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A tasting note: 2009 Jean-Pierre Robinot Concerto d'Oniss

 

Of the many many many wines I have tasted over the years, Jean-Pierre produces some of the most vinous wines I have ever had the satisfaction of tasting.  So, to summarize even before I begin this tasting note, this wine is super-vinous. What do I mean by that? When you pour the wine, there are two things you notice right away: the beautiful light pomegranate color and the way the wine pours from the bottle. It pours like you are pouring a light oil. Even when you swirl the glass, it seems as though you have a glass of pomegranate-colored oil. It appears thicker than other wines.  And nothing has been added to this wine to make it this way. It’s just great quality grapes that have been squeezed just right.  So, why this oily appearance and texture? That my friend is what we call structure and concentration that you can not only see, but that you can taste.

The labels? Well, Jean-Paul has either taken the photo or painted the picture himself to create his labels. All of his labels are unique and each wine and vintage has a different label. They are as unique as his wines.The Concerto d’Oniss is his base wine and is made from 100% Pinea d’Aunis grown in the Loire Valley (mostly around Tours, Anjou & Saumur) as naturally as possible, avoiding ALL treatments to the vines.  A grape dating back to the Medieval Times, not many producers grow this grape thanks to the ever-increasing demand for more well-known varieties. Thankfully, there are a small handful of producers who still work with this grape. I have tasted the wines from 4 or 5 different producers working with this grape and have noticed certain common characteristics: lightish red color, lowish alcohol, aromas and scents of grapefruit, light pepper & incense, & small red berries.

After manually harvesting these small, dark grapes, whole clusters were dropped into fiberglass tanks without any additions whatsoever, at any point.  No temperature control means partial carbonic maceration for the first few days.  Maceration went on for about 3 months then the wine was bottled without fining or filtering.

After tasting this wine many times and in various vintages, I’m finally writing about it.

Date tasted:  Sunday February 26th, 2012 18:30

Appearance:  viscous viscous viscous! See photo for color

Nose:  grapefruit, incense, pepper, little red berries, forrest floor with some faint reductive hints.  Hints of wild strawberries. Hints of cough syrup, the oily kind that leaves a slightly bitter smell and taste. Even looks like cough syrup

Palate:  grapefruit, smooth tannins, but more grippy than I remember. Great acidity, but smooth and absolutely drinkable. Red cranberries. Very rustic and again the oily exture like all of his wines. Slighty metallic, which I have not found on any previous bottles. Wild strawberries, but without the sugar. Pomegranate.

There is a certain weight to this wine that I find on all of Robinot’s wine’s. They seem particularly viscous, oily and heavy, but light on their feet at the same time (strange but true). The concentration and structure of this wine, of his wines, are among the best I have tasted in the natural wine world.   Texture is a bit like a dessert wine minus the sugar

Monday February 27th, 18:30

Yes, yes I did leave some in the bottle for tonight. Crazy, but I am super happy I did

Appearance:  Not much change that I could see, but perhaps a tad darker

Nose:  More aromas of incense and pepper.  Deeper fruit (still red).

Palate:  right when the wine hits the mouth, it’s that oily texture again. Impressive. A salty impact I didn’t get yesterday. Also a depth I didn’t get yesterday.  A certain sweet aftertaste I can only compare to sour fruit that ends on a sweet note giving them that perfect balance.  medium length and still as refreshing as yesterday. Softer tannins today.

I am reminded of why this has always been one of my favorite wines. it is unique, the texture is magnificent, it’s fresh, and it’s drinkable.  I just noticed that nowhere in this tasting note have I mentioned the alcohol, and that is because it so not noticeable that it isn’t even an issue. At 12% you wouldn’t expect it to be, but i have tasted many wines where even low alcohol can put a wine out of balance

Some final words to summarize the wine: structure, concentration, balance, drinkablity.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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“I’m Not Drinking Any Fucking" Pinot Noir!

