Follow the Buyer! Bart Hopkins
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Bart's Bio

Buyer for: Austria, Burgundy, California - Cabernet, Pinot Noir & Zinfandel, Grappa, Italian Red Wine, New Zealand, Oregon, South Africa

I sometimes shake my head in disbelief when I count the nearly four decades Iíve been selling wine. Much has changed since I began, and much of it for the better: thereís greater diversity of styles, and the availability of whatís out there is staggering. Yet even with over 35 years of experience, I still consider myself a student of the vine. Every year, every vintage opens up a new chapter to explore and discover. Not a day goes by when I donít learn something new, either from grape growers, winemakers, my ultra-knowledgeable colleagues, or the savvy shoppers that visit our store.

Over the years, my interests in fitness and nutrition eventually have led me to organic viticulture and winemaking, while my spiritual side drew me to biodynamic farming. If eating well is part of your daily regimen, so too should be choosing wine. When I see people making wine a part of their healthy lifestyle, I feel great knowing that Iím taking part in something positive.

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Sometimes less really is more: This lively yet delicate field blend from Americaís first certified biodynamic winery is a superb and subtle accompaniment to summer meals.

Bart's Pick:  Frey Vineyards Biodynamic Field Blend 2012

The Story
Why I Bought ThisFood Pairing

New York City natives Paul and Beba Frey took their family to the backwoods of Redwood Valley in Mendocino in the early 1960s, looking for a better way of life. Their twelve children grew up with a great sense of respect for the natural environment, and developed a passionate love for farming and gardening. They planted vines, and began bottling wine in the early 1980s and became Americaís first organic winery. The conversion to biodynamic farming was a natural progression, and they eventually went on to become North Americaís first Demeter certified biodynamic winery. All Frey wines are produced without any added sulfites or additives.

Iím clearly developing a taste for ďnaturalĒ wines. Formulaic wines all start tasting the same, and wines made from cultured yeasts taste like whatever the winemaker wants the wine to taste like, kind of like an artificially-flavored wine. Wines made from wild native yeast and bottled without heavy oak flavors or the addition of sulfur dioxide are all about truth and honesty. They have a natural beauty that is not the result of make up or winemaking magic. These wines may not have the glitz and glamour of mass-produced wines, but they have a way of growing on me, and once I get to know them, their natural beauty blossoms, reawakening my palate.

The 2012 Frey Field Blend did just that. The bouquet is fruity with pleasant earthy nuances. In the mouth, it is medium bodied and delicate, almost naked and uncovered, offering only what the vineyard has to offer and nothing more. The wine offers not only liveliness, it offers a radiant life essence that is too often lost in the cellar. I know it sounds very Zen, but sometimes less really is more and minimalism speaks more clearly than abundance.

When Californians first started planting vineyards in the 19th century, they would hedge their bets by planting an assortment of varietals side by side, some earlier ripening, some later ripening, and everything would be harvested together and co-fermented in the same barrel. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Carignan and Mataro were just some of the grapes that would make up the field blends, which were usually bottled simply as California Red. Typically rich and full of California fruit, these field blends were easy drinking and lively in character.
I recently served the 2012 Frey Biodynamic Field Blend with a dish I make from an old recipe that mixes rice with pasta, simmered with onions, broth and parsley. The wine didnít steal the show, but it played a strong supporting role. There is something nice about a wine that genuinely complements the meal, which, in a way, is what wine was always meant to do.

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Reg. $12.99

Karl Fritsch is one of the most dynamic and highly rated winemakers in the Wagram region, known for creating distinct terroir reflective wines. GrŁner Veltliner is the top white wine grape of Austria.
This wine is crisp and dry, with juicy ... more
Sku: 050734

Reg. $15.99
On Sale $14.40

Iím clearly developing a taste for ďnaturalĒ wines. Formulaic wines all start tasting the same, and wines made from cultured yeasts taste like whatever the winemaker wants the wine to taste like, kind of like an artificially-flavored wine. Wines ... more
Sku: P57453

Reg. $23.99

Biodynamically grown in Kathleenís Vineyard, located in Redwood Valley. Rich and ripe fruit with a slight herb component. Finishes with soft, velvety tannins with a hint of anise and eucalyptus. Pair with rich beef, game or lamb dishes.... more
Sku: 040258

Reg. $19.99

Alois Lageder’s great grandfather founded the winery over 150 years ago in Alto Adige, Italy. In 1934, the family acquired the Lowengang estate in Magre and continued adding other prime Alto Adige vineyards. Now in its fifth generation, the ... more
Sku: 042398