Updated: Jul 17, 2020
It's Sparkling Wine Week here at Bottle Riot, so we figured we would highlight a couple of our favorites throughout the week. And I know I'm being selfish but...this one is my favorite: the Maloof L'eau Epicee. When I was a kid, I would make little drink concoctions for my Dad as he sat in the living room after a long day of work. These "experiments" were an expression of my adventure in youth- wild as they were. Always multicolored, always pungent, always...probably a stretch of his interest, but he always gave them a sip, and a cringing smile, "Great job Bud." I was lucky to have him as a subject in my kid project, and I was lucky to not have to try the drinks myself ;) That begs the question: Do we experiment very often as drinkers? As producers? As people? Is the age getting to us? How can we inject some experimental youth into our lives? Get a little dose of energy without tipping over a vacant tequila bottle? Enter: L'eau Epicee Coming from a (very cute) couple Ross & Bee in Dundee, Oregon (SW of Portland) the L'eau Epicee is -by design- an ongoing experiment. Ok, stay with me here, things might get complicated. This wine is crazy cool and a bit loose, but takes some real seriously youthful experimenting and hope to create. The L'eau Epicee is a Pet Nat(?). Yes, the question mark is intended- but only because the wine, from a technical standpoint, isn't definitively made like a Pet Nat, but also not truly made in a style like Champagne either. 50/50 Riesling/Gewurztraminer that has been entirely dry-farmed (no unnatural irrigation systems used), the grapes were pressed separately, the Riesling immediately frozen, and the Gewurztraminer split- with part going to stainless steel tanks and part staying on the grape skins for 20 days and then pressed again to neutral oak barrels. Look, I know, that a lot. But that's the point, that's an experiment, that's the challenge, that's the youth, but what about the hope? Well, hope is innate to the whole experimental mindset. Ross & Bee made some wild decisions playing with this pet nat(?), making three almost-still wines (one frozen, one orange, and one white) to then combine them and referment with whatever leftover sugar and yeast was present in the juice. Ross & Bee had to cross their fingers hoping there would be bubbles in the end. And guess what- there are a LOT of bubbles. And they're delicious. This wine is a trip, figuratively and literally. A wild ride, a cross country palate vaycay with no planned stops. Oddly enough, while taking that drive you notice a maturity you didn't see coming next to adventurous youth in the passenger seat. In the glass it's the color of brioche, on the nose it's a mellow peach or nectarine pith, and the taste- well, that'll need a different paragraph. This is where the experiment is the most fun- the drinking part. Beginning with a yeasty bread note and immediately derailing to tastebud fireworks of coriander, fennel, lemon peel, Pimms Cup, Himalayan pink salt and finally finding itself at tangerine LaCroix (which was the intentional note the whole time lying under our noses as L'eau Epicee translates to "Spicy Water"). It's going everywhere at once, taking both sides of the fork and getting to the same destination. To do all of this craziness, but with intention, is beautiful to see. To bring it all back, this wine reminds me of my Dad- sitting in the living room covered in sweat, smiling at me with a glassful of everything in his hands, and me looking up at him. This wine was an experiment of hope, and it was successful (unlike my concoctions for Dad).