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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

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Still breathing, still smiling, still drinking natural wine

It has been almost a month since my last post, here is what has been keeping me so busy:

Working a lot at Jacob’s…

Preparing for my wedding….

Traveling to Italy…….

Visiting Carussin in Piemonte to taste the 2010 vintage, which by the way is still slowly fermenting and showing itself to possibly be their greatest vintage.  Absolutely alive in every way.. “All of these years of biodynamic farming are starting to really show us rewards”, says Bruna Ferro.

Thus far, none of their wines have been shown even a pinch of sulfur dioxide.   These were the healthiest of grapes. Bruna even presented me with two bottles to taste. Both made with the exact same healthy barbera grapes, grown biodynamically.  One bottle was produced in the same way Carussin make all of their wines (without the addition of anything, not even selected yeasts). This wine was still happily finishing its fermentation. The second bottle was produced by sending their grapes to a laboratory. Everything was added to this bottle from selected yeasts, to enzymes and sulfur. This bottle was of course “ready for market”.  The difference between these two bottles was astounding. Astounding. Everybody should have the opportunity to experience such a tasting.  This shows that although healthy grapes are extremely important,  care after harvest is also extremely important.

Of course a quick trip over to Igino and Irma was a must, and as usual, an extreme pleasure. Tasting the wines of Igino again was just amazing. From his skin macerated Favorita, to his non-sparkling, dry fermented Brachetto. Too bad he only makes a few bottles of each and are only produced for his enjoyment (and of course mine)

Igino pouring me (my favorite), his skin-macerated Favorita.

Gabrio & Genevieve Bini

On this quick trip to Italy, I also had the incredible fortune to meet Gabrio Bini (and his wonderful wife Genevieve), wine maker for Azienda Agricola Serragghia on the island of Panteleria. All of his wines are vinified with long skin contact in amphora without any additions..I will write more on this wine maker and his wines in a future post.. promise.

Gabrio and Genevieve were kind enough to meet me at La Fastuchera Osteria Wine Bar, one of the only places to drink natural wines in Bologna.  With a Sicilian kitchen and an interesting selection of wines, they are worth a visit!

Oh, and of course lot’s of packing going on as I write this piece in my half-empty apartment as I prepare for my transition to a new home in a new country.  I look forward to the many changes. Many will be easy, some more challenging. Until my next post (which will be more often), continue to appreciate what you have and keep tasting.

 

 

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, natural wine (100% living wine), Still breathing, still drinking natural wine, still smiling

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Molten Lava in Not So Frigid Poland

I recently had the opportunity to meet with some wine enthusiasts in Warsaw, Poland. I didn’t know what to expect before the meeting except the fact that I had promised to bring 3 bottles of Magma and that they were extremely interested in tasting them.  On their part there was the promise to taste some Josko Gravner which also gave me something to look forward to.

Wojciech Bońkowski

Andrzej Daszkiewicz

I have to admit that most of my wine knowledge and experience have been gained living in Norway over the last 7 or so years.  I have tasted among whom I consider to be some of the best wine tasters I have seen.  Norwegians have refined palates and an amazing ability to analyze wine. I certainly feel privileged to have earned my experience in this country.  This being said, I was blown away by the tasting abilities of the small group that was gathered at  Mielżyński’s for this tasting.

Tomasz Kurzeja

Ewa Wieleżyńska

In a country that is jumping economically by leaps and bounds, most of it in the last two decades, it is still more common to see large commercial brands dominating the market.  This year I have witnessed wine shops opening up like mushrooms popping up after a rainfall, and often disappearing as quickly as those prized mushrooms. It was certainly a breath of fresh air, and of relief, to meet with such a group that not only had accumulated enormous wine knowledge, but who also seemed to really understand and enjoy wine without being captivated by a label, and have been doing so for years.

