Category Archives: Wine of the Week

Table wine from sherry grapes

A trip to Jerez de la Frontera is likely to include a visit to Bar Juanito. It was Juan Rodríguez who opened the bar in 1943, and this Jerez gastronomy and flamenco classic is now located just off the main square, Plaza del Arenal, and the city hall.
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It was here, with a few half “raciones” such as squid in olive oil and red tuna from nearby tuna heaven Barbate, that we had the delicious and highly original white from Bodegas Forlong. (Read more about the winery and its proprietor Alejandro here.) Made in the Tierras de Cádiz, between Jerez and Rota to be more precise, of the sherry grapes palomino and pedro ximénez. With a composition of 90/10% it could well have been a cream sherry, but it’s not. This is a dry white table wine from organically grown grapes.

The grapes are picked early, and by hand, and a selection is done both in the vineyard and at the selectiontable. After the pressing the must is cooled down to 6-7° for 36 hours, before the fermentation starts once the temperature is brought up to 15°. The two varieties are treated separately, then blended to make the finished wine.

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Forlong Blanco 2016 (Bodegas Forlong)

Straw-coloured, green-ish tinge. Aromatic, hints of fresh fruits, yellow apples, some almond. Full in the mouth, lightly oily texture, a salty minerality, moderate acidity and a slight bitterness as the almond sensations return. Very original and very good.

Price: Low

Food: A variety of fish and shellfish, light meats

 

 

Still British

Being a musician I had visited the superb saxophone shop in the village of Crowborough, East Sussex many times. It wasn’t until I prepared to go to the Real Wine fair that I realized that Britain’s leading organic wine estate was only five minutes away. (Read more about the sparkling wines of the fair, including Davenport here.)

And it’s maybe “fizz” that is leading the way for British wine. Nevertheless, more and more good still wines are made.

Will Davenport makes use of natural methods when possible. Natural yeasts, no fining, racking instead of filtering, these are some of the key elements.

IMG_4169 Will Davenport at the Sussex farm

The winery is located in Rotherfield, Sussex, but he started out in Horsmonden, just over the border to Kent, with 1993 as the first vintage. The wine that bears this name is ,a blend of five aromatic, mainly German crossings: Bacchus, faber, siegerrebe, huxelrebe – and the rare ortega (named after the Spanish poet), that is particularly associated with this winery, not least since Will makes the wine for Forty Hall, who grows it in Enfield, London.

The wine clocks in at no more than 11.5% alcohol

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Davenport Horsmonden dry white 2015 (Davenport Vineyards)

Straw yellow. Aromas of white flowers, lychee, peach. Quite full in the mouth, acidity amidst the fruitiness, with a tiny amount of bubbles that add to the freshness.

Price: Medium

Food: A variety of fish and shellfish, cheeses, light meat

We are going on a summer holiday…

Retsina may evoke memories of sunny days, white-washed walls and lots of meze. This may also be one of the wines that taste good on a summer holiday, but maybe not as appealing back home.

Ρετσίνα is a Greek resinated wine with more than 2000 years of history. In ancient times the wine vessels, particularly amphorae, were sealed with pine resin, that protected the wine against oxidation and gave it the unique resin-like flavour. With the times, after the introduction of glass bottles, it became a wanted taste, something that defined the style. Until one day when retsina found itself as little more than a souvenir.

But those days can soon be over. Here is a wine from organically grown grapes, modern in most ways, except the pine resin that is added to the must during fermentation. The grape is roditis, second or third in importance (after saveatiano). Today much less resin is needed. Some may miss that strong smell of “turpentine”, but for the most of us it’s now a modern wine with a strong character that is undoubtedly linked to the islands and mainland of Greece.

The Tetramythos winery is located on northern Peloponnese, near the mountain Aroania in Achaia. Here they have built a winery with wood and stone, and in harmony with the surroundings. It makes use of gravity and has all the modern equipment to make a panorama of wines, including that age-old traditional retsina style.

The grapes are all roditis spontaneously fermented in clay pots.

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Tetramythos Retsina 2015 (Tetramythos)

Golden yellow. Aromas of apples, citrus, herbs (rosemary, thyme) and an evident but discrete element of pine resin. Round, mellow with low acidity.

Price: Low

Food: Grilled seafood, squid, white fish, a variety of meze, and why not with garlic dips

6th Element, València

In Venta del Moro, in DO Utiel-Requena in the western València province, is where the Sexto Elemento bodega is located. The vines where the grapes for this wine are sourced are around 70 years old. They are cultivated in a traditional manner, without chemical additions and no fertilization. The grapes are harvested when they are fully mature. The variety in question is bobal, a variety that didn’t have a good reputation in the past, but for Sexto Elemento it’s extraordinary and present in the area for centuries.

There was a long maceration in deposits of 1000 liters at low temperatures (18-24ºC). The fermentation started with only natural yeasts and was carried out in barriques, and the wine had a year of ageing in French and American oak over fine lees with periodically stirring. And the 6th element? Wine, according to the producer.

