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…spontaneously fermenting

structure

Last night for my birthday, I celebrated with friends and a magnum of one of my favorite wines – Jean Pierre Robinot’s Concerto d’Oniss 2010. I am always so impressed by the structure of his wines. His wines have what I consider about the greatest structure I have seen. I am not talking massive structure and alcohol that make a wine difficult to consume an entire bottle of, I am talking a structure that even at only 12% alcohol, has no peers. It pours like oil, and in the mouth that oily texture is there as well.

Pink grapefruit and grapefruit skin (the white part under the skin actually) are the first aromas you get, followed by delicate notes of incense, pepper and spice.

The texture is surreal on the palate, it’s the first thing that you notice. Like a light oil, so balanced, alcohol barely noticeable. Grapefruit, spices and red berries. A wine to glug, glug, glug!

Pay close attention to the way this wine pours, especially as it fills the glass!

Jean Pierre Robinot Concerto d’Oniss Magnum – structure from vinosseur on Vimeo.

Category: 1 WINE, natural wine (100% living wine)

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No cat piss, please

The Sauvignon Blanc grape is quite easy to detect on the nose, very often showing aromas of green gooseberries, blackcurrant leaves and hints of what we call “cat piss”.  In other words, to some (including myself) the wines made with this popular grape can often be quite stinky and smell “green ” and under ripe (not all of course, but many).

But, what happens when you take a  Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in Sancerre that is farmed naturally (without pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers), where the  juice is made into wine without a single additive, including SO2?  The result is a  Sebastién Riffault Sancerre Auksinis, a very different Sancerre.

 

Sebastién is a 30 year-old who is passionate about the work he and his horse do in the vineyards, paying careful attention to the needs of the vines without introducing them to any additives including fertilizers.

His approach is organic with some biodynamic principals.  He plows with his horse, but only every third year or so because he considers the upheaval of the topsoil to be to some extent harmful for the vineyard and its harmonious life.*  He harvests late and with very low yields and allows his wines to ferment naturally with ambient yeasts in large old barrels with a full malolactic conversion.

The 40 year old Auksinis vineyard is located in Verdigny in the Sancerre appellation of the Loire Valley, about 5 km NW from the town of Sancerre.

(Terroir France – French Wine Guide)

The 1 HA vineyard is facing South East  & South with an average slope of about 35%.  The soil is mostly clay and limestone (Caillottes).  The vineyard produces 15 hl/ha, or about 2000 bottles of this wine.  Fermented in 8-15 year-old large wooden barrels for about 3 months, then left on the fine lees for about two years. Racking and bottling is done by gravity without fining or filtration.  The whole process from start to end is done without any additions, including SO2. Vintage 2009

 

Date tasted:  Monday April 23rd, 20:00

Appearance:  Ripe yellow plum color. Very slight brown reflexes, like old gold.  Slightly turbid.
Nose:  Initially very ripe yellow fruit and minerals. Surprising to also find some ripe gooseberries, but ripe and not green. A bit of smoke. Yellow apples. Hints of brown honey. Hints of pear. Hints of cooked balsamic, interesting.   Marzipan.
As it warmed up, dry grass and hay with white pepper begin to appear and the initial attack of very ripe fruit settled a bit.
Palate: Very open showing ripe yellow fruit with honey notes and a slight bitterness like a bitter almond. Looooong mineral finish. Food wine par none.  Bone dry with great acidity. Salty. Oily texture that I usually find on my favorite wines. Fennel hints. No hollow spots,  very very structured. Medium bodied wine. Marzipan
After an hour being open, the wine became extremely fresh and light, especially when the wine had reached room temperature. The wine became very drinkable, and as usual, I wished I’d had a magnum!

 


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, France, Loire, natural wine (100% living wine), Sancerre

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Blind taste that wine again please

I recently had a guest at Jacob’s Bar & Kjøkken. This guest was somewhat of a wine person. This means for the sake of this story that this guest was very wine interested and belonged to a sophisticated wine-tasting group that regularly meets and tastes some pretty darn good, and valuable, wines. They do this in the comfort of their home(s) and are  not often seen out and about at the well-known wine spots in the city.