We met at Mielżyński’s, a warehouse of sorts that is an import company, a warehouse, distribution center, wine bar and restaurant.  A concept founded by Robert Mielżyński,  born in Canada, studied Oenology in Fresno, California, then moved back to his native Poland.  A concept that seems to be working well for Robert judging by the fact that it was a Monday night and there were no empty tables.  The wine selection was quite diverse ranging from Domaine de Chevalier to Frédéric Magnien to Allesverloren. There was no wine list, just cases and cases of wine that you can pick and grab yourself, or have somebody help you with your selection.  Having lived in Norway for over 7 years now (where the government-run wine monopoly system is in full force), it has been a while since I have seen a place that you could buy wine to drink there or take-away.  The dinner menu was presented to us on a portable chalk board, like you might see in a Paris bistro, and included simple (and delicious) dishes like pumpkin soup, Cornish game hen and a couple of pasta dishes.

Robert Mielżyński

My first Polish wine experience

Katarzyna Niemyjska

We started with a wine produced in Poland. A wine made not with grapes from the Vitis Vinifera species of vines responsible for almost every bottle of wine we consume, but rather from the crossing of  the Vitis Labrasca family and Vitis Vinifera.  The grape was called Hibernal, a white variety developed in Germany derived from a Seibel 7053 (V. Labrasca) & Riesling (V. Vinifera) cross.  An interesting wine made by a winery owned by Katarzyna Niemyjska and her husband with grapes from organic vineyards a few hours south of Warsaw.  On the nose the wine was slightly reductive at first, but with some swirling of the glass, the wine had smoky, mineral notes with light scents of lemons and herbs, most noticeably basil.  On the palate, lemons and bitter oranges, minerals and chalk. A bone dry wine with a nice acidic back bone and a slightly bitter finish. A fine and very interesting wine.

We then tasted good efforts from Zind Humbrecht, La Stoppa, Ostertag and Chateau Tour des Gendres.  We then moved on to some astounding wines from Josko Gravner. A 2000 Ribolla Gialla aged in Botti followed by a 2001 Ribolla Gialla in Amphora.  The difference from one wine to the next was astounding.  The 2001 Amphora version of the Ribolla had layers and layers of complex aromas and nuances that the 2000 just didn’t have. Botti versus Amphora OR 2000 versus 2001? You tell me….

We moved on to the Damijan Ribolla Gialla 2002 from Friuli Venezia-Giulia, on the border of Slovenia.  Damijan Podversic pursues natural winemaking, which he learned from the aforementioned, great Friulian producer Josko Gravner.  He releases his vintages only when he deems them ready.  This was an intriguing effort from a not so intriguing vintage.  A skin macerated Ribolla, fermented only with indigenous yeasts, with a structure to rival most red wines  yet fresh enough to quaff even the most thirsty wine drinker.  This was my first time tasting the wines of Damijan and I look forward to the next.  There is very likely a bright future for Damijan Podversic.

We completed the tasting with 3 versions of Frank Cornelissen’s Magma 2. All hailing from the 2002 vintage, each bottle representing a different Contrada. We tasted the Marchesa, the Calderara and the Trefiletti.  All three wines showed extremely well, with the Marchesa being my favorite.

According to Frank, the Marchesa comes from the part of the vineyard that is normally very sun exposed and has a good balance between tannins and density.  The alcohol is rather low (13,7%) on this wine in this vintage.   The grapes were harvested on November 2nd and 504 bottles were produced.   Light red with very little age showing considering this was an 8 year-old wine made without the use of sulfur.  None to very little browning on the edges. Extremely youthful on the palate as well, with even a slight “spritz” on the tongue like you might find in a wine bottled within the last 12 months.  Very Poulsard-like fruit (think Overnoy here and you might get the idea), medium ripe acidity and tannins that increased with some time in the glass. A delicious wine with tons of drinkability.

The Calderara comes from a vineyard that is very stony and sun exposed.  In a cool vintage like 2002, the fragrances are very Pinot like according to Frank.  In general this contrada produces very high alcohol wines when picked ripe. Harvested on November 1st, 297 bottles produced.  This wine on the other hand showed its more serious side with hints of meat and herbs. The tannins held longer and the wine was darker and more “masculine” compared to the sensual femininity of the Marchesa.

