…spontaneously fermenting

A Tasting Note: 1904 Proprietà Sperino Nebbiolo

2009-10-06_2235Date tasted:  October 6th, 2009 at 17:00

Proprietà Sperino is located in the Northern Piemonte wine region and is owned by the De Marchi family of Chianti’s Isole e Olena. We were greeted and given a tour of the winery by Luca De Marchi, the son of the famed Paolo De Marchi.  Whenever possible, indigenous yeasts are used (which I am told is close to 100% of the time).

2009-10-06_22312009-10-06_2234I felt very privileged to have had the opportunity to taste a wine of this age, especially a wine made from one of my favorite grapes, the Nebbiolo. The bottle has been stored for many years without being touched and this was evident by the amount of mold and dust that had attached itself to the bottle. After cleaning the top of the bottle in preparation for the cork removal,  the cork screw was inserted and rather than using the lever system to pull the cork out, the cork came out with one pull. The cork came out in one piece and was in great shape considering the age.

2009-10-06_22402009-10-06_22412009-10-06_22422009-10-06_22432009-10-06_22442009-10-06_2246Tasting Notes:

2009-10-06_2255Appearance: As Luca De Marchi prepared to pour the wine for us to taste, he warned that the wine would no longer be red, and he wasn’t kidding!  The wine had lost all of the natural red color pigment. The wine was quite clear with orange, brown tones. Like a light colored orange wine, if you will, with brownish tones.  This was my first time seeing a red wine turn “clear” due to age.  Despite the age, the wine was quite clean with a few small pieces of sediment in the glass.  Medium minus intensity.

Nose: Medium intense and medium complex  wine with interesting aromas similar to a clean, young Sherry or Marsala. Slightly oxidized yellow apples, salted almonds. Pistachio nuts.

Palate: Clean and still quite fresh with medium minus acidity, medium minus, but still living tannins. Slightly oxidized yellow apples, with a nutty aftertaste very reminiscent of a Marsala. Reminded me of some of the Marsala’s I have tasted from Marco De Bartoli. Toasted almonds with hints of butter.  A very well integrated and balanced level of alcohol. Good concentration and balance overall. The finish is at least 20-30 seconds. Incredible!

The most incredible thing was that we only had a small glass each, put the cork in the bottle and took the bottle home with us. We popped the cork again at dinner around 4 hours later and incredibly the wine had improved slightly! It had become a bit more complex, but more amazing was the fact that the wine had not died after having been open for 4 hours! Incredible.


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Italy, Lessona, Piemonte


Natural Wine Making in Piemonte Part VIII – "All Well!"

Here’s an update from Jørgen regarding our wine:


Sig. Felice

The “Felice” Nebbiolo wine is fermenting perfectly now.   As of today, it’s been macerating on the skins for 3 weeks.  Only one day with (3) pump-over’s.  With 2 pump-overs the next day, and two more the following day… that’s it for the pump-overs.

Then Wednesday of last week (14th of October), the cap was pushed down.  Wooden  4×4 planks were carefully placed on top of the cap, pushing it down a few centimeters, then the must was topped off.  This technique helps the cap stay below the surface to avoid unwanted (volatile) aromas.  The wooden planks were of a special type of wood found in the local river.  This type of wood is not normally found in the area, and is important to mention that it’s neutral and adds no flavors to the wine. The planks were wet with the wine and dried before use.

Felice Vines

Felice Vines

We’re still waiting for malolactic to start and since we didn’t add anything (no sulfur nor selected yeast), it should begin more easily on it’s own. If it doesn’t start now on it’s own, it will start in the springtime. Potential alcohol at this point is around 13.7%  (this is considered low in the area  compared to the other Nebbiolo’s  in the 2009 harvest).   Jørgen visited two other producers and tasted their fermenting Nebbiolo’s. Our Nebbiolo was the most fruity and expressive according to him 🙂

Everyday approximately 10 litters has to be added to the must and topped-up because of the CO2 compacting the cap. The small cement tank has been “svinato”, pressed and the wine from this tank (the same wine of-course) is now being used to refill the to big cement tanks.  Now it’s only the two big cement tanks. Igino Garberoglio is checking on the wine 3 times a day.


