Brazil's calling card of feijoada with a side of pão de queijo can be found at Chicago's La Sirena Clandestina, a Latin eatery inspired by Rio's beachy haunts. And while chef and owner John Manion heads up plates, Paige Jacoby curates a wine list that leans toward less manipulated, biodynamic bottles. Below, she considers up and coming wine producers to seek out, many of which produce natural wine.
Q: Who are some winemakers on the rise I should seek out?
La Clarine Farm, Sierra Foothills, California: Chances are Hank Beckmeyer and his wife Caroline are cooler than you. Hank met his wife while he was on tour with his band Half Japanese. You can certainly sense his quirky rocker past when you meet him. He's got this Wayne Coyne vibe that makes you just want to be near him and listen to everything he says. This sort of rock and roll attitude, for me, is reflected in everything he does in the vineyards and the winery. Hank lets these vines grow wild. He has a hands off, let nature do its thing philosophy that lets these wines just sing. His rosé ($24) is definitely one of my favorites and the best word to describe all of his wines, which you'll see over and over when people review them, is alive. His wines are alive. While this rose might not be the bottle to take to your girlfriend's stuffy parents BBQ (bring them some Bandol), for anyone that knows anything about wine, you'll be pretty badass if you bring this to a summer party. Creamy quince, mineral and a little rock and roll.
This sort of rock and roll attitude, for me, is reflected in everything he does in the vineyards and the winery.
Steve and Jill Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wine, Napa, California: Well, my task here was to talk about up and coming winemakers, but this guy is not that—he's already made it. Winemaker of the year, James Beard, 20 most admired grape growers in North America, Top 100 ... I could keep going, so you may have heard of this guy. But for those of you that haven't, you really need to get with it. If you aren't drinking this man's chardonnay ($25), you're nuts. The rosé ($22) is nothing to scoff at. Don't be the guy who says "I don't drink wines from Napa" anymore. Long ago are the days where these wines may have been considered fat and/or over-extracted. Winemakers more and more are making consciously farmed, elegant, terroir driven wines and Matthiasson is absolutely one of these. The rosé is a blend of Rhône varietals and gracefully wields flavors of peaches, grapefruit, blossom, and mineral. Drink this and eat some prosciutto—you can thank me later. We're going back to Cali, people.
Scott Schultz from Jolie-Laide, Sebastopol, California: A proud Chicago transplant to California, used to be Keller's man at Bouchon, this small production winery is spellbinding. The whites are hypnotic, complex, and thetrousseau gris ($30) nearly stopped my heart the first time I drank it. At about thirty bucks a bottle, if you get your grubby little hands on some, it's the wine equivalent to listening to Fleetwood Mac's Tusk on a warm summer day.
The whites are hypnotic, complex, and the trousseau gris nearly stopped my heart the first time I drank it.
Michael Cruse from Cruse Wine Co. , Petaluma, California: A biochemist from UC Berkeley making wine? Yes. There's lots of pét-nat to choose from these days and I love drinking it, but it sometimes lacks the seriousness one needs to impress the in-laws. Cruse's sparkling label, Ultramarine, is going to alleviate this for you. Traditional method bubbles from (yes, I'm saying this) CALIFORNIA, that's going to blow your socks off, and gain you all the respect on the playground. Elegance, mineral, balance, single vineyard, vintage sparkling wine. Find some. For around fifty bucks a bottle, it's a small price to pay for making yourself look like The Man. (Or The Woman.)
Olga and Barnaby Tuttle from Teutonic Wine Company, Oregon: German-style winemaking in the Pacific Northwest. These aren't your grandma's rieslings. This husband and wife team are making food-friendly elevated wines that absolutely sing in your mouth. Where these guys are smaller production, they normally have a wide variety of wines available on their website. No force feeding you honey while you listen to Barry Manilow under water, these wines are lifted, balanced, complex, and bright.