vinosseur

…spontaneously fermenting

A quick tasting note: Si Vintners Sophie

photo (1)Dear blogger,

I have to say that it’s nice to get emails from afar, but it’s even nicer when these emails state that the reason for their contact is due to this blog (yes, this very blog you are reading – for the first time in 3 months – yes, I know..).

I also get emails from winemakers who would like me to taste their wine because they think that I might enjoy them. I have been disappointed a few times I must admit, but when Polish-born Iwo Jakimowicz emailed me one year ago (27/05/2012), I was intrigued. For one, I  live in Poland.  Two, this Polish-born winemaker claimed to make “natural” wine in Australia. Not only is Australia literally distant, but often their wines were distant as well – from the natural wine world.  I knew that they are making strides when it came to making wine with minimal intervention, but these examples were hard to find in Europe, especially in Poland

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Australia, biodynamic wine, Margaret River, natural wine (just about)

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I just can’t get enough

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No, not the song (even though my wheels are spinning now). I just can’t get enough.. of Brignot. The wine maker who now lives in Japan but in a previous life made grapes ferment into masterpieces in the Jura (and in other places in France, although his Jura wines are the (best) shit). He’s not a dinosaur,  but his wines are legendary, rare and gigantic on an emotional level. I have a handful of favorite producers, as anybody does, and still when I taste the wines of Jean-Marc I feel immortal…sort of the way his wines taste.

I am not going to give you a lot of factual bullshit. Google the grape and the region if you want, but here is what’s important – what this wine tastes like. Once again my only regret.. it was only a damn half magnum..

Nose:  walnuts, flowers, yellow roses, limes, underlying minerals, lemon peel, pomelo, pansy

Palate: Taste is ducking good. Juicy. Character of Vin Jaune.  This 2004 Savagnin is balanced like hell. Still in place with acid, fruit and structure after 8 years and no “preservatives” like sulfur  You think that sulfur preserves a wine? bullshit. You know what preserves a wine? Good grapes preserve a wine, that’s it.

Dear Jean-Marc,

Please please please don’t stop bottling fermented grapes. Your fermented grapes are why I am what I am and do what I do.

Hugs,

Me

 

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

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You’ve come a long way

Believe it or not, when I tell people that I’m from California I feel embarrassed. Especially when people  know i focus on natural, and California wines are often far from that.  And I have always found that odd, especially when I was wolfing down organic food way before the rest of the world. For as far back as i can remember we (I) have been eating organic food in California, and i do mean as far back as i can remember, and i am pretty damn mature.

So, why in my opinion has California dropped the ball when it comes to wine? I don’t think i want to answer that, but I hear the sounds of coins clattering in the background.  But things are changing, no pun intended. How do i know this? Well for one, i have been found drinking a California wine or two lately , and i avoided them like the plague when i lived there.  And of course we are known to write about this topic these days, and a great movie highlights the natural wine movement in California, Wine From Here.

Catching me drinking a wine from California is still a rare occurrence, but of course where I live doesn’t help the situation any. I posted pictures a few years ago of Donkey and Goat’s wines and now i will do the same for Hank Beckmeyer’s La Clarine Farm.  I have been reading, as many of you have, about him and his wines more and more often. They are impossible for me to get a hold of in Poland or Norway, but thanks to Hank’s emails and  a California shipping address, I have been fortunate enough to get 3 bottles each of his 2009 and 2010 Home Vineyard bottling’s.

Hank runs his farm in Somerset, in the Sierra-Nevada foothills in California, resting up at around 600-700 meters over sea level. I don’t at what elevation Hank’s vineyards grow, but i am sure he will chime in with a response. Somerset? Surely you mean Sonoma right? Nope . Hank and his goats make some damn good wine in Somerset. Rather,  Hank works extremely hard to help nature make her wine. I am not going to go on and on about how Hank does this, if you want to read it from his own words, you can do so here

I have tasted his wines only 2 times. Yes, only twice. I bought six bottles and I have to admit I gave one (2010) away as a wedding gift to close friends of ours because they were worth it. I gave a second bottle (2009) away to Maxime  at the Green Man and French Horn in London (one of the restaurants in the Brawn, Terroir, Soif group) cause I knew he would understand it. That left me with 4.  I drank two, one of which was consumed two days ago and I can tell you that it was the fastest disappearing bottle of the evening and there was even a bottle of La Stoppa among the bunch.

