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…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2001 Domaine Valette Mâcon-Chaintré V.V. Magnum

Hailing from the southern reaches of the Burgundy wine region in France, one can often expect low-acid ripe Chardonnay’s, plenty of oak, and doses of sulfur to make the eyes and nose sting.  This wine seemed to have escaped these cliché’s nicely. For one, the wine was not lacking acidity, and at 10 years of age, this is not an everyday feat. Secondly, although there was some oak use, it was used judicially and had integrated quite nicely in this wine. Thirdly, no stinging of the eyes and nose, a great indication that sulfur was used in very low doses.

I don’t know much about this producer, nor could I find much out utilizing my usual information-gathering tactics.  Philippe Valette is well-known for working naturally, and that’s about all I could gather. You could read a bit more here.

Date tasted: January 11th, 2012 at 21:15

I don’t mind waxed bottle tops, in fact I rather love them. They signal to me that something interesting awaits me under that cork. Often used on the tops of natural wines, my palate immediately starts to salivate. Not unlike Pavlov’s dog hearing that bell jingling. And, let’s face it, perhaps it helps keep unwanted oxygen out of the bottle. No? However, this wax was not soft and easy to remove. It had hardened into something like cement which I had to chip away into little pieces to reveal the cork. But once I got to the cork and removed it, this is what I found:

Appearance:  Golden-yellow color, age not immediately evident on this 10 year old

Nose:  Jura-like nose, first thoughts were: What, Tissot? But, a little more delicate. Mineral. I wasn’t immediately sure whether this wine was oxidizized (either from age or wine-making) or if those yeasty-like, “flor-like” notes were from wood. Some Burgundy wines, especially the whites, seemed to go through some growing pains in the late 80’s and early 90’s, with some wines showing some premature oxidation.  Let’s give this magnum some time…

Palate:  Dry with  refreshing acidity. Balanced and long. Interesting at first sips, the wine quickly started to head in the wrong direction. It seemed to start closing and masking the fruit. Even showing some signs of oxidation on the palate.  Have we waited too long to drink this wine? Did we open it too soon? Burgundy is always challenging.

It sooned fooled me into thinking that the wine had hit its prime a few years earlier. Is this possible? Slipping so quickly? A magnum!


But…as more time passed, the wine started to change. Those funky oxidized aromas that this wine hid behind, began to lift. Fruit began to shine and the Chardonnay character really started to come thru. The wine became more focused, the acid more lively. Good thing this was a magnum….it gave us enough wine to allow these changes to come around before the wine was completely drunk up.

One thing to note is that very often the Chardonnay’s from the Mâcon can be quite oily, fat and rich. The only thing this magnum had in common with those charcteristics was the oiliness. It had great texture, mouth feel, concentration and structure.. what else? It wasn’t a fat wine, nor was it rich, and I am grateful for this actually.

And yet again,  Burgundy has challenged us, fooled us, played with us. When we reached the end of the bottle, it left us  wanting more just so that we could continue to see the evolution that unfolded in our glasses. A wine I would gladly drink again


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Burgundy, France, Mâcon-Chaintré, natural wine (just about)


A tasting note: 2009 Gaëlle Berriau "Flon Flon"!

Finally! I have been tasting, drinking and enjoying this wine for a year now ever since Patrick Desplats (Domaine Griottes) and his girlfriend Gaëlle came up to Jacob’s Bar & Kjøkken for a visit. I must have helped consume 30 bottles, not to mention that it was the welcome drink for guests at my wedding.  Flon Flon and I are close friends by now

One of the most enjoyable sparklers I have ever tasted, and everyone else who has tasted it agrees.

A wine from the Anjou area of the Loire Valley made with organic Chenin Blanc grapes, spontaneously fermented without any additions. The wine was bottled (again without additions) before fermentation could finish it’s process of eliminating the grape sugar.  As fermentation continued in the bottle, sugar was slowly digested producing carbon dioxide (bubbles!) and perhaps a half a degree more of alcohol. This is the natural way to produce bubbles in a bottle. The resulting sediment was not removed. The wine was left as it was. I am happy about that 🙂

Over the last year the wine has improved. My first experiences with the wine suggested that there was still some residual sugar which today has diminished a bit. Mother nature at work. The wine today is one of the most expressive examples of Chenin Blanc  I have ever tasted. Proof that healthy ripe grapes, a lot of know how (thanks to Patrick’s help I’m sure), a lot of patience and hard work can pay off.

