Thursday, November 13, 2014

New & Improved

Please visit our exciting new website. This blog is no longer being maintained. Thank you for your continued support.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Living Wines Week!

We cordially invite you to a full week of free tastings that illustrate what we do here at Thirst. It starts tomorrow, Saturday March 1st at 5pm, with a class in which we'll pour pure, energetic wines that taste of the places they come from. We've also invited similar-minded friends in the wine world to pour wines they represent (see schedule below). 

What are Living Wines? 
Come see and taste for yourself. They're wines made with care in the vineyard by individuals who farm organically and/or biodynamically and who naturally ferment their wines with nothing added or taken away except, perhaps, a homeopathic dose of sulfur. These are the opposite of mass-produced wines that are commonly made with potentially hundreds of different additives and chemicals and often engineered with lab yeasts. We want to demonstrate the difference. Our goal is to bring you wines that are alive and give pleasure. 

Saturday, 3/1, 5-7pm: Launch with Staff and A Thirst Merchant Selection or few
Sunday, 3/2 5-7pm: Byron Bates, Goatboy Selections
Monday, 3/3, 6-8pm: Kreso Petrekovic, Zev Rovine Selections
Tuesday, 3/4, 6-8pm: Maya Pedersen, Louis/Dressner Selections
Wednesday, 3/5, 6-8pm: Steven Plant, David Bowler Wine
Thursday, 3/6, 6-8pm: Chris Terrell, Terrell Wines
Friday, 3/7, 6-8pm: FINALE! (with a couple of surprises)

Tyler on why he likes working at our shop: 

We sell the type of wine I like to drink.

There is no shortage of descriptors for the bottles which line our shelves, each suggesting a unifying theme for a wild, nuanced world of wine. At the end of the day, what matters is that the glass we fill contains a living, honest liquid which was extracted from the ground with both consideration and trust. I don't know if there's truly a word for that. To be honest, I'm not sure there needs to be. 

The kinds of wine we sell - and, in turn, I drink - are the kinds of wine which interrupt a thought. They create a pause in conversation, they confront us, and we're forced to react. "How is this just grape juice?" We pour these wines, we take a sip, and then we look at the glass. "This is so freaking good." Of course, there's a lot more to it. Through our tastings this week, I hope that we can create a discussion about what exactly that is. We can talk about soil and sulfur and governmental regulations and fermentation and packaging and grapes and all of that. That stuff is really important. Until then, we can keep things simple. 

I'm proud to sell wine which aren't afraid to make a statement. There is an energy in these bottles, and I have yet to find the right word for it. For now, I'll settle with "ours."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Thirst Merchants Selection

This month we highlight a few of the wines we bring in directly. These are hand-made wines from quite small, independent, artisanal winemakers we discovered and whose wines we're especially proud to represent as “A Thirst Merchants Selection.” 

The wines of Camille & Mathias Marquet and Francois Saint-Lo are honest, limited, small-batch -- so if you find that you really like them, BUY MORE before they disappear! This is the first time they are available in the US.

Mathias Marquet

Chateau Lestignac, located in the Southwest of France in Bergerac, was almost sold when Camille and Mathias Marquet convinced their family to let them take it over. Their first vintage was 2008 and they immediately began by farming organically. They’re now certified organic by Ecocert and also apply biodynamic treatments.  

After just one vintage of trying to listen to the advice of an oenologist, Camille and Matthias realized that they simply needed to trust their own instincts. The result: true Thirst wines with great purity and freshness but also deeply reflective of their terroir. As Mathias has eloquently put it: “Ce qui nous intéresse, c’est que le vin ait une personnalité.” [What interests us is wine that has a personality.] Their wines demonstrate that distinctive and profound wines can be made in lesser-known areas like Bergerac. 

LESTIGNAC Les Abeilles des Collinettes 2012 
Made from 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, this fantastic white wine is lively on the palate with a chalky limestone minerality, pleasing citrus notes, and mouthwatering crispness. $18/bottle.

LESTIGNAC Le Rouge et Le Noir 2012 
This vivid natural smoky red is a true wine of pleasure. It’s composed of 95% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot from grapes grown on clay soil. $18/bottle.