The wine was everything that I really hoped for, and i mean really hoped for. After all, I had guests, they knew I was from California, and most of all, they knew that I really only drank natural wine. The wine stood up to test and was just as refreshing as I had hoped. Fresh fruit, ripe tannins and refreshing acidity. No silky, velvety mouth feel, no warm alcohol and thank god no vanilla! Glog glog wine from California, finally!

All I can say is “California, keep doing what you are doing. You’ve come a long way”

 

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, California, El Dorado, natural wine (100% living wine), Somerset

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A (very quick) tasting note: 2005 Jérôme Saurigny S – A Chenin Surmûris

I remember when I first met Jérôme Saurigny  back in 2009 when I was visiting Patrick Desplats (Griottes). Patrick took us to meet his friend Jérôme and taste his wines. I still remember being blown away by his (dry) Sauvignon Blanc.  A Sauvignon like none I can remember tasting before. Just ripe, juicy fruit without the “off” aromas we are familiar with in a Sauvignon. You don’t need to guess that Jérôme’s wines are made with no additives, including the industrial yeasts so often added to Sauvignon Blanc’s giving them their “characteristic” aromas. Of course he was a friend of Patrick’s, so no surprise there.

As we left his place he handed me a small 50cl bottle of his sweet wine and told me to enjoy it. Well, I finally did – 3 years later. On one hand I don’t know why the hell i waited 3 years to drink that wine, on the other hand I’m glad I did. It was worth the wait.

The “S” is made from Chenin Blanc grapes and is one of only a small handful of sweet wines that I know of that is made without any additions, including SO2. No easy feat for a sweet wine which is allowed to have up to 400 mg/liter (ppm) in the EU. This wine most likely clocks in at less than 25 mg/l. What the hell does this mean? Well it makes for  a much purer, cleaner wine.

Date tasted:  October 15th, 2012

Ooohhh fuck was my first impression on the nose. Slightly volatile (compounds, which I love) with hints of yeast. Quince apples.  Slight “flor” hints. “Fresh walnuts”

Oh Jesus on the palate. Extremely fresh. Not sticky. Acid is medium-low, but refreshing.

A very drinkable dessert wines, not for sipping. Enjoy quickly since there is only 50cl

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

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A tasting note – 2007 Le Mazel Mias

This is not the first time I write about Le Mazel. The Cuvée Raoul (2006) was one of the most interesting wines I have tasted. And I wasn’t the only one who believed this. The wine was introduced to the Norwegian market with such rave reviews that the importers could not keep up with the demand.

The Mias vin de table  is a sparkling (pétillant) wine which never made into the Norwegian market, but lucky for me my friends payed a visit to Le Mazel this summer while celebrating their honeymoon and bought back with them a few bottles. Spontaneously fermented viognier grapes, most likely bottled before fermentation was complete and without additives, this funky-labeled wine was worth a quick write-up

Date tasted: Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Appearance:  A light and cloudy wine with tiny bubbles.

Nose:  smoke, yellow apples and volatile aromas highlight this wine. Hints of lemon and other yellow fruits. Green grapes. Minerality. Overripe (fermenting) pears. Pear cider.

Palate:  a very slight sparkle. Impression of sugar but not sweet. Refreshing ripe acidity. Yellow apples, pears and almond paste. Volatility give this wine a sweet, slightly balsamic aftertaste (without the sourness). Yummy! Like a grape cider – which of course is all this really is. Yeasty notes. Very Slightly oxidized, but a healthy oxidation, like a pear that falls to the ground.  14% alcohol (also probably contributing to the impression of sweetness)

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Ardeche, France, natural wine (100% living wine), Southern Rhône

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Rough music

A French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade , also pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds (usually for a wedding they regarded as questionable).*  They called it Charivari (“rough music”), and so did Loic Roare of Domaine du Possible in the Côtes du Roussillon (Lansac) for his Carignan.  And I can see why he would call his wine Charivari after tasting this triumphant wine.

Loic’s estate goes beyond organic and biodynamic principals.  He has only used the Bordeaux mixture (sulfur and copper) twice in the last 6 years, avoiding all treatments whenever possible, opting for herbal infusions instead.  He works with a variety of vines including the 52-105 year old Carignan vines used for making this wine.

This wine is carbonic with temperature control to keep the temperature low. No pumping, just gravity to help the process.  The fermentation occurs spontaneously with indigenous yeasts.  He uses little or no sulfur, depending on the vintage.  The average yield in 2009/2010 was 17/18 hl/ha, so rather low.

When I opened the bottle, it was rather reductive so I decided to decant it.

