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Wine of the Week

A nod to the Valpolicella of the past

Valpolicella was originally light to medium-bodied, refreshing, with a pleasing bitterness on the finish. Nothing to do with the dark, sweet, oaky or raisiny wines we have come to know. (Okay, amarone and ripasso have a rightful place in their context.) Monte Dall’Ora makes beautiful classical style wines.

The winery was founded by Carlo Venturini with his wife Alessandra in 1995. They bought some land in bad condition and started almost from scratch. They work the traditional varieties corvina, corvinone, rondinella, molinara, and also oseleta, an almost extinct grape that now is on the up.it was always organic, and in 2006 they converted to biodynamic agriculture.

Carlo amongst his pergolas (Cred. Monte D’O)

They are found on the Castelrotto height, in San Giorgio, northwest from Verona. The soils are limestone with a reddish hue, quite special for this area, with a porous upper part. They train their vines in pergola. These varieties are vigourous and can easily grow to big bunches to control. Pergola gives air and space between the clusters, and you would also get smaller and concentrated bunches.

The actual wine is made up of 40% corvina, 30% corvinone and 20% rondinella, and a dash molinara. The vines for this traditional Valpolicella varieties were planted in 2008, trained on wires in guyot rather than in pergola for greater concentration. It’s harvested by hand in October, later than for the rest of their wines.

The grapes are destemmed and gently pressed. Spontaneous fermentation takes place with native yeasts and without sulfur in concrete and steel tanks, then maceration 7-8 days with occasional manual punch-downs. Aged 6 months in steel, then 6 months in old 25-hectoliter oak vessels bottled without filtration and only a small amount of sulphur.

Camporenzo Valpolicella Superiore 2017 (Monte Dall’Ora)

Ruby red, just a bit cloudy. Aroma of cherries, white flowers and, wild raspberry. On the palate more pungent than it appears by the eye; with red currant, pomegranate, berry seed, and stony minerals. Lots of pleasure in this bottle!

Price: Medium/low

Food: Light meat, liver, sage, prosciutto, pasta, boils, hard cheeses…

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Wine of the Week

SP68 revisited

An all time favourite, you can read a little background and a review of a previous vintage (under its former name) here.

In short Nero d’Avola (30%) gives colour, frappato red berries, spice and some herbal character. The wine is made in the most natural possible way. Spontaneously fermented in cement with 15 days skin-contact. Further ageing jo cement for 6 months. Unfiltered.

SP68 Rosso 2020 (Arianna Occhipinti)

Quite dark, young and blueish. Cool aroma, red berries (cherry, raspberry), flowers, herbs. Luscious, fruity, with some tannin and a fresh acidity.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Hécula of Yecla

This summer I attended a tasting in Murcia organized by the Spanish magazine Verema. You can read more here.

From Yecla, a one-municipality-denomination to the northeast of Jumilla I tasted the wines of its leading winery, Bodegas Castaño. Among these was a favourite for many years, the Hécula, now Hécula Organic in 2019 vintage. It comes from a 750 meter altitude north-south vineyard on limestone, with in average 50 years old vines. Aged 6 months in French (80%) and American oak, and malolactic took place in tanks.

Hécula Organic 2019 (Bodegas Castaño)

Cherry-red. On the nose it shows ripe red berries (morello), aromatic herbs and a hint of coffee. Full in the mouth with mature tannins and a relatively good acidity.

Price: Low

Food: All kinds of meat, stews, salads with meat (such as Caesar), murcian paella…

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Wine of the Week

From the Brda borders

The Movia winery has a history dating back to the 18th century, and has belonged to the Kristančič family since 1820. At the moment they own 22 hectares. half of it in Brda and half in Italy (Collio).

The grape variety is a 100% pinot grigio. The wine originates from a single vineyard called Fojana, that rich in lime, called opaka soil. Very low SO2.

The grapes were harvested late and by hand. Naturally fermented in large tanks with two weeks of skin-contact. Then it was transferred to barriques for 18 months storage. Unfiltered.

Sivi Grigio Ambra 2019 (Movia)

Amber-reddish. Aroma of stone fruits, flowers, orange peel, nuts. Quite full, dry with adequate acidity and a hint of salt in the finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Tasty fish dishes, light meat, salads, various Asian (dependent of a lot) – some importers suggest sauerkraut, and why not.

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Wine of the Week

Drink me Nat Cool

Dirk Niepoort is a driving force in Portuguese wine. Born into a Dutch port wine company, now he is “everywhere” with one more interesting project than the other. Various producers contribute to the Nat Cool series, that features light-bodied easy-to-drink wines from several regions. All of them in 1 liter bottles.

The Bairrada version comes mainly from their own Quinta de Baixo, in calcareous clay, vines between 40 and 100 years old, all baga, all handpicked, only stainless steel – with some malolactic fermentation. Unfitered.

