Tag Archives: chenin blanc

Anjou orange

The Vaillant family started vinegrowing in La Roche Aubry (Anjou, Loire Valley) in the 17th century. Today they dispose over 55 hectars, and the farming is organic and biodynamic, only chenin blanc for white wines.

The soils vary greatly, schists, quartz, sands… They use composts from animal manure, and only a few treatments like copper, sulphur and some made of infusions of plants.

This wine was, as indicated, made from 100% chenin blanc, spontaneously fermented in big barrels, and it was bottled unfiltered.

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La Varenne du Poirier 2014 (Dom. Les Grandes Vignes – Vaillant)

Cloudy orange with a greenish hue. Mature apples (cidery), white flowers, yellow tomatoes, nuts and a touch of honey. Good concentration and high acidity wrapped in super fruit, and just a slight touch of tannin. Quaffable indeed.

Price: Medium

Food: Grilled fish, salads, chicken and other light meat, white goat cheeses

 

Antidote of London

You might think that Antidote could have something to do with the Remedy restaurant, about which I wrote a few months ago, at least their names could suggest so. But no. They have a few things in common though, they both offer a cure against depressive tendencies, and they offer well-prepared bites, and a lot of good, healthy wines – all worked organically, many biodynamically in the vineyard.

They rely on market catch, and the menu changes often. The food is quite simple, but well made, and often with both a modern touch and inspired by several corners of the world. The wine list is quite extensive, and there is a good selection of wines by the glass. They say that the wines come largely from France. That’s true, but I have spotted wines from other European countries like Italy, Spain and Slovenia, an occational one from Greece, and outside Europe too, such as Australia.

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I visited this cosy Soho locale twice in August, the first time with my daughter who is vegan, and they were very helpful, and gladly made some creative twists. Second time was the day after, when I had some more wines and a couple more bites.

Along with their “Heritage Tomato” dish (with lemon, lovage parsley and goat’s curd) I had Ch. la Coste “Pentes Douces 2014 (Ch. la Coste), a provencal blend of vermentino and sauvignon blanc: light in colour, a rich aroma with hints of herbs, and a slightly warm touch in the aftertaste. With next bite, Spring Onions with egg yolk, comté cheese and buckwheat, I tried Clef de Sol 2014 (La Grange Tiphaine) from Montlois sur Loire, a light, fruity, mineral chenin blanc, with a lot of acidity wrapped in super fruit. Following this with the same dish I tried what turned out to be one of the stars of the evening, Maupiti 2014 (Clos de l’Elu), a light red wine from Anjou, also in the Loire. This one is made from gamay and cabernet franc. It shows lots of red berries, it’s fresh and fruity, mellow in the mouth and just delicious drinking.

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La Poudre d’Escampette 2014 (from winery Le Casot des Mailloles) is a dry red wine from Banyuls, quite unusual for the area’s image as a dessert wine region. It’s made from 120 year old grenache and 80 year old carignan vines. An unpasturized camembert from Normandie was perfectly matched with the (to a certain extent volatile) acidity of the high-hill wine. A good match was also the ossau-iraty, a sheep’s milk cheese from French Basque Country.

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An unusual wine to round off maybe, but excellent there and then, was I Clivi RBL 2014, a biodynamically farmed, native yeast spumante brut nature from the grape known as ribolla gialla in Friuli, Italy, close to the Slovenian border. It was dry, but rounded off, fruity, a little carbonic-mineral, and nice for washing away what might remain of the fat from the cheeses.

Keep on punching, a Swartland chenin

I tasted this wine yesterday evening at the Remedy in London’s Fitzrovia district. You can read more about the wine bar here. Since then Abel has left the building, but Dany Teixeira, French-Portuguese sommelier is holding the fort, and I gave him almost carte blanche to match wines with my gnocchi and smoked duck.

This Swartland chenin matched both. It’s made by Craig Hawkins, who bought an estate in 2014 together with his wife Carla.

Swartland is experiencing something of a renaissance these days. It has many different climates, but it’s generally warm. That’s one of the reasons that Craig likes it so much, as this is a type of climate he really knows. To make the story short, harvesting early enough is essential here if one wants to keep the acidity, even if the grape’s name is Chenin.

Each of the producer’s wines has an original name, and all come with street art labels. The name of this particular wine refers to what Craig’s friend used to say during their childhood hockey games. And what is the connection to the girl on the label? You tell me if you find out.

The wine is made according to quite strict non-intervention principles. Just a little SO2.

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Baby Bandito “Keep on Punching” 2015 (Testalonga)

Light golden. Aromas of citrus, flowers, apple, a touch of orange peel due to a bit extended skin contact. Nice acidity, long aftertaste. A lightweight wine yet full of flavours.

Price: Medium

 

Els Bassots, a Catalunya chenin with character

There is a huge clay vessel at the entrance of the Escoda-Sanahuja winery in Conca de Barberà, that gives us a hint of what to expect. I have reported on Joan Ramón Escoda and his wines several times, so I will make this short. Let me just say that I simply love this wine. Made from all chenin blanc, fermented spontaneously, matured in 720 liters amphorae, un-fined and un-sulphured. Light and full of taste at the same time, delicious on its own or with almost any food. It’s one of those wines that I really feel have a story to tell, but where the plot is somehow hidden in some mysterious cloud too, one of the wines that make me want to quote long passages from some favourite novel, and where title of the so far un-written tale The bearable lightness of being is especially apt.

I would have called it an orange wine, as it smells like “long skin contact”, but the colour is quite light; yellow, just on the verge of going over to orange. Smells of red berries, flowers, yellow tomatoes… Concentrated yet light, grapey, long and dry, with a hint of salty minerality. 

Price: Medium

Food: Delicious on its own, for meditation… But try it to almost any kind of food, from the shells of the sea to the partridge of the forest, or the thrush that bathes in the puddle (that I believe is the translation of bassot)….