The Holly. It’s a natural.
By Tod Stigall
Wine geeks should rejoice at the recent opening of The Holly, a wine bar and store in the Near Southside that features natural wines.
Count me among those who have traveled to Houston, San Antonio and Austin over the years to find what owner Liz Mears describes as the “farm-to-table” vintages of the wine world. Natural wines are more random and less predictable than conventional wines. Because their makers allow Mother Nature to control most of the parameters, each production is different, and the resulting wines are more rustic.
While natural wines can be cellared, they are intended to drink young. They are usually lower in alcohol, with fruity, earthy, acidic, nutty and effervescent flavor notes, among others. While new to our area, they represent the oldest methods of making wine. Be sure to try The Holly’s numerous versions of pétillant naturel (often referred to as “pet-nat”) wine; in France, it is known as methode ancestrale, a nod to the long heritage of these sparkling natural wines that are usually topped with a soda pop-type crown cap.
Mears also stocks great, natural versions of more conventional wines to satisfy those who may not be ready for the more ancient style. The shop’s affordable bottle pricing is based upon to-go package store pricing; there is a minimal corkage fee for enjoying them in the shop. Thoughtfully selected flights and wines by the glass are available to help introduce natural wines to potential new fans. The Holly owners have designed an indoor/outdoor, dog-friendly space evoking Marfa minimalism. Their wine-friendly snack selection includes marcona almonds and Castelvetrano olives; Icon Bread from The Table, a culinary neighbor of The Holly; and a cheese plate featuring selections from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin. Snacks are served on beautiful stoneware from the adjoining Kendall Davis Clay shop.