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Napa Valley
An excellent vintage for Napa in general, this wine has a floral and red raspberry nose. The red fruit notes continue on the palate with a bit of chocolate, offering volume and a long finish. Aged in French oak for twenty four months, the wine was bottled without fining or filtering. 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. 60 Barrels Produced

Pinot Noir 2009 Sonoma Coast
Dark ruby in color, the nose offers tart red fruit notes. Ripe flavors of black fruit, cedar, and herbs finish with a hint of pepper and bright cherry. 20 Barrels Produced

Syrah 2008 Sonoma Coast
Well structured, the wine has aromas of blackberry and plum. The palate is defined by black cherry and apricot, finishing clean and long with persistent tannin. 25 Barrels Produced

Elizabeth Spencer Wines' website offers details tasting notes with information related to vineyard site, vintage, and winemaking approaches should you find yourself thirsting for more information. Your Wizards rep is also happy to help, as always.

Image by Elizabeth Spencer Wines.