One of the things we absolutely love doing with wine at Hop City is bringing in and exposing our wine customers to new and different bottles, which includes showcasing new, exciting producers.
But there are certain producers that have become fixtures across a broad range of wine styles because of their consistent quality and character. What starts off with maybe a single bottle from a then-"new" producer becomes a staple on our shelves.
This week, we’re highlighting one longtime favorite as well as a newer producer who has rapidly become one of our most beloved.
The Negro family has centuries of winemaking history in the Roero district of Italy’s Piedmont region, producing wine since at least 1670. The family has also been known for innovation - Angelo’s father, Giovanni, was the first to produce dry Arneis half a century ago - a tradition that shines in Angelo’s creative, boundary-pushing natural wines that never stray far from their classic profiles.
Nebbiolo - Nebbiolo is the showpiece grape of the Piedmont, seeing its highest expressions in Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo grown in the Roero district is typically a little bit fruitier and less tannic compared to what’s grown in the rest of the Langhe region. Angelo’s Nebbiolo is playful while still being substantial, showcasing fresh wild berry and Bing cherry flavors, accents of dried herbs and a bit of earth. $21.99, available at Krog, Fayetteville and West End
Unfiltered Arneis - Today, Arneis is one of the Piedmont’s couple most known and admired white wines. Angelo expanded on his father’s legacy in essentially establishing the variety as one sought out by wine drinkers, Angelo created a vibrant, fruity, floral version by bottling the wine completely unfiltered and unfined. The wine goes straight from tank to bottle, bringing out layers of character on top of the expected notes of tangerine and pear, with a bright, summery florality and a pleasing texture being added into the mix. $19.99, available at West End, Fayetteville and Krog
Unfiltered Brachetto - Brachetto, a red variety native to the region, is usually used to produce a semi-sweet red dessert wine (and Negro’s version is fabulous). Angelo ferments his Brachetto dry, then lets it rest on lees left over from his Arneis. The result is a bright, juicy, floral red wine that has the cherry flavors reminiscent of a freshly baked cherry pie, without the sweetness. It’s a perfect summertime red, and is at its best with a good chill. $19.99, available at Krog
Jolie-Laide is a relative newcomer to the Sonoma County winemaking scene. The Schultzes work with a small number of organically farmed vineyards near their base in Sebastopol, Calif. and work with French grape varieties (mostly obscure ones). Once the fruit is in the winery, they use a variety of approaches to coax flavor out of the fruit while ultimately letting the berries do their thing as they ferment under the yeasts naturally occurring on the grapes. The resulting wines are astoundingly flavorful, elegantly balanced and absolutely enjoyable.
Rosé of Cabernet Franc and Gamay - Fruit for this blend is picked early and carbonically macerated, giving a combination of white-wine-like crispness and vibrant fruit flavors. A rare rosé that spends a brief time in oak, creating a roundness to the fruit but doesn’t leave strong flavors. White nectarine, strawberry, with scents of tarragon, chamomile and wet stone. $33.99, available at Krog
North Coast Syrah - Classic cool-climate Syrah, grown at high elevation (nearly 2,500 feet) in one of the coldest parts of Mendocino County, this Syrah gives a strong shoutout to the elegant, complex Syrahs of the northern Rhône Valley while maintaining a distinctly Californian feel. Fresh, crunchy red and black fruits initially dominate before giving way to brooding herbal and aromatic notes. Blackberry, blueberry, crushed violet, scents of camphor, white pepper and cedar. Racy acidity, velvety tannins, fascinating complexity. $42.99, available at Krog
California Red - This unusual blend is perhaps the best example of what Jolie-Laide wines are about. Combining 44% Trousseau Noir, 22% Gamay, 18% Valdiguié,13% Cabernet Pfeffer and 3% Poulsard and utilizing a combination of carbonic maceration and whole-cluster fermentation to draw out brightness and juiciness. Tons of red and blue fruit flavors - candied plums, wild blueberries, raspberries - accented with scents of incense and pipe tobacco. $37.99, available at West End and Krog
- Chateau Maris Orange (France)
- Lanzarote Malvasia Volcanica (Spain / Canary Islands)
- Matthieu Barret “Petit Ours” Côtes du Rhône (France)
- Scheurmann Vin de Soda (Germany)
- Zlatan Otok “Little Blue” Plavac Mali (Croatia)
New @West End
- Bodegas Emilio Moro Polvorete Godello (Spain)
- The Eyrie Vineyards Trifolium (Oregon)
- I. Brand & Family Piquette Nat (California)
- Jolie Laide California Red (California)
- La Boutanche Gamay (France)
- Mas de Janiny Blanc C'est Bien Comme Ca (France)