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Wine Chords Posts

Wine of the Week

Guímaro’s A Ponte: A bridge to the future

A Ponte comes from a crazily steep amphitheater-shaped vineyard, on top of the hill above the more famous Meixemán vineyard. We are in Ribeira Sacra of Galicia, Spain, and Guímaro is one of the best representatives of the new wave of producers. Pedro Manuel Rodríguez Pérez started the project in 1991, but relied on many generations of his family’s work.

Pedro at the Emoción fair summer ’20

The vineyard sits on granitic, slate and sandy soils. Pedro and his father planted in 2010 equal parts of mencía, caíño tinto, merenzao, brancellao and sousón, all indegenous from Ribeira Sacra and around (Galicia and northern Portugal). The wine is made similar to the other Guímaro reds: The grapes are handpicked, macerated for 35 days (here a bit shorter than normal), then alcoholic fermentation is carried out at a controlled temperature of 25ºC. After malolactic fermentation follows an ageing for 12 months in used French oak barrels, before a light clarification.

Normally Pedro has worked with almost exclusively mencía grapes for his reds. But we have seen that the climate is changing, and to meet the future he decided to plant the five varieties in almost equal parts. Mencía is there, but the other varieties are known for retaining the acidity even with more ripeness.

A Ponte 2017 (Guímaro)

Dark cherry colour. Dark and red berries on the nose (blackberry, morello, plums), and some herbs. Medium-bodied and well-structured, good acidity for a warm year, long. An expressive and individual wine without oakiness, and a good candidate for medium-term ageing (+/- 5 years). With good airing it can also be enjoyed now, and why not in company with a good roast.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Good Hope on a Good Friday

The Winery of Good Hope is found in Stellenbosch, in South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. They claim to avoid “the flashy stuff” of industry and make quality wine with a conscience. They are located on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, and make wines using traditional, natural viticultural and winemaking methods. They are alto certificated for environmental, ethical, and social-conscious practices.

For the Full Berry Fermentation Pinotage they work with two vineyards, one in Northern Stellenbosch and the other in southeastern Swartland. The former is sandy with decomposed quartz and granite soils, and contributes to a certain texture. The latter sits on weathered, granite derived soils, that is mostly responsible for the fruitiness.

Some keywords: Handpicked grapes, whole berries in vat, spontaneous fermentation in steel, unfiltered.

Full Berry Fermentation Pinotage 2019 (The Winery of Good Hope)

Dark cherry. Fruity, with blueberry and red berries cherry, plum), herbs, some licorice. Young and juicy, a charming wine at a very good price.

Price: Low

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Wine of the Week

Thymiopoulos improves with thyme

The Thymiopoulos family has a long history in agriculture and grape-growing in Trilofos, under the Vermio mountain south of Thessaloniki. Apostolos Thymiopoulos was however the first to vinify the family vineyards, and he produced his first wine in 2005.

Apostolos Thyiopoulos (credit: the winery)

Thymiopoulos practises organic viticulture and believes in minimum intervention during the whole process. Various biodynamic practices are also used, thus being able to preserve biodiversity. The wild flowers stimulates both over- and underground fauna, thus strenghtening the soils and with it, the vines.

He concentrates exclusively on xinomavro, the emblematic variety of the Naoussa region. From this variety he makes at the moment ten different wines, from sparkling via rosé to reds. I have tasted five, and can recommend all of them. They are excellent value, such as the Young Vines 2019. Xinomavro gives naturally acid and tannic wines, well-suited for ageing. And Apostolos would also say it gives an ethereal quality.

Our selected wine, the Xinomavro Nature, has no additions of sulphur. It comes from a single vineyard planted 53 years ago, 200 meters high on a slope, at the edge of the village. The soil here is pure limestone. The climate is tempered by the winds from the Mediterranean and downhill from the mountain. So despite the low altitude the temperatures are also relatevely low. The 2019 vintage had 50% destemmed grapes, fermented with indigenous yeasts and was macerated for 30 days. It was matured for 6 months in 500-litre French oak barrels of second use.

Xinomavro Nature 2019 (Thymiopoulos)

Ruby red. At first quite discrete aroma of red berries and a touch of spices (cardemom, pepper), sightly warm. Much more open after three hours in the glass, and more aromatic herbs like thyme appear. Evident tannins, good acidity and long, mineral aftertaste.

Price: Low/Medium

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Wine of the Week

A solid slice from the south

This wine was part of the wine menu at the vegan restaurant Bellies of Stavanger, Norway. (Read a little more about this unique restaurant here, if you like.)

