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Month: October 2019

Wine of the Week

Passalacqua’s Puglia project

I am in London, mainly for music. But I never miss a chance to visit some of the many good natural wine bars and restaurants in town. Yesterday I visited Brawn again (see an earlier, more detailed report here), that’s owned by the people behind the classic Terroirs.

At Brawn one of the highlights was the orange wine from Valentina Passalacqua’s Puglia project.

The wine and light logo

Her farm is found inside Gargano National Park in Apricena, Puglia, and has belonged to the family for well over 100 years. The soil consists mainly of limestone rocks rich in minerals, at about 200 meters of altitude. It’s now worked biodynamically. All the wines are spontaneously fermented, never fined nor filtered, and they all come without sulfur addition.

Back label

The “calcareous project” came to life because Valentina felt the need to isolate some plots characterized by exclusively Kimmeridian calcareous soil. These are defined by terroir, the wines are mineral, and full of life. Falanghina is just one of the many varieties that can be called indigenous, but also with Greek influence or inspiration (along with nero di Troia, greco, aleatico, to name a few).

Valentina informs that the numbers indicated on the labels are the atomic number (20) and the atomic weight (40.08) of the chemical element of calcium (Ca). The designation is IGP Bianco Puglia, and it comes in a one liter bottle.

As you already have guessed, the fermentation was spontaneous, and it was macerated on the skins for 7 days, in open vats with manual hat break. It was racked in steel, and bottled without filtering or clarification.

Calcarius Orange Puglia (Valentina Passalacqua)

Light orange, with a reddish tone. Fresh on the nose, citric notes (mandarin), aromatic herbs and oriental spices. A slight touch of fine tannins in the mouth, saline notes and an appealing citric finish.

Price: Medium

Food: White fish, light meat, vegetarian, not too spicy Asian

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Wine of the Week

Bartulović’s Dingač

When coming out of the Dingač tunnel a mighty landscape lies before us. Some of the steepest and most dramatic slopes in the world of wine are bathing in glittering light. Here the grapes are hit three times by the sun; directly, from the limestone rocks and from the sea.

We are in Dingač, the first appellation of Croatia (or rather from Yugoslavia, 1964/65). And we, we are a bunch of jazz musicians taking a break from the Makarska Autumn Leaves Jazz Festival. Our jazzmobile is parked back at Bartulović (next door to the Kriz winery, see the former post), because here one needs a mountain goat of a car.

Maro Bartulović is one of the pioneers in organic and sustainable farming. The family business got a new start, or a new boost, in 1989, after generations of delivering grapes to the local cooperative.

-We are traditional vintners in the modern world, says Maro. -My kids are the 17th generation.

There are around 3 hectares of vineyards scattered around at 16 different places on the peninsula. Most of the grapes are plavac mali, the equally historic and difficult variety that with its long growing season can’t grow further north than Split, according to our host.

Maro Bartulović in his Dingač vineyards

Maro showed us the differences between the valley and the Dingač slopes in a very good year like 2018, of which we can only wait. Now we can appreciate the 2017, that was a dryer year. The grapes were picked from 17th August. Still there is a lot of sweetness, which results in a high alcohol. Farming practise is traditional, that is completely organic. Fermentation is spontaneaous and the wines are not fined nor filtered. There is never more than 1.200-1.400 bottles made of this wine.

Dingač 2017 (Bartulović)

Deep cherry red. Smells of red fruit and wild berries (blackberry, elderberries), and balsamic (menthol, eucalyptus), and also with a stony minerality. It has powerful tannins, retains some freshness (maybe from the balsamic notes), and it’s a bit raisiny towards the finish.

Price: High

Food: Calls for some powerful meat with a tasty sauce, but stews would be fine, and I imagine that hard cheeses would be perfect

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Articles and Wine of the Week

Križ’s Grk

I don’t blame you if you have trouble reading or understanding the title of this post. But let us first get the basics clear: Križ is the producer, based in the settlement Prizdrina (Potomje) on the Croatian peninsula Pelješac. Grk is the grape variety.

Grk is an indigenous grape, grown mostly on the neighbouring island of Korčula, and to a lesser extent here. There are only 15 hectares of in Croatia (and the world). The word literally means bitter, but the main characteristics are high acidity, high natural sugar content (because of the sun reflection from the sea), balsamic aromas and saltiness. Although the name hints to a Greek origin, modern studies show that it is a close relative to crljenak kaštelanski (a forerunner to both zinfandel and the Adriatic grape plavac mali).

A special feature is that grk has only female flowers, so to able to produce fruit it needs to be planted alongside another variety. On Pelješac the norm is to plant three rows of grk, three of plavac mali, and so on.

The jazz musicians on tour enjoyed both wine and poster

Vinarija Križ

Just a few words on the producer here, that I visited a few days ago together with fellow jazz musicians taking a break from a festival held nearby. Maja and Denis Bogoević Marušić grow 2 hectares of grapes on limestone in the Postup region (plavac mali) and sand on the Križ hill (grk). Some of the vineyards in Postup are very steep (up to 45°inclination), so it has been necessary to build stone walls. They work by hand. The cultivation is traditional, exclusively organic (with some biodynamic practise), and only natural yeasts are used.

Their grk stays 4-7 days on the skins, depending on the vintage, before a one week fermentation. It’s matured in old oak barrels (not toasted, to give a gentle treatment). There is no sulphur added, and the total is less than 10 mg/L.

Grk 2018 (Vinarija Križ)

Golden colour towards orange. Smells of mature apples, some citrus (mandarins), pine and figs. Dry on the palate, very fine-tuned tannins and with a fresh, integrated acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: It’s very versatile: Fish, shellfish, risotto, pasta, and it performs surprisingly well with tasty meat

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