Jørgen Ljøstad

Jørgen is overseeing our project since he now lives in Italy. Born in Norway in 1974, Jørgen Ljøstad in my opinion is one of the greatest palates Norway has today.  His interest in wine blossomed while working at the Michelin-starred Bagatelle in Oslo, Norway from 1997-2000.  He studied for and passed his Sommelier exam in 2003 (which, believe me,  is quite difficult in Norway).   He then worked for 22 months in a well-known cellar in Barbaresco.   When Jørgen came back to Norway, he landed a job with a well-established importer, Moestue Grape Selectons where he remained for a year and half until the Wine Monopoly head-hunted him. He went to work for the Wine Monopoly where he was the Portfolio Developer responsible for all wines from Italy, Portugal and Spain.  In 2007 Jørgen left the Monopoly to co-found the Norwegian-based import company Non Dos AS.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Making in Piemonte


Jacob's Bar & Kjøkken Wine List Updated for October

I have uploaded the October updated wine list which can now be viewed here.

New titles on the list:

  • Chartogne-Taillet Cuvée Sainte-Anne – Champagne, cialis France
  • Domaine Huber-Verdereau Puligny-Montrachet “Les Levrons” 2007 – Burgundy, physician France
  • Stéphane Tissot Chardonnay Les Graviers 2007 – Jura, decease France
  • Domaine des Remizières Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Particuliere 2005 – Rhône, France
  • Domaine de Fondrèche Côtes du Ventoux Nature 2008 – Rhône, France
  • Montirius Vacqueyras Garrigues 2006 – Rhône, France
  • Bressan Schioppettino 2004 – Fruili-Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • A.A. Pacina Chianti Colli Senesi 2005 – Tuscany, Italy
  • Camillo Donati Rosso della Bandita 2006 – Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • Rocolo Grassi Recioto della Valpolicella 2005 – Veneto, Italy

-cheers and good drinking!

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, Jacobs Bar & Kjøkken Wine List Updates

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Natural Wine Making in Piemonte Part VII – Basarin Harvest


The very steep Basarin vineyard

Monday October 5th, abortion 2009

Today we woke up around 7:30 to harvest the last of the two vineyards, doctor the Basarin.  The Basarin vineyard is located in Neive, (Barbaresco commune) and is owned by Vittorio and Marco Adriano of the Azienda Agricola Adriano.  The vineyard  is quite steep at 40% and is facing South East.  In total we harvested 2863 kilos of grapes from this vineyard which took us around 3.5 hours.


2009-10-05_20812009-10-05_2082Compared to the Felice vineyard, it was easier to harvest because the grapes were more easily accessible on the vines and there was a little less selecting necessary because overall, they were healthier than the Felice grapes. The Nebbiolo vines in this vineyard are actually clippings from the Felice vineyard and were planted here in around 1993 (compared to 1971 for the Felice). Due to the difference in location and soil and overall “terroir”, we found the grapes from Basarin to be more structured, with more tannins and acidity than the Felice grapes which were more feminine and elegant.



77 Year-old Sig. Adriano helping with the harvest


Frederik Kolderup doing his part

As soon as the fermentation really begins and the alcohol starts to go up a bit, we will pump over (gently) and blend so that the two vineyards are fermented together. In our opinion they will better integrate if they are blending during fermentation rather than blending post fermentation. The idea here is to get the elegance and femininity from Felice and structure and tannins from Basarin. So far we are very pleased with the fact that we’ve had spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts without the use of sulfur!

After our lunch break, we put the grapes into the destemer and pumped the grapes into our second cement container of 25 hl. Before doing this, we added about 500 liters of fermenting must from Felice as a starter. The 25hl tank quickly filled up so we pumped the rest of the grapes into a 750 liter open top plastic container, exactly like the one Frank Cornelissen uses in Mount Etna.  To this plastic container we also added about 50 liters of the fermenting Felice vineyard juice.

