GLOBAL SOMMELIER SERIES
WHAT DOES PASCALINE DRINK ON HER DAYS OFF?
Sommelier and Managing Partner of Racines, NYC
Former Master Sommelier
Former Sommelier of Rouge Tomate, NYC
Former Sommelier of L’Auberge Bretonne, Belgium
Laureate of “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France – Sommellerie”
Best French Sommelier 2018
Contributing columnist in La Revue du Vin de France
Lecturer with Wine Scholars Guild
Co-author of The Dirty Guide to Wine
Domaine aux Moines, A Year in the Heart of the Loire Valley Vineyard, a photography book
MEET PASCALINE LEPELTIER
RACINES NYC | BEST FRENCH SOMMELIER 2018 | MOF SOMMELLERIE
Pascaline Lepeltier partners with David Lillie at Racines NYC, one of the top wine destinations in the US, with acclaimed chef Diego Moya helming the kitchen. She overlooks a 2000+ wine list focusing on “vins de vignerons”, mostly organic, biodynamic and natural wines. In 2014, Pascaline passed the Master Sommelier Diploma, and in 2018, she won 2 more major titles in her homeland – laureate of “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France – Sommellerie” and Best French Sommelier 2018. In January 2019, the famous French magazine La Revue du Vin de France awarded her “Personality of the Year 2019”, the first woman to be given this prestigious recognition.
Growing up in the Loire Valley and detouring from a Master’s in philosophy and a career as a university teacher, Pascaline began her obsession with wine at the two star Michelin-rated L’Auberge Bretonne under celebrated Chef Jacques Thorel. Within a year, she was named both Best Loire Valley Young Sommelier and Best Brittany Sommelier. While working as a Beverage Director for the Rouge Tomate flagship in New York, she was named one of the five best new US sommeliers of 2011 by Wine & Spirits, one of the “New Wine Prophets” by Time Out NY, one of the “40 under 40” beverage influencers by Wine Enthusiast and called the “Natural Wine Evangelist” by Ray ISLE in Food & Wine.
Spending as much time as possible in vineyards and working harvests in 2016, she created chëpìka with winemaker Nathan Kendall – a wine project to rediscover the potential of organically-grown natives grapes and sparkling wines in the Finger Lakes. She has written for various prominent wine guides and books in France and regularly contributes to a monthly column, “Vu d’Ailleurs” in La Revue du Vin de France. She teaches at the Wine Scholar Guild and is presently preparing her first solo book due to be published in 2022.
“This selection represents producers that I truly feel are leading the way. They look not only at their wines but also have a much larger holistic sense of being inclusive of the social & economic aspects which they touch.”
– Pascaline Lepeltier shares on why she selected these producers
IN THIS SELECTION
What — Pinot Gris
Where — Alsace, France
When — 2017
“I am truly a huge fan of what André Ostertag has built, having visited the domaine a few times. I was lucky to meet him early on in my career; he had a tremendous impact on me. The special aspect is not just his vision of wine, but it’s the larger relationship to the world and environment. His respect for land and life transcends it to be more than just an alcoholic beverage.
I love the entire range of wines, and have never had someone tell me that they don’t like the wines when they’ve tasted them. Ostertag is making one of the best Pinot Gris out there; incredible texture with stunning power. It’s truly a wine that makes you happy. It’s not a simple one-dimensional Pinot Gris as many can be; it’s a meditative bottle to watch unfold.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Dry style of Pinot Gris, with ripe pear and lemon oil aromas, layered with a stony minerality
After training in Burgundy, André Ostertag returned to the family domaine in Alsace with renewed vigour. He lowered yields considerably and introduced viticultural and vinification techniques from other regions. He is an ardent environmentalist, and in 1997, he introduced biodynamics to the estate with natural farming practices.
His training in Burgundy enabled him to masterfully incorporate oak across the majority of his wines, with the Zellberg Pinot Gris seeing around 15% new oak for one year in its aging. Zellberg is a hilly vineyard sitting atop of a combination of clay, limestone and pink sandstone which adds to the complexity seen in the wine and further enhanced by mature vines now older than 20 years. It is fermented to dryness, as are most of the wines that Ostertage produces. They are delicious and have a track record of long and slow aging potential. A true insight to the capabilities of an often gastronomically overlooked variety can bring.
