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Month: June 2021

Wine of the Week

Ganko from Olivier Rivière, La Rioja

Frenchman Olivier Rivière has formerly worked with well-known Telmo Rodríguez. He came in 2004 to help converting the vineyards into biodynamic agriculture. But he liked Rioja so much that he decided to stay, and has since long bought grapes and made wines for himself. At the moment he makes wines from Rioja, Arlanza and Navarra. It is at the facilities of Bodegas Lacus in Aldeanueva de Ebro (Rioja Baja), where he is consulting, that he makes his wines.

He uses fermentation tanks of cement and oak (from 2,000 to 5,000 litres). The reds are often fermented with stems. In Rioja he sources his grapes from several areas. This wine Ganko, a blend of garnacha and mazuelo, comes from Cárdenas in Najerilla valley, on the right bank of the Ebro river. The vines are high altitude, old vines on sandy soils.

Ganko 2016 (Olivier Rivière)

Dark cherry red. Fresh and intense aroma of dark berries (blackberry), plums, and a balsamic touch. Concentrated, a lot of tannins, but rounded off, a sense of coolness in the fruit, long.

Price: Medium

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Wine of the Week

Riffin’ in Orange with Riffel

Bingen is maybe most mostly associated with Hildegard, the great composer, mystic, abbess that founded a monastery there nearly a thousand years ago. This improvised title bears more associations to the old jazz masters. But anyway: It is here, on the Nahe estuary in Rheinhessen, that Carolin and Erik Riffel have their home. Since I got to know them I have admired their wines. The organic Riesling Trocken is as stylish as it gets, the silvaners well-made, the pét nats (such as the scheurebe) truly inspiring. With this wine they go one step further, with a more un-tamed, naked orange wine.

But it’s only natural. As long as I have known them they have talked about their passion for the nature of wine, for their place and for the vintage in the glass. They intervene as little as possible, giving the wines the time they need. Today they have 16 hectares on quartzite soils, farmed biodynamically.

Erik and Carolin Riffel

The orange wine is made from equal parts sylvaner and gewürztraminer. They are handpicked, and destemmed, fermented on skins for two weeks. Parts of the wine are matured in barriques, the rest in steel and with six months on fine lees.

Orange-Naked Trocken 2019 (Weing. Riffel)

Golden colour, slighly turbid. Aroma of mature apples, pear, flowers, and a nutty hint. Smooth tannins in the mouth, good acidity, and though full flavours and a good lenght it is also a pure fun wine.

You are advised to turn the bottle upside down before opening, to get the full intensity from the yeasts too.

Price: Medium

Food. Asian dishes, light meat, tasty fish, many kinds of salads…

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Wine of the Week

Loxarel, a Clàssic Penedès

Loxarel I have met at a couple of artisan fairs, in Barcelona, and as far as I remember, in London too. Masia Can Mayol, the official name, is Josep Mitjans, fifth generation. When he got in charge of the family firm at a young age he changed the philosophy of this old winery. He started bottling wines, converting to organic, then implementing biodynamic techniques. (Here is another good sparkler from the house.)

The winery is located in Villobí, on a plain not far from Vilafranca del Penedès, but they have also plots in El Pla de Manlleu, higher in altitude and a bit further west.

This winery is among the many that are now abandoning the DO Cava. Among the reasons for this can be a challenging reputation that the appellation has gained over the years, and the fact that it is not dedicated to one specific geographical area. More about this in a future article.

This particular sparkler is made up from xarel.lo 55% (now widely recognized as the best of the “usual suspects” for ageing, then macabeo 30%, parellada 5%, and the rest chardonnay, a grape that I have nothing against, even not here, even not native. I interpret the name a pèl +18 as the time spent on lees (and not skins).

A Pèl +18 Brut Nature 2016 (Loxarel/ Masia Can Mayol)

Light straw, greenish tones, creamy mousse. Mild Mediterranean smell of aromatic herbs, yeast, mature lemons and yellow apples. Creamy, tasty, rounded but dry.

Price: Low

Food: Apéritif, Iberian cured ham, light fish and shellfish…

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Wine of the Week

A virtuoso Alsace Pirouette

Les Vins Pirouettes is an open Alsace project consisting of independent wine producers, always growing in number, and led by the respected Christian Binner. Their vineyards are organic or biodynamic certified, and cover many different soils and expositions in 13 different villages. Other than that then have their own personality and style.

Annual production is around 80,000 bottles. There is always spontaneous fermentation, no fining, no filtration, and no sulphur added.

The name Pirouette symbolizes the playfulness and fun they’re all having with this movement, but also the mastery needed to achieve a good result in this type of winemaking.

Each cuvée is vinified at the winemaker’s own place, with the gentle helping hand of the project’s enologists Xavier Couturier and Pierre Sanchez. So the individuality should always be intact.

Ensaladilla rusa the day after

The wine in question is a sylvaner from Ammerschwihr, from a vineyard planted in 1978-1983 on limestone, clay and pebbles. The grapes were picked and selected by hand, and the yield turned out to be 20 hl/ha.
Spontaneously fermented, matured in large, old oak vessels. Unfined and unfiltered. Certified oganic, with biodynamic principles.

Le Sylvaner d’Olivier 2016 (Les Vins Pirouettes)

Light golden. Aromatic with white flowers and elderberry, and some herbs. Medium weight, and very refreshing acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: Fish, vegetables, light meat…

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