Une Tranche Sudiste could translate a southern slice, or something like that, and a good slice it is. Philippe Jambon makes the wine in collaboration with producer Denis Tardieu, by using his grapes, from vineyards located in Vaison-la-Romaine (Rhône, south of France). The grapes are 85% syrah and 15% grenache, not uncommon in that area, spontaneously fermentated in steel with semi-carbonic maceration, with some whole-cluster and stems.The ageing is carried out in concrete tanks for a year and bottled with a tiny amount of sulphites.

Philippe and Catherine Jambon started their domaine in Chasselas, northern Beaujolais, in 1997. Their focus has always been eco-friendly activity, and as little additions as possible, with only the exact time in barrel that’s needed.

Their vineyards were hit by terrible hailstorms in two consecutive years, resulting in a great loss. But it also give birth to the idea of working with other vignerons to make wind in his preferred style.

Une Tranche Sudiste 2018 (Ph. Jambon)

Dark young red. Red fruit (cherries, plums), but also some darker (blackberries), with a touch of leather and spice. Evident but rounded tannins in a long aftertaste where also fruit and spice comes through.

Price: Medium

Food: At the vegan restaurant we had it with fried cauliflower with shitake mushrooms, hazelnuts and a truffle sauce, but it will tackle many meat dishes too.

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Wine of the Week

Breuer’s wild riesling

Rheingau isn’t a wine region that we have focussed too much on here. With its some 3000 ha. of vineyard it’s one of the smallest in Germany, but by no means uninteresting. Rather the contrary, and several great producers are found there. In central Germany, not far from Frankfurt, there are south facing steep slopes that protect the area from the cold northerly winds by the Taunus mountains, giving ideal ripening conditions.

Today Theresa Breuer is the one that runs this family estate. (See a brief mention of her at a visit in Stavanger here.) She disposes of 40 hectares own vineyards and have contract with several other suppliers. The soils are shallow to deep gravel clay, with patches of quartzite and slate.

The vineyards are farmed according to organic methods and they always search for ripeness so as to give a strong aromatic flavour to the wines. This wine is made from 50% own grapes, the rest bought in from local growers. Local yeast and spontaneous fermentation. No oak. 11,5 alcohol. With 5 and a half grams sugar and more 9 of total acidity it’s both fresh and fleshy.

Riesling Sauvage 2019 (Georg Breuer)


Bright light yellow with hints of green. Aromas of green apple, apricot and lime. Luscious, refreshing, and long – with a youthful acidity. Delicious today, but also one to lay down.

Price: Low

FriskhetSødme

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Wine bars and restaurants and Wine of the Week

Catalan red at Bellies, Stavanger vegan

This could have been a review of the relatively new vegan restaurant Bellies of Stavanger, Norway. They deserve a really good one, no doubt. As a 100% vegan restaurant they have few competitors. But Bellies is good in every sense; in the kitchen they know how to handle the knives, and the wine list is extensive and good. Bellies is hereby recommended, for vegans and all others.

Kitchen staff in action; director Øystein Lunde Ohna, far right

We ordered “Full belly”, a 7 course meal, with wine recommendations. Among these were Krásná Hora Riesling 2019 (Moravia, Czech Rep.), aromatic with integrated acidity, with a carrot salad, Enderle & Moll Müller-Thurgau 2018 (Baden, Germany), a light skin-contact wine with jerusalem artichoke and celery, and Un Petit Coin de Paradis 2018, a gamay at 6,5%. This is light red, sweetish wine, perfect to accompany our meringue dessert.

[A minor point of advice could be that it is not always clear what wines should go with what dishes. To be precise: The first dessert came without wine, and we wondered why. It’s ok, only a matter of communication.]

Sommelier Christoffer Bergøy Thorkildsen

The wine I chose here is another. Some natural wine fairs I follow closely, and during the Vella Terra of Barcelona I have met Dido and Jurriaan, a young couple from Amsterdam that have chosen to make wine in Alt-Empordà, Catalunya. Here they farm own vineyards and some others, at least organically, and gradually implementing biodynamic principles. From these grapes, and inspired by collegue Joan Ramón Escoda, they make natural wines without added sulphites. 

Jur and Dido in Barcelona, Feb. 2019

They are new in the wine business, and the fact that they are already represented here at Bellies was a coincidence that I felt I had to follow up. (Here is another encounter of their wines in Norway. And here is a report from the Barcelona fair, where you can read about other producers on Bellies’ list.)

Doolittle has nothing to do with the play My fair Lady (where it’s the name of the protagonists). No, the wines have taken their names from music album titles, and Doolittle is an album by the Pixies. When remembering that Dido told me that for her thesis in cultural anthropology she spent some time with the Swartland Independent Producers. Among these Craig Hawkins took the name Monkey gone to Heaven (his mourvèdre) from the same album.

Doolittle is also part of the ideology of Dido and Jur, to intervene as little as possible. The 2018 is made from 60% garnacha, with whole bunch maceration for one week, and the rest barbera, elevated in amphora under a veil of flor.

