Natural wine fair in Madrid

Madrid was the place to be for natural wine enthusiasts last Sunday, as the Salón de Vinos Naturales was arranged after an initiative from the Productores de Vinos Naturales. Among the exhibitors were some of their own members, like Barranco Oscuro, and Marenas, whose proprietor José Miguel Márquez is the actual leader of the organization. There were other Spanish producers too, and a few from abroad. The wines were all made by small, artesan producers, almost without exception with natural yeasts, without sulphur added, without much else added either, all in all with minimal intervention.

I tasted something like three fourths of the wines, spoke to most of the producers, and I also met some visitors whom I knew or had met before. For me this is a real fun fair, as you meet a lot of nice people, and everyone is open-minded and willing to share opinions without having to defend anything, and there are no points given. There are just so many delicious tastes, healthy products, and conversations about how all this came about.

I warmed up with some white wines at the stand of Fabio Bartolomei and his Ambiz wines. First a couple of airéns, where the 2012 strangely was lighter than the 2014. But this is the way it is, as Fabio said, these wines chose their own path. I also tasted his Doré 2014, an expressive wine from the grape of the same name, and the Sauvignon 2013, nothing like the commercial Sancerres. It’s aromatic though, with some flowers, yellow apple and a tropical hint. The Albillo 2014 is also full of character, quite rich, with some tannin, and with the balsamic note of the variety.

2015-05-10 10.45.42 Fabio Bartolomei, Vinos Ambiz (right)

Samuel Cano was there with most of his portfolio of Patio wines aged beneath the old-fashioned windmills in Mota del Cuervo (Cuenca). Between Aire en el Patio 2014 (literally Air in the Patio, the never-disappointing airén wine) and Al Sol del Patio 2013 (To the Sun of the Patio), there was a wine from syrah grapes harvested as late as end of December in 5 degrees below zero. He had brought his airén-petit verdot Rosé too, and some delicious reds. If I should pick one it could be the Kabronic this time, a 50/50 syrah/graciano, where the latter has been subject to carbonic maceration, showing very fruity, red berries, some balsamic notes, a touch of CO2, and fruit all the way.

2015-05-10 11.55.19 Samuel Cano

From the area not far from Madrid came also Julián Ruíz Villanueva of Escencia Rural. I know he has several good things, in different styles. This time I only tasted the red De Sol a Sol, a dark wine from the variety velasco, quite special, rich, with notes of coffee, aromatic herbs, and a touch of raisins and plums.

Lorenzo Valenzuela served many of his Barranco Oscuro wines, from the highest vineyards in Europe, more specifically Cádiar in las Alpujarras (Granada). I visited some 3-4 years ago, and I have tasted these wines several times since, but I never miss an opportunity. Among all the excellent wines I will this time mention the ultra-fresh and typical Sauvignon (a completely different interpretation than Fabio’s), and the wonderful Garnata, a very fruity, herb-scented and personal garnacha. Fellow Andalusians, Cauzón and Marenas had several interesting wines, like Mazuelo 2014 from the former, and Vides Bravas 2006 from the latter. Being located in Montilla, Marenas has also wines aged under flor, like the one with the descriptive name Bajo Velo PX (that I didn’t taste here).

2015-05-10 13.56.34 Lorenzo Valenzuela, Barranco Oscuro

Viña Enebro of Bullas had a varied table. A white wine from black grapes, adecuately named Uva Negra Vino Blanco, a fresh, floral, clean wine, the Rosado de Aguja from monastrell, a fruity wine, a little bubbly of course, but quite structured too. Then there were also the Viña Enebro, the one with the pink label, a 100% monastrell, quite light for the variety, some plums and red berries, a lousicious character, but with a nice tannic grip as well. The Quercus came in both 2010 and ’11. See the post about wine bar Solo de Uva for more.

2015-05-10 11.05.40 Juan Pascual López, Viña Enebro

A nice surprise came from Galicia. La Perdida of Larouco in the Valdeorras area served a doña blanca and a godello, but the reds based on garnacha tintorera, one with mencía, were among the highlights for me. Maybe most interesting of all from this producer, also with the name La Perdida 2014, a garnacha tintorera (70%) and sumoll (30%) aged in tinaja (amphora), on granite soil, with splendid clean fruit and a solid tannic grip.

