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…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2009 Pierre Frick Crémant Zéro Sulfites ajoutés

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Pierre Frick’s wines. I am sure the wines are good (in fact, positive they are good), and that they are made with quality, organically grown grapes, but they just don’t speak to me.  In fact, I have an issue with the wines of Alsace in general. Is it their flowery style I don’t like or their super-fruity expressions, some with residual sugar, that I find hard to gulp?  I have not tasted all the wines of Frick, have you seen how many different bottles of wine he produces?!


Anyway, on to this wine. A Crémant which is supposed to be one of the favorite of Frick’s wines according to many reliable sources – so I was looking forward to tasting it.  Made in the traditional Champenois method, then disgorged and dosed (upwards of Champagne Brut levels – I can only assume based on my tasting), this reasonably priced sparkler (about 55 Polish Zloty) is perhaps the most interesting sparkling wine available in Poland today.   That’s about all I can tell you about the wine because trying to find out any of the other details about it didn’t prove easy. i am not even 100% sure about the grape!  Pinot Auxerrois, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, or a combination of the three? One reliable source was confident that it was 100% Pinot Blanc. Ok, I’ll believe that.

Date Tasted:  November 18th, 22:00

Nose: Quince apple jam, semi-dried (not oxidized) yellow apples, persimmons, carrots (spiced, as in carrot cake),  and other sweet notes like melon, kiwi. Exotic but not tropical. Very complex indeed, very. I could have spent the whole night just smelling the wine, but I got thirsty 😉

Palate: Very fruity with some residual sugar, not sure how much, but enough to give this wine a semi-sweet edge.  Pecan pie (caramelized pecan’s for those who have not tasted the pie version). Great acid with a super long and complex finish. Would be great with not too sweet dessert cakes and some semi mature cheeses.

A very complex wine that has a lot going on and so many aromas and flavors. So much going on that some might even say the wine was unfocused. I would say, rather, that the wine was entertaining and kept me coming back to the glass to see what i would find next.  It would an interesting wine  to try again in 3-5 years. Or, the hell with it. Drink it now!

Who knows, perhaps I am becoming a believer….

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


A tasting note: 2007 Gabrio Bini Serragghia Rosso Fanino

The first time I met Gabrio Bini was….hold on….Facebook. Not a wine fair where most people meet wine makers. It was after I uploaded a photo of his Serragghia Bianco 2007 about a year or so ago and commented that the wine was interesting but thought the fruit was under ripe and green. A Moscato di Pantelleria vinified dry in amphora without any additives, including sulfur.  I remember really wanting to love this wine for many reasons, but I couldn’t get around that under ripe fruit.  Well, Gabrio saw this upload and my comment and made a comment himself “you should taste my younger vintages then!”. I was surprised. Instead of getting offended and trying to defend his wine, he rather said I should taste again – a more recent vintage.  Enough said.

We didn’t talk again for about 6 or so months,  when i received a message in my inbox, once again on Facebook. It was from Gabrio asking me where he should send this bottle for me to taste. I said, better yet, I will be in Italy in a few months, save the postage and send to my Italian address. He said he would do one better, he said he would meet me and hand deliver the bottle.  And so that’s the way it went.

We met and he not only had that bottle for me to taste, but 3 others (and multiples of each), one of which is the wine I am tasting here.

Some people may say that Gabrio is a bit of an eccentric, including myself.  He splits his time between Pantelleria, Milano and Paris and alongside him always is his wonderful artist wife Genevieve.  I could say that actually his wines are in fact as eccentric as Gabrio himself, starting with the label – which is the same for all of his wines, except slight variations in color. A large arrow pointing straight up with the name of the wine written sideways

Ths Rosso Fanino is made from organically grown Cataratto (45%), Pignatello (45%) and Moscato d’Alessandria (10%). Fermented and vinified in amphora where it remained on the skins for 6 months giving this wine a gorgeous pink-orange color.   This process was made completely hands off.  The wine was bottled without filtration of course in April the following year.  1500 bottles were produced, 500 of which were transformed into sparkling versions that remained on the lees until very recently.

