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…spontaneously fermenting

The Wine Garage – Heaven Underground?

In a country where disposable income seems to be increasing rapidly, the world of wine is only at it’s infancy with hopefully only one direction to go and that’s up.  This will be of course an “uphill”  battle in a country that consumes loads of Vodka (which is very cheap) and beer (also cheap).  They also have a vast variety of  “wines” from central Europe which on average can cost half as much as the wines from what I call the “Old World”.   Still, people seem to be talking about wine and wine shops seem to be opening up as fast as you can imagine.  Yet, in Krakow (Poland’s second most populous city with a population of just over 750,000), there is a serious lack of wine bars.  I can count them on one hand and still have some fingers left over.  Just to give you some perspective, in Bergen where I currently reside, there are at least 5 wine bars. Bergen is a city with one third the population of Krakow and is in a country that doesn’t (yet) produce wine (Poland does, by the way).  Despite this, one wine bar is surviving and even growing.  Welcome to the Wine Garage.

Wine Garage (the bar) got their start about 18 months ago.  Not only is Wine Garage a nice, cozy spot to drink some good wines, but the owners Mariusz and Agnieszka have also been importing and distributing their wines throughout Krakow for the last 5 years.  They focus on organic and biodynamic products (they also have a small selection of coffees and teas) from mostly small producers from Italy, France, Hungary and even Moravia (Czech Republic).  Wine Garage is located underground (that is,  one floor below street level) on a small residential street about a 5 minute tram ride from the historic city center.  The vibe is very informal and easy going, making you feel welcome and relaxed from the minute you enter  and come down the stairs.  Sit and enjoy a glass of wine with some cheese, or buy a bottle to take with you. It’s up to you.

In countries where a new economy is booming, many people with these new found riches like to show others  by proudly displaying recognizable labels from not only marks like Mercedes Benz and Prada, but also wine labels like Möet & Chandon and top Bordeaux’s.  This makes Mariusz and Agnieszka’s job even tougher trying to sell items with little known, non-conventional labels.  But it seems to be working out for them because as I write this, they are preparing to open a second location right smack in the city senter.

Ok, now on to some wine! Last night I had the privilege to get to together with Mariusz, Agnieszka and a few other wine enthusiasts to taste some wine.  The first wine we started with was a bottle I brought with me, a 2007 Dario Prinčič Pinot Grigio.  Seven days of skin contact gives this Pinot Grigio an unfamiliar hue that most wine drinkers wouldn’t expect.  This pinkish-skinned grape is usually made into a white wine, which I feel is a shame since my two favorite Pinot Grigio’s are made with the skins, like red wine.  Dario’s Pinot Grigio is made with grapes grown in a very natural way, only spraying sulfur if he really needs to and nothing more.  His philosophy is carried over into his wine making where, you guessed it, nothing is added, not even the yeast.  He checks his free sulfur levels before bottling (he adds none during the wine making process), and sometimes adds a little just to get the number up to about 20mg/liter.  I love this wine, and the others seemed to enjoy it as well.  Aromas of orange peel and tea, spices and herbs.  On the palate the wine is simply delicious.  Fruity, mildly tannic and even at 14% alcohol, extremely refreshing and easy to drink. Perhaps the best Pinot Grigio I have tasted (or should I say – perhaps my favorite Pinot Grigio thus far).

The second two wines were sponsored by wine enthusiast Kuba.  The first of the two was a “mature” Burgundy.  A 1995 Domaine Chaumont Pere et Fils Mercury that he found at a very reasonable price (about 100 Polish złoty – or about $34). Kuba had drank a bottle just the night before and was pleasantly surprised by it, so he decided to pick up another for this tasting.  I don’t know much about this producer except that the grapes are his own, not purchased.  The wine appeared more youthful in the glass than the age would suggest. The same held true on the nose.  No dominant oak here, just fresh red fruit, some herbs and hints of characteristic farmyard.  The nose made me eager to taste, but I nosed the wine at least 5 more minutes because the nose made me so eager with anticipation that I wanted to delay the pleasure a bit.  When I did finally take a sip, I have to admit that I was disappointed.  The wine still had it’s tannins and acidity in place, but the fruit was no where to be found. Have I just found my favorite H2O?  We laughed a bit at the comment made by Kuba that the wine tasted like Pinot Noir-flavored water.  The bottle he consumed the night before was still alive and fruity according to him.. Oh well… on to the next wine.