Sweet strawberries began to emerge along with some serious notes of minerals and licorice. Nice acidity with some sour raspberries as well. Tannins began to kick up quickly. Rather more serious than many other carbonic wines I have tasted. You can feel the warm fruit as it opens to reveal some dark plums and cherries.

This wine was purchased at Vivant in Paris last year and it’s a relative bargain at about €12.

 

*thank you Wikipedia & Looking at History

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

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Castell’in Villa – tradition through the vintages

The Greek-born (Princess) Coralia married into the noble Pignatelli family and together, she and her husband bought the The Castell’in Villa estate (more like a «village», hence the name) in 1969 and produced first vintage was the 1971. The vineyards cover a mere 54 ha of her vast estate and produce between 80,000-100,000 bottles per year, which is not much.

In total, the Castel’in Villa estate encompasses about 300 ha on which she produces wine, a very nice olive oil, runs a charming agriturismo, and a great restaurant.  The restaurant makes all the food fresh on site, and many of the ingredients are sourced locally, like the herbs, wild pig and the pheasant. Coralia is also an appreciator of eclectic art and some unusual sculptures can be seen on her property.  Although she is approaching 75 years of age, he demeanor and looks deceive that age, as she socializes with a glass of wine with you until late into the evening. Always poised and elegant yet never arrogant. A certain sense of calm emanates from her that is both charming and contagious.

Castell’in Villa work very traditionally both in the vineyards and in the cellar and her vineyards are very much alive with wild pigs and pheasants (which you can hear quite clearly throughout the day & night). The wines ferment spontaneously, except in extreme vintages where a neutral yeast might be added to commence fermentation.  If I heard correctly, they have only had to induce fermentation once in the most recent years. Maturation in large Slovenian botti  give these Chianti’s a very traditional feel even though they are 100% Sangiovese, which until recently was not allowed under the legislation. It was customary to blend in some other local red grapes and even some white grapes. I would like to note that I overheard Coralia saying she had just purchased some new French botti so it will be interesting to see how this affects the future vintages.

I wasn’t much of a Chianti fan until I had tasted some older vintages a few years ago and I recommend to do your best to taste an older vintage to really appreciate a Chianti.  On this recent visit to Castell’in Villa, I got to taste the following wines (in order of vintage from youngest to oldest):

2006 Chianti Classico Riserva – (not yet for sale) Tight and a bit closed. Very serious. Concentrated and young and one of the only wines I tasted that showed hints of dark fruit. Rough and young tannins.  Hints of spice. Yet remaining fresh.  Really a storage wine.

2003 Chianti Classico Riserva – very open, but at first appearing a bit overripe and representative of the 2003 warm vintage. Only 10 min in the glass and the wine opened to reveal bright red fruit and spice with hints of smoke. Nicely integrated oak.  Became very fresh and drinkable with very refreshing acidity. I enjoyed this vintage tremendously.

2001 Chianti Classico Riserva – A more classic & reserved nose with less development snowing than the ’03 even though it was two years older. Less raspberry and more cherries. More classic and typical Italian nose. A youthful nose with hints of balsamic evolution. Roses and rose hips.   On the palate, cherries and cherry pips. More restrained than the ’03 yet more structured and serious at the same time. Surprisingly young considering it’s 10+ years. Nicely integrated oak. More tannic also than the ’03. In my opinion this wine needs 8-10 more years to really show its stuff.  The ’03 is more drinkable and refreshing and easier to drink (quickly).

*The ’01 you talk about and the ’03 you drink

2000 Chianti Classico Riserva – another warm vintage. Nose – more serious again then the ’03 but showing more evolution than the ’01. Mineral with cherries. Feels more mineral than ’01. Very open and floral with hints of balsamic, but only hints. Feels a bit more alcoholic than the other two vintages. Fresh but somehow a bit more austere than the previous two. The alcohol sits a bit in the back of the throat. Some nutty hints on the nose, which I don’t mind. Not as fresh as the others with some acidity which pokes a bit making it a bit more challenging to drink on it’s own. The least drinkable so far. Not sure this wine has potential to improve in the cellar. It seems the fruit is more evolved than the structure. Medium tannins. Spiky, edgy and not so balanced in my opinion.

1993 Chianti Classico Riserva – evolved on the nose. Stewed cherries and hints of balsamic. On the palate still very much alive and vibrant with vivid acidity. Notes of lavender fill the glass and my nose. Very enjoyable

1983 Chianti Classico Riserva – surprisingly quite closed initially. Very timid on the nose. Balsamic notes. As it opens, it feels more serious and sure of himself even than the 1993. Hints of licorice.  On the palate the wine is quite open and focused with sweet tannins and fresh acidity.  More herbaceous and spicy than the 1993. Sweet ripe fruit, raisins. Still very focused with really sweet fruit. Honestly, still a young wine with many years to go.

