Our Philosophy

Wine makes us happy | Deeply Thoughtful, Family Farming | Candid Winemaking

Wine makes us happy

Wine is a part of our lives because of it’s ability to make us happier in the moments just after we pulled the cork than we were seconds before.

Cafe Marie Jeanne, Franc-Pourret, St Emillion grand Cru, organic bordeaux

Claire from Franc-Pourret at Cafe Marie with Mike and Val

 

Consider the awe-inspiring series of events connecting this moment to the events and the choices made across continents and millenia which allow the wine to be right here, right now. Imagine a flashback that zips backwards from the cork coming out of the bottle to the moment you purchased the bottle to drink, to the bottle’s arrival in Chicago, to its trip across country or the ocean, to the vineyard, to the winery, to the day it was harvested, to the barrel, to the hail storm in August that threatened the wine’s very existence and the beautiful September sun that saved it, to the winemaker’s decision to learn how to make wine, to the farmer’s grandmother who kept the grapes alive during WWII, alone, to the decision to buy the vineyard, to the family who saved maybe for decades to buy the land, to the sequence of geologic forces that conspired to create this terroir in this day in age that allow this wine to be made by this family.

Or don’t. Don’t worry about any of the personal, historical, cultural, ecological, economic or geologic context in which the wine you are drinking came to be and simply enjoy the fact that this wine has an allure that makes you smile at the smell, the taste or the look of the liquid in your glass.

Few wines reach that height for us, but when one does, in the right circumstances, with the right people and maybe the right food, it makes us really, really happy. That is why we do what we do.

Deeply Thoughtful Family Farming

We are suckers for, but in no way naïve about, the romance of farming. We talk to the people from whom we buy wine about choices made in the vineyard and the reasons behind those choices. We reject outright any wine we don’t want to drink, regardless of farming practices, and we ask careful questions to winemakers whose wines we love, but whose vineyards are not certified one way or the other.

Château Peybonhomme, a biodynamic producer in Bordeaux.

If wine is pleasure, and we believe it is, then we feel a responsibility to provide pleasure on more than a hedonistic level, and we are fortunate to work with some deeply thoughtful family farmers. At present, 66% of our portfolio comes from certified organic or Biodynamic vineyards. We’d be happy to guide you to those selections and we would hope that you will make a final selection based on wine quality and not a label. The 33% of our book that is not certified is populated with people like Klaus Peter Keller, who couldn’t imaging planting cover crops because they are not truly part of the vineyard’s character, Emmerich Knoll and his family in the Wachau who have lead the renaissance of that region, and and Tenuta Santomé, which produces more electricity than it consumes thanks to their 1000+ solar panels.

Ask us about our partners. We truly hope you will take some time to come to know the people who grow our wines and we welcome feedback.

Candid Winemaking

With apologies for the arrogance of that title, allow us to explain. It is a point of pride for us to be able to look you in the eye and tell you what is in the wine we are selling. We do not pretend that this is the term that should win the “Natural” debate that is raging right now, we just want to know what’s in the bottle. To borrow a decsription from Fred Scherrer who understands the science behind wine-additives as deeply as he opposes them, it’s “simple winemaking”. It’s a lot like “simple cooking” and it tastes as good as a fish, fresh off a boat dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. It’s also equally hard to perfect.

Ernesto and Paolo Casalone sampling Barbera.

We have learned that black and white positions held by people like us (importers, distributors and, please excuse us dear customers, sommeliers too) in regards to winemaking are easily disproven. Examples on both sides are easy to find.

Klaus Peter Keller makes some of the best Spätburgunder in the world and is an exceptionally pure winemaker by any standard. While working in Burgundy he learned that aromas are preserved in Pniot Noir if one picks earlier than the measurments might indicate and then chaptelizes gently. We’d have said that was crazy if asked before tasting his wines.

Ask us about the processes behind our wines and we will tell you. No deception. That’s what we mean by “candid winemaking”.