Drinking the Petit Jo is revelatory to me. Not because of it's interesting back story (which it does have), but because it really just tastes revelatory to me. The Petit Jo tastes revelatory like it wants to party! It's also revelatory in having a wild taste that's different from all the wines I'm used to drinking in a way that I have trouble pinning down. The Petit Jo's flavors aren't so different from other, the difference is in the intensity and freshness of it; the Petit Jo is like a person that has so much energy that even sitting still they bounce up and down and rock back and forth. I've shown the Petit Jo at several tastings now and it wows people every time I show it. Sometimes I actually get comments like "this is too loud for me" or "this is just too much!", but the vast majority of the time shock is a positive one and it sells out.
My friend Joe Appel just wrote about another natural wine from the portfolio of Zev Rovine: the Contadino 9. The Contadino from Frank Cornelissen is a better known, more sought after, more complex, more profound (and expensive) wine that's kind of a standard bearer for natural wines. It made a huge impression on Joe and I totally agree with him that the Contadino is a truly exceptional wine and is a piece of art. Personally though there's something about the simple and unabashed exuberance and accessibility of the Petit Jo that I love more. The Petit Jo isn't trying to be a fancy thought provoking wine. That it ends up being one is simply because it is so damn delicious!
So here's that back story I promised. Petit Jo is a Grenache that's made by a small family winery in the Cotes du Rhone: the town of Vaucluse. The Joly family has been farming organically since 1975, and started making wine in 2000. They make their wine with nothing at all added to it. Basically they put whole grape clusters into an open vat, let it start to ferment with wild yeast on the skins, and then after some racking off of the sediments and what not they bottle it. This is radical because almost all the wine in the world has things added to it to make it taste the way the wine maker wants. Nearly all wines are fermented with commercially developed strains of yeast and many have coloring, tannin, sugar, and other funny things added. Even in the world of small scale natural wines that I work in most producers add some sulfur to stabilise the wines. The Jolys add nothing at all. The Petit Jo is 100% grapes and nothing else! The thought provoking revelation is that it is so delicious without all that other stuff. It makes you ask: "why add all these other not grape things to wine?" What's the point? Well the point is predictable tastes and reliability, and profitability too, but that's a whole other conversation.
The point is that the Petit Jo is a subversively delicious wild young Grenache with vibrant pepper, loads of juicy fruit, and a slightly wild furry aspect to it. I call it subversive in how it challenges our accepted wisdom of how wine has to be made by being fun and $15. You should try it and see what you think of a really wild no sulfur wine. It's available at the Bier Cellar, the Rosemont Markets, Aurora Provisions, RSVP, and Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport.