…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2008 St. Andrea Pinot Noir Ferenchegy

We are in Hungary now.  Not the famous Tokaj region centered around the small town of Mad, known for its glorious sweet Aszú wines.  Rather we are a bit further south and west. Perhaps the second most well-known wine region in this (perhaps under appreciated) wine producing country. We are in Eger.  Home of the “Bulls Blood”,  or locally “Egri Bikavér”.  Although ecological conditions favor white wine production, the fame of the region lies in its reds.

St. Andrea follows a simple philosophy, one that is not so seldom heard these days:  “The quality of the wine is decided in the vineyard”. Not a new way of thinking, but a more and more common way of thinking. A philosophy that for the most part I agree with. You certainly cannot make a great wine without great grapes. But one cannot ignore the wine maker.  This is where a wine maker who listens carefully to his grapes can mean the difference between an average, every day bottle of wine and a great bottle of wine.  Dr. György Lőrincz (owner/oenologist) says “If an oenologist reaches this level of quality and can maintain it continuously with undiminished energy for decades, his vineyard can become deservedly prestigious, and establish iconic wines that can motivate other enthusiastic oenologists.”

I heard rumors that many consider St. Andrea as the best Pinot Noir producer in the area.   2,834 bottles produced

Date tasted:  May 17th, 2011 19:07

Appearance: very light in color, almost rosé like.  One of the lightest Pinot’s I have seen in a while. Medium intense reflexes. Young.

Nose: Wood, forest floor. Oak not abusive to the fruit. Ripe raspberries with smoky hints. Quite open already. Alcohol stings the nose a bit.

Palate: good attack and good structure. Medium plus acidity, nice fruit,  oak sits around the whole wine, gently coating the tongue and mouth. Surprising freshness. Alcohol is quite fresh and doesn’t dominate the wine.  For my palate, the oak is too much a piece of the puzzle. Perhaps the producer intended that this wine be stored a few years, but I’m not sure this is a wine that will improve for the next 5 years in the cellar. Judicious use of oak none the less, but it loses a bit of it’s drinkablity for me because of the oak, unfortunately. Drink now or enjoy over the next 3-5 years.


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Eger, Hungary


A Tasting Note: 2000 Domaine Gasse Lafoy Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Vieilles Vignes

2009-10-08_02009591Date tasted:  October 8th, 2009 at 23:00

The Philosopher Grower Vincent Gasse lives just outside the main village of Ampuis, in the northern hamlet of Verenay, in the AOC Côte-Rôtie.  From here he conducts his private campaign – to solve the conflict of making truly organic wine off slopes that crumble when you hand work their soil. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Côte-Rôtie, France, Northern Rhône, organic wine


A tasting note: 2002 David Léclapart L'Amateur Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut


Date tasted: March 25th, 2009 (also on at least 4 other occasions over the last two years.)

David Léclapart is a biodynamic Champagne house located in Trépail in the Montagne de Reims. Montagne de Reims is the home of the Pinot Noir grape, but Trépail is an exception to this rule.  Trépail is a Premier Cru village that grows Chardonnay in the heart of Pinot Noir land.

David has farmed his 2.75ha of vines biodynamically since 1998, producing a measly 7000 bottles per year in total,  spread across 4 different wines.  He uses minimal sulfur and doesn’t filter.

This cuvée is called L’Amateur and from what I gather, it’s his “entry-level” Champagne. It’s a blend of Chardonnay grapes from within Trépail.  Although the vintage is not clearly marked on the front label, this IS a vintage Champagne. On the back label in small writting you will find “L.V02”. I don’t know how long the wine has been on the lees, but I would estimate based on purchase date that it spends around 4 years on the lees.  This is an Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter).

Appearance: Some development showing. Good bubble structure and fine mousse.

Nose: I have had this cuvée and vintage on at least 4 other ocassions and this Champagne has really developed in the last few years. Intoxicating flinty minerality dominates with  pure green and yellow apples with some citrus overtones. Some honey notes and mushrooms in the background as you might expect to find on a developed Chardonnay.

Palate: The best way I have come to describe this Champagne when I have tasted it in the past has been to describe it as a very well made, unoaked Chablis with bubbles. Think Louis Michel or Daniel Dampt and you’ll get it. Ton’s of fresh minerals, yellow apples and hints of flint on the palate.  Fine and elegant bubble structure.

