News & Events


Illinois Trade! You’re invited for Bubbles, Fried Chicken & Waffles!

Corks popping from 10am to 12:30pm.
A wide array of sparkling wines will be open for tasting:

  • Cream Imports (Bereche, Laherte Freres, Vadin-Plateau, Raventos i Blanc, and more)
  • Rosenthal Wine Merchant (Rosenthal Wine Merchant imports authentic, terroir-centric sparkling wines from France, Italy and Spain. These prestigious producers walk the line between tradition and idiosyncrasy. John Paine will be showcasing a large selection of terroir-centric sparkling wines from the Rosenthal book that is available for special order this fall.)
  • Champagne Lanson (Founded 16 years before the USA, Champagne Lanson is one of the oldest, family-run Champagne houses. Over the years, the winemakers behind this famous label have carefully perfected their art, passing down the secrets of their craft from one generation to the next. Thibault Marronnier will have the whole Lanson line open along with some special order items available this fall.)

711 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60642
(3 minutes from Chicago Blue Line, 7 minutes from Grand Blue Line)

Trade Only Please; RSVP requested to

National Vodka Day: Valentine Distilling Co.


Over on Lake Eerie, Valentine Distilling Co. wants to talk to you about water. This past April, the Michigan distillery announced their 10-year sustainability initiative, beginning with a large scale water reclamation project. During the late spring, Valentine completed an installation that will re-claim up to 98% of water used during production. With five liters of water for every one liter of vodka, this new investment is saving up to 2,000 gallons a day, amounting to just under 5 million gallons a year. It doesn’t stop here - through their Farm to Bottle to Farm program, Valentine gives all of their spent grain to local farmers to use as cattle feed. LED lighting has replaced all incandescents in the distillery, and future plans include solar and wind power for the facility and cocktail lounge.

Valentine owner and Michigan-native Rifino Valentine believes that this investment in product, community, and future sustainability are critical steps in his fight against mass-produced spirits. As a young trader on Wall Street in the early 2000s, Rifino saw how beholden corporate America was to turning profits in the fastest and cheapest way possible. A dirty martini drinker himself, it was during this period that Rifino began to notice of all the import labels on the top shelf. Filled with additives such as Glycerin, Citric Acid & Limoene as the cheap and easy way for body and mouth feel, the mass produced stuff from the States just wasn’t cutting it. Where was the high-quality, hand crafted American vodka?

This quest for great domestic product inspired Rifino to study distilling at Michigan State University. With micro-distilleries just catching on, Rifino seized on the opportunity to actualize his vision for an additive free, artisan distillery. In the midst of Detroit’s bankruptcy, where better suited for a renaissance with hand crafted American manufacturing than Motor City? Valentine opened Valentine Distilling Co. in 2007 as the antidote for the city’s decline and as a fight back against mass-produced spirits, and the first bottle hit the market in 2008. Quality grain, copper stills and dedicated distillers remain fundamental pillars for Valentine’s small batch spirits, and today, there are hundreds of artisan distillers across the country following their model and reclaiming quality in American spirit production. Valentine’s transparency in sustainability is another example of Valentine’s progressive leadership in the spirits industry. At a company that stands for responsibility in craft, Rifino believes that an investment in sustainability is not only a natural step, but a critical move, and we are excited to see the actualization of their initiative over the following decade.

“I have a simple philosophy: everything that I do must be done with quality in mind above all else, the way it was meant to be done. I’ve always appreciated the American craftsman; working by hand, making one of kind items that stand the test of time. In distillation, this means selecting the best ingredients, distilling in small batches, and taking care in every single step of the process. I take great pride in using old world techniques, techniques that haven’t changed in centuries. There are no computers controlling the stills, just my sense of taste and smell to determine the cuts.” - Rifino Valentine

Vodka Berry Bramble Swizzle
2 oz Valentine Vodka
3⁄4 oz Lemon Juice
1⁄2 oz Simple Syrup
Fresh Raspberries, Blackberries, Myrtle Berries (Go Nuts!)
Float of Lucien Jacob Crème de Cassis

