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…spontaneously fermenting

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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Once upon a time

I want to tell you a true story about wine and how it’s made. I went to visit a winemaker in Piemonte last year, a producer I respect tremendously and whose wine I often use as the benchmark against other wines from the same grape and same area. The wines are not complicated. They are simple and I like them that way.

We sat down to taste, as is the normal routine when visiting a winemaker. But this tasting turned out to be very different than routine. She began by showing me two «identical» bottles of wine side by side and asked me to taste each one and let her know what I thought.

The first I tasted was good, but not fantastic. It tasted quite ordinary. Nothing about the wine turned me off necessarily, but nothing about the wine made me take notice. It tasted like a standard, off the shelf wine. She then poured me a glass from the second bottle, and wow! OK, this I recognized as her wine. Compared to the first bottle, this one was «alive». Aromas jumped out of the glass to greet me much more eagerly then the first wine. More precise fruit, more depth, just a pleasure to sniff. On the palate, deeper yet fresher fruit. Clean, refreshing and drinkable. Absolutely drinkable.

So I said to her that I thought the first wine was not her wine and that the second wine was hers. She said “no”, these are both “my wines”! What?!

So,what was the difference between these two wines?  Well, the difference was quite simple really, and at the same not simple at all. They were both made from the same healthy, ripe grapes, from the same vineyards, picked exactly at the same time. What? Impossible! But wait…

The first wine tasted was made from grapes that were sent to a laboratory immediately after harvest. In that laboratory they proceeded to make wine like many conventional wine makers do. They added sulfur.  They selected a yeast to begin the fermentation, which of course finished quickly within 7-10 days. They added sulfur, enzymes, clarifying and clearing agents, sulfur, etc, etc etc. They then filtered the wine, added sulfur then bottled it. The whole process took a month or so.

The second bottle was made by the winemaker in the winery, they way they always make their wine. That is, nothing much. No added yeast to start the fermentation, no enzymes, no sulfur, no clarifying or clearing agents, etc, etc, etc. Just a light filtration before bottling. That’s it and the process took about 5-6 months instead of just one month.

The difference was remarkable, not only in the wine making, but also in the final product. Some might argue that the first wine was fine and good, but nobody with proper taste buds would prefer the first wine after tasting the second. So why do producers make wine (like) in a «laboratory»? Well, the answer is quite simple, it’s often about time and money. By producing wine in a conventional manner, we can guarantee that the wine will ferment, we can expect a standardized product year after year, and we can do all of this very quickly. Time is money and most wine consumers want their favorite wine to always taste the same.

With “natural wine making” on the other hand, we don’t know when fermentation will begin, or if it will begin at all. More importantly, we don’t know how the fermentation will go and when it will stop. The choice to make natural wine may not be rewarding initially, but over time and with experience, the choice is often rewarded.

So please, don’t ruin your perfectly good grapes. Thank you

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, natural wine (100% living wine), Once upon a time

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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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Jean Marc Brignot

Hell yes!!
🙂

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Category: natural wine (100% living wine)

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Positive

I really can’t complain about anything, after all I am a lucky guy. I do what I love and I have time to enjoy life.
Right now I’m sitting in the garden of a great beer pub in Krakow called Strefa Piwa (Beer Zone).
After living in Bergen, where it rains about 300 days a year, I’m loving the weather. It’s 6:30 in the evening and I’m sitting outdoors in shorts. It’s warm and more importantly, it’s dry.
To make things better, I’ve learned to appreciate beer, like the Mikkeller IPA Citra I’m sipping on now. Extremely aromatic. Fresh apricots and peaches fill my nostrils, with hints of licorice and flowers. Structured, fruity and fresh; even at 7+% abv. Too drinkable. Is this the way to describe a beer? I’m not sure, but that’s the way I describe a beer!
I just can’t help myself- I’ve been here three days in a row just to have this beer because once the keg is empty, that’s it – for now.
And I can’t complain about the price either. It’s not uncommon in Bergen to find Mikkeller’s beers for 90-100 NOK, whilst here I’m paying a teeny tiny 25 NOK for a half liter! Like I said, life is good! And of course I would draw these comparisons, it’s only natural since I DO work in Norway and live in Poland.
All this said, at the back of my mind is my upcoming trip back home to California. Seems like only yesterday since my last time, yet it’s been 5 1/2 years since my last trip home. Will I feel like a foreigner? Have things changed? Very likely both and yet I look forward to the trip none the less.
I look forward to introducing my wife to my old home, my childhood, my friends. I look forward to seeing old friends. I look forward to seeing family. I look forward to great food. I look forward to sun, sun, sun.
Happy summer to all my friends and family- see you all in August

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Category: Events

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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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My favorite picks from RAW and Real Wine Fairs

I have personally never seen so many great producers (I think the number is in the neighborhood of 300!) gathered together anywhere before the RAW and Real Wine Fairs May 20th-22nd in London. For this I am very grateful for all the producers (the actual producers in most cases, not suited-up reps) that came over to participate in these fairs. Producers from all parts of Europe, Georgia, Australia, South Africa and even the US. Most of all I would like to thank Isabelle Legeron and Doug Wregg for organizing these two events, focusing on hands-on producers who practice minimal to no intervention viticulture and wine making.

Here are some producers that sent me home thinking and craving  their wines:

Domaine Saurigny (Anjou, Loire Valley) – Jérôme Saurigny makes a Sauvignon Blanc that I have to say really left me impressed. I first met Jérôme and tasted his wines at his place in Anjou about 3 years ago, but I swear I can’t remember how really good his Sauvignon Blanc was. It is my favorite Sauvignon Blanc to date, so refreshing and showing none of the characteristics that often come associated with the grape and which I dislike. His reds were also outstanding and his “accidental” sweet chenin blanc is also worth tasting!

Domaine Saurigny – Loire Valley

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: 1 WINE, 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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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.

Get in touch

Joseph would love to hear from you! You can contact him by email at vinosseur@gmail.com