2015-05-10 11.41.42 Nacho González, La Perdida (right)

From Catalunya I tasted some nice wines from Can Torres, Empordà, a vinous garnacha blanca from sandy soil over granite ground, and among the reds the interesting Idó 2013, a garnacha from quite old vines on alternating slate and granite, aged in used barrels, a relatively light-coloured wine with aromas of red berries, plums, a rich wine with an appealing texture. The Ambre was one of the specialities of the day, from garnachas gris and tinta, aged in some kind of solera system. The colour was the same as its name suggests, aromas of figs, nuts, a slight touch of raisin, and the alcohol level was very nicely balanced.

2015-05-10 13.59.31 Bárbara Magugliani, Can Torres (left)
Among the «foreigners» I didn’t taste the wines of Frank Cornelissen this time, as I know them quite well, and the Spanish were my main focus this time. But I visited the table of Château Lamery of the village St. Pierre d’Auirillac, by the Garonne river. Here Jacques Broustet makes wines that are clearly at home in this locale, but distinctly different from what we think of as Bordeaux. His only red wine Autrement 2011 was luscious and juicy, with a slight tannin, and a lovely fruit all the way.

2015-05-10 12.15.06 Jacques Broustet, Ch. Lamery

Domaine Thuronis near Carcassonne in Languedoc had some interesting stuff too. The Esprit Vendangeur 2013 is a sauvignon blanc made naturally, and came with super fruit, yellow apple, melon and some peach, and a trace of CO2 (and the 2012 was in the same line, but a little more developed). There was also a sauvignon made in steel and also a time on the lees of chardonnay in barrel. This was a bit darker, yellow with a brownish tinge, some CO2 again, a creamy texture and a very nice acidity.

There was more than this, and the aforementioned wine bar Solo de Uva was serving home-made bread, tasty tapas, and proprietor Carlos Campillo was filling the room with good vibes. He also hosted a dinner in his restaurant that same evening. I was not there, but it couldn’t be bad.

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Passionate Australian post-punk

The organic wine movement (not unlike the musical scene) can be said to have two extremes: one comformist/opportunistic approach that seeks to meet the demand of growing consumer groups and to obtain the certificates, and the punks who wants to rock the establishment. There is, as always, a way in the middle too. Here we are in an artistic landscape that borrows from punk, call it neo- or post punk, but Some Young Punks follow the rules, and they behave. So there is no anarchy in Australia, though they don’t care about the stamps of official recognition either.

I have tasted many of their wines over the last months. They have all real character, marked by the hot Australian climate, but why shouldn’t they? Many of us want the wines to express local landscape and weather conditions, so these wines should not be burgundies. But they have also moved away from our Australian cliché: over-extracted, over-oaked, and generally boring wines in appealing packages.

Nic Bourke, Col McBryde and Jen Gardner are the Punks’ names. Their focus is in the vineyards, and they want their old vines, many of them pre-phylloxera, to be used in personal quality wines in-stead of ending up in the big players’ blends. In 2005 their first vintages of «Passion has red lips» and «Naked on roller skates» were released, then followed wine titles like «Quickie», «Monsters, Monsters attack!» and «The Squid’s Fist», all with labels inspired by old cartoons and paperbacks.

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This passion-wine is made at Nic’s winery in McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide, South Australia. They use natural yeasts, quite long maceration with skins, short oakageing, and many vineyards are treated biodynamic, not by religious conviction, but because they see that it works.

 

Passion has Red Lips 2013 (Some Young Punks), McLaren Vale, South Australia

Shiraz 76%, cabernet sauvignon 24%.

Dark, deep purple. Warm, almost jammy fruit, with dark berries, spice and some balsamic «after eight». A rich, silky texture, nice acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: Excellent with grilled meat, roasts and casserole dishes.

A PS from the Punks themselves: -Turn, splash and savour. Unfiltered confessions follow as the sin glows red and passionate like those lips.

Only from grapes, Madrid

Some may remember Le Petit Bistrot on one of Madrid’s central plazas. Well, they moved northwards near the Berlin park, one block from Santiago Bernabéu. Now they are changing the name too. Still you will see the old one in the window on Príncipe de Vergara, but during this year they will change everything to Solo de Uva.

This brings it more in line with what the restaurant, or rather: wine bar, is about. This is the temple for natural wines in Madrid, focusing on wines that are made from grapes, and nothing but the grapes, «solo de uva», nothing added, nothing taken away (as the adage of the natural wine movement goes). The wines will come along with simple, but savoury, local produce.

This was my third visit this year. I came in last Saturday afternoon (before Real Madrid vs. Valencia). The kitchen had closed, but owner Carlos Campillo put together a delicious selection of cold tapas, including a tomato creation, a paté and some unpasteurized cheeses (still French, I guess this will also change in a not too distant future).

2015-02-05 23.22.26 Propietor Carlos Campillo and Fabián Herrera

The wine list will obviously change quite often, as all producers are small, and the wines are not made in big quantities. Many of the producers are regulars though, from the Madrid and Gredos area they include Alfredo Maestro and Vinos Ambiz, from nearby La Mancha we find Samuel Cano and Julián Ruíz Villanueva, and among the southerners are Juan Pascual Céspedes (Murcia), Bodegas Marenas (Córdoba), Cauzón and Barranco Oscuro (both Granada). There are also some northern producers, believe it or not from Asturias, and some foreigners too.

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This time I had four wines by the glass, mostly chosen by Carlos: Aire de Patio 2012 (Samuel Cano, aka Vinos Patio), a rich orange wine from the airén grape, Blancas Nobles 2012 (Barranco Oscuro), a charming and expressive, powerful yet elegant wine from the highest vineyards in Europe, made from grape varieties vijiriega, along with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and riesling, that most would claim to be more noble varieties. Straw yellow, and definitely lighter than the previous wine. Then came Patio Selección 2013, a wine that was used with a selection of cheeses at a winemakers dinner a few weeks ago, at the same place. Indeed I think that these red natural wines could be worth exploring with soft cheeses where ordinary reds normally would lose. I would believe that it has most to do with the special texture caused by the CO2 that may be left in some of these wines maybe. Anyway along with the slightly carbonic mouthfeel this wine has also very nice aromas of dark fruits, sweet morelloes, and a balsamic note. Based largely on petit verdot (85%), but with several other grapes such as syrah as well. Last came Viña Enebro Quercus Red from Bullas, Murcia. I couldn’t see any vintage on the label, but I talked to producer Juan Pascual López Céspedes the day after, who showed me there was a code on the back label. I tasted both the 2010 and ’11, and concluded that the vintage at the restaurant ought to be 2011. It’s 100% monastrell, dark in colour, with aromas of dark fruits, some plums, herbs and coffee. Less ripe/warm feeling than the former wine.

2015-05-09 17.08.56

During my two visits in February I tasted among others the following four white wines: Lovamor, a rich and delicious, a bit balsamic albillo that I had together with its creator Alfredo Maestro, the Malvar (Vinos Ambiz), a wine aged in tinajas (Spanish amphorae) and with an orange, almost brown colour, and Bajo Velo Seco (Bodegas Marenas), made from the variety pedro ximénez and aged under flor, as is usual in Montilla, Córdoba and nearby Jerez de la Frontera. The bodega makes it in two versions, one semi-dry, but this was the dry one, and it is surely marked by the flor character. I found it right to round off with a French wine, and the choice fell upon Nature (Domaine Julien Meyer), a very nice Alsace wine from sylvaner and pinot blanc, made by Patrick Meyer, whom I had met in London a year before, at the RAW fair. Interestingly his cellar grows flor too, as he mostly will not top up the barrels. Then there were also some reds, some of them I have already mentioned, or will mention in a new post, where this restaurant also plays a role.

Meaty mencía

Raúl Pérez is one of the dynamic, driving winemakers in the Spanish wine landscape. But here he is at home at Bodegas Castro Ventosa in El Bierzo, towards the boarder of Galicia where the mencía grape reigns. I could name numerous ambitious wines from famous bodegas in celebrated regions beginning with R that never “came around”. Here the fruit-oak balance works fine already, and it will continue to evolve.

It’s made in the village of Valtuille de Abajo, as the name implies, from a hundred year old vines. The mencía grape is native to this part of the country. While it may have a more slender character and more acidity over in bordering regions as Ribeira Sacra, here in El Bierzo the wines are often rounder, more ripe and with a bit more power. The content of slate and granite in the area helps to give some minerality, much in demand nowadays.

The grapes are harvested manually. It’s given a very gentle pressing, and after fermentation in stainless steel it has spent some months in French oak. It’s not filtered, nor cold-stabilized.

Cepas Centenarias Valtuille Bierzo 2009

Valtuille Cepas Centenarias 2011 (Castro Ventosa)

Deep purple, not showing much age. At first closed, compact and concentrated, with plums, dark berries, some balsamic notes – and a slight touch of vanilla. In the mouth it has a silky texture, and some acidity. Will evolve positively during the next 4-5 years, and will keep for many more.

Price: High

Food: Would pair well with heady dishes, such as the stews from the Spanish inland, and with tasty meat-dishes of many sorts. Game too.

Vinho Divine

A former furniture designer and student of architecture, pedagogy and sculpture, and with an early inclination for metaphysics and myths, Vasco Croft has been in the avantgarde of Portuguese biodynamic wine since the turn of the century.

The base is the family estate from the 17th century, Casal do Paço near Ponte de Lima, a 20 hectar quinta with four hectars of vine, the rest chestnuts and forests. The wine cellar is as old as the estate itself.  The estate is now, in Vasco’s own words, «committed to the preservation of its ecosystems that not only include the vines but entire forests of acacias, oaks, eucalyptus and century-old trees, the home of wild boars, foxes and eagles».

There are many tales of how Aphrodite, goddess of love, was born. One tells that when Cronus cut of Uranus’ genitals and threw them into the sea, she arose from the sea foam, which is called aphros in the Greek language. From Vasco’s family estate near Ponte de Lima arises a wine that is as fascinating as inspiring, slightly bubbly, and if not truly divine there is a certain uplifting feeling to it.

Aphros Loureiro 2013

Aphros Loureiro 2013

Light straw-colour, and a clean aroma with a touch of citrus and flowers. In the mouth it has a creamy texture, it’s not bone dry, it has some minerality and an acidity that’s well wrapped in fruit, and it comes with notes of lime and melon too. This wine is light, yet it’s concentrated and serious, and it’s very, very appealing.

Price: Medium/low

Food: Shellfish, grilled or fried fish, bacalhau, salads, fruits and -why not- sushi

Portuguese discoveries

I was invited by winemaker Pedro Marques to taste his wines, and also some from his friend António Marques da Cruz, at restaurant Areeiro 3 in Lisboa. OK, this was a while ago, but this blog is new, and I want to include some events from the last months of 2014. Areeiro 3 is managed by Pedro’s brother and takes its name from the street adress, and you see it once coming up from the underground of metro station Areeiro. Both wineries, Vale da Capucha and Quinta da Serradinha respectively, is located in the north of the Lisboa region, in Carvalhal (Torres Vedras) and in the Leiria area. We tasted some really nice wines from Portuguese white grapes like arinto, alvarinho, antão vaz, fernão pires (and some French too, like viognier) and red touriga nacional, aragonês, castelão, and not to forget baga. Among the wines you should try once in Portugal are the white Capucha 2011 from alvarinho on limestone ground, a salty, mineral wine, still somewhat young and closed, and Serradinha Rosé 2013, red-orange coloured wine raised in 800 liter amphoras, with peach, rhubarb, strawberry, and some milky notes from malolactic fermentation. Another interesting wine was his red Quinta da Serradinha 1999, based on baga, and still full of life.

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I was also invited to the Vinho ao Vivo, a terroir focused fair showing predominantly organic wines. I didn’t know about it then, but it proved to be a really charming event to visit again. It’s organized by wine bar and restaurant Os Goliardos down by the Tejo river next to the Discovery monument near Belém, and it includes local artisan food and live jazz. Who could ask for more, really? There we met several old friends, all with new wines to discover, and some other nice people. André Gomes Pereira who runs Quinta do Montalto, in Ourém, was there with his well-made wines. I knew his reds and rosés, but this time he also brought a white wine from fernão pires, a really interesting golden/orange coloured sparkling wine from 2005, that had spent 8 years on lees, and a “medieval” mix of red and white wine. Vasco Croft of Aphros Wines was there with his marvellous red and white “green wines”. His Aphros Loureiro 2013 is a different interpretation of the grape of that name, with a deep aroma, still with a steely acidity, but wrapped in a full, fruity taste. And who says a vinho verde can’t age? Well, the Aphros Vinhão 2009 isn’t that old, but many would not believe that a five year old wine from that region should be so full of energy as this one.

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And who else was there, if not the one and only Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno of Quinta das Bágeiras! This time equipped with his new Pai Abel entry level wine, together with the delicious reservas and garrafeiras, premium examples of the traditional style baga from outside Sangalhos, Bairrada. The oldest one this time was a Garrafeira 1990, a sublime pure baga wine, with red fruit aromas, the usual peppery notes, hints of smoke and a bit of raisin. He also brought an outstanding white Garrafeira 2012. These are all wines made in the deepest respect and understanding for their tradition. One can hardly claim they are modern, but they surely are complete.

2014-07-11 22.57.29 Hey: Mário Sérgio is here!

But he was not the only one from Bairrada. Campolargo was there, I have heard, though I didn’t see him (so little time…). Up and coming organic producer Vadio I saw. They brought some really nice wines, also based on the baga grape, but with a bit more modern touch. They use “wild” yeasts to start the fermentation, but some cultivated yeasts later in the process, some French oak (never exaggerated), resulting in robust, but not aggressive, wines. The Grande Vadio 2011 was a wine for long ageing, a lot of tannins and super acidity, and a very supple fruit to go with it. They also brought superb citric, flowery whites from old vine cerceal, along with arinto (and also a bical version). Ataíde Semedo, known for Quinta da Dôna, was there. He had now brought a pure baga, and a 50/50 baga/touriga. Tired of oak, he sold all his barrels some years ago, so these wines are very pure, some maybe a tough too much “worked”. I particularly liked his Colheita 2013, a fine baga on the light and elegant side.

Quinta da Pellada of Dão was represented, so was Infantado (Douro), a couple of producers from Colares and many more. I tasted some wonderful whites from Muxagat (Douro), such as a 90% rabigato, and a barrel-fermented 100% rabigato called Os Xistos Altos 2011. I never made it to the fortified wines like Barbeito of Madeira (sorry, Ricardo, next time!).

There were also visits from abroad. Juan González of As Furnias had travelled over the border from Rías Baixas’ subzone Condado do Tea with his interesting low-sulphured, low-barriqued natural wines from several local grapes.

Prominent guests from Italy, such as piemontese Luca Roagna and Giuseppe Rinaldi, were also there. I didn’t see them, but their wines surely were present. So were the wines from French domaines Gonon (Rhône) and Maréchal (Burgundy).

Tune in next Friday, when our Wine of the Week will be one that we tasted during this fair.

2014-07-11 23.12.58-1 The sun was down, the moon was up, the discoveries lay behind us, time to find a hotel bed… And the band played on!

One of two good Zweigelts

In our private wine club last Monday the theme was Austrian red wine with focus on the three grapes Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent and their crossing Zweigelt. While there were seveal good wines from, at least for me, more well-known producers and especially from Blaufränkisch, the biggest revelation was the two Zweigelts from Weingut Maria & Sepp Muster.

Bilderesultat for muster zweigelt

While most wines were from the Burgenland area the Muster family is found in Südsteiermark. There they have inherited a 10 hectar vineyard that they work according to biodynamic methods. The landscape is very steep and the soil has rocks, clay and silt. Sheltered from a nearby mountain range the nights are cool and mild. The vines grow on single wire trellises, an ancient practise in the region.

They imply spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts, preferably done in barrels and casks. They also like to keep them for a long time, around two years before bottling, to secure maturity and balance.

Graf Zweigelt 2007 (Maria & Sepp Muster)

Bright red. Cool aromas with hints of cherries and plums. Quite concentrated, but grapey and juicy at the same time, and with a delicate and playful acidity. Really enjoyable and calls for more.

Price: Medium

 

The Architect keeps the balance

José Perdigão is known in wine circles as O Arquitecto. With architect education from Paris he has a bohemian-like appearance, but also a down-to-earth attitude. His adega is found near Silgueiros, a stone’s throw from where Henry the Navigator (Duque the Viseu) had a house, and where the inland part of the famous Buçaco wine is made. Not very surprisingly, José Perdigão has designed his own cellar. The dusty road leading down to the main building is leaning towards one side. Obviously the adega building had to lean towards the other, said the architect, so that the visitor will not lose the perception of balance. Once inside, you will see spittoons and other equipment designed by the man himself. Everything fine-tuned here.

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Nearby Viseu is some kind of a capital for the agricultural area that lies around it. The town is never as fascinating as when The Arquitect guides you between its granite walls. He has also been involved re-constructing of some building, not least the historic Solar do Vinho do Dão, in the outskirts of town, where the authorities conduct many tastings.

His winemaking is carried out according to biodynamic principles. He never uses anything in excess, and he values the balance given by the traditional Dão blend, with touriga nacional, tinta roriz, jaen… He can also launch a varietal when he feels it has the right balance, such as his wonderful 100% alfrocheiro.

Once I was invited by José to meet almost all rosé producers in an exposition he had organized, to make my article for magazine Vinforum as credible and comprehensive as possible. So he is also a good collegue, and an excellent ambassador for Dão wines in general. And yes, the wine of this week is his wonderful rosé, one of the best and most expressive of all Dão rosés. Made from 40% touriga nacional, and the rest jaen, alfrocheiro and tinta roriz, the grapes were first macerated separately, then underwent a natural cool fermentation together in stainless steel, then a one month long fermentation in used French oak barrel. No yeast added.

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Quinta do Perdigão Rosé 2014 is a quite dark example of the species, with aromas predominantly of raspberry, with some strawberry, pineapple, menthol, and some very floral scents. It’s quite full and very mouth-filling and persistent. Really delicious, and perfectly balanced. A fresh and fruity wine, yes. But I know from experience that it also can age. It changes, but 3-4 years is not a problem for this rosé.

Price: Low

Food: Goes well with many dishes of white fish and shellfish. Try with sushi and sashimi, risotto, pasta, light meat and desserts with berries.

Quinta do Perdigão Rosé 2014.R The partridge (perdigão) is the emblem of the estate

 

A Portuguese palette

Yesterday I was invited to talk about Portuguese wines in Trondheim’s biggest wine club. Ganymedes is the name, referring to the mythologic figure that was carried by an eagle sent by Zeus to be cupbearer for the ancient gods. I was honored to be invited, and a little surprised, I must admit, that close to a hundred people came to listen to a speech about the wines of the longer than wide Iberian country.

2015-04-15 21.13.02 - Kopi

They allowed me to put together a full palette of Portuguese colours. The selection of the country’s wines can’t be said to be very good in Norway these days, so the task could be said to be an exercise in compromise. Given the circumstances I am quite happy about the program.