CLAIRE NAUDIN GALANTHUS NIVALIS
What — Pinot Gouge
Where — Burgundy, France
When — 2017
“Claire is a person that I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time with. She is truly an incredible woman; it’s amazingly powerful when you’re able to exchange ideas with this kind of soul. I admire her thoughtfulness and how she is quite discreet. When she took over the domaine, it was an incredibly male dominated era. Yet she powered through, demonstrating a fantastic capability to make stunning wines from underrated terroirs. Slowly but surely, she has built a remarkable range of low intervention wines. I first tasted her Pinot Gouge, Galanthus Nivalis, with the 2016 vintage and was blown away by the density and contrasting freshness. It further steps up with 2017, truly showing the possibilities that both the variety and terroir have. Pinot Gouge is hardly the royalty of Burgundy, yet this is so layered and complex. If you like the wines of Chassagne-Montrachet or Meursault, it’s impossible not to like this. It has phenomenal texture and incredible length. I truly love this wine.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Lime blossom, pink grapefruit zest and salted cream characters
Claire Naudin’s family has been working the vineyards in Burgundy since the 1500s, with Claire herself leading the domaine since 1994. Claire’s approach & style to her winemaking very much resembles herself: transparent and open. She believes in healthy vineyards, having incorporated a number of biodynamic principles into the vineyards with a minimal intervention approach in the cellars.
Galanthus nivalis (scientific name for the ‘snowdrop’ plant) is a recent addition to her ‘flower’ series of wines, which avoid the use of sulphur when possible. It comes from a tiny plot of 50 year old Pinot Blanc Gouge vines, which is a white mutation of Pinot Noir. The wine sees similar élevage to what you would expect from Chardonnay, being fermented and aged in older barrels. It is a tiny production, with only around 1800 bottles produced each year with 2016 being the first vintage.
DOMAINE MOSSE LES BONNES BLANCHES
What — Chenin Blanc
Where — Loire Valley, France
When — 2018
“Réne & Agnès have been involved since the very beginning of my journey, some 17 years ago now. I have to say I’ve always liked Réne’s personality – he can be cynical, a bit of a grump, and will give you a hard time but keep you happily grounded; the perfect person to take away an ego. He is humbly devoid of one himself despite the phenomenal wines he’s producing.
I truly believe that Chenin Blanc is the greatest white grape in the world. Réne & Agnès helped with the revival of dry Chenin, especially in Anjou. They’ve demonstrated that Chenin grown on schist can produce truly world class wines. Les Bonnes Blanches is a historic plot, previously famous for sweet wines, and Domaine Mosse’s dry example is always truly a delight to taste. I am a firm believer that this is one of the great whites of France. With the next generation, I believe that Domaine Mosse will step up to the next level, as the farming is getting even better and the wines are becoming more precise. I’m going to be there in the first week of December, and cannot wait to see them all.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Ripe apricots and pears, with a touch of wax and a white flower aroma
Former wine bar owners in the Loire Valley, Réne & Agnès Mosse were inspired by local winemakers to study and set about to produce their own wines. They bought what was to become Domaine Mosse in 1999, with their 13 hectares mostly planted to Chenin Blanc. The estate has been farmed biodynamically since 2001. Les Bonnes Blanches is a famed vineyard, with Mosse lucky to have 2 hectares of vines. Its name literally translates as ‘the good whites’ but is a reference to the soil type in the vineyard being clay with small, rounded whiteish stones on an outcrop of schist. It spends around 1 year in large fûts (French oak barrels), after a slow natural fermentation. Having previously been rejected from appellation status, Réne & Agnès now simply label the wine as ‘Vin de France’ as it has gathered such a love and following that they don’t feel the need to comply with the authority’s requirements. It has all the hallmarks of great Chenin: balanced fruit, floral, spice and earthy complexity, detailed layers, refreshing acidity. A true classic and exemplary of the quality of Domaine Mosse.
CHANTERÊVES BOURGOGNE HAUTES CÔTES DE BEAUNE PARIS L’HÔPITAL
What — Pinot Noir
Where — Burgundy, France
When — 2018
“I discovered Chanterêves here, in New York, thanks to Becky Wasserman. Having fallen in love with their wines, I went to visit Tomoko and Guillaume. Nowadays, Building something in Burgundy is far from easy, with prices continuing to rise and centuries of history to compete with. With that, they’ve taken a very thoughtful approach to developing their micro-négoce. They have a clear vision of how to use whole-cluster fermentation, with a very delicate approach. Their wines go from strength to strength with each vintage and are really making some unique examples of Burgundy without losing expression of the terroirs. I really like what Tomoko is bringing to the table – Being born in Japan, he brings an element of looking in from the outside.