1. Muddle lemon juice, simple syrup and berries in a tumbler
2. Add vodka and ice, shake
3. Strain over crushed ice
4. Float Lucien Jacob Creme de Cassis
5. Garnish with a mint and more berries

La Clarine Farm: Four New Releases for Fall Drinking

LaClarineFarmFallReleases.jpg A Note from Hank:
Hard to fathom that Fall (and harvest) is already here! We’ve been very busy over the last two weeks bringing in grapes, and we are pretty excited by what we are seeing, smelling and tasting so far. The grapes are taking their time to ripen, and it is looking like this year’s wines will be lower in alcohol, and very very tasty! Fermentations are fairly quick this year, and the wines are already starting to show some wonderful flavors. As of today, we are about half-way done, and if the weather cooperates, this will be remembered as a quite pleasant harvest. In the meantime, here are four new wines to get you through the Fall and early Winter months. A delicious Viognier, a new vintage of our skin-macerated Albariño Al Basc, the final vintage of the Piedi Grandi, and a new autumn house wine, B-Sides. Details below.

- Hank, Caro, dogs, cats & goats

La Clarine Farm 2018 Viognier, Sierra Foothills:
Every once in a while, the stars align, the vintage is (nearly) perfect, and the Viognier is flat-out spectacular on its own. Hank saw this immediately as the wine started to ferment. The Viognier fruit was manually harvested, whole cluster pressed and co-fermented in tank with native yeast. The 2018 vintage has amazing aromatics and the perfect balance of exuberance and subtlety. This is an awesome, delicious white for Fall drinking!

La Clarine Farm 2018 ‘Al Basc’ (Albarino Skin Contact), Sierra Foothills:
The 2018 vintage of La Clarine’s skin-fermented and skin-macerated Albariño was whole cluster fermented in an open-top fermented. Hank leaves the wine until the following Spring, then gently racks (no pressing). It was bottled unfined and unfiltered with all of its cloudy, intense glory.
Pairing Notes by Hank:
“The Al Basc is amazingly flexible with a large variety of food choices. We’ve paired it with fish, meat and cheeses, all of them delicious together. 
I suspect that wines like these will age pretty much forever. We’ve had bottles open for weeks that showed few signs of degradation, but rather gained depth and complexity. (I wouldn’t recommend the “bottle opened for weeks” as a regular practice, though. We experiment so you don’t have to.)”

La Clarine Farm 2017 ‘B-Sides’:
This Mourvedre and Syrah duo came about after Hank had blended together his 2017 Funky Drummer. There were several lots of really delicious wine that didn’t make that blend, so, taking his cue from the musical inspiration already in the air, Hank decided the A-side cut (Funky Drummer) needed a B-Side. Everything was whole cluster fermented and aged in tank before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The B-Sides is bright and full of energy, showing lovely flashes of smoke and soil. There is a slight autumnal feel to the wine, like the warm glow of late afternoon, low-angle sunlight through golden/red tree leaves, spilling through your living room window. This is the perfect red wine for Fall drinking.

La Clarine Farm 2017 ‘Piedi Grandi’ Rouge, Sierra Foothills
Piedi Grandi’s name stems from the first vintage of the wine, which was foot crushed by Hank’s friend and his daughters. The friend, John, is a big dude with big feet. ‘Piedi Grandi’ or big feet was named in honor of him.

For the 2017 vintage, Hank has returned to what he considers to be the ideal ratio of Nebbiolo to Mourvedre - about 60:40. The 60:40 ratio allows the Nebbiolo to show its best characteristics (floral aromas, a bit of tar and roses really, and those amazingly energetic, fine-grained Nebbiolo tannins), while the Mourvèdre plays the important support role (mid-palate presence, approachability, and a bit of spice). In short - the Nebbiolo provides the flash, and the Mourvedre makes it drinkable in your lifetime.

After 2018 provided zero Nebbiolo for La Clarine Farm (thank you so so much, Jack Frost), Hank has decided to take a break from this one. So, this will be the last vintage of the Piedi Grandi for the foreseeable future.Sorry to see it go, but so happy it’s going out on such a high note!