Drink Me Nat Cool 2020 (Niepoort)

Light cherry colour. Fresh and fruity character, quite flowery, with raspberry, herbs and a touch licorice. Fresh and juicy in the mouth, low alcohol and just enough acidity. Nat and cool!

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Phaunus pét nat

Vasco Croft is a pioneer in biodynamic wine farming since he established his Aphros wine series in 2003. He disposes of some 20 hectares in the Lima Valley, in mostly granitic soil.

The Phaunus line is vinified in the historic medieval cellar, foot-trodden in lagares, then vinified in old amphorae from Alentejo. When I visited a couple of years ago he showed how all work was carried out without electricity, but with water, for instance.

Vasco and his water installation

This wine is based on loureio 85% and arinto 15%. It’s made according to the ancestral method. In this case it means pressing and decanting in inox vats, fermentation between 16 to 18ºC, first in inox vats, then finished in bottle, and dégorgement after 5 months. No added sugar nor yeast, unfiltered.

Here with a Lebanese salad

Phaunus Pét Nat 2020 (Aphros Wine/ Vasco Croft)

Light yellow with a green tinge, good mousse. Aromatic with apples, citrus, white flowers and some yeast. Fruity and stony with good concentration, very good acidity (from the varieties), that makes it last long.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Breuer’s Rosé

Domaine Georg Breuer in Rheingau, Germany was officially founded in 1980, but it’s obviously much older. Today it accounts for some 40 hectares, some of them very prestigious, like Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg and Berg Roseneck.

Berhard Breuer, a well-known promoter of dry riesling, left this world much too early in 2004. And then 19 year old Theresa Breuer, 4th generation, was suddenly in charge of it all. Now oenology educated, she has for years handled the family plantings of riesling and red with great virtuosity.

Here is a link to another wine of the domaine, and the article also contain a link to Theresa’s visit to a wine fair in Stavanger, Norway.

Spätburgunder Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 (G. Breuer)

Lovely pink-orange colour. Floral aroma with cranberries and cherry, some lemon/lime. Fresh citric acidity, yet a smooth feeling that makes it excellent drinking, with and without food. Finishes dry. A very delicate wine.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Bargain from Bujanda

Much can be said of the family Martínez Bulanda, and some has also been said in these pages. They have several properties in Rioja, Rueda and La Mancha. See for example an article that features some of their wines here.

This is a simple, delicious and economic Rioja. It’s a 100% tempranillo, steel-raised, modern, for the wave of gastronomy that more and more people take on these days.

Viña Bujanda Tempranillo 2020 (Martínez Bujanda)

Dark cherry red, blueish hint. Fruity, with mature dark berries (blackberry), plums, green herbs, some licorice. Slight touch of tannin, just enough acidity to make it easy to drink yet refreshing, berry fruit and some herbs following up in the mouth.

Price: (Very) low

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Wine of the Week

Luca Roagna’s selected rosé

Luca Roagna is a well-known producer of delicious barberas and stylish barolos. But there is much more. This rosé is a collaboration with local farmers, where Roagna has been part of the whole process and did the final selection.

We are in northwestern Piemonte in the cool area Bricherasio. This region is capable of making fresh wines with excellent fruit. There is barbera, nebbiolo, dolcetto, freisa and several lesser known local varieties.

Everything is natural, on sugar added, low sulphur, and the wine is naturally fined and filtered.

  • Selezione di Luca Roagna Piemonte Rosato 2020 (Vignaioli Piemontesi)

Light red, touch of salmon colour. Lots of fresh berries in the aroma (raspberry, wild strawberry) and flowers. Some structure, concentrated fruit on the palate, fresh acidity, long.

Price: Low

Food: Light meat, antipasti, fish, shellfish, pasta…

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Wine of the Week

Tavares de Pina’s Rufete

As I this year concentrated on new Portuguese discoveries at the Simplesmente… Vinho fair, there were several great producers that I didn’t manage to visit. João Tavares de Pina was one (as were Aphros, Folias de Baco, Quinta da Carolina, Dirk Niepoort, Álvaro Castro, Quinta do Mouro…)

I visited their Quinta da Boavista in 2018, so you can read here for more background. But in short, this is a producer in Penalva do Castelo, northern Dão, who makes both delicious and fresh young wines to the natural side and wines with a long life.

João uses chamomile a.o. as protectors of the vines

This wine was kindly offered by João and his wife Luisa at the first outdoor lunch at the Faculty of Architecture (University of Porto), where the tastings were held this year. It’s based on the variety rufete, well suited for the local terroir, where it produces grapes with good acidity.

Torre de Tavares Rufete 2019 (João Tavares de Pina)

Dark cherry. Smells of quite mature berries (blackberry), and is balanced by a nice balsamic note (pine/resin). Medium bodied, with a smooth structure, lots of fruit and a fresh acidity.

Price: Medium

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