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Nathan Kendall

Nathan Kendall, "Cabernet Franc Primeur" 2022

Nathan Kendall, "Cabernet Franc Primeur" 2022

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Finger Lakes, NY. 100% Cab Franc, hand picked, destemmed, and fermented with wild yeasts with twice a day punch downs for two weeks. The juice is then pressed into neutral oak and aged in for 2 months. Bottled with just a touch of SO2. 

The Producer: Nathan Kendall

Hailing from the shores of Seneca Lake, native son Nathan Kendall returned home in 2011 to found his eponymous winery after honing his craft across the globe. From Sonoma to Mosel, Kendall gathered old world winemaking wisdom like a sponge. His mission: craft Finger Lakes wines that channel the same elegance, balance and restraint.

Like a chef sourcing local ingredients, Kendall focuses on Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and bubbly—cool climate varietals perfectly suited to the Finger Lakes. With a gentle hand, he guides the grapes through long spontaneous fermentations and extended lees aging, allowing the fruit to express itself fully. The result? Wines with a true sense of place, shaped by the land rather than the hand of the winemaker. Minimal intervention, maximum terroir. 

The following was a profile written on one of Nathan's fascinating side-projects, "Chëpīka" executed with sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier. The conceptual background could also be applied to these "Nathan K" wines as he's firmly working within the deep tradition of FLX wines.

On Chëpīka:

In 1867, at the second world’s fair to be held in Paris (entitled Exposition Universelle), the ‘wines of the world' (nearly all French) were tasted and given prizes and, to the public’s shock and awe, a sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes of America’s northern border with Canada was given honorable mention, the first wine this side of the Atlantic to have ever traded blows with the vaunted concoctions of Champagne, Bordeaux & the rest. This wine – believe it or not – was a sparkling masterpiece crafted from the North American hybrid (Vitis Labrusca x Vitis Vinifera) Catawba, grown on the shores of Keuka Lake in Hammondsport. In the next several decades, sparkling wines reared from the Catawba & Delaware grapes of the Finger Lakes would continue to garner a world-beating reputation, earning prizes at wine fairs throughout Europe, including a top prize in Vienna in 1900. Fast forward nearly 150 years, and this seemingly buried history has become part of the basis of one of the most exciting American wine projects we’ve seen: Pascaline Lepeltier & Nathan Kendall’s chëpìka. Begun in 2016, chëpìka – whose name derives from the Lenape language of the Delaware tribe meaning root, and “aims to pay tribute to the history of northeastern America, the presence of Native Americans and the wild American grapes growing in this region” – brings this very specific FLX Catawba-and-Delaware sparkling wine history into the specific viticultural present. Working with a longtime, certified-organic vineyard of Catawba and Delaware grapes on (you guessed it) Keuka Lake, chëpìka produces ancestral method sparklers (pét-nats, whereas those 19th-century bubbles were made according to the Champagne Method) in addition to a still-expression of the classic New England (often table-) grape, Concord. Though this project and these wines are conceptual to the max, they are unpretentious in their literal presentation – bottles of easygoing bubbles adorned with minimalist labels whose 5 vertical stripes represent the 5 Finger Lakes. In short: they do not require some rigorous headspace to be won before your nose, palate, gut & imagination can fully enjoy them. They’re just downright delicious & unique FLX wines that bring a thrilling historical point of view to the present’s edge. 

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  • Serving natural wine lovers since 2006

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