Vinosseur.com

…spontaneously fermenting

Slow Sunsets, Spontaneous Cider and Enjoying Life, Naturally

I am very grateful to be a part of Cory’s “32 Days of Natural Wine” series and to be among such talented and clever writers.  I personally don’t consider myself a very clever writer nor do I write as often as I would like to.   I spontaneously write like the wines I drink spontaneously ferment. I don’t write every day, twice a week or on a schedule.  Just like the wines I drink may not ferment immediately or with  selected yeasts. The wines I drink ferment on their own, when they’re ready, with their indigenous yeasts.  If I force myself to write, it will be a less than enthusiastic endeavor. If you add a selected yeast to crushed grapes, the resulting wine will probably also be a less than enthusiastic wine (I have read that in the late 90’s,  80% of wines were spontaneously fermented – a statistic that although may have shifted since then, is surprising).

What motivates and inspires me to write? Well, natural wine does, of course! But so do the slow sunsets we experience up here in Norway. They remind me how beautiful life is. Why don’t we sit back and appreciate what nature gives us?  Why should we do things that we don’t enjoy? Why should we eat or drink things that we don’t enjoy and don’t make us feel good?

Why do I drink natural wine?  Because I like the way it smells.  Because I like the way it tastes.  It evokes feelings of joy and the aromas are just so damn expressive.   The fruit quality in the natural wines I drink are so clear and transparent (not in the literal sense, cause you know I love those unfiltered wines!).  I like to taste and understand what I am drinking.  I’ve been criticized by many as having become too extreme. In my opinion, conventional wine has become too extreme.  Manipulated if you will.  Made to “taste” a certain way, to chase fads or trends and forcing the consumer to drink what’s “cool” as opposed to what’s real.  Why do people react when I talk to them about natural wine? Nobody reacts about organic, biodynamic or natural farmers market veggies, like this lettuce.

So, why any negative reactions about natural wine???  Many of these negative reactions come from the large, conventional producers. They would like you to believe that once you open that bottle of unsulfured (or low sulfured) wine, you better drink it up quickly or it will become undrinkable within a few minutes! Granted, a great bottle of natural wine will be drunk up in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes due to it’s drinkability!  I speak from experience when I say that a great bottle of natural wine once opened, can stay alive for even two weeks and sometimes longer.  I  have literally eliminated waste.  I have done numerous experiments  keeping bottles of natural (unsulfured) wines open (by hiding them) for weeks at a time. I even left an opened bottle of Bressan’s 1999 Pignol in my fridge for 21 days. I discovered this bottle after returning from my Christmas and New Year holidays and to my surprise, was still totally drinkable, alive, fresh and enjoyable!

Against the odds and despite the numerous remarks like “you can’t sell these types of wines”, I do sell these types of wines. My wine list, of approx 80 titles,  is approaching 100% Organic, Biodynamic  and Natural.  At least 20 of these wines are made without the addition of any sulfur.  And the sales keep increasing.  Just like all new experiences, the wines should be introduced. I don’t simply drop a glass of glowing orange wine at my guest’s table, I talk about the wine maker, the tradition and what he/she doesn’t do in the vineyards/winery.  Then the guest is not only more willing to taste, but can’t wait to taste. I am most often met with positive comments, and very rarely negative ones. Then the food arrives and natural wines work very well with food, as you know.  Before I leave the table, I have gotten in the habit of telling my guests to expect sediment in their wine because it’s unfiltered and if they don’t get any sediment, they should complain because there is something wrong ;-).  This has eliminated the complaints I used to get regarding sediment in the bottom of the glass.

What about other spontaneously fermented products from nature? How about (more than) organic apples that are planted on Northwest facing slopes that bask in the long Norwegian summer hours of sunlight. When the apples are ready for picking, they are picked by hand and spontaneously fermented in plastic, just like the wines we enjoy. They are left to ferment until the process stops on its own. Sometimes the final cider is bone dry, and other times there is a bit of residual sugar. The cider is bottled without filtering out any of the nutrients and no sulfur is added, allowing those nutrients to stay alive, and make you feel good!

30 Year Old Golden Aroma Apple Trees Facing NW

Joar says "just a reminder that this is just me and my dad making cider because we like it, nothing more then that."

The 2008 dry cider - Sponty, sherry-like tones, sweet fruit & a fresh, dry & acidic backbone

I am not here to impress you with my writing, knowledge or with my love of natural wine and other things natural. You either like them, learn to like (and understand them) or you don’t. I just write what I feel from the heart, and from the fact that I  feel the need to share my excitement, or  ferment spontaneously if you will.  I am sure that the natural wine makers I most admire are also not trying to impress you with their wines. They are merely expressing themselves and the grapes they are growing  to keep their sanity, drink their own good wine and with the hopes to share their passion with others who understand them.  They are doing what comes naturally to them, from their hearts, their soil, their vines, their grapes, their wild yeasts….spontaneously.