Francois Saint-Lo

Francois Saint-Lo is a young winemaker whose first vintage was 2012. He was born in Normandy and his family was not involved with winemaking. However, he became passionately interested in working the vines and making wine and apprenticed with Olivier Cousin, among others. He has managed to buy a piece of land in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley with troglodyte caves, get a few hectares of vines, and immediately turn out stellar wines. Later this year we will also have his Chenin Blanc, Grolleau, Gamay as well as white and rose pet-nats. Francois’ wines achieve an elegant balance and a taste of place that gives us a feeling of deja vu. Tasting his wines we are reminded why we fell in love with the Loire in the first place. 

FRANCOIS SAINT-LO On L’Aime Nature 2012 
We discovered Francois last year when we tasted samples of his wines at the Raw Wine Fair in London that had not yet finished fermenting and immediately committed to bringing in his wines. 2012 is his first vintage. His patience and gentleness is reflected in the stunning purity of his wines. His Cabernet Franc has a liveliness on the palate, there's a beautiful honesty to it, and gentle tannins. Aaron Ayscough in his excellent blog, Not Drinking Poison in Paris, describes it as "shimmeringly elegant, a real see-through dress of a red wine." $22/bottle.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Eruptions: Chiara Vigo and Frank Cornelissen

JANUARY WINE CLUB OFFERING! Sign up now to get the following two wines for $50.

Etna, Oh Etna, or Raw and Rawer
This month we take you to Sicily by offering you two red wines that are informed by the eruptions of the volcano that is Mount Etna. These distinctive wines, made from grapes grown in volcanic soil, are made with a deep respect for tradition by two strong personalities who bring a fresh perspective to this ancient winegrowing region: Frank Cornelissen, a Belgian who moved to Sicily to make wine, and Chiara Vigo who returned from her studies, in Bologna, Venice and Paris, to make wine at home.
Frank Cornelissen at The Raw Wine Fair in 2013

Frank Cornelissen makes his wine high up on the slopes of Mount Etna. He chose this location first and foremost because he feels Etna is a great terroir for the indigenous Nerello Mascalese grape; that in this place he could make wine that rivals the best Burgundies and Barolos. Frank in fact feels that Nerello possesses the fruit of Pinot Noir and the dry tannins of Nebbiolo. A sort of Zen Master, Frank believes that we can never fully understand nature and all of its complexities and paradoxes. He doesn't use any chemical additions or treatments. He practices polyculture on his 15-hectare estate, growing olives for oil, buckwheat and fruit in addition to the grapes for his wine. 

Grapes are harvested by hand, from mid-October to early November, in order to get the ripest fruit. They then undergo meticulous selection and any unripe or damaged grapes are discarded. In the cellar, the winemaking is completely natural, with no yeasts, sulfites or chemicals added to the wines. The wines are then fermented with their skins in small neutral tubs to insure stable temperatures. After fermentation, the wines are pressed and stored in neutral vessels, big tanks for the early-bottled wines and epoxy-lined anforas buried in volcanic rock for the more tannic wines. 

Contadino is Frank’s homage to the farmer wines of the area. It’s a field-blend of 70-80% Nerello Mascalese with all kinds of local varietals from his old-vine vineyards: Alicante Bouschet, Minella Nera, Uva Francesa, Sangiovese, Minella Bianco and Insolia. It’s a dangerously drinkable wine that has the character of Etna: fragrant, profound, tannic but fruity.

Chiara Vigo
Chiara Vigo is the winemaker at her family’s estate, Fattorie Romeo del Castello. She was a small child in 1981 when Mount Etna erupted. Her parents sent her away to safety but they stayed to monitor the situation. They watched as the lava flow headed directly for their house; then it miraculously shifted and went toward the river instead, destroying a substantial amount of their property but not the full-on tragedy it could have been.

Chemicals have never been used here and Chiara continues to work in the manner of her ancestors. Salvo Foti, an influential Sicilian winemaker, has been a mentor. He encouraged her to take over winemaking duties from him, impressing upon her how special her vineyards are, and reminding her that she was born to be the winemaker at Fattorie Romeo Del Castello.

Allegracore is the name of the parcel the grapes come from and it means happy heart. The wine is primarily Nerello Mascalese aged in stainless steel. It has depth and also a certain elegance. The tannins are there but gentle on the palate.