Tag Archives: Italy

Summer in South Tyrol

This is a müller thurgau from Italy. It’s not as strange as it sounds. The region bordering Austria, not far from Germany either, has been influenced by both these countries through its Austrian-Hungarian past.

It was surprisingly good though, from a grape variety that we didn’t knew for quality (deservedly right or maybe rather not).

Eisacktal is the German name of the Valle Isarco that runs into the Etsch, or Adige, Italy’s second longest river (that later runs through Verona and out in the Adriatic).

It’s here that cellar master Andrea Huber brings out the one wine better than the other from the 8 hectares of vineyard. They are dry, pure and with a minerality that expresses the land.

Pacherhof (credit: Pacherhof)

Müller Thurgau Brixner Eisacktaler 2016 (Pacherhof)

Light straw colour. Fruity, green apples, some pears, white flowers. Round mouthfeel, luscious, just enough acidity. Elegant.

Price: Medium

 

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)

The Real Wine fair I: A lovely bubbly start

The Real Wine fair is a two days event with focus on naturally made wine, where many of the leading producers in the genre come from all corners of the world to gather in London, this year at the Tobacco Dock in the eastern part of the city. The activities are not restricted to these two days either, as the arrangers (most importantly importer/distributor Les Caves de Pyrène) have collaborators all over the UK with their own arrangements in the weeks and even months leading up to the fair itself.

This is a very nice place to be, with so many nice people (both producers and visitors) contributing to the atmosphere. And about the wines, I say ‘natural wines’ for short. But there are so many different interpretations of the theme, and add to this the variations in terroirs, grapes and producer personalities, so there are not two identical wines here.

There were maybe not that many sparkling wines on show, but it struck me that here were some of the leading producers of naturally made sparklers in many categories. So here are a few.

Let’s begin in Champagne. Pierre Gerbais is located in the Côte des Bars area in southern Champagne, and has been certified since 1996. Their vineyard consists mainly of the dark marl called kimmeridge. They use the most traditional grapes of the region, but they are also noted for making the first 100% pinot blanc called L’Originale.

IMG_4219 Aurélien Gerbais

From the fresh Cuvée Réserve (24 months on lees) I tasted my way through the five champagnes they had on offer. Among the more special treats were the aforementioned L’Originale (officially NV, but from 2011 grapes): 100% pinot blanc, mostly from a vineyard planted in 1904, in white clay soils: A concentrated wine with aromas of yellow apples, some toast, salty minerals and it’s drying off. L’Osmose Extra Brut (also white clay, also from the 2011 harvest) made from chardonnay: Light colour, quite complex, with apple, some nuts, a nice acidity, and a dry aftertaste. In contrast, L’Audace (2011) is from pinot noir and from darker soil. Here is no dosage, no sulphur added. It’s darker yellow than the others, apples, strawberry, toast, and a mineral finish.

Finally the Grains de Celles Extra Brut, made from 50% pinot noir and the rest chardonnay and pinot blanc and with 36 months ageing on lees, is the most complex of lot. More toasted, aged notes, but some freshness too, yellow apples, mineral, with a slightly sweet fruit balanced by its concentration.

IMG_4218 Ton Mata

Antoni “Ton” Mata Casanovas now leads Recaredo together with his cousins Josep, Carles and Jordi. If there is one emblematic cava producer it is this one, second to no sparkling wine producer from anywhere. They practise dry farming with biodynamic principles, and only work their own vineyards high up in the Alt Penedès.

I have visited them in Sant Sadurní (Catalunya) and tasted through the whole range. Here most cavas were represented. All their wines have a great concentration of flavours, from low yields and prolonged ageing on lees. They don’t have any dosage, and all of them long exceeds the ageing requirements for a gran reserva. They have more focus on the xarel.lo grape than most cava producers. This is the grape that shines most brightly of the cava grapes given a few years of ageing.

Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010 has slightly more macabeu than xarel.lo: Aroma of mature apples and a touch of apricot and peach, some balsamic notes and some toast too, and a fresh appearance in spite of the ageing. The Finca Serral del Vell Brut de Brut 2007 is made from approximately even shares of xarel.lo and macabeu. The colour is light, it’s complex, with fresh pineapples aromas along with some toast, some balsamic, and a surprising freshness after 8 years on the lees; the aftertaste shows a stony minerality. According to Ton this is because of the calcareous soil on top of the hill. Further down the same road is the Reserva Particular 2005 (also a gran reserva despite the name), that can be considered one of the purest expressions of Mediterranean sparkling terroir wine (even if Recaredo themselves makes another fantastic cava only in some years), with a xarel.lo 55%/ macabeu 45% blend: Dark straw colour, some lime, smoke, concentrated, rich, and remarkably fresh for its age (almost 10 years on yeast). Worth noting is also that their Brut Intens Rosat 2012 (garnacha/monastrell, a little pinot noir) har all the charms of a sparkling rosé, but is also clearly in the family of aged Recaredo wines.

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Then there is Franciacorta, in the hills near Brescia in the Italian region of Lombardia. The only producer presented here was 1701 Franciacorta, the first certified biodynamic producer in the area. They never use any dosage and sulphur only when absolutely necessary.