Digging Beaujolais? Check out Bardolino.

Digging Beaujolais? Check out Italy’s Bardolino.

Sitting at the base of the alpine foothills on Lake Garda’s eastern shores, the Bardolino D.O.C. ranks pretty high on the list of vineyards with a good view. The region got official D.O.C. status in 1968, the same year as it’s slightly more famous neighbor, Valpolicella. Just over 6,000 acres of vines make up this small D.O.C., where plantings consist mainly of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Typically unoaked and rent week friendly (drink ‘em young folks!), grapes are traditionally blended into a rosato, called Bardolino Chiaretto, or a chillable, light-bodied red that is delicate and refreshingly uncomplicated, characterized by its red, ripe fruit notes with a bit of spice on the finish.

Located in the very heart of Bardolino production, Le Fraghe’s Matilde Poggi has become one of the most regarded winemakers of the region. Poggi’s roots run deep in the town of Affi, which sits just east of Lake Garda and south of Monte Baldo. The property and it’s 15th-century stone farmhouse have been in the family since 1880, and in 2013, Matilde was elected President of the Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti (Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers).

Now three decades in since her first harvest in 1984, Matilde’s wines show everything there is to love about the Bardolino region. Fresh, fruity and easy to drink, while still delicate and refined, they are the ultimate picnic/party wines. This refreshing elegance can be attributed to Poggi’s philosophy in the field and in the cellar. The estate’s 28 hectares, which consists mainly of Corvina plantings, followed by Rondinella and Garganega, have been farmed organically since 2009. Indigenous yeast are used from the vineyards but not in a spontaneous way; Matilde makes a small batch fermentation from the vineyard and then inoculates the rest of the harvest with that yeast. Fermentations are very cold and slow to increase complexity and fresh flavors.
Read more! Wine Spectator: Bardolino? Seriously?

Le Fraghe 2017 ‘Camporengo’ Garganega, Veneto IGT
Garganega is the principal grape variety in Soave, an area about less than an hour from Le Fraghe. The grape is indigenous to the area. This fresh, attractive white wine shows aromas and flavors of apple, almond, herbs, and a hint of white peach. The palate is notable for its full body, excellent progression, and overall harmony. This is a great everyday bottle of white wine. Camporengo Garganega is delicious with first courses of seasonal vegetables and fresh seafood.

Le Fraghe 2018 ‘Rodon’ Bardolino Chiaretto (Rose) DOC
91pts by Wine Enthusiast (7/1/2019)
A blend of organically farmed Corvina (80%) and Rondinella (20%), this elegant rosato opens with enticing scents of spring field flower, aromatic herb, ripe peach and a whiff of baking spice. Smooth, bright and juicy, the savory, easy-drinking palate offers wild red berry, tangerine zest and a hint of white pepper alongside tangy acidity.

Featured in: by Tom Hyland (2018) by Jon Bonné (2018) by Jon Bonné (2014)

Le Fraghe 2018 Bardolino DOC
The Bardolino has a complex bouquet, with fruity essences such as sweet-sour cherry and blueberry, and spicy nuances of cinnamon and black pepper. The distinctive hallmark of this wine is without a doubt the elegance that one experiences on the palate. Although this is a standard-label wine for near-term enjoyment, it displays a remarkably soft suite of tannins and a lovely balance between a judicious acidity and full, savory flavors, characteristic of wines of this area.

Cream Cocktail: Whiskey Sour

Ransom Wines & Spirits, founded by Tad Seestedt in 1997, is an artisan winery and distillery located in McMinnville, Oregon. Tad named the operation Ransom to represent the debt incurred to start the business; Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream.

Initially, the distillery made small amounts of grappa, eau de vie and brandy. The production of small batch, fine wines started in 1999. In 2007, Tad took up the craft of grain-based spirits, adding gin, whiskey and vodka to the lineup. In 2010, Tad combined his crafts of winemaking and distilling to create his first dry vermouth.