The next wine was a surprise.  A 2008 Vinařství Baloun Merlot from Moravia.  A very light, fruity and peppery wine carrying a modest 11.5% alcohol.  When I first nosed the glass, the first aroma that hit my nostrils was pepper, and lots of it!  Followed by very sweet, almost candied, red fruit.  These two aromas I would never have expected to find together.  Most of the “peppery” wines I have come across carried more earthy, less sweet aromas.  This was strange.  But, the more I aired the wine, the less candy-like the aromas became.  The pepper stayed and now red cranberries were the dominant red fruit.. Now the wine was getting interesting to me.  On the palate the wine was light, fresh and peppery with red fruit shoulders.  Low acidity and no tannins make this the perfect quaffing wine on a hot summer’s day.  I enjoyed the wine, but I felt it carried a rather hefty price tag of 43 Polish złoty (about $11.50).

We then moved on to a Spanish wine from Jerez de la Frontera provided by Carlos, a distributor for the wine.  A 2009 Viña Greduela Coupage Joven.  A bold blend of organically grown Merlot (40%), Syrah (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) and Tempranillo (only 10%).  First aromas to hit my nose were quite intense.  Ripe fruit, even some over ripe fruit characteristics, with mostly dark berries, plums and stewed plums.  Hints of the yeast with a mild volatility suggested to me spontaneous fermentation.  Very nice structure on the palate, refreshing acidity and medium plus tannins suggest that this Joven was young and could be possibly enjoyed for the next 5 years.  A good wine, a drinkable wine.  Not yet available in Poland.

And the last wine that made an appearance last night was actually a wine provided to us by Mariusz and Agnieszka from the Wine Garage selection of wines. A new Piemontese producer for them (and for me as well).  A 2007 Olek Bondonio Langhe Nebbiolo.  An organic producer of Polish decent.  This wine was a modern Nebbiolo made in the slightly oxidative style.  On the nose, the delicate aromas of the nebbiolo grape were hard to pick up at first whiff, but as the wine aired (and aeration it does need), the wine became a bit more characteristic.  Structure on the palate was immense and the tannins were very round (rounded out by the storage in small oak barrels).  This for some may not be an easy to understand nebbiolo, and for others may not be their style.  Whatever the verdict, it’s a pricey nebbiolo at around 120 Polish złoty (around $41). Despite this hefty price tag, and the average person’s propensity to spend little money on wine in Poland, the wine is selling well says Agnieszka.  That’s good news.

All this wine made us hungry, so we were fed some homemade Bigos, a traditional Polish hunter’s stew.  This Polish “national dish” is made with cabbage, sauerkraut, various cuts of meats and sausages and a few other ingredients.  I’m told the longer you take to make the dish, the better it is!  And, it’s supposed to get better the longer you keep it for.  This was by far the best Bigos I have tasted in Poland. Thank you Agnieszka!

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, organic wine, The Wine Garage

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Traditional Beer Making in Leikanger, of Course

Copper pots over open fire

Juniper branches- nature's disinfectant - and ours

200 Year Old Barrel

Waiting for that magic 68°C

disinfecting the barrel with nature's gift

Pouring the barley into the barrel

Ahhh - 68°C - Ready to go

Adding hot water to the barley to release natural sugars

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Traditional Beer Making in Leikanger

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Frank Cornelissen – 2010 News – Our 10th Anniversary Harvest!

Frank was kind enough to send me this email and allow me to post it here for my readers. Thank you Frank.

FrakeClaradipingere - Frank & Clara Painting

Dear friends,
The picking of the 2010 harvest finished on November 1st.
A special harvest in many ways for me. First of all as this is my 10th harvest (we survived the huge financial and economic risks), second as this was probably the most difficult one so far because of the risks of loosing over half of the crop (but we didn’t!) and third because of the new cellar we have inaugurated with this harvest (the extra space was a blessing!).

