Press "Enter" to skip to content

Wine Chords Posts

Wine of the Week

The lamb lies down

Lammershoek is located in the picturesque Paardeberg area of Swartland. Here the owners of the winery have found their breathing space, “close to nature with unbeatable views that speak to the soul”, they explain. The grapes are also grown in harmony with the rich animal and bird life of the place.

Lammershoek has been a cornerstone and a leading light in Swartland, and therefore in modern South-African quality wine for generations. Craig Hawkins, himself a mentor for others, was head-winemaker for almost ten years before he decided to put all his effort into his own project Testalonga in 2016. (Search these pages for several of his wines, and also Intellego and Mother Rock.)

Today Lammershoek is owned by Andreas Abold, originally from Germany, and Fedor Radmann, a business-man and friend from Switzerland. Footballer Franz Beckenbauer was also co-owner, but left the pitch a couple of years ago. Their famous wine Libero No 5 is attributed to him.

Credit: Lammershoek

Lammershoek means “lambs’ corner” in the Afrikaans language. Local legend says that the sheep sought shelter for their babies in the nearby forest, from the black eagle and other birds of prey.

The Innocent is some kind of an entry-level range. Mostly from old dry-farmed bush-vines, the wines have always lots of character and a high quality. The pinotage is somehow taken back to its roots. This ruby red wine made in a subtle, youthful Beaujolais style, is different from what people have come to expect from a pinotage nowadays. The bushes are between 21 and 50 years old, all dry-farmed. Partial whole-bunch fermentation.

The Innocent Pinotage 2018 (Lammershoek)

Ruby red, a bit blueish youthfulness. Aroma of red berries (cherries), plums, over a hint of herbs and licorice. Subtle, youthful, luscious taste with with careful tannins, low alcohol (12%) and an energetic whole-bunch acidity, – and yet a sweet sensation that I often associate with pinotage lingers in the long aftertaste.

Price: Low

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Vegan friendly butcher

It might not at first right look like a vegan friendly wine. But the back label says so, and there is little about this wine that should be harmful. Or rather: The answer to this should be given by the vegans themselves. Fellow Burgenland producer Meinklang has become popular in several markets with labels showing their dear cows and oxen.

Anyway, Hans Schwarz was as a master butcher before he decided to found his own winery around 20 years ago. Now he has established a reputation of making honest wines according to local traditions, without thinking about what trends are going on internationally. His son Michael has also been involved in the work, and is now effectively the winemaker of the house.

Before establishing the winery in 1999 Hans Schwarz sold grapes to the area’s top producers, including top dessert wine producer Alois Kracher. The geographical location of their vineyards are more precisely Andau, Neusiedlersee and St. Georgen am Leithagebirge. They sit on different types of soil such as shale, lime and sand, silt and clay. Zweigelt is the most important grape variety of their 12 hectare vineyard.

The wines undergo natural fermentation in neutral barrels or in steel tanks to preserve the fruit quality. This one in particular was fermented in steel with two weeks maceration and aged one year in old barriques.

The Butcher Zweigelt 2020 (Schwarz Weine)

Dark ruby garnet, violet reflections. Aroma of ripe plums, cherries, raspberry, flowers and a hint of licorice. Juicy in the mouth, with delicate tannin and fresh berry fruit.

Price: Low

Food: Salads, lightly spiced food, some Asian and (sorry, vegans out there) light meat, grilled fish, tasty shellfish such as crab.

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Beaujolais is back

Beaujolais is back. The local people brings it back on the squares of central Beaujolais after two pandemic years. And as usual, from the third Thursday of November it’s arrivé here for us to enjoy.

One of the best I have tasted this year is a Beaujolais-Villages from Château du Chatelard. The château was first owned by the Tournus abbey of south Burgundy in the 12th century. Today the labels carry emblems of the families that have developed it further.

The actual 28 hectares were mainly established before 1955. They believe in integrated farming and grass cover of the parcels to preserve the soils and the biodiversity.

Aurélie Vermont

Aurélie de Vermont is now manager, and as winemaker she sticks to local traditions. She selects micro-cuvées from the many terroirs of both their Beaujolais and Mâconnais vineyards.