The back label even goes so far as to list ingredients, analytical figures like volatile acidity, etc and states in capital letters “NON CONTIENE SOLFITI” – “doesn’t contain sulfur”. At less than 10mg total sulfur, you don’t have to write on the label that the wine contains sulfur, but he takes it one step further. Obviously somebody from high up didn’t like this, and he is no longer allowed to list the ingredients on his back labels.


Date Tasted:  November 19, 22:00

Appearance:  see for yourself – click on decanted wine image to enlarge

Nose:  In one word, Spring.  Earl grey and mint tea aromas along with red flowers, like roses. Rose hips, musk and hints of watermelon as well.  Slight balsamic scents round of the wine well, as do the delicate mineral aromas.

Palate:  Wow.  Tea-like again, delicate and fresh. Tannic, but not too.  Again the rose hips and mint tea, delicate red flowers and red berries with a refreshing quality about it that you don’t often find in wine. The wine was too drinkable, if there is such a thing.

If you want to taste the wines of Gabrio Bini, last i heard, Pierre Jancou was serving them at his new Parisian establishment, Vivant.

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Italy, natural wine (100% living wine), Pantelleria, Sicilia


VinNatur 2011 – producers to keep an eye on

Claude Bourguignon discussing soil life & microorganisims

Just got back from Zurich where I was cordially invited by Angiolino Maule of La Biancara. Not only does Maule make fantastic wines and value prices, he is also acting president of the VinNatur organization.   Day one was spent mostly attending a seminar with guest speakers such as Isabelle Legeron MW, Lydia & Claude Bourguignon, Federico Giotto, Terje Meling and Jonathan Nossiter (Mondovino). The day was interesting and long, but luckily concluded with an open tasting with 98 natural wine makers and their wines.

This is one of the reasons we attended the event, right?

All in all, there are not many tastings where so many amazing producers and wines can be found in one place. Overall the quality of the producers was high, especially in my opinion, the producers from Slovenia.  In any case, here is my quick rundown of the producers I felt showed promise, and were in my opinion the “ones to watch”

Davide Spillare showed real promise with Dolce Racrei Sparkling Passito

24-year old Davide Spillare from Gambellara, Italy (Veneto).  Worked under the guidance of Angiolino Maule, so it wasn’t surprising that his wines were not only good, but showed real depth and freshness without being “over the top” or overripe.  His whites (which I actually preferred) where made with very little sulfur added and his red was made completely without.  His Garganega-based sparkling pasito Dolce Racrei (which I have sold for about a year now at Jacob’s) is just delicious. Dried hay and fruit with a crisp acidic background and slightly smokey finish is perhaps one of the most interesting dessert wines I have tasted.

Next were the wines of Bodegas Bruno Ruiz (Toledo). These wines have been in Norway for a few  years now, but for every year they get better and better. The whites have a depth you don’t often find at the super-value price levels they are at. More and more of their wines are being made without the addition of sulfur indicating that their fruit quality has to be fantastically healthy. And their labeling is improving, or rather becoming more fun to look at..

The wines of Jean-Marc Espinasse of Domaine Rouge-Bleu from the Southern Rhône showed amazing fruit quality and depth. Yes, alcohol levels where high here, but still remained fresh. We tasted a very-old Grenache wine that was just so deep and delicious. He also splashed me an experimental, unlabeled Nerello Mascaslese that he was making on Mt. Etna. This also showed real promise, but a tad too much on the oak for my palate. Oh, and nice labels as well. these are actually what got me to his table to begin with

Dorado pictured here with Alice Feiring

Next were the wines of Marcial Dorado from Portugal.  I don’t have any wines from Portugal on my wine list. Not because there isn’t some quality wine in Portugal, but because I haven’t found any wines that I really like and that have the philosophy I search for in a wine producer. These wines were not only being made naturally, but again showed that real quality of fruit I expect in a wine, a living wine. Super-juicy, drinkable, low alcohol, deep and no oak. No oak in a wine is hard enough to find, but in Spain and Portugal even harder. The Alvarinho-based whites were especially interesting to me.

