Monthly Archives: June 2016

Andalusian Petit Verdot rosé

On holiday on the coast of Granada, here is a local wine. It’s a sustainably made wine from Jete, in the heights above seaside town Almuñécar, where I am now, and it was bought in the specialist wine store on the corner off the main square.

It’s mainly from petit verdot, which means that one should expect some power and roundness, not elegance. Still it has a bit of that too, probably from the small amount of tempranillo.

The climate is somewhere between mountaneous-mediterranean, but borders to the continental. After destemming the grapes the juice underwent a pre-fermentation at 10-12°C before the actual alcoholic fermentation. The colour is mostly from lágrimas (run-off juice), then lightly pressed grapes and with a short skin contact.

 

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Rosa-O 2014 (Calvente)

Brilliant red on the darker side, towards a red wine in appearance. Rich fruitiness, with red berries (strawberry, cherries) and just a hint of caramel. Full on the palate, medium-low in acidity; easy to drink, in the best sense of the word.

Price: Low

Food: White fish, dried cod, light meat

 

 

 

New wine bar with top artisan beer in downtown Oslo

For a year the name of this cosy new bar was identical with the title of this post. The new name is En Trapp Opp, that translates to something like One Step Up (trapp means stairs). It’s headed by Jonas Jonsson, and has quite close ties to Norwegian importer Falchenberg & Nærlie, where Jonas is himself a partner. This means that the bar offers a wine selection from this particular importer, but by no means exclusively from them. Today they have some 50-60 different wines on offer, and they use Coravin (you know the needle that takes the wine out through the cork and replaces the empty space with gas, to keep the quality intact). They have also other activities, like visits from wine producers and importers, and you shall not be too surprised if there is some ecclectic downstripped live music in the room either.

20160617_165837-1 A hidden pearl in the centre of Oslo

Their aim is to present wines as natural as possible, in other words from organically grown grapes, made with natural fermentation, without excess oak treatment, or without too much treatment of any sort. However, there is little fundamentalism here. If the producers want to protect their wines with a little sulphur they can still have a place in this bar.

The food is made by Thomas Moen, who has a long experience from the gastronomic scene in town, and who also work for the import company towards horeca. I visited twice during last weekend. The first time I had a cockerel confit with a lot of delicious vegetables that was meant to be part of their new takeaway offer.

20160617_154852-3 Jonas

 

20160621_125745 Jonas in front, Thomas in the shadows

Here are some of the wines I tasted: It was only natural to begin with Falchenberg & Nærlie Riesling 2015 (Blasius), the importer’s own brand. This Rheinhessen riesling has become a relative bestseller, and deservedly so. The new vintage was even more generous than the previous, with a more focused fruit, and a smooth yet stimulating, and fruity taste. Trebbiano 2014 (Casale), from the Chianti area of Toscana, is a “prolonged skin contact” wine, light brown-orange in colour, and quite interesting for this relatively neutral grape.

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We discussed the Coravin concept. The reason for this was that Jonas had been in doubt whether the bottle variation of some wines was due to just that – bottle variation – or if the device could have its limitations. The Red Car Pinot Noir 2012 from California’s Sonoma Coast was for some reason lacking in fruit richness. But the second bottle was better, and when I returned the day after it was in a very good shape, with all its cool, fresh pinot character intact. We also tasted two bottles of Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 (Elio Sandri), where the first bottle was little more than tannin structure. The second was delicious, with a much richer fruit, some of the usual underwood aromas, and where the structure only added to the complexity and typicity of the style.

On the second day (or more accurately: late night) I got the chance to taste the 2014 vintage of Karl May‘s Spätburgunder, a very luscious and refreshing German wine with a slightly “pétillant” feeling on the tongue.

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Completely wrong, according to some people’s etiquette, I had a champagne after this, the pure and lovely Pierre Gerbais Cuvée de Resérve, made from 50% pinot nois, and the rest pinot blanc and chardonnay. This one is quite dry at 6 grams of sugar, and has rested three years on its lees. Very good ageing character, with freshly baked bread, and in the mouth it’s quite rounded, though the continental terroir shows through in the steely acidity that is inside. Interestingly enough I rounded off the whole séance with a cider from the western Norwegian fiords, Aalholm Cider Medium, a round and mild drink that was delicious with the shrimp cocktail, a leftover from a Swedish party earlier that night.

