Something in a Sunday

Something in a Sunday

Bottes Rouges Savagnin 'Album' 2016

Johnny Cash

by Rebekah Pineda, Domestique GM

Four brown-skinned, frizzy-haired kids piled into the car shouting: "There's something in a Sunday/Makes a body feel alone!"

In the lush Appalachian Mountains, we went feet dragging every Sunday to church. My mother, raised in those small-town Arkansas Baptist churches, only allowed for a deviation from the otherwise scheduled programming of Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, and plain old gospel on that seventh day. You see, there's something in a Sunday. His name was Johnny fucking Cash. I'm not sure if it was just his use of the word Sunday or the fact his voice made us all pray to Jesus, but somehow Johnny was allowed.

"Sunday Morning Coming Down" is the story of a man both lamenting and embracing the life he's made, depicted through the stark contrast of a Sunday morning. The song itself is ripe with contradictions.

Contradictions in the wine world, from the small scale to the monumental, have always been present. We are expected to describe wines with certainty using analogies to fruits we have never even tried (S/O Miguel de Leon). We have seen a powerhouse of a female winemaker getting into a labor abuse 'entanglement’ with her father. Being exposed to the concept of contradiction at a young age made me quickly realize that even the kindest human may do the most unfortunate things and the biggest business in the world may donate millions to charity. Contradictions make us interesting and wonderful (sweet ass riesling w/ electric acid), but can also lead to pain and deception (zero sulfur Champagne). 

What my mom (and her four annoying children) connected to was the idea that many times in life we can see that we are walking contradictions, and it makes us human. It makes a song about praying to God to be stoned a country music top 100 hit. I love clean wines, but sometimes drinking an "on the edge" zero zero wine makes me feel alive in a way that is 100% unrelated to the wine. If we can’t see our own inconsistencies, how will we ever fix the painful and dark contradictions of others/our industry?

- Rebekah Pineda

DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Bottes Rouges Savagnin 'Album' 2016, Uma Thurman of white wine
LISTENING TO: Insecure Season 4 Playlist, because it's summer

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Escape May Not Be in the Cards

Escape May Not Be in the Cards

Divella Blanc de BlancsNeil Young Dead Man

by Saman Hosseini, AKA thebaguettehunter

I come back to Neil Young’s soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man again and again, when feeling at times embittered, numb, and defeated, lost somewhere in between, yearning for a tranquil escape from quarantine. Neil Young’s continuous solo variations on a guitar, overlaid with recordings of a foaming up & backrush along a shoreline, and once interrupted by a solemn accordion interlude. Neil Young’s guitar invokes the dessert, while the accordion feels more alpine. Altogether atmospheric yet placeless.

Enter Alessandra Divella’s Blanc de Blancs, zero/zero Franciacorta, made from Chardonnay grown on limestone and clay soils from the 2015 harvest, fermented by indigenous yeast in cement tanks and rested in barrique before tirage and bottling, aged 32 months on the lees, and disgorged in January 2019. Racy and saline, yet generous, with a steady bead, and savory autolytic notes. Really a triumph; a wine I would enjoy alongside my favorite grower Champagnes. There is a tarnished beauty to this wine that matches Neil Young’s weathered and reverberant guitar, its salinity and bubbles recall the shoreline, and its mouthwatering acidity seems to penetrate through one’s murky headspace to revive the senses.

Escape may not be in the cards, but maybe find a shaded spot in the park, bring a freshly baked sourdough boule and a hunk of well ripened Tallegio; all the better with this Blanc de Blancs.

