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…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2009 Gaëlle Berriau "Flon Flon"!

Finally! I have been tasting, drinking and enjoying this wine for a year now ever since Patrick Desplats (Domaine Griottes) and his girlfriend Gaëlle came up to Jacob’s Bar & Kjøkken for a visit. I must have helped consume 30 bottles, not to mention that it was the welcome drink for guests at my wedding.  Flon Flon and I are close friends by now

One of the most enjoyable sparklers I have ever tasted, and everyone else who has tasted it agrees.

A wine from the Anjou area of the Loire Valley made with organic Chenin Blanc grapes, spontaneously fermented without any additions. The wine was bottled (again without additions) before fermentation could finish it’s process of eliminating the grape sugar.  As fermentation continued in the bottle, sugar was slowly digested producing carbon dioxide (bubbles!) and perhaps a half a degree more of alcohol. This is the natural way to produce bubbles in a bottle. The resulting sediment was not removed. The wine was left as it was. I am happy about that 🙂

Over the last year the wine has improved. My first experiences with the wine suggested that there was still some residual sugar which today has diminished a bit. Mother nature at work. The wine today is one of the most expressive examples of Chenin Blanc  I have ever tasted. Proof that healthy ripe grapes, a lot of know how (thanks to Patrick’s help I’m sure), a lot of patience and hard work can pay off.

One thing I have to mention here is the label. Now, I personally love the labels found on the bottles of natural wine. They sort of represent the anti-label. Often poking  fun at conventional assumptions of what a wine label should look like.  Gaëlle uses the same label for all of her wines, and I love it! I also love Patrick’s Domaine Griottes labels (see label detail on the right). Now to the discerning eye, there is something else about the label(s) that I love.  There is no mention anywhere that the wine(s) contain sulfites, and you won’t find this on the back labels either because there are no back labels. This is because according to EU labeling laws, you don’t need to write that a wine contains sulfites on the label if the wine has less than 10 mg of sulfur at time of bottling. Something that is no easy feat. It takes years of hard work, dedication and sleepless night for sure.

Ok, say no more, time for my tasting notes on the Flon Flon. i don’t know how many bottles were produced of this wine, but I am sure they number less than 1,000

Date Tasted:  January 11th, 2012 19:30 (and many many times before this night)

Appearance:  Lot’s of sediment floating in the glass. Dark colored sediment. Yellowish. Click on the photo and see for yourself

Nose:  Sweet lemons and citrus aromas with some hints, and only hints, of mild caramel (like those milky caramels we used to chew on as a kid ). But without being overly sweet on the nose. Mineral undertones.

On the palate, there is some residual sugar, but it is much less sweet and/or seemingly sweet than it was the first time I tasted the wine a  year ago. Great, ripe acidity. Most would place the acid at only a mid level, but if you pay close attention, the acidity is noticeably high and refreshing,  never harsh or abrasive. Absolutely refreshing. The bubbles are firm enought to appease the sparkling wine drinker, but at the same time integrated and not overbearing. A nice long finish. Very balanced, very drinkable.

The only drawback I can think of about the Flon Flon is that I only have one bottle left.

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

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A tasting note: 2006 Olivier Cousin Cabernet Franc Vieilles Vignes

Domaine Cousin-Leduc
7 Rue du Colonel Panaget
49540 Martigné-Briand
France

By now, you know the story. Biodynamic, plowing with horses, hand harvesting, spontaneous fermentation, long maceration and no SO2. A good friend of Patrick Desplats & Sébastien Dervieux at Domaine Griottes, Olivier follows basically the same methods (or lack of).  Domaine Cousin-Leduc is in Martigné-Briand which lies in the Anjou appellation of The Loire Valley (see map). Although The Loire Valley’s white wines reach a broader audience (think Sancerre), the reds are my favorite.


Date tasted: May 23, 2010 decanted at 1800  (I chose to decant this wine because the last time I tasted it about 6 months ago, initial aromas were dominated by oak and they took a few hours to burn off)

Appearance: Dark cherry red. Not much development showing if any at all.  Clear

Nose: Sponty, floral (light rose pedals), dark plums, blueberry juice with hint of raspberry and other red fruits. Not much development (I have not tasted a younger version of this wine, so there may be some development from that point of view)

Palate: Quite salty (& mineral) on the initial impression followed by under ripe cherries.  Very structured wine withdark fruit and hints of red fruit. Very light and fresh. Hints of leather and oak (just hints) and a slight bitterness on the finish.  Slight green notes (but not under ripe). Medium, ripe and juicy acidity and medium tannins.  Not much development on the palate either.