Basarin grapes pumped into 7000 liter plastic container

Basarin grapes pumped into 7000 liter plastic container


Fermenting Felice Nebbiolo juice


Jørgen tasting the fermenting Felice Nebbiolo juice

We also took the opportunity to taste the juice from the first cement tank containing the Felice grapes… Very good indeed! Hints of alcohol starting to show (most likely only 1% at this point). It was super sweet and even had some mild tannins already.

Harvesting Nebbiolo in Basarin Vineyard in Barbaresco from vinosseur on Vimeo.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Making in Piemonte


Natural Wine Making in Piemonte Part VI

Sunday October 4th, 2009

Sunday was another quiet day – Cleaned the destemmer and prepared for tomorrow’s second harvest.


2009-10-04_02009548Lunch at Carussin where we drank another wine made by Igino Garberoglio– a 1985 Barbera d’Asti bottled the year that his grandson Luca was born. If you are following these latest posts, you know that the wines of Igino are not labeled, but this was a special label he made for this bottle.  Most likely not stored in the best of conditions since it was in the dining area of the Carussin  house. This being said, it was still quite fresh,  acidic and full of life with slight oxidative notes – very drinkable indeed.

2009-10-04_02009553We also had the chance to taste a spontaneously fermented Moscato d’Asti from 1984 made by Bruna’s uncle Carlo. Bottled in the then typical 720ml bottle (compared to today’s 750ml wine bottle). Smelled of steel, oxidized honey and hints of caramelized lemon peel. Similar flavors were found on the mouth with still a slight sparkle left. A bit over the top, but interesting to taste none the less. This was stored in the Carussin cellar.

After lunch went back to check on our freshly fermenting wine and moistened the cap – the “protective” layer of grape skins that forms on top of the grape juice. As the juice begins to ferment, it expands and the cement tank which was about 80% to the top has now risen to about 95-98% full. As wine ferments, carbon dioxide is released.  To confirm the wine has begun fermenting in the early stages, one can light a candle or match and bring it down towards the fermenting grapes and it will burn out due to the lack of oxygen. Once the wine really begins to ferment there is no mistaking as the bubbling sound will be quite loud!


Igino pushing down the cap a bit to keep it moist

After moistening the cap, Igino pulled out another of his wines – a Brachetto vinfied dry and without bubbles!  Normally a Brachetto is a sweet sparkling wine that has about 5-6% alcohol by volume and is very enjoyable with fresh strawberries. This version was completely dry and had no bubbles. Very interesting indeed with the typical Brachetto aromas of wild strawberries and Campari but very dry and around 12% alcohol.

Igino's wonderful spontaneously fermented wines - dry Brachetto on the right

Igino's wonderful spontaneously fermented wines - dry Brachetto on the right

We then headed back over to Carussin’s and cleaned the containers for the harvest of Basarin tomorrow morning.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Making in Piemonte


Natural Wine Making in Piemonte Part V – Fermentation!

Fredrik, AKA "Frisbee" checking out the freshly fermenting Nebbiolo must!

Fredrik, AKA "Frisbee" checking out the freshly fermenting Nebbiolo must!

Saturday October 3rd, 2009

  • Fermentation begins spontaneously after 24 hours!
  • No added yeasts!
  • No added sulfur!

Yeeehaaa! It couldn’t have been easier than simply sourcing healthy grapes that have been grown in an organic manner, hand harvested/selected and crushed. The rest we left up to mother nature! Simple! Pump up the volume and click the “Fermenting Nebbiolo Sounds”  below and hear for yourself!

Fermenting Nebbiolo Sounds


Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Making in Piemonte


Natural Wine Making in Piemonte Part IV


Friday October 3rd, 2009

Signage on dirt road on the way to vineyard

Signage on dirt road on the way to vineyard

Felice Grasso greeting us after harvest

Felice Grasso greeting us after harvest and looking proud

Today we’re on our way to harvest the Felice vineyard in San Rocco Seno d’Elvio (Barbaresco commune), owned by Felice Grasso. Our part of the vineyard was the part that was higher up. We were to harvest approximately 0.7ha.