If I made my point here in this post, you’ll grab for that glass of your favorite natural wine (or cider) and with the one(s) you love, watch the sunset in the distance.  Enjoy life and the good things it gives us without trying to manipulate and distort. It’s a post about being spontaneous and appreciating the simple things.

Category: 1 WINE, 32 days of natural wine, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, natural wine (100% living wine)

1 comment



A tasting note: 2006 Tiberio Nocens

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Tiberio
Loc. Gropina – Fraz. Penna, 116/A
(Terranuova Bracciolini)
Italia
+39 338 4604806
www.tiberiowine.com

Date tasted: September 9th, 2009 18:30 (6:30pm)

The Nocens  is Tiberio’s top wine and is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo in equal parts.  The grapes are farmed organically and are grown in Chianti D.O.C vineyards. Grapes are harvested by hand.   The wine is designated “Rosso dei Colli della Toscana Centrale (I.G.T)”

2009-09-09_1890The Nocens  is made in the “Antico Metodo Governo all’ Uso Toscano“.  A pre-harvest selection of 10% of the top grapes are harvested by hand and placed in a well-ventilated room to let them finish maturing (and drying) for about 15 days, time enough to finish the rest of the harvest. The rest of the grapes are also harvested by hand and fermented spontaneously using indigenous yeast and without the use of enzymes.  Once the fermentation is completed, the pre-harvest “Antico Metodo Governo all’ Uso Toscano” grapes that were set aside are added to the wine and a second fermentation commences (think “Ripasso” from the Veneto here). The wine is then aged for 12 months in 225-liter French Barriques. The wine is bottled without filtration

Appearance: Clean. Medium dark red with hints of blue. Medium to medium low intensity.

Nose: Clean.  Medium intense nose of dark cherries and wild black currants with hints of cedar and eucalyptus. Medium complex wine with  well-integrated oak on the back end.

Palate: Clean.  Good fruit on the front end. Sour cherries, black currants and blackberries. Good structure and good acidity carrying the wine to a medium-long finish with medium tannins.  Oak is well-integrated, but noticeable lending to the tannic structure of this wine.  Very well integrated alcohol at 13,5%

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Overall impressions: This is a well-made wine with good structure, balance and clean fruit which should be a pretty good wine to match with food.  I am thinking a grilled steak, or grilled vegetables would be a nice complement to this wine. This being said, the oak is too dominant for my palate, but I feel that many people will enjoy this wine. It sits nicely between a modern-made wine and one made traditionally.  In my opinion, this wine can be stored for a few more years, but I don’t think that it will improve so I would drink it now.

I have tasted other Tiberio wines and find his fruit to be clean, precise and on the feminine side (especially his Sangiovese, my favorite of his wines) and I feel that his wines would be better represented if they weren’t stored in oak. For those of you who share my feelings on this, rumor has it that he is playing with some un-oaked versions of his wines as I write this and perhaps I will have the opportunity some day soon to taste as stainless steel version of his Sangiovese.

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Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Italy, organic wine, Terranuova Bracciolini, Toscana

2 comments



A tasting note: 2005 Vodopivec Vitovska Amphora

2009-06-02_620091680Date tasted:  June 2nd, 2009 15:00 (3pm)

In the hills and mountains of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in North Eastern Italy, there are a group of winemakers that wish to make wine like they did centuries ago.  They farm organically and believe very firmly in the principles of natural wine making.  Ancient methods of cultivation are employed and the white wines are treated to extended maceration periods on the skins, producing “orange” wines.   Indigenous yeasts are used without the use of temperature control.  Fermentation takes place naturally and spontaneously.  In some cases, this takes place outdoors in large terracotta Amphorae.

The Vodopivec brothers’  Valter and Paolo’s winery is about 20 minutes north of Trieste, near the Slovenian border.  The brothers own a nursery and are plant and flower experts.  They have been making wine since 1995.  Up until the 2005 vintage, they have always used big Botti, now they are also using Amphorae.

The Vodopivec brothers usually bottle two different wines from the Vitovska grape.  The Vitovska grape is a vine with a greenish-gold berry that has always been cultivated in area of Trieste.  The name of the vine is undoubtedly of Slovenian origin, and was often called Vitovska Garganija.   The top bottling is the Solo, comprised of the top selection of grapes from older vines.  The second bottling is their second selection.

2005 was a challenging vintage with an overabundance of rain, therefore only one (hand) harvest was made. The Solo cuvée was not produced.  After harvesting, approximately 70% of the grapes were then fermented in Botti, the remaining 30% in Amphorae.  The wine was macerated with the skins for around 70 days.  Only indigenous yeast, no filtration, no treatments.  The botti were sprayed with about 10mg/liter of sulfur about 2 weeks before the harvest to “sterilize”.  The Amphorae were not sprayed.