As we consumed the bottle, the salty, mineral notes stayed with the wine which I considered a positive characteristic of the wine and enjoyed it very much.

I last tasted this wine in November of 2009 and remembered the oak being a bit more dominant (although judicial by most standards). Today I found the oak to be quite well integrated and overall I found the wine to be very refreshing and drinkable.

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

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A tasting note: 2006 Domaine Griottes P'tite Gâteri

2009-06-02_620091684Date tasted:  June 2nd, 3rd & 5th, 2009

Located in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in France, the Domaine Griottes is a natural wine maker making very interesting wines.

This wine is a Vin de Table, or Table wine,  made with 40% Pineau d’Aunis, 30% Grouillot and 30% Gamay.  The Pineau d’Aunis grape was more widely planted in the Loire in the past but has been largely ripped out to make more room for commercial grapes.  Dating back to medieval times,  this individual variety bears small black grapes.

The grapes for this wine are picked entirely by hand.  The maceration period is between 60-70 days in fiberglass.  No treatments, no sulfur, no filtration nor fining.  Only indigenous yeast – spontaneous fermentation.  This wine was bottled around August of 2007 and is totally without any additives.  It’s totally natural.

2009-06-02_620091685First tasting (June 2, 2009 15:00):

Appearance: Light Color. Dark pink rose pedal, light red. See through like a Pinot Noir. In a blind tasting, the Pinot Noir would be the first grape I would think of.

Nose: Incense, white pepper, black tea, musk, cherry and raspberries. With some air, hints of blackberries also emerged.  Very complex for a light & fresh wine with only 11% alcohol. Hints of saddle or baseball mitt and hints of licorice also emerging.

Palate: Light and fresh with medium plus acidity.  Medium fruit tannins with precise, focused fruit shining through. Red plums and plum pits.  Long, fruity finish with persistent well-integrated tannins.  The alcohol is extremely well integrated.

2009-06-02_620091686

Second tasting (June 3, 2009 23:56):

Appearance: Only slightly darker, but not much color change noticeable.

Nose: Less of the exotic spices, more dark plums and hints of blackberry. Seems a bit more closed tonight then it did yesterday afternoon..With more glass swirling, more of the pepper and licorice emerged again.

Palate: Tannins are firmer than yesterday, but still only at a medium minus to medium level.. Some roasted meat aromas and rosemary. Dark plums.  Acidity still medium to medium plus.   Some hints of pepper, smoke and minerals in the background.

Compared to yesterday, less aromatic and spicy on the nose.  Not as exotic.  A bit more focused and serious.  Good concentration while still remaining light and fresh with a 30 second finish.  The alcohol is a bit more noticeable than yesterday.. Will retaste tomorrow.

Third tasting (June 5, 2009 00:49):

Nose: Again, less exotic and less “spicy”.  More perfumed and floral.  Dark plums and morel cherries.  Hints of red fruit and anise.  A bit nutty.

Palate: Superb concentration with hints of hazelnuts.  A bit darker fruit, plums and some blackberries, with supporting red fruit like raspberries.  Mild plus tannins. Medium acidity.  Quite elegant and long with a smoky aftertaste.  Surprisingly structured and still drinking well.  A bit more serious than yesterday with very well integrated alcohol.  Drinking very well today.

Open for almost 3 days and stored in the cellar at around 16°C, and still beautiful, in fact perhaps better than when I opened.  Who says you need to add sulfur to wine to keep it once opened.  In my opinion, natural wine is alive and with a little air and some days exposed to oxygen, the wine fully comes alive and expresses itself.  In contrast, conventional wines made from grapes with pesticides and then manipulated in the winery, are dead and once opened and exposed to oxygen, only decline…

I will continue to focus on wines made naturally and I will hopefully also eventually have the will power to keep a bottle open for a longer period.  Please stay tuned.

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

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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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