As an ouverture there is the low-pressure (3 atmospheres) Sullerba, that is outside the appellation. It’s a light and lovely, yeasty and appley, super easy-to-drink wine. Made from chardonnay in steel and amphora with 12 months on its lees. Their Rosé is lovely, from the 2012 vintage (these wines are also officially NV), fresh with raspberry notes, and a good balance between the fruit and the aged qualities. The Satèn from the 2013 vintage is a chardonnay with 30 months on lees; fresh, not too complicated, but delicious drinking. Maybe the most “serious” (among these wines, all of them obviously serious) is the Vintage 2011 Dosaggio Zero, a 90% chardonnay, the rest pinot noir (pinot nero in Italian), 42 months on the lees, 20% in barrels. Here is a perfect balance between ageing and fruit character, with some toast, mature apples, and a balsamic touch. Long curve. 1701 was a nice surprise and a producer that I didn’t know before.

IMG_4237 Rhona Cullinane and Federico Stefieni

Talking about fun: Prosecco is often marketed as such, but alas, like for many others the vast majority doesn’t give me much of that. But luckily Casa Belfi was in the house!

Casa Belfi (or: Albino Armani) works according to biodynamic principles and there is no fining or filtering involved, nor any addition of SO2. 6 months on lees is typical. I have tried all the wines before, and they are truly joyful wines to drink. I think especially the normal Colfòndo Frizzante 2015 has a good value, with its expressive, pure fruit. It’s yellow/orange, cloudy with a super and fresh apple and citrus peel aroma, notes of bread, and a dry finish. The Colfòndo Anfora 2015 is darker after 7 days of skin contact and 4 months in clay. It’s still fruity, with mature apples, a spicy touch and a citric aftertaste. Talking about fun, the red Raboso Frizzante 2015, from the grape variety by that name, has all the playful expressiveness you can ask for. Red with a dark rim; red berries, earthy notes, and lovely fruit all the way.

IMG_4229 Nicola Zuliani

Casa Coste Piane was also there. This is an estate that dispose of many old vines, some pre-phylloxera, and like Casa Belfi the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, dégorgement is not carried out, so some cloudiness is inevitable. At this point it has not the same expressive qualities as its neighbour, but has more subtle citrus and minerality, and it’s definitely promising.

A couple of days before the fair I visited Will Davenport in his winery in Rotherfield, East Sussex (a short article will follow).

IMG_4200 Will Davenport

Davenport Vineyards, or Limney Farm, is the biggest organic producer in the UK. The winery is small and modest, but it’s fully equipped to make both still and sparkling wines. Therefore they give services to other producers in the area. I love their still white Horsmonden White, but as this piece is about sparkling wines we shall take a brief stop at the Davenport Pet Nat (you know that wine that everybody makes nowadays that can do it, a welcome trend, in my opinion), aged 3 months before disgorging: Light in colour, very aromatic, mature apples, some citrus. Then there is the Limney Auxerrois Sparkling 2014, from a vineyard near the farm, 18 months on lees: Rich yeasty character, stony minerality, and a fresh and delicate touch too. And lastly the Limney Sparkling Rosé 2014: salmon pink, some autolysis character on the nose, plenty of fruit, raspberries and a citric touch.

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Lisa Harvey and Ian Hardwick, volunteers for the Forty Hall project

I was about to say that Forty Hall Vineyard makes the wines with the shortest travel, from Enfield, North London. It’s not quite true that it’s the one with shortest travel, because it has travelled down to Davenport’s winery in East Sussex, and back again, because Forty Hall is among the producers that get some help from Will Davenport.

Forty Hall is a 4 hectar organic vineyard, the first commercial producer in London since the middle ages, led by volunteers as a non-profit organization to support the community.

The London Sparkling Brut 2014 was delicious, beautifully balanced with lightly yeasty character, rounded fruit (mature apples and a touch of citrus) and just enough acidity to match.

Apart from this there were some occational bubbles from producers that aren’t primarily makers of such, both fully and half sparkling wines from Loire, from Italy, and from elsewhere in the world.

 

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

Just be COS

I thought I had focused this fabulous winery in a “wine of the week” post. But in spite of having enjoyed their wines so much, when I chequed, that wasn’t the case. They have been mentioned though, at several ocations, like when I visited Spanish tinaja (big clay vessel) maker Juan Padilla. This wine is a masterpiece, and made in clay from Padilla.

COS was formed in 1980 by three students of architecture whose last names were basis for the name, the O standing for Giusto Occhipinti, who is related to Arianna. Take a look here for one example.

We find them in Vittoria at the southeastern tip of Sicilia, where they cultivate 35 hectares biodynamically. This wine is made from nero d’avola 60% and frappato 40% in soils containing clay, sand and limestone.

It was spontaneously fermented, underwent an 8 month period of skin maceration in clay pots, then further ageing in clay. It’s not fined nor filtered.

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Pithos Rosso 2015 (COS)

Bright ruby colour. Complex aroma, notes of morello, violets, red plums over earthy wild forest and mushroom. In the mouth lush, juicy and very vibrant, slightly chalky, gentle tannins, but red fruits are dominating. You can almost feel the energy of the winemakers in this wine.