2008 Chianti Classico – fresh and expressive. Sour cherries, refreshing and light. Long with medium tannins. Good alcohol integration. The nose is wide open. Fresh and vibrant. Long.

2008 Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Delle Rose – Some dark fruits. Very structured  and oak is a bit evident, but not dominant. Darker fruits then the other wines. Stronger tannins from both the fruit and wood.  A bit earthier than the others, you can taste the soil in the wine.  Summed up, this wine has fantastic fruit and concentration. However, not my style of wine.

1995 Vin Santo – fresh and light and with such great, ripe acidity that the wine finishes dry. Sultana’s and nut’s. “Amabile ma secco” (fruity/sweet but dry). “Lascia la bocca pulita con un bel ricordo” (leaves the palate clean with a nice memory/souvenir)

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Castell'in Villa - Toscana, Chianti, Italy, Toscana

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Forward People!

An East German making wine in the Languedoc, Axel Prüfer is right at home among the new generation of natural wine makers in France. His winery, Le Temps des Cerises, is located in the Orb Valley, just 16 km North and slightly West of Nimes.  Axel grows typically Southern Rhône varieties without the use of chemicals or herbicides.  His wines are fermented spontaneously and most are made without the addition of sulfur.
The 2009 Avanti Popolo is a pure Carignan grown on granitic quartz.
Date tasted: May 4th, 19:15
Appearance – light, slightly turbid raspberry red.
Nose – very ripe raspberries, a slight volatility helps lift the wine, making it very aromatic. Pomegranate, purple flowers, light mineral after taste. Cassis. Ripe watermelon.  I vividly remember an other time smelling watermelon on a wine – Gabrio Bini’s Carignan (which he no longer makes unfortunately because I loved that wine and although I tasted it only once, I still remember it!)
Palate – much more expressive than on the nose. Tannins emerge quickly. Carbonic maceration? At least partial. Initially I found the wine a bit short, but balanced, fresh, juicy and Glog Glog – drinkable! Hints of bricks or stones.
20:00
gooseberries, nettles and hints of mint begin to appear on the nose
Palate has become more serious and much longer with more gripping tannins. And, once again, I wished this wasn’t a half magnum!!

Category: 1 WINE, France, Haute vallée de l'Orb, Languedoc, natural wine (100% living wine)

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A tasting note: 2009 Davide Spillare Bianco Rugoli Selezione Vecchie Vigne

You might remember my brief mention of Davide Spillare in my VinNatur 2011 – producers to keep on eye on, blog entry. Davide’s Azienda Agricola covers about 2 ha in  Gambellara, in the province of Vicenza.  Davide works naturally both in the vineyards and in the winery, being shown the way by his teacher and mentor, Angiolino Maule.  He works mainly with the indigenous Garganega grape, and ferments all of his wines spontaneously without any additions, except a little sulfur in his whites.

The Bianco Rugoli is made up of 90% Garganega (grown on volcanic soil) and 10% Trebbiano. After manual harvest and crush, maceration with the skins lasts 18-24 hours giving this wine it’s gorgeous glow. It is then pressed and transferred to used barriques  for about 10 months for fermentation. It then spends some time in steel and is bottled without fining or filtering with just a bit of sulfur.

 

Date tasted: May 17th, 20:00

Appearance:  honey-toned orange

Nose: slightly jammy orange peel with hints of brown honey. very clear high intensity fruit. Some hints of herbs like sage and thyme. There are some aromas that could only be described as roasted lamb w rosemary. Ripe golden gooseberries. alcohol shows on the nose. With 15 minutes in the glass, a smoky minerality begins to emerge blending nicely with the fruit. Showing also some hints of very ripe fruit, perhaps some grapes being overripe – in a good way.

Palate: spicy, fruity and dry on the palate with good acid and tingling alcohol, which begins to integrate as the wine warms. Very mild tannins with a slight bitter aftertaste. As time passes, the wine seems to become increasingly refreshing, even though the alcohol is my only lament, as it very slightly stings the tongue. Not enough to put the wine way out of balance, however. Young..

Glug Glug wine at it’s finest!! Drink up or keep a few years to allow the alcohol to fully integrate.

 

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Gambellara, Italy, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine, Veneto

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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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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


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