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Wine Chords Posts

Wine of the Week

Australian Haggis

The savoury pudding called Haggis (containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs) has found its followers among Scottish immigrants in many countries, not least Australia.

Patrick Sullivan and his wife Megan are winemakers in Strezleki Ranges in Gippsland, Victoria. After traveling in Europe for two years, Patrick returned to Australia to study winemaking, but soon discovered that he didn’t want to follow the principles of his oenology studies. Instead he took a different turn, and started to study viticulture with botany, as he strongly believes that wine is made in the vineyards.

Currently he buys grapes from organic or biodynamic growers, but his dream is to have his own. In the cellar there is a low-intervention mentality so that the grape material can express as much fruit and origin as possible. All grapes are hand-harvested, a large proportion of whole bunches are used, spontaneous fermentation in used barrels, cement eggs or fiberglass tanks, long skin contact and ripening in neutral containers. Before bottling, there is no filtration and minimal use of sulfite.

This aromatic wine is made from a wide variety of grapes, first moscato 50%, sauvignon blanc 10%, sémillon 10%, and also the reds pinot and malbec with 10% each. Then after the skin-contact a 10% of chardonnay is added also. It’s obviously bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Haggis 2018 (Patrick Sullivan)

Light orange colour, a bit turbid. The aroma has typical muscat notes, here including orange blossom, yellow apples and fresh herbs. Luscious and fruity in the mouth, some volume and a light tannin structure.

Price: Medium

Food: The first one to try it with haggis: Tell me how it worked. I have a strong belief that it works.

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Wine of the Week

Black Friday

Today we will present a wine from a virtually black grape. Saperavi is famous for being Georgia’s main black variety, for its dark flesh and for the colour of its juice. This wine however, it’s from Moldova.

Vinaria Tiganca, also called Gitana, was first established as part of the big Moldvinprom in the village of Tiganca. It took a qualitative turn when it was bought by Petr and Svetlana Dulger in 1999.

They have planted their own vineyards and modernized the winemaking process. They prefer wooden vats for the fermentation to facilitate micro-oxidation.Their vineyards are situated in 2 villages in the Leovski region, in different climate zones. Each grape variety grows in the zone that is best suited for that particular variety.

This wine is exclusively from the saperavi variety, manually picked and selected and aged in clay vessels.


Credit: Gitana

Saperavi 2015 (Gitana/ Vinăria Tiganca)

Deep and opaque, with purple rim. Ripe dark fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant), black pepper, nutmeg, also leathery tones, cinnamon and dried fruits. Tastes dry, yet with a soft/smooth feeling, with ripe tannin, and moderate acidity. Really enjoyable and in its prime.

Price:

Food: Lamb and other tasty meat, rich plates with fat, umami flavours, like wines with soy sauce

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Wine of the Week

Beaujolais Nouveau rosé

Yesterday was the traditional Beaujolais Thursday. One of the most interesting wines this time was this rosé, if not for the very reason that it is just that – rosé – a style that what was recognized in 1937, but only the last few years has become popular.

The Romy family has been in wine for more than 300 years. village of Morancé, in Pierres -Dorées, southern Beaujolais. Nowadays Nicolas Romy of the family is their dynamic winemaker.

Le Mouflet 2020 (Dom. Romy)

Light salmon pink colour. Aroma of raspberries, roses and a touch of peach. Delicate, fruity, with good acidity.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

El Rapolao 2018

César Márques Pérez is one of the young winemakers who contributes to make Bierzo a dynamic area, and it’s easy to predict that he will become a far more well-known name than today. He is the nephew of Raúl Pérez, who has mentored many producers in their initial phase.

César started his own project in 2015, and works with a number of plots, several of them with over a hundred year old vines. He has 2 hectares in the Valtuille de Abajo, at the moment he also uses purchased grapes from 3 hectares, where he works closely with the growers. It is mostly mencía for the red wines, but also around 10% garnacha tintorera, most often grown in the same fields.

He applies a similar production method for all red wines, thus they are suitable for showing differences in vintage and vineyard conditions. The grapes are always grown organically, they are partially destalked and fermented in open old barrels. The maceration time is normally quite long, but with careful extraction. And the use of sulfur is always careful. The result is very fresh, vibrant and expressive wines.

We are in the vineyard of El Rapolao, located in the paraje Valtuille de Abajo (which in turn is located in the municipality of Villafranca del Bierzo). This is a very important vineyard, 3.5 hectares with 20 owners, of which 10 make wine that will potentially have the name on the label. It is the coolest of the fields César has available. Ricardo Palacios also buys wine from here for his tax-free bestseller Pétalos.