- Saman Housseini

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Divella Blanc de Blancsfor its tarnished beauty and reviving effervescence
LISTENING TO: Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack, in a murky headspace from heatwave temperatures, yearning for a tranquil escape from quarantine

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Under Pressure: Griselda & Pet Nat

Under Pressure: Griselda & Pet Nat

Les Cognettes Pet Nat

What Would Chine Gun Do by Griselda

by Erica Christian, sommelier and activist

Natural wine and hip-hop make for a perfect pairing. Yet, we fail to make that connection with certain styles of rap music. Yeah, we heard Jay-Z when he said, “ain’t no stoppin the Champagne from poppin” at the end of “Politics As Usual” on Reasonable Doubt. We felt that. People can ride with the celebration, but what about the grittier sounds? It’s easy to pop Champagne when listening to Jay, but rappers like Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, and Westside Gunn are rarely associated with wine so directly, especially bubbles. These three rappers and their group Griselda actually make the perfect pairing for pet nat. Is it really so surprising?

You see, hip-hop is terroir expressive; an expression of the holistic natural environment. Griselda’s style of rap is street rap: raw, organic, and gritty. They come from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. It's a poor, segregated industrial city plagued with violence and drug use. The struggle to grow up there is one I have been privy to and this environment is clearly represented in their music. Street rap is often painted as glorification of violence and drug use, but we value wine that's indicative of its home and don’t call that glorification. We should do the same when listening to Griselda, as it allows you a taste of their home, no different than a Loire Valley Folle Blanche/Chardonnay pet nat

More than being representative of the streets, Griselda is the result of the pressure to survive in that environment and the success of that story. Surviving under pressure is what produces the often soft but volatile bubbles of our favorite sparkling natty wines. We drink them during celebrations and gatherings. We love them because they transform in the bottle and bring artistry to the grapes that grew from struggling vines. Griselda deserves that same love alongside your natty bubbles. Their music is something to both contemplate and celebrate.

When we taste and listen, we engage with something new, but also very personal. To drink a pet nat while listening to Griselda's album What Would Chine Gun Do? (WWCD) is to immerse yourself in the extremely personal experience of navigating and surviving under pressures beyond any individual's control. Sit back. Crack a bottle open and enjoy while listening from beginning to end. Let the words and experience envelop you. Let them open your heart to something with which you may be unfamiliar. Let the wine carry you through their hardships and triumphs. Finish the last drop in celebration of their survival as it has truly created a work of art.

- Erica Christian

DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Les Cognettes pet nat, slightly sweet and rustic
LISTENING TO: What would Chinegun Do? (WWCD) by Griselda, honest and organic

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Find Your "Toxic"

Find Your "Toxic"

Mas de Gourgonnier

Toxic by Britney Spears

by Guilhaume Gerard, co-owner of Selection Massale

Not long ago in an interview, I came across someone pointing out the similarities between record collectors and wine geeks. Something along the lines of, "they love new and rare offerings.'' And while I understand that rarity and novelty drive some, my experience is different, both as a record collector for the past 25 years, with the thousands of not so rare records that I've assembled, and as a wine drinker who could not care less about the latest, hottest, or rarest.

I understand how one can make the mistake of thinking this game of ours is all so superficial when our industry is judged by its ability to saber fancy champagne standing on the bar, or is so easily duped by young con artists such as Rudy Kurniawan. But I came to wine the same way I came to music, because it gave me incredible pleasure. The sounds, the smells, the tastes I came to experience were so intensely beautiful that I just needed more. Wine and music are all about the emotions they create.

In that spirit, I'd like to write about Britney Spear's 2003 hit “Toxic” and of Mas de Gourgonnier's red wines. 

I heard Britney's 2003 single the year it came out and, even though I didn’t instantly love it, it pretty quickly became part of my daily playlist. I'm not going to wax poetic about the drum programming or that synthetic violin that can at times remind you of a cat having a fit, nor will I write in depth about the blend or the viticulture of Mas de Gourgonnier, a place I have never visited, a wine I never imported.

I'm just gonna go straight to the point. Your ears, your palate. It's okay to take your time to figure things out, I spent years buying records to define what I liked. I spent a lot of time drinking wines everyone else loved, silently at the table, listening to other's opinions and knowledge. It's intimidating to have a conversation about what you enjoy with someone who’s very vocal, but whatever it is they like to drink, whatever it is they listen to, they're not you.

