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…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2008 Laureano Serres Montagut Blanc Terme de Guiu

Although up to now I have only tasted the wines of Laureano Serres a dozen times (at most), his now extinct Vinyes Arrencades Blanc 2008 was in my top 9 favorite wines list that I published two years ago. It was a wine Laureano made only 500 bottles of from an almost 100 year-old Macabeo vineyard. Unfortunately, he no longer makes this wine because the vines were attacked by mildew rendering the vine’s ability to photosynthesize all but destroyed. We were lucky to receive 24 bottles at Jacob’s. The wine was a cloudy yellow with deep fruit and minerals, and with every sip, evolving (I have one bottle left in my cellar which will give birth to a full tasting note sometime in the future).

That was the only wine I had as a reference to the wines of Laureano. You can imagine my anticipation when I sent a friend to go visit him and she came home with a bottle of his 2008 Blanc Terme de Guiu for me! I waited almost a year, and finally cracked the bottle. On Laureano’s website, he gives very detailed information about his wines, but I neglected to read it. I sometimes prefer to taste something before knowing too much about it. So, you can imagine my surprise when i pulled the cork and started to pour. Orange! Now, i didn’t expect that! My anticipation level just shot through the roof, I must admit.

Here is some nerdy stuff about the wine:

The grapes come from Terme de Guiu, a small rural property (finca) located in Vilalba dels Arcs (Terra Alta) municipality in Tarragona (Catalunya). The vines are approximately 25 years of age.

The south-southeast facing vineyard is cultivated traditionally and naturally. The soil is Clayey-calcareous.

Grape mix is approximately 94% Macabeo 5% Granacha blanca & 1% Colombard. Yield is approximately 45 hl/ha (2.7 kg/vine). ‘The wine is vinified in inox (steel) in an oxidative style (not reductive). 1000 bottles produced.

And more details:

Vineyard naturally grown without chemical fertilizers. Sulfur treatments.
Harvested by hand. Maceration with the skins for 2 nights (Vaslin horizontal press), fermentation with its own yeast for about 14 days, rests in stainless steel without racking in 2009. During this whole process, no outside yeast has been used nor have sulfites been added for conservation, or any other product. Just grapes. (this alone does not make a great wine, but it is important in my opinion to produce a great wine).


Alcohol 13.5%

Total Acid 5.0 g/l

Volatile Acid 0.55 g/l

Total sulfur 7 mg/l

Ok.. on to the good stuff

Date tasted: February 6th, 2012 17:15

Appearance: as i mentioned, i expected a cloudy yellow wine, and in fact it was pumpkin-colored and cloudy 🙂 see photos.

Nose: pumpkin (with spices, not vegetal), hay, fennel with hints of mineral. No oak. thank you.

Palate: Deep deep deep. Refreshing. Great acid. Alcohol is refreshing. Pumpkin (not vegetal, rather aromatic like pumpkin pie). Hay. Fennel on the finish. Structured and deep. Serious yet feminine tannins. Looooong

The best way to sum this wine up is that there is no interference in the wine. No sticky edges. No stinging acid or alcohol. Tannic, but not too. Nothing prevents this wine from going doing easily, except that the bottle was emptied quite rapidly. Absolutely fresh and drinkable. Not to be mistaken for thin. This wine is not thin, rather it is perfectly balanced and it left us wishing we had more. This wine had perfectly juicy, ripe acidity which I am starting to realize is one of the most important factors rendering a wine drinkable, refreshing and delicious. Ripe acidity is perhaps also one of the hardest wine components to get right I have noticed.

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine, Spain, Tarragona


A tasting note: 2008 Bodega Biurko Gorri Arbanta

2009-05-07_520091575Date tasted:  May 7th, 2009

Not only is this wine certified organic, but it’s also somewhat of a rarity of the wine world.  In the Rioja region of Spain, wines have traditionally been aged in oak (with exception are the Joven wines which may not see any oak at all).  And I am being kind here because not only have wines from Rioja been traditionally aged in oak, but often wines were aged for many many many years in oak.  It wasn’t uncommon to see wines, including whites, to be stored in oak for 20 years, although 2-5 years was more usual.  On top of that, American oak was often used imparting in my opinion, well you know, unwanted flavors in the wine often covering up the beautiful fruit.

The fruit in this case being the very underrated (by some) Tempranillo grape. “The little early one” as it’s called due to the fact that it usually ripens a few weeks earlier than other Spanish varieties, is a grape that can produce full-bodied wines with a huge aging potential.  Not only can they age for decades, but they do so gracefully.  At a “blind” wine tasting that I attended last year with fellow enthusiasts, half the group mistook a 1982 Rioja for a Burgundy (Pinot Noir) while the other half mistook the wine as a Barolo (Nebbiolo)!  No joke, and we were a pretty talented bunch!

Now on to this wine.  The bodega Biurko Gorri is a family run estate with one aim “they use their wine-making tradition and great care of their vineyards along with very modern installations to produce and age high quality wines“.  The vineyards are found on the sunny slopes in the area at an altitude that  give the grape an excellent balance of acidity and ripeness.  The fruit grows on old vines (15-20 years) and most of the 30ha are organic; organic fertilizers are used, not herbicides nor synthesized chemicals.  The wines made from these grapes go on sale under the Denominación de Origen Ecológica as well as the D.O.C. Rioja.

This Arbanta wine comes from organic vineyards in carefully chosen well-ventilated areas at high altitudes.  The vineyards are located in the small town of Bargota in the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria Mountains.  The grapes are destalked.  Fermentation is with natural yeasts in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures between 20 and 28ºC. Natural fining through decanting and racking.

Appearance: A very youthful reddish purple.  Good color concentration with a medium intensity.

Nose: Wild strawberries and other berries.  Plums and flowers.  Mineral undertones.  Hints of orange peel and anise.

Palate: Plums, blackberries and hints of sweet licorice.  Nice gripping tannins with a long mineral aftertaste.  Great concentration.  Light & fresh with medium acidity.

A wine to be enjoyed young.  No sense aging this wine as it’s so good and fresh now.  I would enjoy this wine with some grilled light colored meets like chicken, or some aged hard cheese.  If you like fish with red, this could be an option as well.

I am extremely happy to live in a time when new wave Rioja wine makers are reducing oak use to such a degree that some are skipping the oak all together.  It allows us to better understand the fruit as the fruit becomes clear without the clutter of artificial (oak) additives.


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


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.


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.


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…  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) .


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