2010 was dominated by a lot of rain since the beginning of the season; a lot of vegetation resulted in vines with more vigor than usual, needing more canopy management, especially the vineyards in the lower quotes. The high vineyards did very well in terms of extra water overall during the year and this was a blessing for the vines. The summer was dry as usual and the ripening this year was accelerated over this period. Autumn was epic in terms of excessive humidity. Most of all we lacked the classic winds this year that keep the air dry; nights and mornings were dominated by humidity and the extra rain showers weren’t a help.
We have lost quite a bit of white grapes this year as at a given moment I decided to go for botrytis which in the end hardly didn’t develop and so we cut down lots of grapes due to the grey mould developing. It was either this or picking unripe watery grapes… difficult decisions especially when looking at all the grapes on the ground…

Frankfolature - Frank Punching Down

The difficulty in keeping grapes healthy was great and monitoring and cleaning to push to ripeness was extremely demanding this year with long days in the vineyards and even longer nights in the cellar. The new cellar with more space to work in an ordered and cleanly way came at the right moment and was a blessing in these difficult conditions.

All is fermenting for the moment and we will be pressing a bit earlier also as the fermentations on the reds are finishing faster than usual. The whites ferment slowly and doesn’t seem to want to stop… The rosato has been produced this year and was separated from the skins on November 7th. We used the running juice only and have 2 anforas aging with the malolactic nearly finished.

Another novelty is the arrival of a new person to our crew: Samuel Vinciulli, a graduate in enology who has “passed the test” during our harvest, will stay for two years to join us. Australian-Italian, Sam has worked in many different cellars and will be a welcome help with his positive energy and expertise in the cellar so that we can move into another level of quality and research over the next decade.

FrankeSamanfore - Frank & Sam Amphorae

During the winter period we will finally open our blog to be able to inform our clients and friends of our “works-in-progress”.
We will keep you updated!

Cordiali saluti,
Frank

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Frank Cornelissen - 2010 News, natural wine (100% living wine)

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Robert Camuto's Book, "Palmento" – A Quick "Tasting Note"

Robert Camuto’s Palmento is a  journey through Sicily that describes the landscape, people, lifestyle, personality, generosity, cuisine and even the mafia of Sicily all between two hard covers. Oh, and did I mention that the book is also about wine?

For me reading Palmento was like watching the movie Sideways. An entertaining book about wine and at the same time, not only about wine. Sideways was fun to watch if you weren’t into wine, just like the book is entertaining to read weather you’re into wine or not. Follow Robert through his Sicilian adventures and misadventures making you eager to want to to see how it ends and at the same time, you just don’t want it to.

If you’re like me and are passionate about wine, then you might know that the book’s title Palmento, refers to «traditional stone wineries with massive wood lever presses» that were used in wine making in Sicily generations ago, and can still be seen strewn around Sicily like old abandoned bicycles in Amsterdam. For those of us not familiar with the Palmenti, and don’t care, then the title simply sounds like an Italian name for something charming, and indeed the book is just that, charming.

If you’re into wine, then you should read this book. It has enough wine information about some of the most interesting wine makers in Sicily to keep your attention. The book welcomes you into their homes, lives and wine making techniques. This book is also for those of you that like to travel, and actually feel like you are doing so through the eyes of the author. But be warned, you will often find yourself salivating as if you were the one actually traveling and eating your way through Sicily.

If you like my revue, then you will like the book because I don’t write nearly as well as Roberto Camuto does.  A must read…. for everyone. I couldn’t put it down.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Palmento

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Jacob’s Bar & Kjøkken Wine List Updated for November 2010

“Go Orange!” is the theme here.  After more than a few years including my orange wines neatly hidden among it’s white counterparts, i have finally decided to create an orange wine section all of its own. You will find the orange wines listed after the whites and before the rosé’s.

I should also include my definition of orange wine here. In order for a wine made with white grapes to be included in my orange wine section, it should have at least 48 hours of skin contact.  In some instances this is enough to give the wines their orange-hued color earning their “orange” name.  In other’s, it’s just enough contact to give the wine a glowing yellow color a few shades darker than your average white.  The 2009 Sassaia from Angiolino Maule’s La Biancara is an example of this. Just 48 hours of skin contact gives this wine a glowing yellow, almost orangish color, and is therefore included in my orange wine section. An unsulfured and spectacular wine, I love it.  Look for a tasting note on it soon.