Sexto Elemento 2012

Sexto Elemento 2012 (Sexto Elemento)

Dark cherry red. Mature fruit, flowery, blackcurrant, cherries and a hint of toffee. Rich and round in the mouth, with rounded tannins and some sweetness from the fruit.

Price: Medium

Food: Game, light meats, tapas, hard cheeses

Crossing borders

This is a Côte de Roussillon Village from a tasting of Catalan wines from both sides of the border. The tasting featured mostly wines from carignan and grenache, both of Spanish origin, but some had small amounts of other varieties. This is a blend of carignan, grenache with syrah and mourvèdre.

Domaine Gauby is located 20 km north-west of Perpignan and extends over about 85 hectares of which 45 hectares of vines up to 125 years old, the rest meadows, oak forests and scrubland. Here we find varied terroirs composed of limestones, marls and slate.

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Old carignan (credit: Dom. Gauby)

Enologist Tom Lubbe has been a very important figure for this region, and under him Gauby was leading the way in the reviving of this old viticultural region. He had crossed many borders before he came here; born in New Zealand, worked in South Africa’s Swartland, then arrived here. He has been involved in the production of both Gauby and Majas, before he now is leading the neighbouring Matassa project (and married to Gérard Gauby’s sister).

This grapes for this wine was sourced from sedimentary limestone and slate, the carignan, 125 years. The vinification was traditional, 100% de-stemming, maceration 2 to 4 weeks, and use of native yeasts. Two years in barrel, obviously used (no taste of oak worth mentioning), no fining nor filtering.

Bilderesultat for gauby vieilles vignes 2011

Gauby Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2011 (Domaine Gauby)

Dark red, some development. Aroma of cherries, thym, some earthy notes and pencil. Good fruit, soft tannins and bright acidity. Still slightly sparkling, but nothing “difficult”. Excellent timing: Drink now!

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, game, ragus, a variety of cheeses…

 

 

White wine from Ribera del Duero

Bodegas Valduero of Gumiel de Marcado (Burgos) has a collaboration with Goyo García Viadero, reputed winegrower. This one is made by Goyo’s sisters Yolanda and Carolina. The wine is made in Ribera del Duero land, but it does not have a designation Ribera, simply because the DO doesn’t allow white wines.

Albillo is in this case the albillo mayor, prominent grape of the Burgos and Valladolid provinces, as opposed to the albillo real found elsewhere in Castilla and beyond. They share some characteristics though, with grapefruit hints and fullness. Back in the old days they used to be found among the black grapes in the same vineyards.

These albillos are 12 years old and trained as bush vines (‘en vaso’ in Spanish). The fermentation was made with autoctonous yeast, at around 19-20º C, and the wine has not been subject to oak treatment.

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García Viadero Blanco de Albillo 2015 (Bodegas Valduero)

Straw yellow. Aromas of pine, berbs, and a slight touch of grapefruit. Full on the palate, round with just enough acidity to balance. Very clean, inspiring

Price: Medium

Food: Fish (both light and fried), light meat, cheeses (soft-ripening and washed-rind types), foie, salads

Italian orange field blend

Field blend is an expression that’s used when the grape blend is ready made in the vineyard. I think it’s never more appropriate than when you don’t know the blend exactly, like in the old days when the wine maker wanted some extra freshness from let’s say a white grape in a red wine and they were grown side by side.

Here is an orange wine from Giulio Armani, the wine maker behind the more famous La Stoppa of Emilia-Romagna.

Denavolo is his own project, where he makes two wines. This one is the little brother, the Dinavolino. It’s made from malvasia aromatica, otrugo, marsanne, trebbialo, santa maria, sauvignon blanc, and this unidentified performer.

It got 6 months of skin contact and was unoaked, spontaneously fermented, unfiltered and just lightly sulphured.

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Dinavolino 2015 (Denavolo)

Light orange-brown colour. Floral aroma with touches of peach, orange peel and dried fruits. Light and refreshing, still with evident tannins, nice acidity and good length.

Price: Medium

Food: Meats from lamb to chicken, and charcuterie, grilled fish, a variety of cheeses (almost everything, as you have understood by now)

Terruño Pizarroso at Bodegas Bentomiz

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Bodegas Bentomiz is located in Sayalonga in the Sierras de Málaga. There winter rains are plentyful and the summers long and dry, but this close to the Mediterranean sea the heat is never overwhelming. They dispose of around 80-100 years old vines in what is called in Spanish “terruño pizarroso”, slate soils.

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the Mediterranean as seen from the inside of the stylish Bauhaus bodega

It was the Dutch couple Clara Verheij, a translator, and André Both, a civil engineer, that moved down here more than twenty years ago. They don’t only make some fresh, fragrant wines from local grapes romé, moscatel and others. They set ut a restaurant as well, and we had lunch there not long ago. André is chef, but has had great help from Juan Quintanilla of restaurant Sollun in Nerja, of regional fame, whom André calls his mentor.

