20151118-caspri1

Natural, provocative wine and its eccentric Italian winemaker pay a visit to Bliss Wine Imports

Of all the crazy, wonderful people we met in Italy, the craziest, most eccentric of all came to visit us in San Francisco two weeks ago.

Portrait of Bertrand Habsiger

Bertrand Habsiger (photo: Erin K. Geyer)

This is a man…

… who is from Alsace, France, but who lives and makes wine in Italy.

… who was wearing camo pants when he answered our knock at his front door in Tuscany one morning.

… who, at first, totally lost us when he tried to explain, in his non-native English, a “sensitive crystallization” theory.

… who poured wine into wine glasses like you’ve never seen before: the most unique, hand-blown, light as a feather, and one-solid-piece of glass wine glasses, each one slightly crooked and different from the next.

… who makes wine so bizarre and amazing that we were confused, intrigued and head-over-heels in love all at once.

His name is Bertrand Habsiger. He picked out the property for his Fattoria Di Caspri winery over 10 years ago, when he was commissioned by a friend to go to Italy and make the most natural wine possible.

One thing we’ve learned by tasting a lot of organic and biodynamic wine is that it doesn’t immediately mean that the wine tastes good. But in the case of Bertrand’s Caspri wines, it does.

What does “the most natural wine possible” even mean?

Easy answer: No synthetic chemicals in the vineyard. No added yeasts. No acidification. No filtering. No additives. Nothing put in, nothing taken out. Organic. Biodynamic.

One thing we’ve learned by tasting a lot of organic and biodynamic wine is that it doesn’t immediately mean that the wine tastes good. But in the case of Bertrand’s Caspri wines, it does.

Here’s the thing about Bertrand Habsiger. You know how there’s a big difference between a person who does yoga, or even teaches yoga, and a true yogi? Well, Bertrand doesn’t just farm biodynamically. He is a biodyamicist. He lives his whole life and makes all his decisions using biodynamic principles and in accordance with the biodynamic calendar.

20151118-IMG_9057Back to the wine. We fell in love with it. When we first tasted it, we’d never had anything remotely like it before. It’s lip-smackingly delicious. It’s provocative. It’s dangerously exciting. And it’s not for the faint of heart. It has elevated levels of VA (volatile acidity) which basically means it has a slight taste of vinegar. Usually, this is considered a flaw in a wine, except in those cases where an artisan has done it intentionally and correctly, in which case it gives the wine a totally new level of depth and complexity.

It’s lip-smackingly delicious. It’s provocative. It’s dangerously exciting. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

It’s kind of like the sour beer style compared to other beer styles. You either love the style or you hate it. Very few are in between. But it’s also an acquired taste, so you can quite quickly learn to love it.

You can guess what happened next. We jumped on board and became the exclusive importers of this wine in the United States.

Then something else happened. Weeks after the wine arrived from Italy, Bertrand himself told us he was coming to visit us in California! We were a little nervous to host this eccentric and unpredictable, genius of a winemaker, but excited to get out there and teach people about this wine and actually let them taste it!

When I picked him up at the airport, I knew I had one important job: get this European an espresso!

Caspri Tasting 1We did a wine tasting at the new boutique wine shop in Jack London Square, Oakland Crush. A wonderful time was experienced by all and nearly everyone who tasted the wine bought more bottles than we even expected!

We had several appointments to show the wine to natural wine lovers and we galavanted around San Francisco and Oakland having a lot of fun.

Bertrand has some friends in New York City, so we hopped across the country to spend some time and show the wines there for a few days as well.

Alleah and Bertrand

We love all of our winemakers!

I think I won over the soft and goofy side of him. Because, over the course of his visit he really opened up and we saw how big and genuine his heart is. He not only makes delicious wine, but he is an amazing person.

Regardless of whether you fall in love, it’s an awesome, eye-opening experience.

These wines will require a “hand sell” for a long time. You absolutely need a frame of reference to drink them and only once you have this perspective can you fully understand and discover what’s there. Regardless of whether you fall in love like we did or not, it’s an awesome, eye-opening experience.

We’ll be bringing in 30 cases of Caspri wine to New York City in February, and we have just a few cases left here in San Francisco until the next shipment from Italy arrives sometime in 2016. Bliss Wine Imports wine club subscribers (get started if you’re not part of the club already) are receiving Caspri wines in their shipments this month and the next, while they last.

Cheers!

Free PDF: Get access to a free downloadable PDF: '9 Tips for Choosing Wine at the Store.' Contains the tips and indicators I use when I want to buy pure, delicious and affordable wine from a store. Download now.

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