Quinta do Perdigão Rosé 2014 is made according to biodynamic principles in Silgueiros, central Dão. It’s a typical blend with evident touriga nacional, and is a very fruity and full-bodied rosé with some tannin, and with aromas dominated by raspberry. Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2013 represented the country’s largest wine region Vinho Verde, a nice wine with flowery aromas with citric nuances, and a slight carbonic palate. It’s not the only organic wine from this wet and somehow difficult northern landscape, but it’s one of the best of its kind. This lighter end of the scale was completed with Nossa Calcário 2013, a bical 100% made by Filipa Pato near the Beiras coast, Bairrada, to be precise. The bical is a versatile grape that, when in good hands, can turn to a delicious, mineral wine like this one. Quite aromatic, a little buttery, but it’s also a little closed, and will benefit from 2 or 3 years further ageing.

The first red wine was what has become known as Portugal’s first natural wine, family Roboredo Madeira’s CARM SO2 free 2010 red. Yes, I admit, my import company brought this one to the country, but it’s included here to contribute to a greater variation. Also from touriga, it has a touch of carbonic mouthfeel, dark berry flavour, and slightly sweet nuances from the oak treatment that half of the wine has been subject to. One of the most widely known wines from this 6-pack must be Esporão Reserva 2012, a wine from the vast Alentejo area, otherwise known for cork oaks, Alentejana cattle a.o. This one is from the Reguengos area towards the big lake in the south, and it has a full, fleshy flavour, but also a good acidity to keep it in balance. The grape composition can vary with the years. This one has alicante bouschet, a traditional grape in the area, together with the usual suspects trincadeira and aragonês, and a little cabernet too. The first red wine ought to be decanted because of some sediments, and both will benefit from some airing. To round it all off we tasted one of one the country’s specialities, a moscatel from the peninsula of Setúbal, just to the south of Lisboa. This one is a fortified wine from the collection of Jose María da Fonseca’s oenologist, and it bears his name. Domingos Soares Franco Colecçâo Privada Moscatel de Setúbal 1999, nothing less. It’s clearly in the moscatel family. Nice and grapey, flowery in the aroma, and with an apricot sweetness. For further ageing it could have needed some more acidity. But so what, according to Sr. Domingos himself, it’s not meant to be stored. And it’s delicious now.

2015-04-15 21.13.23 Lars and Geir Egil, key people in Ganymedes, with chef Geir 

Geir Barstad at the Britannia Hotel had created a delicous two-course menu based on turbot and local veal that allowed the party to taste a variety of the wines with food after the wine tasting.

 

Take a Village

Éric Texier is a vigneron, and I think we dare say a legendary one too. He came from another career, but systematic studies and observation of the ways of many sustainable winemakers made him ready to chose his own paths. He is one of the protagonists, a hero so to speak, in Alice Feiring’s book Naked wine. Whenever she is in doubt about what to do in her natural wine project she thinks to herself, «what would Éric have done?»

His major concern is the soil. The winemaking is very minimalist, with native yeast fermentation, often in concrete, no fining, no destemming (for reds), ageing in concrete and big foudres, addition of SO2 only occasionally and only in minute quantities.

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He makes wines from several places in the Rhône valley and in the Mâconnais area. This one is from Cairanne, one of the four original Côte du Rhône villages, that sits on a hilltop overlooking vineyards.

The first vinification period always takes place in the local viticulture area, meaning different cellars according to each wine. During the next phase the wines are aged in the same naturally cool cellar built in the XVIII th century in the north of Lyon. The wines are primarily aged in traditional oak barrels, though some large casks are also used. The use of new oak is limited in order to allow the wines to fully express the terroir.

Éric Texier’s production covers a range of 20 different wines, each offering a unique and distinctive character, all carefully hand crafted in order to allow maximum care and enjoyment.

One of the oldest villages in the Vaucluse, Cairanne has long been fought over because of its strategic position, and traces of its fortification are still present today.

The grape composition is grenache 80%, carignan 10% and syrah 10%. They were picked by hand, natural yeasts were then employed, then a spontaneous fermentation that lasted for a long time.

Cairanne Côtes-du-Rhône Village 2013 (É. Texier)

Dark red. Aromas of dark, ripe fruits, blueberry, some spice. Slightly warm, luscious, well balanced wine with some tannin and a nice acidity.

Price: Low

It takes a village to raise a child, they say. Now take this Village.

 

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