Along with some of the rarities you’ll find in the new orange wine section, there are some other new wines i should mention here. Like my first 100 % Merlot wine, the Rosso Masieri.   Also produced by the outstanding natural wine maker Angiolino Maule of La Biancara (the same guy who makes the Sassaia named above).

Some new wines and vintages from Jean-Pierre Robinot also made it onto the wine list, like his 2009’s Concerto & Regard along with two sparklers – all unsulfured of course.   Some interesting wines from Henri Milan, both white and red, from Provence.  A couple of new Sassella Magnums from Ar.Pe.Pe in Lombardia.  A couple of new Spanish titles, including one from the island of Tenerife.  I have also added the “Four Thirteen” wine from A Donkey & Goat winery in Berkley California – my only California wine on the wine list!  Named “Four Thirteen” because the wine is made with 4 of the 13 allowed Southern Rhône grape varieties.  Click on the Donkey & Goat bottle below to view the most recent wine list.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Jacobs Bar & Kjøkken Wine List Updates, natural wine (just about)

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Vinosseur's Book of Revelations – Or Rather, a Simple List

I just wanted to post a list of things that I believe in. These are just my beliefs, and are not necessarily truths for you. They are merely my strong opinions and may not reflect yours.

  • Not all conventional wines are bad – If you like it, it’s good
  • Great wine tasters are those with great recollection abilities
  • A great quality wine can stay open for more than 3 days and remain drinkable
  • What you can’t see can hurt you – Don’t filter the nutrients out of your wine
  • If over used, sulfur does not preserve a wine, it kills it – Wine is a living thing, please use sulfur judiciously
  • Wine comes in all colors: white; orange; rosé; red….etc.
  • Natural wines still contain alcohol, so drinking 2 bottles per night may not be healthy
  • Natural wines are often very food friendly
  • The definition of «Terroir» must include the wine maker
  • Not all Pinot Noir’s are good – Not all Merlot’s are bad
  • Not all natural wines are good – If you don’t like it, it’s not good

    Category: 1 WINE, Vinosseur's Book of Revelations – Or Rather

    7 comments



    Molten Lava in Not So Frigid Poland

    I recently had the opportunity to meet with some wine enthusiasts in Warsaw, Poland. I didn’t know what to expect before the meeting except the fact that I had promised to bring 3 bottles of Magma and that they were extremely interested in tasting them.  On their part there was the promise to taste some Josko Gravner which also gave me something to look forward to.

    Wojciech Bońkowski

    Andrzej Daszkiewicz

    I have to admit that most of my wine knowledge and experience have been gained living in Norway over the last 7 or so years.  I have tasted among whom I consider to be some of the best wine tasters I have seen.  Norwegians have refined palates and an amazing ability to analyze wine. I certainly feel privileged to have earned my experience in this country.  This being said, I was blown away by the tasting abilities of the small group that was gathered at  Mielżyński’s for this tasting.

    Tomasz Kurzeja

    Ewa Wieleżyńska

    In a country that is jumping economically by leaps and bounds, most of it in the last two decades, it is still more common to see large commercial brands dominating the market.  This year I have witnessed wine shops opening up like mushrooms popping up after a rainfall, and often disappearing as quickly as those prized mushrooms. It was certainly a breath of fresh air, and of relief, to meet with such a group that not only had accumulated enormous wine knowledge, but who also seemed to really understand and enjoy wine without being captivated by a label, and have been doing so for years.

    We met at Mielżyński’s, a warehouse of sorts that is an import company, a warehouse, distribution center, wine bar and restaurant.  A concept founded by Robert Mielżyński,  born in Canada, studied Oenology in Fresno, California, then moved back to his native Poland.  A concept that seems to be working well for Robert judging by the fact that it was a Monday night and there were no empty tables.  The wine selection was quite diverse ranging from Domaine de Chevalier to Frédéric Magnien to Allesverloren. There was no wine list, just cases and cases of wine that you can pick and grab yourself, or have somebody help you with your selection.  Having lived in Norway for over 7 years now (where the government-run wine monopoly system is in full force), it has been a while since I have seen a place that you could buy wine to drink there or take-away.  The dinner menu was presented to us on a portable chalk board, like you might see in a Paris bistro, and included simple (and delicious) dishes like pumpkin soup, Cornish game hen and a couple of pasta dishes.

