Tasting the Patagonia Provisions Wine Selections

I should get the high-level disclaimer out of the way right off the bat: I’m an unadulterated, lifelong Patagonia® fan-boy. I’ve been wearing Patagonia gear since the early Nineties, and during college, I worked in a mountaineering store where I enthusiastically sold Patagonia clothing (and Black Diamond climbing gear), fully drinking the Kool-Aid of their sustainable manufacturing practices and commitment to environmental activism. Consequently, virtually all of the technical clothing I own—for flyfishing, snowboarding, hiking, backpacking, swimming, and running is from Patagonia. I think they’re one of the greatest companies in existence and I have an incredible amount of admiration for their founder, Yvon Chouinard (all of whose books I have read assiduously), and for the way they have reimagined what a for-profit company can be.

Now that I’ve got that bit of gushing out of the way, I should admit that I was somewhat shocked to hear that they had come out with a line of wines, ciders, and sakes under their Patagonia Provisions line of products. Having tried several of the Patagonia Provisions foodstuffs in the early days of their existence, I haven’t been particularly impressed. It’s an admirable attempt to bring the company’s principles and methods to bear on sourcing food, but the results haven’t been extremely tasty in my experience.

An almost endless set of options exist for any company looking to create a branded line of wines to sell to their customers, most of which are high-margin, bulk wines of variable quality and mixed provenance.

Regardless of my personal thoughts on the flavors of their smoked salmon, the release of a set of wines demanded somewhat more professional attention. So when their PR agency reached out, I asked to have a set sent my way. A couple of weeks later, a box arrived with six bottles of wine, a bottle of cider, and a dozen cans of piquette.

An almost endless set of options exist for any company looking to create a branded line of wines to sell to their customers, most of which are high-margin, bulk wines of variable quality and mixed provenance.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Patagonia has taken a different approach. Instead, they’ve commissioned wines from some of the world’s best makers of natural wine. And what’s more, they’ve made sure to maintain the identity of those makers in the process, letting their labels and brand names occupy the front of the bottles. For help with all this, Patagonia cleverly turned to sommelier Brian McClintic, whose Viticole wine club has been a leader in sourcing artisan-made, sustainable wines for years, and Canadian importer Vanya Filipovic.

From the iconoclastic Frank Cornelissen, they’ve commissioned a rosé and a red wine from Etna. From the visionary biodynamic farming crew at Meinklang in Austria, they’ve commissioned another rosé and a rather surprising white wine infused with thyme. There’s a biodynamic Chablis, a frizzante fruit concoction that might be the love child of a pet-nat and an apple cider, and even an organic bottle of Marquette.

In all, this initial selection represents a quirky, thoughtful, and remarkably high-quality set of bottles (and cans). I am quite interested to see how they are received by their customers, and how the lineup evolves. While the products don’t all hit the mark, it’s a remarkably strong start and an admirable commitment to natural wine.

Tasting Notes

2018 Chateau de Béru “Patagonia Provisions” Chablis, Burgundy, France
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon pith and wet pavement. In the mouth, bright lemon curd and a touch of crème anglaise have a silky texture and a soft acidity. Nice minerality underneath. I wish this wine had more acidity to it, but the flavors are tasty. Demeter certified Biodynamic. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48.

NV Meinklang “Patagonia Provisions – Thyme Blanc” White Blend, Austria
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and a touch of dried herbs. In the mouth, juicy grapefruit and lemon flavors mix with pear and apple, while the thyme notes are quite subtle and faint in the background. There’s a light creaminess to the wine as well, which is balanced by excellent acidity. I like this far more than I thought I would. Biodynamic white wine infused with thyme. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25.

NV Meinklang “Patagonia Provisions ” Zweigelt Rosé, Austria
A pale ruby-pink in the glass, this wine smells of struck match and a hint of sweaty socks backed by a sour cherry and rosehip notes. In the mouth, crisp and bright flavors of hibiscus and sour cherry mix with citrusy rosehip flavors. There’s a tannic grip to the wine that sneaks up with a chalk-dusty quality in the mouth – a nice minerality pervades. 11% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25.

2020 Frank Cornelissen Pistemutta “Patagonia Provisions – Rosato” Nerello Mascalese Rosé, Terre Siciliane, Sicily
Light ruby in the glass with a faint orangey bronze tint, this wine smells of red berries and a hint of barnyard and herbs. In the mouth, juicy berry and dried floral qualities are tinged with a hint of acidophilus. Beautiful stony minerality and a faint salinity throughout. That yogurty quality lingers in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $39.

2020 Frank Cornelissen Pistemutta “Patagonia Provisions – Rosso” Nerello Mascalese, Terre Siciliane, Sicily
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of earth and red berries. In the mouth, boysenberry and mulberry notes are backed by dusty tannins and layered over a deeply stony core that is 100% Etna, and 100% Cornelissen. Taste the volcano, folks. For fans of Cornelissen’s work, this is essentially Munjebel with a screwcap. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $39.

MV Wild Arc Farm “Patagonia Provisions ” Marquette, New York
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of earth, herbs, and huckleberries. In the mouth, unripe blackberry, huckleberry, and sour cherry flavors are backed by leathery tannins and a nice acidity. There’s a purple SweetTart® quality to the finish. 10.7% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $30.

MV Kindeli “Patagonia Provisions Fruit Wine” Fruit Wine, New Zealand
Is it a wine? Is it a cider? The latter word appears on the back label, so perhaps that’s what we should go with for this blend of apples, pears, plums, and grapes. In the glass, it’s a hazy orange with fleshy tones and a seemingly strong effervescence. It smells of apple and yellow plum and a touch of white flowers. In the mouth, dry and mellow flavors of apple and pear have a nice faint tannic structure and the effervescence is much subdued, despite the “enthusiasm” with which this beverage emerged from the bottle. Stupidly, I broke my own rule because I wasn’t thinking of this as a pet-nat, but it should be considered one insofar as the guidance to ALWAYS open a pet-nat over the sink. Because, as this wine did, 4 out of 5 times, you’ll lose 20% of the bottle as it gushes out upon opening. This is a tasty, if not particularly intensely flavored drink. The fruit qualities are less intense than many ciders, but there’s a nice stony quality that balances the fainter fruit. I could easily drink a couple glasses of this. Organic. 7% alcohol. Closed with a crown cap. Open with caution. Over the sink. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $19.

NV Kindeli “Patagonia Provisions Piquette” Piquette, New Zealand
A hazy, bright orange in color with faint bubbles, this piquette smells of guava and passionfruit. In the mouth, a blend of grape skins and feijoa fruit offer flavors of tropical fruits and a hint of pink peppercorn with a light effervescence and a more savory quality. Quite dry, with no trace of sweetness, this reminds me a bit of some flavored waters, where you get more aroma than taste. For those unfamiliar with piquette, it is a beverage made by re-hydrating grape pomace (the leftover skins after they have been pressed) to make a wine, and then refermenting the result to a typically low level of alcohol. Organic. 4.5% alcohol. Packaged in 440ml / 14.8-ounce cans Score: between 7.5 and 8. Cost: $8 per can.

All these products can be purchased online from Patagonia Provisions.