Doolittle 2018 (Vinyes Tortugas)

Cherry red. Aroma of blackberry and cherry, and a lactic note. Dry, but with a sweetish garnacha sensation. Slightly tannic, with a very refreshing natural acidity, and a bit salty finish.

Price: Medium

Food: We tried it with several dishes and ingredients, like creamy almond potato, buckwheat chips, black truffle, betroot and quinoa chervil. It is really a versatile wine, should be perfect with varied tapas and charcutérie.

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Wine of the Week

Weird berries, stylish wine

Adelaide Hills is a quite cool region northeast of Adelaide in South Australia. It’s varied in terms of soils and expositions, and many of the best vineyards are scattered over large distances.

Ochota is the young couple Amber and Taras Ochota, who started their natural wine project in 2008.

Surf trippers on the Mexican coast, where the idea was born (credit: Ochota Barrels)

They have a long list of wineries around the globe where they have worked and learned; the Hitching Post winery from the movie Sideways not least. By now they have half a hectare of vineyards of their own, high altitude on quartz and ferrous soil. They also tend an old grenache vineyard in lower McLaren Vale.

The wines are made according to natural methods, some whites with extended skin-contact. This one is more “normal” in that respect, a varietal gewürztraminer bottled with low sulfur values.

Weird Berries in the Woods Gewürztraminer 2019 (Ochota Barrels)

Light brilliant yellow with green tones. Aroma of white flowers, hay and herbs. Quite full but dry, good acidity with a trace of yellow tomatoes and also some stoney minerality. A stylish wine that strays from the often boring cliché of the grape.

Price: Medium

Food: Fish (both white and red, grilled and cooked), shellfish (crab, prawns), squid, salads, cheese (both creamy and hard, like parmesan), pizzas (especially good with white sauce (two of them pictured, in the making…)

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Wine of the Week

Both alter and native

Clemens Busch and his wife Rita makes exciting wines mainly from the Pündericher Marienburg vineyard in Mosel. Everything is organic, and natural practices in the vineyards and cellar give a feeling of expressiveness between tradition and forward-thinking.

In the Marienburg vineyard, with vines placed on soils based on gray slate.This dry riesling is made with old style artisanal methods, including biodynamic practises. Alcoholic fermentation started with indigenous yeasts. The pressing was light, the maceration went on with stalks for 48 hours, before ageing15 months in large oak barrels in contact with the lees. It was bottled without any filtration and clocks in at 11,5% alc.

(alter) native riesling 2016 (Clemens Busch)

Golden, slightly turbid. Aroma of white flowers, yeast, lime peel, and a touch of honey. A bit fizzy, with rounded acidity and a dry finish. Refreshing and very quaffable.

Price: Medium

Food: A great variety, like fish (both white, red, smoked too), hams, pasta, cheese (hard, aged), and also quite unusual stuff like omelettes and pies

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Wine of the Week

Donkeys deliver

The Asinoi “we are donkeys” wine is maybe easy to forget. But it’s rather remarkable that the Carussin family manages to keep the quality up and the price down. The 2019 has an acidity as splendid as ever before. I have given some background here, when talking about a wine two years older.

Some keywords: Biodynamic farming, hand-picked grapes, spontaneous fermentation, low sulphur and no oak.

And, as producer Bruna Ferro says to Wine Chords: Asinoi is a simple yet complex wine – just like the character of the animal donkey.

Asinoi Barbera d’Asti 2019 (Carussin-Bruna Ferro)

Ruby red. Aroma of red berries (cherries, raspberries), herbs and a trace of almond. Fresh, luscious, low tannin, and a wonderful acidity that keeps on going from start to finish.

Price: Low

Food: Pasta, pizza, light meat, white fish, vegetables, and a variety of (mostly hard) cheeses

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Wine of the Week

A light orange Baden weißburgunder

Sven Enderle and Florian Moll founded their winery in 2007 in Münchweier, Baden, close to the border to Alsace. They have now some 2 hectares of vineyards, mostly pinot noir, pinot gris and müller-thurgau.

This one is from pinot blanc, or weißburgunder in local nomenclature. The peak of their three level hierarchy are the single-site wines Muschelkalk, Buntsandstein and the Buntsandstein single location Ida.

The grapes are organically grown on shell limestone soils (Muschelkalk). Unfined and unfiltered. Very low SO2. It’s from Baden, but declassified by purpose to Deutsche Wein.

Weißburgunder Muschelkalk 2018 (Enderle & Moll)

The colour is somewhat between yellow and pinkish orange. Slightly reductive at first, some chalkiness, giving way to a more open aroma with yellow fruits and a white pepper/ ginger character. Careful skin-contact, some spice, a lively acidity, also with a hint of bitter almond. Shows some development too.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, tasty fish, salads, root vegetables, try with several Asian…

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