Q&A with Halliday

Fast Five: Rachel Signer

By J'aime Cardillo

In this series, we ask industry members to share the five drinks that shaped their lives.

Rachel Signer is the founder and publisher of Pipette Magazine, an independent natural wine-focused print magazine, and the author of the book You Had Me At Pét-Nat. She lives in South Australia with her husband and daughter, making natural wine under the labels Lucy M and Persephone.

Rachel Signer testing wineRachel Signer is the publisher of Pipette Magazine and the author of You Had Me At Pét-Nat.

01. 1989 Olga Raffault Chinon
Loire Valley, France
When I was learning about wine, I worked at Uva Wines in Brooklyn, NY, which had a stocked cellar and a lenient attitude toward tasting. This wine was over 20 years old when we were drinking it, and it was outstanding – profound notes of capsicum enhanced by leathery tones. The progenitors of this certified organic estate include a German prisoner-of-war who had wound up working in the vineyards in the late 1940s; learning this, I saw how wine and history are deeply intertwined. This gorgeous bottle made me fall in love with cabernet franc, which years later I’ve made wine from here in South Australia. 

02. 2016 Lucy M Wines Vino Rosso
Adelaide Hills, Australia
I’d be remiss if I left out this wine – I tried it in a popular natural wine bistro in France and it stood out among all the Jura and Loire cuvées drunk over a long lunch. It was so energetic, and neither here nor there – not too light or 'glou glou,' but also not heavy and structured. Years later, I am married to the maker, so I guess you could say I followed my…palate.

03. 2015 Domaine Mosse Arena Savennières
Loire Valley, France
I selected this wine from the list at Pearl and Ash in New York City, a now-closed, legendary place to drink from a cellar curated by Patrick Cappiello, one of the most significant players on the American wine scene. Domaine Mosse is mostly founded on vineyards in the Anjou AOC but they have this one Savenièrres (100 per cent chenin blanc, per the appellation) parcel that delivers a slap of minerality with a gorgeous balance of texture and acidity. It’s the wine that led me to work for them during the 2017 vintage – a formative experience. 

04. 2015 The Eyrie Vineyards Trousseau
Oregon, USA
Every state in the U.S. has its own unique wine culture, and Oregon’s is one of the most exciting. The Eyrie Vineyards basically started viticulture in the Willammette Valley. I asked my friend, winemaker Brianne Day, to accompany me to taste there, as she’d worked in the tasting room before. She exclaimed loudly when tasting this wine, the first entirely no-sulfites-added cuvée from the Eyrie Vineyards. Winemaker Jason Lett was really proud. It was a gorgeous wine. Great place to visit if you’re touring Oregon wine country, which I highly recommend.

05. 2015 Mandili Mtsvane
Kakheti, Georgia
Visiting Georgia in 2017 was a pivotal moment for me in so many ways. Georgia is the birthplace of wine – it’s the oldest continuously producing wine region in the world. People have been making natural wine there largely out of necessity and have developed their own incredible culture around it, including fermenting in underground amphorae called ‘qvevri’ – an entire chapter in my book takes place in Georgia. This Mtsvane wine by Marina Kurtanidze, one of the first Georgian women to release her own wine commercially, was a knockout: stonefruits, acid, and tannin all in harmony.

This article appears in issue #65 of Halliday magazineBecome a member to receive the print publication as well as digital access.