The Trefiletti vineyard is located in Rovitello and is difficult to push to ripeness without losing all fruit due to rot (grey as well as noble).  “This is the only time I have been able to produce Magma there due to the above mentioned climatic difficulties. I love this place for its balanced tannins, structure and elegance when all odds and ends fall together in one vintage, like 2002 pushing all limits”.  Harvested October 30th, 515 bottles produced.  This bottle was the most advanced of the three wines and showed it’s higher alcohol (14,4%) a bit on the tongue with hints of olives and truffles not found on the other two Magmas.

When sharing my tasting notes of the Magmas with Frank, he came back with this:  “This is by far the most evolved set of wines I have ever produced. Beside this fact, I have always thought the Calderara was the most feminin/Burgundian of the three. Less tannic than for example the Marchesa which always needed a bit more time.
The Trefiletti was, I think, an off bottle. Too much oxygen exchange due to a lesser cork has led to a tired wine. This is the more younger and best balanced of all three crus.”

This day in Warsaw, amongst such people and great wines, created a warmth inside that helped me feel at home in Poland.

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Molten Lava in Not So Frigid Poland

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Welcome (Back) to Georgia Part III – Prince Makashvili Cellar

Prince Makashvili Cellar – Soliko Tsaishvili, here Irakli Pruidze & David Kapanadze

Date tasted:  July 11th, healing 2010 13:45

This grapes for this wine come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Akhoebi, in the village of Kardanakhi in the low hills of the Kakheti region.    The vineyard covers 1.9 HA and are farmed biodynamically and harvested by hand.  The soil is  black  and carbonate-rich.  The vines are widely spaced at approximately 2500 plants/HA, trained in a double Guyot pattern.  The vineyard is planted with approximately 90% Rkatsiteli, 4% Mtsvane, 4%Khikhvi and a red variety called Saperavi, all on original (non-American) root stock. Harvest is done by hand, the grapes pressed softly.  The wine is spontaneously fermented and macerated for 6 months with skins in Qvevri.  After skin and stalk separation, the resulting wine is stored in smaller Qvevri for a further 12 months.   Bottled without filtration.  In 2007 approximately 20hl/ha was produced, or 1200 bottles.

90% Rkatsiteli 6% Mtsvane 4% Khikhvi
Total SO2 is 31 mg/l (31ppm)
Residual Sugar is 1.83 g/l

Appearance: Apricot-orange hued with golden edges.

Nose: Herbs and spices (lavender & rosemary)  layered on top of  yellow fruit.  Sweet arctic cloud berries with strawberry (yes, strawberry) notes.

Palate: Great focused fruit. Apricots mostly. Medium tannins with medium level acidity.  30+ second finish. Bone dry.

The Grand Cru Akhoebi was my favorite of the three I wines tasted.

Date tasted:  July 11th, 2010 13:45

This grapes for this wine come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Tsarapi, in the village of Kardanakhi.  The vineyards cover 1.25 HA and are farmed biodynamically and harvested by hand.  The wine is spontaneously fermented and macerated for 6 months in Qvevri, then stored in the Qvevri for a further 12 months.   Bottled without filtration, and on this particular bottle, this was quite obvious.  Approximately 20hl/ha is produced, or about  1200 bottles.

100% Rkatsiteli
Total SO2 is 24mg (24ppm)
Residual Sugar is 2.75 g

Appearance: Darker and more copper-hued with loads of visible sediment 🙂

Nose: Sponty aromas with apricots, with less herbs and spices than the Akhoebi Grand Cru.  My favorite on the nose of the three wines because it had that perfect balance between fruit and wild aromas with just enough minerals to give the wine a serious edge.