For me the highlight of the event was of course the wines of Frank Cornelissen whose wines never stop impressing me for their expressiveness. So deep and pure. I still have yet to taste wines like these. Love

Overall, the only criticism I had of VinNatur  is on the use of barriques by many producers.  There is still way too much barriques use for my palate and I wished that wine makers who prefer using oak, would use larger and older format wood so that their incredible fruit would shine through


Category: 1 WINE, natural wine (100% living wine), VinNatur 2011


A (quick) tasting note: 2009 Carussin Barbera d'Asti Lia Ví

Although the single vineyard Lia Ví 2010, (made without the addition of sulfur for the first time), is available now & super delicious, I decided to retaste the 2009 and provide you with a quick note.

November 10th, 20:38 -HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

Appearance:  no development showing on this still young wine. A dark-ish garnet-red with bluish reflections.

Nose: Pure Barbera. Frutti di bosco (wild berries – mostly black, but some hints of red), hints of forest floor and black truffle.  Floral, mostly purple

Palate:  Great fruit attack with a minerality that gives the wine the feeling that it’s lightly sparkling, which it is not. Medium ripe acidity lending to the wine’s  juiciness, the juiciness you might get if you put a handful full of super ripe berries in your mouth.  Smooth, feminine tannins, just enough to make you reach for that semi-mature toma-Piemontese.  A slightly bitter,  semi-long finish.

I have stated before that I felt that Carussin creates bench-mark Barbera’s that everybody should be envious of. Not only the finished wine, but the grapes on the vine. This wine is alive and fun to drink.  A wine that can complement all parts of the meal, even white fish without pretentions. Enjoy…

Bruna’s babies


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Asti, biodynamic wine, Italy, Piemonte


Too Beaujolais, or not too Beaujolais

Out with the bad reputation, in with the good?

Marcel Lapierre, who died last year, was perhaps the most important person to help save the reputation of the Beaujolais region, which was mostly known by the masses as “that place” where Beaujolais Nouveau comes from.  Always sour, rarely drinkable, until producers such as Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet and let’s not forget Yvon Métras came along and stopped adding selected yeasts to their Gamay grapes, or anything else for that matter. The recipe was easy, healthy grapes and a lot of hard work.

Now, I will admit that I never had the fortune to taste the wines made by Marcel Lapierre (his last vintage I believe was the 2009), due to importer/logistic problems I had in Norway. What, you say?! Never tasted the fruit of Marcel’s hard work?! Nope. Never. Nada

So, brace yourself as I taste the 2010 Morgon Sans Soufre *(please see “comments” below).  In fact, i tasted the 2010 vintage on 2 separate occassions. And I disliked the wine on two separate occasions.

2010 Marcel Lapierre Morgon Sans Soufre

November 4th at 19:00

Yes, the nose was intense in the sense that the aromas just jumped out of the glass. But, something peculiar…. I could swear that I felt sulfur. Yes, I know that natural fermentation will produce sulfur, but since none was added to this wine*(please see “comments” below) during the wine making (I expected the final number to be low) I was surprised to find it there – stinging my nose. And i also found this on other Lapierre wines from the 2010 vintage. I  found this on this Morgan (both bottles I tasted) and on the Raisins Gaulois…. In all the 2010 wines I tasted, aromas that were not very exciting  jumped out of the glass.  I didn’t find the aromas so fruity, but rather green like what you would get from underripe fruit. There were some small red berries also, but the green was dominant. Too dominant.

On the palate much of the same; green mostly with some light red berries and a structure and concertration that left me wondering if I was drinking an ordinary Beaujolais Nouveau.

