…spontaneously fermenting

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

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Category: 1 WINE, natural wine (100% living wine)


A tasting note: 2007 Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Gaisböhl Beerenauslese


Date tasted:  May 19th, 2009 23:40 (11:40pm)

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf is the largest family owned estate in Germany with just over 110HA of vineyards all located in the heart of the Pfalz.  The vineyards are located in Wachenheim, Forst, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg including the monopol sites “Wachenheimer Rechbächel” and “Gaisböhl” in Ruppertsberg. They were the first non-French member of the well-known French organization “Syndicat International des Vignerons en Culture Bio-Dynamique” with the label BIODYVIN.  In the beginning of 2005 all 83 hectares of Bürklin-Wolf’s vineyards were converted to bio-dynamic methods. Dr. Bürklin-Wolf has passed with success all necessary controls by the EU control agencies and is certified as a bio-dynamic winery.

Gaisböhl Beerenauslese harvest

Gaisböhl 2007 BA harvest

This wine has a special place in my heart.  On September 12, 2007 a friend and I arrived in the Pfalz where I would remain for the following 10 days to take part in the harvest.  The very next day we had our very first harvesting experience.  We were to (hand) harvest grapes (Riesling) in the Gaisböl vineyard, and those grapes were to be at the Beerenauslese level!  Beerenauslese (BA) directly translated means “selected grapes”, which simply meant that we were hand selecting grapes that were going to be used in this wine.  The grapes in a BA wine are normally effected by Botrytis (the basis for the worlds greatest sweet wines like Sauternes and Tokaji).  The minimum required Oechsle value (of the grapes) in the Pfalz to qualify as a BA is 120 (the Oechsle scale is a hydrometer scale measuring the density of grape must, which is an indication of grape ripeness and sugar content.  The higher the value, the higher sugar content, the higher the potential alcohol).  This wine also had a small percentage of “fresh” grapes; grapes not effected by this “noble rot”. At analysis, the grapes that went into this wine had an Oechsle reading of 145!  This Oechsle reading puts this wine at just a few degrees under the Trockenbeerenauslese level of 150!

It is quite unusual to be picking grapes of this level so early in the harvest season.  Many of the other Bürklin vineyards weren’t even going to be harvested for fresh grapes for another couple of weeks.  I have to say that it was a challenging first day of harvesting!  There are many types of rot and you have to be very selective to assure that the good rot is the one you are harvesting, the rest goes right on the ground!

The Gaisböhl vineyard is solely owned by the Bürklin estate.  This vineyard is considered a “Grand Cru” (according to the Bürklin-Wolf’s own strict vineyard classification system dating back to 1995).  The vineyard covers 5,7ha and was planted in 1977.

As many of you may know, 2007 is heralded as an excellent vintage in Germany.  A vintage which has the potential to age for decades.  This wine was no exception.  It was immediately approachable but had the potential to age, well probably longer than you or I.

Wine analysis/details:

Grape:  100% Riesling

Oechsle measurement before fermentation:  145° Oe

Price:  € 70,00 per 0,375l, double for 0,75l (this  bottle was a 0,375 l)

Production:  about 500 liters

Residual Sugar:  188g/liter

Residual Acidity:  16g/liter!!

2009-05-20_1764Alcohol content:  7%

Appearance: Poured like liquid syrup!  Golden orange with amber hints.

Nose: Orange marmalade, apricot nectar, honey, lemon with mineral undertones.  “cool” chalky smell with hints of eucalyptus.  Lots of apricots!  I could smell this wine all night!

Palate: Pure, apricot syrup with extreme, mature acidity!  The finish has hints of dried apricots and sour fruit.  The wine really coats the mouth and the texture is mind-blowing.  The finish is extremely long, at least a minute or more..

This has got to be one of the finest sweet wines I have ever tasted, because it had extreme focus of both fresh and dried fruits with amazing acidity giving this wine lift and freshness!

For those of you that don’t enjoy sweet wines, this one is worth a try.  The secret with sweet wines is the acidity.  Sweet wines need acidity to balance out the sugar.  When the acidity is in balance,  the wine will seem fresh no matter how sweet it is.  In other words, the higher the residual sugar, the higher the acidity needs to be.  If there is a lack of acidity, which unfortunately is too often the case, the wine will seem cloying and will sting at the back of the throat.  This is why cool climate countries have the advantage in the sweet wine world. The cooler climate produces grapes with higher acidity and typically the sweet wines made from these grapes are fresher.

Suggested music pairing:  Blank & Jones “Butterfisch” from the album Relax Edition 4

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, biodynamic wine, Germany, Pfalz, Ruppertsberg


A tasting note: 2005 Azienda Agricola Unterortl Castel Juval Riesling

Front label detail

Date tasted:  April 14th, 2009

Azienda Agricola Unterortl was established in 1992 in Alto Adige, Val Venosta, in the Northern tip of Italy close to the boarder of Austria.  Located about 750m up on Juval Hill, they make only 30,000 bottles per year from around 4ha. According to the May 2009 issue of Decanter magazine, Martin Aurich of Unterortl is one of Italy’s stars of tomorrow, and is producing one of Italy’s finest Rieslings.  Aurich was born and raised in Germany and studied oenology in the 1980’s.  Aurich says “Unterortl’s proximity to the glaciers gives the wines their high acidity and freshness.  The well-draining granite and sand is similar to Wachau in Austria”.  Aurich vinifies as naturally as possible.

