Wine is Just Natural at AmByth Estate

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I discovered AmByth Estate of Templeton, Ca (Paso Robles Wine Region) last May at the RAW Artisan Wine Fair in London. I talked with the owners and winemakers Mary Morwood Hart and Phillip Hart, and tasted their wines.

AmByth Estate is the first and only winery in Paso Robles to produce Demeter Certified® Biodynamic Wines.

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Phillip is from Wales, so it is apropos that their vineyard and wines are named AmByth, a Welsh word that means “forever”.  Their logo is in Mary’s handwriting.

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Photo courtesy of Darwin Foye

Last month I visited their vineyard in Templeton, Ca and tasted more of their wines. Just like most wineries in the region, AmByth produces Rhône varietals – Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Roussanne, and Counoise, along with Sangiovese and Tempranillo. The terroir of this region is perfect for these varietals.

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They are Natural Winemakers…their grapes are foot-stomped, made with native yeasts, with no additives or manipulation, no filtering or fining. They are essentially from vine to bottle, with no added sulfites, acidity or sugar adjustments. Essentially, the wines make themselves and are terroir driven.

I tasted their 2014 Priscus, a Rhône white blend, the 2011 ReVera, a Rhône red blend, their 2010 Tempranillo and 2010 Sangiovese. I brought home each of the three reds. I had previously purchased their 2011 100% Counoise at Domaine LA after the RAW Fair. The Harts are personally enjoying what is left of their 2006 wines, proving that natural wines, without added sulfites, can age!

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Some of their wines are aged in barrels, some in stainless steel tanks, and some are aged in beautiful Italian Terra Cotta amphorae, from Terracotta Artenova of Impruneta, Italy, near Florence. These amphorae impart unique qualities to the wines that age in them, protect their temperature  and provide perfect storage. Each jar is hand made and a work of art. The green tops are air locks that are used during fermentation.

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The winery recently received two Magnum 675 Ceramic Eggs from Living Water Flowforms of Australia for fermentation.

As in any biodynamic vineyard, there is an eco-system to promote a natural habitat for chickens, bees, cows, flowers, fruit or nut bearing tree and fertilizing with recycled animal manure and organic waste. AmByth is the only biodynamic vineyard I have visited in California, but I have enjoyed visiting others in the Rhône, Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon and Loire wine regions of France. I have previously written about Chateau de Fosse Seche.

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Natural Wines are gaining in popularity thanks in part to Natural Wine writer and afficionado Alice Feiring and to Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron, who has increased awareness through her book “Natural Wine”and RAW Natural Wine Fair, that is now competing with the Real Wine Fair, both originating in London. This year AmByth will participate in the Real Wine Fair in London in April. The RAW Fair has branched out to Vienna, Berlin and this year to New York. Hopefully they will move the Fair to the West Coast, although I love visiting London!

In Los Angeles, Natural Wines are a mainstay at Domaine LA, LOU Wine in Los Feliz, Silverlake Wine and are moving west to the Wine House.

Until next time…à votre santé       IMG_0162

©2016 Christine Humphrey

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