December Wine Club

Dec 22, 2023

We are so excited to be the first to introduce you to LOCI, a new wine-import company started by our dear friend Randall Bush. We first met Randall while he was working with Rosenthal Wine Merchants as their Great Lake Sales rep. In this industry, a good rep becomes an invaluable partner in our business. Randall’s care and attention helped P. + E. Bottle Shop become what it is today and along the way, we also cultivated a lasting friendship. Not only do we get to geek out about wine together, but we also enjoy diving into cooking and ingredients as well. So when Randall said he was leaving Rosenthal there was for a moment a gaping hole, but it was quickly filled with the excitement of his very own import company and the chance to work with him more. With Randall’s passion for the industry, the history, the terroir, the people, and the wine, we couldn’t wait to taste what he would discover.

P. & E. Mullins
(and also Katie! The new addition to our team!)

Here is a little Q&A with Randall so you can get to know him –

E – To kick it off, please share a little background on yourself & how you started in the wine industry.

R – Wine found me, I like to say, rather than me finding it. I grew up without any background in wine–my family never drank anything–but during graduate school, I developed a love of cooking and serving friends and family at the table (This perhaps, rather happily in the end, was due to the fact I needed to cook to eat, rather than going out!). First one friend, then another, asked about wine, and I set about for a wine shop retailer to help me find my way. Eventually, graduate school led to a professorship, but wine as an intellectual and experiential exercise never left me. Finally, after working for one of the oldest and best artisanal wine importers in the US, I decided to start my own business this year, to serve the best clients in the Midwest.

E – What made you want to start importing wines?

R – You may or may not know this–I hope you don’t! –but importing and selling wine in America is more difficult than importing wine anywhere else in the world. The effort and cost are significant, but I chose to be an importer because I see it as an opportunity to add my voice to the community of wine. I have what I think of as a classic palate for wine, but I care about contemporary issues like farming, sustainability, and human labor practices. As such, I see Loci Wine as an exploration of what classical wine means–and can mean–today, guided by a spirit of conviviality, passion, and sharing, especially at the table. Loci offers a set of wines that hopefully tell us something about the people that make them and the places from which they come, places which aren’t always the most obvious and are often undergoing novel change. (It’s important to remember that good domaines are often family domaines, and as such often change and grow with each successive generation; many of our winemakers are at the cusp of such changes.)

E – How did you decide to start your company in Italy and how did you go about finding the specific wineries?

R – Well, my Italian is better than my French… but, I have a particular fondness for Italy’s native grapes. First, that pointed me to Sangiovese, the grape of Tuscany, where wines are often seen as uniform. Actually, it is one of the most dynamic areas for wine in the world, replete with thoughtful producers and delicate winemaking practices. Second, I adore Italian white wines, and believe they are perfect for thoughtful, value-driven consumers: they offer so much value across the spectrum. I’m excited to speak up for producers doing great work with grapes across Italy, but there’s more coming for Loci also…

E – What’s next?

R – Certainly France! Italy and France make up a compelling pair for wine-drinking, and the borders are more fluid than we often think. But I’m excited that Loci will be bringing in new wine from young, thoughtful, classically-minded producers next year from France. Burgundy, Beaujolais, Chablis, and more will be featured. Just like in Italy, all these wines are specific to their place, made organically without any chemical inputs, and built for the best possible place for wine: the table, with family and/or friends.

2022 Cantini Cenci Giole Trebbiano

Umbria, Italy

R – A lovely, fresh, but gourmand white wine from Umbria, where many wines are often a little too rich and ripe. This is from an old farm in western Umbria, established in the 15th century by Olivetan monks from France. Cultivating native grapes in–frankly–the middle of nowhere, these varieties developed their own specificity and novelty on the property over the years. As such, this wine has so much complexity and detail to go alongside freshness and easy presence at the table.

Giovanni is a lovely, kind guy, the fourth generation of the family to live on the property. a winemaker and farmer, but also a poet and even a mechanical artist–he repairs farm machines until they give out and he turns them into art!–he quite humble produces some of the best white wines in the entire region.

P. + E. + K. – This 100% Trebbiano is like clarified butter in the glass. You can see its weight as you swirl it around. The aromas are shy to start, but if you give it some time to open up notes of melon and lemon curd come through. There was something nostalgic like a gummy candy from our youth we couldn’t quite pinpoint. The palate is acidic and super dry with a slight salinity on the finish.

2022 Crivelli Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato’

Piedmont, Italy

R – Ruchè is a strange, beautiful grape. Floral, delicately tannic, and sappy on the midpalate, it must be tasted to be believed. It is also quite rare: just 240 hectares (~600 acres) of this grape exist in the world, nearly all located in the northern area of Piemonte, across the river from Barolo and Barbaresco in Castagnole Monferrato. The Crivelli family are stewards of these vines, holding approximately 20 hectares of Ruchè vines–in particular on key hilltops in the zone, which amount to grand cru zones for this difficult grape, made nearly extinct earlier in the 20th century.

P. + E. + K. – There are only 20 producers of the Ruche varietal. It’s been grown for centuries and is considered the wine of the Parish’s Priest. In the glass, this is like crushed mulberries that stain your fingers when you pick them. Aromas of blueberry, lavender, and fresh sown earth meet you as it opens, a little minty hint comes through along with wet rocks. The palate is tight at first, with firm acidity and lightly tugging tannins. It is reminiscent of cured meats and salty black olives. It finishes with tart notes of macerated blueberries.

2021 Buondonno Chianti Classico

Tuscany, Italy

R – One of the greatest wines in the world, Chianti Classico unfortunately ranges wildly in quality. Sometimes lean and unbalanced; other times rich and… unbalanced. The difficulty lies in the problems of growing Sangiovese, the native grape of Tuscany, which is at least as difficult as growing Pinot Noir; it is both delicate in its fruit profile and stern in its tannic and acid spine.

Gabriele Buondonno, an agronomy professor, purchased the casavecchia alla piazza (“the old house of la piazza”) in the late 1980s after retiring from teaching. A thoughtful, articulate, and quiet man, it is almost surprising that he’s taken over the famous (but rickety) old house owned by Michaelangelo himself–the latter ordering barrels of wine for himself while working on the basilica in Rome.

Grown on an extremely cold and high part of Chianti Classico, the Buondonno wines themselves feel historic: compellingly classic yet deeply satisfying, these wines are built for today and tomorrow.

P. + E. + K. – In the glass this is an elegant hibiscus red with magenta rim. The nose is spicy to start and dark cherries make their way through with a little smokey and creamy undertones. The palate is savory on the front with cooked cherries on the finish. Like sunlight in a glass, taste the sunbaked earth and fruit with dusty tannins on the finish.