Ransom sources local and organic grains for their spirits where possible. Tad mashes and ferments the base wort on site weekly in small batches. The spirits are distilled in a hand-hammered, direct-fired French alembic pot still. Tad makes all of the selective cuts by taste and smell, without the use of computers or robots. This labor intensive, traditional method of distillation retains greater aromatic intensity and body from the raw materials they select with such great care.

The pot distilled, handcrafted Whipper Snapper represents Tad’s endeavor to utilize and combine the best of production methods, and technical approaches to making bourbon, scotch, Irish whiskey, and Dutch corenwyn. The Whipper Snapper cannot be placed in one category of whiskey. It is clearly different from any one single style, with the best of the parts from several distinct styles. Although the mash bill is most similar to bourbon, it is quite heavy on malted barley, and aromatically is more similar to a highland scotch or Irish whiskey. It is intended for sipping, mixing in cocktails, or just plain drinking.

Whiskey Sour

2 oz Ransom Wines & Spirits ‘Whipper Snapper’ Whiskey
3⁄4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
one whole Egg White

Add all ingredients to tin without ice, dry shake, add ice, hard shake, strain into coupe or rocks glass

Cream Cocktails: Fancy Grappka Lemonade


Turning lemons into lemonade the Italian way, by distilling grape pomace into an even boozier digestif. When it comes to alcohol, Grappa is just about as zero waste as you can get. During the winemaking process, grape juice is pressed out and fermented, leaving behind skins, pulp, seeds and stems. While many consider this pomace to be waste, legend has it that a particularly thrifty Roman soldier discovered that these leftover grape remnants were in fact packed with flavor and aromatics, and could be boiled, distilled and extracted for alcohol.

This recycled grape must elixir is now a protected name under European law, and is widely produced and consumed across Italy. Typically ranging from 35-60% ABV, the potent and boozy Grappa is frequently served as a digestif or mixed straight into coffee, called a caffè corretto or “corrected coffee.” Although it got a bad rep in the past as Italy’s moonshine, in recent years, Grappa has become more popular in American bars and restaurants, where it has been recognized for it’s great potential in cocktails.

Grappa is coming up on it’s moment here in the states, and Ransom Wines & Spirits has some of the best home grown stuff you can find. Ransom’s Tad Seestedt released his first Grappa in 1997, and has been making it in limited production ever since. Based in the Willamette Valley, Ransom’s Grappa is carefully crafted to an unparalleled standard of quality. Aromatic white varieties are harvested at optimum ripeness and lightly pressed. The free-run juice becomes wine while the pomace, which still holds a high percentage of juice, is used for the grappa. The pomace is covered with water, lightly pressed and distilled in alambic copper stills. The resulting Grappa is an elegant, effusive expression of both the varietal character of the grapes and the time-honored traditions of fermentation and alembic distillation. An ethereal, inviting nose showcases elderflower, heirloom pear, and tea rose. Hints of stone fruit and cassia show on a long, elegant finish. Drink neat, pour into your coffee, or add to your bar as your new favorite mixer.

Fancy Grappka Lemonade

1oz Valentine Vodka
1oz Ransom Wines & Spirits Grappa
.75oz Lemon Oleo Sacchrum
Check out Difford’s Guide for the ultimate Lemon Oleo recipe
.25 Lemon Juice

Shake, strain over Ice in Collins glass.

National Rum Day: Negroni x Admiral Rodney


The not-so-secret ingredient in your favorite tiki cocktails, rum is made from sugarcane juice, cane syrup or molasses that has been fermented, distilled, and frequently aged in oak barrels. While today it is produced around the world, the heart of rum’s production is found in the Caribbean, where it was first distilled from the sugar canes planted by European colonizers. Distinct styles evolved from the islands different production methods, which can be generally grouped into British, Spanish and French-style rum.

Rum has been intertwined with the Caribbean’s culture and heritage for nearly 400 years. The Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) Marque was developed to celebrate this history, and act as a symbol of authenticity, provenance and quality for rums within the West Indies Rum and Spirts Producers’ Association Inc. (WIRSPA) family. This marque on the bottle indicates the rum was distilled in one of 30 Caribbean distilleries that have guaranteed the origin and provenance of their rum. No additives are permitted to ACR rums, and the age indicated on the bottle must be the youngest of the blend in the bottle. As usage of the marque grows it will act as a visual symbol to help trade customers and consumers identify ACR brands as a distinct sector within the drinks industry.

