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…spontaneously fermenting

Your fault, not ours

I work in a new and developing wine consuming country. This is both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because I can see the development right before my eyes.  Frustrating because all of a sudden everyone is a wine expert, stressing strong opinions as facts.

To be in a country where wine consumption is growing rather than shrinking (like in other EU countries) is an exciting thing. I don’t need to remind you of the common business sense that says that if you’re at the beginning of a growth curve, for sale and you play your cards right, doctor you will grow with that curve.  It’s exciting to see the choices available to us expand and improve as consumers (and importers) focus their palates. I live in an exciting place and for the most part, I am enjoying the ride.

On the other side of the excitement is the frustration that inevitably comes with living and working in a growing and evolving wine market. The biggest of which is the fact that there are suddenly so many “knowledgeable” wine “experts”.  Persons who express nothing more than their opinions, emanating from their fucking mouths as facts. The most annoying “fact”  I hear repeatedly is that the problem with natural wines is that they are “faulty”.  This is not a very well researched opinion and is often stated as a fact and as an absolute. These people are saying that “all” natural wines are “always” faulty.  I find this to be not only frustrating, but also upsetting because it does not take a genius or even a Master of Wine to see that it is an impossible statement. It is not possible that “all” natural wines are “always” faulty.

It is true that many (not all) of the first examples of natural wine imported into this country years ago were indeed “faulty”. They were terribly reductive examples of natural wines that not even I would want to sniff, let alone swallow. And some were overly-oxidized (not on purpose) and ruined beyond repair. But these faults are not limited to natural wines. All wines can suffer from these faults.

Photo borrowed from http://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/Here-kitty-kitty-Wine-critics-love-cat-pee-2720808.php

*Photo borrowed from http://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/Here-kitty-kitty-Wine-critics-love-cat-pee-2720808.php

If you are a real wine person, one with a brain and some experience, you will have an open mind. You will taste all wines and you will realize that that there are good wines and there are bad wines.  Not all natural wines are bad and faulty and not all commercial wines are good and faultless. I have said this before and I will say it again. A good wine is a good wine, natural or not. So please, for my sanity, stop generalizing. Your audience is not as stupid as you think they are, but they are smart enough to think that you are stupid.

*I promise my next post will be very soon and more positive

Category: 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Your fault

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back to the roots

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Since it’s fall and root vegetables are in season now, I thought I would take this time to finally, after a quiet year (of not updating much), get back to my roots.

So here are two visuals of what I consider back to roots that stimulate me. Beet roots and Rosso del Contadino. Both come from the land and from nature. Both are natural. both are delicious

Contadino

The Contadino 9 continues Cornelissen’s drive to create the best wine he can from the grapes that nature gives him. Thanks to Frank’s careful attention to not disturb nature, she gives him healthy grapes. But if it wasn’t for his intellect and expertise, the wines would not be as wonderful as they are. Because  I know, and especially he knows, and despite what many winemakers say, wine IS NOT made in the vineyards. The raw materials come from the vines, but knowing when to harvest the grapes and what to do next can only be decided on by the winemaker.

This is why Frank’s wines taste of the volcano. Deep, salty and bloody. They come from a place that is undisturbed by humanity and they taste that way. So, with all the respect that is due you Frank, thank you. Thank you for understanding nature and how to take what she gives you and produce some of the most compelling wines I have ever tasted.

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, Frank Cornelissen - Mt. Etna (Sicila), Italy, natural wine (100% living wine)

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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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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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About

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