Wine Club – May 2023
Clos Massotte, 2022
It’s a classic natural wine origin tale. Man works for years as a commercial engineer, has a change of heart, and starts seeking out the magic of life through natural winemaking. You think we’re joking, but a significant portion of today’s best natural winemakers started off their careers as engineers. We’ve asked ourselves why plenty of times. Is it a skill set of technical precision (without additives, obviously)? Is it such a radical change that the key ingredient is simply desire? In any case, this month, Pierre Nicolas of Clos Massotte returns to the T.N.W.C. box with a heady, tropical-fruit skin-contact Vermentino, known locally as “Rolle”. Naturally, the wine is precise and grippy, but also full of heart. It’s called Oulala for the sound it will solicit from you once you try it – guaranteed.
Hugo Barkshire, 2022
Some members might remember Hugo’s first ever wine from last year’s box – when he graciously let us have almost half its production to send to you, dear members. Others may remember the interview we did with him as part of a winemakers series. Once again, this English transplant in the Roussillon countryside has let us send you his second-ever wine, made in a similar style as last year’s Cuvée George. Cuvée Margot is made of deep, complex Syrah grapes that are vinified in an airy fashion (direct press) to create the perfect summer rosé-red. The painting on the label is by Hugo’s partner Gabby, and it captures perfectly the story and feeling of the wine. A young couple, moving to rural France in the only place left where land is still affordable, watching the sunset over the Pyrenées, and thinking, this is what peace means.
Laurent Roger and Melissa Ingrand started Mataburro in 2017 after working in one of the best French natural wine bars (La Verre Volé) and for one of France’s best natural winemakers (Alain Castex, the legend behind Casot de Mailloles). Laurent’s family is from a famous Roussillon wine making town, Rivesaltes. His father had sold all but three of the family’s hectares of vines back in 2000. It was a prescient decision, because when they took up winemaking further down the line, they had beautiful old vines to go back to. Fun fact: the project, Mataburro (“donkeykiller”) is named for the railway line that runs nearby, which killed two mules on its first day in operation. The wine we chose, Memo, is a lighter, salty Macabeu from a parcel that, back in the day, used to belong to Laurent’s grandfather. It’s a full circle moment.
Davoche Wines, 2022
Charles and Tess are the team behind another exciting new project, Davoche Wines, this time out of the school of Cyril Fhal, the storied natural winemaker of Clos du Rouge Gorge. As is common with first-time winemakers, this is made from négoce grapes, meaning, purchased from other growers. But the couple are interested in longevity. They were able to purchase a small parcel of 2.5 ha back in 2021. It’s currently in the process of organic certification, and they’ll start releasing wines from their own grapes soon. In the meantime, this current release of grenache is a beautiful promise of what’s to come: a light, 3-day maceration, with a year in used barrels to calm down the fruit. There’s a maturity to this style of winemaking: just like they claim, this new project has a serious vision of the future, and a long life ahead.
Uva is an urban winery – a curiosity in this part of France. Located in Sète, a gorgeous, small seaside city sometimes called the Venice of France because of its bright-coloured buildings and system of canals, this is a one-stop winery-discothèque-grocery store founded by a globetrotting group of friends. The project in its sum is a perfect representation of the moving and shaking that happens amongst young people in rural natural wine hotspots. There’s a need for versatile gathering spaces, and natural wine fills that need. We love to see it, almost as much as we love this wine: a bright pink sparkler with all that bright Carignan acidity and all that ample Mediterranean fruit. A party wine for dancing to sweet tunes while you figure out how to open your own urban winery. In the meantime, start planning your trip to the South of France.
La Mariota, 2022
It’s a classic natural wine origin tale. Two international sommeliers, Argentinian-born Guillermo and Cecilia, worked for many years in the Parisian restaurant scene until they tired of the late nights and traded them in for early mornings and a small parcel of land. Their approach, however, is different from other young upstarts in the region. Instead of making young, high smashable wines with a quick turnaround, they are taking their time with things, investing in longer barrel- and bottle-ageing before releasing to market. In essence, they’re looking to make fine, old-style Roussillon wines, expressive of the terroir, in the most natural way possible. This one, an orange wine of muscat in maceration, is highly floral, almost even reminiscent of a curry – and in the spirit of its makers, we say it’s worth keeping for a while.