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Clara and André

For the lunches they take great pride in pairing 5 or more dishes with wines, not only their own. When we were there Valdespino‘s bold fino Inocente from Jerez was served as an apéritif, and Guitiérrez Colosía’s Puerto de Santa María Oloroso Sangre y Trabajadero was paired with a salad of diced beef in soy sauce. From their own “Ariyanas” range the Romé Rosé 2014 (a very light vintage) came along with a ceviche of corvina, while the Seco Sobre Lías Finas 2014 (a floral and mineral moscatel) came with cod on a spinach emulsion. The Tinto de Ensemblaje 2012 (the ‘ensemblaje’ being petit verdot, tempranillo, cabernet franc and romé, the fullest and most red and wild berry-fruity wine of the day) came with oxtail in reduced sauce with a cream of carrot, ginger and more. One of their dessert wines, appropriately called Naturalmente Dulce 2010 (a dark golden/ light amber coloured floral honey and almond-smelling wine) accompanied André’s own creation “Axarquía”: -We are here; the brown (bread-crumbs) is the earth, the white (vanilla ice) is the snow, says André.

2016-06-29 16.00.33 the Axarquía dessert

Here is another offering, this week’s wine, the Terruño Pizarroso, that got its name from the soil of the place, and that is also served by their lunches – though not that particular day.

The grapes for this moscatel de alejandría wine are grown between 450-900 meters. At Bentomiz no pesticides are used, and all work in the field is done by hand. After harvest the grapes are sundried, then matured for some months in French oak.

LR Ariyanas Terruo Pizarroso 2008

Ariyanas Terruño Pizarroso 2008 (Bodegas Bentomiz)

Golden colour. Aroma of white flowers and herbs, apricot and dried exotic fruits, with toasted hints. Quite sweet in the mouth, reminiscent of honey, but with a certain lightness too, some citrus (grapefruit), and some of the exotic elements continue ’till the end.

Price: Medium

Food: Tropical fruit desserts, fois gras, medium strong blue cheeses

Austrian-Portuguese marriage

Back in England for the Real Wine fair. This time I started in Brighton, and I visited the Ten Green Bottles wine bar and restaurant, that recently celebrated 10 years of existence. They started as a supplier of artisan wines to bigger establishments, some famous restaurants like the Fat Duck, but they had a dream to set up a cosy Italian style enoteca. Now this ambitious wine bar can be found in downtown Brighton just off North Rd.

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It was here that I tasted this Carnuntum blaufränkisch, an Austrian-Portuguese collaboration. The people behind the wine is the formerly married couple Dorli Muhr and Dirk van der Niepoort, the latter well-known for port wine and for various table wine projects, in Portugal and elsewhere. They have great help from South African Craig Hawkins (formerly with Eben Sadie, now with his own project in the Swartland), who stays at the winery three months every year. In fact, only two days later I met -well, not only Sam from the Ten Green Bottles- but Craig himself at the Real Wine fair, presenting and pouring his own wines.

IMG_4245 Craig Hawkins, consultant in oenology

Carnuntum is a small wine region east of Vienna, rich in limestone, planted by the Romans, but neglected and forgotten untill quite recently. It’s here we find the Muhr family property. Dorli and Dirk also make an old vine blaufränkisch, but the Carnuntum is sourced from younger plants. The grapes are partly foot-trodden, with some stems, the grapes are not treated with any sulphur, and no cultured yeasts are used. The maceration is very light, no pumping over – and the wine is kept in big barrels for two years before bottling.

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Carnuntum 2011 (Muhr-van der Niepoort)

Dark red. Quite flowery with red berries (like mature cherries), some woodland notes too, mushroom. Velvety tannins, grapey and juicy with a nice acidic touch. Refined, sophisticated.

Price: Medium

 

A Tuscan Sangiovese-based rosso

Colombaia is located in Colle Val d’Elsa, in the Siena province. The Lomazzi family has been involved in wine for generations, but today’s winery was only founded in the 1970’s, when they restored an old abandoned farm, and acquired a new one. Now they have 3 hectars of 40 year old plantings of Tuscan grapes, and another planted in 2005 – all biodynamically grown since 2003. There is as little intervention as possible. The wines are either treated in steel or old, big Slavonian oak vessels, and SO2 (if used at all) is only added in tiny quantities before bottling.

The soil is calcareous clay, rich in fossil shells. For this particular wine the grapes were hand-picked, spontaneously fermented, and the wine was kept for 18 months in the big, old vats. The grape composition is sangiovese and a small percentage of colorino. In some years it also contains canaiolo and the white malvasia.

colombaia rosso toscano 2011

The label changes colour every year. I had this wine at an Oslo bar, so I hope it’s right for the vintage.

Colombaia Rosso Toscano 2011 (Colombaia)

Ruby red. Aroma of mature red berries, some spice and mushroom. Concentrated, yet smooth, rounded, with a chalky minerality, and the good acidity contributes to a prolonged aftertaste. Peaking now.

Price: Medium

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