Chairman’s Reserve Rum was the first rum in the US to bear the ACR marquee. Chairman’s rums are produced by St. Lucia Distillers, the only distillery on the island of St. Lucia, and the home base for Bounty and Admiral Rodney rums. St. Lucia Distillers has four different stills, which gives them the ability to make different rums with varying flavor profiles. These British-style rums capture the island’s dynamic and festive qualities, which stem from the island’s traditional and cultural roots.

The Admiral Rodney series of rare and matured rums are handcrafted using traditional methods with an unbreakable commitment to quality. All Admiral Rodney rums are distilled using the distillery’s 45-plate Coffey still, which was commissioned in 1984. Admiral Rodney rums are extracted from the bottom plates of the Coffey still as these distillates have the balance of flavors which enable a long maturation period to provide intensity and complexity. All of the rums are aged in old bourbon barrels.

Negroni x Admiral Rodney

1.5oz Admiral Rodney Princessa
.75oz Bordiga Aperitivo
.75oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth

Directions Stir, strain into coupe or over a large rock (which ever you prefer) express and garnish with an orange peel.

Taking it Slow with Slacker

slacker.jpgOne of the most revered producers in Paso Robles, Matt Trevisan’s conceptual and artisan wines have made him a pioneer in California’s small production wine movement. Born in South California, Matt moved to San Luis Obispo in 1990 to study biochemistry at Cal Poly University. It was during this period that he began apprenticing at local wineries, sparking his passion in winemaking and (unknowingly) launching a career in the field.

Matt started Linne Calodo in 1998 as a side project while driving forklifts at Wild Horse Winery, with the intention of producing small batch, low intervention wines that showed the very best of West Paso terroir. 

And that he did - always fine-tuning, Matt has become known for his impressive, fresh blends of Central Coast grown Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Zinfandel (among others). Polyculture is thriving. Vineyards are farmed sustainably, and vines are surrounded by oak trees, olives and fruit trees. In the cellar, there’s no formula; Matt makes wine by the taste and feel, crushing fruit straight into the barrel. 

Linne Calodo’s minimalist wines have gained a cult following among passionate consumers and sophisticated somms alike, and Slacker, Matt’s second label, has all there is to love at a more accessible price point. Swimming with the big boys but having more fun doing it, Slacker wines don’t worry about expectations, reviews, and scores. Grapes are manually harvested, sorted by hand and ferment with native yeast. These fun blends showcase Matt’s ability to constantly keep creating and pioneering the exciting possibilities of the Paso Robles wine regions.

Slacker Wines 2017 ‘Pink’ Rose of Grenache, Paso Robles
Dry, refreshing and fuller bodied, the Pink has become a staple in the Cream fridge. 100% saignée Grenache, the Pink get it’s rose-hued color from 1-3 hours of skin contact. This is a complex rosé, with notes of dried strawberries, citrus and white flowers. With more depth and flesh, the balanced Pink is a total food wine and perfect for fall in Chicago.

Slacker Wines 2016 ‘Stereotype’ Paso Robles
A Paso Robles Rhône-style wine, the Stereotype is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Notes of raspberry, plum and bramble fruit are balanced with light, smooth tannins. Grenache lends some spice to this medium-bodied red, with hints of cinnamon and anise. The Stereotype is an easy-drinker with depth. Light, bright and full of flavor, this is a quintessential BBQ wine, or Sunday football wine complete with the lazy day morning-after label to boot.

Slacker Wines 2016 ‘Wanna Be’ Paso Robles
Don’t worry about dessert - the Wanna Be is a savory glass of blackberry pie. Jammy, full bodied and super smooth, this is Zin for your friend who doesn’t like Zin. This is another well balanced, fresh and fruit forward red from Slacker, with a bit of spice and sweet, smoky tobacco. The Zin-Syrah-Mourvedre blend make for a rich, red fruit driven wine with depth. This is the perfect wine for pizza nights, pot lucks and curry-spiced dishes.