I poured a small taste of something, blind. I had never met this guest, and I am always interested to hear their analysis because it helps me to gauge their knowledge and palate.  I returned after a few minutes to hear this guest’s impressions about the splash of wine I had poured. This is always interesting for me, especially with “knowledgeable” people. After the analysis, I poured another small glass… and then another, and then another.  One thing struck me about this guest’s comments. On each and every wine, the comment “well, the wine has these balsamic notes, so I assume it’s natural.  And these balsamic notes cover the fruit, so it’s very difficult to get the fruit, and therefore analyze the wine correctly to come to any kind of  conclusion. ” Of course he knew where he was and also knew the wines would be natural, so no points there.

No, it wasn’t the first time (and it won’t be the last) that I heard such comments. I  often hear that it is hard to blind taste natural wines cause they all kind of smell and taste the same. Remember when you first started to taste wines and try to distinguish the difference? They pretty much all tasted similar, right? Until 100’s of wines later, you started to get it…

IMHO, blind tasting natural wines is all about retraining the senses and the brain. Those of us who have studied wine or have been tasting it for years, were very likely taught to blind taste “conventional wines”. I am not making a judgement here about the quality of these wines, just an observation, and actually a fact when it came to my education.  And, just like having to train that brain to blind taste that first time, you have to do it again. With some training, you can also begin to blind taste (correctly I might add) natural wines, as I often do.

So, when you are starting to blind taste natural wines, please give it some time and stop saying that you are not able to because it’s natural and it smell like the others. This is nonsense and you know it.

Category: 1 WINE, Blind taste that wine again please, natural wine (100% living wine)

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A tasting note: 2009 Hatzidakis Assyrtiko Cuvée No.15

 

I wanna start off by saying that I am no Greek geek, that is, i know very little about Greece and it’s viticulture and wines. In fact, I have never even been to Greece and the number of times I can remember tasting a Greek wine can be counted on less than the 10 fingers of my two hands, and maybe even on less than 5 fingers. This isn’t because I have chosen not to taste the wines of Greece, it is merely  due to the fact that in Norway, fewer than 10 examples are available (that i am aware of). Now that i am in Krakow, it seems that Greece may get a little more attention from me, or at least the wines of Hatzidakis.

Haridimos Hatzidakis founded the winery on the island of Santorini in 1996 and made his first wine in the following year. He has been organic right from the start, no doubt helped by the heat and the winds of the island.   A unique bush training system (koulara) is used on Santorini to help protect the growing grapes from the fierce winds and heat that are native here. The vines are woven into “baskets” with the grapes facing towards the inside, thus providing shelter.  Fortunately, Santorini is immune to phylloxera due to it’s volcanic soils which contain no clay, which is necessary for the parasite to survive. Therefore, many of the vine roots growing on Santorini are 100’s of years old, allowing them to grow deep into the soils where they can find nutrients and water.

The Assyrtiko Cuvée no. 15 is 100% Assyrtiko, an indigenous grape of Greece, and is known for it’s minerality and acidity (even if the grape is very ripe).   The wine is made from a mixture of (very) old and young vines, where the upper part of the vine is about 15 years old, but the underground root system can be anywhere between 100-400 years of age.  The grape skins are quickly separated from the juice and the wine is allowed to ferment with its native yeasts. It’s then matured on the lees in tank  for 4 months.  Very little SO2 is added, with the total at bottling being between 12 & 20 mg/l.  This wine is quite rare and is not made in every vintage. In 2009, about 200 cases were made.

Date tasted:  March 25th, 2012 (and another bottle a few days later)

Appearance:  Deep yellow hay-like color. Very vibrant and a bit turbid.

Nose: like crushed vitamin c, or aspirin. Under ripe mango, but not green. Honey and mineral notes lift the wine nicely.

Palate: Mineral and very salty. Under ripe mango again on the palate with a slight bitter after-taste. An extremely long finish and very concentrated. Alcohol sticks a bit, but i credit this to the wine’s youth.

If all Greek wines tasted like this, than I have been missing out.  But I know that they don’t and that  this is something special because the few Greek wines I have tasted were nothing like this. A wine to enjoy today or store (but why do that)

 

 

* I would like to thank Tomasz Kurzeja and Konstantinos Lazarakis MW for their very helpful information.

*This post was written especially for Winicjatywa and translated to Polish language here

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Greece, natural wine (100% living wine), Santorini

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About
Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. Vinosseur.com 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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Joseph would love to hear from you! You can contact him by email at vinosseur@gmail.com