This is what I call a transparent wine. Everything is as it should be and easily understood. The fruit and structure are clean. It’s like cooking that fresh meal using the freshest of ingredients and being able to taste every single one of those ingredients. This is why I like naturally made wines. You can taste what should be in the bottle. David respects four principles:  purity, energy, pleasure and ecology. And, this is evident.

Some say that Champagne doesn’t develop well when it’s given a low dosage (of sugar in the form of grape must) after dégorgement, but this Champagne with it’s very low dosage has developed marvelously and is simply put,  is impressive. I have always loved this Champagne and this experience was no exception. I did feel however, that it was at or very near it’s peak, so if you find a bottle of the 2002, buy it, drink it, enjoy it!


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, biodynamic wine, Champagne, Trépail


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


A tasting note: 1985 Krug Clos du Mesnil Magnum

Date tasted: March 8, 2009

Krug is in a league of its own. Of all the big boys in Champagne, I have to say that this is my favorite. Always muscular, but feminine at the same time. Everytime I drink Krug, there is just something so Krug about it. If you have tasted Krug, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, then you need to go and find out.


Founded in 1843 by Johann-Joseph, Krug is a Négociant-Manipulant (they source the majority of their grapes rather than growing them) located in Reims in the Montagne de Reims. They own 19ha of their own vineyards, and buy in top quality grapes from around 56ha.  Krug remains one of the few Houses in Champagne to ferment in small oak barrels.  They don’t practice malolactic fermentation (the fermentation that converts the natural occuring, tart tasting malic-acid to a softer tasting lactic-acid), and they utilize extended lees aging of 6-8 years even for their “basic” Grande Cuvée. They don’t filter their wines. Annual production is around 500,000 bottles.

clos-du-mesnil-vineyardThe Clos du Mesnil is an exception to the Krug rule of  blending. This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the renowned Clos du Mesnil vineyard within the village of Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côtes de Blancs. This historic 1.85ha vineyard has been enclosed by a stone wall since 1698  and is set on a southeast-facing slope and is sheltered from the weather by its wall and surrounding houses.  This vineyard was purchased by the Krug family in 1971 and started to carefully restore the vineyard to its previous glory by replanting the Chardonnay vines one section at a time. By 1979 the vintage had achieved the quality Krug was aiming for and was therefore the first vintage of the Krug Clos du Mesnil. Only about 12,000 bottles of this wine are made in only the top vintages. Even less bottles are produced in the desireable Magnum size.


Tasting this Champagne was a rare and most likely once in a lifetime opportunity for me. One I am very grateful for. Let’s talk vintage for starters. The 1985 vintage in Champagne was considered an excellent vintage. Perhaps the best vintage of the 1980’s.

2009-03-08_3200910701985 started with the worst frost the residents of Champagne had seen in over 150 years. In January, the temperature outside reached a low of -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit)! At this point, the vines were still hibernating, so no damage done. However, by the time the vines had awoken it was still -15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit) outside resulting in around 10% of the vineyards freezing. Even into April, outside temperatures were below freezing.  Thankfully, the weather changed substantially as the vines flowered and temperatures in August and September were hot.  Thanks to the long Indian Summer, harvest was in late September resulting in a small harvest of very concentrated grapes. The wines made from this vintage are still quite youthful and can rest a few more years down in the cellar.

Appearance: Slight development showing. Slightly darkened color, but not much. Fine and elegant stream of bubbles with a delicate mousse.

Nose: Fresh lemons with hints of mushrooms and truffle with overlaying minerality. Hints of toasted wood.

Palate: Very minerally with bright lemon fruit. Awesome acidity and length. Some toasty bread notes and hints of oak, but only hints.

I call this the sleeping giant. I don’t think that this wine fully opened this evening. We were a group of around 10 which meant that the Champagne was drunk up too quickly for it to come around. It was elegant, acidic and fresh, but not what I expected from this great wine. According to a reputable source, the  75cl bottled scored 98 points with a drinking window of between 2007 and 2020. Since Magnums (150cl) bottles are deemed by many to have superior aging potential (they age more slowly), I would imagine that perhaps this bottle was not quite ready and nowhere near its peak. I look forward to the next time we meet then. If there is a next time!


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Champagne, France, Reims


A tasting note: (1997) Egly-Ouriet Cuvée Speciale Grand Cru Brut

Tasted: 8th of March, 2009


(1997) Egly-Ouriet Cuvée Speciale

First of all, I would like to apologize for the quality of the photo, specifically the glare. I am not a photographer and especially on occasions like this evening where 8 different Champagnes of this caliber were pulled out of the cellar  by our most gracious host, I got so excited that my photography suffered even more!