Typical for the area, low temperature semi-carbonic maceration is used for the nouveau. This means that whole and partial bunches of grapes are vatted and the alcoholic fermentation starts inside each grape. The low temperature allows a longer winemaking process (more than 10 days).

Baronne du Chatelard Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2021 (Château du Chatelard)

Deep purple, young. Aroma of sweet cherries, raspberries. Nice acidity, clean fruit, elegant and careful tannin

Price: Medium-low

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

COS Zibibbo

Here is a lovely white from southeastern Sicilia, from the zibibbo variety. I have earlier also highlighted the red version. (Read here.)

COS started in 1980, when the three architecture students Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Cirino Strano, mostly as a fun experiment, founded the winery. Names are composed of the initials of the three classmates’ surnames. Today, they make top wines using ancient methods in Vittoria on the southern tip of Sicilia. Today they cultivate 35 hectares biodynamically.

The grape for this one is zibibbo, in the moscato family. The soil is calcareous and volcanic clay, with silica sand, in a vineyard planted in 2001. It’s of course spontaneously fermented, before a 7 months skin-maceration, and maturation a few months in clay. COS prefers the Spanish tinajas as made by José Padilla of Albacete (read here). Unfiltered.

Certification is organic, and they work according to biodynamic principles.

Zibibbo Pithos Bianco 2018 (Az. Agr. COS)

Light golden. Aromatics include apple, orange blossom, pineapple, and a touch of honey. Full-bodied, dense, adequate acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: Dried fish, salads, light meat, pork…

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Slovakian wolves at Bellies

I could have written a long introduction to the tasting. Here I will just mention that Nebbiolo Wines is one of the most important importers of natural wines in Norway, and Bellies, where Jan-Erik Hybertsen conducted this tasting (he is actually also a classical musical conductor) is probably the best 100% vegan restaurant in Norway. I came a bit late, so I chose to concentrate on the Czech and Slovakian producers of their portfolio.

Magula is the Slovakian producer that we shall focus on here. They make natural wines exclusively from their own, organically grown grapes of Slovak and regional varieties. They started out in 2007, and since 2016 the farming has been biodynamic. They are found in Suchá Nad Parnou, a traditional wine-making village in the Small Carpathian wine region, just northeast of Bratislava. Here we find deep loess soils with a high proportion of minerals, especially calcium, and there is scarce rainfall, coupled with a large proportion of sunny days.

At Bellies: Nestarec’s Czech wine Umami left

In 2001 they picked up the family tradition that been interrupted by the communist era. At that time they had an estate near what is in Slovak called the Wolf valley, from where this series of wines take its names.

Vlk is Slovak for wolf, and Oranžový Vlk becomes orange wolf. Among the other contributions the red, Cerveny Vlk, has a nice evolution while retaining its fine acidity; lots of red fruit and some leather and chocolate. The Frankovka (blaufränkisch in Austria) has a typical stony & herby aroma and fleshy taste. The pink wolf, Ružový, was a superb, fresh, lightly structured rosé.

The orange wolf is made from white grapes by open vat fermentation on skins and stems, followed by further maceration for two weeks. The blend is welschriesling 50% and grüner veltliner 30%, both from an old vineyard in Wolf’s valley, with the variety devín from a young vineyard on Rose mountain. It’s spontaneously fermented, unfiltered, unfined, and with no SO2 added. It’s aged in old barrels and amphorae. Half of it had two months of skin-contact with stems, most of the rest had ten days of skin-contact.

Orange wolf bottle next to the glass on the left

Oranžový Vlk 2019 (Magula)

Deep orange. Aroma of stone fruits, apricot, peel and a touch of smoke. Medium-bodied with light tannin, good concentration and fruit, and adequate acidity.

Price: Medium

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Fonterenza Brunello di Montalcino 2014

Here is a “young” and dark wine from a vintage with problems and where many producers chose to declassify their brunello to rosso. It was one of several good wines from a private brunello tasting last week.