Paris l’Hôpital is a truly unique wine as it’s the only corner of the Côté d’Or where granite is exposed. The way that the granite plays with the stems is very interesting; it has a way of taming the ‘stemmy-ness’ that can be seen in some wines. It holds a nice parallel to how Syrah on granite works so well with the whole bunch. This is a wine not just for Burgundy lovers, but also those who love both Beaujolais and Syrah from the Rhône. On paper, this is very much a secondary terroir, which really highlights the fact that there needs to be a re-think on the notion of classifications.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Pithy red cherries, wild fresh berries with an earthy undertone
Chanterêves was born in 2010, by a husband and wife duo of two oenologists, Tomoko Kuriyama and Guillaume Bott. From her home in Japan, Tomoko went to study oenology & viticulture at the renowned Geisenheim in Germany. As a harvest intern in 2005, she met Guillaume and moved to Burgundy full-time in 2011 after having been working in Germany. The wines of Chanterêves are focused on whole bunch fermentation, with 100% being used since 2014. They undergo natural fermentation, minimal use of any new oak, and being bottled without fining or filtration. Paris l’Hôpital comes from a unique parcel as it is the only parcel in the Côté d’Or sitting atop granite. It is a very steep slope, which necessitates cover crops being grown year round. Previously the parcel had been blended into their Bourgogne Rouge however they saw it as too unique a parcel to be blended away. The combination of Pinot Noir on granite with whole bunch fermentation gives rise to a truly individual expression.
OCCHIPINTI IL FRAPPATO
What — Frappato
Where — Sicily, Italy
When — 2018
“Oh la la, I just love Arianna. What can I say: she is just truly an awesome woman. I’m a big fan of who she is and what she has accomplished in Sicily. Arianna has an incredibly holistic approach to life that isn’t merely focused upon just her piece of things. Her involvement spreads to a number of projects within Sicily to really change things. What she’s accomplishing in Sicily is nothing short of outstanding – socially, politically, and economically. I have a huge admiration for Arianna, and her wines transmit both the lady she is and offers everything that you want to drink.
There’s a Mediterranean kiss to the fruit without losing any of their details or multitude of layers. The biodiversity within her vineyards helps to further translate everything through to incredible wines in the bottle. Frappato is a grape that I really like to have in my back pocket for pairing with fish. It has a very specific tannin structure that works very well with fatty fish.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Incredibly expressive aromatic range of myrtle, red rose, pepper and tobacco with a cherry focused palate
Arianna Occhipinti has wine flowing through her veins, with a long-standing family history in the wine world. Her experience began at her uncle’s winery at just 16 years old, in her hometown of Vittoria on the southeastern coast of Sicily. From there, Arianna started out with a mere single hectare of vines from which she has now grown her estate to 25 hectares. An ardent believer in working with nature, the estate is certified organic and uses biodynamic practices whilst working just with native Sicilian varieties. “…the mission is making wine of terroir. You have to respect the vineyards, and nature in general.” Il Frappato represents a varietal expression of Frappato, whereas it is commonly seen through blends, and is aged in large Slovenian oak botti for 12 months. Il Frappato is arguably the most emblematic wine of Arianna’s range, and in her own words the one that most resembles herself by being brave, original and rebellious. Its medium-bodied nature beautifully balances the red fruited components against a wild herb, rose and earthy spice driven aroma.
DOMAINE DU MORTIER DIONYSOS
What — Cabernet Franc
Where — Loire Valley, France
When — 2017
“Domain du Mortier really remains one of the most underrated gems of the Loire Valley. They make an incredibly perfect expression of Cabernet Franc, providing everything you want from the variety and the region. There’s a delicious juiciness to their wines and they avoid the overly green characters that can be seen with some examples, and the tannins are superbly silky. As delicious as they are in their youth, they also have the ability to age very well.
They were a part of the big push towards organic farming and spent a lot of time educating and mentoring others. Despite all of this, they’re still incredibly low key. They’re also part of the movement to bring Chenin Blanc to the appellation of the estate, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Truly one of the top producers in the region.”