One thing I have to mention here is the label. Now, I personally love the labels found on the bottles of natural wine. They sort of represent the anti-label. Often poking  fun at conventional assumptions of what a wine label should look like.  Gaëlle uses the same label for all of her wines, and I love it! I also love Patrick’s Domaine Griottes labels (see label detail on the right). Now to the discerning eye, there is something else about the label(s) that I love.  There is no mention anywhere that the wine(s) contain sulfites, and you won’t find this on the back labels either because there are no back labels. This is because according to EU labeling laws, you don’t need to write that a wine contains sulfites on the label if the wine has less than 10 mg of sulfur at time of bottling. Something that is no easy feat. It takes years of hard work, dedication and sleepless night for sure.

Ok, say no more, time for my tasting notes on the Flon Flon. i don’t know how many bottles were produced of this wine, but I am sure they number less than 1,000

Date Tasted:  January 11th, 2012 19:30 (and many many times before this night)

Appearance:  Lot’s of sediment floating in the glass. Dark colored sediment. Yellowish. Click on the photo and see for yourself

Nose:  Sweet lemons and citrus aromas with some hints, and only hints, of mild caramel (like those milky caramels we used to chew on as a kid ). But without being overly sweet on the nose. Mineral undertones.

On the palate, there is some residual sugar, but it is much less sweet and/or seemingly sweet than it was the first time I tasted the wine a  year ago. Great, ripe acidity. Most would place the acid at only a mid level, but if you pay close attention, the acidity is noticeably high and refreshing,  never harsh or abrasive. Absolutely refreshing. The bubbles are firm enought to appease the sparkling wine drinker, but at the same time integrated and not overbearing. A nice long finish. Very balanced, very drinkable.

The only drawback I can think of about the Flon Flon is that I only have one bottle left.

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


A (quick) tasting note: 2008 Sutor Pinot Noir

Ah… Slovenian wine. Although you can certainly find Slovenia on a map, I hope to see it more and more visible on wine maps. This smallish country of about 2,000,000 is really producing some interesting, if not great wines. Some of my favorites in fact. Refreshing reds &  skin-macerated whites (aka orange wines), many of which practice low-intervention farming and wine-making.

Thank you Wikipedia for the map

Sutor’s farm is located in the Vipava Valley of the Primorska region.  You can read more about Sutor on Wojciech Bońkowski’s blog.

The Sutor website doesn’t even mention the production of a Pinot Noir, but with a bit of research I was able to find out that the wine has been fermented and macerated with de-stemmed whole Pinot Noir berries in Stainless steel, then transferred to mature for one year in barrels.

Date tasted: Friday the 13th of January 2012

Appearance: As it poured into the glass, it inspired confidence. Not having tasted, or remembering tasting, the wines of Sutor, I didn’t know what to expect from this Pinot Noir. Will it be dark and extracted like you often see  in the new world or in some modern Pinot Noir’s coming out of Burgundy today? In fact, no it wasn’t. What poured delicately out of the bottle and into our glasses was a cranberry-red, non-opaque wine that I recognized as the color of Pinot Noir – the sort of Pinot Noir I studied and drank for years. Holding my fingers behind the glass of wine, they were easy to see.  I now looked forward to my first sniffs…

Nose: Extremely fresh with no intrusions from the oak. First thoughts were of Burgundy or even of a Beaujolais Morgon. Light red fruit like cranberries, delicate raspberries and some hints of herbs and earth. Very clean on the nose without any burning sulfur notes. Very precise and focused. Enticing while at the same time, not deep.

Palate: Same on the palate. Fresh, red-fruit driven wine with great acidity. Clean and delicate. Not terribly complex, but quite honest and drinkable.  As the wine opened up, what appeared to be overly-sweet  fruit and hints of oak became a bit more dominant and the wine lost a bit of its appeal to me. Was the wine overripe? Was it unbalanced? I have to be honest, the wine perplexed me a bit.  We couldn’t finish the bottle..

The next day I began to think about this tasting experience…and then it hit me. Although the wine was not very complex or deep, those overly sweet notes and hints of oak that appeared after the wine sat open must of been indicators that the wine needed perhaps a few more years of bottle maturing? Although the fruit became  too sweet and dominant, the more I reflected on it, the more I realize that the fruit was not overripe, but young and perhaps a little too expressive, dominant and maybe even a bit vulgar. Will the fruit calm down and integrate over the next 3-5 years? I would suggest so…and i would be happy to drink another bottle


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, organic wine, Slovenia, Vipava


Vinosseur's 2011

This video was meant to be posted last night, but thanks to my technological inabilities, it wasn’t.  Well here it is now as my first post of the 2012  along with a fresh new look and layout for Vinosseur. I would love to get your comments what you think about the new look!

Thank you all for this great year! Happy new year and see you in 2012!

Vinosseur’s 2011 from vinosseur on Vimeo.

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