    Robert Mielżyński

    My first Polish wine experience

    Katarzyna Niemyjska

    We started with a wine produced in Poland. A wine made not with grapes from the Vitis Vinifera species of vines responsible for almost every bottle of wine we consume, but rather from the crossing of  the Vitis Labrasca family and Vitis Vinifera.  The grape was called Hibernal, a white variety developed in Germany derived from a Seibel 7053 (V. Labrasca) & Riesling (V. Vinifera) cross.  An interesting wine made by a winery owned by Katarzyna Niemyjska and her husband with grapes from organic vineyards a few hours south of Warsaw.  On the nose the wine was slightly reductive at first, but with some swirling of the glass, the wine had smoky, mineral notes with light scents of lemons and herbs, most noticeably basil.  On the palate, lemons and bitter oranges, minerals and chalk. A bone dry wine with a nice acidic back bone and a slightly bitter finish. A fine and very interesting wine.

    We then tasted good efforts from Zind Humbrecht, La Stoppa, Ostertag and Chateau Tour des Gendres.  We then moved on to some astounding wines from Josko Gravner. A 2000 Ribolla Gialla aged in Botti followed by a 2001 Ribolla Gialla in Amphora.  The difference from one wine to the next was astounding.  The 2001 Amphora version of the Ribolla had layers and layers of complex aromas and nuances that the 2000 just didn’t have. Botti versus Amphora OR 2000 versus 2001? You tell me….

    We moved on to the Damijan Ribolla Gialla 2002 from Friuli Venezia-Giulia, on the border of Slovenia.  Damijan Podversic pursues natural winemaking, which he learned from the aforementioned, great Friulian producer Josko Gravner.  He releases his vintages only when he deems them ready.  This was an intriguing effort from a not so intriguing vintage.  A skin macerated Ribolla, fermented only with indigenous yeasts, with a structure to rival most red wines  yet fresh enough to quaff even the most thirsty wine drinker.  This was my first time tasting the wines of Damijan and I look forward to the next.  There is very likely a bright future for Damijan Podversic.

    We completed the tasting with 3 versions of Frank Cornelissen’s Magma 2. All hailing from the 2002 vintage, each bottle representing a different Contrada. We tasted the Marchesa, the Calderara and the Trefiletti.  All three wines showed extremely well, with the Marchesa being my favorite.

    According to Frank, the Marchesa comes from the part of the vineyard that is normally very sun exposed and has a good balance between tannins and density.  The alcohol is rather low (13,7%) on this wine in this vintage.   The grapes were harvested on November 2nd and 504 bottles were produced.   Light red with very little age showing considering this was an 8 year-old wine made without the use of sulfur.  None to very little browning on the edges. Extremely youthful on the palate as well, with even a slight “spritz” on the tongue like you might find in a wine bottled within the last 12 months.  Very Poulsard-like fruit (think Overnoy here and you might get the idea), medium ripe acidity and tannins that increased with some time in the glass. A delicious wine with tons of drinkability.

    The Calderara comes from a vineyard that is very stony and sun exposed.  In a cool vintage like 2002, the fragrances are very Pinot like according to Frank.  In general this contrada produces very high alcohol wines when picked ripe. Harvested on November 1st, 297 bottles produced.  This wine on the other hand showed its more serious side with hints of meat and herbs. The tannins held longer and the wine was darker and more “masculine” compared to the sensual femininity of the Marchesa.

    The Trefiletti vineyard is located in Rovitello and is difficult to push to ripeness without losing all fruit due to rot (grey as well as noble).  “This is the only time I have been able to produce Magma there due to the above mentioned climatic difficulties. I love this place for its balanced tannins, structure and elegance when all odds and ends fall together in one vintage, like 2002 pushing all limits”.  Harvested October 30th, 515 bottles produced.  This bottle was the most advanced of the three wines and showed it’s higher alcohol (14,4%) a bit on the tongue with hints of olives and truffles not found on the other two Magmas.

    When sharing my tasting notes of the Magmas with Frank, he came back with this:  “This is by far the most evolved set of wines I have ever produced. Beside this fact, I have always thought the Calderara was the most feminin/Burgundian of the three. Less tannic than for example the Marchesa which always needed a bit more time.
    The Trefiletti was, I think, an off bottle. Too much oxygen exchange due to a lesser cork has led to a tired wine. This is the more younger and best balanced of all three crus.”