César in the Castro Ventosa family bodega

El Rapolao 2018 is, as we have heard, a single field wine from one of the coolest corners of the Valtuille de Abajo, but not higher than 540 meters. The exposure is north-facing with a clay soil. Dark color, cherries, slightly reductive, some smoke and spices, fine-grained tannins. A very elegant wine.

El Rapolao 2018 (C. Márquez)

Dark purple colour. Intense aroma of red fruits (cherries), cloves, some spices. Fleshy, yet fine-grained tannins and decent acidity. A powerful and smoky mineral wine. It’s slightly reductive at some point, thus changes in the glass.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

A Testalonga favourite

This has been a favourite since I tasted it first time at a London fair. In spite of that it has not been highlighted since the 2015 vintage. (Reed some background information here.)

We are in Swartland, Coastal South Africa. In this generally warm climate winemaker Craig Hawkins harvests early. A very short version goes like this: The wine is made according to quite strict non-intervention principles, and just a little SO2. Also, whole bunches are pressed, and spontaneous fermentation occurs, and it’s kept in big oak vessels and steel. And now in its 2019 vintage it is as alive and “punching” as ever.

Baby Bandito “Keep on Punching” 2019 (Testalonga)

Light golden. Aromas of citrus, flowers, yellow apples. A flavourfull wine with light tannin structure and nice acidity.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

De Martino old vines white

De Martino has been an important player in the development of Chile’s modern wine history. In 1996, De Martino became the first producer to register, produce and export wine from the carmenère grape. In 2008 they converted all the vineyards to organic farming and in 2009 De Martino became the first winery in Latin America to become carbon neutral. They work dedicatedly to find the best and oldest vineyards and make site-specific wines with a clear grape character.

De Martino’s grapes should only come from organically grown vineyards without use of chemical substances, the vines should be ungrafted, the grapes should be harvested before they become too ripe, the wines should only be fermented with native yeast and only stored in containers that do not show influence of oak.

The vines for this wine were planted in 1905 as free-standing ungrafted plants on granite-rich soils in the cool mountain coastline of Itata. The vineyards are located about 18 km from the sea on hillsides. The grapes are muscat 70% and the rest corinto, or chasselas, 110 years of age. They were hand-harvested and spontaneously fermented, and matured on lees. It’s a single vineyard called Guarilihue.

Gallardia Old Vine White 2016 (De Martino)

Light yellow colour. Aroma of apricot, white flowers, herbs (nutmeg), citrus (lime). Medium bodied, dry, with a fresh acidity and some minerality.

Price: Medium

Food: White fish, shellfish, vegetables, light meat

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Wine of the Week

Modern Mediterranean Monastrell

Let us start with the conclusion this time: This monastrell is a modern, juicy, “gluggable” wine way up the natural road – but at the same time it is the Mediterranean, slightly spicy, Provencal-herbal, hearty and quite recognizeable. I love it, and wrote about the previous vintage here.

This particular wine is made by 30 year old wine maker María Jover (born in nearby Alicante) who has a modern approach. The vines are between 20 and 40 years old, organically grown, in the old system of “terraje”. This concept involves renting the vineyard to the farmers, who take care of the quality of the vines. As a bonus the landowner in this specific project 7% of the production is given back to the farmer. This is a very common practise in Jumilla for old vines.

The producer owns some 80 hectares, mostly monastrell. The grapes for this wine were de-stemmed, lightly pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts on steel, before malo-lactic fermentation and a short ageing in cement.

Parajes del Valle Monastrell 2019 (Parajes del Valle)

Dark colour with a young blueish hint. Aromas of dark and red berries, like blackberry and cherry, aromatic herbs (rosemary, thyme), and a hint of lickorice. Juicy in the mouth, it has a coolness to it, like a fresh, natural acidity, but at the same time a serious southern quality hinting to coffee, or maybe tea leaves.

Price: Low

Food: Light meat dishes, bacalao, Murcian paella, pizza, hard cheeses, and almost everything from the grill

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Wine of the Week

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001

Finca Valpiedra is a single estate owned by Martínez Bujanda family. They started out in Rioja as early as 1889, and bought this place in the 1990’s. The finca is located in a bend of the Ebro river, between Fuentmayor and Cenicero. From here they launch wines in a crossroads between tradition and modernity, with some initial oakiness. Among the modern features are organic growing, estate focus, and the wines will reach the balance between oak and fruit after only a few years.