Appearance: A light golden yellow with high intensity indicating high acidity.  A bit darker than I expected. Looked like a warmer climate Riesling, which would indicate that 2005 was a warm vintage in the area.

Nose: At first, the aromas reminded me a lot of wines from the Pfalz in Germany, in particular, Bürklin-Wolf. Ripe lemons, very light petrol and minerality. Some fruity notes, seemed to have lactic aromas suggesting that perhaps this wine went through malo-lactic fermentation.  I could not find any information validating this, but it’s just a hunch of mine.

Palate: Dry but fruity, with high acidity.  Medium alcohol which was slightly apparent on the palate.  Ripe lemons, but slightly lacking fruit in my opinion.  Quite rounded with good acidity, but not terribly focused and lacking some freshness.  A slightly fat Riesling.

In my opinion, this was a pretty good Riesling, but not great. I believe I paid around 14 euro and I feel that it was a decent value at that level.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. If I had another bottle, I think it would be interesting to taste it again in about 5 years. I believe this will age well and actually improve.

Back label detail

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Alto Adige, Italy, Val Venosta


A tasting note: 1989 Weingut Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Auslese

Date tasted: 3rd March, 2009


2009-02-24_220091008I surprised my small group of friends (and myself!) on one of our “gourmet pizza” evenings by pulling this wine out of my cellar.  I didn’t tell the small group of 5 what it was I was surprising them with to see if they could identify the country of origin, variety and “guesstimate” the vintage… I was not surprised when they had difficulties with this blind tasting as I was a bit surprised by the vitality of the wine considering the age. Also unexpected was the bouquet which emerged from the glass.

The first thing that I have to reiterate is that I not only pulled the wine from my cellar, but I also opened and served the wine at cellar temperature. A perfect 13 degrees Celsius (55.5 degrees Fahrenheit). After pulling the cork, which was in excellent shape, and some wine was poured into the glasses, what emerged from the glass was a massive herbal bouquet!
Anyway, back to the color for a moment. Yellow, but quite light in color actually. Surprised all of us that the wine was 20 years old. Looked more like a 10-year old wine in the glass. (Flash was used for this photo – which doesn’t really reflect the true hue of the wine, sorry!)

Ok, now back to the bouquet! Slight petrol/sulfur hints which burnt off after some time in the glass, but always present were these amazing aromas of spearmint and Thai basil with hints of “minerality”!! We all agreed that the Thai basil was dominant along with other herbs. Very interesting.
ON the palate, this Auslese wine with an 8.5% alcohol content, was almost completely dry after 20 years as you might kumkwatimagine, but there was a mild sweetness at the front end when the wine first hit the tongue, but it quickly gave way to a very elegant but high level of acidity. Much more elegant in fact that many of the Karthaüser’s I have tasted in the past. Oh, of course, on the palate there were plenty of ripe lemons and a splash of kumkwat.. The wine was very concentrated and the finish very long.

A very nice wine for drinking today. If you own this wine, I would enjoy it now even though I feel it still had some cellar life left.. But why wait, drink it! This wine is exactly the reason that I am in love with the Riesling!!


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Eitelsbach, Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

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Wine Tasting with Vinosseur – Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2007

Category: 1 WINE, 5 VIDEO WINE TASTING, biodynamic wine


Germany's Fantastic 2007 Vintage

I hosted a successful wine tasting tonight at Altona. We had more than 25 interested guests. We tasted 6 wines. My overall impression is that, although I love young German Riesling, this vintage needs some time in the cellar. The first wine was a Grüner Silvaner (and the only non-riesling of the tasting) from Weingut Wittmann in the Rheinhessen and was quite open, fresh and good. The next four wines were quite closed and didn’t give much on the nose nor the palate. The last wine, the Fritz Haag, was open, approachable and extremely nice. I have a lot of confidence that this wine will age well over the next 20-30 years.  The Weiser-Künstler was quite reductive. The last four wines were decanted 15 minutes before.

Weingut Wittman Grüner Silvaner – Rheinhessen

Robert Weil Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken – Rheingau

Battenfeld-Spanier Riesling “S” – Rheinhessen

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Böhlig PC Magnum – Pfalz

Weiser-Künstler Einkircher Ellergrub Riesling Kabinett – Mosel (about 70 grams residual sugar per liter; alcohol 7.5%)

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sunnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel – Mosel (about 145 grams of residual sugar per liter; alcohol 7.5%)

– vinosseur

Category: 1 WINE, Events




Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. 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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