Palate: More vinous than the Akhoebi – thick, structured and concentrated.  Quite a serious wine and very mineral.  Medium + tannins and acidity with a long finish.  Bone dry, elegant fruit.

This wine wanted desperately to be my favorite, but it came in second behind the Akhoebi. However, with a few years more of cellaring, this may show even better than the Akhoebi.

My overall impressions were that these three Georgian wines I tasted were of top quality and quite serious food wines.  I would have no problem drinking them alongside my Friulian & Slovenian favorites.

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Georgia, Kakheti, natural wine (just about), orange wine, Welcome (Back) to Georgia

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Welcome (Back) to Georgia Part II – Clos des Amandiers

Now, back to the future (today) and the wines of Georgia, all hailing from the Kakheti region located in Eastern Georgia, the driest of the 3 regions.  It is the largest wine region in Georgia spanning over  11,000 square kilometers.

All three wines were (mostly) of the same grape variety, Rkatsiteli (or Rkatziteli – pronounced rkah-tsee-tely, and directly translated means “red vine”).  The only Georgian wine experience I have had before today, was  tasting some half-sweet (non-representative) red wine that was poured from a decorated clay bottle, and let’s just say it wasn’t a wine to remember. In fact, I only remember the bottle to this day.   These three wines were not at all what I had anticipated. They were aromatic, complex, fresh and tannic wines that would do well with food.

This project started about 4 years ago when a group of Italian wine and spirit merchants (Luca & Paolo Gargano) from Genova purchased a 1.8ha vineyard in the village of Mararo.  With the help of Jean Jacques, a friend of Nicolas Joly, and a local farmer named Nodar Shinjiashvili who was  cultivating old varieties of cereals biodynamically, Clos des Amandiers was born.  In 2007 they released their first vintage, the first wine in my tasting.

The vines for this wine share the space with almond trees and are cultivated biodynamically.  Harvest occurred in October, the grapes subsequently softly pressed.  Fermentation occurred spontaneously with indigenous yeasts  in old Qvevri without temperature control.  Maceration lasted for six months in these Qvevri then transferred to smaller, non-buried Qvevri for 12 months maturation.  The wine was then bottled without filtration and left to age in the bottle.

Date tasted:  July 11th, 2010 13:45

Appearance: Quite a dark orange hued wine with copper and amber tones (think Cat’s Eye gemstones)

Nose: Wow, intense. Quite a sponty and wild nose of dried peaches, raw almonds, marmalade and yellow plums. Hints of jasmine and lavender emerge after about an hour.

Palate: A delicate and elegant entry. Red apples (yes, red) and yellow apples. Medium ++ tannins, medium + acidity (tangy). I found more fruit on the nose then I did on the palate.  The wine had a 30 second+ finish with dominating tannins and toast.

I feel that this wine would be very suitable to food.  Especially dishes with high contrasting flavors and moderately spicy food (because of the fruity aromas in the wine).  A dish specifically recommended to me would be yogurt-marinated baked mutton (meat of mature sheep).  My experience with orange wines is that they merry quite well with food in general, from your sweeter, more aromatic dishes, to meat dishes and finally with cheese.

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, Georgia, Kakheti, natural wine (just about), orange wine, Welcome (Back) to Georgia

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A tasting note: 2002 Frank Cornelissen Magma 2 Marchesa

2009-06-09_62009009Date tasted:  June 9th, 2009

I have written before about Frank Cornelissen.  To refresh your memory, click here for one of my previous tasting notes and more about Frank.

I may not have mentioned this before, but I feel very fortunate to live in Norway when it comes to wine.  We do get our hands on some pretty obscure and rare wines that very few other places in the world get.  This wine is no exception.  The 2002 was his second vintage in which he produced about 2000 bottles total between the 3 Magma’s and one Rosso del Contadino.  In this vintage, Frank Cornelissen produced 3 different single-vineyard bottling’s of the Magma 2.  The Calderara, Trefiletti and the Marchesa vineyards.  Approximately 1300 bottles of the Magma’s were produced.  That’s it.

