We thought it might be worth highlighting some of the wines we have in the shop, as there are some real characters behind their creation. Here are a couple of winemakers whose wares we'll be pouring this weekend.
Domaine Gerard Schueller
Domaine Gérard Schueller is based in Husseren-les-Châteux, a small hamlet in the Alsace which hangs on to the hillslope below a series of old castle ruins. The domaine is managed by Bruno Schueller, a man who is anything but mainstream. He farms with a lot of biodynamic ideas, but isn't signed up to certification as his primary goal is to make the wine he wants, without anything getting in the way. No, or a minimum of sulphur is added during the vinification, although he creates high class wines with loads of personality, the relations with INAO (the French AOC authority) are not always fantastic and sometimes his wines do not pass their sensory tests. The primary fermentation is allowed to reduce the residual sugar to a minimum, and Schueller opens up for malolactic fermentation (the second stage of the fermentation process, which is often curbed during the vinification of white wines, but can give them great texture and depth if it's allowed to take place). The result is personal, golden, aromatic wines with a wide range of aromas and flavours, and wines with a dry, almost hard finish with profound minerality.
Schueller makes singular wines with real character and sense of place, with minimal intervention; he's not signed up to any doctrine, and he just does what he wants to do. His entry level Pinot Blanc - available by the glass at Wright's this week- is fantastic value and one of our current favourite whites. It's dry but with a honeyed quality, is medium-bodied and has a vibrant acidity and minerality that makes it fantastic with food.
Domaine Georges Descombes
The red this week is from Beaujolais, a region for which we have something of a penchant. For us, the natural reds from Beaujolais are some of our favourite wines, with a depth of interest comparable to good Burgundy, but at a cheaper price. Bonus.
Located in Vermont, a tiny hamlet in Villié-Morgon, Georges Descombes is the unofficial fifth member of the iconic "Gang of Four" producers (Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thévenet and Guy Breton). In his teens, Georges worked with his father (also a vigneron) as well as for a local bottling company; hopping around from cellar to cellar gave him a chance to try a large amount of different estates, and the first time he tasted a Lapierre wine, young Georges was blown away by their purity and elegance. Then and there, he decided he would try to make wines like Marcel's.
He works organically, with minimal or no sulphur. Up to 150g of sulfur can be legally added in bottle, but Georges typically uses less than a gram at bottling, if any at all. He tends to let his wines stay in bottle for at least a year before releasing them, helping them to stabilise for travel. He also vinifies without any rushing: his cold macerating can last up to 30 days, whereas some commercially-made Beaujolais, using a process called thermo-vinification, might have it done in 48 hours. The difference in taste is striking, and the Beaujolais wines in the supermarkets are the kind of wines that are made this way. He also doesn't spray his vineyards with any chemicals, and the difference in how they look and how the soil is affected is remarkable. There is no doubt that this minimal interference comes through in the vibrancy and energy of the wines he creates.
Georges' 2013 Brouilly - which we're serving by the glass this week- is delicious, earthy, berry juice and a great example of what Beaujolais should be about.
For more info about these winemakers check out the excellent Wineterroirs.