Credit: Martínez Bujanda

Tempranillo is the main grape, supported by a little cabernet sauvignon for structure and graciano for aroma. This particular wine also contains a tiny percent mazuelo (cariñena/carignan). The 2001 was a great vintage in Rioja, and the best wines, like this one, will last long.

Marta Martínez Bujanda and winemaker Lauren Rosillo
(in Rueda village)

Here you can read a report from their Rueda winery, where we also tasted their riojas.

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001 (Finca Valpiedra/ Martínez Bujanda)

Dark red with hint of brown. Forest fruits (blackberry), plums, thyme and eucalyptus over a thin layer of roast and dried fruits. Quite big, mature fruits in the mouth, with rounded tannins. In an optimal stage of evolution, without the sweetness of oak, still some freshness, the fruit intact, the individual parts integrated but still possible to detect.

Price: Medium

Food: We had it with entrecôte, and perfect with lamb, roast, game, hard cheeses…

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Wine of the Week

Clavidor still flies high

Sometimes when you feel a grape or a wine region has somewhat lost its direction, there are still someone that knows how to use a compass. It’s not that Rueda is completely lost, but the amount of uninspiring wines, often made with artificial yeast, together with the commercial success in the national market has made it one to “hate” for many. Good to know then, that there are people like Ismael Gozalo in the natural wine field. And among the producers working in a terroir-focused way with natural yeast there are a few. One of the leading ones, but often overlooked, is Bodegas Vidal Soblechero. They are mentioned before, and you can read about a visit here.

They are found in La Seca, located in the heart of Rueda, and the Spanish municipality with the most extensive vineyard. Claudio Vidal has tended the 42 hectares of family vineyards for several decades. Some of the plantings are more than seventy years old. With the climate, the old vines and the airing of the high plain, Rueda is a good place for organic farming.

Today it’s Claudio´s son Vidal and daughter Alicia who hold the reins, and founded in the 1990’s a small bodega built for their purpose.

Vidal and horse

The property is based on the verdejo grape, but they also own some viura (macabeo) and tinta fina (tempranillo). I appreciate their focus on small quantities of single plot wines, and tasting through their lines Pagos de Villavendimia (single plots) and Viña Clavidor (mostly estate blends) is a rewarding exercise. You have by now understood that you should consider this producer when searching for the authentic Rueda.

This week’s wind: The vineyards lie to the north of the municipality. In most of the plots they use the traditional bush vine system. All grapes are hand-picked, fermented in steel, only with indegenous yeast. Grapes from bush vines are harvested earlier, and for this wine some trellis style grapes are picked later. After alcoholic fermentation the final blend is left to age some months on the lees. In fact the wine is bottled every month, so the impact of the lees is stronger every time, as they are never removed. While the first bottlings are always fruitdriven, both complexity and ageing ability are increasing at the next bottlings. Only slightly fined and filtered.

Clavidor Verdejo 2018 (Bod. Vidal Soblechero)

Straw-coloured. Aroma of yellow apples and citrus (lemon), slightly yeasty, and a touch of apricot. Quite full and fleshy on the palate, with excellent but integrated acidity, and more to the mineral than the fruity side.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Greek ancestral sparkler

It’s not often that we present natural wines from this ancient country, but here is a good Greek pét-nat. It’s the Kioutsoukis family, originally from the coast of the Black Sea, that brought the knowledge about winemaking with them to Greece. Now, here in the modern world they completed their conversion to naturals in 2015.

The traditional use of herb sprays are used if necessary, but wine responsible Dmitri Kioutsoukis’ ideal is to use as few treatments as possible.

They own 10 hectares of vineyards in the hills of Mygdonia in Northern Greece, not far from Thessaloniki. They have a strong focus on Greek grape like assyrtiko, malagousia, roditis and xinomavro. In the low hillside an all-year northernly wind secures healthy vineyards. The soils vary from clay-sand to small stones and schist. This slightly off-dry (15 grams) ancestral style sparkler is made from xinomavro and the whites malagousia and assyrtiko.

Kamara Pure Pét’ Nat 2019 (Kamara Estate)

Blood orange colour, turbid and quite bubbly. Smell of red berries (raspberry/strawberry), lime, grapefruit and mango. Good acidity, slightly bitter finish that balances the residual sugar.

Price: Medium

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