There were two bottlings for the declassified 2005 vintage.  The wine fermented and aged in Amphorae has an orange stripe on the label.  The wine fermented and aged in Botti has a green stripe on the label.  This bottle was the Amphorae version.  Price in Norwegian Kroner is 320 ($50)

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Appearance: Apricot, amber color. Clean. Medium plus intensity.

Nose: Spice, Cinnamon. Kumquat, Umami and orange peel.  Very intense and complex nose.  Keeps you going back to the glass to smell and smell again.  Also leaves the impression that this wine could be very fruity or even sweet.

Palate: Medium tannins and extremely focused fruit.  Orange peel and touches of spice.  Medium plus, mature acidity with a smooth, long and elegant finish.  Bone dry.  Really complex with some minerality on the finish.  Best enjoyed at closer to room temperature.  Goes very well with mature goat cheese.  I have also found success pairing this wine with pork belly in an Asian inspired sauce.

Although extremely enjoyable now in it’s youth, the wine’s concentration indicates to me the potential to lay down in the cellar for 5-8 years; perhaps more.

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Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine

2 comments



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)

4 comments



A tasting note: 2007 Frank Cornelissen Munjebel Bianco 4

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Date tasted:  June 2nd, 2009 15:00(3pm)

Frank Cornelissen owns about 12 ha on Mt. Etna in Sicily. He’s a non-interventionist who says “Consequently this has taken us to avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, or biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be.”

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Frank & Alberto at the top of 'Rampante', the pre-phylloxera vineyard at 1010m altitude located above Solicchiata on Mt Etna after the devasting forest fire of 3 full days & nights.

On a postcard I recently received, he goes on to say  “To produce a bottle of genuine, natural wine, the recipe is simple:  take large quantities of dedication, determination, intuition and coherence.  To these ingredients throw in a strong dose of masochism in order to physically and emotionally survive the difficulties and downsides of this ‘Art of Wine’.  Finally, enjoy a glass (or more) of this wine, before sending the rest around the world to good homes.”

Of all the “natural” wines I have tasted, Frank’s are always the most interesting.  I am not saying that his wines are the most well-made of the natural wines I have tasted, but his are always the most engergetic.  And, definitely the most natural tasting compared to his counterparts.  From the very rustic labeling, to the almost opaque  wines that are very obviously not filtered nor fined.

This “orange” wine is no exception.  Made from the local (white grapes) Grecanico Dorato, Coda di Volpe, Carricante and Cattaratto grapes, this orange wine is barely see through.  This cloudy wine is so packed full of sediment that I swore I could see chunks of grapes floating towards the bottom of the bottle.  Of course this is a “slight” exaggeration, but it sure made me happy knowing that this wine was made from something (grapes) that was growing wild in the vineyards, and nothing else.   His wines are the most natural of the natural wines I have tasted, and this wine was no exception.  His wines have a certain “energy” about them which is hard to put in words, but they make you feel good.

The grapes for this wine come from various vineyards on Mount Etna owned and cared for by Frank.  Frank harvests the approximate 13ha/hl of grapes totally by hand.  The bunches of grapes are put into a destemmer and crushed, not pressed at this time.  This machine is more of a crusher than a destemmer as it hardly removes any of the stems at all.

The must is then placed into plastic containers in his backyard (no temperature control here) which are then covered with a tent-like plastic material to keep the rain out.  Of course only indigenous yeast here.  The wine is left to spontaneously ferment and macerate with the skins for about 4 months giving the wine it’s apricot-hued glow.  The wine is then pressed into Amphorae with the help of gravity and then bottled.  Absolutely nothing else is added to this wine. Nothing.  Not even SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide).  The wine is not fined nor filtered before being bottled and this is evident.  Since Frank bottle’s his wine without filtration, the last wines bottled have more sediment than the first ones.

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First tasting 1500 (3pm):

Appearance: A very cloudy, unfiltered appearance.  Loads of sediment which are very visible to the naked eye.  In the glass, the wine has an apricot juice hue with a medium intensity.  It is hard to analyze intensity with an unfiltered wine of this type (wine with high intensity glows can indicate a high level of intensity and vice versa).

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Nose: Apricots with hints of minerals and loads of farmyard (those of you familiar with red Burgundy know what I am talking about).  The distinctive (for me) Cornelissen pickle juice.  Dry hay and flowers.

Palate: Wild just like the other Cornelissen wines.  Typical.  A little tingle at the front of the tongue initially from the slight residual CO2, which quickly burns off with a little swirling of the glass.  Medium minus tannins.  High acidity, but not harsh, just mouth watering and mature.  Pickles and smoke.  Kumquats.  Essence of apricots and peaches, but not sweet.    Bone dry with around 2g/liter of residual sugar according to my palate.