    This day in Warsaw, amongst such people and great wines, created a warmth inside that helped me feel at home in Poland.

    Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Molten Lava in Not So Frigid Poland

    2 comments



    Welcome (Back) to Georgia Part III – Prince Makashvili Cellar

    Prince Makashvili Cellar – Soliko Tsaishvili, here Irakli Pruidze & David Kapanadze

    Date tasted:  July 11th, healing 2010 13:45

    This grapes for this wine come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Akhoebi, in the village of Kardanakhi in the low hills of the Kakheti region.    The vineyard covers 1.9 HA and are farmed biodynamically and harvested by hand.  The soil is  black  and carbonate-rich.  The vines are widely spaced at approximately 2500 plants/HA, trained in a double Guyot pattern.  The vineyard is planted with approximately 90% Rkatsiteli, 4% Mtsvane, 4%Khikhvi and a red variety called Saperavi, all on original (non-American) root stock. Harvest is done by hand, the grapes pressed softly.  The wine is spontaneously fermented and macerated for 6 months with skins in Qvevri.  After skin and stalk separation, the resulting wine is stored in smaller Qvevri for a further 12 months.   Bottled without filtration.  In 2007 approximately 20hl/ha was produced, or 1200 bottles.

    90% Rkatsiteli 6% Mtsvane 4% Khikhvi
    Total SO2 is 31 mg/l (31ppm)
    Residual Sugar is 1.83 g/l

    Appearance: Apricot-orange hued with golden edges.

    Nose: Herbs and spices (lavender & rosemary)  layered on top of  yellow fruit.  Sweet arctic cloud berries with strawberry (yes, strawberry) notes.

    Palate: Great focused fruit. Apricots mostly. Medium tannins with medium level acidity.  30+ second finish. Bone dry.

    The Grand Cru Akhoebi was my favorite of the three I wines tasted.

    Date tasted:  July 11th, 2010 13:45

    This grapes for this wine come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Tsarapi, in the village of Kardanakhi.  The vineyards cover 1.25 HA and are farmed biodynamically and harvested by hand.  The wine is spontaneously fermented and macerated for 6 months in Qvevri, then stored in the Qvevri for a further 12 months.   Bottled without filtration, and on this particular bottle, this was quite obvious.  Approximately 20hl/ha is produced, or about  1200 bottles.

    100% Rkatsiteli
    Total SO2 is 24mg (24ppm)
    Residual Sugar is 2.75 g

    Appearance: Darker and more copper-hued with loads of visible sediment 🙂

    Nose: Sponty aromas with apricots, with less herbs and spices than the Akhoebi Grand Cru.  My favorite on the nose of the three wines because it had that perfect balance between fruit and wild aromas with just enough minerals to give the wine a serious edge.

    Palate: More vinous than the Akhoebi – thick, structured and concentrated.  Quite a serious wine and very mineral.  Medium + tannins and acidity with a long finish.  Bone dry, elegant fruit.

    This wine wanted desperately to be my favorite, but it came in second behind the Akhoebi. However, with a few years more of cellaring, this may show even better than the Akhoebi.

    My overall impressions were that these three Georgian wines I tasted were of top quality and quite serious food wines.  I would have no problem drinking them alongside my Friulian & Slovenian favorites.

    Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Georgia, Kakheti, natural wine (just about), orange wine, Welcome (Back) to Georgia

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    Welcome (Back) to Georgia Part II – Clos des Amandiers

    Now, back to the future (today) and the wines of Georgia, all hailing from the Kakheti region located in Eastern Georgia, the driest of the 3 regions.  It is the largest wine region in Georgia spanning over  11,000 square kilometers.

    All three wines were (mostly) of the same grape variety, Rkatsiteli (or Rkatziteli – pronounced rkah-tsee-tely, and directly translated means “red vine”).  The only Georgian wine experience I have had before today, was  tasting some half-sweet (non-representative) red wine that was poured from a decorated clay bottle, and let’s just say it wasn’t a wine to remember. In fact, I only remember the bottle to this day.   These three wines were not at all what I had anticipated. They were aromatic, complex, fresh and tannic wines that would do well with food.

