It Started with a Mourvèdre...

This lovely label shot was taken directly from  La Clarine Farms’ webpage.

This lovely label shot was taken directly from La Clarine Farms’ webpage.


A little background

A few years ago, I received an email containing a personal invitation to a private wine dinner and pairing from the owner of literally - the correct definition of the word - my favorite French bistro in Philadelphia. I told myself I had really made it as wine personality in this town, but looking back, that email was probably a really well done mail merge. Either way, fate would not be denied.

Hank Beckmeyer, co-owner and co-winemaker (with his wife Caroline) from La Clarine Farm in the Sierra Nevada Foothills was visiting Philadelphia, and the restaurant was showcasing his wines. Natural wine was still fairly new to the local scene at that time, and the tasting was an immersion into Hank’s philosophy. A philosophy which, as I understood, came down to one of simplicity and purity, of basically of letting the earth and the grapes do their thing.

Hank spoke matter of factly about his process of using grapes grown in largely untreated vineyards, free of harsh chemicals and pesticides, allowing the must to ferment spontaneously, and avoiding cultured yeasts, sulfur dioxide, oak chips, and other flavor enhancers. His method may take time, but it results in a clear picture of each vintage and of the grapes themselves. Left unsaid, it is also a celebration of restraint and patience by the winemaker.

I recently became reacquainted with the uniqueness and purity I remembered from La Clarine Farm by way of their glorious mourvèdre at one of my favorite pizza places in Philadelphia.

Let’s just say it started an infatuation that turned into full out wine love.

And finally, here are the recommendations!

La Clarine Farm is a small producer - only about 2,500 cases per year - so these sell out quickly. Their website has fantastic wine notes so check it out. I definitely recommend the following:

2017 Mourvèdre Cedarville - The winemakers describe this as having notes of cranberry, black tea, nori, white pepper, and citrus peel. (Nori yes, nailed it! Such a nice compliment to the herbs.) I loved how light and drinkable it was at only 11.2% alcohol, while at the same time maintaining depth of flavor and a ton of food versatility. This wine should be a staple in your cellar for easy drinking.

2016 Syrah sumu kaw - I noted black plums, spices, and smoke which happily agreed with the winemakers’ assessment, but they also mention black olive and bacon fat. For me, the ‘prettier’ side is more upfront, with the smoke really standing out, and the unctuous factors filling in the gaps. This syrah is delicious. It is medium bodied, concentrated and serious, but still has a juicy ease about it. It makes an excellent gift or dinner wine, and will also be the star of the show (da bell of da ball? Office fans?) at any BYO.

2017 Funky Drummer - This is a Southern Rhone blend of 69/25/6% syrah/grenache/counoise. Flavor notes come in ribbons of dark berries, bacon fat (which for me, was much more obvious than in the sumu kaw), something almost candied that makes appearances, black pepper, olives (again, for me, more obvious than in the sumu kaw) and herbs. This is a super interesting wine from a fairly straightforward blend that lives up to the ‘funk’ in its name, because it does also have those ‘I just can’t name it’ notes. This is also a great dinner wine!

Order these today, as quantities are limited!! If you would like to arrange delivery through Winelala, please contact us. we will be following this winery and will update our list when the new vintages are out.

Winelala does not get paid to endorse wines or wineries. These were chosen out of merit and excitement to share!