Have you’ve seen the movie Sideways? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. This is a movie about wine, and at the same time, not about wine. If you have seen it, you should remember this part of the movie.  It helped boost sales of Pinot Noir in The States and of course decrease Merlot sales. I witnessed this phenomenon first hand. I vividly remember drinking a glass of wine at Lavanda Restaurant & Wine Bar in Palo Alto when this movie hit the screens. I also remember that the movie was showing right next door to Lavanda and after the movie let out, people often wandered in and ordered a glass of Pinot Noir.

It’s been 6 years since the release of this movie and everyone still talks about Pinot Noir. In fact, to most wine connoisseurs, there is no more seductive grape than the Pinot Noir.  We knew this before the movie, and we still know it today. I too am a sucker for the great Burgundian Pinot Noir.  It’s a grape that can truly seduce with aromas of raspberries, cherries, forest floor and even flowers.  The Pinot Noir’s high acidity gives the wine freshness and longevity.  When you drink a truly great Pinot Noir, it can make you smile.

This being said folks, it’s time to move on and say “I’m not drinking any fucking Pinot Noir!” It’s time to give other (red) grapes a chance. Other grapes that I often look to to seduce me and make me smile!  Even getting me to jump out of my chair!  So what grapes am I talking about? Which grapes am I drinking most often these days?? Read ON!! Read the rest of this entry »

Category: "I'm not drinking any fucking Pinot Noir!", 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, natural wine (100% living wine)

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Natural Wine Makers in France – Part II – Jean-Pierre Robinot

 

(I am sorry for the quality of the photo’s in this post. Since I am not a photographer, I should really apologize at the beginning of every post, but the photos in this post are especially low quality – blamed on the settings being incorrect on my “wonderful” camera phone. Oh, and although this post seems long, it’s mostly full of pictures to entertain you) Read the rest of this entry »

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Events, Jean-Pierre Robinot - Loire Valley, France, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Makers in France

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Natural Wine Makers in France – Part I – Domaine Griottes

On my recent trip to France, I dove head first into the natural wine world, meeting with some of the greatest wine makers making wine today.  Between tasting the wines of these “hero’s” of natural wine at the various natural wine bars in Paris, to visiting them at their “domains”, I got to better understand their wines and the people behind them. I would like to apologize in advance for the quality of these photos!

 

The "Wine List" at Racines, Paris

The "Wine List" at Racines natural wine bar & restaurant, Paris

Monday, November 2nd 2009

2009-11-02_120097222009-11-02_12009723After having lunch with Jean-Marc Brignot (Jura) at Racines in Paris, where we consumed a 2002 skin-macerated Riesling from Alsace produced by Gérard Schueller with a gorgeous plate of pork, we headed for the Loire Valley. Our destination was Domaine Griottes, an approximate 5 hour drive south and West of Paris.  Since their wine “P’tite Gâterie” (here’s a tasting note for this wine) had been on my wine list for the past 6 months, this was a visit I was looking forward to.

Domaine des Griottes label detail with logo

Domaine des Griottes label detail with logo

Domaine Griottes is located in the small village of Saint Lambert du Lattay. Located in the Loire Valley (within the Anjou appellation) about 26km south of Angers, 175km from the West Coast. Patrick Desplats & Sébastien Dervieux are growing and making delicious wines from an almost unheard of local variety called Pineau d’Aunis.  A grape that made wines consumed by the nobility between the 13th and 15th centuries, it has almost completely disappeared from the Loire Valley save for some brave & passionate wine makers like Patrick and Sébastien. The grape produces some of the most exciting spicy red wines with aromas of grapefruit and pencil shavings. In my opinion, Domaine Griottes make some of the best examples in the Loire Valley from this grape. (Griottes also produces whites from the Chenin Blanc grape). All work in the vineyards and harvesting is done by hand with the help of Patrick’s ageing horse, Caroline.  Grapes are subsequently fermented in fiberglass. The P’tite Gâterie is then bottled, while the rest of the red cuvée’s and the whites spend some time in oak after fermentation. Although the use of oak is moderate and these wines are great, the oak is detectable and not entirely to my palate.

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Patrick Desplats

We arrived around 2100 (9pm) and were quickly greeted by a very outgoing Patrick Desplats, a table full of things to eat

naturally fermenting apple sauce

naturally fermenting apple sauce

and of course wine by the magnum pouring.