    This project started about 4 years ago when a group of Italian wine and spirit merchants (Luca & Paolo Gargano) from Genova purchased a 1.8ha vineyard in the village of Mararo.  With the help of Jean Jacques, a friend of Nicolas Joly, and a local farmer named Nodar Shinjiashvili who was  cultivating old varieties of cereals biodynamically, Clos des Amandiers was born.  In 2007 they released their first vintage, the first wine in my tasting.

    The vines for this wine share the space with almond trees and are cultivated biodynamically.  Harvest occurred in October, the grapes subsequently softly pressed.  Fermentation occurred spontaneously with indigenous yeasts  in old Qvevri without temperature control.  Maceration lasted for six months in these Qvevri then transferred to smaller, non-buried Qvevri for 12 months maturation.  The wine was then bottled without filtration and left to age in the bottle.

    Date tasted:  July 11th, 2010 13:45

    Appearance: Quite a dark orange hued wine with copper and amber tones (think Cat’s Eye gemstones)

    Nose: Wow, intense. Quite a sponty and wild nose of dried peaches, raw almonds, marmalade and yellow plums. Hints of jasmine and lavender emerge after about an hour.

    Palate: A delicate and elegant entry. Red apples (yes, red) and yellow apples. Medium ++ tannins, medium + acidity (tangy). I found more fruit on the nose then I did on the palate.  The wine had a 30 second+ finish with dominating tannins and toast.

    I feel that this wine would be very suitable to food.  Especially dishes with high contrasting flavors and moderately spicy food (because of the fruity aromas in the wine).  A dish specifically recommended to me would be yogurt-marinated baked mutton (meat of mature sheep).  My experience with orange wines is that they merry quite well with food in general, from your sweeter, more aromatic dishes, to meat dishes and finally with cheese.

    Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Georgia, Kakheti, natural wine (just about), orange wine, Welcome (Back) to Georgia

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    Welcome (Back) to Georgia Part I

    Clay Qvevri ready to be burried neck-deep in the ground in the outdoor cellars, called Marani

    Let’s go back let’s say, 7000 years, to 5000 B.C. … a time when grape-pip findings suggest that this country may be responsible for some of the first winemaking, and artifacts of the same age to help support this theory.  Georgia is unique in that, today, they still employ pre-classical winemaking techniques such as fermenting and storing wine in earthenware vessels known as Qvevri, (aka – amphorae), buried neck deep in the soil in the outdoor cellars, called Marani.

    crushed grapes in Qvevri

    hermitically sealing Qvevri

    In these Qvevri you’ll find trodden grapes: skins, stalks and all!  These Qvevri are then hermetically sealed and left alone for months. The Georgians have been making wine in this way for at least 5,000 years, and they’re still doing this today.  It’s important to remember that wine is native to Georgia!

    Very often winemaking is done with no chemical intervention both in the vineyards and in the cellar.   The resulting wine, which is be fermented either dry (without sugar) or not dry, can be extremely aromatic and seriously tannic.  And I mean seriously tannic!

    The Georgian Wine Society

    Georgia has 3 historic wine regions: Kakheti (more than 2/3 of all Georgian grapes are grown here); Kartli (where Qvevri are rare); and Imereti. (See map above)

    The most commonly grown grape in Georgia is the Rkatsiteli, (pronounced rkah-tsee-tely, and directly translated means “red vine”).  This is perhaps the world’s second most planted white grape variety, the Italian variety Trebbiano being the first. The Rkatsiteli probably produces less wine (then the Trebbiano) and accounts for about half of the wine production in Georgia.  It used to be the most popular wine grape in the Soviet Union, due in part to its resistance to harsh winters and partly to  its universality.  The Rkatsiteli’s high acidity and maturity gives it the ability to make quality wine and quality spirit.  Even with all this talk of quantity, this is still considered a quality grape producing wines that can have style, character and refreshingly high acidity.  Good examples are full of spicy, floral aromas that can remind us of tannic versions of Alsatian wines.  If you’re curious about these wines and want to know more about what they look, smell and taste like, you’ll find out in Part II.

    Category: 1 WINE, biodynamic wine, Georgia, Kakheti, Welcome (Back) to Georgia

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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