Second tasting 1809 (609pm):

Nose: Much more pickles and farmyard.  Less distinct apricots.  The apricot aromas I do get are of unripe apricots.

Palate: Medium minus tannins.  Rosemary, sweet yellow fruit at the back end, apricots.  Finish is long and persistent with mild tannins, great acid and smokey flavors.  The wine sits and sits.

Interesting to note that although the wine was dry, it paired well with sweeter dishes.  It worked well with my honey and lemon marinated chicken.  It was also working surprising well with my Mexican Cactus Fruit.. Strange….

I’m always fascinated with the fact that the few bottles of natural wine that I manage to keep open a few days seem to only improve.

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Please check out my video wine tasting of Frank Cornelissen’s Rosso del Contadino! Click below and forgive the quality:

Wine Tasting with Vinosseur – 2007 Frank Cornelissen Rosso del Contadino 5 from vinosseur on Vimeo.

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, 31 Days of Natural Wine, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Frank Cornelissen - Mt. Etna (Sicila), Italy, Italy, Mt Etna, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine, Sicilia

4 comments



A tasting note: 2006 Peréz Caramés Casar de Valdaiga

Date tasted: I have tasted this wine on 3 different occasions but this tasting note is from tonight, 23 March, 2009

I rarely get taken aback and impressed with a wine. But this wine catches me off guard and surprises me every time I have tasted it.

I may not have been given the gift of a great memory, so I will never be a walking encyclopedia of wine, but I feel the one thing I am gifted with is a great palate…

My point is, I am quite picky when it comes to quality because I can sense it.. This wine is both a wine that IS well made and one that I really enjoy. There are plenty of good wines out there that I just don’t enjoy, but the quality is evident.  This wine is simply put, fantastic… Especially when the price is taken into consideration.

I always taste wine and judge wine for what it is, that’s simple. However in my final judgment, I take price into consideration. After all, we are after value right? Well, this wine is in my opinion a FANTASTIC value. A terrific wine, simply put… and even more so at this price point.. WOW.  A wine so awesome in my opinion, I had to write about it.

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Established by D. Francisco Peréz Carmés in 1986  in Villafranco del Bierzo, Bierzo, Galicia.  Peréz Carmés S.A. adheres to the following norms:

  1. “Be truthful”
  2. “Sell only wines we ourselves would drink”
  3. “Respect the environment”
  4. “Combat alcoholism”
  5. “Interest everybody, but particularly young people, in the wealth of values, within sobriety and good taste, that vines and wine represent in our culture”
  6. “Open up our wine cellars and vineyards to all those wishing to see, hear, touch, smell and taste”

Organic viticulture and wine making since day 1; certified organic since 1995.

This wine, Casar de Valdaiga, is 100% Mencia grape variety and enjoys 30-60 days of skin contact depending on vintage. Fermentation is spontaneous and in steel. Maturation is carried forth in both steel and cement for 18 months..

Now for the juice: Please, remember to serve young red wines at the correct temperature – around 14-15C (59-61F)..please… let them warm naturally in the glass..

Please also be advised that I recommend a larger format glass for this wine (see glass on the left in the photo below). Like you might use for a Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo (Barolo or Barbaresco). The reason I recommend this size glass is because the wine is very aromatic and requires a lot of airing and swirling and delivery to the correct part of mouth.

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Glass used-Schott Zwiesel Burgundy/Nebbiolo glass (on Left)

Appearance: Darkish, darker than Pinot Noir, but not that dark, so somewhat see-thru. Youthful looking with a medium high intensity

Nose: This is one of those wines that has such enticing aromas that I forgot to taste it for at least the first 10 minutes..wow…  Beautiful and fresh floral aromas. Rose pedals and other fresh flowers. Blackberries and hints of morrell cherries. In the background and suggesting that this was a serious wine, were hints of fresh blood.. Extremely fresh and cool.

Palate: Much of the same that appeared on the nose was there on the palate. Fresh blackberries and morrell cherries and tons of fresh flowers, especially rose pedals. Hints of fresh blood and a minerality to suggest a very serious wine. Tannins were firm and serious. Not like you would find in a Nebbiolo, but firm and totally fruit derived…not a stitch of oak here. Thank goodness.  Though much of the fruit was dark, the wine was extremely fresh with underlying red fruit and sublime acidity.  The finish was long…. Unbelievable.. Wish it was a magnum instead of this boring “half-magnum”.

In summary and in my opinion, this is an amazing wine. Especially when the price is taken into account. In Norway this wine costs only 130 Kroner ($21) .

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Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Bierzo, organic wine, Spain

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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