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En Trapp Opp will hopefully be known to a lot more people in the future. In the long run it will maybe benefit from the waiting time, as it’s now probably more fit to meet a wider market.

 

 

Not just another Prosecco

I have followed this wine for some time. In a market that overflows with uninspiring proseccos, this one has personality and a statement. This is a prosecco made today by Maurizio Donadi at Casa Belfi, just like they did all over the Valdobbiadene-Conegliano in the old days – in sharp contrast to today’s mainly industrial products.

Unfiltered, unfined, unsulphured, un-whatever… The usual glera grape variety is used 100%, biodynamically grown.

Colfondo means that it comes with the residuals. Don’t throw it away, just turn the bottle upside down and you get all the delicious taste from it.

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Colfondo Prosecco 2014 (Casa Belfi)

Light yellow colour with some sediments. Pure and delicate aroma with yellow apples, freshly baked bread and scented flowers. Creamy and full in the mouth, with a taste of apples, with a long persistence and some bitterness in the back.

Price: Low

Food: Aperitif, antipasti, red fish, light meat

 

Sauvignon on a summer’s day

I intended to feature another wine this week, a really serious one from an important place. But the sun is shining, and life is laughing, and…. The whole world smiles with you (goes the song). So heaven can wait (goes another song)!

Here is a simple, straight-forward and delicious summer white from New Zealand, where sauvignon blanc has made itself a paradise during the last 50 years or so. The Matua company sources their grapes from Hawkes’ Bay on the North Island, and Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island, the latter a pretty chilly place that can give a really refreshing acidity to the wines. Some are blends, some are regional wines by grape, and Matua go all the way to single vineyard varietal wines.

This one comes from their so-called regional range, and the region in question being Marlborough on the northern tip of the South Island. Not so chilly as Central Otago, but with enough variation to give enough oenological possibilities. The Spence brothers claim to have produced the first Kiwi sauvignon blanc in 1974. Since 2008 Nikolai St. George has been chief winemaker, and Bob Spence still popping into the winery once in a while to make sure that ‘the eternal summer shall not fade’… (Shakespeare)

Now Nik Nik St. George

 

 

2016-06-10 20.50.14 Back label

Matua Organic Sauvignon Balanc 2015 (Matua)

Light yellow with greenish tones. Lovely scent of sauvignon gooseberry, passion fruit, kiwi and lime. A body that’s more towards slender than fat, and just the right acidity to keep it together. It’s a wine that breathes, full of life. Yes, it’s a modern inox-made wine, but somehow they have managed to avoid those ‘closed’ canned-pear aromas that often follow with that technique. Pure fun!

Price: Low

 

A gluggable Gamay, tralala

This is an all time favourite, a nice ‘n easy summer drink. I admit I don’t fully understand the name, but still I feel that it says it all – an invitation to drink, to sing and whistle.

François and Pascaline Plouzeau run their Domaine de la Garrelière, near the Richelieu village just outside Tours in the Loire valley. Here they follow strict biodynamic principles. The wines carry labels made by local artists that reflect the wines’ names.

The Gamay Sans Tralala is made from 100 gamay, and is fermented naturally. It’s just lovely, joyous, gluggable… Need I say more?

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Gamay Sans Tralala 2015 (Domaine de la Garrelière)

Delicious, light wine with aroma of berries and flowers, and a slight touch of spices. Luscious and fruity in the mouth, low in tannin, and with just enough acidity.

Price: Low

Food: Salads, light meat and some fish dishes too, but this joyous song doesn’t really need any accompaniment

 

A meeting with Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati

I regret the closing of the Os Goliardos wine bar in Lisboa, after ten years of existence. There has not been anything like it, before or after, as far as I know. But through my friend Pedro Marques, whose Vale da Capucha wines I import to Norway, I was last year introduced to Silvia Bastos and her partner “in life and crime” Nadir, and one of their other activities, the Vinho ao Vivo fair.

We managed to meet at the Café Tati on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago. The Tati, as the name implies, is a cultural spot, almost impossible to find if you don’t know about it, and filled with activities that I love, such as jazz and good wine.

2016-04-17 21.29.15 Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati

But what happened with the Os Goliardos wine bar, and what are Silvia and Nadir up to now? Silvia explains:

-Our main purpose is to promote wine as culture. We like an open exchange between producers from different countries that share the same values of humanity and respect for the land, having a more natural viticulture, being demanding in the wines. 