There are no rules that dictate what's giving you goosebumps, there are no universal truths about what's gonna move you.

So to hell with those telling me Gourgonnier isn't cool, allocated or natural enough, to hell with those telling me Britney's glorious “Toxic” track is garbage. It's genius to me, and so are these little Provence wines.

Find your “Toxic,” find your Gourgonnier, enjoy.


Guilhaume Gerard

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Modelo Especial, in a can by the pool

LISTENING TO: "Viene de Mi" by Ya Legros, a modern Cumbia track with which I'm currently obsessed

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The Wine and Music Edition

The Wine and Music Edition

The very first thing that I purchased for Domestique was a pair of 1978 Klipsch Heresy speakers (see above). Guilhaume had found them on Craigslist months before we were set to open and sent them my way. I drove a few hours into Virginia and had a peculiar Craigslist encounter centered around an old man in a crumbling ranch house stacked to the brim with probably a quarter of a million dollars of vintage audio equipment. He insisted on playing every genre of music for me on the Heresy speakers before I could pay him and leave. They sound incredible and they've been a centerpiece of the shop ever since.

Being into music and working in natural wine doesn't make you unique or special. The natural wine world is overflowing with music people. David Lillie was a jazz musician before Chambers Street. Cider wizard Cyril Zangs plays the guitar in a rock band and has thousands of rare vinyl records. James Murphy is James Murphy. Last year, Madlib and Freddie Gibbs stopped by the shop after a Tiny Desk concert at nearby NPR. A few of our employees were near tears. 

Still, when you discover the affinity between the two, it feels like serendipity. I've always loved pairing wine and music. It's so much more interesting than pairing wine and food, which is typically either about gustatory contrast or harmony. Pairing wine and music can be about joy, or anger, or sadness, or love. It can last for four minutes or four hours. The first wine and music pairing that stunned me wouldn't even appeal to me now. I was 24 years old. I drank the better part of an old bottle of Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune while listening to The Velvet Underground & Nico. It messed me up. I still smile thinking about it.

Below are a few riffs on wine and music from friends of the shop and members of our team. We hope that you read them and think about the music that moves you. Wine is optional, but we're here to help. (See other blog posts)

 - Jeff Segal

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Axel Prufer's Le Temps des Cerises Capitulation Ne Paie Pas! 2019, COVID has me craving the same 0/0 bottles that made me fall in love with natural wine in the mid-2000s
LISTENING TO: Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem, same as above (but music instead of wine)


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Fermentation is Life, Life is Fermentation

Fermentation is Life, Life is Fermentation

Since the beginning of the pandemic, my kitchen has slowly been converted into a fermentation lab. I have two different sourdough starters, acetobacter fermented pickles, Koji mold rice, and, most recently, I got into making Jun (a type of Kombucha). Jun is the one fermented product that I find the most interesting. In order for Jun to become sparkling, the fermentation has to finish in the bottle under a crown cap. Because of the closed environment, that lovely byproduct of fermentation, CO2, is forced into the liquid and it becomes bubbles.

Microorganisms are just like us in many ways, they are alive. They eat, drink, inhale oxygen, and exhale carbon dioxide. Fermentation in the bottle is life under pressure, and it's what gives us bubbles.

Next time you enjoy a glass of fizzy goodness, be it pet nat, other sparkling wine, or kombucha, remember, it has bubbles because the yeast was forced to stay inside too.

- Vitalii Dascaliuc

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Damn, It's Hot: Living that Low ABV Life

Damn, It's Hot: Living that Low ABV Life

Kat Hamidi: Co-founder & MakerCapitoline Vermouth 

I first read about Valerie Forgues and her incredible story just a few months ago and immediately wanted to get ahold of her wines. I'm so glad Domestique picked them up! This Gamay hits all the juicy notes you'd expect but is also satisfyingly savory. I like it with a nice chill, on the patio after sundown, maybe with a pizza or two...

