Welcome to The Spirit Haus, Amherst's Specialty Beverage Center


Dear Wine Friends,

Tomorrow, Richard and Michael will guide you through seven wines made in a style of wine-making for which they have a special fondness - what has come to be called “natural wine-making” or the “orange” wine movement. From a much longer list of candidates here at Spirit Haus, they have chosen wines from Baden in Germany, from Sicily and Umbria in Italy and from the Yakima Valley in Washington.

However, please first be greeted by a Cremant de Limoux from Domaine Collin, their Cuvee Tradition [$14.99], for after all, Monday eve is the New Year's. (On Sunday, I will be “in Haus” opening sparkling wine and champagne from 3 to 5 pm. [more about this below].) Limoux, west of Corbieres and northwest of Perpignan in the hills not far from the Spanish border, has proven to be a remarkable area for unique whites and sparkling wine values.

Then we move to Enderle & Moll's 2017 Müller(-Thurgau) [$17.99], from Sven Enderle and Florian Moll, two cult winemakers from southwest Germany, and Arianna Occhipinti's 2017 SP68 Bianco [$27.99], a long time favorite made from a blend of Moscato di Alessandria and Albanello. Mueller-Thurgau is a Riesling/Madeleine Royale hybrid created by Hermann Mueller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in 1882. The Moscato di Alessandria in the SP68 Bianco will give aromatic notes of dessert wines, but it is fermented dry. Both of these producers farm organically/biodynamically, ferment with indigenous yeasts, and allow several days of maceration of their white wines on the skins, which is really what qualifies them as “orange” wines.

Enderele & Moll are perhaps Germany's best Pinot Noir producers. We will taste their 2015 Liaison Pinot Noir [$37.99], sourced from younger vines from their top vineyards. Here is a review from Stephan Reinhardt of the Wine Advocate, Aug 2016: The 2015 Liaison Badischer Landwein is sourced from younger vines in the plots dedicated to the top Pinot Noirs Muschelkalk and Buntsandstein. The blend displays a serious nose with dark and well concentrated fruit of black berries intertwined with a noble spiciness. This is full-bodied, smooth and dense, with a firm structure of ripe, grippy tannins, a chalky freshness and a long, fleshy finish. This is a remarkable, fine and intense Pinot with all the beauties of a ripe Pinot Noir. Excellent. Drink: 2017-2022. 89-91 points.

Our choice tomorrow for a red from Arianna is her 2014 Nero d’Avola Siccagno [$35.99], her name for the concentrated grapes she calls Siccagna, which have a wild, but also, with proper bottle age, a fresh and elegant character. The current vintage from her wholesaler is the 2016. Here is a review of our 2014: Ian D'Agata, Vinous, June 2017: Good full ruby. Deep, spicy and sweet aromas and flavors of plums and vanilla complicated by botanical herbs and flint. Peppery acids and polished tannins frame the flavors nicely on the perfumed back end, that features hints of violet and lingering salinity. Another great red from Arianna Occhipinti this year. (13% alcohol). Drinking window: 2019 – 2023. 93+ points.

Six weeks ago, we tasted two of Paolo Bea's Sagrantino wines. Tomorrow we turn to his 2010 Pipparello [$68.99] which is 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 25% Bacca Rosa (Montepulciano and other varietals. Again, a review:

Monica Larner, Wine Advocate, Jan 2018: The 2010 Montefalco Rosso Riserva Pipparello is a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 25% other red grapes from the vineyards. The bouquet reveals immediate and compelling spiciness, with dried blackberry and black fruit backed by smoke, tar, cardamom and Teriyaki barbecue sauce. The wine is black, austere and savory at its core. There is virtually no fruity sweetness, nor will you find much in the way of primary intensity. Instead, you get bold personality with smoky flavors of scorched earth and charred spice. The finish is powerful and firm. Drink: 2018-2028. 92 points.

Our final wine is Fausse Piste's 2012 “Les Garcons” Grenache [$35.99], sourced from the steep-sloped, south-facing, sustainably farmed Outlook Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA of the Yakima Valley. Fermentation is also with native yeasts with nothing added or taken away from the musts. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered after 24 months in older puncheons. The intent of Jesse and Maryna Skiles, proprietors, is to produce small loots of wine from grapes sourced across the Northwest. The style is deliciously gamey and chewy.

So seven wines in all comprising our afternoon beginning at 2 pm. The paid portion of our tasting will be $6. Cheese and salami will accompany.

Now, on Sunday, as mentioned above, to more officially prepare for the new year, I will be pouring Champagne and sparkling wine from the likes of Bollinger, Roederer (France and California), Duval Leroy and Perrier Jouet, Chandon and Gruet. Please do stop by for this unusual Sunday tasting. There will be no charge.

Thank you much for your time and interest.


Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux Tradition Brut NV

This is a balanced, elegant, Cremant de Limoux, with no rough edges. The Chardonnay gives the wine brightness and a lively acidity, the Chenin Blanc adds richness and texture, while the Pinot Noir adds depth to the wine. Given that this is Collin's entry level sparkling wine, this is an impressively balanced and complex wine. It is truly a testament to what this relatively obscure vineyard area is capable of producing.



Enderle & Moll Müller 2017

Müller has the rare distinction of being comprised of Müller Thurgau sourced from not only Baden but also from a respected grower in the Mosel as well – undoubtedly this accounts for the wine’s extra blast of energy and high-toned kick.  The Baden fruit fermented for 3-4 days on the skins, the Mosel fruit for just one.  After pressing, 30-40% of the grapes skins are added back into the tank and the wine sits on the lees for 8-9 months. Lightly filtered and contains only a tiny amount of sulfur, added at bottling.




Fausse Piste Les Garcons Grenache 2012

Yakima Valley Grenache fermented with 90%whole clusters and aged only in older 500l French oak puncheons for 24 Months.