About the Labels: Matt’s wines are a balance between art and science, and Slacker’s cinematic, alternative labels fit the bill. The labels are part of a long overdue collaboration with Director and Photographer Philip Andelman, who helped out with a Calodo harvest in 2005 and continues to be a friend of the winery. Philip started his career working for photographer Annie Leibovitz, and later began directing music videos and commercials for a wide range of artists and clients such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Nora Jones, Nike and NFL. Alongside film work, Philip recently returned to photography, working closely in the past few years with a select handful of musicians, casually following them on and off the road. From Jack White to Ryan Adams, the Beastie Boys and Beck. Philips work has evolved out of his love of music and travel, his series of photographs resembling scrapbooks chronicling his life.

FEATURED: New Producer Alert! The Farm of Seven Moons

New Producer from the Northern Rhône: La Ferme des Sept Lunes

Letter from Andy Pates:
A few years ago, friend and colleague Doug Polaner introduced us to La Ferme des Sept Lunes by sharing some bottles and knowledge. If you know Doug, this is a common occurrence. I found the Sept Lunes wines to be singular, energetic and alive. They are undeniably Northern Rhone, but not as weighty, polished, or fancy as expected from years of emotional wine baggage. I was immediately attracted to the freshness and friendliness of the wines as well as the start of a lively evolved secondary.

This past January in France I was able to meet and taste with Jean Delobre of La Ferme des Sept Lunes and secure a small allocation for Illinois. Thank you Doug and Jean for such an honor to be in collaboration. These wines have recently arrived and are available for purchase. Reach out to your Cream sales representative for availability and tasting.


FermedesSeptLunes_Jean.jpg Founded in 1984, third generation Jean Delobre is the current proprietor and vigneron of his family farm La Ferme des Sept Lunes (The Farm of Seven Moons). Sept Lunes is located in the hilltop village of Bogy, between Vienne and Valence, and is one of the highest estates in Saint-Joseph (about 1,150 feet above the valley floor), which exposes it to cool winds. Polyculture is practiced to create a harmonious environment for the plants to thrive naturally. The biodiversity is truly majestic; wildflowers, grasses, and fruit trees grow in and around the vines. Meadows and grains fill several hectares on the property. The land is biodynamically farmed; conversion took place back in 1997.

Jean owns 30 hectares of which only about 7-10 hectares are planted to the grapes Syrah (50%), Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, and Gamay. The vines range in age and composition. The soil is primarily granite. The wines are designated Saint-Joseph AOC (Syrah for red and Roussanne/Marsanne for white) as well as Vin de France. Each wine is site specific; parcels are vinified separately in an effort to capture the individual characteristics of each terroir.

Patience is key in the cellar. Jean Delobre allows the wines to evolve at their own pace. After the grapes are harvested by hand with careful sorting, they ferment spontaneously with wild yeast. Various fermentation and aging vessels are used. There is no new oak. Transparency of flavors and terroir is Jean’s goal. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally. No additives are used with one exception; a low amount of sulfites are added at bottling only when it’s absolutely unavoidable.

The result? La Ferme des Sept Lunes wines have incredible energy, freshness, and depth of flavor that have earned the farm a cult following. The high elevation helps provide acidity and freshness to the wines. The natural winemaking creates texture and tension. There is a classic simplicity to the flavors; these are not funky natural wines. They are pure and alive with depth and delicious juiciness.

La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2017 ‘Lune Rousse’ Saint-Joseph Blanc AOC The Roussanne is sourced from multiple parcels with varied exposure on a cool hillside. The resulting wine has beautiful tension and real energy. It is a bit reminiscent of dry Chenin Blanc. Expect lemon, apricot, and white peach on a creamy, medium-bodied palate.

La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2016 Saint-Joseph Blanc AOC The Roussanne and Marsanne grapes were manually harvested. Then they were vinified in stainless steel with indigenous yeast and aged separately for one year in old oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation occurred. The result is an impressive Saint-Joseph Blanc. This is waxy, earthy, and saline with incredible freshness and tension.