The Marchesa vineyard is an ungrafted vineyard which is normally very sun exposed and has a good balance between tannins and density.  According to Frank, this was a “backward” vintage, and therefore the alcohol was rather low, even harvesting as late as November 2nd.  Harvest of the Nerello Mascalese grapes are done by hand and the grapes are foot trodden.  The wine was fermented in Amphorae buried in the ground up to the neck (to keep the Amphorae from exploding during fermentation).  Only indigenous yeasts are used of course, and the wine is left to macerate with the skins for between 5 and 6 months.  The wine is bottled directly from the Amphorae without fining nor filtration.  Nothing is added nor taken.  No added SO2.

504 bottles of the Magma 2 Marchesa were produced, approximately 150 came to Norway.  Like I said, I feel fortunate to live in Norway.  Price at time of release, 1000 Norwegian Kroner ($155).

2009-06-09_62009006

Bottle opened at 22:45:

Appearance: Very light red but within 15 minutes darkening to a darkish purple, black then going back to red again within a few minutes.  This is certainly a “living wine”.

Nose: Crushed rose pedals, dark plums, rose hips. Very farmyard, especially dead sheep (the specific dead sheep comparison came from my two Norwegian friends who were tasting with me). Wild, sour, small cherries.  Hints of dark cocoa.  Hints of Macadamia nuts, eucalyptus.  Much more tight and precise than it was the first time I tasted this wine back in 2006. If you breath in deeply, hints of prune juice without the dried fruit aspect.

Palate: Extremely concentrated but very light and fresh with red fruit dominating.  Within a few seconds, the tannins arrived and held firmly.  None of us could sense the 13.7% alcohol, it was extremely well integrated.  The acidity was medium plus and very ripe and “sweet”, but the wine is bone dry.  Hints of plums that have been picked a week before being over ripe,  the fruit is very ripe.  No dried fruit evident.  Sour fruits.  Every sip seems different and has you going back for another.  The wine will most likely run out before we finish analyzing this bottle.  There is a slight nuttiness on the finish with super-ripe fruit that  lingers and these two aromas add incredible complexity to the wine.  One of the most fantastic and interesting wines I have ever tasted, again.

23:15:

Tannins really stepping up, but not dominating.  More nutty macadamia’s starting to show.

23:30:

This is the hard part of this entry, having to write and report the following:

The wine seems to be “dying”.  The finish seems to fade quickly now. The 3 tasters all agreed that the wine was now dead. Perhaps if we had waited, and if we had any wine left, the wine would have come back alive. I am not sure.  I should also mention that this wine was not stored perfectly.

To conclude, I feel that this wine will throw many old school wine people off.  I believe they will most likely say that the nutty aspects of the wine are signs of oxidation and therefore this wine is not a good wine, and therefore not well-made. This being said, you have to remember that when judging  a wine, you must do so as objectively as possible.  You cannot let your personal opinion of weather or not you like the wine enter into the equation.  There are many well-made wines that I just don’t like, that doesn’t change the fact that the wines are well made.

The facts about the Magma 2 Marchesa are that this wine is well made, has tremendous concentration, complex aromas both on the nose and palate, is extremely well-balanced and the finish seems to never end.  These are
facts that are undeniable and in my opinion reflect an excellent, well-made wine.  Don’t get distracted by the nutty aromas and forget the aforementioned quality attributes.

2009-06-09_62009007

Translation of back label:

Ingredients:  Only Nerello Mascalese Grapes from the 2002 harvest without the addition of any other ingredient.

Attention:  This wine has not been modified.  It doesn’t contain stabilizers nor preservatives.  There will be a natural deposit because the wine has been bottled without filtration.  It’s important to store the bottle at temperature of less than 16°C  (60.8° F).  It’s recommended to not decant.

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Frank Cornelissen - Mt. Etna (Sicila), Italy, Italy, Mt Etna, natural wine (100% living wine), Sicilia

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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