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Celebrating Independent Wine!

Hey everybody!

As we've recently just celebrated our Independence Day here in the United States, I started thinking that it might be a great time to celebrate some independent wine producers in the world as well. Don't get me wrong- there are plenty of big names that can make some killer wine, and some that may have sold to big companies that are still allowed to use their estate fruit and the small production methods they always have. Sometimes with a big name producer, though, it's easy to become more concerned with attaining a good score from a critic or maintaining consistency from vintage to vintage than showing the true beauty of wine- the individuality of where this wine was made, the vintage it was grown, the people who had their hands in making it, and the choices in the vineyard and in the winery. This month, I'd like to focus on six incredible wines which are each produced by an independent winery, made from small lots, and can really focus on their individual winemaking. I'll be featuring six wines from around the world which were made with an emphasis on individuality, family, and INDEPENDENCE! 

Ca'Rugate Soave Classico 2016

Ca'Rugate Soave Classico 2016
$12.74 Regular Price: $14.99 Save 15%!
Veneto, Italy | 100% Garganega
 

Our first selection comes from Veneto, Italy in the DOC Soave Classico. The Tessari family produces Ca'Rugate, which takes its name from the volcanic hills on which the vineyards are found. They have had a family winery since the early 1900's. Though much of this family's winemaking is rooted in tradition, many updates have been made to the land and the winery such as abandoning the use of chemical fertilizers, upgrading to organic soil-improvers, and updating their winery. In 2013, Ca'Rugate joined the Independent Wine-producers of Soave with the aim of protecting the typical qualities of Soave wine, emphasizing authenticity. 

A very light straw hue with silver flecks, this wine has a nose of asian pear, ripe apple, light rosemary, and honeydew. The palate plays between a bright, fresh midpalate and a textured finish of crunchy pear flesh. Serve this with a salad topped with pears and a lemon poppy vinegrette like this one.

"Luminous straw yellow. Apple, pear and herbs on the fresh nose. Then bright and juicy, with delicious apple jelly, pear reduction and savory herb flavors lifted by orange and lemony nuances. Long and clean on the finish which offers sneaky concentration and a multilayered quality. This wine highlights Garganega's pear and yellow fruit aromas and flavors, rather than sharp citrus or green nuances more typical of Sauvignon Blanc or of early harvested grapes."
90 points, Vinous

Lava Cap Chardonnay 2015

Lava Cap Chardonnay 2015
$16.49 Regular Price: $19.99 Save 17%!
Sierra Foothills, California | Chardonnay
 


Our next independent wine hails from the Sierra Foothills in California where the Jones family have been making wine for three generations. They planted their first vines here in 1981 where vineyard manager Charlie Jones now uses sustainable practices along with the assistance of his son Emmett Walker Jones.

The Lava Cap Chardonnay pours a light golden. Looking for a slightly rich Chardonnay to go with that oven roasted chicken? This one hits all of the points for a California Chard. Its nose is lush with butter, vanilla, and red delicious apples. The palate has a restrained richness, opening with crisp red apple and finishing with more butter and vanilla.

"This wine beautifully blends vivid fruit, enticing spice and luxuriously creamy flavors that are concentrated, layered and complex. It pulls it all off gracefully due to underlying acidity that supports a lush texture and leads to a long finish."
92 points, Wine Enthusiast

Marisco Vineyards The King's Favour 2015

The King's Favour Sauvignon Blanc 2015
$14.99 Regular Price $17.99 Save 17%!
Marlborough, New Zealand | Sauvignon Blanc


Our next independently produced wine is very close to my heart because it's not only one of my very favorite Sauvignon Blancs, but also produced by the very first winemaker I met as a buyer. So I can say that I was able to talk to the owner and proprietor of Marisco Vineyards, Brent Marris, about his family and his four daughters' involvement in the winery. He's running around doing it all, and couldn't be a nicer guy.

The King's Favour pours a very bright pale straw color. The nose is exuberant with grass and citrus. The palate is round and lush cut by abounding acidity from flavors of grapefruit. A slight green pepper note shows as well. This is a textbook Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.