We tasted all of the wines from previous vintages. Stunning wines all the way through the gamma, even the oak-influenced wines had stunning fruit qualities that could have only come from extremely healthy grapes that were subsequently spontaneously fermented, aged and bottled without even a milligram of sulfur! My kind of wines.

Drinking wine from a bull's horn!

Drinking wine from a bull's horn!

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Tuesday, November 3rd 2009

Homemade herbal and flower teas

After a good night’s rest at Patrick’s house, we came down for a nice breakfast where we got to sample some of his home-dried natural teas made from various flowers and herbs growing in his yard.  Very inspirational!  We then headed over to the vineyards to see where his Pinea d’Aunis and Chenin Blanc was growing. In some of  their vineyards, the two grapes were growing together, side by side.  We shared a glass of wine with Patrick as we looked over the Loire Valley and talked about the nature and how passionate he was about what he was doing and the nature around him.  He and Sébastien had actually purchased a piece of forest separating his vineyards from the vineyards on the other side of the river. He wanted to keep the conventionally farmed vineyards as far away from his as possible.

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As the sun began to set, we headed over to his winery and sampled his 2009’s directly from the fiberglass tanks. The fermentation was just finished. At this time, his 2009’s seem to be stunning. Fantastically concentrated wines with incredible amounts of structure while they were still light and fresh.  His P’tite Gâterie (which is a blend of Pinea d’Aunis, Gamay and Grouillot, the amounts, and grapes, varying from vintage to vintage) will be bottled directly from the fiberglass tank it was fermented in. His other cuvées like La Griotte, will spend some time in oak before being bottled. After tasting the current vintage and as we headed towards the door to leave, we noticed a tank of SO2 hanging from the ceiling where Patrick had placed it to express his dislike of sulfur!

Sulfur tank hanging from the ceiling!

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Domaine Griottes - Loire Valley, France, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), Natural Wine Makers in France

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Clos Roche Blanche Part II – Pineau d'Aunis Rosé 2008

2009-07-31_1847In Part I of Clos Roche Blanche the producer profile, I talked about the Loire Valley and this Domaine.  In this entry, Clos Roche Blanche Part II – “The Wines”, I give detailed tasting notes for 4 wines that I was able to find here in Norway.  I was unfortunately unable to get a bottle of the acclaimed Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc nor was I able to get the other Cuvées.  When I do, I will be sure to write about them here on my site.

For this entry, the wines were all opened at the same time, Friday July 31st, 2009 at 16:45 (4:45pm) and tasted over the course of one week. Once opened they were simply stored with their original closures and kept in the refrigerator.  I did not pump the air out of the bottles. The first thing that struck me was that three of the four bottles used artificial plastic corks. Only the Cuvée Côt used a real cork. I am not sure how I feel about this as it’s not unusual to use an artificial cork to seal a wine bottle.  However I have to admit that I do find it strange that winemakers who make wines as close to natural as possible are using anything other than real cork.  Please comment on your feelings regarding  this matter.

Here are the wines:

Pineau d’Aunis Rosé 2008 – 12% Alcohol – Synthetic Cork

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Wine information:
100 % Pineau d’Aunis (Chenin Noir)
Average yield:  18hl/ha
Terroir:  Clay-Siliceous
Manual harvest
Indigenous yeast, no chaptalisation
Vinification:  direct pressing, vinification as “vin gris”
(vin gris is white wine made from red grapes)
12 hours skin maceration
Alcoholic fermentation:  4 months
1700 bottles produced
Price in Norway is 130 NOK ($21)

Friday July 31st, 2009 16:45 (4:45pm)

Appearance: what’s there not to like?!  A beautiful light pink grapefruit color. Absolutely lovely color. Clean with a medium intense glow.

Nose: The first aromas I note can only be described as “vitamin C”, the smell you get when you first open a bottle of vitamin C chewable tablets. Aromas of pink grapefruit, hints of under ripe raspberries (red), hints of yeast  (the first bottle I sampled a few weeks ago had much more dominant yeast aromas which I did not like).  Medium intensity and medium complexity.

