Kuentz Bas Alsace Blanc 2020
Sylvaner, Auxerrois, and Muscat Grapes
Once upon a time, over 200 years ago, the Kuentz family started making wine in the Alsace region of France. Seriously, this domaine has been around for a long time, although it didn’t become Kuentz Bas until the founding family and Bas family were united by marriage in 1895. The domaine’s quality took a bit of a tumble in the late 20th century but was restored when Jean Baptiste Adam bought it back in 2004. Since then it’s been converted to biodynamic and organic practices and the quality is nuts. Speaking of nuts, craziness, insanity: Alsace has over 800 terroirs. 800! That’s because two geological fault lines run through the region and have mixed up the soils on an extreme level over the millennia. This Alsace Blanc — a blend of Sylvaner, Auxerrois, and Muscat grapes— comes from vines growing on silt, limestone, and loess (deposits of airborne silt.) This mix of soils gives the wine powerful aromatics and vivacious energy.
Is it too late to drink wine outside, picnic style? Nope. At least not with this bottle. The peachy, herbal flavors and mouth-watering acidity Sylvaner is known for really shine through here, and make this blend perfect for enjoying with Alpine cheeses, a fresh salad of bitter greens, and our house-made pork rillettes slathered on a crusty baguette. Alternately, pair it with a cozy sweater, and an apricot-hued, late Fall afternoon sun cut with the scent of wind blowing off the lake and the smell of dried leaves.
Poggio Bonelli Chianti 'Villachigi' 2019
100% Sangiovese Chianti
Once upon a time...okay not to repeat but, this estate is even older than Kuentz Bas. Think Middle Ages old. It’s passed between various noble families throughout the centuries, and now the estate combines fine winemaking with agritourism. It’s somewhat like a bed and breakfast, except on a vineyard: you can stay in a room with terracotta and wood-beamed ceilings, overlooking the vines, and snack on local fare while you sip Chianti. Their “Villachigi” Chianti is made entirely with Sangiovese, which has become a more admired formula in recent years. However, this wasn’t always so. In the 1960s, Italy adopted an appellation system similar to the French AOC. The new rules for Chianti were seen as odd and strict. Producers couldn’t use 100% Sangiovese, and they had to include white grapes in order to be considered “Chianti.” Some winemakers rebelled. They created wines that broke the rules for blending, either by using all indigenous grapes or, more commonly, non-indigenous grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines were the Super Tuscans. Their popularity eventually prompted the wine authorities to reevaluate the DOCG rulebook, which was updated in 1984 to limit the percentage of non-indigenous grapes allowed, as well as to allow 100% Sangiovese Chianti.
Take me back to Tuscany. The way the sun lights up the hills with beams of ochre and coral, the way it plays with the green tapestry of the landscape — it’s overwhelming in the best way. It’s a balance of light and dark, warmth and chill, of textures and memories layered into the earth through millennia of us doing our thing on its surface (falling in love, going to war, making art, building kingdoms, you know.) Kind of like this wine — it has an assurance and poise to it, something to do with how the fruit and floral notes, acidity, and tannin artfully counter each other. We highly recommend drinking this with pasta. Take it slow this weekend, crack out your dutch oven, and listen to a record while you make a beef ragù. Once it’s done and you’ve cooked your pasta, don’t forget to add some of that pasta water back into the mix. Sit back and watch as it melds into a glistening pile of goodness, and enjoy your efforts with this bottle of Chianti.