"A strong effort, this medium-bodied wine combines hints of nettle leaf with bold fruit flavors of nectarine, pineapple and grapefruit. There's creamy texture and ample concentration on the midpalate, followed by a long, silky finish."
92 points, Editors Choice

Marietta Cellars 'Arme' Lot 3

Marietta Cellars 'Armé' Lot 3
$16.49 Regular Price: $19.99 Save 17%!
North Coast, California | 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec


Marietta Cellars is another great example of an independent winemaker. Scot Bilbro is the second generation owner/winemaker at this establishment, and seventh member of his family to make wine. In fact, the winery Marietta is named after the family matriarch and Armé was her husband. Their focus is placed so much on family that this is one of three wines from their 'family series'.

Armé pours a rich ruby color. The nose is full of black fruits, a little pepper, and coffee. The texture is bold with plenty of fresh tannins. Pair this with barbecue or steaks.

"This is a big Bordeaux blend, aged up to three years in neutral oak prior to being bottled. It's a blend of three vintages, 2011, 2012 and 2013. All the fruit comes from not only their estate, but from many of their close friends located in Sonoma and Mendocino. The wine is a 6,000-case North Coast appellation, with elegant black cherry and blackcurrant fruit as well as tobacco leaf, cedar wood, licorice and earth. It's medium to full-bodied, lush and succulent, which is their objective. Drink it over the next 5-7 years."
90 points, Wine Advocate

Sleight of Hand Cellars 'Spellbinder' 2015

Sleight of Hand 'The Spellbinder' Red Blend 2015
$16.49 Regular Price $19.99 Save 17%!
Columbia Valley | 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc
 

While most of the wineries I've been featuring so far have a family focus, independent doesn't mean it has to be the case. Take Jerry Solomon, Sandy Solomon, and Trey Busch from Slight of Hand Cellars. The trio handle everything from vineyard management to marketing, to winemaking. Doing it all might be a handfull, but they make it look effortless while still enjoying wine and music, putting every bit of themselves into this wine.

This wine pours such a gorgeous deep ruby just hint of mauve at the edges. It smells even better: ripe purple fruits abound in the glass with loads of herbs and cigar. The palate is rich with integrated dusty tannins. It begins with a savory note and opens up to ripe dark fruits.

"More herbal and earthy, with lots of black fruits and dark chocolate, the 2015 The Spell Binder is plump, medium to full-bodied, and forward on the palate, with impressive purity and length. Made from 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc, it's another terrific wine from this estate, as well as a great value."
90-92 points, Wine Advocate

Schild Estate Shiraz 2013

Schild Estate Shiraz 2013
$14.44 Regular Price $16.99 Save 15%!
Barossa Valley, Australia | Shiraz
 

Next we have a wine from Schild Estate. Ben and Alma Schild first moved to the Barossa Valley in 1952. In 1956 Ben Schild died suddenly and Ed, being the youngest of eight children and the only son to be living at home, stayed to run the family property at the age of 16. Ed and his wife, Lorraine, have four children and eight grandchildren which ensures a strong family focus within the winery today.

Schild Estate Shiraz pours a deep crimson. The nose is very savory and smoky. There are notes of oregano, basil, kalamata olive, smoked meat, and asphalt. The palate remains smoky and savory finishing with dried plum. Have this with herb roasted beef tips.

"This shows pretty shiraz character of dried fruit, pepper and spice. Some meaty undertones. Full body with lovely tannin tension and form. Drink or hold. Excellent value. Screw cap."
91 points, James Suckling

I'm always one to root for the underdog and appreciate the extra care a family can put into their winemaking when they can do it in their own way. As an employee of a locally owned business myself, I'd certainly like to say I appreciate working for someone who lives right down the street and I can call at any time with a question about the store. We may not grow our own grapes, but this place is certainly family owned and operated. When I feature wines, there's no pressure to hit numbers, or include certain brands for any reason at all. They just pay me to love wine and tell others about it. I think I can speak for myself and the rest of the staff when I say I'm happy to be a member of the independent wine community as well!

Cheers!

-Jana Banana Curtiss
Grape Geek
Cork and Barrel
 
SIX PACK TASTING
Saturday, July 8th, 2017
2:00 - 4:00 pm 
Cork & Barrel Wine And Spirits
2000 W 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
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