La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2016 ‘Pleine Lune’ Saint-Joseph AOC Pleine Lune, or “Full Moon,” is sourced from four hillside parcels in Saint-Désirat totaling 1.2 hectares. The vineyards have a southern exposure. The vines are biodynamically farmed with fruit trees, lilacs and wild herbs growing throughout the terraces.
The grapes are destemmed into concrete vats for spontaneous fermentation. Daily pump overs and foot pigéage is done. The Syrah ages in a combination of 80% neutral demi-muids and 20% old barrels for 12 months, then 3-4 months in tank before being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without SO2.

La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2016 ‘Premier Quartier’ Saint-Joseph AOC Premier Quartier Saint-Joseph is a blend of multiple parcels with varied exposure on the Peyraud plateau. Plantings are from the early 1980s as well as massale selection vines from 2006-2008. The grapes are destemmed into concrete vats for spontaneous fermentation. Daily pump overs and foot pigéage is done. The Syrah ages in a combination of 90% old barrels and 10% neutral demi-muids for 12 months, then 3-4 months in tank before being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with a about 15 mg/L of SO2.

La Ferme des Sept Lunes 2016 Saint-Joseph, Chemin Faisant, AOC
The grapes are destemmed into concrete vats for spontaneous fermentation. Daily pump overs and foot pigéage is done. The Syrah ages in a combination of 80% neutral demi-muids and 20% old barrels for 12 months, then 3-4 months in tank before being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without SO2.

Move over Malbec, it's Bonarda's time to shine

pura.jpgBonarda is one of those wines that needs an intro - but we promise it’s worth the read. Bonarda, also known as Charbono, is a rare French variety that made its way across the pond with early European immigrants. Originally from Savoie, where it is called Douce Noir, new world Bonarda plantings in Argentina and California have historically been confused for the Italian variety, Bonarda Piemontese. Whatever you call it, these wines are loved for their juicy acidity, medium body and complex, fruity palate. Plantings of the true Douce Noir are limited - California’s Charbono plantings cover less than 100 acres of land. Limited Charbono supply has been brought back into the domestic market by passionate winemakers like Robert Foley, who’s winemaking career started with his first taste of Inglenook Winery’s 1969 Charbono straight from the cask.

Looking to get your hands on some of this sought after juice? While plantings are rare in California, Bonarda production trails right behind Malbec in Argentina. Bonarda was first introduced to Argentina at the end of the 19th century by European immigrants. At first thought to be the Italian variety, Bonarda Piemontese, it was not until 2009 that genetic testing proved that Argentina’s vines were in fact Douce Noir. While grown successfully in all parts of Argentina, the thin skinned and late ripening Bonarda thrives in Mendoza and San Juan’s warm, dry climate, where cool nights facilitate juicy acidity. Argentina’s Bonarda wines can be further recognized for their low tannins, low alcohol, and complex aromatics and palate, with notes of black cherry, plum, and allspice. This balancing act makes for ample food pairings; Bonarda’s medium body, lower tannins and high acidity make it a great match for spicy foods, pork and fish.

Bonarda is Malbec’s cool cousin that we definitely want to invite to the party, and we hope Matias Michelini comes too. Matias is the winemaker and agronomist of Via Revolucionaria, located in Tupungato, Uco Valley in the Mendoza. Matias strives to make experimental wines that express terroir. These wines are extremely low production and are drawn from multiple inspirations, regions, and styles. The wines are all sourced from a single vineyard and fermented with native yeast.

Via Revolucionaria 2018 ‘Pura’ Bonarda, Mendoza
The Bonarda grapes are sourced from the Manuel Pelegrina Vineyard in Tupungato, planted in 1972. This 100% carbonic macerated Bonarda was harvested by hand over four separate passages, and fermented with indigenous yeast. Ringing in at 12% ABV, Pura is an easy drinker with finesse. This wine has great tension and bright acidity, balanced by a soft and round midpalate. Acid jumps out at you from the glass, with notes of tart cherry and mixed berry jam.

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