After struggling through a couple glasses trying to grasp this wine, I decided to put it in the fridge until the next day to see if it improved, after all this was a Lapierre Morgon.

November 5th, 18:35

Appearance: Same as last night, a pale red, not very intense wine with a very slightly hazy, unfiltered look to it (which I liked)

Nose: most of the stinging I felt yesterday on the nose was gone. But there was still that sour, red fruit with dominating green notes I nosed yesterday. The wine is just not very ripe. One day or 5 years wasn’t going to change that. I just keep going back to that glass trying to find what it was that everyone spoke so highly of. I was really searching for that purity of fruit, and I just couldn’t find it. There were some hints of fruit in the form of little red berries and vague hints of watermelon, but not the pink juicy part, but rather the green meat closer to the skin..

Palate: In the mouth, the wine was showing the fruit a bit better than on the nose and a bit better than yesterday. The watermelon was there as well, but mostly the light pink part near the skin. The tannins have gotten a bit more aggressive than yesterday and were now dominating along with the underripe fruit. The acidity was quite high, but not that ripe, juicy acidity I enjoy that helps carry the wine to a long and happy ending that leaves you wanting to start again from the beginning. That first sip that leads you fall in love with a wine. This just doesn’t have that feeling for me. I don’t want to take another sip, and why would I when my mouth still feels «bruised» from that first sip. But most of all, this wine lacked some serious depth. Depth I would expect from a Morgan. Disappointed.

Some might wonder if this was a bad bottle, but the fact is it’s the second bottle I have tasted of Lapierre’s 2010 Morgon..or perhaps I’ve never really tasted a Morgon made by Lapierre. Or perhaps it’s a 2010 vintage issue.

Now, by contrast, I happened to have a bottle of Yvon Metras 2009 Fleurie Le Printemps in my cellar, so I thought what the hell. Let’s do another one of those odd comparisons i love to do just because i can 🙂  Yea, I know, two different vintages, two different Villages. So what.

2009 Yvon Métras Fleurie Le Printemps

After coming off tasting a 2010 Lapierre Morgon, one would expect that i may be disappointed, but I say that after the Lapierre it would be hard to be disappointed.

November 5th, 19:00

Nose: just as intesne as the Lapierre Morgon, but what, what is that I smell? Fruit, fruit and loads of it. Not under ripe and not overripe either, but really nice and fresh. Cranberries with a slight hint of peppery spice.. now I knew I was smelling a Gamay. Hints of barnyard and purple flowers give this wine a bit of edge that tends to make me smile. A wild side you might say. And none of that “sulfur” sting I experienced from the Lapierre.

Palate: Ah, balance, fruity with an amazing sweet cranberry finish. Fruit all the way from start to finish and what a finish it was, juicy with some cleansing tannings along the way. I would say quality here.

Great acidity that surrounded the wine just fine. Refreshing and begging me to take another sip, and so I did over and over again. The fruit was only just a bit dominant if I was to be crtitical. But, this is something that time will surely sort out. The wine is deep deep deep, something the Morgon was not. Another component that the Morgon lacked was concentration, which is something this wine has nothing to apologize for. Concentration could be it’s middle name.

Oh, and did I forget to say the word elegance? The wine was quite elegant, perhaps one of the most I have tasted from Beaujolais.

In the end I have to say that this wine isn’t exactly in my style, but it was in my opinion (not taste) that it was a better wine than the Lapierre Morgon. What I didn’t love about this wine is that there was a disturbing sweet note tied to the fruit, one which today is noticable but will very likely disappear in a few years.

Lapierre Morgon 2010 – light, green and bitter with the ability to leave the mouth a bit sore and not wanting more. A Morgon disguised as a Beaujolais Nouveau, sorry.

Métras Fleurie Le Printemps 2009– serious depth wrapped in juicy fruit, lively acidity and enough tannins to make it the perfect mate to food. Elegant and concentrated. Win


Category: 1 WINE, natural wine (100% living wine), Too Beaujolais or not too Beaujolais