On to the information which is, after all, why you are reading this! Thanks again to The Wine Doctor, which is where I found the most amount of useful information about Egly-Ouriet to add to my own.

A Récoltant-Manipulant (RM), Egly-Ouriet is considered by many, and myself,  to be one of the finest growers in Champagne today. Located in Ambonnay in the Montagne de Reims, they farm about 8ha of vines, all of which are Grand Cru.  75% of the vineyards are Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and the average age of the vines is 35 years.  In addition, he also owns a small plot of Pinot Meunier (not Grand Cru) in Vrigny which he bottles separately as the Vignes de Vrigny NV.

In recent years, Egly has reduced the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and he aggressively green harvests during the summer to control yields.

In the winery, he is one of the few in Champagne to ferment in Oak. His wines are never fined or filter before being bottled for the second fermentation. Sulfur use is minimal.  He practices long lees aging, up to 10 years on the 1996 Magnum. Low dosage is a trait, along with the date of Dégorgement (The process of freezing and removing the end of the bottle to extract sediment after the second fermentation of a sparkling wine) on the back label.

Egly-Ouriet also makes an Ambonnay Rouge. A 100% Pinot Noir still wine. I have had the opportunity to taste the 1998 and I thought that it was an extremely good effort. I tasted this wine in 2008 and although the oak was still dominant, the character of the oak was not offensive and the wine was quite fresh. I remember sweet cherries, minerality and good acidity and balance with a long finish. It was drinking quite well at the time, but could spend a few more years in the cellar for the oak character to soften a bit.

I am quite the Egly-Oriet fan. Due to extended lees ageing for his top wines, you can expect to find a rich style of Champagne with lots of yeast, toast and biscuit. When opened his Champagnes need lots of air

On to the Cuvée Speciale!  According to the Norwegian importer for Egly, this was most likely an experiment for Egly-Ouriet. It was only made in two vintages, 1997 and 1998, and few bottles were made. Although the vintage on this wine is not stated on the label, it is a single vintage.  This was the 1997 vintage. Date of Dégorgement was 2002, so it spent about 48 months on the lees. This wine was aged for approximately 10 months in 100% new french barriques. 100% Pinot Noir.

Appearance: a bit darker than the other Champagnes in it’s company. It appeared to be a bit older than it actually was.

Nose: the first aromas that were present for me were the mushrooms. My initial impression was that it may have been slightly over it’s peek. Aromas of yeast and minerals also showing along with the somewhat muted fruit.

Palate: a very mellow attack and first impression. Quite fresh, at least fresher than the nose would have indicated. Yeasty with mellow with persistent acidity.  Oak still dominant. Mushroom character also on the palate.

Overall, this Champagne did not impress me. I will admit, there was some heavy competition this evening but based on my knowledge and past experience with other Egly-Ouriet’s, this is my least favorite Cuvée. Although it was rich and yeasty, an Egly trademark for me, it lacked the backbone of freshness I have come expect from Egly and I think this Champagne may have been past it’s prime.

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Ambonnay, Champagne, France


A tasting note: 2004 Doluca Bogazkere-Öküzgözü Kav


Date Tasted:  16th March, 2009

Scholars are fairly convinced of the link between part of  Turkey and the earliest growing of the cultivated vine used for wine making, Vitis vinifera.

Today, the vineyards of Turkey cover about 650,000 ha (1,605,500 acres) making  them the 5th largest in the world.  Only 2% – 3% of the average annual crop from these vineyards is made into wine while about 20% is used for producing raisins.  It has been estimated that between 500 and 1,000 grape varieties are grown in Turkey, although only about 60 of these are used to make wine.

This wine comes from the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey. Archeological finds show that vines were cultivated in Anatolia as early as 4000 B.C. This region has Turkey’s largest area of vineyards, but it is ranked 4th in the production of wine.

Southeastern Anatolia

Southeastern Anatolia

The Doluca winery is one of the better known wine producers in Turkey. It was established in the 1920’s by Nihat Kutman after completing his education at the very reputable Geisenheim Wine Institute’s programme in Enology and Viticulture.

This was their Special Reserve (Kav) wine made with the grape varieties Bogazkere and Öküzgözü. It was stored in french oak barriques for 12 months.

Please note that this was my first time tasting a Turkish wine and had no clue what to look for or what to expect.