Palate: Very dry, with medium to medium plus intensity. Grapefruit and under ripe raspberries also on the palate. Medium body, great concentration and great length with yeast and mineral undertones. Very mild tannins.   Medium to medium plus acid.  Well integrated alcohol.  Wow, much better tasting experience today versus the last time I tasted this wine a few weeks ago.

Saturday August 1st, 2009 14:21 (2:21pm)

Appearance: Not much change, perhaps just a shade darker

Nose: Still pink grapefruit but today the yeasty/leesy smell is a bit more dominant.  Hints of pepper which weren’t there yesterday.

Palate: still the pink grapefruit, put now the hints of pepper were also on the palate.  The yeasty feeling was  less noticeable than on the nose. Acidity is now medium plus (an increase from yesterday). There is a slight CO2 tingle at the front of the tongue. Hints of under ripe raspberry. Definitely more open then yesterday and a bit more serious

Sunday August 2nd, 2009 20:48 (8:48pm) – The wine is at it’s peak today.

Appearance: No change

Nose: A little bit sweeter nose today. Red raspberries, but not too ripe. Still hints of yeast, but it’s more of a peppery yeasty smell today. Citrus, pink grapefruit. Definitely more fruity today. Smells really nice

Palate: Very fruity initially with the raspberries and grapefruit really dominating. Less of the yeast today on the palate and a finish that is very long, fruity with hints of pepper and mineral. Very balanced, fruity and fresh. I am actually loving this wine today. Today is definitely the best it’s been with the biggest improvement being on the fruit – its much more focused today than it has been and seems almost “sweet”, though the wine is bone dry.    To sum up – sour red raspberries, fruity pink grapefruit with surrounding pepper notes and hints of yeast and mineral on the finish.. Wow… Looking forward to tasting it with my two types of Zucchini and red onion pasta.

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Monday August 3rd, 2009 23:28 (11:28pm)

Appearance: No change

Nose: the berries are going more towards wild berries today instead of under ripe raspberries. sweet pink grapefruit, red apples today – weren’t there on the previous days. Overlaying pepper aromas. Hints of yeast, but mellowing with each passing day.  A fruitier “sweeter” nose today.  Although it may sound that the nose is more open today than yesterday, it was actually less appealing to me.

Palate: Acidity seems to have kicked up a notch today, but the fruit at the same time seems “sweeter”. Red apples and raspberries, with a mineral finish with hints of bitterness, like the white part of the grapefruit. Still fresh and drinking well, but perhaps it was a bit more enticing yesterday. The bitterness is dominating a bit on the finish.

Tuesday August 4th, 2009 00:31 (12:31am)

Appearance: No change

Nose: pepper dominates with pink grapefruit. Hints of yeast.  Not volatile. Still smells fine

Palate: sweet pink grapefruit and red raspberries with a peppered finish. The alcohol is bit more noticeable today and the fruit a bit more subdued. It has lost a bit of the fruity edge today. Not as exciting.

Wednesday August 5th, 2009 17:35 (5:35pm)

Appearance: No change

Nose: Still driven by the pink grapefruit and pepper notes. Still no signs of volatility on the nose. Still fresh. Still has hints of yeast..

Palate: Still fresh, but that fruit edge it had on the third day seems to have diminished a bit.  Alcohol a bit  noticeable like it was yesterday. However, still very drinkable, but slipping a bit.

Thursday August 6th, 2009 23:54 (11:54pm) – Possibly peaking, again?

Appearance: No Change

Nose: Very fruity tonight with hints of pencil lead. Very ripe red berries.  Strawberries also showing tonight which I have not seen in the previous nights. No volatile aromas

Palate: Strange wine tonight. Very relaxed, fruity and fun. Ripe red fruit, namely raspberries with hints of strawberries. Also getting the hints of pencil lead on the palate. Hints of red apple, especially the skin.  Very fresh. Long, slightly bitter finish.

This is a wine that I don’t particular enjoy when first opened. It did become enjoyable from Sunday night on with the most exciting nights being Sunday (3rd night open) and Thursday(7th night open).

