July 6th, 2023
Yes, an incredible red wine from Massachusetts, it's true!
This vineyard is located on the southern tip of Massachusetts, where the Westport coast is in an inlet of Buzzards Bay. Established in 1982 by the Russell family, this property is 400 hectares and has been producing mainly high-quality sparkling wines for over 35 years. At first the stronghold of Rob Russell, he passed it on to his son Bill in the 2000s, who then passed it on to Rob Jr. It was in 2019 that the family decided to bring Marco Montez on as the main winemaker. Marco brings a new perspective to production, namely that of accepting the challenge of producing quality Massachusetts-grown red wines, all whose grapes would come only from the Estate. The soils are layered with granite over glacial outwash, which are ideal for vines, but the maritime and very humid climate can be a problem for grapes, and and creates many viticultural challenges. This is especially true of wineries like Westport Rivers that practice organic and minimalist intervention farming. I admit I was one of the great skeptics of this new commercial approach.
Having learned that the vineyard had just released two new red wines, I decided to go to the vineyard this weekend to taste them—curious and doubtful, I confess. But what a pleasant surprise was waiting for me! First, "Flatts Red"—a blend of Marquette and Little Pearl, simple, cheerful, and delicious. A joy for the BBQ.
And then the revelation: their Pinot Meunier 2020.
The Meunier is a legendary grape variety that was known in the 12th century under the name of "Morillon taconné." It probably originated in Burgundy, and is the King of Champagne just after Pinot Noir. Its frost resistance and hardiness give it a prominent place in our New England climate. Often produced in mono-varietal in regions outside Champagne, it is found in Touraine, Alsace, and the Loire, but also in Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England. Stateside, it can be found in California, New York, and Massachusetts.
Pinot Meunier 2020 “Estate Grown”
Deep brick color with a pale garnet heart, bright and flawless. The first nose is expressive and pleasingly charming. White blackberries slightly stewed, vegetal notes of charred red peppers, and a very rustic side reminiscent of Cabernet Franc and Pinot d'Aunis from the Saumur region in the Loire Valley (France). 2020 was a hot year, this wine reminds us of it with notes of dry charcoal and hot tar. The palate is fresh, balanced with a beautiful attack and a tender dripping finish of red fruit liqueur, vegetal and notes of undergrowth mushrooms. Its long and sweet end of fine and delicate tannins makes me want a grilled quail over wood fires or a beautiful veal rib seized on the grill. Wow Marco…You did it, Bravo. - Bertil
This wine is a "club wine", which means it's normally only available to dues-paying members of the winery. But Bertil was able to charm two cases of this stellar wine out of Westport Rivers and into our store. It's a very special set!
You can buy the Westport Rivers 2020 Pinot Meunier here.