Fonterenza was created by two twin sisters from Milano. They planted their first vineyard in 1999, and now all the plots are cultivated biodynamically, as natural as possible and with minimum intervention.

The grapes are sourced from a small plot with clay and shale soil. The must ferments in 1.750 litre Slovenian oak foudres with native yeasts. It is aged in 2.000 and 2.300 litre barrels for 47 months. The final wine is not filtered or clarified before bottling.

Brunello di Montalcino 2014 (Fonterenza)

Dark cherry red, a bit brick-toned; aromas of dark and wild berries and a touch of smoke and leather; fresh in the mouth, dense, with quite elegant tannins, long. Will keep.

Price: High

Leave a Comment

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…

Leave a Comment

Articles and Wine of the Week

Nadal at a Corpinnat tasting

While Norway changed government with parades and speeches, an interesting tasting took place just across the street at the Grand Hotel. This tasting in Oslo was the first official Corpinnat tasting outside of Spain.

To be short, Corpinnat (meaning born in the Penedès, after Roman etymological roots) is a group of Catalan producers of sparkling wine that has left DO Cava. All ten producers with wines in the market were represented. Leading the tasting was Carles del Amor, export director of Nadal, one of the six founding members – together with Liora Levi, Norwegian sommelier and wine writer.

Carles del Amor while preparing the tasting in Oslo

The tasting showed a variety of styles. Some wineries contributed what they consider the more typical from their range, while others offered “top” wines. There were examples of restrained, mineral wines, while others were more on the fruity side. Some dominated by the xarel.lo grape (also varietals), others with more parellada. One rosé.

There will be a longer report that I will link to here. Now I will just present one wine in the ever ongoing Wine of the Week series.

Since Carles is here (on behalf of Corpinnat, that is) I still want to focus a bit on Nadal‘s contribution. Their Brut Nature Reserve 2015 was maybe the most flowery/fruity of the lot. This can maybe be seen from the grape composition; parellada 57%, xarel.lo 22%, macabeu 21%. While xarel.lo is a variety with a lot of acidity and preferred in wines made for ageing, parellada contributes more finesse and aroma. This said, Carles tells that they have a project going on, trying to prepare parellada for more ageing, for example by moving higher up towards the Pyrenees. By doing this they also prepare themselves for new, hotter times. The wine has an ageing of 60 months on the lees, is a non dosé obviously organically grown (as is mandatory without Corpinnat), and it’s degorged 21st June 2021 (also obligatory information within the group).

Here are other posts about members of the group (search the site for more):

Gramona

Recaredo

Mas Candí

Brut Nature Reserve 2015 (Nadal)

Light golden; fruity with aromas of white flowers, elegant yeast notes, a subtle hint of ginger and nuts; quite soft structure, but enough acidity – wonderfully balanced.

Price: Medium

Food: Fish, shellfish, light meat, salads various tapas and the best serrano hams

Leave a Comment

Articles

Simplesmente… Vinho 2021 – Part 2

In the first part from this year’s Simplesmente Vinho we highlighted some producers from outside the famous regions. (Read here.) In this long overdue second part two I would like to focus on producers from well-known wine districts that I didn’t know from before or wanted to re-taste.

From Douro, where the fair is located, I tasted several, like Quinta de Zimbro and Conceito, and also Luís Seabra, who is a little in and out of the Douro valley. Add to this one of few port wines, the lovely organic ruby from organizer João Roseira and his Quinta do Infantado, and the picture is a bit more complete, at least for me – this time.

Hugo Mateus

While I missed Ana Maria Hespanol this time, her partner Hugo Mateus was there. He showed an impressive line of wines.

Traditionally Ana’s father Manuel had a good grip on the heady Douro reds. I think they have lifted the quality a couple of flats, especially with the other side of the assortment, or to bring it more in line with the times is maybe more fair to say. Anyway the whites are now often very good. Their Branco 2017, from mostly viosinho, and bottled in 2020, was harvested early to retain the acidity. Lots of primary fruits, like apples and pears. In the mouth it’s quite full, rich and long. It’s part of their often innovative, or modern, Grau Baumé line.