Price: Medium

Food: Poultry and game, lamb and swine, fresh and hard cheeses, delicious alone (you or the wine)

From Soave’s highest vineyard

Soave signifies something soft and mellow. This area itself is not especially dramatic either. But the geography is capable of showing big differences in expression. And garganega, the most prominent grape in the area, is a very successful interpreter of these different terroirs. For me, both aspects were clearly demonstrated for the first time, in a guided tasting during the VinItaly fair in nearby Verona some years ago.

f-filippi_vigne-della-bra Vigne delle Brà (photo: courtesy of Cant. Filippi)

Cantina Filippi disposes of the highest vineyards in the Soave area. 400 meters above sea level might not seem enough to challenge your fear of heights, but all is relative, and these plots have an advantage over other Soave sites in terms of natural acidity. Most of their 16 hectars of vineyards were planted in the 1950s. These are divided into three crus with different characteristics.

f-filippi_volcanic-soil There is a high volcanic content in the vineyard

In all vineyards organic farming is practised, and the soils are volcanic rock, limestone and clay. Filippi keeps the pergola training of garganega inherited from his ancestors. He doesn’t wish to blend garganega with more acidic grapes, as he more appreciate a saline form of minerality. Having said this, 6 g/L isn’t that low either.

The wine was fermented with native yeasts is stainless steel, and it stayed on fine lees for around one year. Not filtrated.

Bilde av flasken for Filippi Vigne della Brà Soave 2013

Vigne delle Brà 2013 (Cantina Filippi)

Light yellow. Mature apple and some citric notes in the aroma, some nuts and saline minerality. Round and mellow in the mouth, a slight bitterness in the finish.

Price: Medium

 

A real Verdicchio

100% Verdicchio from Castelli di Jesi in Marche on the Italian Adriatic coast.

After harvest and pressing the must was fermented spontaneously. The wine was kept 9 months on lees in big, old oak vats and steel.

last-ned

PassoLento Classico Riserva 2013 (La Marca di San Michele)

Orange, light brownish. Fresh, juicy, appley with citrus, slightly buttery with some nuts. Good acidity and length.

Price: Medium

Perricone, Sicilia

The Perricone grape variety originated from western Sicilia. In the past it was mostly noted for full bodied, bitter and alcoholic wines. But with today’s farming methods, often organic growing, low yields and early picking (or earlier, as it ripens very late) it has more appeal for modern palates, and still with high antioxidant qualities.

The small cooperative Valdibella in Camporeale (Palermo province) was among those who took part in the rescue operation, as the variety was in danger of extinction. Valdibella takes their pride in preserving the biodiversity, and they make natural wines in the sense that the interventions in vineyards and cellar, as well as chemical additives, are held on an absolute minimum, for some wines absolutely nothing.

Acamante is made only from perricone, hand-harvested, only with indigenous yeasts, and with no fining nor filtering. It comes with a low alcohol at 12%.

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Acamante Perricone 2013 (Valdibella)

Dark colour. A floral, perfumed scent, red berries, with some earth and spicyness. Balanced tannins, and refreshing acidity on the palate, a slight hint of bitterness. Delightful drinking.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, pasta, antipasti with salami and other…

A Lazio delight in London

This week’s wine was enjoyed at Soho’s DuckSoup restaurant (in the same block as Ronnie Scott’s famous jazz bar), that has a focus on natural wine and simple but tasty dishes inspired from anywhere. Music lovers will find a home here too, as they have a collection of vinyl records for varied tastes.

20160811_173724-1 The DuckSoup cookbook displayed

Anyway, the wine is a elegant and fruity red carbonic maceration wine from Gradoli, Lazio in central Italy.

Gianmarco Antonuzzi and Clémentine Bouveron dispose of around 14 hectares, oak and chestnut, and olive trees as well as vineyards. We are near the volcanic Lake Bolsena in the north of the Lazio region, 600 meters above sea level.

While the sites and microclimates of their 20 parcels vary, all are found on volcanic soil.

Le+Coste.+Le+Primeur+MG

Some of the vines are ungrafted. This is a real artisanal project, carried out with a lot of patience, according to biodynamic principles, and without additions of any sort.

Le Primeur is a varietal aleatico that underwent a carbonic maceration for three weeks. Comes in magnums – or by the glass at DuckSoup.

Le Primeur 2015 (Le Coste)

Quite light in colour. Pure fresh fruit, flowers, red berries and stone fruit. Vivid and energetic, slightly carbonic in the mouth, simply delicious.

Price: Medium

A long time bargain favourite

Here is a long time bargain favourite, Pilastri’s Rosso Piceno, in other words a red wine from the Marche region near the Adriatic coast of Italy. It’s made from 70% sangiovese and 30% montepulciano, organically farmed and aged in steel.

Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno 2014

Rosso Piceno 2014 (Saladini Pilastri)

Quite dark, purple tones. Aroma of cherries, herbs and a little spiciness. Fresh and fruity all the way, with a dry mouthfeel and a youthful acidity.

Price: Low

Food: Pasta, chicken, salads

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