Prosecco done right makes me happy! Ca dei'Zago is unusual in its category in the very best ways, super satisfying as a midday sipper or part of a Spritz. Vivacious and proof that Prosecco doesn't (always) deserve a bad rap. 

If we're all drinking a little bit more and a little bit earlier, what's better suited to that than vermouth?? We love to highlight not just the wine but the botanical in our bottlings, and in particular the White Vermouth shows a lot of saffron, meyer lemon, cardamom, and tender herbs. Perfect tall over ice with seltzer, or in an ice cold 1:1 martini.

- Kat Hamidi

$70 / 3 bottles

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Damn, It's Hot: Bubbles & Beer

Damn, It's Hot: Bubbles & Beer

Tess Bryant: ImporterTess Bryant Selections

When it’s hot out - and really most of the year - I like drinking fresh, juicy wines that are light on their feet and thirst quenching, punctuated by a refreshing beer here and there. Finding a Champagne without added sulfites is unusual, and one of the reasons why I love the wines from Charles Dufour. I’m especially interested in wines like this Rosé that offer a touch more juicy, darker fruit than you would typically find in Champagne. Ginglinger is a favorite producer of mine, whose wines taught me to love what Alsace and aromatic varieties have to offer. Sonser Chenin is a playful wine from vines in the classic region of Vouvray, made by a young woman who splits her time between farming and making wine in the Loire and making wine in Southern Australia. It lends itself to sunny drinking at nearly any hour of the day. And, finally, I wanted to offer a beer break between bottles of wine: last autumn I discovered this Lunch beer while exploring the Northeast for the first time and watching the leaves turn. I can attest it drinks equally well during summertime.

-Tess Bryant

$125 / 4 bottles 

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Damn, It's Hot: Music Theory

Damn, It's Hot: Music Theory

Martha Stoumen: WinemakerMartha Stoumen Wines

I'm a slow sipper. I love the ritual of drinking wine. I drink like I eat. I spot a bottle in the morning and get excited to pop it open later that day, and drink it over the course of a few hours. It's the equivalent of asking what we should make for dinner while eating breakfast and then, when the time comes, savoring every bite. All of these wines will most certainly lift you up rather than bring you down in the dog days of summer, but are also perfect "sunset" wines to tie your afternoon to your evening to your late, long summer night.

LES ROCHERS DES VIOLETTES PÉTILLANT ORIGINEL 2015: The wines of Xavier Weisskopf always sing (like a chorus in a vaulted church) and this pétillant is no exception. Talk about lifting you up. And don't be fooled by the bubbles, this wine is built with bones and can be enjoyed over many hours as the bubbles soften and whisper themselves away.

MARTHA STOUMEN NERO D'AVOLA ROSATO 2019: Sticking with the singing theme (which makes so much sense for uplifting, acid-driven wines), this Rosato is like a long, sultry, female solo act. The Nero d'Avola is foot tread and soaks overnight on the stems and skins prior to being pressed and fermented to layer in deeper flavors and texture. I drink this when I want something between a wine and a cocktail. 

JULIEN GUILLOT MACON ROUGE 2017: Drinking this wine is like singing with your friends (some of whom have really great voices). Julien Guillot's wines are welcoming and easy to "get," but not at all simple. This Gamay will joyously fill up your (spiritual) cup!

METHODE SAUVAGE SYRAH 'BLOOD + FLOWERS' 2019: Well, well, well. I won't lie, I don't often immediately reach for Syrah (don't tell anyone I work with at Pax's winery). And no one thinks of Syrah as a way to beat the heat. But this Syrah from Chad somehow seems to bring together contradictions easily. Rich meaty funk with incredible lightness. I drank this with a slight chill, broccoli (flowers) and a steak (blood), but it could just as easily be enjoyed sans food. Contradictions: this is an angelic-voiced little girl singing while she's jamming out some funk on a synthesizer.

-Martha Stoumen

$130/ 4 bottles 

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