They have a serious orange wine, Undo Curtimenta 2020, a blend of usual Douro grapes like viosinho, rabigato, and gouveia, with 31 days of skin-contact. It’s quite textured, but yet with some feeling of lightness, aromas of white flowers, herbs and peel.

Rita and Miguel, winemakers from Conceito in the Teja Valley, showed again their impressive range, with very good prices too. Their selection falls mainly into two categories, Conceito and Contraste. Conceito is meant to be the flagship range, but I must admit that I not always understand where the dividing line is, as they both contain quality wines that sit somewhere between the classic and the modern. A wine that has not been highlighted (by me) is their Contraste Rosé, now in its 2020 vintage. It’s from higher (more than 600 meters) granite soils: Very light in colour, with raspberry and whitecurrent aromas. On the palate it’s both mellow and easy, but with a nice acidity and a serious charm. Legítimo is now in its 2018 vintage. This one is made with stems of touriga nacional, tinta roriz and touriga franca, with no sulphur. It’s dark cherry, dark fruits on the nose (blackberry) and also plums, with lactic notes (yoghurt?), and elegant tannins in the mouth. The Bastardo 2019 is, as always, superelegant, uplifting, truly inspiring. It comes from a 50 year old vineyard and ripes earlier than the others, end of august. It’s made with stems, and just a little SO2 before bottling. It’s “surprisingly” (well, not anymore) light, with a lot of raspberry and flowers, evident but light tannins.

Manuel Sapage and Rita Ferreira Marques

Like many of the other producers here, to present a short report about Luís Seabra, doesn’t give him justice. He excels both in red and white, and both “xisto” and “granito” soils that are often presented on the labels. Everything is good to outstanding, from the entry-level white and red Xisto Ilimitado, via the monovarietals to the cru wines. All right, let me chose one of each. The red Xisto Ilimitado 2019 is made from a blend of touriga franca 30%, tinta roriz 20%, tinta amarela 20% and 10 each of rufete and tinta barroca. It’s clear red; aromas of fresh red berries, some balsamic and herbs; fruity and dry, with a light structure. Mono C 2019 is a castelão (that is in fact authorized in the Douro): Cherry red; red fruits (cherry), stone fruits (plum), with some herbs; lightly structured with fresh acidity. For me this wine is delicious, and ready to drink now (I have the previous vintage at home, maybe at its peak now). There are several wines with the same name. This one is from Vinho Verde: Granito Cru 2019 from alvarinho grapes is from near the river Minho in the Melgaço municipality. It’s light yellow; citric with elements of honey, lightly spicy and a touch of vanilla (after one year in barrel); good concentration in the mouth, dry, a stony minerality and great lenght. Wait two years, and it’s perfect! OK, an extra speciality for you my friend: Véu de Xisto 2015! Véu denotes that it has spent two years under flor in a barrel from Jura, France. It’s golden, but also lightly greenish; smells of yeasts, flowers, iodine; full in the mouth, rounded. By the way, the grapes are rabigato 70%, côdega do larinho 15% and the rest gouveio.

Luís Seabra with his Natalie
An impressive range from Luís Seabra

From nearby Amarante of Minho we have Quinta de Palmirinha. Fernando Paiva, biodynamic pioneer in the Vinho Verde region, never stop to impress, with both azal and arinto. But his loureiros are the stars. Really interesting from his current selection is the Leviano 2020, a “curtimento” (orange wine). Leviano denotes in Portuguese a person that doesn’t care about anything, says Fernando. But he cares about the most, from vineyard to table. Noteworthy is his use of chestnut flowers to avoid use of SO2. The Leviano spent two weeks on skins, that gives a golden hue, an aroma of ginger and white flowers. In the mouth it’s in a way gentle and mellow, but it has the unmistakable acidity from the loureiro grape.

Fernando Paiva

South to Dão I had the opportunity to try the wines of Casa de Darei, that I hadn’t tasted since the opening of their “lodging” facilities (that I also used), some 20 years ago. Then José Ruivo was “chief”. Now it’s his son Carlos who is in charge. Their reds are lovely, not least the entry level Lagar de Darei 2015 from the “usual suspects” touriga nacional, tinta roriz, jaen and alfrocheiro, with its red fruit and balsamic pinewood nuances, and its luscious mouthfeel. All reds came in the 2015 vintage. New launches that “old” is quite unusual these days. I also like their rosé 2020, easy-to-drink, with its lovely raspberry character and low alcohol.

