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Wine of the Week

Dangerously drinkable South African red-rosé

Jurgen Gouws makes cool, fresh and focused wines in Swartland, South Africa. An earlier assistant winemaker under Craig Hawkins at Lammershoek, he soon established his own label Intellego.

The rented vineyards and the wines are managed with least possible interference. He was one of the first in Swartland to experiment with skin-contact for Chenin Blanc, very lightly in the fabulous (almost) orange wine Elementis.

The vines used for the Pink Moustache were planted in 1988 and 2001. The grapes are syrah 59%, cinsault 33% and mourvedre 8%. Whole clusters are pressed before spontaneous fermentation four days in used barrels. The wine matures 5 months, also in used barrels.

The Pink Moustache 2020 (Intellego)

Light ruby ​​red. Aroma of dark and red berries (raspberries), flowers, herbs and pepper. Luscious, juicy, with a light tannin touch, and just enough acidity. Lovely glou-glou, best lightly chilled.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meats, pizza, pasta, salads and cured meats.

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Wine of the Week

Clandestina

Clandestina travels from Catalunya to new destinations with accordingly named labels, such as Blanc Fugitiu (fugitive), Orance Censurat (censored), Ancestral Confiscat (confiscated). Read more about these here in an article from the cancelled Rawfair this March, where I met winemaker Ferrán at wine bar WineO in London.

This week’s wine, Blanc Sense Papers 2019, has made it all the way to my northern local wine shop. It originates from a more than 50 years old xarel.lo vineyard. The grapes from the three plots were harvested seperately at different times to ensure perfect ripeness, the different harvests are fermented in steel and aged in demijohns for different periods of time, and the last harvest kept in oak for 4 months, before blending it all and bottling unfined and unfiltered. -I base my wines on acidity, says Ferrán, -and I like Bourgogne Aligoté, he answers to my question what he tries to achieve. And acidity he has managed to retain. It really is acidic. I am not sure if it has the body to match, but time will show.

Blanc Sense Papers 2019 (Bodegas Clandestina)

Yellow with green and grey hints, slightly turbid. Aroma of green apricot, flowers and grapefruit. Fresh and luscious, dry, good acidity, good length.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

@Roca #Cava?

Time to celebrate. Maybe not the year that lie behind us, but rather a toast to life, art and good wine itself. There are many possibilities; champagne, crémants, cava… Cava? All right, listen.

Agustí Torello Roca (AT Roca) belongs to the family that gave us Kripta and other great great cavas and wines from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. While Agustí Torelló Mata (ATM) has turned to organics AT Roca goes further; with a more natural approach, and has also joined the ranks of those who leave the very strange DO Cava, that in reality stands for a way of making wine rather than a sense of place.

Agustí Torello Roca and his father and aunt Agustí and Lali founded AT Roca in 2013. One of the first priorities was to join DO Classic Penedès, a subdivision under the DO Penedès formed in 2012. It started with just 10 members, and has been growing ever since. DO Classic Penedès is perhaps the first governing body that requires organic certification in order to be a member. In addition to the farming requirements, 15 months aging on the lees is the minimum (while only 9 months within DO Cava), and all wines must be made by the traditional method and vintage dated. AT Roca goes further by only using indigenous yeasts and harvesting 100% of their grapes by hand.

For their single vineyard wines, they ferment in used barrels and age the wines on the lees under natural cork instead of crown caps, both of which are rarities in the region. Sulfur is only used once to block malolactic as an effort to retain the acidity. All their wines are zero dosage. They only work with indigenous Catalan grape varieties, with a focus on macabeu.

AT Roca Reserva 2016 (AT Roca)

Yellow with greenish hints. Aroma of fennel, lime, breadcrumbs. Good body and concentration, nice acidity, and a salty dry finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Good Spanish ham, light meat, salads, dried fish and tasty shellfish

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Wine of the Week

Chickens in Christmas costumes

Here is an old favourite, dressed up in Christmas costume. The southern French classic La Vieille Fermé is made by the famous wine family Perrin, which stands behind some of the South Rhône’s finest wines, among them the great châteauneuf-du-pape wines from Château de Beaucastel.

The Christmas label was designed especially for the Norwegian market by designer Kaja Vedvik, but the Perrin family liked it so much that they also want it to use it in other markets.

The wine originates in vineyards situated in the sunny Ventoux hillsides southeast of the Rhône on the border to Provence. While grenache makes up the main part, grapes like syrah and cinsault give extra spice. In addition, there is ripe fruit that makes it cope with tasty food.

La Vieille Fermé 2019 (Fam. Perrin)

Young red. Fresh, cool aroma with ripe elements (dark cherry, blueberry, blackberry); lickorice, provençal herbs and a hint of marzipan. Round and fresh in the mouth, with light tannin, herbs, and with berry fruit all the way.

Price: Low

Food: Christmas turkey, other light meat, coq au vin, salads, rice dishes and much more.

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Wine of the Week

Tillingham white, blend

Tillingham is one of England’s most innovative producers. Their minimal intervention approach to winemaking and often surprising presentation have given them a strong following amongst matural wine lovers. This wine was tasted in a local wine club quite recently.

I visited them outside Rye, Sussex in March this year, one of the last days before lockdown and my first quarantine. Ben Walgate and his companion Serena showed me around and explained about their organic farming, also with certain biodynamic practises, and we had a tasting of all their original wines (and ciders) in their own bar and restaurant. In a wet climate like England’s, the threat of mildew is ever-present, so some copper and sulfur-based sprays are often used.

Aside of winegrowing, not only ciders, but also animals are part of the project, so is the bar and restaurant.

While some sparkling wine specialists have “owned” the headlines so far, I am very sure that the recognition of Tillingham will exceed far beyond the natural wine scene in the future. The grapes for this lovely low-alcohol when are müller-thurgau 35%, ortega 32%, bacchus 17%, chardonnay 12% and schönburger 4%, grown in chalky clay soil. There is no filtration nor fining.and minimal sulphur added before bottling.

At the winery in March this year

Tillingham White 2018 (Tillingham)

Yellow. Aroma of yellow apples, apricot, some lime. Luscious, light and superbly drinkable.

Price: Medium

Read more about one of their rosés here. http://winechords.com/?s=Tillingham

We have also visited nearby Davenport winery. Take a look here. http://winechords.com/still-british/

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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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