It was a beautiful, warm sunny day. Fortunately we had the help of about 4 others, so in total we were 7 people up until lunch time. The grapes were beautiful and extremely healthy. There was barely any rot, 2009-10-02_1981I would say less than 0.5% (perhaps even less). The grapes were juicy, balanced and extremely healthy. Jørgen, one of the leaders of this wine making project, had harvested this vineyard before, but it had been around 10 years ago. In his opinion, it was one of the finest vineyards in the Barbaresco area producing extremely elegant wines.

2009-10-02_1980During the days leading up to the harvest and including the day of the harvest, Jørgen had made numerous phone calls to other wine makers to pose the sulfur question.  They pretty much all had the same thing to say: you should use some sulfur at the very beginning to help the fermentation begin in a healthy way. However, we really wanted to make this wine without the use of any sulfur at all, so during lunch we decided that because the grapes were so healthy, we would take the risk and let the grapes begin fermentation spontaneously without the addition of sulfur or yeast.


After lunch, we headed back to the vineyard to finish the harvest. We finished at around 18:00, carefully piled the containers in the truck and headed to the scales to weight the grapes. We had harvested approximately 3600 kilos of healthy grapes from the 0.7ha vineyard. This would give us about 2800 bottles of wine from this vineyard alone. We then drove the grapes back to the winery where we would make this wine. Since the winery was not in the Barbaresco commune (it was in the Asti commune) we could not label this wine as a Barbaresco DOCG. In fact, this wine is going to be a VdT (Vino da Tavola). On a Vdt wine label you are not allowed to put the name of the grape or the vintage.

2009-10-02_20312009-10-02_2054Once back at the winery we started to dump the containers into the small destemer. This machine removes the grapes from the stems and “crushes” them lightly. The grape must was then pumped down a tube into one of the cement containers. We filled the 30hl container and part of a 7hl with this harvest. The must was beautiful and sweet. We partly filled a wine bottle with the must to be analyzed the next morning for the potential alcohol. Now all there is left to do is to wait for the grapes to spontaneously ferment which should happen tomorrow or the next day.

Harvesting Nebbiolo in Felice Vineyard in Barbaresco from vinosseur on Vimeo.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Making in Piemonte


Natural Wine Making in Piemonte Part III


Thursday October 2nd, capsule 2009

I want to apologize for the amount of time it has taken me to post part III of this story. We have major difficulties connecting to a wireless service. But alas, cialis here is Part III. There will be more parts to this story, dosage so be patient as I will post them as soon as possible!


We started the day around 10:00 by cleaning three cement (30hl, 25hl & 7hl) tanks located in a wine cellar dating to around 1880.  We used a high powered water hose to rinse them and a brush to get them really clean.



Igino's 2007 Skin macerated Favorita

After completing the cleaning of the tanks, we sat down for a small break with Igino and he poured his 2007 Favoirta for us to taste. This was a white wine with about 15 days of skin contact so it was orange in color. It sparkled as he poured it into our glass. The wine was not so aromatic on the nose, perhaps it was the glass we used. But on the palate, the wine had  great depth, a medium tannic structure, a slight sparkle and an alcohol in the area of about 14%. The wine was bone dry and really long and quite interesting. He only made 60 bottles. My favorite of his wines so far.


Jørgen unloading the plastic containers

After lunch, we took 160 plastic containers (with a capacity of 23 kilos each) and dropped them off at the “Felice” vineyard so that we would have them ready for our harvest tomorrow. The vineyard is in San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, Barbaresco and is perched up a small hill behind the house of Felice Grasso, the vineyard owner.  It was planted in 1971 when he got married. The vineyards are cared for organically.  A small amount of copper and sulfur (the Bordeaux mix) was applied three times throughout the year. Last time was over two months ago  (by law in Italy you cannot pass through the vineyard with the Bordeaux mix  within 28 days of harvest). We tasted the (free of pesticide) Nebbiolo grapes and they were excellent. Sweet, acidic and tannic. Ready to go!

That evening we had a big family dinner with everybody since Igino’s wife Irma was celebrating her 73rd birthday!

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Making in Piemonte

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Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

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