When it comes to working at a wine shop, the most gratifying side to our line of work is recommending wines that we love to drink. There are consistent and beloved standbys (Pepiere Muscadet, Fontsainte Gris de Gris Ros�, Puzelat Telquel!), and there are new discoveries, which give way to mini-obsessions. As is often the case, small-production wines run out and, yes, we lament -- but we always find a new wine to get excited about. Here are a handful of bottles that we've enjoyed lately: get them while you can!
Domaine Valette Macon-Villages Blanc 2009 $24.00
Insipid Macon is ubiquitous but this natural Macon is far from it. Vigneron Philippe Valette carries out low yields in the vineyard and most of the vines are over 45 years old. His wines are fermented and aged in old wood and he works with miniscule amounts of sulfur. Left on the lees for twelve months, this is a rich and fairly powerful wine with beautiful citrus pith character and tons of sea-like minerals. After opening, the wine expressed more complexity two glasses into the bottle (I definitely suggest decanting it). It was a treat with mussels cooked in white wine, laced with a basil, anchovy and lemon sauce, all tossed into a bowl of spaghetti. I want to drink this all summer long. - Pameladevi
Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 4 Rosato $27.00
It's easy to be cynical and find yourself experiencing Cornelissen-cult fatigue (his wines are loved by many natural wine drinkers who like funky wines). I recently found myself purchasing a bottle of Susucaru 4 to have with said cult member friends and I must confess that the bottle showed beautifully, offering tart red fruits, a hint of rhubarb and lots of floral character. I'll be buying more, if the geeks don't get there first!
La Roche Buissiere Petit Jo Rouge 2010 $15.00
This is the perfect summer red, carbonic-macerated Grenache wine from an 18-hectare domaine in Vaucluse (Rh�ne Valley). They have been working organically since 1980 and they vinify all their wines in concrete. A pure joy to drink, it is light, fruit-driven, soft on tannins, high in acidity and juicy, juicy, juicy -- with just the right amount of funk. The wine works especially well with lightly spicy fare or liver p�t�and a crusty baguette. - Pameladevi
Domaine Abbatucci Ajaccio Faustine Ros� 2011 $36.00
This is the brightest, loveliest ros� I've enjoyed to date. Made of Sciacarellu and Barbarossa grapes by way of Corsica, this looks, smells and tastes like slices of refreshing pink grapefruit with a dash of salt, and I mean that in the highest regard. There's acidity, citrus-like zest, graceful mineral-like saltiness at the end, and a nice, dry finish. I had this for the first time at the bar at Mas La Grillade with island creek oysters grilled with lemon thyme-shallot butter... enough said! - Jasmine
Nataly Primitivo Del Salento Rosso 2010 $17.00
I used to be one of those "I want a full-bodied red" drinkers, and still am. But now I crave red, velvet-like complexity, and a dry finish that makes me want more. So I'm more than happy to rave about the Primitivo and Negroamaro from Natalino del Prete, organic wine producers from Puglia. I had the Anne (Negroamaro) label at Roman's and delighted in a bottle with a colleague from Thirst. Then, when traipsing around the wine shop, I see a familiar looking label (same producer, different wine) and it's the Nataly. I've now had this three times and it never fails: dry, earthy, dark fruit, and with it is an air of roundness, character and age. This wine pleasantly lingers in the mouth, but has a dry enough finish to not overstay its welcome. Love it! - Jasmine
Puzelat Le Telquel Rouge 2011 $17.00
I love, love, love this wine. A slightly chilled summer favorite, but I'll drink it any day. I'm a Puzelat fan like any other natural wine enthusiast, but this one does it for me. I taste fresh cherries and cranberry zest every time. There's enough body and acidity to drink on its own or with barbecued poultry, or sliced hanger steak -- nothing too heavy though, because you don't want to lose the pleasure of the dark fruit notes! - Jasmine
Catherine & Pierre Breton Trinch! Rouge 2010 $23.00
Catherine and Pierre Breton make this wine from Cabernet Franc vines grown in gravel soils. The name "Trinch" comes from the German expression for "cheers" and sums up the general feeling of this wine, which is meant to be an easy-drinking, vin-de-soif type of wine. Served with a slight chill, this is my wind-down, post-work drink. It works with or without food, but if I were to consume this with a dish it would be a small plate of charred green peppers and eggplant. - Ginger
Domaine Verdier-Logel Volcanique Rouge 2010 $17.00
I had this wine with a seven-course vegetarian meal at a pop-up restaurant in Williamsburg. The prix- fixe dinner included baby beets that were wild, fresh and bright, and the dish fully complemented the dark minerals in this mono-varietal Gamay wine from the C�tes du Forez appellation in the Loire Valley. - Ginger
Fonterenza Rosa Toscana Rosato 2011 $22.00
Fonteranza is run by twin sisters, Margherita and Francesca, the estate was established in 1997 from a farm owned by the sibling's parents since the 1970s. Their easy-drinking Sangiovese rosato from Tuscany has lovely bright fruit with an earthy finish. We had this wine with Vietnamese takeout from Nha Toi in Williamsburg; it was just the thing to wash down pickled vegetables and spring rolls with! - Ginger
Stay tuned for more vinous discoveries from small-producers!
And stay tuned for more Staff Picks!