Carlos Ruivo

I also tried a couple of the fantastic and diverse wines of João Tavares da Pina, kindly offered by him and his wife Luisa at a lunch. Read more about one of these wines here.

José Vivas

Quinta do Olival da Murta is located in the Cadaval area of the Lisboa region, near the mountain range Serra de Montejunto. It’s here that Joana Vivas, who is in charge of the family business, got the inspiration for the label Serra Oca. It’s only 15 kilometers to the Atlantic ocean, which is noted in the wines, that are always made in a simple way. They have an interesting moscatel graúdo called simply Serra Oca 2019, fermented in 1000 liters oak vats, with all the lovely moscatel virtues: Golden, floral, honeyed, and with a very good acidity. More ususal local grapes, like arinto, fernão pires, were used together with the moscatel in another Serra Oca 2019 wine. This one had three days of skin-contact, partly fermented in barriques and inox. This had an interesting mix of developed and fresh aromas and taste, as if it played with oxidation; golden/brownish colour, aromatic, citric and flowery, in the mouth full with lovely acidity. If my memory doesn’t fail me it was one months before its bottling. I have not forgot their reds, that they began with in 2013 (three years before the whites), but let’s save them for a later occasion.

From down in Alentejo I found Argilla, and tasted the wines while the local student choir was singing a wide selection of songs, many of them medieaval. The winery is located at the foot of the Montargil mountains in Alto Alentejo (northwest of Évora and Estremoz). They put a lot of effort in talha wines, made in the Alentejo style of clay vessel, and also smaller amphorae. But first: I really liked their Rosa d’Argilla 2019, some kind of a clarete, made from alicante bouschet with only 20% skin-contact. It’s clear ruby; aroma of red fruits (raspberry); only slightly structured, juicy and delicious. From the Talha Argilla range I tasted 2019 white (appley, with some earthiness from the clay), and the red 2018 (red fruits and licorice, with tannins from petite verdot), both from a selection of grapes. Then came a varietal, Alfrocheiro em Talha de Argilla 2017. This was a relatively young wine, dark with a blueish hint. The flavours were very balanced; red fruits, flowers, some earthiness, – and rounded in the mouth. Rita offered more wines, that I tasted, and they were all interesting. Sorry, but this was at the very end, and I had to concentrate on the music for a while. This time it was Transmontuna, a student choir from Vila Real.

Rita Tenreiro

Thanks to João Roseira and the other organizers who managed to set up a magnificent fair in “times of trouble”. And the band played on…!

And that was that, folks!
(João Roseira pictured)
Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

SorGaahl of La Sorga

La Sorga is something of a superstar on the natural wine stage. It was started in 2008 by Antony Tortul, now accompanied by his wife and by David Adell. They work as a kind of négociants, as the grapes are bought in. There are more or less 50.000 bottles produced per year. There is no shortage of creativity, so 30-40 different labels are created every year.

All grapes come from organic or biodynamic vineyards. La Sorga wines are always “zero zero”.

They work in different regions around Béziers, in the Languedoc. The climate is warm and maritime, close to the Mediterranean, so the grapes are often harvested early to maintain freshness. The soils are lime, clay and slate.

For this wine -from Corbières and Cabrerolles- cinsault 40 years old are used in 60%, the rest more than a hundred years old carignan. The grapes were picked by hand and underwent maceration carbonic for 60 days. Then followed 12 months in amphorae and bottling, clearly, without filtration or SO2.

SorGaahl 2019 (La Sorga)
Dark red with blue hue, somewhat turbid. Clear-cut aromas of blueberry, cherries and a spicy component. Luscious, juicy, but also concentrated, with a dry finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Rich vegetable dishes, light and tasty meat (chicken, lamb, pig), pizza and pasta…

Leave a Comment