Among my many New Year's resolutions, here are two: to drink sparkling wine all year long (not just during the holidays), and to begin buying wine from some of the independent merchants now allowed to sell vino retail due to recent changes in Pennsylvania law with Act 39.
The new "Wine Market" from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday at Tria Cafe's Fitler Square branch has a perfect way to achieve both in one brunch trip: a bottle of Rocher des Violettes Pétillant Originel.
There's a reason to buy at a place such as Tria, which began selling wines at retail a little over a month ago. And that's because, aside from access to bottles otherwise unavailable through retail (and at just a $5 markup over cost, in Tria's case), restaurant wine pros have always been the best source of education for those hoping to learn and taste something new.
Tria's Michael McCaulley has been in the avant-garde of the local push for artisan producers, and, among other trends, natural wines.
And within that world of minimal intervention winemaking, no niche is hotter than "Pét-Nat" (short for pétillant-naturel), a resurgence of ancient pre-Champagne methods for bubbly that can result in wines that fizz with a tart and cloudy funk.
The organic chenin blanc-based Rocher des Violettes, one of the bottles in Tria's ever-changing market selection, reflects yet a newer level of refinement for the genre in that it is filtered of sediment. But its complexity doesn't suffer, as evidenced by its bracing sourness and limestone minerality, a fruity nose, and an almost chewy texture from 17 months on lees. And once those moussey fine bubbles pop, a whiff of farmyard rises up on the finish, leaving no doubt that, although this wine may be pretty, it's still a card-carrying member of the earthy "pét-nat" club.
- Craig LaBan
Rocher des Violettes Pétillant Originel Montlouis 2014, $28 a bottle to go, "Saturday Wine Market" at Tria Fitler Square (2227 Pine St., 215-309-2245; triaphilly.com).