And to be more specific:

-We do import, export, distribution, training and two events a year, the Vinho ao Vivo in July in Lisboa (link to the blogpost above), and Vini Corsari in November in Barolo. We started as a wine bar and cellar, we have been doing wine tasting courses ever since, and that created an alternative approach, closer to the production, and a net of people fan of authentic wines. It became difficult to maintain the wine bar among out many activities. But it had its time, and we have a lot of good memories. Now our wine courses are held here at Tati.

I knew that Os Goliardos still existed, though not as a wine bar. And while I was doing some research it seemed to me that Silvia and the Nadir were doing a great and unselfish job spreading the word about the authentic, or artisan producers, and promoting other establishments too.

-We promote the places that decided to have a selection of character wines. I cannot say it’s unselfish because they buy wine from us and we are happy to drink those wines in nice places. But it’s quite hard in Lisboa to promote a non-mainstream style, so we believe we really have to help those places that took that decision.

The future of natural, small-scale, artisan wine in Portugal…

-We still believe we are a very small group in Portugal. If you go to one of the so-called wine bars of Lisboa that only have industrial wines, you will understand what I mean. But it’s a very gratifying work because we always meet producers and people that share the pleasure of the terroir, connected to culture, in a large sense. All that with good wines.

2016-04-17 23.18.56 The door to the Café Tati

Who could imagine that behind this door is one of the natural wine havens of Lisboa? Well, the area is quite popular, close to the Alcântara district, with the Cais do Sodré as one of its nearest neighbours, the railway station that serves the routes to the west. But there are no indication, and the street could need some renovation.

It’s full of cultural activities. I was there on a Sunday, and there was no jazz, but according to the week program there had been some interesting gigs during the past few days. And Silvia explained there had been a wonderful jam-session earlier that day. By the way the Goliardos wine courses are held here too.

On Silvia’s advice I started with a Vinho Verde, the Aphros Loureiro 2009. I have followed the wines of producer Vasco Croft some years, and I know they are good. But I didn’t expect a seven year old wine to be that vivid. Some developed character, ok, but still very much alive, quite fruity and with a good lees-character and lenght. I remember I visited the Lagar de Darei of the Dão region, when they started out some years ago, I even had accomodation there for a night, a freezingly cold night in March, I can remember. So I was very eager to try their Darei Colheita 2014 white. This was heavier, more full than the previous wine, but with ample acidity, maybe a bit more streamlined, but still good. A couple of reds too, one on Silvias suggestion: Óssio 2014 (Adega Monte Branco). The name alludes to the mountain range to the south of Estremoz (in the northern, fresher part of Alentejo). The man behind this one is Luís, son of Miguel Louro of the prestigious Quinta de Mouro. The wine is a single vineyard wine from schistous soil, made with grapes aragonês, alicante bouschet and syrah, fermented together. It’s made in collaboration with Os Goliardos and sold only through them. I admit I have no notes, but after these weeks I remember it as clean, fruity and with a nice structure especially from the acidity. Last was Gilda 2012 (Tiago Teles), a curious blend (castelão, merlot, tinto cão) from the Bairrada area, an interesting wine with notes of red fruits like cherries, plums, some spice, smooth tannins, and good acidity – made in the most natural way possible.

Other than this they had some wines from Álvaro Castro (Dão), Quinta de Serradinha (Lisboa), Marcial Dorado, Spanish producer in Minho, that sadly has closed down his business lately according to Silvia, a section of dessert wines like Port, Setúbal and Madeira, dubbed “Meditation wines”. There were many more, and the selection changes once in a while.

13313724_1031345000253331_422989639_o Interior, before the hords arrive (photo courtesy of Café Tati)

The Goliards was a group within the church in the middle age that wrote satirical verses in Latin, some sort of a protest movement in several countries of Southern Europe. In Silvia’s words they “wrote poetry and drank wine, it was a free movement, no boarders, no precise time”. I see the source of inspiration, although I don’t believe we should draw the comparisons too far.
What is certain: In the world of wine you meet many beautiful people. And the stories about wine, art and life are often intertwined, or they go parallel for a while, and with an open mind and a will to improvise you can reach interesting places. This “Lisbon Story” is an example of just that.