Natural wine is a bit hard to come by in Pennsylvania as pretty much anything interesting is at the state wine and spirit stores. Craft beer somehow gets a pass, along with cider, with international lists available at sandwich shops and dive bars around Philly. a.bar in Rittenhouse Square does have a nice, if short, natural wine list and is a lovely place to stop for a glass of wine. The first time I stopped, a few weeks before deciding to move to Philadelphia, I had a 2016 Carignane from Amplify Wines. That version was lighter and closer to a rose than the 2017 I’m drinking tonight.
I had the 2017 shipped to me recently along with a the 2017 rose, which we drank on the first day of Spring during a snow storm.
This wine was made through the process of semi-carbonic maceration, a process by which bunches of uncrushed grapes are placed inside a large tank. The weight of the grapes causes juice to be released on the bottom. This juice ferments normally while fermentation also takes place within the grapes that remain intact, eventually bursting and creating a particularly juicy style of wine. The 2017 spent more time in the tank than last year’s, creating the deeper red color. In Beaujolais, the gamay grape undergoes carbonic maceration, creating the most well-known wine created in this method. Carignane also creates a pretty good example of the method.
Carignane is most notably the wine of Poulsard from the Jura. Carignane (or Carignan) is grown mostly in France. The Wine Bible describes it as “Earthy-flavored and powerful, with dark color, relatively high acidity, and high tanning” used for blending.
This version is light-bodied, aromatic, and fruity. I got some funky cherry and herbs on the nose. It tasted of cranberry, with medium acid. Refreshing, great with light foods but also great sipping on its own. I would chill it a bit more than the typical red wine. This is the perfect Spring red that I plan to enjoy more in the next few months.
This wine is unfined, unfiltered, and fermented with native yeast.