2009-03-16_320091112Appearance: Quite an intense, glowing light red color. About as light a red as you might expect from the Pinot Noir grape – see through. But with a more intense glow.  Very very slight browning around the edges, matching what I would expect from a wine of this age.

Nose: The first aromas that emerged were those of spices. In particular Cinnamon, cardamon and clove. There were hints of oak, but at this time, they weren’t dominant.  Slight smokey hints, blackberries, cherries and some interesting aromas that I can only compare to the smell you get when you carve a pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Very interesting indeed.

Palate: Quite spicy. The same sorts of spices that were evident on the nose were now showing themselves on the palate. Sour cherries.

This wine had a good general mouth feel, well-balanced acidity and a good finish with a very slight bitterness. Tannins were mild and my opinion were most likely coming from the oak that the wine had been stored in and not from the fruit itself. The alcohol was also very well integrated.

After the wine had been opened a half hour or so, the fruit began to soften and the oak dominate. At a certain point, I actually stopped drinking it. I put what was left of the wine in the refrigerator overnight. To my surprise, the next night the wine was again drinking very well, the fruit again showing its sour cherry self and the oak no longer dominant.

An interesting wine – I was pleasantly surprised.

I would love to have the opportunity to try other Turkish wines.

Detail of front label

Detail of front label

Detail of back label

Detail of back label

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Turkey


A tasting note: 1996 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut Magnum

Date tasted: 8th March, 2009

This has always been my favorite Cuvée from the well-known Champagne house Billecart-Salmon. They also produce a benchmark Rosé (many think that the name Salmon is the name given due to its color) that is a favorite among many Rosé Champagne lovers. Located in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in the Valée de la Marne, this house was founded in 1818 by Nicolas Francois Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon.


This is cuvée was created in 1964 as a tribute to the House’s founder. It results from the blending of Grand Crus from the classified Côte des Blancs vineyards (Chardonnay – 40%) and the Montagne de Reims (Pinot Noir – 60%).  Alcoholic fermentation is carried out in steel at a very low temperature of 12C (about 54F).  After the malolactic fermentation, this wine is left to age on the lees in the bottle for at least 6 years (this was the amount of time for the 1/2 bottle, so the magnum could have been on the lees longer) before dégorgement (the process of freezing and removing the end of the bottle to extract sediment after the second fermentation of a sparkling wine).

On the nose: Fresh white toast, in other words, lots of autolysis (yeast). Fresh red apples and some minerals also appeared on the nose.  After some time being opened, I got the sensation of roasted duck breast on the nose as well. On the palate, this wine was extremely well balanced and extremely young and well-balanced. Excellent concentration of red apples, yeast and minerals.

This Champagne is extremely drinkable now, but in my opinion has huge cellaring potential. Keep in mind that this was a Magnum (150cl) and the 1996 vintage is considered by many to be one of the finest vintages of the century. Magnums tend to age more slowly and are referred to by many as the bottle size of choice for Champagne’s and other wines.

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Champagne, France, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ


A tasting note: Champagne Claude Cazals Cuvée Vive Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut


Date tasted: 8th March, 2009

Champagne Claude Cazals is  located in Mesnil-Sur-Oger in the Côtes des Blancs, the home of the Chardonnay grape in the Champagne region.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay and is without dosage (the sugar in the form of grape must that is added after the second fermentation). Malolactic fermentation is not encouraged, but can occur spontaneously.  The number of months on the lees is not known.

Claude Cazals is a Récoltant  Manipulant (a grower that also makes wine from its own grapes (a maximum of 5% of purchased grapes is permitted)). You will find the intials RM at the bottom of the label in small letters. Typically, these houses produce smaller quantities of wine than the “Big Houses” do and very often these Champagnes are more affordable as well. These are the Champagne’s I prefer to drink.

We drank this Champagne as an aperitif. It had a very fresh nose which included aromas of green apples, autolysis (yeast) and minerals. On the palate, again green apples, minerals and autolysis. This wine was very fresh and concentrated and due the high level of acidity, could benefit from a year or two in the cellar. I felt that at times, the acidity seemed to be the most notable attribute of this wine and it slightly overpowered the fruit and overall balance of the wine. The finish was very long and had some bitter notes not unlike the bitterness you find when chewing apple seeds.

A very well made Champagne indeed. One I wouldn’t mind storing for a few years to see if it improves.

Price in Norwegian Kroner = NOK 294,-  ($45)

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Champagne, France, Mesnil-Sur-Oger


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

1 comment



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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