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Month: April 2020

Wine of the Week

Garg’n’go!

A couple of days before going into a a quarantine a friend and I visited London’s Flor restaurant at the Borough Market, where the homemade bread looks burnt, but is simply delicious. They have a crowded bar at street level and a small restaurant upstairs. The name of the place is inspired by the veil of yeast (called “flor”, flower in Spanish). We chose a white wine from Sanlúcar in the sherry country, the UBE Miraflores from Bodega Cota 45, and also the Almate 2018, a magnificent and fruity tempranillo from Alfredo Maestro (Castilla y León).

Here we shall talk about a wonderful pét nat from a legendary and important producer in Gambellara, Veneto, Italy, Angiolino Maule, or La Biancara, as the company is called. The wine is unpretentious, simple maybe, but for me it is serious joy. This year it was made from the garganega grape alone, and it’s just wonderful. The year before saw problems with re-fermentation, so it had almost no bubbles, and Maule also chose to add some of the durella grape to heighten the acidity. It’s vinified in stainless steel, and the second fermentation is bottle, started with addition of dried grape must. 

The soil of Gambellara is volcanic, with a little limestone. Maule has approximately 12 hectares own vineyards on south facing slopes in these hills, about 150m to 250m above sea level. They are managed in a strictly organically way. They use naturally produced plant compost and control fungal diseases with herbal teas and other natural products. .

In the cellar they have a non-interventionist approach, though maybe not as strict as some ten years ago.

Read more from a visit to La Biancara during the summer of 2018 here.

Garg’n’go 2018 (Angiolino Maule – La Biancara)

Yellow, slightly cloudy, medium bubbles. Fresh aromas of white fruit, green apples and apricot. The 5 grams of suger is nicely balanced by the vibrant acidity, and it also has a mineral side.

Price: Low

Food: At Biancara we had it with cheese and charcuterie, but it is an excellent apéritif, and goes with a wide choice of fish, shellfish and vegetables

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Wine of the Week

Call of the wild

Azul y Garanza is a producer that is located near the protected desert area Bardenas Reales in Navarra, and up towards the Pyrenees. Dani Sánchez Nogue and María and Fernando Barrena make wonderful, inspiring wines from this extreme landscape.

They make a fruity great-value red wine called Fiesta, but this time we deal with their orange wine from the garnacha blanca grape. The soil is calcareous clay with a thin layer top-soil at 550 meters of altitude. Average age of the grapes is 30 years.

It’s harvested by hand, destemmed, spontaneously fermented in cement for 10 days, 5 of them with skin-contact. Later it’s matured in amphora for 4 months.

Naturaleza Salvaje 2019 (Azul y Garanza)

Golden colour. Lovely scent of flowers and citrus, with hints of peach and herbs. Fresh, dry, and quite smooth textured.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Kisi qvevri from Kakheti

This is an orange wine made from the kisi variety in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region. To be more precise, Gurashvili’s vineyards are located in Tibaani, a village in the Sighnaghi district.

Kisi is believed to be a hybrid of the mtsvane and rkatsiteli grapes, both among the most common in Georgia. The picking times are normally medium, and as still white wine it has not all that character. But give it time on skins, and you will typically get pear, flowers, often a hint of tobacco, and nuts too.

The greapes were hand-harvested, aged in large clay qvevris placed underground. Once pressed the grapes go into the qvevri with stalks, seeds and skins. The fermentation continues for two weeks with bâtonnage three times daily. Unfiltered.

Kisi Qvevri 2017? (Gurashvili)

Pale amber colour. Aroma of apricot, white flowers, orange peel, a bit honeyed, and traces of walnuts. Glyseric and smooth in the mouth, yet with good concentration.

Price: Medium

Food: Roasted meat, light meat,

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Wine of the Week

Keep on rockin’

Continueing the rock series (a very thin thread really) from early February, Mother Rock is a producer that I have enjoyed so much over the last few years that I just had to leave you a tip of advice here. They are in a way in the shadow of leading lights and neighbours Testalonga and Intellego of Swartland, South Africa, and as such bargains. But there are many insiders who think you should take the opportunity to buy their wines now, because for natural wines their prices are ridiculously low.

Winemaker is Johan Meyer, a young Brit who who shares the values and techniques of the aforementioned producers. He was educated in Stellenbosch, but his visits to Roussillon and Tom Lubbe of Matassa took him in a whole new direction. Mother Rock Wines was established in 2014. The whole range is fabulous, and even their “entry-level” wines (if this is an adecuate expression here) are superb and have a sense of not only terroir, but a raw natural force, if this sounds meaningful.

Johan and the team have a really good hand on the chenin blanc grape, and I can also strongly recommend their “semi-orange” Force Celeste. This week’s pick is their “basic” White in 2018 version, that is made from chenin blanc 61% and lesser quantities of viognier, grenache blanc, sémillon and hárslevelu. The latter is omitted in the 2019 vintage, also in the market now. Each grape is grown in different types of soil throughout this immensly fascinating region that is Swartland.

Half of the grapes are fermented quite cold in steel, while the other part ferments in old barrels. Some, like hárslevelu, sémillon and grenache, are fermented with whole bunches with a four weeks of skin-contact before pressing. The wine stays on the lees nearly a year before bottling – unfiltered, naturally

  Mother Rock White 2018 (Mother Rock Wines)

Yellow, cloudy. Aroma dominated by citrus (lemon, lime), yeast, candle wax and a touch of honey. Appley, cidery in the mouth, lightly structured both in terms of tannins and acidity, juicy, a touch of bitterness in the finish.

Price: Medium

Food: Salmon/trout, grilled white fish and shell-fish, some Asian dishes, lighter meat…

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