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Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Clos Roche Blanche - Loire Valley, France, France, Loire, natural wine (just about), Touraine

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Clos Roche Blanche Part I – A Producer Profile

label-detail

Catherine Roussel et Didier Barrouillet
19 Route de Montrichard
41110 Mareuil-sur-Cher

The Clos Roche Blanche Domaine is located  in the Touraine appellation of the Loire Valley in France.  Located almost in the middle of France (see map just below), the Loire Valley is a very large wine region with over 70 appellations stretching from the Atlantic in the far West, to the famous appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé  in the far East. It is the largest white wine region in France, but it also produces great reds which are unfortunately often overlooked.

france-map

The principal white grapes of the Loire Valley are:

  • Melon de Bourgogne – used in making the light & fresh Muscadet wines in the far west
  • Chenin Blanc – found in the dry wines of Vouvray and the sweet wines of  Quarts de Chaume
  • Sauvignon Blanc – in the racy wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé in the East

The principal red grapes of the Loire Valley are:

  • Gamay – found towards the West primarily in Anjou and towards the East in Touraine
  • Cabernet Franc – found in the earthy red wines of Anjou, Saumur, Chinon, Touraine and Bourgueil and some rosé wines as well
  • Pineau d’Aunis – obscure and scarcely seen, yet making a comeback in the fruity red wines of Anjou and the Coteaux du Loire and the less seen Rosé wines of  Touraine (such as the one tasted from Clos Roche Blanche)
  • Côt – also known as Malbec seen mainly in Touraine
  • Pinot Noir – found mostly in the East in the red wines of Reuilly and Sancerre

loire_map

Domaine Clos Roche Blanche has 18 hectares in the Touraine A.O.C.   The Domaine was created at the end of the 19th Century and is situated on the slopes of the valley of the Cher River, and has remained in the family ever since. Catherine Roussel took over the estate from her father in 1975 and was joined later by Didier Barrouillet who tends the vineyards and makes the wine. Both are enthusiastic proponents of non-interventionist wine making.  After the 2009 harvest, they will lease out some of their vineyards to a young female wine grower, reducing their holdings to just 10 hectares.

The poor soil is mainly composed of clay with flint and hard sandstone (grès), over a calcareous sub soil.  The wine cellar was carved out in the tuffeau in the same period; the extracted stones were then used to build the living house that overlooks the valley of Cher.

The house and chai - photo courtesy of Bertrand Celce @ wineterroirs.com

The house and chai - photo courtesy of Bertrand Celce @ wineterroirs.com

the door to the cellar and chai under hill - photo courtesy of Bertrand Celce @ wineterroirs.com

the door to the cellar and chai under hill - photo courtesy of Bertrand Celce @ wineterroirs.com

The balance between old vines (one 0,5 ha parcel planted with Côt  is more than 100 years old I’m told) and young vines, short pruning and low yields, assures a production of high quality, which they always look to improve.  The have been certified organic (Ecocert) since 1992. No plowing, they use grass and wild flowers between ranks.

The vinification is partly in the cellar, and partly in a cave carved out of the rock (see photo above) close to the vineyards, this helps them to deal with the harvest (done by hand, of course) without much of a delay.  Only indigenous yeasts, no chaptalisation, no use of enzymes or other additives, only a modest use of sulfur when racking the wine (they use CO2 when they bottle) and no filtration. No oak barriques are used, only steel and large format  used barrels for the Cuvée Côt.  This is quite close to my definition of totally natural.

The main production is the Sauvignon Blanc (40% – which ironically I could not get a hold of) and the Gamay (20%), the Côt and the Cabernets – Franc and Sauvignon, the Pineau d’Aunis and Chardonnnay make up the last 40%.

I will be publishing a follow-up to this Clos Roche Blanche producer profile in the next few days with my tasting notes of the Cuvée Pineau d’Aunis Rosé, Cuvée Gamay, Cuvée Pif and Cuvée Côt. The bottles were opened at the same time and tasted over the course of many days.  I often find that wines made more naturally improve tremendously after some days being open.

For more information on the Clos Roche Blanche Domain, visit:

Louis/Dressner Selections

Wine Terroirs

Jim’s Loire

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, Clos Roche Blanche - Loire Valley, France, natural wine (just about)

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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.

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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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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