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Greetings from the Wine Cellar:

This week’s Wine Cellar Newsletter musings: Natural wines. I hear more and more of sort of an underground buzz these days about so-called “natural wines.” I don’t think there is an official agreed-upon definition, but the consensus seems to be that they’re wines from small, even artisan producers that feature grape-growing that’s certified organic, “sustainable” and in many cases, “bio-dynamic.” But that’s not all. To be considered truly natural by those who promote the concept, the winemaking has to “minimally interventionist” with the use of no additives or artificial inputs of any kind, including the addition of sulfites at any point in the winemaking process (sulfites seem to be controversial enough for some people to merit their own Newsletter discussion, so let’s save that one for another day). Here in the Wine Cellar I don’t have any wines that call themselves “natural wines”, although I do have a few that don’t have any added sulfites and can thus be labeled
as fully organic. Most of the wines we carry are made by what I consider to be fairly small producers, relative to the major players in the industry that dominate the shelves in the grocery and big-box stores. But the fact is, I get almost all my wines from large wholesale distributors who are just about 100% uninterested in carrying wines from truly small, artisan, “natural wine” producers – these little guys just don’t make enough wine for the major distributors to bother with. Who knows, that may change over time if demand really grows for supposedly more natural, artisan, “pure” wines. But as I noted, most of the wines we have here in the Cellar are from wineries that are fairly small relative to the giants of the industry. The majority of them follow organic grape-growing practices, and I think they for the most part use as little sulfites and other additives as they possibly can to produce wine that will last reasonably long on the store shelf and in the cellar.

Anyway, my point is this: if you really do want to drink wines from producers that emphasize natural winemaking practices, then you need to seek out stores that really care about the wines they sell and that want to carry wines from producers that they feel have the same mentality. With apologies to the big-box stores, that simply is not their mindset and never will be. It’s a big part of the reason I opened the Old Town Wine Cellar all those years ago when I came to Yuma, because I wanted to get my wine from a place like that. And I have ever since!


Schlumberger 2018 Pinot Blanc Les Abesses (Alsace, France) $17.99

Bright, fresh aromas of kiwi fruit, lemon zest and pear, accented by a background hint of green apples mix on the nose of this Alsatian Pinot Blanc. Ripe tropical fruit and nectarine highlight the vibrant flavors. The lithe palate combines superb balance with a crisp finish.

J. Wilkes 2017 Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley) $22.99

This is evocative of an “Old World” style of Pinot Noir. From its bright acidity to its earthy core and silky smooth texture, it shows a depth and complexity that stands out. Dusty cherry-cocoa tannins frame to earthy and spicy nuances, as floral tones weave throughout this vividly expressive wine.

Bodegas Muriel 2015 Rioja Reserva (Rioja, Spain) $15.99

This wine opens with the classic cherry, vanilla and tobacco leaf tones that Rioja reds are famous for. In the mouth, spicy dark cherry and berry fruit flavors mingle with a touch of vanilla and anise, with a pleasant note of toast from two years of oak barrel aging.

Goldschmidt Winery 2018 Fidelity Red (Alexander Valley) $16.99

All the fruit for the wine was sourced from Nick Goldschmidt’s own Crazy Creek Vineyard in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. A Meritage-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit
Verdot, this is a rich and supple red with flavors of ripe cherries, espresso and dark chocolate.

Perinet 2016 Merit (Priorat, Spain) $29.99

The Perinet Merit is a blend of 35% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 19% Garnacha and 16% Cariñena. In the glass, this wine expresses the pure essence of the famed “licorella” slate soils of the Priorat. The palate offers vivid berry fruit flavors like blackberry and plum, edged with intriguing spice notes. Firm tannins reveal an iron-driven minerality.


Patz & Hall 2017 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) $39.99

In the bouquet this Pinot Noir’s cool-climate charm takes the form of bright, fresh cherry and strawberry. These fetching aromas are echoed on the palate, with complex flavors of Morello cherry, strawberry and raspberry edged with spicy cinnamon and clove hints.

Clos de los Siete 2017 Red Blend (Valle de Uco, Argentina) $18.99

This is a deep red in the glass, shot through with the purple glints characteristic of Malbec. On the nose, an intense and complex aromatic expression exudes subtle notes of blueberries, lavender and spice. In the mouth, tannins are assertive yet ripe, framing a fruit-filled palate that’s juicy, caressing and refined.

Stonegate 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) $22.99

This is a classic expression of Napa Valley Cabernet, with a lush bouquet of dark fruit and cassis accented by hints of cedar and vanilla. Deep and vivid fruit flavors on the palate are beautifully conveyed on a silky tannic frame, coming to a lingering finish.

Kracher 2017 Beerenauslese Cuvee (Burgenland, Austria) $34.99

This Beerenauslese is wonderfully rich and aromatic, with aromas of spiced marmalade, barley sugar, apricot jam and candied lemon. Then it fills the mouth with luscious flavors of honey, tarte tatin and exotic fruits which linger beautifully.


Mike Shelhamer
Old Town Wine Cellar
265 S. Main Street, Suite E
Yuma, Arizona 85364

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